Peppermint Oreo Cookies

I was going to feel bad about the fact that it's been over a month since I posted. Then I remembered that I am not a professional food blogger, nor do I pretend to be, so I can post whenever and whatever I want! Ah, freedom. :)

Tonight I am taking these chocolate sandwich cookies to a holiday cookie exchange party. Yes, tonight. I have to leave in about 3 minutes. But they are seriously yummy and you should make them for YOUR holiday season too. I spiked the cream cheese frosting with just a few drops of peppermint extract. Oh yum.

A couple suggestions. I made them too big and too fluffy and they were difficult to eat. Next time I will use less dough for each cookie and flatten it out before baking. (These changes are included in the recipe below.) I might even leave out the chocolate chips to avoid lumps (there is a lot going on in these cookies, they don't necessarily need the added texture of chocolate chips). Also, I made these a day in advance and they were much more dry and hard by the second day, so make them the day you are serving them! They take a little time in frosting/rolling in candy, but they are worth it!

Peppermint Oreo Cookies

1 ¼ cup all purpose flour
½ cup dark cocoa powder (Hershey's Special Dark or Dutch process)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips (optional)

12 peppermint candy canes, crushed

½ cup butter, softened
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese, softened
½ tsp vanilla
3 ½ cups confectioners sugar
a few drops peppermint extract

For the cookies:
Preheat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Beat in egg, followed by vanilla extract. Gradually, with the mixer on low speed, blend in the flour mixture, stopping when no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Stir in chocolate chips (if using).

Place leveled tablespoons of dough, flattened, onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies begin to crack on the top. Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the frosting:
Cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add vanilla and peppermint, blend. Add sugar, a cup at a time, blending well between each addition.

Pipe frosting (recipe below) onto flat side of one cookie, and top with a second cookie. Roll edges of each sandwich in crushed candy canes.

Makes about 18 cookie sandwiches.

Recipe from my talented friend Morgan.

May your days be merry and bright.


Cashew Chicken

My brother Kyle has had an interest in cooking longer than I have! When we were younger he watched Food Network and tried their recipes. (He was such a fan of Emeril Lagasse that in one of his missionary packages, my mom sent him an Emeril apron that said "BAM!" on the front!) My brother is a great cook, so when he shares a recipe with me I know it's going to be good. My family raved about this meal when Kyle made it for them, so I was excited when he called me with the recipe!

This was delicious and came together in a snap! Since everything cooks very quickly, I made sure to have all the ingredients prepped and ready before cooking began. Savory and slightly spicy, with a nice crunch from the cashews, this asian style chicken is a restaurant-worthy dish. Thanks Kyle!

Cashew Chicken

4 chicken breast halves, diced
3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
1 tbsp cooking sherry
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
¼ cup oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 green onions, sliced diagonally
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tsp of jarred minced garlic)
¼-½ cup cashews, unsalted
toasted sesame seeds
hot cooked rice

In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce with the cooking sherry. Cut chicken into bite-sized cubes, about 1/2 inch, and place chicken pieces in soy sauce/sherry mixture. Let it sit while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, corn starch, sugar, and vinegar until well combined. Set aside. Slice the green onions, and measure out the red pepper flakes and minced garlic.

Heat oil in a wok over high heat. (Make sure it is very very hot. I didn't have mine hot enough and my chicken didn't turn out brown and crispy on the outside like it should have. Hot hot hot!) Add red pepper flakes and stir for 10 seconds. Add chicken all at once - it will sizzle and spatter quite a bit in the hot oil - stir quickly to brown all sides of chicken. Cook for 2 minutes until chicken is browned on all sides. Remove chicken from wok. Add sliced green onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are slightly cooked (about 1 minute). Return chicken to wok. Slowly pour in reserved corn starch sauce, stir to coat. Continue cooking on high, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens. Remove from heat, stir in cashews. Serve over hot cooked rice with toasted sesame seeds on top.

Post-edit: This is what it is SUPPOSED to look like, when you cook at the right temperature.


Tomato Basil Bisque

I have been into soups lately. (Recently I made this soup served in these bread bowls and then forgot to take a picture. But it was delicious. Consider yourself informed.) I have always loved creamy tomato basil soup, and this recipe jumped out at me when I was looking for a soup to go with some tomato and feta tartlets friend Alexa was making. We loved loved loved this soup. It has a secret ingredient: pureed butternut squash. There is just a hint of the squash taste in the soup, and it is delicious. Warm and yummy and absolutely perfect for the colder months. It was quick and easy too, once the squash was cooked it came together in a snap.

Tomato Basil Bisque

1 medium butternut squash (for about 1 1/2 cups cooked squash)
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup finely diced onion
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) Italian-style stewed tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half {I used half-and-half}

Prepare the butternut squash by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, so you have two long pieces. Scoop out the seeds and pulp from each half. Place both sides cut-side down in a 9X13-inch pan. Add enough water to come about 1/4-inch up the sides of the squash. Cover with foil and bake for about an hour. Test with a fork to make sure the squash is very tender when pierced with the fork in several places. If the flesh doesn’t easily give to the pressure of the fork, continue cooking in ten minute increments, and testing again, until the squash is tender. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the squash to a large cutting board or plate. Let it cool about 15 minutes before scooping out the flesh. If preparing the day before, scoop out the flesh and place in a tupperware. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until using it in the soup. If using the squash immediately, scoop the squash into the blender.

While the squash is cooking, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Scoop the onion/garlic mixture into the blender with the squash.

Add the canned tomatoes (undrained) to the blender. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the blended mixture back into the saucepan and add the chicken broth, salt, sugar, basil and cream (or half-and-half). Stir to combine well. Heat over medium-low heat until the soup is warm (but don’t let it boil or simmer to avoid the cream curdling). Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Recipe from My Kitchen Cafe.


