Thursday, October 1, 2015

Roasted Green Pozole with Chicken

Mmmm, fall is in the air.  I'm extatic!  Time to start baking everything with pumpkin, drinking hot chocolate every night and making gobs of soup! I LOVE soup.  My kids pretty much only like the homemade tomato or taco soup variety but we may have to do something about that soon.

Pozole, also spelled Posole, is right up there as one of my favorite soups. This is my third and definitely my favorite posole on the blog (see here and here for the others).  Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup using a rich brothy base with meat, usually pork or chicken, garnishes such as cabbage, salsa, lemon or lime, and it's staple: maize, or hominy.  There is also the red variety made with tomatoes and the green variety, made with tomatillos and peppers. If you can't tell by the color, this posole is verde!

This soup gets it's start by roasting the vegetables, giving it that little bit of smokiness.  Then while it's simmering away with the broth and chicken, you can prep your garnishes. The garnishes are almost my favorite part, they really brighten up the soup and give it a fresh element that is not only eye appealing but mouth appealing too!

Roasted Green Pozole with Chicken
1/2 cup roasted, salted pepitas (green pumpkin seeds), plus more for garnish
1 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted
olive oil
3/4-1 lb. tomatillos, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, whole and peeled
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 jalapeño, halved and seeded
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
3-4 cups chicken broth (homemade preferred)
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs*
1 24-oz can hominy, drained

roasted, salted pepitas
thinly sliced radish
thinly sliced cabbage
fresh lime
crumbled cojita cheese (or similar) 

*Note: I used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, just removed the skin before cooking. Either way works fine.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place tomatillos, garlic, onion and jalapeno on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss with your fingers.  Bake about 15 minutes or until veggies begin to char.

 While veggies are roasting, toast the cumin seeds in a small frying pan over medium-high heat until they become fragrant; 2-3 minutes.  Grind pepitas and cumin seeds in a spice grinder until finely ground, set aside.

Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven and heat over medium high heat.  Add chicken and cook a minute or two on each side then remove and set aside on a plate. 

Once veggies are done roasting, cool slightly and slide everything into a blender jar. Add half the cilantro, the salt and blend until desired consistency.  Add another little drizzle of olive oil to the dutch oven then pour in the contents of the blender.  Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently and scraping off the brown bits from the bottom. Add chicken broth, ground pepitas and cumin, oregano and hominy.  Stir to combine.  Gently place the chicken thighs in the pot and simmer, uncovered, about 20 minutes.  Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Serve warm with desired garnishes.

SOURCE: Adapted from Not Without Salt

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Salsa

It's that time of year.  Summer is winding down and the garden is bounteous. Most years I have a good tomato crop but this year seems to be a difficult year.  I have lots of plants but my tomatoes aren't turning green!! Fresh tomatoes are my favorite part of summer and having a garden.  I hope they start turning quickly before the weather does.  Typically around here, they're done the first week of October so that doesn't give us very long.  Lucky for me, there are several produce stands around here that sell local tomatoes by the box.  I usually hit them up once or twice a season so I have enough to put up for the winter and through next year. We love to can spaghetti sauce and tomatoes for soup and, of course salsa!!

It's been a few years since I canned salsa and we are sorely missing it!!  I found this Restaurant Style Salsa to hold us over in the mean time, but there's nothing like the taste of salsa made from home grown tomatoes. This roasted variety will blow your socks off (especially if you use a lot of chipotles!!). I love the smokiness of the roasted tomatoes and chipotles, it's seriously the best-tasting salsa that's come out of this kitchen in a LONG time!

Roasted Tomato and Chipotle Salsa
1 quart roasted Roma tomatoes
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/3 cup onion, diced
1/4 cup Anaheim pepper, diced
1/3 cup jalapeño peppers, diced
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
chipotles in adobo, seeded
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup vinegar

Rinse tomatoes, slice off top and cut in half.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet and place under broiler.  Broil until tomatoes start to blacken.  Remove from oven and slightly cool.

Add all ingredients into a blender and enough chipotles to suit your taste. Blend to desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Store in airtight container in the fridge or process in boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.

**If you are not planning on canning the salsa you can omit the vinegar and reduce the lime juice to 1-2 tablespoons.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Waffles

Nevermind that I have salsa recipes from the summer to still post, let's move right along to fall with these waffles!!  I have been waiting to make these for a couple weeks.  I LOVE just about everything the fall brings, especially pumpkin chocolate chip.  One of my favorite combos.  These are pretty much my regular buttermilk waffles, with a little extra fall punch, so not a ton of work.  These are perfect for Sunday brunch with friends or family because they make a HUGE plateful.  But even if you don't have company, they keep really well.  I like to just throw them in the freezer and pull them out when we want them.  When you're ready to eat, just toss them in the toaster and they'll warm up nice and good.  I like to serve them with pumpkin maple syrup or cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top. Sometimes I even sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the batter in the waffle iron.  (If you do this, make sure you spray it with cooking spray so it doesn't stick.)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Waffles
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp. vanilla
4 eggs, separated
3 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp.  unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2-3/4 cup chocolate chips

Melt butter and set aside to cool slightly. Preheat waffle iron.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin, vanilla, sugar and egg yolks. Slowly whisk in melted butter. In a separate bowl, stir together the remaining dry ingredients then gently stir them in with the wet ingredients until just incorporated.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. With a spatula, gently fold them into the batter until almost incorporated, add the chocolate chips then fold in a few more times.  NOTE: Egg whites do not have to be completely incorporated, just mostly.

Pour batter onto waffle iron and cook according to manufacturer's directions.  Serve with choice of toppings: pumpkin maple syrup, syrup, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar.

Pumpkin Maple Syrup:
4 Tbsp. pumpkin puree
6 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
splash of vanilla
pinch of cinnamon

Friday, August 28, 2015

Summer Egg Scramble

I know it's nearing the end of the summer but we have been enjoying this yummy breakfast for a couple months now so I wanted to share.  My friend made me something similar when the girls and I had a sleepover with her and her kids and I haven't been able to stop making it since.  Even my three-year-old loves it and asks me to make it for her frequently.  She even loves to run outside and pick some fresh basil and tomatoes for it. 

I love quick and easy breakfasts that are also healthy and fresh.  This egg scramble is easily customizable to suit your own tastes, what you have in your fridge or even your garden! Enjoy.

Summer Egg Scramble
serves 2

olive oil
4 slices Canadian bacon, cut into 1/2-inch squares
1-2 cloves garlic
4 large eggs
small handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, diced (or about 1/3-1/2 cup diced tomato)
3-4 large basil leaves, chopped
2-4 Tbsp. fresh mozzarella shredded or small-diced (try smoked mozzarella too!)

Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk.  Set aside.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium high heat in a frying pan, saute the ham until it just starts to brown.  Add the garlic for another 30 seconds.  Add eggs and tomatoes scramble about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat while they are sill a little glossy and toss in the basil and cheese.  Stir just to combine and allow to sit for a minute or so, so the cheese can melt.  Slide onto two plates and garnish with extra basil and tomatoes, if desired.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal

School is right around the corner, in fact just one week away for us!  We are on A Track this year, meaning I need to get my kids up, ready and fed before 8am!!  Wow, considering they've been staying up until 10pm, waking up at 9am and not eating breakfast until 10am sometimes, this is going to be quite an undertaking.  I don't do cold cereal, mostly hot breakfasts and sometimes they take longer than 5 minutes. I'm going to have to make sure I plan ahead, which is why I LOVE baked oatmeal.

My girls and I enjoy oatmeal in it's many forms, but baked is our favorite.  It's so versatile too.  Sometimes I like to add berries or mashed bananas to change up the flavor, or even throw some chocolate chips on top while it's warm.  Adding peanut butter this time was genius though!!  To say we loved it is an understatement.  I baked this ahead in a big pan (doubling works wonders and keeps well too) and we ate it two days in a row.  Talk about a time saver!  This will definitely be a keeper  and something I can make ahead and pull out quickly on those early school mornings.

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal
1 egg
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups rolled oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 or 9 inch baking pan.

In a mixing bowl combine egg, brown sugar, applesauce and peanut butter and whisk until peanut butter is well incorporated and there are not lumps.  Add in vanilla, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and milk and whisk to combine.  Stir in the oats then pour into prepared baking pan.  Bake in preheated oven 35 minutes or until lightly golden on top.  Serve warm with a splash of milk, fresh fruit, nuts or even a few chocolate chips.

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


I had no idea what Jambalaya was until my parents moved to Georgia when I went to college.  It's a southern dish that's typically a mash-up of rice, meat (chicken, andouille sausage and shrimp), veggies, spices and chicken stock.  It's kind of like a Spanish paella, only southern-style.

While living in Georgia my mom got this recipe from a friend for Quick Chicken Jambalaya.  It was my first and pretty much only experience with jambalaya and we made it and loved it for years.  It's super easy and yummy and not too spicy.  After getting into cooking more and wanting to branch out I started looking for jambalaya recipes that were a little more authentic.  My sister pointed me in the direction of this recipe and we have really loved it.  It's so full of flavor and just the right level of heat for my taste (although may be a little spicy for the kiddos). It's also great because once everything is chopped and ready to go, you can throw it together in a jiffy!

olive oil
1 rib of celery, small-diced
1/2 onion, small-diced
1/2 orange pepper, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 lb. andouille sausage, sliced
1 1/4 cups chicken stock
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup uncooked rice
1 Tbsp. Creole or Cajun seasoning (Zeus or Tony Cachere's are good or a homemade blend)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 lb. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (I omitted this and just added an extra chicken breast)

garnishes: chopped green onion, parsley or cilantro

Heat a drizzle of oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add celery, onion and peppers and sauté about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté another minute.  Add another drizzle of olive oil, of necessary, and add chicken to the pan.  Sauté a couple minutes until about half-cooked.  Add the sausage, tomatoes, rice, stock, Creole seasoning, bay leaf, thyme and cayenne.  Stir together and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked.

Once rice is tender stir in the shrimp to combine. Continue to simmer until shrimp is fully cooked.  Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf and check for seasoning.  Add more Creole seasoning, salt and pepper, as desired.

Serve warm with choice of garnish.

**Note: I halved the original recipe because I didn't think my kids would eat it and I didn't want to have tons of leftovers. To make original recipe, double everything except the chicken stock and tomatoes.  Still use 1 can of tomatoes and use 3 cups chicken stock.

SOURCE: Gimme Some Oven

Monday, July 6, 2015

Jalapeño Popper Pizza

Confession: I don't think I've ever even had a jalapeño popper!  I don't even know what they really taste like but I could not stop thinking about the idea of this pizza.  So mouth-watering, I had to make it.  Like over and over.  My husband's response to what kind of pizza we were having the other night when I made this was, "oh, that one again."  Yeah, that one again.  Don't get me wrong, he loved it too. The first two times I made it there was no chance of getting a picture so I had to make it again to make sure I got it just right and had a quick couple of seconds to snap some pics.

This pizza definitely isn't the hottest thing I've tasted, but just enough heat and smoke for my taste.  I used half pepper jack cheese and half smoked cheddar cheese (my fave).  Smoked cheddar (not the processed smoked cheese "product", but real cheese) might be hard to find in some areas, so using all pepper jack or using mozzarella or sharp cheddar would be a good substitute. Sometimes I like to add grilled chicken but it can get heavy. In that case, I would use parchment to roll the dough on and just slide that onto the pizza stone. I also brush the edges of the dough with some of the bacon fat and that's TOTALLY optional, but not really....just do it. 

Jalapeño Popper Pizza
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
1 cup shredded smoked cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
a few thin slices of red onion

Prepare pizza dough as directed.  While dough is rising, cook bacon and set aside, reserving a couple tablespoons of the bacon grease.  Prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees. Stretch out pizza dough onto pizza peel dusted with flour or cornmeal. Brush bacon grease around the outer edges. Using either your fingers or a spatula, spread softened cream cheese over the dough, leaving about a 1-inch border where you brushed the bacon grease. Layer both cheeses, crumbled bacon, red onion and jalapeños.  Slide pizza onto baking stone and bake 8-10 minutes, or until lightly golden and cheese  is bubbly. 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Smoky Black Bean Chili

I know it's summer time and hot, hot, hot! But my oldest daughter has fallen in love with chili since eating it at a friend's house recently.  I don't know about you, but I'm so over the dinner time struggle!!  I know I still have to deal with it for years to come, but hey, if I can find a few more healthy things my kids like that I can add in to the dinner rotation, I'm all over it.  My middle daughter already LOVES this black bean soup, as well as taco soup, so I didn't think it would be hard to get her to try this delicious chili!  Plus, you can totally eat it with chips.  That always gets their attention, haha! To my surprise both girls told me they didn't like the chili, they LOVED it!  I was so happy, I literally jumped up and down with them.  Dinner time was happy time that night.

This chili, like most soups, is open to a little interpretation.  I didn't add a ton of heat because I knew my three littles would be eating most of it.  I wanted to add a couple chipotles in adobo during cooking but I knew it would be too spicy, but feel free to do so.  Instead, I decided to just use the chipotle tabasco sauce on the side instead; my husband loves that stuff anyway and puts it on everything.  Whatever you do, don't leave out the smoked paprika, ginger ale and cocoa powder!! They lend such a unique element to the dish, I think that's why I loved it so much.

This chili would be lovely served with some cornbread, fresh tortillas or even hot cooked rice.

Smoky Black Bean Chili
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 cups ginger ale
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can RoTel
1 can diced or crushed tomatoes

sour cream
shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, mozzarella or my personal favorite smoked cheddar)
diced avocado
chipotle tabasco sauce
tortilla chips

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add onion and ground beef and cook until onions are translucent and beef is browned.  Drain off all but a tablespoon or two of the fat.  Add chopped red pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, oregano, smoked paprika, and brown sugar.  Sauté 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add ginger ale, tomato sauce, black beans, RoTel and tomatoes to the Dutch oven.  Stir to combine.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook about 15-20 minutes.

