Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Crazy Feta

This is a How Sweet recipe I saved up for football season.  I thought it would make a fun dip with pita bread for during the game.  It was really good, however I wouldn't really call it a "dip."  We ate a little bit of it during the game and then save the rest to use in salads and spread on sandwiches for lunch that week.  It is a really great way to jazz up your feta cheese though!

Crazy Feta
makes about 2 cups - I halved the recipe
2 bricks of feta cheese, 8 ounces each
3 whole jalapeno peppers
1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon
1 bulb garlic
the juice of half a lemon
the zest of half a lemon
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the top off the garlic bulb and drizzle it with a teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap it in foil and roast for 25-30 minutes, or until garlic is golden in color. At the same time, brush the jalapenos with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Either grill or roast them – I stuck them in the oven with garlic and just watched until they were charred. Remove both from oven and let cool. Once jalapenos are cooled, remove skins, cut in half and discard the seeds. Chop into small pieces. Don’t touch your eyes!
In a large bowl, crumble the feta bricks. [Crumbling the bricks yourself works best, but if you can only find crumbled feta that is fine.] Add chopped jalapenos, the zest of half a lemon, and the juice of half a lemon. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the bulb directly into the feta. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and mash with a fork. You want the feta to be a bit “wet” – a cross between a spread and a dip. There is no right or wrong – make it however you’d like. Taste the feta and season with salt and pepper. Serve with pita chips, warm pita, or spread it on sandwiches. Store it in the fridge for up to one week – I find that I like it best at room temperature, so allow it to sit out for about 30 minutes before serving. We also think it would be great with some kalamata olives.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Raspberry Truffle Brownies

These lovely brownies are courtesy of Two Peas & Their Pod.  This was the first time I made homemade brownies (i.e. not out of the box).  YUM.  They were so rich and chocolaty.  If you don't like raspberries, you can absolutely leave them out and just make the brownies.  The original recipe called for all cocoa powder for the batter, but I didn't have enough.  I decided to half it with melted chocolate chips and it worked out great!  I also halved her recipe to make an 8x8 pan of them.

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cups cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup chocolate chips & 1/2 cup (separated)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 8″ x 8″ pan and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter over low-medium heat. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Return the mixture to the heat and stir until the mixture is smooth and shiny-about 1 minute. Stir in 1/4 chocolate chips, until melted.  Transfer the sugar mixture to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the cocoa, baking powder, salt, and vanilla extract.
3. Add in the eggs and stir until smooth. Add the flour and stir until flour disappears. Stir in the other 1/2 cup chocolate chips.
Spoon the batter into prepared pan. Gently place raspberries on top of the brownie batter.
4. Bake the brownies for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it. The brownies should feel set on the edges, and the center should look very moist, but not uncooked. Remove brownies from the oven and cool completely on a rack before cutting and serving.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

I saw this inspiration via Pinterest the other day however there was no recipe or link attached.  I decided to start with the recipe for the awesome Garlic Pepper Shrimp I made before and add lime & cilantro to it!  The combination was really yummy!

ready to be tossed & mixed up

out of the oven

1 pound raw, easy peel shrimp
3 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Juice from 1/2 or a whole lime depending how strong you like the flavor
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Rinse, peel and devein shrimp (but leave tails on if you wish).
In a blender or food processor, blend together the garlic, melted butter, lime juice, cilantro, and olive oil until the garlic is very finely chopped. Pour the olive oil mixture over the shrimp, sprinkle with salt, and a hearty amount of fresh cracked pepper, and toss together to combine.
Place baking sheet in preheated oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through (be careful to not overcook the shrimp! they shouldn't curl into little circles, but should look like quarter moon sickles once done.)  Mine took about 10 minutes.
Serve shrimp and remaining garlic butter sauce from the baking sheet pan over rice.  Serves 2 to 3.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Birthday Week

Corey's birthday is Saturday.  Last year for his bday, I wanted to make it special, so I extended it to a whole week and had him pick what he wanted for dinner that week.  We had so much fun with it that I decided to do it again this year!  Plus who doesn't love to feel special for the whole week!?  Here is the rundown of what we had.  I think someone has a thing for Mexican food (and all of his mom's recipes)! 

