Friday, June 23, 2017

4th of July Entertaining

I'm so excited to partner with Oriental Trading company again for this post! I love hosting and they have the perfect items for celebrating the 4th of July! I loved putting together this "Keep Cool" table.

Keep Cool!

Your drink area is so cute with simple mason jars dressed up with these amazing straws! Serve strawberry lemonade, honey kiwi strawberry lemonade or another refreshing drink!

These cute star spangled straws dress up your drink area! 

Adorable straws!

We nearly always go to our local 4th of July parade and more often than not it's HOT which makes these items perfect for everyone to grab on their way to the festive event! They also work for a fun cookout which we also enjoy annually. Invite adults and kids alike to enjoy water guns, beach balls, fans (do you see the cute buckets that I have the fans in?) and more!

These come in a pack of 12!

Festive fans perfect for parade viewing or keeping cool at a cookout!

Look at these beautiful pinwheels and flags! They not only make awesome centerpieces, but are fun for waving at the parade. I have many fond memories of pinwheels as a little girl and just love them!

Pinwheels!

Flags!

The beautiful votives (pictured below) made a beautiful decoration on our deck. Burn some citronella votive candles in them to keep the bugs away!

See the votives along the deck - so pretty!

I really liked the idea of the red, white, and blue bunting (you can see parts of it above) and it is really gorgeous, but it was a little hard to hang- I need to work on my technique. I love that it is 20 feet which makes it awesome for decorating and I'm looking forward to using it again and again!

I really thought of what my kids would enjoy for Independence Day, too - they really enjoy having friends to join in the celebration. They love the beach balls and the pinwheels were super cute as well, but the squirt guns were definitely the favorite! Why am I not surprised?!

Look at the variety of fun designs! Provide a bucket of water for quick refills!

I also have some star skewers that I can't wait to use for fruit kabobs on the 4th! Or maybe brownie, marshmallow, strawberry kabobs! YUM!

Enjoy a wonderful 4th of July! You still have time to order wonderful items for your celebration - Oriental Trading Company provides great prices on so many different party items!

Disclaimer: Oriental Trading Company sent me these products free in exchange for my honest review. This review and opinions of the products are all my own. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Honey Kiwi Strawberry Lemonade

We tend to be water and milk drinkers and that's about it, but there's something about summer that begs fruity, yummy, special drinks. Homemade strawberry lemonade has been a favorite for quite a few years now. However, it's definitely a special treat since it contains a fair amount of sugar. This past weekend, I was on a quest to make a lighter, honey sweetened version of lemonade. The results received six thumbs up and a request to definintely make it again. It's refreshing and delicious.

This could easily be adapted to whatever fruit combination you would like for your lemonade - peach/blueberry or strawberry/lime sound like good combinations to try!

Looks at this delicious, frosty drink!

Honey Kiwi Strawberry Lemonade

4 kiwis, peeled and quartered
3/4 c. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c. honey
2 c. water
2 c. ice
1 - 1/2 c. frozen strawberries (or whatever frozen fruit you like that will lend a little sweetness!)
Fresh mint, optional

Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until pureed. Pour into 6, 8oz glasses and garnish with fruit and fresh mint if desired. I added just a few cubes of ice to each glass before pouring in the lemonade because I like my summer drinks very cold. 

I actually think some fresh mint blended into this would take it right over the top and I will be doing that next time! Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Entertaining + Creme Brulee Recipe

I don't get to entertain as much as I would like these days, but I always love it when I get a chance! I partnered with Oriental Trading Company to set this gorgeous Welcome Spring brunch table! I chose pink, gold, navy, and white as my main colors and I simply adore how this turned out. It's simple yet elegant and feels festive.

Check out the Navy Blue Chevron Hanging Lanterns!
The beautiful Gold Shimmer Burlap Table Runner and Gold Metallic Chargers were my base - both can be used many times over, which I love! I kept the centerpiece simple with a chalkboard I already owned and two gorgeous Milk Jug Vases tied with Hot Pink Baker's Twine - I decided to put some tealights inside, but I think they would also be stunning with flowers and I can't wait to use them again. The final part of the festive decor was the Navy Blue Chevron Hanging Lanterns which hung from the light and looked so pretty.
I love the Gold Shimmer Burlap Table Runner and the Milk Jug Vase!