Chicken Pot Pie

I have been cooking lately, but keep forgetting to take pictures. And you know I can't post a recipe without a picture. But while I don't have a picture of the finished product, this chicken pot pie was too delicious and easy not to post about. It also turned out looking beautiful, with a nice golden crust on top. I felt like I was making something healthy with all the vegetables included in this dish, and it turned out beautifully with minimal effort thanks to the use of frozen puff pastry for the crust. I didn't even use a pie tin or individual ramekins (like I have room for those in my NYC kitchen! Fahgetaboutit!), I just halved it and made it in an 8x8 baking dish. It was warm and filling, a perfect fall or winter meal.

Chicken Pot Pie

For the filling:
3 chicken breasts (or 5-6 halves, I use frozen from Costco), cooked and diced
3 Tbs butter
1 small onion, diced
2-3 red potatoes, diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 8 oz package sliced mushrooms
1 small to medium zucchini, sliced

For the sauce:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream (I just used milk, less fat)
Dash of hot sauce
Dash of Worcestershire
Salt and pepper

2 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan. Set out frozen puff pastry on counter to thaw.

To make the filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and potato to the pan, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic, celery, zucchini and mushrooms, and cook for about 15 minutes more, until the potatoes are tender. Once the vegetables are finished cooking, turn off the heat and mix in the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth (it will be sort of a paste). Whisk in the chicken broth and cook over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Mix in the cream, the hot sauce, the Worcestershire and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken and veggie mixture and stir to combine well.

Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Lay puff pastry sheets over filling, and brush with beaten egg white. (This ensures a nice golden shiny crust.) Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet in case it bubbles over while baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats.


Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Maybe I'm severely addicted to this cake. Maybe I've eaten almost an entire 8x8 pan of it by myself in just three days (okay, husband had a few pieces too). Maybe it's because pumpkin is the perfect flavor for fall and nothing, I repeat, nothing beats cream cheese frosting. (Well, except maybe white chocolate raspberry cream cheese frosting... but that's another post.) Anyway. Make this cake. You don't need a reason. It's fall, what more reason do you need?

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

4 eggs
1 and 2/3 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1 (16 oz) can pumpkin
2 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda

1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp. vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and pumpkin until smooth. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth.

Spread the batter in a greased 9 by 13 inch baking pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. {Or not! Who doesn't love warm cake and melty frosting?}

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until smooth. Add the sugar and mix at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin cake. {Or warm pumpkin cake!!}

I found this recipe on a random recipe blog years ago, before I had a good system for saving recipes, marking the source, etc, and I had never made it. But then my friend Joanna made it, and it was amazing, and I was craving more the next day. She hadn't sent me the recipe yet but I went searching through my files to see if I had a recipe for something similar. I made this and later that night she sent me her recipe - it was the same one! Crazy. That's my story.


Cinnamon Swirl Bread

And it makes great french toast too!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

For the dough:
1 scant tablespoon instant or rapid rise yeast (1 packet)
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons honey
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
butter for pan and brushing on finished bread

For the filling:
1 egg white
1 cup (150g) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

In an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook and set to low speed, mix together yeast and 3 cups of flour. Pour in the water, oil, honey, and salt. Mix on low speed for about 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add up to a 1/2 cup more flour if needed.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead by hand a few times. Drizzle the inside of the mixer bowl with a bit more oil. Roll the dough around in the oil and cover in plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.

Butter a large loaf pan and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out into a long rectangle the width of the loaf pan. In a small bowl, mix together the egg white, sugar, and cinnamon, and spread out evenly across the dough. Roll up carefully, and pinch the dough on the ends, and all along the edge to create a seam that will hold in the filling. Lay the dough, seam side down, in the prepared pan. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until almost doubled in size.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top and bottom of the bread is golden brown. Brush the top of the bread with butter. Tilt the bread pan on its side and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Turn the bread out and allow to cool completely. Or enjoy warm, with butter. Then make it into French Toast the next day.

Recipe from The Family Kitchen.


Crustless Quiche

This quiche was so flavorful and just delicious. It was the perfect savory addition to a fall brunch with friends. It is also very easy to make, and can be adapted easily to whatever you'd like to add to it. I added bacon, green onions, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, but you could add any combination of ingredients: ham, broccoli, onions, sausage, any type of vegetable or variety of cheese. I'll keep this recipe on hand for special occasions, as it isn't exactly the
healthiest breakfast option... but it sure is good!

Spinach, Mushroom and Bacon Crustless Quiche

10 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. shredded cheese {I used half cheddar and half monterey jack}
1 lb. cottage cheese
1 cube (1/2 cup) butter, melted and slightly cooled {I know. Don't think about it, just do it}
3 green onions, chopped
10 slices bacon
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
8 oz. package sliced mushrooms, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan. In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly. Whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt until well combined and no lumps remain. With a wooden spoon, stir in cottage cheese, 3/4 of the shredded cheese, melted butter, and green onions.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until browned and desired level of crispiness. Remove bacon to a paper towel and let cool slightly before chopping into smaller pieces and adding to egg mixture. Leave bacon grease in pan over heat, add chopped mushrooms, and saute a few minutes until soft and tender. Add chopped spinach, stir with mushrooms and cook a few minutes, until wilted. Add cooked mushrooms and spinach to egg mixture and stir to combine.

Pour into a 9x13 pan, bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until browned around the edges and lightly browned in the middle.

This can be cut in half and baked in an 8x8 pan. If you do this, bake it for about 12 minutes at 400 and then about 15 minutes at 350.

Recipe from Sarah's Fares.


Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

These cinnamon rolls not only have cinnamon and sugar in their swirls, but also delicious cooked apple slices. Did I mention they have a caramel cream cheese glaze on top? Oh my goodness. So good. They were the perfect fall treat to serve for brunch. I'm sure they'd make a delicious dessert too.

When I first saw this recipe, I was intimidated. After glancing at the lengthy instructions and ingredient list, my first thought was, "Those look amazing, but I will never make them because it looks too complicated and time consuming." I had never made cinnamon rolls, and I am still quite inexperienced with yeast dough. But they sounded so tempting, I had to give it a try. I was home watching General Conference all day Saturday, and the two-hour sessions were the perfect time to let the dough rise. I was surprised that these were actually not hard to make, and they turned out pretty good! So don't be intimidated, give them a try!

Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls

For the cinnamon rolls:
6½ tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
5½ tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp. lemon zest
3½ cups bread flour
2 tsp. instant (rapid rise) yeast
1 cup plus 2-4 tbsp. whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature

For the filling:
1½ tbsp. unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼-inch slices
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp. cornstarch
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon

For the glaze:
4 oz. cream cheese
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
3 tbsp. caramel sauce
1 tbsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter on medium-high speed until smooth. Mix in the egg and lemon zest until incorporated. Mix in the flour, yeast and milk until a dough forms. Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed, about 8 minutes until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. (You may need to add a little extra flour or liquid to achieve this texture.) Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, make the filling. To make the caramelized apples, melt the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apple slices, sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix until the apples are evenly coated. Cook about 18 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Set aside to cool. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon to blend; set aside.

Mist a work surface with spray oil. Roll it out into a rectangle with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the dough with flour if needed to keep it from sticking (about 12 x 14 inches for larger rolls or 9 x 18 inches for smaller rolls). Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and mix to blend. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the surface of the dough. Evenly distribute the caramelized apples over the top of the dough. Starting with the wide edge, roll up the dough into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon sugar spiral as you roll. Pinch the seam shut, and with the seam side down, slice the log into your desired number of rolls. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, placing the rolls about ½-1 inch apart.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature 75-90 minutes, until the rolls have grown into each other and have nearly doubled in size. At this point, the rolls can also be covered and retarded in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Pull the pan out of the refrigerator 3-4 hours before baking to let the dough proof.
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool in the baking about 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.

To make the glaze, combine the cream cheese and butter in a small heatproof bowl and microwave in 15-20 second intervals until it is warm enough to whisk together. Whisk in the caramel sauce, milk and vanilla extract until smooth. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Swirl the glaze over the top of the cinnamon rolls. Let cool at least 15-20 minutes before serving.

Recipe from Annie's Eats.


The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

I have a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe from Klane's family which I can whip up from memory in about 15 minutes. It's like an old friend. I love those cookies. I have always loyally stood by that recipe as my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe of all time. It is really, really good.


These cookies? There is just something about them. I am tempted to cheat on my old cookie recipe with these bad boys. In fact, ever since I met these cookies a month ago, I haven't seen my old cookies even once. And I've made these new ones, oh... five times. When I first tried these I was floored by how good they were. They were soft, chewy and kind of fluffy. The first time I tried them, there was something unique about them that I couldn't quite put my finger on. They're incredible! I just might have a new favorite chocolate chip cookie. Just don't tell my old recipe. I don't want any hurt feelings.

Now, I have been known to cut corners and use substitutions on recipes. But you have to follow this one exactly in order for them to turn out so delightfully perfect. No substituting dark brown sugar for light, or semi-sweet chips for milk, or mixing things for a shorter time than called for. Follow the recipe exactly! They are amazing and addicting and you will be hooked.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping cup of non-instant oatmeal
1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a handheld mixer, cream butter and sugar together for 3 full minutes, until mixture becomes light and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla until combined. Put the oatmeal in a blender or food processor and pulse a few times. You're not making oat flour, you still want pieces of oats left. You just want most of the oat flakes broken up. Combine oats with dry ingredients in separate bowl. Beat dry ingredients into creamed mixture a third at a time with a wooden spoon. Stir in chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 10 mins. Take out a little early and let bake for a few minutes on pan before moving to a wire rack.

Recipe from a nice girl named Ashley Laidlaw.


Chicken Chili

Another soup recipe for the fall weather heading our way. This chili is very healthy but still delicious... especially topped with less-healthy additions like chips, cheese and sour cream! This recipe makes a very large batch, enough to feed ten people or so.

Chicken Chili

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4 cups chopped yellow onion {2-3 onions}
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bell peppers {I used 1 red, 1 green and 1 yellow}
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce, finely diced {I couldn't find this, left it out}
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 (28 oz.) cans whole peeled tomatoes in puree, not drained
2 (15 oz.) cans beans, drained and rinsed {I used 1 can black and 1 can pinto beans}

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions 5 minutes, or until tender and translucent. Add the garlic to the pot and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Mix in the chopped bell peppers, chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, oregano, chipotle, and kosher salt. Cook 5 more minutes. Place the canned tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly so the tomatoes are cut to large chunks. {You could also break the tomatoes up with your fingers.} Add the tomatoes with the puree to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the shredded chicken and the beans, and allow to simmer for another 20 minutes.

It's very healthy on it's own, but I like to serve it with chips, cheese and sour cream.

Recipe from Annie's Eats.


Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Levain Bakery is a tiny cookie shop on the Upper West Side here in New York. They are famous for having the best chocolate chip cookies in NYC. Their cookies are gigantic and packed with chocolate chips and nuts, and they're served warm, soft and chewy. Levain also has a chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips. It is divine. Here is my copycat... also divine.

Levain Bakery Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

2 sticks softened unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup good cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 to 1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
2 cups peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 350. In medium bowl, cream butter and sugar for a couple minutes until well blended and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until well-incorporated, then beat in cocoa powder. Mix in flour, salt and baking powder until just combined. Gently fold in remaining ingredients. Stir well with wooden spoon to mix.

Divide into 12 equal portions, about 4 oz each. These are GIANT cookies. Bake 16-20 minutes depending on how gooey you like the middles, taking care not to overbake. I made smaller, more regular sized cookies, and baked for 8-10 minutes instead.

Let cool on a rack and store what you don’t immediately eat, in an airtight container. To freshen them after a few days (if they last that long), give them a quick nuke in the microwave for 5-10 seconds.

Recipe adapted from a recipe found here.


Homemade Chili

In front of my grocery store there are giant crates of apples and pumpkins from local farms. Yesterday I got chilly and bundled up in a sweatshirt and thick socks. I bought a pair of boots. Fall is here! I love it. Since tomorrow is officially the first day of Fall, this seemed like the perfect time to make a pot of homemade chili and some cornbread. It was easy and delicious!

