Saturday, December 29, 2012

Easy Yeast Rolls

This recipe comes to me from my Father - in - Law. I was skeptical when I first read through it, but decided to trust his judgement and tried it anyway.


My verdict: these were the easiest rolls I have ever made. Seriously. They are probably even easier than pulling store bought rolls out of the freezer and allowing them to rise before cooking.

I did have a couple moments of concern throughout the recipe, but pressed on, and it worked out. I'm going to alert you to those concerns so you don't panic partway in. The dough is reeeealllly runny. 1) This doesn't look like your standard yeast dough. 2) Don't worry about filling the muffin cups full. They won't spill everywhere, but will rise the perfect amount.

No one will have any idea that the tasty rolls you made took a total of 20 minutes from start to finish. It's a wonderful thing.

Yield: 12-16 rolls

2 cups very warm water
1 tbsp dry active yeast
3/4 cups butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Once dissolved, add the rest of the ingredients in and mix well. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Spoon into a well greased muffin tin, filling the cups almost full, and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Mexican Quinoa

In order for me to be excited about and love a meal, it needs the following characteristics: colorful, tasty, and easy. It doesn't have to be healthy, although this meal has that going for it too. This one can go right up on my list of favorites. See all the pretty colors - red, green, black, yellow? I'm happy.

While this is tasty on it's own, and I ate all my leftovers at work that way, it gets an added dose of tastiness if you want to throw some cheese and sour cream on top. Ah, dairy, how I love you. 

This entire meal literally takes less than 30 minutes. It's super easy and super tasty, if I haven't mentioned that enough yet. 

Side note: if you are interested in cooking your own beans to use in this recipe, follow this link over to Food Storage For Dinner where I give step by step instructions. They take some time, but are super easy, save money, and are worth it. 


Yield: 4-6 servings

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
3-4 jalapenos, seeded depending on your love of heat, and diced
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth (chicken broth works well too)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups corn
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of one lime

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and jalapenos and saute until fragrant and jalapenos are beginning to soften. Add quinoa, broth, black beans, diced tomatoes (including their juices), corn, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice and enjoy!

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Monday, December 24, 2012

Chocolate Peppermint Sandwich Cookies

Things have just been so busy this year that Christmas was almost lost in all the hub-bub. However, the Christmas spirit struck me last week (just in time!) and I decided that these cookies HAD to be made. I even went so far as to buy the ingredients and make the cookies after working a 12 hour day. They were crucial to me surviving the day. Lucky for me, they were super easy and quick.

They are veeeeerrry chocolatey and have just the right amount of peppermint. They will make a nice addition to your Christmas celebration or any goodie plates that you deliver (they were made again for our goodie plates that were sent out today). 

Yield: 15-18 cookie sandwiches

1 bag + 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (about 2 1/2 cups total)
2 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3.5 oz bar peppermint bark, crushed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt a bag (or about 1 1/2 cups) of chocolate chips and butter over low heat until smooth. Allow to cool just a little. Add the eggs, sugar, flour, vanilla, and baking powder and mix until blended. Add the remaining cup of chocolate chips. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely.

When your cookies are cool, prepare the frosting. To make the frosting, mix the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar. If needed, add a little milk to reach the right consistency (I didn't need to add any milk). Once well mixed, add the crushed peppermint bark and stir to mix.

Frost one cookie and top with another. Enjoy!

Source: adapted from Ghirardelli

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pumpkin Oatmeal

My last semester of college I lived off of oatmeal and hospital cafeteria food. I didn't have time for much else, nor did I want to put in much more effort than that diet required. Little did I know though, how boring my oatmeal was in those days. Oatmeal is better than simply mixing in peanut butter after being heated up. I wasn't doing it it's full justice. Fear not though, my error has been corrected. 

I have made this multiple times and I eat the whole of it almost every time. It is yummy fresh and reheats nicely for days. It is also very filling and makes the morning at work pass by hunger free. 

Yield: 6-8 servings


2 cups steel cut oats (also known as Irish Oatmeal) 
2 cups water
2 cups milk
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp molasses
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/3 cup maple syrup
Pecans (optional)

Mix everything except the maple syrup and pecans in a large pot. Bring it to a boil, making sure to stir almost constantly so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes - again stirring almost constantly - until an oatmeal like consistency is reached. Remove from the heat, stir in the maple syrup, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes. Top with pecans and enjoy!

