Raspberry Scones

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I was always a bit hesitant about scones. They seemed like muffins’ dry and boring cousin. But that was until I met Luke, a man obsessed with scones. So I actually began ordering scones in restaurants and cafes and found that when done right, they can be AMAZING! My favorites were ones where there was fruit involved, blueberries or strawberries. And I figured, that it couldn’t be too hard to try to make some…

You know how when you get a new cookbook, there are just some recipes that jump out at you and you KNOW you have to try it?! Regardless of the time or the steps, sometimes the picture or the name of a recipe jumps out of the cookbook to me. I know which recipes these were for each of the dozen cookbooks I own (an example, Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That? cookbook). One of these such experiences was with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (another fairly new favorite cookbook of mine, from the blog Smitten Kitchen) and her recipe for Whole-Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones.

I now had the perfect reason to make scones: I finally came to the conclusion these could be delicious, I could feed my husband a good portion of them (and earn some brownie points, perhaps) AND I had a great recipe to start from.

I made these the first time last Christmas, following the recipe to a ‘T’ from the cookbook. I loved them and thought they turned out incredibly moist and delicious. However, I wanted to make them again and put my own spin on them. Particularly, I wanted to experiment with using something instead of ricotta, as I don’t normally have that just ‘hanging out’ in my fridge.

So, this is my own spin on the recipe from Deb’s cookbook. I think the original recipe is great and highly encourage you guys to pick up her cookbook, flip to page 15 and give it a go. You can also try my twist on it below and see what you think!

I didn’t have whole-wheat flour on hand and used cottage cheese instead of ricotta, so the texture and taste of mine is slightly different. I personally loved the twist and will continue to make them this way in the future, especially as it means I likely could decide to make these and have everything I need on hand and not require any grocery store trips. However, making them with the original recipe gives more texture and makes them a bit thicker, due to the ricotta mixture. So it’s up to you!

Ready for scone-making? Here we go…

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
  • 1 c. fresh raspberries (or insert in another fruit you want to use, blueberries or strawberries could be great!)
  • 3/4 c. skim milk cottage cheese
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream

How to Make:

First things first, preheat your oven (which I always seem to forget to do) to 425. Next, prep your baking sheet by lining it with a big sheet of parchment paper. My parchment paper loves to just roll itself back up in a ball so I set a drinking glass on each end to help keep it in place. Genius move, I know.

Next up: dry ingredients. Measure out the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt and whisk it all up together in a medium-sized bowl.

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Now, butter time. Grab your butter directly from the fridge when you’re ready for this step. Chop it up into little cubes and then drop those directly into your bowl of dry ingredients. As I lacked a pastry blender, I went with the finger-mixing method. Gently work the butter into the dry ingredients until the large butter pieces start to become little pea-size guys. The butter should be mixed in enough that the dry ingredients just look a bit more like a sandy mixture, kind of with a breadcrumb consistency.

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With whichever fruit you decided to use, throw it on a cutting board and chop it up a bit. Strawberries you’d want to definitely chop down into smaller pieces but blueberries and raspberries can just get a quick rough chop and be all set. Once you’re done chopping, throw the fruit into the dry ingredients.

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Last, but certainly not least, measure out and throw in the cottage cheese and the heavy cream. Stir everything together gently, ensuring all the dry ingredients are exposed to the wet ingredients, soaking up all the dairy goodness.

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Once it all starts to come together and look like dough, pour out the batter on to a floured surface (cutting boards work well for this). Get your hands good and floured up too, as this is a sticky dough and it loves to hang out on your hands. Add some flour to the top of the dough and work it into a square that’s about an inch high. Now, cut the square into 9 smaller squares and transfer each square to your parchment-lined baking sheet.

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Bake ‘em for 15 minutes or until the tops are just starting to golden up.

Sigh, they look and smell SO tasty, right?! Cool them for a few minutes in the pan, then move them to a wire cooling rack to fully cool.

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These are SUPER good when they’re still warm but they keep well in a Ziploc for a few days too. We loved having them on the counter to allow both of us to grab a quick breakfast on-the-go. They were also great for a snack or a little dessert at the end of the day. To be perfectly honest, they don’t last long on our counter as we both gobble them up pretty quick. I don’t even feel guilty about that, they’re so tasty and wonderful that we just can’t help ourselves.

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These got a big thumbs up from my husband, the scone-lover and I think you guys will REALLY love them too.

Highly encourage you guys to try these out and leave me a comment about how they go!

French Onion Soup Meatballs

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To carry on with delicious comfort fall foods, I have a main dish recipe that will blow the socks off your feet. Yes! Your socks will land in the other room and you won’t even care because you will be in the midst of devouring the most tender and savory meatballs.

Ok, so that may be a BIT of an exaggeration …a little bit…

But I can’t tell you enough how good these are so you must just trust me and make them yourself! Pleaseeee! And tell me how they turn out for you because I just know it’ll be a hit. A walk-off triple. Three and out for a rockstar defense. (Sorry, my husband’s coaching terms are rubbing off.)