I love the color combination!
The place settings anchored by the chargers included Navy Blue Chevron Scalloped Paper Dinner Plates, Hot Pink Paper Dessert Plates, Hot Pink Luncheon Napkins, and Premium Gold Metallic Cutlery. The quality on all of these items was really excellent and the combination perfect. I absolutely loved the chevron of the plates and hanging lanterns - so fun! I used the Dictionary Stickers & Tags for place cards tied with the baker's string and set them on the plates to finish the place setting.

The stunning place setting! The Metallic Gold Chargers were truly beautiful and will be so versatile. 

I always love including party favors and these Gold Takeout Boxes were awesome for that! I used Vintage Washi Tape and the baker's string to dress up the boxes a bit.

The simple favor with Gold Takeout Boxes decorated with Vintage Washi Tape were super cute! 
I've used Oriental Trading Company in the past for Oscars Parties, birthday parties, and other events and have not been disappointed. I love that you can mix and match what works for any theme and any price point!

I couldn't let you go without including a recipe for your next event! One of my kids asked for creme brûlée because he had seen it on a baking show and didn't know what it was. I obliged because...why not?! Creme Brûlée is simple, but oh so decadent and delicious. I don't own a torch, so I appreciated that this recipe gave instructions for melting the sugar under the broiler. The original recipe came from the New York Times Cooking.

Creme Brûlée 
Creme Brûlée
serves 4

2 c. heavy Cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 tsp. vanilla extract, optional
1/8 tsp. salt
5 egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar plus more for top

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean (I scraped and added the beans to the liquid before also adding the split bean), and salt. Cook over low heat until just hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then remove vanilla bean. Add vanilla extract if desired. 

In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into it, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish. Place pan in oven and carefully fill with boiling water halfway up up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until centers are barely set and slightly jiggly. Cool completely and refrigerate at least a couple of hours and up to a couple of days (perfect to make ahead!).

When ready to serve, completely cover the top of each custard with a thin layer of sugar. Place ramekins 2-3 inches under the broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes - watch carefully. Serve within 2 hours. 

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Oriental Trading Company sent me these products free in exchange for my honest review. This review and opinions of the products are all my own. 




Monday, March 6, 2017

Berry Greek Yogurt Oat Muffins

These delicious and easy muffins are one of our freezer breakfast favorites. They hare delicious and the greek yogurt increases the protein. You can definitely use coconut sugar in place of the brown sugar. I use a mix of blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. We warm these in the microwave for about 30 seconds to thaw them. They will store in the freezer up to 3 months. I double or even triple this recipe.

Berry Greek Yogurt Oat Muffins

BERRY GREEK YOGURT OAT MUFFINS
Makes about 12 muffins

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2-1 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 c. plain Greek yogurt
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. frozen mixed berries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with liners and lightly spray for easy release.  

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl or large measuring cup, lightly beat the egg just to break it up. Mix in the yogurt, honey, sugar, almond milk, and vanilla, until well combined.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the berries and stir to incorporate. Scoop the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, filling about 3/4 full.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are lightly golden and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool and then freeze if desired.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

No Fuss Applesauce Spice Cake

Fall is perfect for Applesauce Spice Cake!

A couple of weeks ago we had family over for an impromptu Sunday dinner. The weather was beginning to change from summer to fall and a spice cake with apple just seemed like the right choice for dessert. This was so quick and so easy and everyone loved it. 




NO-FUSS APPLESAUCE SPICE CAKE

2 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. coconut sugar (or white sugar)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 c. applesauce
1/4 c. buttermilk or sour milk (to do the latter - 1/4 c. plus a splash of vinegar and let sit for a couple of minutes)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13 pan. Stir together dry ingredients. Beat butter and sugar together on high. Add vanilla and eggs. Add milk and flour. Mix on low until combined. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. 

Cool completely and frost - sprinkle with cinnamon if desired. Store in fridge. 

CINNAMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 - 8 oz block cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter, softened
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon (more for sprinkling on top if desired)
milk or half & half - add to get desired consistency

Cream the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, sugar, and splash of milk. Add more milk as needed. 

Come follow our pinterest board!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Cookies

Who doesn't want a cookie for breakfast?!

What is you could eat a cookie for breakfast without guilt? A cookie that is satisfying, filling, and energy giving would be a win, right? I think we have the recipe for you! It's delicious and easy. We quadrupled the initial recipe and froze them to continue on our freezer breakfast prep trend

(As an aside, breakfast-to-go freezer meals continues to be one of my most favorite ideas ever. It just works so well for our family. I long ago gave up the illusion of sitting down to breakfast on school mornings and everyone is so much happier with this solution plus I don't worry that they haven't eaten enough or had enough protein.) 

Anyway...back to the recipe. I found this recipe on Leelalicious (I'm excited to try her other breakfast cookies!) and knew we had to try it. I made a few changes for our taste. I think these are perfect for fall and would be fun to customize with different nuts or fruits or sub applesauce for the pumpkin puree. 

Pumpkin Spice Breakfast Cookies


PUMPKIN SPICE BREAKFAST COOKIES
Makes 2 dozen cookies

1/2 c. coconut oil
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
2 c. quick oats
1 c. dried cranberries
1 1/3 c. pumpkin seeds
1/2 c. golden flax meal
1 Tb. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. pumpkin puree
4 eggs, beaten

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt honey and coconut oil. Mix together oats, cranberries, pumpkin seeds, flax, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add pumpkin, vanilla, eggs, honey, and oil. Stir all together to combine. Drop by 1/4 c. (large scoop) on a baking stone or parchment lined cookie sheet. Flatten cookie with the bottom of a cup (spray for easier flattening. Bake for 15-17 minutes until lightly browned around the edges. Let cool for 5 minutes and then remove to wire rack and let fully cool. If freezing, wrap cookies in wax paper and place in freezer bag. To enjoy, remove from freezer and nuke for 20 seconds if desired or let thaw.

Check out our Pinterest board!


Monday, September 12, 2016

Pumpkin Greek Yogurt Oat Muffins

Pumpkin Greek Yogurt Oat Muffins for the freezer!

These muffins are gluten free if you buy gluten free oats. I found the original recipe on Running with Spoons, but changed these slightly to work for us! They are delicious and I'm so glad I found her recipe! Next time I may add pumpkin pie spice instead of the cinnamon. You can also add chocolate chips after blending if you like - that's her recommendation and I'm sure it's wonderful. We added these to our breakfast-to-go agenda and they are a hit!

Delicious, gluten-free pumpkin muffins!

 PUMPKIN GREEK YOGURT OAT MUFFINS

1 c. Greek yogurt
1 c. canned pumpkin
2 eggs
2 cups oats (quick or old-fashioned - I used the latter)
1/2 c. coconut sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners and spray (helps with release when you re-warm them later). 

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. 

Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. 

These muffins came out of the oven fairly puffy, but will deflate just a bit as they sit, so no worries if you notice that!


Cool them completely and pop them in a freezer bag and into the freezer! Thaw a muffin in the microwave (about 25 seconds) and enjoy!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Breakfast Sandwich

Breakfast Sandwiches

Few things are better than a breakfast sandwich! It's comforting, delicious, and portable. These definitely made it on my freezer breakfast prep list. They are endlessly customizable and simple to assemble!

Assembled and ready to be wrapped!

Step 1: Choose your bread. English muffins and bagels work exceptionally well, but you can use whatever you like! (English muffins are the more economical choice and frequently go on sale or can be found in bulk at your local warehouse store.)

Step 2: Choose your meat. Meat is always optional, but my kids really like it and I want the extra protein it provides. Ham, canadian bacon (we chose a nitrate/nitrite free version for this batch), bacon, or sausage are all excellent. I'm thinking a chorizo one with pepper jack cheese would be delicious!