Source: adapted from Serving Up the Skinny

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Turkey Chili

One of my favorite meals is Chili. It is so warm, and comforting, and oh, so good. I could eat chili weekly and never get sick of it. My husband on the other hand, could never eat chili and not think a single thing of it. I made chili shortly after we got married (before I really put much effort into cooking) and had a heavy hand with the cayenne pepper. It must have scarred him because ever since then, every time I suggest chili for dinner he cringes and I die a little inside. 

Imagine my surprise when earlier this fall while at a PA School interview he called and told me he had some chili for dinner that he LOVED. What?!? Lucky for me, he was staying with my best friend and her husband so the recipe was easily passed on. Thank you, Emily, for feeding my husband chili that he will not only eat, but thoroughly enjoy. Our lives have been forever changed. 

Yield: 6-8 servings

2 lbs ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 4 oz. cans diced green chilies
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp white vinegar
3 tbsp yellow mustard
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp cilantro
Cheese and sour cream for topping (optional)

Add the turkey, onions, and garlic powder to a large pot and brown. Once the meat is cooked through, add all remaining ingredients except the cilantro and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes then add cilantro. Serve topped with cheese and sour cream if desired. 

Source: adapted from Jamie Eason's Livefit Recipes

Monday, November 26, 2012

Mayan Chocolate Brownies

As mentioned in my previous post, I also made brownies for my sister's wedding. The brownies I made for that were this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. These brownies are wonderful and have been made multiple times at my house.

A wonderful variation on those brownies is giving them a Mayan spin. To have something considered "Mayan" chocolate it includes an addition of spices like cayan pepper and chili powder.

The added spices give these brownies an awesome new taste with just a little hint of heat. I am a big fan of them. 

Yield: 16 brownies

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp flaky sea salt
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp red pepper
1 tsp chili powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper or foil and coat it with cooking spray. 

In a heat proof bowl over simmering water melt the chopped chocolate with the butter until completely melted. Stir in the sugar and then the eggs one at a time. Then stir in the vanilla and salt. Add the flour, red pepper, and chili powder. Stir it in until just combined. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Source: adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Coconut Cupcakes

My sister got married a week ago today. I was lucky enough to have her let me make a lot of her reception goodies. I made upwards of 400 cupcakes, a mixture of coconut and chocolate cupcakes. In addition to that, I made about 150 brownies. While that can sound (and indeed the required ingredients pictured below make it look) overwhelming, I was actually excited about it and enjoyed the process. Maybe one day I can make cupcakes for people for real. 

The receptions were truly beautiful and everything went very well as far as I could tell.

In addition to my baked goods, there were cream puffs, Brazilian pudding cups, M&Ms, oreo balls, and cake balls. 

And now to the Coconut Cupcakes. I think these were by far the favorite. Every one raved about these. I made a trial run a few weeks before and got rave reviews then too. Family, coworkers, friends, and people I have never met before told me how much they loved these. They were referred to as "crack cupcakes" by more than one person.

Here are a couple pictures from the trial run. Complete with halloween cupcake wrappers. 

Make these cupcakes and make them soon. Everyone will love and thank you.

Yield: about 75 mini cupcakes (I have yet to make them normal size - mini ones are so much better in my opinion! I'm guessing you would get around 20-25 normal sized cupcakes.)

2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 egg whites
1 tsp coconut extract
1 1/4 cups canned coconut milk
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

10 oz cream cheese
6 tbsp butter, at room temperature
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
4 tsp coconut extract

Shredded Coconut for toasting and topping (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in cupcake pan.

To make the cupcakes:
In a medium bowl combine the flour, powder, and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the butter, coconut oil, and sugar and mix until light and fluffy. By hand or low speed on a mixer, add 1/4 cup of coconut milk and coconut extract. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by 1/2 cup of coconut milk, add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the rest of the coconut milk, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until well combined, but do not overmix.

Put all of the egg whites in a clean bowl and whip until soft peaks (the eggs don't quite hold their form when the beater is mixed) form. Fold half of the egg whites into the batter. When the first half is blended in, add the second half and gently fold in until well mixed. Fold in the shredded coconut. 

Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake cups and bake for 10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes, 20-22 minutes for normal sized cupcakes. 