Before we dive into meatball heaven here, I must disclose that I have a soft spot for meatballs. I don’t know what it is, but I think they’re one of my favorite comfort foods. I have favorite go-to recipes for tangy turkey meatballs with cranberry sauce  (one I’ve been meaning to share with you guys), another for BBQ meatballs that are great when you are sick and just want yummy, simple food and the ones I’ve shared with you here already – Spicy Turkey Meatballs, Barefoot Contessa style. Now I think I’ve stumbled into a fourth to keep in my arsenal of meatball go-to’s.

Now if you’re at all on the fence about meatballs (which, I’m sorry but I don’t QUITE relate), perhaps convincing you that these are like sinking your teeth into a delicious meat version of french onion soup, with the same drippy cheese and delicious cooked down onions. Except this…

…that cheese and onion that makes french onion soup SO good?!?

It’s INSIDE the meatballs!

Mind. Blown.

Right?!

So stay with me here, if you like anything I said above then all I can say is, you will love these babies. This recipe is adapted from the amazing recipe posted over at Cupcakes and Kale Chips. I cannot say how thankful I am for Brianne’s creation. My version is adjusted for ingredients we had in our kitchen and I note a few spots below that you could also experiment and make these your own.

Ingredients:

Onions / Filling (makes enough to stuff 15 or so meatballs, plus a bit extra):

  • 1 Tablespoon garlic infused olive oil (adds a little extra flavor, but normal olive oil works too)
  • 2 white onions, halved and sliced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup beef stock or broth (whichever you have on hand)
  • ¼ cup red wine (I used Shiraz as I’m obsessed and it’s always in our kitchen)
Meatballs (makes 15 or so meatballs):
  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef (you could use ground turkey if looking for a healthier option)
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1 Tsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped plus extra to sprinkle on top, at the end
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella (divide 3-4 oz into half-inch cubes for your meatballs – about 15 small mozz cubes – and slice up the remainder to place on top of the meatballs)
  • ½ Tbsp garlic infused olive oil (again, to add some extra flavor but normal olive oil will work too)
Meatball Sauce: 
  • 1 ¾ cup beef stock or broth (again, whichever you have on hand)
  • ¼ cup red wine (Shiraz for me again!)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • S&P (to taste)

How to Make:

First thing that you’re going to get cooking is the onions. Halve and slice up the onions.
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After heating up the olive oil in a saucepan, add in the sliced onions, S&P and let it cook down and become fragrant for 15-20 minutes. Make sure to give this a stir with a spatula regularly to keep everything cooking.
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While your onions are cooking, start in on the meatballs. Mix ALL of the ingredients listed for the meatballs, except the mozzarella, together in a medium-sized bowl. Mix everything together using your hands or a spatula. Then, divide the meat mixture into 15 separate balls.
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Back to the onions, once they’re carmelized and looking GOOD, add in your thyme, letting it cook in with the onions for a few minutes.
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Then add in the wine and beef stock / broth. This is when it hits you…these onions are going to be out of this world. And why have you never thought to cook onions this way? What is it about red wine and beef stock / broth that makes onions smell and taste so darn good?! I do not know the answer to that, but I admit that I snuck quite a few onions from the pan while everything reduced down.
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Sigh, good stuff. Let the onions cook down until there’s not much liquid left in the pan. Then remove from heat and let it cool a bit.
While those onions are making your mouth water, it’s time to prep your mozzarella. Divide about 3-4 oz of the mozzarella block into 15 small cubes. Put these on to a plate or in a bowl. Next to your mozzarella pieces, place your meatballs. Once your onions are cooked down and cooled, add them to your assembly line. Add an empty plate to the end, where you can place your finished meatballs.
Now for the fun part! We are stuffing these meatballs, guys. And it’s an imperfect process and that is a-ok.
No stressing, ok?!
To stuff each meatball, take one of the meatballs and flatten it in the palm of your hand.
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 Grab a small handful of onions and place those in the middle of the patty.
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 Place one of the small mozzarella cubes on top and then gently pat the meat mixture around the stuffing to make it back into a ball shape.
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This doesn’t turn out perfect looking meatballs, onions might be visible and mozzarella might be visible and it’s ok! Guess what?! It makes everything melty and wonderful and it will taste the same darn way no matter what they look like. So have fun, and stuff all of your 15 meatballs!
Now for this next step, I used my cast iron skillet as it’s stove top and oven friendly. If you have one, I’d recommend you use it for this next step as it’s super simple. If you don’t have a pan that is both stove top and oven friendly, not to worry. You can start with a skillet and then transfer to a oven dish after. As you decide on your skillet / oven dish of choice, preheat the oven to 350.
Heat up a the olive oil in the skillet and place all 15 of the meatballs in, one by one. Brown them on all sides, flipping them to ensure they’re browned all over. And again, don’t worry if they break a part a little bit.
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Once the browning process is complete (and you’ve wiped that drool off your chin, because yes, these look and smell SO good at this point), mix up your sauce, whisking everything together. If you’re using the same pan from stove top to oven, then pour the sauce on top and carefully place in the oven. If you’re switching dishes, move your meatballs from the skillet to an oven dish and then pour the sauce on top before putting in the oven. Bake these delectable dudes for 15-20 minutes.
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While those are baking, slice up the remainder of your mozzarella cheese and chop up some extra parsley for the top of the meatballs.
After the 15-20 minutes go by, pull ‘em out and place the mozzarella on top. Pop ‘em back in and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Bake until the cheese starts bubbling and starts to turn golden.
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Pull the meatballs out, garnish with the remaining fresh parsley and serve it up to hungry people. These will disappear faster than you can even fathom. They are drippy, cheesy, flavorful meatballs. They will rock your world and warm your insides. They would be perfect alongside some fresh veggies and some bread or grain that will soak up the juices on your plate. Nothing should be wasted here, friends!
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I hope you guys give this a go. It’s a new favorite in our home and will be for decades (we’ve made it twice in the last two months)!!