Serve warm, with desired garnishes.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

S'mores Layer Cake

Right before my birthday this year I posted on facebook a couple of times that I was getting ready to choose my birthday cake.  Usually it takes about a month (the time frame between my husband's birthday and mine) to decide but this year seemed busier than usual and my birthday was getting closer and I still didn't have a cake picked out.  SO, a week or two before my birthday hubby and I were out to a play and waiting for it to start so I whip out my phone and we scroll through alllllllll the cakes I have pinned (seriously there's a ton!).  When I saw this one, at the very end mind you, I knew it was the one.  I LOVE anything s'mores and this cake looked just absolutely delicious.  Plus, it's from Smitten Kitchen, so I knew I couldn't go wrong.

I was so, so happy with this cake!  Luckily I was able to share with a bunch of people, otherwise I would have been in BIG trouble.  I love how the cake tastes exactly like graham crackers and the ganache practically melts in your mouth, like it had been melted by the campfire.  I go for a classic s'more and to me that's only with milk chocolate, which it weird because otherwise I pretty much only like dark.  I really like the taste of Hershey's milk chocolate, that's what I always use when making s'mores.  Feel free to use something different but whichever chocolate you choose, make sure it's good quality.  Since the ganache is basically only cream and chocolate the flavor really counts.

S'mores Layer Cake
for the cake:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups honey graham cracker crumbs (about 1 1/2 sleeves of crackers processed until it's a powder)
2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 cups buttermilk, well shaken and at room temperature

for the milk chocolate ganache:
16 oz good quality milk chocolate
1 1/3 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

for the meringue frosting:
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

mini marshmallows, for extra garnish, if desired

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease 2 9-inch round cake pans, line with parchment paper, then grease the top of the parchment. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda and powder, salt and cinnamon. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter and sugars until they are light and fluffy; about 2-3 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.  Add the flour mixture alternating with the buttermilk, in three additions. Scrape down the sides and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pans about 10 minutes then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack.  Wrap each cake in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator at least 30 minutes (I typically refrigerate overnight.) *NOTE: This cake is very soft and tender, especially when it's still a little warm. When lifting and wrapping the cake be very careful so it doesn't break.

To make the ganache place the heavy cream and salt in a sauce pan and barely bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Add the chocolate chips, cover and remove from heat.  Let sit 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, remove lid and whisk until chocolate is completely incorporated and mixture is smooth and sheen. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until firm enough to spread on the cake.

To make the meringue frosting, place the egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar in a heat proof bowl.  Place over a simmering pot of water and whisk constantly for about 3 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and it's warm to the touch.  Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, or use electric beaters.  Beat until stiff glossy peaks form, 4-7 minutes then add vanilla and mix in.

To assemble the cake, remove from the fridge and unwrap.  Using a long serrated knife carefully slice each cake in half.  Place the bottom half of one cake on cake plate.  Spread with about 1/3 of the ganache.  Place top half on top of the ganache and then spread another 1/3 of the ganache over that.  Place the top half of the second cake top down over the second layer of ganache.  Spread with remaining ganache and place the bottom half of the second cake, bottom up, on the very top. Quickly do a crumb coat with the meringue and place in the fridge about 10-15 minutes to let it set a bit.  Bring it back out and generously frost the cake, with extra marshmallows for garnish, as desired.  Brown with a kitchen torch. Keep leftovers covered and refrigerated.

SOURCE: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Some of my other favorite birthday cakes:
Cherry Chocolate Cake (#1 FAVE made this so many times!)
Chocolate Raspberry Truffle Cake
Neapolitan Layer Cake
Snickerdoodle Cake
Sweet and Salty Cake

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies with Marshmallow Buttercream Filling

Hello to the most amazing creation ever made!! No seriously this is NO joke.  When it comes to cookies I'm a die-hard chocolate chip cookie lover, homemade of course, and fresh out of the oven.  I like other cookies too, but I'm picky.  So, when I tried a cookie similar to this at a local restaurant I was seriously blown away.  I had never tried anything like it.  The flavor combination is out of this world!  And totally genius, if you ask me. The cinnamon-y and slightly salty cookie with the sweetness of the marshmallow buttercream.  OH. MY.

So, without further ado, I give you the Snickerdoodle Sandwich cookie with Marshmallow Buttercream Filling.

Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies with Marshmallow Buttercream Filling
for the cookies: 
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg, plus 1 yolk
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

for the cinnamon sugar mixture:
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

 For the frosting:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature 
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1 7-oz jar marshmallow fluff
3 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. milk, if necessary

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Add in egg, yolk and  vanilla and beat for another minute, scraping down the sides as necessary.

In a separate bowl, sift together baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon and flour.  Gradually add it to the butter and sugar and beat until well incorporated.

Mix the cinnamon sugar in a small bowl.  Using a small cookie scoop or a spoon, scoop out dough  and roll into a ball, about 1-inch.  Roll the tops of each dough ball in the cinnamon sugar mixture then place them on a cookie sheet, about 9 to a pan.  Do not over crowd.

Bake about 10-12 minutes, turning cookie sheet halfway through baking. Try not to underbake them, as you will need them to be sturdy while spreading the frosting.  Cool cookies completely on a wire rack.  You can even place them in the fridge so they are more firm.

To make frosting, place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Whip until creamy. Add in marshmallow fluff and beat 2-3 minutes, then add in vanilla.  Add in the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, until fully incorporated. Beat another 2-3 minutes.  If frosting is too thin, add a little more sugar, if it's too thick add a little milk, 1 teaspoon at a time. (You will most likely have extra frosting.  Nothing that another batch of cookies later won't remedy...or there's always a spoon or a graham cracker.)

To make sandwich cookies, frost the bottom of one cookie then top with another.  Continue until you've used all the cookies.  Store in an airtight container either on the counter or in the fridge (I actually like mine chilled so I keep them in the fridge.)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Nutella Stuffed Croissant French Toast

It is a rare occasion that I make something like this for breakfast.  I almost can't stand to serve my kids something that's over the top sweet that early in the morning.  However, I think I can get away with this french toast because croissants aren't really sweet at all, and neither is the whipped cream (unless you buy it premade at the store), and I just serve it with fresh berries. So I'm totally good right!! 

I almost never buy croissants because they're kind of expensive.  But I love to shop the reduced bakery rack at a couple of my favorite grocery stores. Occasionally there will be a package or two of these babies, so I just grab them and throw them in the freezer for when I'm ready to use them. Day old bread is perfect for french toast since it's a little dry it'll soak up the egg mixture a little better.

This french toast is easier than it looks and SOOOO worth it!! It just takes a few minutes to pull everything together and you'll be on a roll flipping these babies on the griddle in no time.

Nutella Stuffed Croissant French Toast
1 package of croissants (either 5-6 large ones or about 12 small ones)
2 large eggs
2-3 Tbsp. whole milk, heavy cream or half and half
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. sugar

whipped cream (homemade or store bought)
fresh berries

Preheat pancake griddle to about 300 degrees F.  Alternately you can cook these in a large frying pan, heated to medium-low. Add a little butter to the pan when you're ready to cook the croissants.