To make the frosting:
Combine the cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat together until smooth until light and fluffy. Add in the cream cheese 1/2 cup at a time. Add the coconut extract and mix until well combined. 

Try not to eat all the frosting before frosting your cupcakes and enjoy!

Toast the coconut on a frying pan on low on the stove until it lightly browns. Be careful because it can burn very quickly so don't walk away while it is toasting (I speak from looooots of experience here, trust me). Sprinkle on top of frosted cupcakes. 

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats and Williams Sonoma Essentials of Baking

Baked Chicken Nuggets

One of my downfalls in life is McDonald's Chicken Nuggets. For some strange reason, I love them. When I found a recipe (which my husband actually found) that tasted similar and even better I was stoked. I have already made these multiple times. They are also easily frozen and eaten when in a pinch. Great news. 


3 cups corn flakes
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pinch of pepper
1 lb boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the chicken into nugget sized pieces. Put the corn flakes in a food processor and process until crumbs are formed. Add Parmesan cheese, salt, onion and garlic powder, and pepper. Pulse until combined (this could also be done in a large Ziploc bag if a food processor is not available). 

Put the eggs in a small bowl and whisk together. Put the flour in another small bowl. Dip pieces of chicken in the flour, then the eggs, and finally the corn flake mixture*. Place on prepared baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes until done. 

*Chicken nuggets can be frozen at this point. Still place on an baking sheet or plate and freeze for 30 minutes before putting in a freezer safe container. 

Source: adapted from Six Sister's Stuff

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pearl Couscous Salad

My biggest shortcoming as far as food is concerned is side dishes/appetizers hands down. I get so focused on the main part of the mean, any little flourish on the side is almost always completely lost. As such, this is something I have been putting forth a concerted effort to fix this problem of mine. 

One sub-problem that I have is variety. It would be so much easier if I could make corn and potatoes to go with everything. Buuut, not only would that get old really quick, my husband would go on strike even faster. Enter: Pearl Couscous. I never even knew there were different kinds of couscous before this recipe. Score!

This was so good! It will definitely be a side dish at our house again. It was tasty and has a nice sweet tang to it. If anyone knows me, they know I like it sweet. If I can have sweet in my main course as well as desert, life is so much better!


2 cups pearl couscous (also known as Isreali Couscous)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried cranberries
2 green apples, diced
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried thyme

For the Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon - the zest and the juice of half
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Heat the 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the couscous and cook until slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer until the liquid is almost evaporated, 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a bowl to allow it to cool while you make the vinaigrette. Add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, red onion, apple, dried cranberries, and almonds. 

To make the vinaigrette, combine all the ingredients and whisk until smooth. 

Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous mixture and toss evenly to coat. Enjoy!

Source: adapted from Foodiddy, originally from the Food Network

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cheesy Broccoli Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes

Who doesn't like a potato filled with cheese goodness? And by adding in the broccoli, you even make it semi healthy. At least that's what I keep telling myself.

Whatever you do tell yourself though, make sure that it goes something along the lines of "I need to make Cheesy Broccoli Stuffed Twice Baked Potatoes in the near future".

Besides, it makes for the perfect comfort food in these ever cooler fall days.


3-6 Russet potatoes, depending on size
3 tbsp butter, melted
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups broccoli florets
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and bake your potatoes until tender, 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees again. Bake empty potato skins until they are crisp, about 10 minutes.
Steam the broccoli until tender, but still crisp. Making sure that you leave a rim of white, use a spoon to scoop out the potato and put in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and half of the grated cheese to the potato insides and mash together. Gently stir in the broccoli and season to taste with salt and pepper. Scoop the mixture back into the potato skins, cover with remaining cheese, and bake for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is nicely melted.

Source: slightly adapted from Kate From Scratch

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas

I know it has been forever since I last posted, but it has been crazy around our house! You can look at my personal blog to see a little bit of what as been going on, mostly good things of course. For my penance, I am bringing you this recipe. It will not disappoint. I hope you can forgive my 3 week hiatus.

With my faith in enchiladas restored (see this post for details), I decided to be brave and try a recipe with a different twist. Not only were these successful, they were also super tasty. The honey/lime combinatin does wonderful things to the palate.

I am so glad that I may have figured out how to make enchiladas. Life really is better when you can make them at home!