Step 3: Choose your cheese. We used a sharp cheddar this time which is a family favorite. Any sliced cheese would be fine, so mix and match to create your favorite combination!

Step 4: Cook your eggs. We did 6 or 8 at a time in an electric skillet (make sure it's nice and hot, so you keep a relatively round shape). We break the yolks and season with salt and pepper. Once they were finished, we put them on a cooling rack to cool before assembly.

Eggs cooked and ready for assembly.
Step 5: Customize. Do you like veggies, herbs, or other seasonings? Feel free to add them! We kept these basic because that's what our families like. 
Our breakfast sandwich components this time around.
Step 6: Assemble, wrap, and freeze. These are seriously easy! We wrap the individual sandwiches in plastic wrap (or wax paper bags) and then store 8 or so in a gallon freezer bag. 

DONE. These are a complete breakfast in themselves which I love. 

To Thaw: They take about 2 minutes to warm in the microwave or 4 minutes at 50%. 

What are your favorite breakfast sandwich ingredients?




Thursday, September 8, 2016

Breakfast-to-Go in the Freezer

Breakfast-to-Go Revolutionized Our Mornings.

Breakfast-to-Go


Our schedule changed significantly this year and in preparation for it, I planned to make some freezer breakfasts. Guys, this decision was a game changer! Also, I super wish I had thought to do this a way long time ago!

I'm not a big fan of cereal for breakfast for the kids, but too often it was the easy solution and while my kids are far from picky, a couple don't love oatmeal (okay, by a couple I mean ME and a kid). I soldiered on and made oatmeal and eggs at least 4-5 mornings a week most weeks because I wanted healthy, filling, protein packed breakfasts. Enter...breakfast in the freezer to go.

I made a quick plan initially and did pretty well - I had about six weeks of breakfasts in the freezer. It took less time than I thought it would and pretty much all of the recipes were hits.

Here are some of the things I love about it: 

1) Everyone is in charge of their own breakfast except for the kindergartner - we help her with warming up her choice.
2) Everyone gets their choice of what's available - aka no one has to eat the same thing.
3) When we are running behind (ahem), they can be heated and transported.
4) They are higher protein breakfasts.
5) They are healthier because I control the ingredients.
6) Less stress for all.

That last one makes for smoother mornings in general. At least half of us are not morning people, so that's important for us.

I just did a second day of breakfast prep and this time I did it with a sister. We worked together and split the meals. GO GET A FRIEND. It's way more fun to do with someone! We are already planning our next prep day. I don't think more than 2 people would work very well because of juggling the oven time unless you have a commercial kitchen available.

In about 2 hours we made:

40 egg, sausage and cheese burritos
36 egg sandwiches
24 pumpkin greek yogurt muffins
36 baked oatmeals
48 potato egg muffin cups

So we each went home with over 90 items. IN TWO HOURS. 

(May I take this moment to tell you that Aldi had eggs for $.39/dozen! I often buy organic ones, but at that price and the volume we needed - 10 dozen - we went ahead and got those)

We had plans to make some Lemon Muffins, Greek Yogurt Popsicles (my kids fave!), and waffles, but alas, we had to go pick up our kids from school. Next time we will shop ahead and I think in 3 hours we can add at least 3-4 dozen more items/person.

Here are our tips for a successful day:
1) Plan ahead - print recipes, make lists, and shop.
2) Start with a few recipes - I always plan too many.
3) Have good quality packaging - there is nothing more frustrating than needing 5 dozen pieces of plastic wrap and it's impossible to rip. (I think wax bags would be awesome.)
4) Use muffin liners when you can to reduce the need to wash the pans in between each item, but spray the liner so it releases easily from the breakfast item.
5) Post a whiteboard or sign on the outside of the freezer with the available options so the kids don't leave the door hanging open while they look. :) (Not that I know anything about that. HA!)
6) On the whiteboard or sign, list the approximate amount of time it needs in the microwave or toaster oven.

So...you don't have to be an amazing cook and you don't have to have lots of time. This is super doable. My kids love it, I love it, my husband loves it... It is totally a sanity saver for us!