In a small shallow dish whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

Slice each of the croissants in half and spread on nutella as desired.  Place the croissants in the egg mixture and let them hang out to soak it up.  Flip them to soak on the other side.

Place croissants on the griddle and let cook about 3-4 minutes, or until golden brown.  Flip and cook another 3-4 minutes.

Serve warm with whipped cream and fresh berries.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Mexican Cabbage Slaw with Jalapeño Dressing

So, I really enjoy celebrating different holidays with food.  Heck, I enjoy celebrating anything with food!  And when I get my act together, I can actually make something and blog about it.

I love Mexican style food and I really LOVE salad.  My biggest beef when making a Mexican meal though is that I never had a good salad to go with it.  I would sometimes make a simple cabbage slaw like the one in this post, but for Cinco de Mayo this year, I wanted something a little more. So I started with my basic slaw and threw in some extra stuff, made a simple spicy dressing and it hit the spot for me.

Cabbage salads are one of my favorites, not only because of the flavor but because they have a lot to offer nutritionally as well.  If you love salad as much as I do, you need to try this one!

Mexican Cabbage Slaw with Jalapeño Dressing
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1/4 head purple cabbage, shredded
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
5-6 radishes, thinly sliced
1 can black black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
diced avocado, for topping

Jalepeño Dressing:
1 jalapeño, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare all vegetables and toss together in a large salad bowl.  In a small glass jar with a tight fitting lid, add all dressing ingredients.  Shake well to combine.

To serve, toss individual salads with dressing, as desired, and top with fresh chopped avocado.  

SOURCE: Dressing from Bakers Royale

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Buttermilk Banana Bread

Growing up I learned to cook from my mom, mostly desserts, on Sunday afternoons.  As I grew older I branched out.  Once I got on my own, I still loved to make brownies and cookies but banana bread became an absolute favorite of mine!  Still dessert-y I guess if you add all that sugar.

Many years ago I found this recipe that I have stood by and loved. Then I fell upon this recipe a while back looking for ways to use my my extra buttermilk.  Not that we ever have much leftover due to all the pancakes and waffles we consume in this house...but sometimes.  And WOW, that one little extra ingredient makes good banana bread amazingly delicious banana bread. I have cut back the sugar and added in whole wheat flour to make it a bit healthier and it's still super moist and absolutely delicious!

We all go bananas for this bread.

Buttermilk Banana Bread
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed banana
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together butter, sugar and bananas.  Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and whisk together.  Add in dry ingredients and stir batter until moistened and just combined.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake 50-60 minutes, or until toothpick  inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in pan 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and cool completely.

SOURCE: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Steak and Blue Cheese Salad

You guyyyyyyys! I can't stop eating this salad. It is my new absolute favorite.  And because it only has like 5 ingredients, besides the dressing, you can blink twice and it's basically done.  Ok, maybe a few more times than that.  But, seriously, like 5 minutes tops.

When it comes to ANYTHING beef, I always turn to Pioneer Woman first, because her hubby is a cattle rancher and they like live and breathe beef. If you've never tried her Perfect Pot Roast, I strongly urge you to.  It is heaven on a plate; best roast I have ever had. Ever!

So, after you get everything prepped, throw the dressing together. It's a little tangy, a little sweet, a little gingery and goes perfectly with beef. You will use some to marinate the meat and the rest you'll just want to slurp up eat it on salad practically every day 'till it's gone. 

Steak and Blue Cheese Salad
2 steaks (Ree suggests rib-eye or strip steaks, I just get whatever looks good)

for the dressing/marinade:
3/4 cup light olive oil
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
1 tsp. salt
fresh ground pepper

for the salad:
lettuce mix (whatever floats your boat, I like romaine and arugula or just arugula)
cherry tomatoes, halved
thinly sliced red onion
about 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (or more if you want leftovers)
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Combine all the dressing ingredients together in a mason jar. Twist on the lid and shake vigorously.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Place steak in a zip-loc bag and add about 1/3-1/2 of the marinade.  Seal and marinate in refrigerator for about 2 hours.

When you're ready, preheat grill and cook steak over medium-high heat about 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how pink you want it.  Remove from heat and let it rest 5 minutes.  Thinly slice steak across the grain.

To assemble salads, place a large handful (or more) of lettuce mix on each plate.  Top with a good handful of tomatoes, sliced onion and a couple tablespoons each of blue cheese and pecans.  Lay the sliced steak on top of everything and add dressing as desired.

SOURCE: Slightly adapted from Pioneer Woman

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Pesto Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos

Man oh man, when I first started making taquitos, my kids could not get enough of them!  Especially my oldest daughter.  I make the same ones every time (these Chili-Lime Taquitos) because they don't like to branch out much.  Much to my chagrin, but kids will be kids right!  So, I thought it was high time to switch it out.

Adding bacon and ranch was a no-brainer, where the kids are concerned, and hey, us adults too.  I mean really, who doesn't love THAT? These are super simple, with just a few ingredients, to throw together and they whip up real quick. I can even make them on a busy weeknight!  I prefer to use the uncooked tortillas because you don't have to cook them beforehand and they taste MUCH better!

Pesto Chicken Bacon Ranch Taquitos
4 chicken breasts
1 ranch seasoning packet
4 Tbsp. basil pesto, divided
1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
uncooked flour tortillas 

Place chicken, contents of the ranch seasoning packet, 2 tablespoons of the pesto and chicken broth into a crockpot. Cook on low for 4-6 hours or until chicken easily shreds.  Remove chicken to a large tray or cookie sheet and cool enough to be able to handle it.  Shred chicken and return it to the crock pot.  Add the remaining pesto, mozzarella and bacon and stir until combined. 

*Note: Don't discard juices when initially taking chicken out of the crockpot.  Once chicken is shredded and added back in, it will soak up most of the juice.  If there is a lot of excess, remove some, leaving enough remaining to keep the chicken moist. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.

Depending on size of tortilla, scoop a scant 1/4 cup of the chicken mixture onto the tortilla and spread it out close to one end of the tortilla.  Roll it up and place it seam side down on prepared baking sheet.  Repeat until all the filling is gone.

If you have an olive oil spritzer, spritz the tops of each of the tortillas with olive oil.  Otherwise you can use a pastry brush to brush with olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of coarse salt over the top of each one.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until tops are lightly golden. Serve warm with ranch dip or sour cream.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cranberry Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola

I used to be a granola making machine! I got a few in my recipe box that I loved and used all the time, then I sort of took a break.  You know how things happens.  After our last stash of Almond Joy Granola (my fave!) was gone I decided to try a new recipe.  Actually the base is pretty similar to most of the granola I make, but the add-ins are what make it unique and delicious.  I've never put pistachios in granola before but I was pleasantly surprised.  I love them by themselves and their delicious taste and saltiness gives a great contrast in flavors to the sweet cranberries and dark chocolate. This will definitely be up there in my top faves!

