Jun 13, 2014

Applesauce Oat Muffins

So I have another muffin recipe for you.  And it's from Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I think there's a theme going on here.  ;)  Two things that I love, I guess: muffins and Mel's blog.

These are the sort of thing that are pretty humble and very straightforward but are just so good.  Slightly spiced and very moist, they are a definite favorite around here.  Every time I bring one out of the freezer Will gets so excited that he can't sign, "more, more, more" fast enough. He will devour an entire muffin in about 12 seconds. ;)  Jack loves them for a snack, as do I.

I always, always double the recipe ( below is for a single recipe) so that I have plenty in the freezer.

Applesauce Oat Muffins
very, very slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Printable Version

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup milk (regular, almond, coconut, etc.)
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
4 tbsp.coconut oil, melted (or unsalted butter), cooled slightly
⅓ cup sugar
¾ cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 375° F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, add the oatmeal, applesauce, milk, egg, vanilla, butter and sugar, whisk to combine. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the milk mixture. Stir until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
4. Divide muffin batter evenly between the muffin tins, filling about ⅔ full. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until a tester comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes in the muffin tin before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. To freeze, place in a zip-top bag, in a single layer and lay flat in the freezer. Reheat for a few seconds and enjoy!

Jun 11, 2014

Dairy Free Avocado Ranch Dressing

Okay, so overload on the dairy free recipes? Probably but that's what it is around here and I'm cool with that. We've embraced it and found some really great dairy free recipes that will probably stick around long past the time that we have to actually be free of dairy.

With that being said, this is definitely one of those that will stick around.  It's creamy and delicious, full of that tangy ranch flavor that I sometimes just have to have.  Normally I'm fine with a vinaigrette dressing for salads but there are times when that just won't do.  Here you combine mayo with avocado and traditional ranch dressing spices and come out with something that is so full of flavor (and it doesn't taste like mayo for all you mayo haters) that you won't even know that it's dairy free.

The dressing might seem really thick after you are finished blending it but I promise that it will thin out as it chills.  You can always add a little liquid (almond or regular milk) after it chills if it's too thick for your liking.  

Dairy Free Avocado Ranch Dressing
adapted from Nutmeg Nanny
Printable Version

1 cup light mayo
½ avocado, chopped
1 medium clove garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp. white vinegar
¼ tsp. dried dill
¼ tsp. dried minced onion
½ tsp. dried parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Add all of the ingredients to a blender and blend until well combined. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste.
2. Transfer to a dish, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Taste and re-season as necessary. Store in the refrigerator.

Jun 9, 2014

Dairy and Egg Free Chocolate Pudding

I think that the most challenging part of this dairy free journey we've been on is realizing when you actually want something and when you want something because you can't have it.  Usually, it's the latter and the craving passes pretty quickly.

But sometimes, you just really want something creamy/chocolatey/gooey/dairy-laden.  And what do you know?? This chocolate pudding fits that bill perfectly, except that it's dairy (and egg!) free!

I try not to include too many specialty food products but this is one time that I'm going to do that.  Well, it's not so much specialty as something you probably just don't have hanging out in your fridge.  It's this Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk and let me tell you, it's amazing. It's so delicious that after I bought it to make this pudding, I kept on buying it every week because we all loved it so much. It's smooth and rich and will cure your chocolate or sweet craving all on its own.

This pudding recipe is very straightforward. Lots of whisking and then lots of waiting for it to cool and set up.  It's worth it though when you top the finished product with sliced banana (because chocolate covered bananas - yum) and enjoy it after the kids have gone to bed share it with your kids for dessert. ;)

Jack was very, very excited to eat the pudding after I took a picture of it.  This is his excited face. ;)
Dairy and Egg Free Chocolate Pudding 
just barely adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Printable Version

⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
 2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 cups dark chocolate almond milk
⅓ cup almond butter (or peanut butter, sun butter, etc.)
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
⅛ tsp. salt
Sliced bananas for serving, optional

1. Combine the sugar, cocoa powder and cornstarch in a medium pan. Slowly whisk in the chocolate almond milk and then begin to cook over medium heat. While whisking very often, bring mixture to a slow bubble. Once it begins to bubble, whisk constantly for an additional two minutes.
2. Remove pan from the heat and stir in almond butter, vanilla, and salt. Pour into a medium bowl and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Once slightly cooled, press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pudding. Place in refrigerator and allow to fully chill and set, about 4 hours. Serve with sliced bananas.