Nowinsky Chili

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Chili is a staple of fall. I don’t care who you are or what you think about that, in my world, it just IS. And when my husband and I were musing about fall foods a few weeks ago, both of us had the “lightbulb” moment of…”let’s make CHILI!”.

Now, having a solid chili recipe in your arsenal is essential. It’s something that could vary a little bit every time you make it, but in theory, you still have the same overall chili outline.

I did not have a chili recipe that I could fall on without looking up something to get me started.

My mother in law has one. A GOOD one. One that the entire Nowinsky family knows and loves. One she tweaks every time she makes it, sometimes with steak and sometimes with ground beef. She had never even written it down until we probed her for the basic outline so that we could give it a try.

This is foolproof, guys. It really is. You put in meat, spices, beans, veggies and liquid…you let it slow cook for several hours…and it becomes chili. That’s the basic premise. And you get to use Bloody Mary mix. (A newfound favorite drink. De-lish!)

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It will also fill your entire kitchen with a chili aroma. That’s a bonus because let me tell you, the way it tastes will warm your insides and make you ooze happiness.

Ok, ok, that’s dramatic. But it WILL be good. And you WILL want to make it again.

We are diving in the chili-making process with a cannonball…here…we….

….GO!

Ingredients:

  •  3 lbs ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 16 oz tomato juice
  • 16 oz Hair of the Dawg (or any other Bloody Mary mix)
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 6 (or so) dashes of hot sauce

How to Make:

First, it’s time to brown the meat. And not just the meat, we browned it with 1 Tbsp of each of the dried basil, Italian seasoning, oregano and chili powder.

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Yum.

While that’s browning, chop up your white onions and celery stalks.

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When the meat is mostly browned (my own technical term), add in your onions and celery and low that cook on low for about 15 minutes.

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Now, this makes a large batch of chili. So for us, we divided it amongst our largest stockpot and crockpot. But if you have a BIG stockpot, this will all fit nicely. If not, I do think splitting amongst two big stockpots or between your stockpot and crockpot, will work too. It did for us!

Now, take your meat/onion/celery mixture and pour into your stockpot/crockpot. Now, we get to add everything else!

Add in the tomato juice (not pictured in step format, but I promise it went in) and the Bloody mix, which adds a nice amount of spice (we like Hair of the Dawg…it’s sooooo tasty)…

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…and then the canned diced and peeled tomatoes…

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…and the chili and black beans…

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…add in 1 Tbsp of garlic powder….

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…and the remaining 1 Tbsp of basil, Italian seasoning, oregano and chili powder.

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Give everything a BIG stir and then, for a final touch of ‘zing’, add in some dashes of hot sauce (not pictured, but is an essential final step). We did about 6 dashes, but you can do more or less depending on your affinity for the condiment.

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Now, if you’re doing this as an all-day crockpot item, I recommend doing this is on low for 6-8 hours. The longer and lower heat, the better!

If you’re like us, and wanting to eat this for dinner and you’re making it early afternoon, you can easily do this in your crockpot on high for 4 hours.

Now, for the stockpot option, leave that on medium-low for a short cooking time of 4 hours, or on low for a long 6-8 hour batch.

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The good news is that this is flexible and you can tweak it depending on the time you have and the cooking method you plan to use!

When you’re ready, this is great to serve with a little sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, a sprinkling of your favorite shredded cheese and a big slab of cornbread. We really enjoyed dipping and eating our Beer Bacon Cornbread with this chili and it was perfect.

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So if you too are ready for fall foods, you want something to warm your insides and make your kitchen smell like heaven, you need to make yourself a big batch of Nowinsky chili.

You WON’T be disappointed!!

Beer Bacon Cornbread

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There is a large place in my heart for cornbread. In fact, it graces my Top 10 favorite foods (which I like to think is a hard category to crack) and I have a hard time finding a cornbread that I don’t want to eat. Do you feel me, people!?

What is it about cornbread that is SO good?! I personally believe it’s the savory and dense flavor, the cake-like texture and the fact that it’s an excellent dipping mechanism for soups (chili in particular).

As I’ve alluded to in some recent posts, Luke and I were craving a homemade chili and cornbread weekend to kick-start the fall season. I have had this cornbread recipe from How Sweet Eats as a Pinterest pin for a LONG time and was simply waiting for the right moment to try it out. This seemed like the ideal time to give it a go, especially as I’ve been really pumped about Jessica’s new cookbook and am anxiously waiting to dive into it’s colorful and drool-inducing pages.