Fettuccine Alfredo
Roasted Garlic Bread

Chicken & Caramelized Onion Taquitos
Chile Rellanoes

King Ranch Chicken

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Southwestern Sloppy Joes

Favorite leftovers

Chili dogs for lunch
Grilled out Burgers & Brats

Bucuits & Gravy

Friday, September 23, 2011

Chicken Salad w Tomatoes, Mozzarella, & Basil Vinaigrette

Couldn't think of a great name for this salad, but you get the point!  I found this basil vinaigrette from Simply Recipes via Pinterest and instantly wanted to make a salad!  I immediately thought it would be so good drizzled over a caprese salad.  But since I was trying to make this into a dinner salad, I used the caprese inspiration over lettuce!  This is what I originally served with the Roasted Garlic Bread.  The dressing was great and the salad was super yummy and refreshing for a weeknight meal!

Basil Vinaigrette
makes about 1 cup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup roughly chopped basil leaves
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (I didn't have so I used balsamic)
3/4 cup olive oil

1 Place the salt, sugar, mustard, shallot and basil in a blender or food processor. Pulse several times to combine. Scrape the sides of the blender down with a spatula. Add the vinegar and pulse again.
2 Turn the blender on low and take off the cap in the center of the blender’s lid. Slowly pour in the olive oil. It may sputter a little out of the open cap, so hold you hand over it to minimize splashing.
3 When the olive oil is incorporated, turn off the blender and scrape the sides down one more time. Cover and purée everything for 1-2 minutes.

Chicken Salad w Tomatoes, Mozzarella, & Basil Vinaigrette
serves two
6 cups spring mix lettuce
2 chicken breasts
seasoning for chicken breasts (I use sugar, S&P, rosemary, garlic, & italian seasonings)
3 roma tomatoes, diced
4 oz fresh mozzarella, cubed
Basil Vinaigrette

Season chicken on both sides.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat.  Cook chicken on each side for about 5 minutes until cooked through - make sure not to move chicken too much while cooking so the sugar can caramelize on the outside.  Add the lettuce to two bowls, top with thinly sliced chicken breasts, tomatoes, mozzarella, and vinaigrette.  Serve with garlic bread if desired!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Turkey, Apple, & Brie on a Preztel Croissant

I spotted these yummy looking Pretzel Croissants at Trader Joe's and snatched them up thinking they would be great for sandwiches for lunch.  Then I remembered this awesome sandwich I had at Cooper's Hawk for lunch one day and decided to re-create that!

2 Pretzel Croissants
sliced turkey (I used peppered turkey)
thinly sliced Apple
Brie cheese
Basil Hummus (optional)

Slice croissant in half.  Layer with turkey, brie, and apple slices.  Spread hummus or dijon mustard on top half if desired.  Warm in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fettuccine Alfredo

Oh my goodness, I can't even begin to describe how good this was!!!  This blew my previous fettuccine alfredo out of the park.  Maybe because it uses more parmesan?  Anyway, Corey's bday is Saturday.  Last year for his bday, I wanted to make it special, so I extended it to a whole week and had him pick what he wanted for dinner that week.  We had so much fun with it that I decided to do it again this year!  I'll post a summary post on that soon, but Fettuccine Alfredo was his requested meal that I made Sunday night.  It sure did kick birthday week off right!!!  Recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman.


1 pound Fettuccine Noodles
1 stick Butter
1 cup Heavy Cream
Salt and Pepper, to taste
2 cups Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese (one wedge was enough for 2 cups)


Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a saucepan or skillet, warm butter and cream. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Grate Parmesan cheese and place half of it into a large serving bowl. Pour warm butter/cream mixture over the top.

Drain pasta and immediately pour it into the bowl.

Toss a couple of times, then sprinkle in the other half of the Parmesan.

Toss to combine, thinning with pasta water if necessary.