Yield: 4-6 Servings
6 tablespoons honey
5 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pound chicken, cooked and shredded
8-10 flour tortillas
16 oz Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
16 oz green enchilada sauce
1 cup heavy cream
Mix the first four ingredients and add to a ziploc bag along with the chicken. Put the bag in the fridge and let it marinate for 1/2 hour -24 hours.
Pour 1/2 cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. Take the chicken out of the marinade, but save any that you have left. Putting in the baking dish as you go, fill the tortillas with the chicken mixture and shredded cheese, reserving about 1 cup to sprinkle on top. Mix the remaining enchilada sauce, marinade, and heavy cream together and pour over the top of the enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until brown and crispy on top. 

Source: adapted from Six Sisters' Stuff

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Dark Chocolate Cookies with Sea Salt

Sometimes I just need a hefty dose of chocolate. I need it to be rich and gooey and delicious. These cookies delivered on all fronts. Plus the kick of sea salt (this is the first sweet that I have added it to up to this point) also satisfied any need for salt I had. These are craving satisfying cookies on multiple fronts. Yum.

Yield: 12 cookies
3 oz chocolate - the darker the better, I used 60%, chopped
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
Fleur de Sel (or large-flake sea salt) for topping (A big thank you to Hunter's Dad for supplying me with this!)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Over a double broiler, melt the chocolate then let it cool for 5 minutes. While the chocolate is cooling, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

Stir the egg and sugar into the chocolate mixture until combined. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.

Roll the cookie dough into about 1 1/2 tbsp balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle the fleur de sel on top. Bake cookies for 9-12 minutes.

Source: adapted from The Novice Chef Blog

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Aztec Chicken

When Hunter and I were engaged and deciding where we were going to live it was tough. If we both stayed working where we currently were then odds were that we would both be commuting 30-45 minutes. Not a good situation. I was lucky and ended up getting a job working for a boss I had worked for previously and was in a much better location. Now my commute is 15 minutes and his is 30. Much better.

Anyway, the reason I tell this story is that when I left the job I was currently at (which I loved and the only reason I was leaving was for convenience) it was a bittersweet experience. We had a going away party on one of my last days and my manager provided the main dish, which was this Aztec Chicken. To say it was a hit was an understatement. It. Was. So. Good. I think everyone there that day got the recipe from him. This is also one of the few things I could cook when we first got married because it also happens to be super easy. Thank you Rusty for helping me to feed my husband as a newlywed and providing an easy meal now that I actually know what I am doing.

Yield: 6-8 servings

2 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 bag frozen corn
1 cup salsa
4-5 chicken breasts
1 cup salsa
Garlic, to taste
Cumin, to taste
8 oz. Cream cheese

Put all the ingredients except the cream cheese in a crock pot. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8. Stir in the cream cheese right before serving. Serve over rice or tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Fish cooked in Parchment Paper

This meal might have been my favorite fish dish to date. I loved every single bite and didn't even let a drop of the juices go to waste. This is big for me because usually it is a struggle to get through even a small fish fillet. Perhaps the best part about this recipe is that it is super adaptable and I'm pretty sure next time I will do it completely differently - maybe cauliflower and orange instead of asparagus and lemon.

This recipe makes much more sense if I break it down step by step.

First, your ingredients:
2 fish fillets - whatever size and type of fish you like. I used salmon and did a little one and a big one for my fish loving husband.
1 bunch asparagus (or other vegetable of your choice)
1 lemon, thinly sliced
Fresh herb of your choice
Garlic Powder
Sea Salt
Butter, thinly sliced
Parchment Paper

And now for our recipe:

Cut yourself two pretty good sized hearts from the parchment paper. Think elementary school style where you fold it over and cut both halves at once.

Open the heart up and put some asparagus on one side. Top it with a few thin slices of butter and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Next, put your fish fillet on top of your vegetable. Put a few more slices of butter and sprinkle again with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

Top with the herb of your choice. I used basil because I have an abundance due to my very productive basil plant.

Next, fold over the other half of your heart and twist the ends closed. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees or until the fish is completely cooked. The fish can be left wrapped in the parchment paper for up to 4 hours before baking.

Unwrap and enjoy! Don't forget to enjoy all the yummy juices produced in the cooking process. I served our with couscous, which was delightful and a perfect medium to absorb the flavor in the juices.