(I have a slight cookbook obsession…umm…can’t help it.)

Before I dive into the details, can I just say two OTHER items that I really love – bacon and beer. And these are to be IN the cornbread?!

Heck yes, people! They are!

Jessica over at How Sweet Eats knows how to really spice up cornbread with all the perfect ingredients. My husband thought I was kidding as I asked if he wanted to try out Beer Bacon Cornbread. HA. Not kidding, just about to create the most epic cornbread ever.

No. Big. Deal.

Enough already, let’s do this!

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices thick-cut peppered bacon (just adds some extra zip to use peppered), chopped
  • 1 Tbsp bacon fat (leftover from your bacon fryin’)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup cake flour + 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or you can use 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour, which I did not have on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of beer (we used a light beer but you could experiment!)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 sour cream
  • 1/2 unsalted butter, melted down

How to Make:

Prepare for a delicious loaf of cornbread to come out of your oven, people. To make that a reality, preheat to 375 degrees and find your favorite loaf pan.

Now, my parents are firm believers in flouring pans for all breads and cakes and I must say, I swear by it too. To do this, spray the pan with Pam or another cooking spray and then drop a handful of flour into the pan. Working over your sink or garbage can, carefully turn the pan and pat the sides to spread the flour across all sides and the bottom of the pan. (The sound of my mom tapping the side of the pan as she floured it is a distinct sound that brings back memories. My mom made banana bread all the time. Seriously – ALL the time.)

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Before we dive into making the batter, gotta fry up that bacon! Use a skillet on the stove top and make sure to fry it up so it’s got a little crunch (at minimum). When the bacon is done, remove and set on a paper towel to absorb the grease and then leave the pan to cool as you’ll need a bit of the bacon fat later. Yes, we’re using bacon fat. You will love it. No complaints!

Once the bacon is cooled, chop it up into bite-size pieces.

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Now time to get the batter going. In your medium bowl or stand mixer, mix together the dry ingredients of cornmeal, flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.

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Once that’s all mixed together, you’ll grab a smaller second bowl to mix the milk (pictured below) and eggs (not pictured because I’m a moron) together, and then add into your dry ingredients. Add in the sour cream and the beer of choice (not pictured, but it did happen. Solemnly swear.).

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Last liquid to add is the melted butter and that bacon fat.

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Mix the batter until it’s all smooth and just before you finish, add in your chopped up bacon pieces. BEST PART. (Yes, you can sneak a piece or two. Who will know?!)

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Pour your batter into your floured pan…

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…and then pop the pan into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Use a toothpick or another wooden skewer to test the doneness (it should come out clean when inserted into the cornbread if it’s done).

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This had a BEAUTIFUL crust on it when it came out. Both Luke and I were ooohing and aaahing over how fantastic it looked and let me tell you, tastes even better!

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We ate ours with a big batch of our Nowinsky chili (coming to a future blog post near you) and it was perfect with something to dunk it with. It’s also really good with a little sweet butter spread on it. It has a tangy flavor and the sweetness of butter really compliments the tang of the bacon and beer mixed into the cornbread.

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Gosh, I don’t know how many other words to use to get you to want to try this, guys. It’s SO tasty!

It stays really great for a few days, but definitely do recommend you devour it quickly. We found that after 4-5 days, the bitterness of the beer came out. But hey, it makes the fresh baked bread REALLY good, so it’s totally worth it. Just make sure to feed it to lots of hungry folks and I have no concern that you will gobble this up right away.

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Happy cornbread making, friends!

Nutella Crispy Treats

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“Rice Krispies Treats” as most of us know the gooey and delicious marshmallowy, rice cereal bars…are in fact, tasty. But maybe a little boring? I’m posting this to bring you to a happy, happy place where the rice cereal and mallow squares you thought you knew, get turned upside down with a major chocolate explosion.

This treat can be made with any brand of chocolate rice cereal, but the key to making these addicting and wonderful is the combination of peanut butter and Nutella. OH MY. These will make you and everyone who has one, swoon.

How am I able to say this to you with confidence?

I’ve made these twice, and they’ve disappeared BOTH times within less than 24 hours. The latest occasion was Friday evening and when I returned home after a get-together with girlfriends with 4 remaining in the pan, my husband took the pan from me and 3 disappeared in the next 23 minutes. We compromised and split the last one. (Marriage is about compromise, right?!)

These take about 15 minutes to make (no joke kids, 15 minutes) and all you need is a stove top OR, a microwave would work in a pinch. I modified the recipe from Handle the Heat and I think you’ll love it!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6  (or so) cups of chocolate rice cereal (any brand you want)
  • 3/4 cup Nutella
  • 3/4 cup of crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 bag of mini marshmallows (10 oz)
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder

How to Make:

Alrighty people, here we go. First things first, you need a saucepan if you are going the stove top route. If you have only a microwave, then grab a medium-sized microwaveable bowl. The butter goes into your warming device of choice and melt that baby down.

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Now time to add in the good stuff. Add in your entire bag of mallows…

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…the Nutella…

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…and the peanut butter.

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You want everything to melt down smoothly. The only remaining lumps should be from the peanuts in the crunchy peanut butter.