Homemade Chili

2 tsp oil
1 clove garlic, minced (buy jarred minced garlic)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 pound ground beef
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans
1 Tbs chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion and garlic and sautee until onion is clear and tender. Add ground beef and brown. Pour in the rest of the ingredients and stir to mix. Heat on low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Recipe adapted from several recipes on Allrecipes.com.

Sweet Cornbread

I've never made cornbread before and I couldn't believe how easy it was! And it turned out really delicious... with little to no effort. Amazing. Definitely making this again.

Sweet Cornbread

1 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then whisk together to form a smooth batter. Pour in a greased 9x13 pan, bake for 30-35 minutes until edges are golden brown. Delicious served with honey butter!

Recipe from Kathryn at Wire Whisk.


Orange Dream Shakes

We've been into these shakes lately, we've made them quite a few times in the last couple weeks. They taste like an Orange Julius, or an Orange Dreamsicle. Hang onto those last fleeting moments of summer and make this. (Okay, summer is over, but you can still enjoy a nice smoothie.)

Orange Dream Shakes

3/4 cup vanilla ice cream
3-5 ice cubes
3/4-1 cup orange juice
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbs powdered sugar

Blend all ingredients until smooth, adding enough orange juice to create your preferred thickness. Serves 2.


Tortellini Primavera

This was a yummy dish, I am a sucker for spinach and I always feel healthier when eating it. Even when it's covered in cream cheese and served with cheese-filled pasta. This was yummy and very filling! I actually used tortellini with meat and it was delicious. If you notice that there are no mushrooms in my picture, it's because I didn't have any. I would highly recommend following the recipe and using mushrooms, it really completes the dish! Yum!

Tortellini Primavera

1 cup mushrooms, chopped
½ cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbs butter {or margarine}
10 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
8 oz. cream cheese
1 tomato, chopped
¼ cup milk
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1 tsp Italian seasoning
salt and pepper, to taste
family size cheese-filled tortellini {1 pound}, cooked and drained

Heat butter in a skillet. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic and sautee until onion is clear and tender and mushrooms are cooked. Add all remaining ingredients except tortellini. Heat and stir until all have melted together and are well blended. Cook until the mixture just begins to bubble, stirring occasionally. Stir in tortellini.

Recipe from Annie's Eats.


Fried Rice

This recipe was born out a necessity to make a meal out of frozen pot stickers from Costco. I feel like a bad wife if all we have for dinner is pot stickers and dipping sauce (although I won't lie and tell you that's never happened). We had leftover rice in the fridge, which is just what you need to make fried rice. Leftover, slightly dried-out rice is best for frying. The result turned out delicious!

Fried Rice

2 eggs
1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup day-old cooked rice
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 slices deli ham, diced
2-3 Tbs Mr. Yoshidas sauce (I buy it at Costco)
1 Tbs soy sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray and scramble eggs. Remove scrambled eggs and increase heat to medium-high. Heat oil and add rice. Cook for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring frequently to fry rice. Add eggs and the rest of the ingredients back to skillet. Continue stirring to heat through. Add sauce and seasonings as needed. If you don't have Mr. Yoshida's, I'm sure soy sauce mixed with maybe a bit of brown sugar would be good. I do love my Yoshida's, though.


Orange Chicken

I like this because it tastes awesome but it doesn't involve deep-frying, which makes my house stink like oil and is also bad for me. One important thing to remember: buy real oranges for the juice. I didn't read the recipe very thoroughly and bought orange juice, then started cooking and realized I was supposed to use the zest from real oranges. Oops! It turned out well but I wish I would've had orange zest to add more orange flavor. We really liked this dish!

Orange Chicken

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2″ cubes
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons oil or butter

1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons green onion
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Heat oven to 350. In a shallow dish combine the flour, garlic powder and pepper. Dip each piece of chicken in flour mixture and coat evenly.

Pour oil (or melt butter and pour) in a shallow baking dish, large enough to accommodate chicken in a single layer. Arrange chicken in pan and bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine water, fresh orange juice, rice vinegar, soy sauce, orange zest and whisk over medium heat for a few minutes. Then stir in brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and green onion and let it come to a boil. Combine cornstarch with water and let it dissolve and add it to the sauce until thickened.

After chicken has baked the 30 minutes, turn each piece over and pour 1/2 sauce mixture evenly over chicken. Bake another 30 to 40 minutes basting frequently.

Serve chicken over rice with sliced green onions on top and extra sauce on the side.

Recipe from My Kitchen Cafe.


Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies with oreos mixed in. Need I say more? No, no I think not.

Chocolate Chip Oreo Cookies

1 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
16 Oreo cookies, broken into pieces
1 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugars until well combined. Add egg, vanilla, baking soda and salt, mix well.
Stir in flour a third at a time. Carefully stir in Oreos {I didn't want to crush them too much} and chocolate chips until just combined. Shape into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on cookie sheet. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until lightly browned around edges, but still soft. When I bake cookies I usually take them out when they still look like they might not be quite done. We like soft cookies and I've found this is the best way to get that. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Recipe slightly adapted from Picky Palate.


Jacoco Shakes

This summer we spent an amazing week on the beautiful island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean. We explored jungles, laid on white beaches, went snorkeling, sailing and hiking, and ate a lot of yummy food. One of our favorite food experiences from the trip was the St. Thomas Dairy's ice cream/shake shop called Udder Delight. We went twice on our trip because it was so good. They had the most delicious homemade coconut ice cream, and a shake called the Jacoco that was to die for. It's a coconut shake with a hint of chocolate. When we got home from our trip we were craving a Jacoco so we decided to make them at home. They've been a summer favorite at our house ever since! Make them and imagine you're on St. Thomas. They're soooo good!