Jun 6, 2014

Deconstructed Falafel Salad

I have to confess something to you relating to this salad. I've never had falafel.  My husband on the other hand, LOOOOVES falafel with his entire being.  He always pretends like he's going to order something else when the situation presents itself but he never does. It's always falafel.

So I knew immediately when I saw this salad post on Josie's blog that he would love it.  I wasn't wrong and I loved it, too. I've made it so many times because we almost always have all of the ingredients on hand and it makes for a super fast, very easy dinner.  The dressing is delicious and really ties everything together while also adding a lot of flavor from both the lemon and the tahini.

This also holds up fairly well if you happen to have leftovers. The pita chips won't be as crisp but it still makes for a delicious lunch the next day!

Deconstructed Falafel Salad
adapted from Weeknight Wonders by Ellie Krieger, via Pink Parsley
Printable Version

3 whole wheat pitas
2 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
juice from 2 lemons
2 tbsp. tahini
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved)
1 large English cucumber
3 scallions, chopped
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
2 tbsp. minced flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with foil; set aside. Cut each pita in half and then in half again. Cut each quarter in half and then cut into bite sized pieces. Place onto prepared baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss together. Spread into an even layer and bake for 8-10 minutes, until crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, juice the lemons and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Whisk in tahini cumin, coriander, cayenne pepper, and salt & pepper. Add in the chickpeas and chopped tomatoes. Slice cucumber in half lengthwise and then in half again so that you have 4 long pieces. Chop into bite sized pieces and add to the bowl. Stir in the scallions, cilantro, parsley and pita chips. Be sure to combine well and coat entire salad with the dressing.

Apr 21, 2014

Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins

I don't know if there is such a thing as having too many muffins recipes on your food blog, but if there is, I definitely qualify for it.  To quote my 3.5-year-old, "I just love them."  And that should be reason enough to add another one to the repertoire.

These muffins are great in so many ways: they only dirty one bowl, use whole grains, are easily converted to be dairy free, taste amazing, are chock full of carrots, and use honey as a sweetener.  They also freeze beautifully which is high, high, high on my lists of musts for muffins.  I love being able to pull out exactly as many as I need, quickly microwave them, then have them for a fast breakfast or a snack.  Because they are so great from the freezer, I always double the recipe and that's what is posted below.

Healthy Applesauce Carrot Muffins
barely adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe, originally from 100 Days of Real Food
Printable Version

1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
4 tbsp. coconut oil (or unsalted butter), melted and slightly cooled
1 cup honey
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cups finely shredded carrots (about 3-5 medium carrots)

1. Preheat the oven to 350° F and line 2 12-cup muffins tins with liners. Lightly spray liners with cooking spray; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Whisk to combine.
3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in coconut oil, honey, eggs, vanilla, and applesauce. Combine ingredients only until a few flour streaks remain. Add in carrots and stir gently.
4. Divide evenly between lined muffins tins and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a tester inserted into the center of a muffins comes out clean. Let cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Once cool, freeze in a freezer bag or store in an airtight container on the counter.

Apr 14, 2014

Chicken and Wild Rice Salad with Arugula

I first made this recipe well over a year ago when my in-laws were visiting. It was a big hit but it, of course, got buried deep within my notebook of recipes that I've pulled out of magazines.  I recently pulled that notebook out and went through the many, many collected pages and made a mental note to make this very soon.  I remember that we all really liked it but I forgot how great it is to have around for lunch!

The tender chicken, herbed vinaigrette, crunchy cabbage, sweet apples, and the savory wild rice all come together for a very delicious salad that is a great replacement for your everyday boring lunch fare.  This would be a great addition to an Easter brunch or pretty perfect for a bridal or baby shower.  Or you can just eat it for several days for lunch as we did.