I'll keep adding recipes that go with this theme - and for the additional recipes not yet linked above!


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Potato Egg Cups

Potato Egg Cups

To continue our freezer breakfast theme - check these out! My kids were exceptionally excited about these - I found the idea for these at Ella Claire Inspired. We sampled one of these out of the oven and YUM! I think two would be a good serving for breakfast or one and another item - like a piece of fruit or toast. 

The beauty of these is that you can totally customize this to your own taste! My kiddos LOVE sausage - I'm not a huge fan myself. If I were to customize these for myself - bacon, swiss, chopped spinach, and mushrooms. Ham, bacon, or sausage would all work well, your favorite cheese, and any veggies or herbs that your family enjoys.

Potato Egg Cups


POTATO EGG CUPS
(makes about 2 dozen)

1 - 32 oz package of tater tot style potatoes (I'm certain you could also use hashbrowns as the base!*)
1 lb. sausage, browned
1 small green pepper, small diced
1 small red or orange pepper, small diced
4-6 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
16 or so eggs, beaten 
Salt & Pepper to taste (in eggs)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 2 - 12 count muffin tins. Thaw tater tots enough to press into bottom of muffin tins (about 3/spot) - we used the bottom of a cup. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and top with 2-3 tsp. sausage, diced peppers, and a sprinkle of cheese. Pour eggs over all - almost to the top. Bake for 15 minutes or until eggs are set. Cool and freeze if desired. Pop in the microwave to re-heat.

* I have since tested hashbrowns and they also work well!  

Monday, August 29, 2016

Baked Oatmeal

INDIVIDUAL BAKED OATMEAL for the freezer.

We've talked about baked oatmeal before and how delicious it is! I gave a recipe I found a bit of a makeover to make it dairy free and to use coconut sugar instead of a refined sugar. These can be topped with whatever topping you like - my kids like blueberries, chocolate chips, plain, and dried cranberries. We make a double batch and make a variety.


Baked Oatmeal


BAKED OATMEAL
Makes 18 

2 eggs
¼ c. oil (coconut or canola)
½ c. applesauce
1½ c. unsweetened almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
3 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. coconut sugar
2 tsp. baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. 

Combine first 4 ingredients in a liquid measuring cup. Mix remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Pour liquids over the oatmeal mixture and stir until combined. Place about 1/4 c. into each muffin section. Bake for 20-30 minutes until bake through. Cool and freeze. Warm in microwave for a quick, on-the-go breakfast. 

These would be great topped with a little greek yogurt or even peanut butter!





Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Fonio & Lentil Bake

Fonio is a new (old) superfood with delicious flexibility!

I recently received a sample of an African grain called Fonio from Earth's Goodness.  I love to cook and I love to try new things, so I was curious to try it! This ancient grain boasts some great health benefits and is easy to cook. It's rich in calcium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and amino acids. Fonio is also gluten free, easily digestible, and diabetic friendly. A nutrient dense, flexible grain is a win in my book.

Earth's Goodness Fonio


My family loved this recipe! It was admittedly hard to photograph, but trust me on this one - it was really delicious! It had a creamy texture with the contrast of the lentils. The parmesan really elevated it. It reminded me a bit of polenta. It's creamier than couscous - more like a hot cereal.

Fonio & Lentil Bake makes a great main dish or side dish!


FONIO & LENTIL BAKE

6 c. vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 c. fonio (rinsed)
1 c. lentils (I used red)
1 onion, diced
2 tsp. Itlaian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
Fresh parmesan

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Stir all of the ingredients together and put in a 9x13 pan covered with foil or in a covered oven-proof pot. Bake for 50-60 minutes until creamy, but lentils still have some texture. Uncover and grate fresh parmesan over top and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve with more parmesan.

I think this would be fantastic with a pork chop or steak and a side of broccoli or brussel sprouts. It was creamy, flavorful, and filling. It cooked quickly and took on the flavor of the seasonings. Delicious! I'm really looking forward to trying more recipes with fonio. I'm planning to try it as a hot cereal next - perhaps topped with apples and cinnamon! Earth's Goodness has some delicious recipe suggestions!