*Note:  my pasta was done early and had cooled by the time I was making my sauce.  So after mixing it all together, I ended up adding back to the pan and heating it all up again - which worked just fine!

half of the parmesan
butter & cream

add that to the bowl
add the pasta

add the other half of the parmesan

toss until combined...finished product!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Homemade Hot Fudge

Hot fudge, I thought I knew how good it was, until I made some homemade.  Wow.  It is so rich and chocolaty.  So much better than the stuff out of the jar.  I never realized how easy it was either!  I made some for this icing and had plenty left over to enjoy over some Blue Bell Southern Blackberry Cobbler ice cream

Hot Fudge Sauce
recipe courtesy of How Sweet
1 cup sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
1 cup boiling water or scalding milk
1 tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Combine sugar, cocoa, salt, and flour in a bowl or pot over a double boiler. Bring water or milk to a boil.

Gradually add hot liquid to sugar mixture. Stir constantly until mixture thickens.

Once it has reached the desired thickness, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Spinach & Tomato Stuffed Flounder

Here is another one of those posts that got lost and never got posted!  I usually don't get around to posting recipes until a week or two after I've made them, but this one has probably been over a month. 

Anyway, here is a dish I came up with on a whim when I had nothing planned for dinner.  Its not really "stuffed" flounder, more like topped flounder!  I used a bunch of tiny heirloom cherry tomatoes I picked up at the farmers market along with a huge zucchini.  You could really stuff (or top) fish with anything you've got on hand!

I served this with some "stuffed" zucchini.  I scooped out the seeds of a large zucchini and filled it with marinara sauce and topped with mozzarella cheese.  The needed to bake longer than the fish so start these first and bake until tender!
4-6 flounder fillets (mine were pretty thin)
6 oz fresh spinach
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
6 cooked shrimp
1 cup cherry tomatoes (I used heirloom)
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
seasonings: basil, oregano, and S & P

Chop shrimp and half tomatoes.  In a bowl mix spinach, mozzarella, shrimp, tomatoes, and garlic.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with whatever you choose.  Top fish fillets in a baking dish and cook until they flake easily with a fork.  Mine took about 12 minutes at 375.  Top both fish and zucchini with parmesan cheese before serving.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Quinoa

This post is about a month old along with the next one...somehow they got lost in the shuffle!  I had been wanting to make another quinoa side dish recently and had the idea to do a grilled veggie one since I am loving grilling this summer.  We loved the sweet grilled corn from this pasta so I definitely wanted to include that.  I also included zucchini, squash, eggplant, tomato, and roasted garlic.  I decided I wasn't a fan of the eggplant consistency in it, so I left it out of the recipe below!  I roasted the garlic by putting it on the back of the grill while the rest of the veggies cooked, but you can also do that in the oven.

1 bulb garlic
1 squash
1 zucchini
1/4 red onion
3 roma tomatoes
1 ear corn
3 basil leaves
olive oil
1/2 cup quinoa

Slice zucchini & squash lengh wise.  Slice the top off the garlic bulb.  Brush zucchini, squash, garlic, & corn with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Place the garlic clove at the back of the grill and grill all veggies.  Corn will take the longest, be sure to grill it on each side until it starts to turn carmel colored - it will take about 40 minutes total.  Add whole tomatoes to the grill last and watch carefully.  They will get mushy and stick to the grill if you cook too long.  While veggies are grilling add diced red onion and a few tablespoons olive oil to a saucepan and saute until the onions are tender.  Add 1/2 cup water to the pan with onions and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, add 1/2 cup quinoa.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 12 minutes.  Once veggies are grilled, dice them, slice corn off cob and squeeze out garlic cloves.  Add all veggies to cooked quinoa.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper to taste.  Top with thinly sliced fresh basil.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Roasted Garlic Bread

Here's another thing I've made multiple times in the past two weeks!  I have never had better garlic bread!  One of my best friend's mom, Mavis, suggested spreading roasted garlic on a french loaf a while ago and I have been dying to try it.  I love roasted garlic, if you've never had it, its completely different than fresh garlic.  It becomes almost like a spread and becomes very sweet with a deep garlic flavor, not too intense.  I made it for the first time with a salad I still need to share last week and the second and third time this week with this soup.  This recipe is so easy and really just irresistible.  We also melted some sliced fresh mozzarella on top of some of the bread but that's completely optional!