Jacoco Shakes

1 can coconut milk
3-5 generous scoops vanilla ice cream
a handful of ice cubes
large squirt of chocolate syrup (2 tsp? You don't need a ton.)
1 Tbs coconut flakes

Combine ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Add enough ice or ice cream as needed for desired consistency. These shakes don't turn out super thick and are more like milkshakes than ice cream shakes. I sprinkled a little more coconut flakes on top to make it look festive. ;)

Makes 4 shakes (depends how much each person wants!).


S'mores Cookies

Two of my favorite things: s'mores and chocolate chip cookies! Their powers combined created a (not surprisingly) amazing treat. So good! My sister Lynsie told me about this recipe blog she just found and all the recipes are sinfully delicious. Fun!

S'mores Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ¼ cups flour
1 bag chocolate chips
3 regular size Hershey’s Chocolate Bars
3 Full Graham Crackers
5-6 Large Marshmallows cut into fourths

Preheat oven to 350. Cream butter and sugars in medium bowl. Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda and salt, mix until well combined. Stir in flour 1 cup at a time with a wooden spoon until well combined. Then add chocolate chips. {We substituted for white chocolate chips and the result was delicious!}

Scoop heaping 1/4 cupfuls of cookie dough onto baking pan. {We used a muffin top pan but you definitely don't have to.} Press down to flatten, then gently press chocolate bar squares, graham cracker pieces and marshmallow slices on top of cookie dough. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until edges are just turning brown and marshmallows are toasted. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.

Makes 18 giant cookies.

Recipe adapted from Picky Palate.


Lettuce Wraps

I love the lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang's. This recipe jumped out at me the other week as something yummy, light and fresh to make for a summer meal. These turned out really great! I don't know if they're exactly like P.F. Chang's (I haven't been there for a while), but they were really good. Sweet with a little spice. And who knew they would be so easy?

Lettuce Wraps

1 lb. ground chicken
1 small can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Soy sauce, to taste
2 Tbs. hoisin sauce {can be left out if you don't have it}
3 Tbs. Mr. Yoshida's sauce {found at Costco, not necessary but it's so good}
1 Tbs. ground ginger
2 tsp. red pepper flakes {less if you like less spicy}
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 packet of rice noodles {white, in asian section, can be left out if you can't find them}
one head of iceberg or butter lettuce, separated as carefully as possible into leaves

Cook the ground meat in a frying pan over medium heat. While it is cooking, break it up as small as possible with a spatula. Once the chicken is cooked, turn the heat down to medium and add the water chestnuts, green onions, garlic and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add soy sauce, hoisin, Yoshida's, ginger, red pepper flakes, brown sugar, stir and heat through.

Serve family style in a big bowl with lettuce leaves on the side. To eat, scoop some of the mixture into a lettuce leaf, wrap it up and enjoy.

I don't remember where I got this recipe. It was a long time ago before I had a good system of cataloging recipes, including the original source. We attempted to copy another P.F. Chang's appetizers to go with them, their crispy green beans (tempura fried), but they didn't turn out as stellar. Maybe when I perfect that recipe I'll pass it along too.


Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins

These are the best blueberry muffins I've ever had! They have a yummy buttery taste, they are very moist, the crumb topping is delicious, and they are packed with blueberries. I made them twice in one week, and they made the perfect breakfast treat to take to my brother and his wife in the hospital the morning after they had their first child.

Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins

7 Tbs unsalted butter
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups fresh blueberries

For the Topping:
3 Tbss cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 Tbs sugar

Put a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 375. Line muffin pan with paper or foil liners. {The first time I made these I didn't have liners and just sprayed the muffin tin, they turned out fine. The only down side is they have so many blueberries that if you're not careful they'll fall apart when you try to remove them from the pan. So liners are probably best, I just wanted you to know they're not 100% necessary and if you don't have them you can still go for it.}

Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the butter. Melt and cook down the butter until little brown bits appear in the pan. The crackling will subside and butter will begin to brown fairly quickly after that. Keep a close eye. Remove from heat.

Whisk milk, egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add the slightly cooled brown butter and stir to combine.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add milk and butter mixture and stir gently to combine. Gently but thoroughly fold in the blueberries. Batter will be thick.

Divide the batter among muffin cups and spread evenly.

To make the topping, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and rub together with your fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the batter in the cups.

Bake until golden and crisp and a wooden pick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes then remove from the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recipe from Joy the Baker.


Berry Crisp

When my parents were in NYC a few weeks ago my dad had a craving for berry crisp. We tried a few restaurants with no luck. So we made our own at home! It was a perfect summer treat.

Blueberry Blackberry Crisp

2 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
3 Tbs sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup finely chopped pecans (optional)
1/3 cup quick oats
1 stick unsalted butter, well-softened

Preheat the oven to 350. Generously grease an 8×8 baking pan with butter.

Place berries in the bottom of the pan and dust with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Toss to mix in sugar. The berries should be just about to the top of the pan (they will cook down).

For the topping, place the flour, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon and oats in a large bowl and stir well with a wooden spoon. Take 1/4-1/2 cup of the topping and stir it into the sugared berry mixture. Work the butter into the rest of the topping mixture with your fingertips until evenly distributed. Spread the topping evenly over the berries.

Bake the crisp in the dish on a baking sheet on the center oven rack until the topping is crunchy and the berries are bubbling, 55-60 minutes.

Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker.


Balsamic Chicken Pasta

Abbie is an amazing woman and one of my best friends. She is smart, talented, beautiful, a great friend, stellar wife and amazing mother to two gorgeous children. She's a superstar. And she's a good cook. She makes healthy food, and it actually tastes good. I know. Amazing. One of the first times I went to Abbie's place to hang out, she fed me this for dinner. I was excited when she finally posted it on her blog so I could make it too!

This dish is everything I need. Super simple, fast, healthy and tasty. Love it.