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Once it’s all thoroughly melted and mixed, add in the 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder and stir that in.

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This extra bit of chocolate is what is going to make your bars GOOD. Not: good. But: GOOD. You feel me?!

Grab a large bowl (bigger is better as this part is a bit messy) and pour in the chocolate rice cereal of choice and then pour your mallow/chocolate liquid over the top.

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Spatulas work well for the next task which is to mix all of the cereal into the mallow/chocolate. Be patient, it takes a bit to get everything all worked in together. Once you have a big wonderful mass of chocolate goodness, you’re ready for the next step.

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Spray a pan with Pam or another similar butter/oil spray and then plop everything in. Use your fingers or the spatula to press everything into the corners and smooth out the bars. Let ‘em cool for about 10-15 minutes, which will harden things up enough to cut them.

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Divide these into big OR small bars, but regardless, know that folks will still come and pick from the pan and nibble continuously until they’re all gone. I think it’s the peanut butter, but these are just plain addicting and having one is near impossible.

Hope you make these for your next ‘quick and easy dessert’ occasion!

Lemon Orzo Salad

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Ok folks, back at you with another post. I’m a roll and I figured there was no reason to stop posting if I was in the mood to share food. (Unintentional rhyming.). This is another one that falls in the side dish category and I thought it was one worth sharing with you guys because it’s a great, QUICK, and healthy and it’s one that you can throw into any meal. It’s versatile and it’s not going to take much of any effort from you. What more can you ask for, right?!

As summer is winding down, it’s also a great last use for fresh veggies from a farmer’s market. If you like that sort of thing.

Before I start hitting you with photos, did want to mention how much I love seeing your likes and comments on these posts! I’m only writing these so that you all can hopefully find something fun and different to explore with in the kitchen, spark some creative juices and get you thinking about what YOU want to make tonight or…at bare minimum…make you smile and chuckle as you read. Never be shy about leaving a comment – those are my favorite! And if you don’t already follow me, click that lovely little button in the upper right on my page and you’ll be in the loop with every post that gets published.

AND…as history has shown…you’ll likely be entered into future blog giveaways! What fun!

So. How did I happen upon making Lemon Orzo Salad?

This one goes to my husband…I was trying to come up with a new and different option for a side the night we had my parents up for dinner a few weeks ago. He mentioned trying to do something with orzo, as we had a fairly ginormous container in our pantry that we haven’t used for anything in recent months. And maybe he just had a hankering for some orzo?! Regardless, I thought that was doable, so began my searching for what to throw in WITH said orzo to make it a true ‘side’. The goal was to be able to combine grains and veggies in a side that was NOT boring and tasted really good.

Key thing in making that happen is truly the lemon. TRUST me when I say, don’t skimp on the lemon. It’s essentially the ‘sauce’ of this dish and it makes the orzo incredibly tasty and it mixes very well with all the veggies. And I’m not a crazy “I LOVE LEMONS” type of person, but this did it for me. (Sorry for shouting, but I do assume there are some out there that have passionate love for lemons.)

This recipe was a true keeper and is a twist on the Two Peas and Their Pod (blog post of Lemon Orzo Salad with Asparagus, Spinach, and Feta (go check ‘em out…LOTS of good grub featured on their site). Can’t wait to make this again…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup orzo
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped/minced (you better believe I used my new garlic press for this…and it was more exciting than it should have been…I’m easily excited)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (if you have Garlic infused Olive Oil…even better…this is a new favorite of mine in the kitchen!)
  • 10-12 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces (I wanted to add more than the original recipe, and I didn’t think it overpowered the orzo one bit)
  • 1 cup/1 hearty handful of packed fresh spinach
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (yes…the whole lemon)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (added a bit more feta…because I wanted to)
  • Salt and pepper

How to Make:

First, must cook up that orzo. I followed the directions on the side of my orzo container to figure out the water to orzo ratio, but Two Peas in a Pod recommends about 4 cups of water to the 1 cup of orzo. Bring the water to a boil, sprinkling in your pinch of salt. Then dump in the orzo. Like any pasta, it can get a bit sticky, so stir it every few minutes so it doesn’t get clumpy.

Once it’s tender (which I use the method of…if I take a piece and chew it, does it have the right texture?! Yes, very elaborate method), drain it over the sink and set it aside. You will now be moving on to the green stuff…

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Before you cook up the green stuff (also known as asparagus and spinach), you want to start sauteing the garlic in your olive oil. And is there ANYTHING better on this planet than the smell of garlic heating up?! I THINK NOT!

(I’m easily excited today…apologies.)

While the garlic is heating up, chop up the asparagus into easy to eat pieces (about 1-2″) and then add them into the garlic pan, swirling them around to start to soak up all of the garlic juices. You’ll saute those for roughly 3-4 minutes and then add in the spinach.

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I was not as experienced with cooking up spinach and forgot how crazy small spinach shrinks down to! It won’t take long and your puffy pile of spinach leaves (as seen in photo below) will be shrunken WAY down. Don’t cook much beyond the spinach getting down to its teeny tiny state, as you want the asparagus and spinach JUST cooked and still bright green. Don’t overcook here folks…no one likes mushy veggies!