Chicken and Wild Rice Salad with Arugula
Printable Version
adapted from Meet Me at the Garden Gate by the Junior League of Spartanburg, via Southern Living

½ cup uncooked wild rice, cooked to package directions and cooled
2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
3 green onions, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 apple, diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely sliced purple cabbage
4 oz. arugula

Herbed Vinaigrette
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. fresh herbs, minced, any combination (basil, thyme, oregano, tarragon, parsley, etc.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place cooked and cooled rice in a large bowl. Add cooked chicken, green onions, celery and apples.
2. Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a glass measuring cup and whisk to combine. Pour about ½ of the vinaigrette over the chicken and rice mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper, and additional vinaigrette to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. After chilling, serve salad on a bed of sliced cabbage and arugula. Serve with additional vinaigrette if desired.

Mar 18, 2014

Marinated Chicken with Kale and Brussels Sprouts Saute

I really didn't know what to title this blog post.  The original recipe is titled That Chicken and has a cute story to go with it. I don't have a cute story.  This recipe came across my blog reader and *poof*, ended up on my menu. :)

It is indeed marinated chicken that is so delicious that it will probably become my new go-to for tasty chicken.  The marinade includes mayo, lemon, garlic, fresh herbs, honey, Dijon mustard, and olive oil.  This was one of the most flavorful marinades that has happened to chicken in my kitchen in quite awhile.  Definitely try to make this so that it can sit overnight, or at least put it together in the morning - it'll be so worth it.

Obviously you can serve this with whatever sides you want but the kale and Brussels sprouts go really well with it.

Marinated Chicken with Kale and Brussels Sprouts Saute 
slightly adapted from Dinner: A Love Story
Printable Version

For the chicken:2 tbsp. mayonnaise
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp. honey
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
fresh rosemary, thyme or torn basil leaves

Four medium size chicken breasts, butterflied
1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil

For the kale and Brussels sprouts saute:
1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
1 bunch kale, removed from stems and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, ends removed and then sliced very thinly Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
Splash of lemon juice or vinegar (any type)

1. In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Pour into a zip-top bag. Season chicken with salt and pepper and place inside bag. Massage marinade into chicken and place bag inside another bowl. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to overnight.
2. When ready to cook, heat a grill pan or large skillet (or grill outdoors) over medium-high heat. Add oil and once the oil is hot, add chicken (allow marinade to drip off before placing in pan). Cook about 4 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Remove to a place and tent with foil.
3. Wipe out skillet, if necessary and return to medium heat. Add oil and then add kale and Brussels sprouts. Cook, turning often until kale wilts and Brussels sprouts begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and toss with lemon juice or any type of vinegar. (Start with a small amount and taste as you go.)

Mar 12, 2014

Pineapple Salsa Rice

Mexican food has become my default when I don't have anything on our meal plan or I don't feel like making whatever it is I had planned for that evening.  Originally we were going to grill some fish and roast a bunch of vegetables and call it good on this particular night.  But then I was flipping through a magazine that was FULL of Mexican dishes and I saw a variation of this rice and our entire dinner changed just like that.

Rice is cooked with salsa, onion, sweet bell peppers, and garlic, then tossed with pineapple, cilantro and lime.  Um...okay. I'll just eat this for dinner, never mind everything else on the table. ;)  I'm a sucker for all things involving pineapple, I just love the sweet, juicy, tart fruit so, so much.  This was a great accompaniment to our meal and we ate the leftovers for a couple of days and they finally ended up on flour tortillas with leftover black beans. *drool*

Pineapple Salsa Rice
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Mexican Special Edition 2014
Printable Version

1 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
1 medium onion, diced
½ medium sweet bell pepper, any color, diced
1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 cup prepared salsa
1 cup long grain white rice
1 cup fresh pineapple, diced
½ cup cilantro, minced

1. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add oil. Once oil is hot, add onion, bell pepper, and salt and cook until softened, 5-7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Stir in the chicken stock and salsa, cover and bring to a boil. Add in uncooked rice and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until rice is tender, 20-25 minutes. (Check liquid level toward the end of cooking and add more chicken stock as needed.)
2. Stir in pineapple and cilantro, season to taste with additional salt and lime wedges.