Balsamic Chicken Pasta

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large broccoli crown
3 cloves garlic, minced
14 oz can or 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 tsp dried basil
12 oz whole wheat fettuccine, cooked according to package directions
parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add red bell pepper and broccoli, cook until tender (add some water, 1/4 cup, if you want it to steam up a bit). Add garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add broth, vinegar, chicken, and basil. Bring to a boil, then simmer until liquid is reduced by half. Add fettuccine. Mix it all up. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

Recipe from Abbie.


Emergency Chocolate Cake

Ever have one of those days where you're like, "I NEED CHOCOLATE CAKE, IMMEDIATELY" but you can't bake an entire cake because you don't want an entire cake, you just want one piece? Well, darling, I have just the solution for you. I almost feel guilty sharing this recipe because it makes it a little too easy to have fluffy, rich, warm chocolate cake anytime you want (and in a conveniently sized single serving!). Just promise not to get mad at me when you end up eating chocolate cake every night because it takes about three minutes from when the craving hits to the moment the first bite hits your tastebuds. You have been warned.

I am actually eating this right now. Indulgently. Guiltily. With a scoop of peanut butter on top (highly recommended addition).

Emergency Chocolate Cake

2 Tbs cake flour (or regular...)
2 Tbs sugar
2 rounded tsp cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
2 Tbs milk
2 tsp oil
1/2 tsp vanilla

Coat the inside of a mug with nonstick cooking spray. Put all ingredients in mug and stir with a fork until smooth. You can also stir in chocolate chips, nuts or anything else your heart desires. Microwave for 1 minute. Allow to cool a little before eating! If you're feeling crazy you could top it with a spoonful of peanut butter (which melts delectably on the warm cake) or maybe some ice cream. The possibilities are endless, really.

Recipe from friend Casey. I'll get you for this, Casey. ;)


Shrimp, Feta and Fresh Herb Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods. So when I ran into the 30 Days, 30 Ways for Mac and Cheese blog I was excited to find some good variations on this favorite dish. This recipe came from that project, and was reposted on a recipe blog I follow. It turned out really delicious and was a fun, "gourmet" twist on an old favorite. It would be amazing (although not exactly light) served with my favorite breadsticks, and maybe a spinach salad.

And let's be honest, this is me we're talking about here, so I did not buy fresh herbs to use in this dish. I used dried and cut down the measurements slightly. Oh and I used splashes of bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon zest. I am so naughty. The original recipe is posted below with lemon zest and fresh herbs, but if you use dried herbs, just use about 2/3 the amount called for.

Shrimp, Feta and Fresh Herb Mac and Cheese

1 lb. pasta shapes {I used whole wheat fusilli}
1 lb. frozen cooked shrimp (31-40 ct.), thawed and cut in half (if desired)
10 oz. feta cheese, crumbled and divided
Zest of 1 lemon, divided
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped, divided
5 tbsp. butter, divided
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
8 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente according to the package directions. Drain well; set aside.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a small bowl, combine a handful of the feta, a pinch of the lemon zest, the panko, 2 teaspoons of the parsley and 1 tablespoon of the butter, melted. Toss with a fork to combine; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour to form a paste. Cook 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until light golden brown. Whisk in the milk. Continue to heat the mixture, stirring frequently, until it bubbles and thickens, about 5 minutes. As soon as the sauce has thickened, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining feta, Gruyere, remaining parsley, remaining lemon zest, dill, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the pasta, add the shrimp; toss well to coat.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased 2½ or 3-quart baking dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumb-feta mixture evenly over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let cool 5-10 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats.


Coconut Mango Sticky Rice

Maribeth got me all into mangoes recently, and then she dropped this recipe on my head and now I am officially obsessed. Blast that girl. I am really supposed to be losing weight for a trip to Hawaii in a week, and instead here I am shoving sticky rice in my face. It is ridiculously good. Klane and I were dying over how good it was. Coconutty and sugary and creamy and... oh, excuse me, I am going to get myself another bowl right now. Bye!

Coconut Mango Sticky Rice

1 Cup uncooked Jasmine Rice
1 can Coconut Milk
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Mango (or bottled slices)

Cover rice with cold water and rinse. Repeat until the water runs clear, about 3 times, and drain. In a medium saucepan bring 1¾ cups water to boil. Add the rice and stir briefly. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

In a saucepan, combine coconut milk, sugar and salt. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Pour the boiled coconut milk into the cooked rice. Stir well. Cover top of the rice directly with wax paper or aluminum foil. Let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Peel the mango and cut into slices or squares. Spoon the rice, or scoop with an ice cream server onto a serving platter and decorate with mango slices.

Recipe from Maribeth Youngberg.


Chicken Tikka Masala

I never thought I could make Indian food at home, especially not good Indian food, and especially not with ingredients I already had on hand. Well, I was wrong! I have ordered Chicken Tikka Masala at our favorite Indian restaurants in the city and always loved it. This dish was just as flavorful and delicious as any restaurant Indian I've tried! Klane loved it and said he'd like to have it once a month. Tikka Masala is a dish in which roasted chicken chunks (tikka) are served in a rich orange, creamy, lightly spiced, tomato-based sauce. The flavors are so interesting and complex. It has just enough spice, but if you don't like spicy then maybe reduce the amount of cayenne pepper or jalapeno. Oh but this was amazing! Make it!

Chicken Tikka Masala


1 cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (I used ground Ginger, 2 tsp)
1 teaspoon salt
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 cup cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Combine all marinade ingredients except chicken. Pour sauce over chicken and refrigerate for one hour {I, Angie, marinated it about 10 hours while I was at work}. Grill or cook chicken in frying pan. Discard marinade.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for one minute. Season with cumin, paprika and salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken and simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve over hot rice.

Recipe from My Kitchen Cafe.


Mexican Lasagna

I got this recipe from Stephanie Nielson's recipe blog, and her picture of it is WAY more appetizing than mine. But just trust me, this recipe is really good. And if something comes from Nie, the vegetarian healthy delicious cooking queen, then you know it's got to be healthy and delicious. That woman... she is amazing. So maybe ignore my picture, or go drool over hers, and then make this! It's really good, and you won't feel guilty eating it because look at all that spinach! I love me some spinach. And if you're like me you might want extra salsa and extra cilantro. Mmmm hmmm give me some of that cilantro. YUM!