Where can you buy Fonio? Check out Earth's Goodness!


**DISCLAIMER: These opinions are my own. I did receive a sample and compensation in exchange for my honest review of this grain. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Easy Granola

Easy Granola is quick, delicious, and a great addition to breakfast!

Today, I was in a granola mood. I've been meaning to make a batch for approximately 1 billion days or something like that. :) This morning as I was doing dishes, putting dinner in the crockpot, and making breakfast, I thought...why not? And so I did. And it was easy and delicious. I adapted a recipe from Alton Brown - the biggest change is that I cut the brown sugar out all together. My goal was to make something healthy for us to put on our plain greek yogurt for breakfast parfaits. I think granola is ridiculously flexible in the flavor department and I'm looking forward to experimenting more! This would also be a cinch to make gluten free with gluten free oats and it's naturally dairy free.

Easy Granola

EASY GRANOLA

3 cups old-fashioned oat
1 c. pecans, chopped
1 c. almonds, chopped or slivered
3/4 c. plus a little more coconut
2 tsp. cinnamon (I actually used cinnamon plus which has a mix of spices)
1/4 oil
1/4 plus 2 TB. maple syrup
3/4 tsp of salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Combine the oats, nuts, coconut, and cinnamon in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, syrup, and salt. Pour the liquids over the dry and stir until thoroughly combined. Evenly spread the mixture on a large bar pan. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until golden brown - stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container

That's it! Super easy, super delicious and totally adaptable. Next time I will add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract to the wet ingredients. You can add raisins after it comes out if you like that. I'm dreaming of all the variations - orange almond, apple cinnamon, vanilla coconut, cranberry spice...

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Ribbon Vegetable Salad

Ribbon Vegetable Salad

This easy and very fresh salad is gorgeous and delicious! You can quite easily substitute your favorite vegetables or herbs. I think dill, chives, or parsley would be especially excellent. My family loved this dish. The platter was completely devoured. I think it is a wonderful salad for welcoming spring!

Ribbon Vegetable Salad
RIBBON VEGETABLE SALAD

1 medium seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
3 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
6 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. dried basil or 1/4 c. chopped fresh basil 

Dressing:
3 Tb. apple cider vinegar (or your favorite vinegar)
1 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. Dijon mustard (I used a Basil Dijon)
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt 
1/4 tsp. black pepper
3 Tb. canola or olive oil

Use a mandoline or spiral slicer to thinly slice the vegetables. Arrange on the platter and
sprinkle basil on top.

Combine the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the vegetables. Enjoy!


Friday, March 13, 2015

Crab Rangoon

Crab Rangoon

My kids love crab rangoon...who am I kidding, so do I?! ;) The crunchy outside and creamy inside dipped in a sweet and sour sauce is just delicious. I have a little allergy thing going on with some shellfish, so I limit my consumption and, of course, avoid the ones that I have had a reaction to all together. Anyway, all that to say that we made these using imitation crab and they were delicious. You can use whatever you prefer, though!

Crab Rangoon fresh from the fryer. 

CRAB RANGOON

1 pouch (usually 6-8 ounces) crab or imitation crab
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2-3 cloves, minced garlic
1/2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
dash of white pepper
1 package wonton skins (usually available in the produce section of your store)
1 egg, beaten with just a little water

Thoroughly combine first 6 ingredients. Lay wonton wrapper out on a cutting board (I do about 6 at a time). Place 1/2-1 tsp filling in the center of the wonton. Use a pastry brush and brush all of the sides with the egg wash and then bring all of the edges together to make a pouch. Seal well and push air out (I did not do a good job at pushing the air out and these were a little puffy - delicious nonetheless). Fry at 350 degrees F until golden brown and crisp. Let drain on a paper towel lined plate. Serve hot with Sweet & Sour Sauce.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Vegan Kung Pao Tofu

Vegan Kung Pao Tofu

I will admit that I've been a tofu skeptic over the years, but I'm slowly becoming a convert. When we traveled to China, I absolutely loved a couple of the tofu dishes that we ordered. It has made me more adventurous and more determined to nail the preparation of tofu.