Mar 10, 2014

Hummingbird Cupcakes with Dried Pineapple Flowers

Every year I ask James what kind of cake he wants for his birthday and every year he debates between carrot cake and hummingbird cake.  It's a super hard decision for him because birthday cake is serious business.  (Duh.)  This year hummingbird cake won out and I was so excited to get baking!!

Hummingbird cake is a southern tradition that is seriously delicious.  The cake is moist and filled to the brim with flavor from pineapple, cinnamon, banana, and coconut.  It usually contains walnuts or pecans but I left those out this time. (Even though out peanut-allergic Jack has been cleared to eat tree nuts, yay!)  The cake is topped with a traditional cream cheese frosting and then these are garnished with a super pretty dried pineapple flower.  I've made these with and without the flowers and obviously, they're a little more impressive with them but still just as tasty without!  The flowers aren't difficult, they just take a little bit of time.

Hummingbird Cupcakes with Dried Pineapple Flowers
Slightly adapted from Cook Like a Champion and Annie's Eats, originally from Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
Frosting from Confections of a Foodie Bride
Printable Version

For the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
11 tbsp. coconut oil or unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ⅓ cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ⅓ cups mashed ripe banana (about 2 small)
⅔ cup crushed pineapple, drained
⅔ cup shredded coconut

For the frosting:
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
2 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

For the dried pineapple flowers:
1 large pineapple, peeled

1. Preheat the oven to 350º F and line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the coconut oil or butter, vanilla and sugar until blended and very smooth, about 2 minutes.
3. Add in the eggs one at a time, on low speed. Mix well after each addition and scrape down the bowl as necessary. Beat in the mashed banana and then the dry ingredients, mixing only until there are a few flour streaks remaining. Gently stir in the crushed pineapple and coconut.
4. Fill each prepared cupcake pans about ¾ full and bake for 18-22 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool cupcakes in the pan for a few minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes until well combined and very smooth. Add in the vanilla extract. Mix in the salt and sifted confectioners’ sugar until combined and then gradually increase the speed to medium high and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes more. Frost cooled cupcakes.
6. For the pineapple flowers, preheat oven to 225º F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats. After removing the peel from the pineapple, use a melon baller or a sharp knife to remove any “eyes” from the pineapple.
7. Slice as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 30 minutes, then flip the pineapple slices over and continue baking until the pineapple is completely dried, this will take anywhere from 30 minutes up to an hour more. Flip as needed to dry out the pineapple.
8. Place dried pineapple slices in a cupcake pan (you can use a regular muffin tin, a mini muffin tin, or even a clean, empty egg carton) to cool completely. Let sit for several hours to ensure the pineapple slices hold their shape. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 3 days.


Feb 24, 2014

Clementine Margaritas

Usually I'm sort of a margarita purist - tequila, lime, triple sec. Done.  I usually don't even salt my glass.  Once in a while, though, I get a craving for something a little different and with almost 10 pounds of clementines staring at me, it was pretty much fate.  These are still super simple, just tequila, clementine juice, and lime juice.  The clementine is sweet and orange-y and effectively replaces the triple sec, though you could still add a splash to really bump up the orange flavor.  If I'm being totally honest, I usually add a little splash of water to all of my cocktails.  I'm kind of a wimp and don't love them too strong (at least not the first one!).

Give these a try before the cute little Cuties (or Halos, or whatever you have near you) are gone until next year.

Clementine Margaritas
from This Girl Walks Into a Bar
Printable Version

For 1 drink:
2 oz. tequila
1 ½-2 oz. fresh squeezed clementine juice, from about 2 clementines
½ oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
Salt for the rim of the glass, optional.

1. Combine the tequila, clementine juice, and lime juice in a glass measuring cup. Stir to combine and pour into a salted glass with ice. Enjoy!

Feb 17, 2014

Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs, Crispy Prosciutto, and Peas

This is one of those meals that you can have on the table in the time that it takes to boil water and cook the pasta.  It's super fast, filling, delicious, and easy.  Toasty breadcrumbs, savory prosciutto, sweet peas, and tender pasta all come together for a delicious, delicious meal.