Mexican Lasagna

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper
10 ounces fresh baby spinach
Nonstick cooking spray
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup prepared salsa (mild or medium)
8 ounces pepper Jack cheese, grated (about 2 cups)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor, combine cilantro, scallions, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper with as much spinach as will fit; pulse, adding remaining spinach in batches, until coarsely chopped.
Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray. Lay 4 tortillas in bottom of dish (they will overlap slightly). Layer with half of beans, salsa, spinach mixture, and cheese; repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with cheese and pressing in gently.
Cover dish with foil; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes; remove foil, and continue baking until golden, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe from Cuisine Nie.

Okay I can't stand it anymore, my picture is hideous, here is hers!


Red Chile Chicken, Rice and Beans

I love one-pot meals. Less dishes? Yes, please! This chicken with rice and beans was really yummy served with salsa and sour cream on top as suggested, but we especially enjoyed the leftovers. This made the best burrito filling. Add shredded cheese and roll in a tortilla, warm in the microwave and voila! Perfect, hearty burritos! My only change to the recipe was to add a diced green pepper, I thought it was a great addition, adding a little more veggie power and some color variation.

Red Chile Chicken, Rice and Beans

2 tablespoons oil, divided (I used olive oil)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 ½ cups rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green onions OR 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Salsa and sour cream for serving

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a medium-large heavy pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the diced chicken breast with salt and ½ tablespoon of the chili powder. Place the chicken in the hot oil and brown, stirring and flipping occasionally, until browned, 2-3 minutes (the chicken doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through because it will finish cooking later). Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pot and add the onion, bell pepper and rice. Cook on medium-low, stirring for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque. Add the garlic and the remaining 1 tablespoon chili powder. Cook one minute, and then add the broth and salt (1/2 to 1 teaspoon) to taste. Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook 10 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pot along with the beans, give it all a good stir. Recover the pot and cook on low for 10-12 minutes longer, taking care that the mixture isn’t cooking too hot or it will burn on the bottom.

Sprinkle the green onions (or cilantro) and test a kernel of rice. It should be tender, in which case you place the cover back on, remove it from the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes. If it’s not cooked, cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring and checking often to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn.

Fluff the mixture with a fork and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Serves 6-8. (My only complaint about My Kitchen Cafe is that her serving sizes are always grossly overestimated. This is a big recipe and she says it only serves four! I don't know if you could gather four people at one table who could eat that much.)

Recipe adapted from My Kitchen Cafe.


Strawberry Lemonade Bars

I love lemon bars, so when I saw this recipe on Kathryn's blog, I was so excited I made it that same day. These strawberry lemon bars are a fun twist on a favorite treat. They taste light and fresh and they're perfect for spring and summer! Mine would have turned out prettier if I had a blender to puree the strawberries; I just mashed them up as well as I could with a fork. However, I have a blender coming in the mail, so next time I might try swirling the strawberry puree into the rest of the mixture after it's poured over the crust, it might make for a prettier presentation. Either way these are delicious.

Strawberry Lemonade Bars

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter - room temperature
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 5-6 lemons, I'd say)
2-3 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 cups pureed strawberries (about 3/4 cups of strawberries)
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350˚. Lightly grease 9x13. Cream butter and sugar together, slowly add flour & salt until crumbly. Press into pan. Bake for about 17 minutes until edges are golden.

Combine juice, zest, strawberry puree, sugar & eggs in food processor. Puree until smooth. Add flour, baking powder & salt. Pulse until smooth. Pour over hot crust. Bake for 23-26 minutes, or until set. Let cool, then store in fridge.

Recipe from Kathryn's recipe blog, Wire Whisk.


Creamy Orzo with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Red Pepper

Another great recipe from a friend's blog! Sarah is a great cook with an awesome recipe blog. I always know her recipes will be tasty and easy to follow. (For this reason I copied and pasted her directions exactly.) This creamy pasta is light and fresh and perfect for Spring. It tasted healthy but still so flavorful. We loved this and will definitely be making it again!

Creamy Orzo with Mushrooms, Asparagus and Red Pepper

1 lb. orzo pasta
1 cup reserved pasta water
1 T. olive oil
2 medium chicken breasts (1-1.5 lbs.), cut into chunks
8 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 lb. asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
8 ounces cream cheese, softened (can use 1/3 less fat cream cheese or Neufchatel)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
juice of 1 lemon (don't skip this! soo good)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions until tender. When the orzo is ready, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and then drain the orzo and set aside.

While the orzo cooks, in a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the hot oil and brown on all sides. When nicely browned (but not quite all the way cooked through), add the peppers, mushrooms, asparagus and thyme. Stir and let cook for about 5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the mushrooms and peppers have softened and browned and most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

In the skillet over medium heat, add the softened cream cheese (I didn't soften; no big deal) in bite sized chunks and stir so that the cream cheese melts and coats the chicken and vegetables. Add the reserved pasta water and bring to a simmer. Add ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Stir. Add the orzo, Parmesan, lemon juice and fresh parsley. Stir to combine and heat through. Garnish with additional Parmesan and parsley.

It will be very creamy, so I found it best to serve this in bowls. Serves 6-8.

Recipe from friend and amazing cook Sarah. Check out her recipe blog, she is seriously an amazing cook!

Honey Glazed Salmon

I've been getting great ideas from friends blogs lately. When I run out of ideas I start making less healthy meals, which usually include a lot of cheese. Abbie is great at fixing healthful meals for her family (with lots of veggies!), so I love when she shares recipes. This salmon, served with broiled asparagus and yellow squash, made the perfect light, spring meal. Yum! Thanks Abbie! i loved her directions so I'm posting this exactly as she did.