Cranberry Pistachio and Dark Chocolate Granola
4 cups rolled oats
1 cup crispy rice cereal
1- 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 cup salted pistachios
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, cereal and coconut.  In a smaller microwave-safe mixing bowl, add coconut oil, water, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and ginger.  Microwave about 30 seconds to melt coconut oil and whisk together until combined.  Pour over oat mixture and stir until oats are well-coated.

Spread granola out on 1 or 2 cookie sheets.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes.  If you use only one cookie sheet, use the longer cook time but if using two sheets the granola will brown quicker so stir more frequently and use the shorter cook time.

Allow granola to slightly cool then add pistachios, cranberries and dark chocolate chips.  Mix in and let it sit a few minutes so chocolate melts a little. Stir just a few times so the chocolate spreads just a little but doesn't coat everything.  This will give you clusters perfect for popping in your mouth.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Crispy Parmesan and Basil Quinoa Patties

One of my most favorite things about making quinoa is these patties!  I don't particularly love rice, so any time I can swap it out for quinoa I do.  And when I do make it I ALWAYS make extra, then I have leftovers for these beauties.

Quinoa patties are really like a blank slate, kind of like pancakes if you ask me.  But I always start with quinoa cooked in chicken broth.  I think it just ups the flavor a little more and gives you a good base to work with. I love the tomato-basil variety but really you can customize these to your liking.  Change up the cheese, herbs, even the salsa on top.

Crispy Parmesan and Basil Quinoa Cakes
2 cups cooked quinoa (in chicken broth)
2 eggs
2 Tbsp finely diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 Tbsp chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/3 cup (generous) whole wheat flour
olive oil
avocado, sliced
cherry tomatoes, halved

Cook quinoa ahead and cool completely.  You could even cook it a day a head and refrigerate it.

In a mixing bowl, combine cooked quinoa, eggs, onion, garlic, cheese, basil, salt, pepper and flour.  Stir well so mixture is wet and well-combined.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Using a large scoop, scoop out batter and drop into skillet.  Gently press down until it forms a pattie. Depending on size of skillet, cook about 3-4 at a time.  Cook until crispy and golden; 5-6 minutes per side. Remove patties and place them either on a paper towel or plate to cool.  Serve warm topped with tomatoes, avocado and fresh basil.

SOURCE: Slightly adapted from How Sweet It Is

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Who doesn't love a warm chocolate chip cookie right out of the oven? Mmm, there's almost nothing better (except maybe the cookie dough). Just when I think I've got all the chocolate chip cookie recipes I'll ever need, I try a new one that goes in the recipe box.

I was craving chocolate chip cookies like MAD the other day and for some reason wanted to try a new recipe.  Although I absolutely love my current go-to Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and these Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (my hubby's favorite), there was just something about this recipe that drew me to it.  I had to try it!  The method is similar to the brown butter CCCs and hey, the recipe is from Joy the Baker, so I knew I couldn't go wrong there. 

I've learned a few things over the years from baking many, many, MANY batches of cookies. So if you find a recipe with similar methods, you're sure to have a winner.

1-Whip it, whip it real good!!!  When you cream the sugar and butter, don't just beat until it's combined, beat it for a good 3-4 minutes until it's light and fluffy.  It spreads out the sugar granules and incorporates air into the dough resulting in a more tender cookie.

2-Use a combination of both white and brown sugars.  I learned this a long time ago from Alton Brown on "Good Eats."  All white sugar will make a crispy cookie that spreads more, while adding brown sugar helps add a little moisture as well as chewiness.

3-Chill!  You don't have to chill the dough very long (20 minutes) but chilling the dough will help the cookies from spreading too quickly.

4-Low and slow.  Don't be tempted to turn up the heat! Use a gentle heat (350 degrees) and slightly underbake and you'll have a soft, moist and chewy cookie.

5-Use a chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips.  Chocolate chips have stabilizers that keep them from melting as easily as a chocolate bar.  Plus by chopping up a bar of chocolate, you not only get chunks of chocolate but little shards throughout the whole cookie, thus chocolate in every bite.

The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter (2 sticks), room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
1/2 cup sweetened, flaked coconut, toasted

Place 1 of the sticks of butter in a small saucepan.  Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling the pan occasionally.  Once it's melted, it'll start foaming then it'll start popping. Keep a close eye on it, continuing to swirl.  Once the butter starts smelling nutty and the brown bits on the bottom turn amber in color, remove it from the heat.  Allow to cool completely.

In the mean time spread the coconut out on a cookie sheet and place under the broiler until just starting to brown.  Don't take your eye off it.  It can go from toasted to completely burned in a matter of seconds!  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the remaining stick of butter with the brown sugar about 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape the sides as necessary.  Mix in the vanilla and molasses.

Add the cooled browned butter and the granulated sugar and cream another 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Add egg and egg yolk one at a time and mix.  Add in flour, baking soda and salt and mix until mixture it uniform.  Gently fold in chopped chocolate, toasted coconut and pecans.

Scrape the dough out onto plastic wrap and flatten into a disc.  Refrigerate about 20-30 minutes.  Alternately, you can scoop out all the dough into balls ahead of time, then refrigerate the balls. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Once dough is chilled, scoop dough out onto cookie sheets, either using a small cookie scoop or making about 2-inch balls.  Place 9 balls per cookie sheet.  Bake 12-15 minutes, until tops just start to get golden.  Remove from oven, cool a minute or two on the cookie sheet the cool completely on a wire rack.

SOURCE: Joy The Baker

Monday, January 19, 2015

Thai Ground Turkey Wraps

Life never seems to slow down and it seems the busier I get the less time I have to make the food I want sometimes (hence the long breaks between posts). I struggle, as I'm sure many of you do, with wanting to make healthy food me and my family enjoy, having the time to prepare it and the actual desire.  Let's face it, there's just those days when ramen or boxed mac and cheese will grace our table. But I believe dinner is a worthy fight! It's worth trying to get your kids to eat that green veggie just one more time, it's worth putting forth an effort to make something healthy when you may not want to.  So some of my go-to dinners lately are some of the most simple, quick and healthy that I can find.

These Thai wraps totally fit the bill.  They are my current favorite.  I already love Thai flavors, but something so quick to throw together that's satisfying and light on the calories, now that's a winner in my book.  I loved that most everything in this dish was fresh.  The herbs make a huge difference so don't skip them!  I used nappa cabbage for the shell but you could also use another lettuce, like butter lettuce, if you prefer. The only sauce in this dish is the sauce on the turkey, which is how I prefer it.  I like the contrast of the fresh herbs and cabbage to the warm saltiness of the meat.  But, if you feel like you need something more saucy on top, you could add a little hoisin, sweet chili sauce or even more sriracha.

Thai Ground Turkey Wraps
1 lb. ground turkey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger
pale section of lemongrass finely chopped (or 1 drop lemongrass essential oil)
1 jalapeno, finely diced
juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. Sriracha
1/3 cup chopped chilantro
1/3 chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 small head of red cabbage, thinly sliced
Nappa cabbage leaves, whole, for serving

Optional garnishes:
chopped peanuts
sweet chili sauce
hoisin sauce

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic, ginger,  and lemongrass and saute about 60 seconds, until fragrant. Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink. If using lemongrass oil instead of lemongrass, add at this point, after turkey is cooked.  Be careful not to add too much or it will be overpowering.  You may want to dip a toothpick into the bottle then swirl it in the meat.