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Now locate your orzo and pour into the serving bowl you wish to use. (Another aside…I was so excited to get to pull out serving dishes that we received as wedding presents. I mean, sadly, that was one of the best parts about making a fun dinner and hosting was getting to use some of these dishes for the first time! Ok, I realize my whole enthusiasm for things in the kitchen may be somewhat pathetic, but hey. It floats my boat, people.)

Into said bowl, pour the orzo and the freshly cooked veggies/garlic concoction. Toss it all around to coat all the orzo.

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Slice a lemon in half and juice the WHOLE thing. Don’t be frightened by all the lemon juice…just trust me. It won’t be overly lemony and the veggies and orzo will soak it up and make every bite, sooooo sooo good. Don’t forget to add a few shakes of S&P to it too.

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Make sure to toss the lemon around to really get the whole mixture coated and before you serve – sprinkle that feta all over the top.

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NOM. Nom nom nom. Yes, you will be so happy to have this on your table. No more boring side dishes for you! And so simple, right?!

As a final aside, this is phenomenal the day after, whether you choose to warm it up or eat it straight from the fridge in it’s Tupperware container like yours truly. You can also easily double this recipe to make it for a larger group OR to ensure yourself some leftovers for dinner the next night.

Happy cooking and side dish making!

Tomato Pesto Pie

7 Sep IMG_6200

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Now although it may seem like we only eat sweet things in this apartment, there are MANY savory dishes that we’ve been making recently that I had noted for future posts to share with you. However, this particular post features something made yesterday that was just SO darn good, that I had to share it with you all today.

This particular recipe was one I pinned on Pinterest, close to 2 years ago. I thought that it looked gorgeous (which is what caught my eye), but it was also a creative spin on your typical ‘pie’ as well as different type of side dish.

Side dishes are always a spot that I want to experiment with. Of course, we have some fallback staples that are our favorites (my husband LOVES TBM Salad, and we make it at minimum, twice a month), but I am usually looking to try something new and different, even if we’re using the same flavors. As you’ll see, the TBM Salad ingredients are all still present in this dish, just prepared in pie format and with a twist.

We were tasked with bringing a side for a dinner with some friends last night, and knowing we had plethora of tomatoes around the apartment and a pie crust (left from the recently made Sour Cream Apple Pie) – my mind went to this Pinterest pin, from so long ago.

Now, if I made this again I would love to use a few different ingredients – perhaps make some fresh, homemade pesto first, fresh basil and use some light mayo with olive oil (or even greek yogurt).

But that’s for a different time.

And I can tell you, the full-fat and easy version was DELICIOUS. Four of us (and later a fifth who stopped by) devoured the entire pie last night. So whether you choose to lighten this up or not, I think this is a pretty foolproof recipe.

The recipe I used is a tweaked version of what Your Homebased Mom posted for her version, called Tomato Basil Tart.

Ingredients:

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust
  • 1 1/2 cups of shredded Mozzarella
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 cup of yellow cherry tomatoes (this adds both a pop of color and great flavor to mix in with the larger tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup of pesto (store-bought OR homemade if you’re fancy and have the time!)
  • 1/2 cup of mayo (I used the full-fat version but you can lighten it up with a lighter mayo version or even mayo with olive oil)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese (with extra saved for sprinkling on top)
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1 Tbsp of dried basil (or chopped fresh basil, if you have some on hand!)

How to Make:

Similar to the apple pie I posted about yesterday, you start this guy off by baking the refrigerated pie using the instructions on its box – make sure to use the 1 pie crust, filled pie version.

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While it’s baking, shred your mozzarella cheese (and sneak some…because you can). You want this to be all ready when the pie crust comes out!

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Now, instead of letting the pie crust cool before we use it, you’re going to pile the mozzarella inside. I used all 1 1/2 cups and then spread it out so the bottom was all covered. The pie crust’s temperature will start to get the cheese all melty and wonderful.

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While that’s melting and looking tasty, slice and chop up your tomatoes. We were excited to use a mix of medium tomatoes and some yellow cherry tomatoes (Luke and I really have a thing for cherry tomatoes), not only to use up all the tomatoes we had, but it adds two great colors to the dish AND slightly different flavors. I sliced up about 2.5 medium red tomatoes and then chopped about a cup of yellow cherry tomatoes, halving them.

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Now, before the tomatoes go in, spoon out your pesto on top of the mozzarella. Spread it evenly across, and then it’s time to layer on the ‘maters! Layer as evenly as you can, so no matter what slice anyone gets, there’s a great mix of red and yellow tomatoes.

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It sure does look great, doesn’t it?!

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But we’re not done!

Now, mix up your mayo, parmesan cheese (which I bought already shredded) and the white pepper. The white pepper gives just a hint of zip, which mixes so well with the rest of the flavors of the pie.

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Once the creamy mixture is ready, spread this as evenly as you can on top of the tomato layer.

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Then, pop the pie into a 375 degree oven for 35 minutes! When there’s about 10 minutes to go, I pulled the pie out and sprinkled the whole thing with a little extra parmesan cheese. Just because.

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Once it’s all done, pull it out and let it cool, sprinkling the top with dried basil.