1 french loaf
2 bulbs of garlic
olive oil
S & P
mozzarella cheese

Chop the top off your garlic and drizzle with olive oil and S&P.  Wrap in foil, and roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.  You will know its done when you can squeeze the cloves out very easily (and your house will smell amazing).  Cut your bread down the center longways.  Spread it with butter first and then with the garlic.  Add some sliced mozzarella if desired and broil for just a few minutes to melt the cheese and heat up the bread.

Lasagna Soup

Yet another dinner idea found via Pinterest (I see a trend continuing in the future) original recipe from A Farm Girl's Dabbles.  This soup was amazing, it really tasted just like lasagna.  It was so warm and comforting, yet it felt like a lightened up version of the original.  So good, I made it again 4 nights later!  The best part was it was so incredibly easy to make compared to lasagna.  If you think about it, there are so many steps involved in lasagna - cook the pasta, cook the meat, make the layers of pasta, meat, sauce, & cheese.  For this soup though, you cook it all in one pot!  I made the recipe pretty identical to hers with just a few small exceptions.  I didn't have enough lasagna noodles, so I added in spaghetti (you could really use any pasta - the second time I made it, I used all penne).  I also added in some mushrooms because I had them.  And when we ate the leftovers the next day I threw in some spinach while it was heating back up on the stove to get in some more veggies.

1/2 lbs. Italian sausage (I used breakfast sausage because I already had it!)
1/2 large chopped onion
1/2 cup mushrooms chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 T. tomato paste
1 28-oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
6 c. chicken stock (I used 5 and 1 cup water)
8 oz. mafalda or fusilli pasta (whatever pasta you have will work, whole wheat is best!)
1/2 c. finely chopped fresh basil leaves (I used dried basil)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
for the cheesy yum:
8 oz. ricotta
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of freshly ground pepper
2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces, and add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.
Add diced tomatoes and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Do not over cook or let soup simmer for a long period of time at this point, as the pasta will get mushy. Stir in basil and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  At this point I just started tasting the broth and added more seasoning to our taste.  I also added a few teaspoons of sugar to sweeten it as well.
While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy yum. In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy yum in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cleaning Schedule

Can I just tell you that this little schedule I came up with in 15 minutes has changed my life?  I am not being dramatic either!  I think I usually do a pretty good job keeping my house clean.  But in reality, in the past, if you saw it during the week I would probably be embarrassed!  That's because I used to do all my cleaning on the weekend if someone was coming over, or if not...whenever I got around to it.  I always had this overwhelming 'I don't have enough time' feeling (i.e. 4 loads of clean laundry sitting in front of me that I don't feel like folding and 3 dirty bathrooms that desperately need cleaned).

I don't remember where I first came across the idea of making a cleaning schedule, but who's-ever idea that was is a genius!!!  I basically started by sitting down and listing what all I would LIKE to get done on a normal basis.  Then I placed them into groups based on how often I would like to do them.  Then I assigned them to nights of the week based on what I typically have going on that night - for example: not much to do on the nights we have bible study, and more to do on the nights Corey is in class for his MBA program.  Once I had everything scheduled I put task reminders in my phone to go off weekly so I would know what to do that night when I got off work.  Lastly I started making a list of "big" or random other house projects that I would like to get done sometime in the future, that I usually put off.  Last weekend I organized our shoe/coat closet - took probably 20 minutes. 

I think the thing to remember is to try out your schedule and if after a week or two it's tough to keep up with, modify it so that it works for you!  I think you will be surprised like I was though.  Now I always feel caught up and its amazing the feeling a clean house will give you.  Like I said above, I feel like I am only committing an extra 15-30 minutes each night, which is a lot less overwhelming than hours and hours on the weekend.  Plus, now I actually get around to those random projects that have been in the back of my mind for who knows how long and get to cross some of them off my list!