In a small bowl, stir together lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar and Sriracha.  Pour over cooked ground turkey, toss in the chopped jalapeno, stir to evenly distribute sauce and let sit 5 minutes.

Remove meat from heat and toss in fresh herbs and red cabbage.  Scoop onto nappa cabbage leaves, top with green onions and other garnishes as desired.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

What's not to love about a muffin?  They're quick and easy to make and their flavor variations are pretty much limitless.  I love to make a big batch of muffins, eat some warm and fresh, save a few for the kids' lunches then throw the rest in the freezer.  They make for a quick breakfast when we're short on time or even for a snack.  I typically use half whole wheat and half white flour and about half of the sugar of traditional muffin recipes, so no guilt here serving them to my family.

My oldest daughter fell in love with these muffins last year and I've made them numerous times since.  We all love them!  But if you're not a fan of lemon or don't have it on hand, try adding a touch of almond extract and a small handful of sliced almonds.  Just not sweet enough for you? Sprinkle some coarse sugar on top of each muffin before baking, or add a simple glaze on top of a little powdered sugar and milk mixed together.

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
2/3 cup sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/3-1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line muffin tin with liners and set aside.

In  mixing bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest.  Rub together with your fingers until very fragrant.  Add lemon juice,yogurt, buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla and whisk until well combined.  Sift the remaining dry ingredients, except the poppy seeds. Stir dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined.  Gently fold in the poppy seeds.

Using a large scoop, divide batter evenly into the muffin tin.  Bake 15-17 minutes or until slightly golden on top.

Cool muffins on a wire rack and store in an airtight container on the counter about 4 days.

SOURCE: Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Monday, December 29, 2014

Buttermilk Waffles

Man oh man there has been a waffle craze around here lately. I don't know about where you live but here in Utah we have Waffle Love. Delicious liege waffles with the most amazing decadent toppings! It was love at first bite.

Now I realize that buttermilk waffles are completely different, but still delicious in their own light.  Many of you know my love for pancakes.  I've made probably thousands and don't even need a recipe.  I grew up in a house where my mom often made us both pancakes and waffles.  I have obviously carried pancakes with me over the years, but I don't know where the waffles fell off.  Since starting to make these, both my kids and husband prefer them over pancakes.  So I suck it up every once in a while and make a big batch.  I like to throw the leftovers in the freezer because they keep so well.  Just pop them in the toaster right from the freezer and they come out nice and warm and crispy--not soggy!

Buttermilk Waffles
3 large eggs, separated
2 cups buttermilk
1 Tbsp. vanilla
6 Tbsp. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt

In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks with buttermilk, vanilla, butter and sugar.  Sift together dry ingredients and add them to the wet.  Whisk to incorporate.

In a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites on medium or high speed, until stiff peaks form. Gently fold them into the batter.  Cover batter loosely with plastic wrap about 10-15 minutes, while waffle iron heats up.

Cook waffles on preheated waffle iron according to package directions.

Serve warm with toppings of your choice: syrup, whipped cream, fruit, etc.

SOURCE: Just a Taste

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Italian Meatball Sliders

So, I don't know where it came from, but I've had this mad craving for some Italian meatballs for months!! Unfortunately lately I haven't been able to knock off many new meals from my ever-growing list.  My kids are in this picky rut and I hate it!! I also refuse to feed them mac and cheese from a box every single day so I am rotating a few boring simple meals until they start eating more variety.  I'll often make something else for me and the hubbs, that we can eat off for a few days, but that never lasts long to photograph.

So, I finally put my foot down and made these Italian meatballs the other night...and then made everyone eat them.  And to my and their surprise, they all liked them!  Whaddya know ha!  I actually had my toddler help me make these.   Her favorite part was grinding the fennel in the mortar and pestle.  The meat mixture smelled AMAZING while we were getting it together. I couldn't wait to sink my teeth in.

I decided to make these meatballs slider size, using my muffin scoop to portion them out, and serve them on whole wheat dinner rolls because we have little mouths in this house and I knew they wouldn't eat more than that.  You can definitely make them bigger or smaller and serve them on larger rolls if desired.  Anyway you make them, they'll be a new favorite. They are nice and moist with just the right amount of seasoning.

Italian Meatball Sliders
for the meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef
3/4-1 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fennel seed (if you have a mortar and pestle crush them a bit but don't pulverize them)
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup milk
1 egg

for the sauce:
1 recipe Easy No-Cook Pizza Sauce 

for the sliders:
shredded mozzarella
shredded parmesan
chopped fresh basil or parsley for garnish (optional)
12 whole wheat dinner rolls

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl add all meatball ingredientsUse your hands to mix everything together until ingredients are well-incorporated.

Line a cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.  Using a muffin scoop, scoop out meat mixture and place onto cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly, if desired, so they will will not roll off your bun. Continue until all meat mixture us used up.  Makes about 12 meatballs.

Bake meatballs for 15 minutes.  In the meantime, make sauce.  Pour sauce into large skillet and heat over medium heat.  Once meatballs are cooked, remove from cookie sheet and place them in the skillet with the sauce.  Simmer, covered about 10 minutes.

To assemble sliders, cut buns in half and place under broiler for 2-3 minutes or until they just start to get golden.  Place a meatball on one half of each of the buns, a pinch of mozzarella and parmesan then put it back under the broiler until the cheese is melted.  Remove from oven garnish with fresh basil or parsley and serve warm.  Use any extra sauce left in the pan to dip the sliders.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Egg Nog Muffins

I absolutely LOVE egg nog and usually try to get as much of it as I can while it's around during the holidays.  Thankfully I'm doing a health and fitness challenge right now, otherwise I'd probably have gone through more than my share.

So I had a lonely quart left in my fridge that needed to be used up before it expired.  I didn't want to "cheat" and just drink it so I made these lovely muffins for breakfast and they were totally devoured.  I think I may need to make them again.

Egg Nog Muffins
Makes 1 dozen

1 cup good quality egg nog
2 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1 /4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/3 cup if your egg nog is pretty sweet)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg nog, eggs, sour cream, butter and sugar, until well combined.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

Line muffin tin with liners and divide batter evenly between muffin wells.

Bake muffins for 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool on wire rack.  Store in an airtight container on the counter for 3-4 days. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cherry Tomato Pasta with Spinach and Lemon Pesto

So, this is one of those pasta dishes that is so easy and takes just minutes more than the time it takes to boil the pasta to make.  There's almost no prep either, unless you make your own pesto (which can be done ahead of time anyway).  No chopping, slicing or dicing, just pretty much dumping.  Just the kind of thing I'm loving lately.  I got the idea for this dish from The Simpler, The Better, a pasta cookbook I have and love.  And because tomatoes and spinach were just about the only veggies I had left lying around.