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Looks SO good!

Slice this up warm for family and friends, cutting it just like a normal pie. The slices may not all look perfect on a plate, but let me tell you the tomato juices, the creamy tang of the mayo and white pepper, the savory pesto and the flaky pie crust make this a side dish that you’ll want to DEFINITELY make a fallback favorite.

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Chewy Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies

6 Sep

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As promised, it’s double-post Saturday and I’m bringing you one of my new favorite cookie recipes. This was featured in the recent Giveaway Boxes: Revealed! blog post as it was created and shipped off to Johnston, IA. I found this recipe after trying to find the perfect red velvet recipe that would be shipping friendly and have some great flavor. It’s a winner.

My thing with red velvet is that I was always unsure. I never really got why some people would go gaga for red velvet as I always felt there was some flavor lacking. I couldn’t put my finger on what additional flavor I wanted, but I just knew that if I had options between red velvet and something else, the something else usually won. But as I taste tested the batter and finished product of these cookies, my opinion has changed!

These cookies are great with mini chocolate chips – spreading out the chocolatey flavor in the cookie and also adding a little extra chewiness. Plus they look so great against the red color, don’t they?!

Whether you love red velvet or not, I really do think these are cookies you’ll love. If it helps to convince you, the extras made from my double batch went to Luke’s family in Wisconsin and they didn’t last more than 12 hours.

Convinced yet?

Excellent. I assume, yes.

This recipe makes 12-15 in standard form, so I definitely doubled to make enough for my giveaway box and to bring along to Wisconsin. This is a recipe that I tweaked slightly from the amazing blog, How Sweet Eats. Check out her blog for more delicious and creative twists on cookies and other sweets (lots of great shakes and smoothies on there that I’m dying to try out…particularly the boozy ones). I also just got her new cookbook Seriously Delish and am PUMPED to start working my way through it. She has some pretty fantastic recipes and this is just one of many that I’ve tried and put my own little spin on. (She also doesn’t know I exist, but I really do love her blog and cookbook. Big fan.)

And that Bacon Beer Cornbread I mentioned that Luke and I are making tomorrow? Her recipe too.

Ingredients (for 12-15 cookies, recipe is easily doubled):

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 – 2 teaspoon vanilla (we used the good stuff, but the usual stuff we’ll do)
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp of red food coloring (the original recipe says 1 tsp but I wanted RED and kept adding until I got the color I wanted)
  • 1 cup of mini chocolate chips (or more if you LOVE chocolate chips)

How to Make:

Like with most cookie recipes, we start off creaming together the butter and both sugars. Throw ‘em in the mixer until everything is light and fluffy, which takes a few minutes.

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Next in are the vanilla and egg. Cream those in for another minute or so (you can see we doubled the recipe with our two eggs in the photo below).

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One of our fun purchases on our honeymoon part 1 in Duluth, MN was a big bottle of Watkins Vanilla Extract. Gosh, I’m obsessed.

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Next is my favorite part – adding the red food coloring! As I noted above, we added more than the original recipe because I really wanted RED cookies. I’m weird like that. I added slowly with the mixer going to I could get a sense of the color saturation as I went.

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Once I was convinced that the color was perfect, in went the remaining dry ingredients.

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Final mix-in was the mini chocolate chips, until the batter looked perfectly spotted with chocolate throughout.

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Now, the ice cream scoop is the perfect cookie dough scooping mechanism, a trick a learned a few years back. Use your ice cream scoop to put 3 x 4 balls of batter on a Pam sprayed cookie sheet and then pop into the oven at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

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Let ‘em cool on a wire rack and then devour with a big glass of milk. Ooohhhh so good and totally changed my thoughts on all things red velvet.

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These pack super well and are easy to throw into Tupperware and mail or travel with. I can speak to that on both accounts!

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Mama’s Sour Cream Apple Pie

6 Sep IMG_6122

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I preface this post that it may indeed be double-post Saturday. We’re enjoying a relaxing Saturday watching football, reading, cooking/baking (ok, that’s just me and not my husband) and all in all, decompressing from the week. So enjoy this post and be excited as I hope to have another post coming along to follow it!

I am in that mindset of late summer, where I’m starting to really crave fall. Not to be confused with wishing for snow, I’m simply ready for crisp weather, apple picking, cozy comfort foods and watching the leaves change. Sigh. Fall is the BEST.

However, I know fall weather will quickly become snow and then I’ll be wondering why on earth I didn’t cherish the last few weeks of summer. So, I’m going to do my best to enjoy what’s left of the hot and humid sunshine. In the meantime, I’m going to start in on some of my fall favorite foods. Luke and I are sipping Pumpkin Spice Dunkin Donut coffee (which he had the fantastic idea to sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice and nutmeg. Gosh, I love that guy) and are planning on making a big batch of his mama’s chili with some Bacon Beer Cornbread (um, right?!) tomorrow to celebrate fall in food form. Yes, we’re early but heck, fall foods are so tasty.

(How many more times can I use fall in this post?!)

Now, the classic that I must share with you today to kickstart fall foods is from MY mama – it’s her recipe for Sour Cream Apple Pie!