Source: adapted from The Novice Chef Blog

Monday, September 17, 2012

Summer Fruit Salad

One thing I have learned in the last couple months is that my husband is a sucker for fruit salad. It doesn't really even matter what kind of fruit I put into it, he will eat it all. I am a big fan of this particular recipe as well so I thought it appropriate to share...

1 package vanilla instant pudding (5.1 oz)
1 cup water
1 tbsp honey
1 cup pineapple, diced
1 lb strawberries
1 cup blueberries
3 bananas, sliced

Mix vanilla pudding pack, water, and honey in a bowl until no lumps remain. Add the fruit ingredients and stir to coat evenly. Enjoy!

Source: adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt

The first time I ever had Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream I was sorely disappointed. You mean they can put a few tiny chunks of cookie dough into a vanilla ice cream base and that is acceptable? As I grew up, I slowly adjusted thinking paradigm to match the world's and grew to expect this. But mostly I just avoided cookie dough ice cream because really, it's the cookie dough part that I am after.

Imagine my excitement when I saw a recipe for frozen yogurt (close enough to ice cream to count in my book - don't tell my husband I said that) that was actually cookie dough. I made it the very next day. It was just as satisfying as eating a handful of cookie dough except that it is socially acceptable for me to put in a bowl and eat with a spoon along with my husband and his heaping bowl of chocolate ice cream. Rock. On.

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 cup vanilla yogurt (I used greek but could definitely taste the tang. I'm sure it would work just as well using normal yogurt)

Blend together the butter and sugars until well mixed. Add vanilla and mix until combined.

In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking soda, and salt and stir until combined. Add the chocolate chips to this mixture and combine.

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir gently. Add the yogurt and stir until combined. Place in an airtight container and place in the freezer. Freeze until set, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.

Source: adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod on Tasty Kitchen

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Corn's take on Carbonara

Let's make a list of a few of my favorite food items:


Alright, now let's combine them all into one dish and this is what you get. I'm sure there are many other things you could come up with using those ingredients (Master Chef style, anyone?), but give me a recipe that is acting either like carbonara or pesto and I am so down. 

The original recipe calls it corn pesto, but I think the taste and feel is closer to carbonara. I'll let you choose. But either way, you definitely should make it so you can form an opinion. It won't disappoint.
Yield: 4-6 servings

4 strips bacon
4 cups corn (about 5 ears)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts
1/3 cup olive oil
1 lb fettucini noodles

Put a large pot of salted water on to boil. Cook the fettucini according to package directions, reserving 1 cup of cooking water.

In the meantime, cook the bacon in a large skillet. When it is finished, remove it, saving 1-2 tbsp of the grease. Allow the bacon to cool a little and dice. Add the corn, garlic, and balsamic vinegar to the bacon grease remaining in the skillet and saute for 3-5 minutes until the corn is cooked through. Remove from the heat.

Place all but 1 cup of the corn mixture in a food processor with the walnuts. Process until a thick paste begins to form, adding the olive oil slowly.

When the noodles are done, add the mixture and toss to coat. If it seems a little thick, add some of the reserved pasta water until the desired consistency is reached. Add the reserved corn and bacon and enjoy!

Source: adapted from Mom de Cuisine

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

Remember the list of recipes I was talking about my husband compiling? This one was right close to the top. And I am glad it was. We don't eat a ton of ground beef - not for any particular reason except maybe that I usually substitute it out for Italian Sausage - so this was a nice break from the norm for us. And steak sauce? I almost forgot how much I love that stuff! I grew up eating it fairly regularly so this was not only a delicious meal but also a very nostalgic one. 

One of my good friends started a Food Storage Blog - a practical one that everyone can appreciate. It is a really neat concept - how you can use what you have in your cupboards everyday for food storage. Not only that, but how you can rotate it out successfully without having to eat strange, out of the ordinary things. The exciting part? She asked me to co-author! This recipe is my second post. You all should head over and check that blog out! It will help keep your cupboards rotated and your dinners tasty!

Now, onto our recipe. Enjoy!

Yield: 4-6 servings

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup Steak sauce
1 cube beef bullion
1 cup water
Provolone Cheese, sliced
Hamburger buns

Turn the oven to broil. 

Cook the beef over medium-high heat. Once fully cooked, add the onion and pepper and saute for 3 more minutes. Add the steak sauce and beef broth. Let simmer until sauce thickens slightly. 