I seriously made this dish on the fly.  I was running out of time to get dinner on the table in a timely manner and I needed something  FAST! The result is a fabulous, colorful, healthy and tasty meal, perfect for a busy weeknight. 

I used to think I didn't like cooked tomatoes very much but I've been putting these little cherry tomatoes on pizza and pasta lately and I have to say they're tasty.  They're very lightly cooked, so they still lend that fresh garden tomato flavor that I love. Of course if you have different veggies lying around, you could easily substitute them.  Asparagus, red peppers, even eggplant would be delicious.

Cherry Tomato Pasta with Spinach and Lemon Pesto
1 lb. pasta (I used penne)
olive oil
2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
4 cups baby spinach, loosely packed
1/4 cup basil pesto (homemade or store bought)
juice of 1 lemon
fresh shaved parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water.  Set pasta aside.

Return pot to the stove over medium-high heat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil.  Add tomatoes and cook just until they start to split; about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add pesto, lemon juice, spinach and pasta.  Toss to coat well. Add enough reserved pasta water to loosen the pesto and make a light sauce.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, to taste. Allow pasta to sit a few minutes until the spinach is slightly wilted. 

Serve warm with freshly shaved cheese.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Scones

When it comes to scones, I'm pretty much a hoarder.  I've tried all sorts of flavor combinations and I love them all!  When my friend posted a picture the other day of her tomato-basil-goat cheese biscuit, I knew these would be the next scones I would make.  After all this is about the time every year when I pull my tomato plants out for the fall and I have a bajillion cherry tomatoes to use up.

I love, love loved the outcome of these scones.  They were every bit as delicious as I had imagined.  Since the cook time is relatively short the tomato and basil still had that fresh picked flavor and the soft, tangy goat cheese just melts in your mouth.

Tomato, Basil and Goat Cheese Scones
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (about half a pint)
2-3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chiffonade
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, add the flours, baking powder and salt.  Pulse a couple times to blend.  Add butter and whiz until mixture becomes a coarse meal.  Alternately you could use a pastry blender or two knives to cut butter in.

Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and toss in tomatoes, basil and goat cheese. Gently mix in buttermilk until just combined.  Do not over mix!

Turn dough out onto flour dusted counter and knead about 4 times (again, resist the urge to knead much more than that).  Pat into a rectangle and cut into 12 squares.  Place each scone onto a baking sheet.  Place baking sheet into oven and bake 12- 15 minutes, until lightly golden. Cool completely on wire rack.  

Scones are best eaten fresh, the same day.  You can also freeze uncooked scones to bake fresh as needed.  After you cut them out, place them on a large plate and place in freezer for about an hour.  Then transfer them to a freezer safe zip loc bag.  Do not thaw to bake, just add about 3-4 extra minutes onto bake time.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Etta's Black Bean and Ham Hock Soup with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Last summer my family and I made the long trek to Seattle to visit my brother and his family.  Near the end of our trip I was trying to think of some kind of souvenir to bring home.  Nothing came to mind.  I mean, I could have brought home a dozen Top Pot donuts, but I don't think they would have lasted, honestly.  Then I remembered my friend told me that she always bought a cookbook, featuring local fare, when visiting other places.   Since we didn't have time to go cookbook shopping, I jumped on amazon when we got home and found not one but two great cookbooks.  The first was the Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook, a carb and breakfast-lovers dream (me!!), and the second was Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen.  Anyone familiar with Seattle knows that Tom Douglas is where it's at when it comes to food.  Owner of Etta's Seafood, Dahlia Lounge and Palace Kitchen, how could I not buy one of his books!!

So, remember I said our trip was LAST summer??  Yeah, it's taken me that long to start going through all the recipes I've bookmarked.  The other day I grabbed Seattle Kitchen off the shelf and this recipe popped out and I almost immediately made it. 

I'm pretty sure you'll find that ham and bean soup is delicious comfort food almost anywhere you go.  I grew up eating just a basic ham and bean soup, but this one will knock your socks off. It is still a super simple, healthy and delicious meal to make but the extra flavors and roasted salsa on top take it just over the top. 

Tom Douglas said this soup has been on the menu at Etta's for lunch and dinner every day since the restaurant opened!  If it's good enough for him, it's definitely good enough for me.

Black Bean and Ham Hock Soup with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
12 cups chicken stock, or more if needed
1 smoked ham hock (check local butcher or save your own when you buy a ham)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped carrots, half-inch dice
1/2 cup chopped celery, half-inch dice
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 cups drained canned tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and ground
2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. smoked paprika
3/4 tsp. cayenne, or to taste
juice of a lime
salt and pepper
1/4 cup cilantro

Place beans in a large pot with the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until beans are soft, about 2-3 hours (depending on freshness of beans).

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat and slowly cook the onions, carrots and celery until onions are golden and caramelized, 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the garlic the last minute of cooking.  Add the onion mixture to the pot of beans, along with the tomatoes, tomato paste, and ground spices. Continue simmering until beans are soft.

Pull out ham hock and remove fat and skin. Remove meat from the bone, shred or finely chop it and put it back in with the beans.  Season beans with paprika, cayenne, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.

To serve: Ladle soup into bowls and top with sour cream or soft cheese, such as cojita, and a few dollops of tomatillo salsa. Also great served with cornbread.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
8 oz. (2 1/2 cups) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and dried
oliive oil
1 poblano chile or other mild green chile, such as Anaheim, roasted, peeled and seeded and finely chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp.  minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
1 tsp. seeded and minced canned chipotle in adobo
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Toss tomatillos in a drizzle of olive oil, place on a small metal pan and place in the oven, tossing a few times until lightly browned; about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool. 

Turn oven to broil.  Place poblano pepper on a small metal baking tray and place under broiler until skin is blackened slightly, about 5 minutes.  Flip pepper over and broil another 5 minutes or so.  Remove from oven and immediately place it in a container with a lid to cool.  Once cooled, skin easily peels off.

Chop cooled tomatillos and poblano pepper and place in a small mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and taste for seasoning.  Adjust as necessary.  Best used the same day but will keep in the fridge, covered, for 2 days.

SOURCE: Tom Douglas' Seattle Kitchen

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Shredded Rainbow Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Have you ever seen Jaime Oliver's Food Revolution?  I love him and what he does with food.  This salad just screams Jaime Oliver; totally reminds me of him.  I ripped this recipe out of a magazine and I can't remember where it's from, but I absolutely love it.  It's just what I like in a salad.  Bright, colorful and very flavorful! My girls like cabbage.  I don't know if that's weird or not.  Of all the veggies they DON'T eat, they choose to like cabbage...whatever.  The first time I made this salad, my 2 year old asked to share it with me.  At first I thought she was going to take one bite and spit it out but she kept asking for more...she really liked it!  I was so surprised, but definitely happy at least one of my children is taking after my love of salads. 

This salad is great really any time of year as most of the veg is hearty and you can get it year-round.  Cabbage salads are high up there on my favorite salads list.  I think it has to do with that crispy-crunch.  And I especially like it with cilantro. The citrus dressing is the perfect pairing for this salad.  It's light and slightly sweet from the orange and just brings out all the different flavors.