This is a pie that I remember eating as a little kid, loving the crumbly sweet bits on top and the creamy, tangy apple filling. It’s a slight twist on a classic apple pie, but in the very best way. This pie doesn’t take a lot of time and you can easily whip one up for any occasion! Luke and I made it when we had my parents up for dinner a few weeks back, and it was a hit! We even got to enjoy a few slices as leftovers and I can tell you, this pie is just as good a few days after the fact.

Note – This pie is always best served warm and with some melty, sweet vanilla ice cream. Just trust me.

Ingredients:

Pie:

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust (because I just didn’t have time or energy to make from scratch, and the store ones taste just as delicious to me. Your choice!)
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 cups (or more!) of chopped apples (any kind of sweeter apple will do)

Crumble Topping:

  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (I like cinnamon so tend to be very liberal with my 1 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup of cold butter, chopped

How to Make:

First things first, prep your pie crust. Bake as directed for one pie crust filled pie and let it cool. Optional: stare at it and dream about the finished pie (is it just me that does this?!)

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Next, combine all of your pie filling ingredients. Yup. Just combine it all. Told you it was simple!

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Pour the whole shebang into the cooled pie crust…

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…and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min, or slightly less if needed. Key thing here is to make sure the pie filling is almost set.

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While your pie is baking you can make the BEST PART – the crumbly delicious topping. (I remember picking this part off of my pie as a kid, and being devastated when it was all gone.)

To make the crumble topping, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl and then add in the chopped up butter. Using your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until it’s crumbly. You don’t want the butter so warm that it becomes mashed in with the dry ingredients so really try to maintain crumbles and not mush. (Apologies for no pictures, fail. Fail. Fail. But trust me, it’s really easy to do and it looks like delicious sugary crumbles if you’re doing it right.)

Spread the topping evenly across the top of the pie (snagging some bits to taste, you know, to make sure it tastes as good as it looks) and bake the pie for 10-20 more minutes, watching for the top to JUST get browned.

Take it out, let it cool a bit and then serve warm with heaping scoops of your favorite vanilla ice cream. (Any ice cream will do, Edy’s was the choice of the ice cream selector in our family – Luke.)

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NOM nom nom nom….

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Close your eyes, take a big bite and savor that tangy mix of sour cream and apples, sweet brown sugar and melty ice cream.

Sigh. SO GOOD.

Giveaway Boxes: Revealed!

17 Aug

SO there’s been quite a delay in me sharing the contents of the two giveaway boxes. There was this wedding thing in the middle of the summer (BEST DAY EVER) that took a BIT of attention, but now I’m back and excited to share the wonderful boxes that went on their way to Seattle, Washington and Johnston, Iowa!

The fun thing was, both winners picked different food items so I got to make two very unique, but very delicious boxes. Hearing their excitement when the box was received and how the treats inside went over, was my favorite part. THAT is why these giveaways are so great. Nothing is more fun for me than getting to cook/bake for other people. It’s the BEST! Am I right?!?

So both winners received recipe cards of the items in their box (each received three items) and they also received two fun, colorful spatulas. Because of COURSE, that is the cooking portion of this blog AND who doesn’t need/want more spatulas?!? :)

Box #1 winner was Todd, a dental student in Seattle, WA. He picked the following:

  • Muffin/Cupcake: A new, not-yet-on-the-blog item! Delicious Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins that I’m excited to share with you guys in a future post. They turned out very moist, gorgeous with the purple/blue berries and definitely a keeper that I’ll be making again for my husband (<— new favorite word) and myself.
  • Snack: Spicy Caramel Popcorn featured in this post
  • Cookies: Snickerdoodles featured in this post

Had a great day of baking while we watched baseball in the background. Is there anything better than baking and baseball?! Nope. Really don’t think there is.

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They got all packaged up and sent off to Todd!

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Next up was Teresa, a married mom of the cutest little guy you’ve ever seen. She and her husband, Josh came up with their box contents:

  • Muffin/Cupcake: The healthy twist on Chocolate Muffins featured in this post
  • Snack: Spicy Chipotle Rosemary Nuts featured in this post
  • Cookies: A great new challenge and one of my new favorites! Teresa and her husband Josh requested something red velvet and I found a great recipe from one of the blogs I read frequently that fit the bill. Really think you guys will love them as much I did, taste testing! Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies will be coming soon to a post near you. These were chewy, had lots of flavor and mini chocolate chips ensured that every bite had some chocolate.

IMG_5950 IMG_5973 IMG_5975Off the box went to Johnston, Iowa to a lucky family of three!!

 

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IMG_5988Overall, definitely was great fun to send these off AND it was the perfect way to decompress after the wedding preparations that took up most of my free time in May and June and be in my happy place in the kitchen. I have LOTS of recipes all primed and ready to share with you guys so please do stay tuned! Luke and I have really enjoyed experimenting this summer in the new apartment kitchen and I have so many wonderful things to blog about.

Before you know it, we’ll do another one of these giveaways so keep your eyes on the posts for some delectable new treats, libations and maybe a few crafty projects too before we dive into another giveaway.

Off to draft my Fantasy Football team…simple goal is to beat my husband. :)

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