Put a slice of provolone in one side of the bun and butter the other side. Place on a pan and put in the oven for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the bun starts to get toasty. 

Put a scoop of the meat mixture on one side of the bun, drizzle with a little more steak sauce, and top it with the other. 

Source: adapted from Six Sister's Stuff

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sweet and SALTY Pork

Let's have story time for a minute. A couple weeks ago, Hunter so kindly went through one of the most popular blogs on Pinterest, Six Sister's Stuff. They happen to have a lot of practical, yummy looking recipes and that was the section he focused on. He compiled a list for me of things he would like to try in the near future. One recipe on the list was Slow Cooker Kalua Pork and Rice bowls. I set forth with good intentions to have a yummy dinner. I prepared it in my slow cooker with slight adjustments to the ingredients...I couldn't find liquid smoke anywhere nor was I really even sure where to look for it. I decided that soy sauce would be an acceptable alternative. One thing I failed to take into account was how salty soy sauce is naturally and didn't compensate for that when I prepared it.

Needless to say, we had a very salty dinner that night. Hunter was a good sport and stomached it with high spirits. I did my best to do the same. However, when it came to eating the leftovers neither of us could get ourselves excited about eating soooo much salt.

So, instead of just stomaching it again I decided to experiment a little bit. My veggie supply was running a little short so I added basically everything I had that I thought would go well together. My end goal was to dampen the salty taste and hopefully have an edible dinner. Not only was it edible, we actually both enjoyed it! I always get excited when Hunter is pleasantly surprised and gives better reviews than I expect. I do highly suggest garnishing with at least the shredded coconut because it lifts it to a whole new level. And in my opinion, avocado makes everything better so I suggest adding that too.

Yield: 4-6 servings

1 lb pork tenderloin
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 red pepper, diced
1 jalepeno, diced
1/3 cup sweet and sour sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fresh, chopped basil
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 can bamboo shoots, drained
1/4 tsp vindaloo seasoning

Garnish (if desired) with avocado and shredded coconut.

Rub Pork Tenderloin with soy sauce and salt and put in the crock pot. Cook for 10-12 hours on low. When pork is cooked through, shred with two forks.

In a medium sauce pan, melt the coconut oil. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the red pepper and jalapeno and cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add the sweet and sour sauce, water, ketchup, honey, tomatoes, and vindaloo seasoning. Cook until everything is all heated through, about 7-10 minutes. Add the pork and bamboo shoots.

Serve over rice and top with avocado and shredded coconut if desired.

Source: Tasty Tiff original

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I was gifted a zucchini the other day. This wasn't just any zucchini, it was a monster. Serioulsy. It was bigger around and longer than my upper arm. After using the 2 cups required in this recipe is is about as long as my upper arm. I have a lot more baking to do it would seem.

Here's to hoping I can use up that whole zucchini before it goes to waste.

Yield: 2 loaves

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cocoa
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup applesauce
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you are using a dark pan, preheat to 325. Grease two 8 x 4 bread pans and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture and mix until combined. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips. Pour into the prepared pans and bake for 55-60 minutes. Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan then remove from the pan and allow to cool on wire racks.

Source: adapted from Versatile Vegetarian

Monday, August 13, 2012

Linguine with Clam Sauce

Way back in the day (about 1 year ago) when I was just getting excited about cooking, this is one of the first dishes I tried. It was also one of the first fish dishes I tried - I figured it would be hard to screw up and poisen my husband and myself with something that came from a can.

Needless to say, we both survived the experience and enjoyed the meal to boot! Double success. After that I got much more brave where seafood was concerned and have branched out quite a bit.

But, we still come back to this meal. It is easy, yummy, and is good in a pinch. It has almost turned in comfort food for us.

Yield: 4-6 servings

16 oz. linguine
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
2 (6.5 oz) cans minced clams, juices reserved
1/2 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half)
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Cook the pasta according to package directions - don't forget to add the salt to the boiling water before adding the pasta!

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil and butter in a saucepan until the butter is melted. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the clam juice and simmer until it is reduced by about half, about 10 minutes. Add in the clams, basil, and heavy cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over the pasta and top with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.

Source: slightly adapted from Annie's Eats

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chocolate Oatmeal Breakfast Smoothie

Recently I have seriously upped my running habits (re: Ragnar Training). One side effect that I have really noticed is that I crave healthier foods. My desire for fast food is almost completely gone - almost being the important word - and I want funny things like protein shakes. I have made this with both raspberries and banana and I think I prefer the raspberry, although the banana is yummy. It's yummy and healthy and makes a great breakfast or recovery shake after a long run.