Shredded Rainbow Salad
1/2 head red cabbage
2 beets, peeled (raw)
2 large carrots, peeled
2 apples, cored and peeled (if desired)
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
3-4 large kale leaves, chopped

To shred veggies, you can either use a food processor, with a shredder blade, or a regular cheese grater will work too.   Shred apple first and toss in with a couple spoonfuls of the vinaigrette (below) to keep from browning. Set aside.  Shred the carrots, cabbage and beets.  Make sure you saves the beet for last or everything will turn purple!

Toss veggies in a bowl with chopped cilantro and kale.  If you want to keep the apple from being colored by the beet juice, divide out salad portions and place a bit of shredded apple on top of each portion.  Otherwise, you can toss the apple right in with the rest. Serve with orange vinaigrette.

Orange Vinaigrette
Zest and juice of 1 orange
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4-1/3cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
Pinch if salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk together and store in the fridge, in a jar with a tight fitting lid; I like to use half pint mason jars with the plastic lids.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tomato Vegetable Soup

'Tis the season for fresh garden tomatoes.  It's the time I look forward to every year! You can do so much with them.  I usually home can tomatoes in one way or another each fall (salsa, a variety of spaghetti sauces, etc.), but the past few years I've been doing more and more just plain or stewed tomatoes.  I do this mostly because I LOVE to turn them into soup.  My kids and I absolutely adore this fresh tomato soup, but sometimes I like to make something a little more calorie friendly.  Enter this soup.

I don't tend to like soups that are really thin, they just don't fill me up.  I like my soups thick and tasty. That's what this soup delivers.  It still has that fresh tomato taste but the flavor is punched up with some extra veggies.  I love to serve it up with some fresh artisan bread or even a heaping spoonful of this Southwest Cabbage Slaw (which really needs it's own post by now).

Tomato Vegetable Soup
6-8 cups tomatoes, blanched, peeled and cored
3 carrots, chopped
1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
1 small onion, cut into 1-inch dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. smoked paprika
 2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
handful of fresh basil (about 1/2 cup or so loosely packed), roughly chopped
salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

To blanch and peel tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil and fill a sink with ice water.  Score the tomatoes by making an "x" on them with a serrated knife. Drop about 4-5 tomatoes at a time in the boiling water for 60 seconds.  Remove from boiling water and immediately submerge in ice water.  Continue with remaining tomatoes.  Once tomatoes are cooled skins will slip off easily. remove core with knife or coring utensil.  Set tomatoes aside.

In a  large pot, heat a drizzle of olive oil.  Add chopped onion, carrot and peppers and saute over medium-high heat about 5-6 minutes.   Add garlic and paprika and saute another 60 seconds, making sure the garlic doesn't burn.  Next add tomatoes by crushing them in your fist over the pot as you put them in.  Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until veggies are tender; about 10-15 minutes.

Remove soup from heat, add fresh basil and puree to desired consistency.  You can either do this with an immersion blender or in a upright blender, blending by batches.  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper, to taste. Feel free to add a splash of whole milk or heavy cream, although it's delicious without it.

SOURCE:  Adapted from Season with Spice

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fresh Peach and Corn Caprese Pizza

So, now that I've basically taken the whole summer off from blogging, I'm going to cram all the summer-luvin' food in your faces the next couple weeks before fall starts.  EEEK!  I'm just a little excited. 

Summer was busy for us, but, hey, who wasn't it busy for?  Our most exciting time was a week up in Island Park, Idaho near Yellowstone, with my WHOLE family; all my siblings, their spouses and kids, and of course my parents.  It was just awesome to get away and be together, but we also got to see and do some fun things as well.  The rest of the summer has not been too incredibly exciting.  Lots of trips to the pool and water parks, playing with friends and such.

Anyway, I digress.  We got out of our regular Friday night pizza night over the summer and had missed several.  I was craving it big time!  I was just craving a regular caprese pizza but my mom always gives me stuff from her garden.  She gave me some corn and peaches from her tree (fresh peaches=heaven!), and I thought, hey, why not throw it onto a pizza? So, not only does this pizza have homegrown corn, peaches and basil but I also threw on some fresh mozzarella and smoked jack cheese.  MMMmmm!  I discovered my love for smoked cheese last year, thank you Trader Joes, and it's one of my most favorite things to put on pizza.

This pizza is the essence of summer!  It will not disappoint.

Fresh Peach and Corn Caprese Pizza
1 recipe Perfect Pizza Crust
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small peach, thinly sliced
handful of grape tomatoes (halved or whole)
corn cut from 1 fresh ear
4 oz. fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup smoked cheese (such as mozzarella or jack), shredded
2-3 Tbsp. fresh basil, chiffonade

Mix pizza dough according to directions.  While dough is rising, make balsamic reduction.

Pour balsamic vinegar into a small pan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium high and cook until reduced by half, about 2 tablespoons.  Set aside.

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees F.

Once dough has risen and doubled in size,  roll out on a pizza peel generously dusted with corn meal.  You can also roll it out on parchment paper (which you can slide right into the oven with the pizza); the more toppings the harder it is to slide off onto the baking stone.  Brush the entire top of the dough with olive oil.  Spread the garlic around the dough as evenly as you can, either with your fingertips or a pastry brush. 

Slice the mozzarella and layer on top of dough, followed by the sliced peaches, tomatoes and corn.  Top with the shredded smoked cheese. If you want you can tuck in a few basil leaves too.

Slide pizza onto pizza peel and bake 8-10 minutes or until top is lightly golden and cheese is bubbly.  If you're using parchment, slide pizza on top of an inverted cookie sheet, then either place that right into the oven or use it to slide it onto the pizza stone. 

Remove pizza from oven, allow to cool slightly, then drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top.  Slice and serve warm.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Creamy Polenta with Summer Squash Saute

I love the simple and tasty.  I've said many times here on the blog that sometimes it amazes me how just a few very simple ingredients can taste so wonderful. And when those ingredients are some you grew yourself, even better!  I didn't actually grow the squash, but my mom did and she gave it to me.  The basil is ALL mine!!  Can't live without that stuff.

This is a quick and easy summer dish.  It goes great as a side dish along side some grilled chicken, or keep it meatless and serve it with some salad and a baguette

Creamy Polenta with Summer Squash Saute
for the polenta:
3/4 cup polenta (or cornmeal; not instant)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

for the saute:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 small zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
2 small yellow summer yellow summer squash, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
3 cloves minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade

Bring chicken broth to a boil and whisk in polenta.  Reduce heat to low and stir polenta as it thickens.  Depending on how coarse the grain it, it may take 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in cream and cheese.  Check for seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large frying pan, over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add in zucchini and squash and cook about 5 minutes until it starts to brown a bit.  Reduce heat to medium-low, add a couple tablespoons of water and simmer until desired doneness; about 3-5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve polenta on a rimmed plate or wide bowl.  Spoon squash saute over the top of the polenta and top with fresh basil.

SOURCE: Adapted from Eating Well
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