So here is my schedule.  Its specific to my house and my other schedule commitments, but if you follow the same steps I did above, you can come up with one of your own.  I am also going to skip over the everyday things that I do everyday.  Those include make our bed in the morning, wipe down counters & do dishes after dinner, and pick up clutter at the end of the night.

Pay Bills
Clean out microwave
Clean/Polish Stainless Steal Appliances

Wash & dry 1 load of laundry

Put away laundry

Either clean bathrooms or Wash our sheets (I switch these every other week)

Gloss Counters (granite)
Deep clean sink

Wash & dry 1 load of laundry
Wash Towels
Big project (either Saturday or Sunday)

Put away laundry
Sweep & Mop Kitchen

I hope this helps you simplify your life like it has mine!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pear Muffins w/ Cinnamon Crumble

These muffins were by far the best I've ever made!  The. Best.  They were so moist and fluffy and the pears with the cinnamon crumble on top was amazing.  I was in the mood to bake something Saturday afternoon and after making brownies earlier in the week I decided to make something a little healthier - muffins for the following week!  I asked Corey what kind he wanted and he suggested pear since we had some sitting on the kitchen table.  I had never come across a recipe for Pear Muffins, so I decided to do a search on Pinterest.  Second thing that came up was these muffins!  They come via pinterest from the Frosted Bake Shop blog.  We seriously loved these!  I followed the recipe pretty close below, decided to go with the all purpose flour, etc. and they did not disappoint.  The recipe yielded 18 muffins for me.
3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla
2/3 cup vegetable oil (didn't have so I used 1/3 c olive oil & 1/3 c vegetable oil spread)
2 eggs
approximately 1/2 cup milk
2 cups peeled and diced pears

Crumb topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup cubed butter
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and spray muffin tins with cooking spray or use muffin liners.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Place vegetable oil into a 2 cup measuring cup, add the eggs and then add enough milk to take it up to 2 cups (if you don't have a 2 cup measuring cup, then half the oil, eggs and milk into a 1 cup measuring cup.) Mix the flour mixture with the oil mixture, then add in the vanilla and pears.

In a medium bowl, mix the crumb topping ingredients and cut with a fork until the butter is in very small pieces. This works best when the butter is still a little bit cold, if it is too warm it will just mush with pressure from the fork.

Fill the muffin tins almost to the top and the sprinkle with the crumb topping mixture. Bake for 15 minutes and check them with a toothpick.  Mine ended up taking about 18-20 minutes, make sure not to over bake.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Teriyaki Salmon w/ Sriracha Cream Sauce

Another delightful recipe found via Pinterest from the lovely Boogie Blog.  I really adapted this recipe to meet my needs for cooking it on a Tuesday night...and by adapted I mean made it as simple as possible while still achieving the awesome flavor!  We love salmon and I'm always looking for a new salmon recipe to switch things up.  If you love sushi, you will love this dish.  The tastes were all there.  It was delicious and so simple.  And no raw fish for the sushi'll still love this!

2 salmon filets
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1-2 tablespoons half & half or cream
1 green onion
sesame seeds

1.  Combine cornstarch, soy sauce, teriyaki, & brown sugar in small bowl.  Place salmon in baking dish and sprinkle with ginger & garlic.  Pour sauce over salmon.  Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes until salmon flakes easily with a fork.  Whisk together Sriracha, mayo, and half & half until smooth (add additional cream if needed to get desired thickness).  Thinly slice green onion.  Once you remove salmon from the oven, place on plate (or over rice) and spoon pan sauce over salmon.  Drizzle salmon with the Sriracha cream sauce and sprinkle with green onions and sesame seeds.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Crispy Southwestern Chicken Wraps

Have I told you guys yet how much I love Pinterest...obsessed.  I have found so many recipes, cute ideas, diy projects, fall style, etc.  I LOVE it!  Well this recipe from Mel's Kitchen was pinned by one of my friends, and as soon as I saw it I knew I needed to make it asap.  We loved it, and the best part, we had plenty of leftover filling to make seconds for another night this week!