Yield: 1 big smoothie

1/2 Cup Oats
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup milk (I have used both regular and coconut milk with much success)
1 tbsp cocoa
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1/2 banana or 1/4-1/2 cup other fruit of your choice (raspberries are also delightful)
Optional: 1-2 tbsp protein powder

Put the oats, chia seeds, and milk in a cup and allow to sit in the fridge overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Dump the contents of the cup in a blender or food processor and add the rest of the ingredients. Blend until well mixed with no big chunks.

Pour back in your cup and enjoy!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cajun Mac & Cheese

We don't need to go over my love of mac and cheese again. I am always looking for new variations to try and I thought the idea of sausage in it sounded great. As I always do, I loved this mac and cheese.

If you are looking for a nice, easy variation, give this recipe a try.

Yield: 4-6 servings

1 lb wagon wheel pasta
6 oz ground italian sausage
2 bunches green onions
1 red pepper, diced
1 tbsp cajun spice
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Cook the pasta about 1 minute less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain.

In a large skillet, brown the sausage until cooked through. Add the green onions and red pepper and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the cajun spice and flour and cook for about 2 more minutes. Whisk in the milk slowly and continue to do so until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes.

Add the pasta, cheese, and reserved pasta water to the skillet. Toss the mixture until the cheese melts and the pasta is coated.

Source: slightly adapted from The Food Network Magazine, March 2012 Issue

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Toll House Cookies

One of the first cookie recipes I ever made were these Toll House Cookies. This is a family recipe that goes way back. While I have used other chocolate chip cookie recipes and probably will continue to do so, this recipe will always hold a special place in my heart. 

They are yummy as cookies and as dough, although the dough tastes better after hanging out in the fridge or freezer overnight. Most of the time though, I bake all the dough immediately. Another thing about these cookies that I love is that they are pretty. I have a really hard time when I make cookies and they are thin, spread out, and ugly. It almost makes me not want to eat them. I have never had that problem with this recipe. 

Random side note: I don't love chocolate chips, in cookies anyway. I know this is weird, I've accepted that fact. So, when I make chocolate chip cookies I almost always use less that the recipe calls for. If you are a lover of chocolate chips, up the amount. It won't hurt anything.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies

2 cups shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp water
4 eggs
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 bag chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, soda, and salt. In a large bowl, mix together everything else but the chocolate chips. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients. Once that is all mixed in, add the chocolate chips. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bacon Corn Hash

I am a big breakfast person, as I am sure I have mentioned before. However; I usually lie on the sweet side of things. Every once in a while I want something savory, but not usually. A couple days ago Hunter requested a good breakfast and after much contemplation, this is what I decided on.

Another one of my breakfast habits is that I almost always need ketchup with any form of hashbrowns or eggs. As such, I pulled out the ketchup and took it with us to the table, but we didn't need it at all. It sat there untouched. The corn in this dish really takes it to a whole different level. It. Is. So. Good. Trust me on this one. You will not be disappointed.

Yield: 2-3 servings

1 1/2 cup corn kernels
4-6 slices of bacon
1 Potato
1 Jalapeno, diced
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Cube the potato and boil for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a medium skillet. Once the bacon is fully cooked, move to a plate with paper towels and absorb some of the grease. Dice the bacon. When the potatoes are done boiling, place in the skillet with the bacon grease and allow to cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes WITHOUT turning. Once allotted time has passed, flip the potatoes over and cook for a similar amount of time on the other side. Then add the corn, jalapeno, bacon, and spices. Cook until everything is heated through.

Source: adapted from The Novice Chef Blog

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

It's time for our first pizza recipe! While it isn't beautiful, it looks soooo much better than my first pathetic attempt they aren't even comparable. And this is definitely edible. Which is a score in my book.

Probably my favorites of the various types of pizza I have made to date is the Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza. I have even tried multiple variations of it and am fine tuning what I like the most and how much sauce/cheese we like, etc.

My favorite version (the one posted below) definitely includes jalapenos. I made it sans jalapenos a couple days ago and they were sorely missed. But, if you aren't a lover of heat, then feel free to leave them out. Moral of the story: feel free to experiment. In fact I encourage it - things are more exciting that way!