This was SO GOOD! It was bright and colorful and the texture was perfect. We served it over white rice. I think there are things that make tofu really good like pressing the moisture out and frying or baking it. I also prefer firm or even better, extra firm tofu. I adapted this recipe from China Sichuan Food.

Vegan Kung Pao Tofu


VEGAN KUNG PAO TOFU
(adapted from China Sichuan Food)

1 lb. extra firm tofu (drain it from the package, wrap it in a clean towel, and put a heavy skillet on top for at least 15 minutes to further remove the moisture)
3 Tb. canola oil
1 green pepper, cut in chunks
1 red pepper, cut in chunks
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
5 green onions (use 2-3 inches in the stir fry and chop the remaining green part for garnish)
1/2 c. peanuts
Stir-fry sauce (see recipe below)

Heat oil in wok. Add the tofu and cook until golden brown. Remove from wok and set aside. Keep 2 tsp. of oil in the wok and pour out any extra. Add garlic, ginger, and onions and stir fry until you can smell them. Add the tofu and peppers and continue to stir fry until peppers are starting to soften. Pour in all of the stir fry sauce and the peanuts (you can reserve some peanut for garnish if you like). Mix well and then transfer to a serving dish and garnish with green onion and peanuts.  

Stir-fry Sauce

2 Tb. soy sauce
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. corn starch
2 tsp. vinegar (you can use rice, apple cider, or a sherry wine)
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 Tb. water

Combine all ingredients in a liquid measuring cup and set aside. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vegan Sesame Noodles

Vegan Sesame Noodles

We celebrate the wonderful birth heritages of our children and so that means we celebrated the Chinese New Year a couple of weeks ago! It's the year of the sheep/goat/ram and is actually my Chinese birth symbol.

Since my vegan parents were joining us, I wanted to make sure and  have a few dishes that fit that category. These were AMAZING. I could have eaten the entire bowl by myself. You can eat them warm (my favorite), room temperature (recommended), or cold (leftover). Any way you choose, they are fabulous! I found the original recipe that I based my noodles on at RasaMalaysia

You can use this for a quick dinner, easy make-ahead lunch, or side dish. Our family loved it!

Vegan Sesame Noodles
VEGAN SESAME NOODLES

16 oz. spaghetti
1/4 c. oil
sesame seeds for garnish (I only had white, but black would be great, too!)
green onions, sliced for garnish
sesame sauce (see recipe below)

Cook the noodles according to the package. Rinse in cold running water and drain. Set aside.
Heat up a skillet or wok on medium heat and with the oil. Add the pasta and give a few turns. Add the sesame sauce to the noodles and toss to combine well and heat through. Remove from the heat and garnish with sesame seeds and green onions. Serves 6-8.

Sesame Sauce:
1/4 c. plus 1 Tb. tahini paste, slightly warmed
2 Tb. natural peanut butter
3 Tb. soy sauce
1-2 tsp. sugar
1 Tb. rice vinegar (you can use apple cider if you don't have rice)
2 Tb. sesame oil
pinch of chili flakes
salt to taste

Combine all sauce ingredients in a pourable measuring cup and set aside. (Be sure and taste the sauce and adjust for your palate.)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Biscuits & Gravy

Biscuits & Gravy

Here's the deal - biscuits and gravy = awesome!

A family favorite - biscuits & gravy.

It is a popular (often associated with the South) breakfast that is super easy to make, but I think it would also make a wonderful brunch or a quick breakfast for dinner recipe (with a side of vegetables, of course ;)). It's a rare treat around here, but highly anticipated.

You can use the pop biscuits from the can...but really, just make them from scratch...so worth it! I have spent years trying to make the perfect biscuits that have light layers and finally my search has ended. There are two recipes that I have found worthy of ending the search - Alton Brown's Biscuits and Smitten Kitchen's Biscuits. They are slightly different and for the sake of not using shortening, I chose the latter today, but I have tried both and they are both wonderful.


Light, Fluffy, Golden, and Tall - biscuit perfection!