1 cup cooked brown rice, warm or at room temperature
1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (2 breasts)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 green onion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
1/2 red or green pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic
salt & pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese
Sour cream (optional)
6 burrito-sized wheat tortillas

Mix all ingredients together except sour cream.  Spread 1 or 2 spoonfuls of sour cream in the middle of tortillas.  Arrange chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla.  Roll stuffed tortillas (see picture below, when I left the edges open everything fell out while flipping them in the pan.  If you fold the ends in first before rolling and then secure with a toothpick they stay much better when cooking.).  Spray the tortillas all over with cooking spray.
Heat a large non-stick skillet (or griddle) over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve.

this is how I kept ours together while cooking!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Cilantro, Lime & Roasted Jalopeno Hummis

I have been wanting to try this Cilantro Lime White Bean Hummis from How Sweet for a while now.  We are also in love with the Cilantro Jalopeno hummis from Trader Joe's.  So I thought I would make up my own version by sort of combining the two!  I decided to go the White bean route rather than the typical garbanzo beans.  I've made hummis previously with garbanzos and had a hard time getting it smooth.  We loved it with the white beans and will definitely use them again.  I can't wait to make some more variations and flavors, the homemade hummis was soooo much better than store bought...bold statement!  The great thing is you can really use whatever flavors you want and make it to your own tastes.  Below is a rough estimate of what I used!

1 15oz can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1 bunch cilantro
1 lime
1 garlic clove
3 jalopenos
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Turn oven to broiler setting.  Roast jalopenos under broiler, turning, until all sides are blackened.  Remove from oven and either place jalopenos in a ziploc or cover pan with a towel so they can sweat for 5 minutes.  (While jalopenos are roasting) add beans, zest of 1/2 of the lime, juice from 1/2 the lime, garlic, 1/2 of the cilantro, & olive oil to your food processor.  Process until smooth adding more olive oil if needed to help it come together.  Taste the hummis.  Add more lime juice or cilantro if needed & season with salt & pepper (I used juice from the whole lime & close to 3/4 bunch cilantro).  Put hummis into a bowl to serve.  Once jalopenos have had a chance to cool, peel the blackened skin off and remove seeds and stem.  Put jalopenos in (clean) food processor with just a drizzel of olive oil and just blend a few times to roughly chop the jalopenos and combine with oil.  Place jalopenos in the middle on top of hummis and serve!  We like hummis with pretzel thins, but you can also serve with pita chips, crackers, or tortilla chips.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Homemade Biscuits & Gravy

Corey and I visited our friends Joe & Becca who live in Tulsa on the way back from vacation in Texas.  Joe is an excellent cook and became famous for his biscuits and gravy when we were in college.  Pre-tailgate anyone?  Well he of course was the best host and made them for us while we stayed with them a couple weeks back.  And now Corey has been begging me to try making them ever since.  It was actually pretty easy!  I followed the recipe I used to make the homemade gravy for chicken fried steaks and it turned out awesome!  Corey was in charge of making the homemade Bisquick biscuits which are pretty easy as well and taste amazing!

makes about 9
2 1/4 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
Heat oven to 450.  Stir ingredients until soft dough forms.  Generously sprinkle counter with Bisquick, then place dough on surface.  Knead 10 times.  Roll 1/2 inch thick.  Cut out biscuits with the top of a drinking glass or similar shaped circle.  Bake for 8-10 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet.

Sausage Gravy:
1/2 roll sausage (I use spicy)
butter if needed
1/3 cup flour
2 to 3 cups milk (depending on how thick you like it)
salt & pepper
Cook sausage in a saute pan.  Take our sausage leaving remaining grease in pan.  You need about 1/4 cup grease, but if it looks like less you can add additional butter.  Whisk in your flour until dissolved and starts to get bubbly.  Slowly whisk in milk and continue whisking over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes adding more milk if its too thick for you.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Add back in sausage and serve over biscuits.

its a must to top it with a runny egg!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sweet Summer Roasted Vegetables

This awesome simple side dish comes from Kevin & Amanda!  I love throwing these summer veggies together and coming out with the easiest, tasty side!