1/2 pizza dough recipe

1 Chicken breast
2-3 strips bacon
1/2 cup ranch dressing
2-3 jalapenos, diced (remove seeds according to how hot you want it)
1 tomato, diced
1 cup mozzarella (or pizza) cheese
1 cup Colby jack cheese

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the stone inside and allow to be at 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes.

Cook the bacon in a frying pan until done. Set aside and let cool. Once cooled, dice. Dice the chicken and cook in the same frying pan as the bacon with about 1 tbsp of the grease. Set aside.

Put 1-2 of the jalapenos in a food processor and process until finely minced. Add ranch dressing to food processor and pulse until combined.

When the oven is ready (not too soon - if assembled to early, it doesn't work as well), shape pizza dough into a circle, leaving the edges a little thicker to help form a crust and place on a double layer of parchment paper. Spread ranch dressing/jalapeno mixture all over the pizza crust. Top with one cup of cheese (your choice on what kind), then add chicken, bacon, tomato, and remaining jalapeno. Top with the rest of the cheese. Move parchment paper with the pizza on top into the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.

Source: adapted from Annie's Eats

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pizza Dough

The first time I successfully made pizza I was thrilled, overjoyed even. You see, my first attempt was dismal and scarred me for quite some time. It ended in a saucy doughy mess that tasted okay, but was ultimately a disaster. I'm not even going to show you a picture - it was that bad. Imagine a volcano that just exploded and you get a pretty good idea. For a long time after that I stuck strictly to making calzones. However; I overcame my fear a few months ago and have been making pizza regularly ever since. Enter: thrilled, overjoyed. So, if you have failed before, fear not, go try again!

Some of the blogs I frequent give step by step instructions to their recipes. I enjoy it most of the time so I thought I would give it a try.

Combine 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees - should feel hot to the touch) with 2 1/4 tsp yeast. Let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells - about 5 minutes.

In the mean time, mix together 1 1/4 cups of room temperature water with 2 tbsp olive oil in a small or medium bowl.

In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of bread flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt.

Once your yeast has swolen, mix it in with the water and olive oil.

Then slowly add to the bowl with the flour. I use my handy dandy Kitchenaid Stand Mixer, but you can also do this by hand (I did many times before I got my stand mixer) or food processor. It's the same idea - just make sure your dough looks like it should in the end.

Process until the dough is smooth and elastic and forms into a ball.

Next step (not pictured): turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few strokes to form a nice ball. Seriously, 3 or 4 strokes is all you knead. I am a big fan of no kneading.

Then, place in a deep bowl coated with cooking spray (or olive oil).

Allow to rise for 1 1/2 -2 hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and press to deflate it.

At this point, you can take a number of courses with your dough. The one I chose here is to divide it in two and freeze it for later use. You can also turn it into a pizza or calzone right away.

To freeze, wrap each half in clear plastic wrap...

...and place in airtight container for storage in the freezer. To use later, allow the dough to thaw in the fridge for about 24 hours before it is needed, then allow it to come to room temperature - about 30 minutes.

And there you have pizza dough! I will be posting more specifics on certain types of pizza and calzones at a later date (one coming soon!). But, if you just can't wait to get your pizza cooking on, here are some basics: Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with your pizza stone in it. Then, allow the pizza stone at least 30 minutes in the heated oven before cooking on it. Cook pizzas for 10-12 minutes and calzones 15-18 minutes. If you have any more questions, see this tutorial on Annie's Eats. I learned everything I know about pizza dough from her blog.

Yield: 2 medium pizzas or 4-6 calzones

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2 1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands
1 1/2 tspsalt
Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl

Combine 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees - should feel hot to the touch) with 2 1/4 tsp yeast. Let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells - about 5 minutes. In the mean time, mix together 1 1/4 cups of room temperature water with 2 tbsp olive oil in a small or medium bowl. In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of bread flour and 1 1/2 tsp salt.

Once the yeast has swolen, mix it in with the water and olive oil. Then slowly add to the bowl with the flour. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic and forms into a ball. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few strokes to form a nice ball. Place in a deep bowl coated with cooking spray (or olive oil) and allow to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Remove the dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and press to deflate it. Divide dough in two and use to make pizza, calzones or freeze for later use.

Source: slightly adapted from Annie's Eats