BISCUITS
(slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

2 1/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. sugar (if you want a sweeter biscuit sometime, just increase this)
1 Tb. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
9 Tb. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 c. buttermilk or soured milk

Heat oven to 400 °F. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large, wide bowl. Using pastry blender, cut butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, Add milk and stir until large clumps form. Reach hands into bowl and knead mixture briefly until it just holds together (add a little more milk if needed).

Transfer dough to floured counter and pat out until 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick. Using a round cutter (2 inches for regular sized biscuits), press straight down and transfer rounds to baking stone* (or metal pan if you prefer).

Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top - 12 to 15 minutes. Serve hot!

This will make about 12-14 2-inch biscuits

*I bake on stones. I am a firm believer in their awesomeness and find that my baked goods are simply better when I use them.

**You can add in cheese or herbs with the dry ingredients, if you want to make these fancy.

Cast Iron Skillet = one of my favorite kitchen items.

Here's the deal on the gravy - you can use however much sausage you like. I love the flavor that it gives, but I like to stretch my meat and don't like a really meaty gravy. This is how I do it and it is perfect for us - great gravy to meat ratio. I do think the two things that make this simple gravy awesome is the iron skillet and the amount of pepper. Oh and you can halve this recipe for 2-4 people. My people eat a lot and this was scraped clean by our family of 6. :)


SAUSAGE GRAVY

1/2 lb. bulk sausage
1/2 c. flour
4 c. milk
salt
fresh ground pepper

In a large cast iron skillet (If you don't own one, go buy one because you will use it for everything...but in the mean time, you can use a regular skillet.), brown your sausage, breaking it up into small pieces. Once browned, stir in flour and continue cooking for a minute or two. Slowly stir in the milk. Add salt & pepper to taste (I did about 1/2 tsp of each, but taste as you go to adjust for your palate and for the seasoning of your sausage). Continue to stir and loosen any bits from the bottom of the skillet until the gravy is just starting to bubble and gravy is thick. Serves over hot biscuits. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Donut Muffins

Donut Muffins

So this is not exactly the recipes asked for...but bear with me and you will be glad! My kids were begging for a trip to the bakery for donuts (which I declined). Rather than be a complete stick in the mud, I suggested we make muffins instead. This idea was met with great joy. We searched for a suitable recipe that would feel like a trip to our favorite donut shop. I stumbled upon one that I modified for a delicious result. The kids were THRILLED and declared them better than donuts.

We enjoyed them hot from the oven, but I'm certain they will also be delicious later. We worked together to make the muffins and then to dip them in melted butter and cinnamon sugar - they were so proud of their efforts.

These could very easily be changed to various flavors using different extracts, zests, fruits, nuts, and spices. So many possibilities! You could also make them almost like donut holes by using a mini muffin pan. (I doubled this recipe since I feel like I'm feeding an army most days, so this will be our Valentine's Day breakfast in addition to our Valentine's Eve treat.)

Donut Muffins

DONUT MUFFINS

  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon plus** 
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 2/3 c. unbleached flour
  • 1 c. milk
TOPPING:


  • 3 Tb. melted butter
  • 3 Tb. sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Mix the cinnamon and sugar together in a bowl. Have another bowl with the melted butter in it. 
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease muffin pan or line with muffin papers. 

Cream the butter, oil, and sugars with a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon plus, and salt. Alternate flour and milk additions and continue mixing with spoon until fully incorporated. Fill each muffin slot almost full. Bake 15-17 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean and muffins are light brown.

While still hot from the oven (but cool enough to handle), dip the tops in melted butter and then in the cinnamon sugar blend. ENJOY.

Makes 12 muffins

**This is a spice blend I purchase and love through Pampered Chef  which has a variety of spices and some orange zest, but plain cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, apple pie spice or your own mix of spices will be perfect.

Friday, January 30, 2015

It's Your Turn!




In the interest of keeping our blog relevant and offering recipes that interest our readers, we would like to ask you a couple of questions!


1) What type of recipes do you most want to see?

2) Do you personally have a particular recipe that you would like us to develop?

You can comment below with your thoughts! Thanks so much!