Equal parts of the following but if you use about 1/3 cup each you will have the perfect amount for two people!
Red onion, diced
Red bell pepper, diced
Zucchini, diced
Frozen corn kernels
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper

Toss all to combine & roast at 400 for 15-20 mins.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Stuffed Flank Steak with Creamy Grits

One of my friends Jess suggested making flank steak.  She marinated it in a soy/teriyaki sauce then grilled it, which is exactly how I planned to cook it, until our propane tank ran out when I tried to turn on the grill.  So then I remembered back to seeing this recipe on Confections of a Foodie Bride where she had stuffed the flank steak with peppers and served it with cheesy grits.  So I decided to go that route and cook it in the was seriously so good!  I didn't have time to marinade it, but you could absolutely do that with some worcestershire or red wine.  I wish I would have stuffed it with more of the ingredients so I up-ed them for you in the recipe below!  YUM!

Flank Steak (mine was about 1.5 lbs)
1/2 red pepper, sliced thinly
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/4 cup salsa verde
1/4 cup chopped pistachios
Steak seasoning to taste (I used Montreal brand)
1/2 cup half & half
1 1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons quick grits
1/2 cup shredded cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Butterfly steak if thick enough by placing it on the cutting board flat and slicing almost all the way through.  Layer red pepper, blue cheese, salsa, and pistachios inside.  Fold back over then roll up and tie with cooking twine or keep rolled with toothpicks (see pics below).  Season entire outside with steak seasoning.  Quickly sear all sides in saute pan on the stove.  Place saute pan in oven and cook at 375 for 15 - 20 minutes to finish out.  Bring water and half & half to a boil.  Whisk in grits and cook for 5 -7 minutes until water is absorbed.  Add in cheese to grits.  Slice steak on cutting board.  Place grits on plate, top with slice of steak, drizzle with pan juices.

butterfly-ed and stuffed!

First searing on the stove

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Roasted Blueberry Cupcakes w/ Hot Fudge Frosting

A few weeks ago a couple from our bible study had their first baby, a boy.  I brought over dinner for them Monday and wanted to bring along something for dessert.  I decided to make these cupcakes hoping they would turn out blue for baby boy, but they ended up being more purple!  They were so good though!  How Sweet never disappoints!

Roasted Blueberry Cupcakes
makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries + a few additional ones rubbed with sugar for garnish
2-3 tablespoons milk, if needed (I used 2.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread blueberries on a baking sheet (with sides) and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until berries start to burst. Remove from oven and let cool.
Beat butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla extract and mix until combined, another 2-3 minutes. Add flour, baking powder and salt with the mixer on low speed, then gradually increase speed. Scrape in blueberries and beat on medium speed until the berries break down – about 2-3 minutes. At this point, the berries most likely have enough liquid that you only need to add a small amount of milk to the batter. Begin adding 1 tablespoon of milk at a time and beat with the mixer until the batter is smooth. You definitely want it to be cake batter and not dough.
Pour into cupcake liners, filling 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 18-22 minutes or until cake is set. Let cool completely, then frost.

Chocolate Fudge Buttercream
1 cup of butter (2 sticks), softened
3-4 cups of powdered sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s Dark, it’s what I had)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup hot fudge sauce (at room temperature or cold, and using store bought is fine)
1-2 tablespoons milk, if needed
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until smooth. Gradually add in powdered sugar about 1/2 cup at a time with the mixer on low, increasing it to medium-high speed once all the sugar has been added. Add the cocoa, vanilla and hot fudge, and mix until completely combined (while scraping down the bowl every few minutes) for about 5-6 minutes. If the frosting seems very thick, simply add some milk 1 tablespoon at a time and mixer for another minute or 2 until it comes together.
Note: this makes enough frosting for me to frost 12 cupcakes with a pastry bag. If you use a spatula for frosting, you will most likely have frosting left over. I used a spatula and had leftover.  Honestly, I thought this frosting was sweet enough, that I probably wouldn't have wanted more. If you have some leftover, store it in an air-tight container in the fridge (a few days) or the freezer (3-4 months).  And just a tip, pretzels dipped in the extra icing is not a bad idea.