Honey Glazed Salmon

1 lb Salmon
cover in honey (yeah, squeeze that honey on the salmon like you're makin' a PBH)
add some salt (sprinkle as much as you want).
drizzle some olive oil over the top.
bake on 425 for 15 minutes. {Angie's note: when baking salmon, bake 5 minutes for every 1/2 inch thickness of salmon. We baked ours for 20 and it was perfect.}

Recipe from NY BFF Abbie.


Southern Living Chicken Enchiladas

This enchilada recipe was so great! The mixture of spicy pepper jack cheese, cilantro, sour cream and olives was really delicious. We couldn't find salsa verde in any grocery stores nearby (the curse of living in Harlem), so served it the first time without. I got some the next day and we had the leftovers with the Salsa Verde sauce, and let me tell you - it is a MUST! Tastes so so good with the sauce. These are just divine. Make them!

Southern Living Chicken Enchiladas

For the filling:
3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese
½ cup sour cream
1 can chopped green chilies, drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 can sliced olives

Salsa Verde Sauce:
4 oz. Sour cream
4 oz. Salsa verde

8 (8 inch) flour tortillas

Suggested toppings:
Diced tomato
Chopped avocado
Sliced black olives
Chopped Cilantro
Salsa Verde sauce

Stir filling ingredients together. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over tortillas & roll up. Arrange in a lightly greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Coat with vegetable cooking spray. Bake at 350˚ for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Top with sauce & toppings.

Recipe from Kathryn at Wire Whisk.

Cilantro Lime Rice

Mmmm... I made this rice to go with Southern Living Chicken Enchiladas, and i'm sure it would go great with Cafe Rio Sweet Pork or any other mexican meal. It was so easy and so delicious.

Cilantro Lime Rice

1 cup uncooked Jasmine rice
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 cup chicken broth
1 ¼ cup water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, lime peel, chicken broth & water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook 15 – 20 minutes until rice is tender. Remove from heat. In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar & cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice.

Double or triple the recipe as appropriate.

Recipe from Kathryn at Wire Whisk.


Strawberry Jello Pretzel "Salad"

I suppose we can call this a salad if it helps us sleep better at night. It is really a dessert if you ask me. Look at all that sugar! But whatever you want to call it, you will love it when you taste it. The combination of salty and sweet is so yummy. It's also quite pretty, we served it at a baby shower and it worked perfectly with our "girly" color scheme. You can also make this dessert with raspberries and raspberry jello, or blackberries, etc. Try it, you'll love it!

Strawberry Jello Pretzel "Salad"

2 cups crushed pretzel sticks
3 Tbs sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temp
8 oz. whipped topping
1 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
6 oz. package strawberry jello
2 10 oz. packages frozen strawberries, partially thawed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crushed pretzels with melted butter and sugar. Press into bottom of 9x13 pan. Bake for 8 minutes if metal pan, 6 minutes if glass pan. Remove from oven and allow to cool. (Possibly put it in the fridge to speed it up a little.)

In a medium bowl, mix softened cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture over pretzel crust.

Whisk powdered jello into boiling water in large bowl until dissolved. Stir in strawberries. Allow to sit for 10 minutes. Pour over cream cheese layer. Chill at least four hours or overnight.

Recipe from the Harding Family Cookbook.


Sundried Tomato and Chicken Pasta

I love when I find a really great recipe that allows me to use up what's on hand. I had sundried tomatoes from a salad I made last week, and found this recipe online. It was so easy to throw together and so delicious. I was wary of the condensed soup because sometimes it takes over a recipe, but I thought the taste of the dish wasn't dominated by the soup. It just tasted like a really yummy, creamy pasta dish. It was so good! Definitely a keeper. I served this rich pasta with a very simple spinach salad drizzled with a little red wine vinegar and olive oil. It was a great compliment to the taste of this dish.

Sundried Tomato and Chicken Pasta

1 (16 ounce) package farfalle pasta
1/4 cup butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbs dried parsley
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3 cooked skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated in water (I used the kind bottled in oil and drained them)
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan. Add garlic cloves and cook until garlic browns. Add the cream of mushroom soup and milk, stirring until smooth. Stir in the dried parsley, salt, and ground fresh pepper. Let simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Add bite size chicken pieces and hydrated sun dried tomatoes. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes. Mix in grated Parmesan cheese. Toss cooked and drained pasta with chicken sauce. Serve warm.

Serves 4-6.

Recipe adapted from Allrecipes.com.


Country White Bread

A slice of warm homemade bread with honey and butter is right up there with a warm chocolate chip cookie on my list of most tempting treats. And pulling two loaves of this beautiful bread out of the oven just makes you feel good. It is surprisingly easy to make (it just takes time). I think this bread has improved my life. Which is why I've made it twice in the last two weeks. And why you should make it too.

Country White Bread

1 cup lukewarm water
1 cup buttermilk* (room temp.)
1/4 cup oil
5-6 cups bread flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs (beaten)
1 tablespoon salt
4 teaspoons instant yeast

Egg Wash:
1 egg white
3 Tbsp. milk

Mix together water, buttermilk and oil. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and mix until smooth. Add sugar and eggs and mix together till smooth. Mix in the salt. Then mix in yeast. Allow to sit uncovered for 15 minutes.

Add flour a 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until it forms a dough and clears the side of the bowl (you may not need all the flour). Knead the dough for 5-6 minutes until smooth and elastic. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Spray the top of the dough with an oil spray. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for about 1 hour (I didn't spray it and I just covered it with a towel).

Pour out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut dough in half. Shape dough into 2 rectangles the length of a 5x9 loaf pan. Roll the dough like a jelly roll being sure to lightly press with each rotation of the dough. Pinch the seam closed with your fingers. Place into two greased 5x9 loaf pans. Cover with plastic wrap (or a towel) and allow to rise till double in bulk about 45-60 minutes.

Make egg wash and brush the tops of the loaves. Wait 5 minutes then brush again. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.

*A good buttermilk substitute: Put 1 Tbs of lemon juice or vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup, and fill the rest with milk (preferably 2% or whole). Let sit for a few minutes, and you've got buttermilk.

Recipe from friend Sarah. THANK YOU SARAH!