The days are getting a little longer, the weather a tiny bit warmer, so there have been a few days when I've rushed to get dinner on the table and this was a perfect meal for just such an occasion.  This would be great topped with Parmesan, too!

Pasta with Toasted Breadcrumbs, Crispy Prosciutto, and Peas
adapted from Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis
Printable Version

1 lb. pasta shapes
2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
⅔ cup breadcrumbs, any style
1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
⅓ lb. prosciutto, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before draining. Drain cooked pasta and set aside.
2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add in bread crumbs and Italian seasoning. Stir to coat and cook until just barely golden, 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully and stir often to avoid burning. Add in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper. Remove to a bowl.
3. Heat remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat and stir in prosciutto. Cook until crispy, about 5 minutes. Return breadcrumbs to the pan and stir. Add in peas, parsley, and cooked pasta. Toss with a small amount of pasta water, just enough to coat, adding more as necessary. Season to taste.

Feb 12, 2014

Chewy Whole Grain Chocolate, Date, and Walnut Bars

We've been dairy-free for many months now (8ish? 9ish?) and I think it's finally become the norm for us.  I actually don't crave cheesy things (much) like lasagna or queso anymore but I do miss some desserts.  I have to really search for chocolate that is both dairy and nut-free and subbing coconut oil for butter doesn't always work, though I've had pretty good results with it.  Here, in these bars, it works great, though.  It might even add to the chewiness a little bit.

Jack has a peanut allergy and his allergist recently cleared us to give him tree nuts.  We've been going through them one by one and he hasn't had any reactions yet.  Yay!  This was a way for us to give him walnuts AND to make a treat for us to enjoy.  We're giving Will peanut butter this week for the first time.  Cross your fingers that he's not allergic...

Chewy Whole Grain Chocolate, Date, and Walnut Bars

adapted from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking
Printable Version

4 tbsp. (2 oz.) coconut oil or unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
⅛ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3 oz. chopped pitted dates
1 cup (4 oz.) chopped walnuts
4 oz. dark chocolate (chips or a bar cut into bite-size pieces)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 2 qt. baking dish (I used one like this, about 10x6.5 inches, anything up to 9x13 will work but baking times will vary.), then line with a piece of parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the coconut oil or butter, brown sugar, salt and baking together on medium speed until well combined and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in the vanilla and mix to combine. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
3. Add in the flour and beat just to barely combine. Add in the dates, walnuts, and chocolate and mix.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth using wet fingertips.
5. Bake until golden, 25-30 minutes (this time will vary depending on pan size, begin checking around 22 minutes). Remove pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Feb 10, 2014

Italian-Style Chicken and Vegetable Quinoa Stew

With winter temperatures in full effect (yes, even in the south), I've had soup/stew/chili on my brain nearly constantly.  When my meal plan fell short by one meal last week, I was mentally going through blog posts that I'd saved.  I kept coming back to this stew from Josie's blog.  I've never made anything from her blog that we didn't all love, so I was sure this one would be a winner, too.  I wasn't wrong.  Chock full of hearty vegetables, tender chicken, creamy beans and the comfort of quinoa, it was awesome.  Will ate a HUGE amount and I'm pretty sure he would have kept on eating it if we'd have let him.  The leftovers were of course just as good and I was so happy to put a filling and healthful meal on the table in a pretty quick fashion!

Italian-Style Chicken and Vegetable Quinoa Stew
adapted from Pink Parsley
Printable Version

1 tbsp. olive oil + 1 tsp. olive oil
1 lb.boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed (or boneless skinless chicken breasts)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
½ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
4 cups chicken broth, plus more as needed
¾ cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 bunch kale, washed and torn into bite-size pieces
1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. minced fresh parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and add to the pan. Brown them well, about 3 minutes per side. Remove to a bowl and cover.
2. Return pot to the heat and reduce to medium. Add in the 1 teaspoon olive oil (if necessary), then stir in the onion, carrots, and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook until beginning to soften, 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic, thyme, oregano, and tomato paste, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute.
3. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, and quinoa to the pot. Return the chicken thighs, with any accumulated juices, to the pot and nestle the chicken into the liquid. Bring to a gentle boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes, and quinoa is tender. (Check chicken for doneness, they need to reach 165 degrees internally.) Remove to a bowl and let cool slightly before shredding.
4. Add in the kale, white beans, and parsley. Stir to combine and wilt the kale. Add the shredded chicken back to the pot and cook for about 5 additional minutes, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Jan 3, 2014

Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2013

2013 was an awesome year for our family.  We welcomed Will on January 3rd (happy 1st birthday, Will!) and the subsequent months just flew by.  We traveled, Jack started preschool, we continued the never-ending list of DIY projects on our house, we traveled some more and in between that, we had some great meals and treats.  While I didn't blog as diligently this year as I have in the past, I still enjoyed what I did get posted.  Here are your Top 5 most viewed posts from 2013!

5.  Homemade Cheese Crackers - one of those things that are just really fun to make homemade instead of buying at the grocery store.  Give them a try and you might never go back to the other version!

4.  Giant Double Chocolate Cookies - these really need no introduction.  Just know that if you have a serious chocolate craving, then these cookies are definitely for you.

3.  Garden Minestrone (Slow Cooker) - this is one of those recipes that's great to have in your back pocket because it's really versatile.  Throw whatever you have in your pantry and vegetable drawer into this soup and it's sure to be delicious.  Thanks to Buzzfeed for featuring it!

2.  Loaded Baked Potato Soup (Slow Cooker) - another slow cooker soup that is sure to please.  Potatoes, bacon, and cheese - really, come on now, it can't be bad.

1. Chicken parmesan pizza - the number 1 most viewed recipe this year and for good reason.  Crispy chicken, tangy sauce, and gooey cheese all come together as a pizza - it doesn't get much better than that!

I hope that 2014 is a great year for you!!

Nov 19, 2013

Pretzel Dogs

There are still times, even after all these years of blogging (almost 5 years!), that I'm amazed when certain foods come out of my very own kitchen.  These pretzel dogs are one of them.  I figured that they would taste good but I really wasn't expecting them to be such a treat.  The pretzel portion tasted like well, pretzels, hot and yeasty and chewy and delicious.  And the hot dogs made it feel like this was a meal instead of just a snack.  Not exactly a healthy meal but definitely a fun one.

The dough came together really easily in my stand mixer, rose beautifully, and was so easy to work with.  I don't really even have any extra tips aside from what's listed in the recipe below.  Definitely set aside a couple of hours to make these for a special, fun occasion.  I even sort of want to make these for Thanksgiving but I don't think they are very...traditional.  ;)

Pretzel Dogs
Printable Version
as seen on Tracey's Culinary Adventures, pretzels originally from Alton Brown, method via Fake Ginger

For the pretzel dough:
22 oz. (about 4 ½ cups) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 ¾ tsp. instant yeast*
1 ½ cups warm water (about 110° F)
2 oz. (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted and slightly cooled

To make the pretzel dogs:
10 cups water
 cup baking soda
8 hot dogs, halved
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water (for egg wash)
coarse salt

*If you are using active dry yeast, follow the directions on jar/envelope to proof it before adding it to the other ingredients. I always add the sugar with the yeast when I’m proofing it.

1. In the bowl of electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, water, and butter or coconut oil with dough hook. Mix on low speed until the dough comes into a rough ball, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
2. Knead the dough on low speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic and pulling away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should not be overly tacky or sticky.
3. Spray and large bowl with cooking spray then transfer the dough to the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm, draft free space for about 50 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
4. Preheat oven to 450°F, line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set a wire rack over a 4th baking sheet or cake pan to catch excess water after boiling.
5. Combine the 10 cups of water and the baking soda in a large pot and bring to a boil.
6. Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it into 16 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll each piece of dough into 10-inch rope. Wrap the rope around one halved hot dog and pinch the ends to avoid unraveling when cooking. Place wrapped hot dogs on one of the prepared baking sheets. Continue until all hot dogs are wrapped.
7. Working with 2-3 pretzel dogs at a time, drop them individually into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Then transfer them to the wire rack using a slotted spoon or small mesh strainer. Repeat with all 16 pretzel dogs.
8. Transfer the pretzel dogs to the last 2 parchment-lined baking sheets and brush them with the egg wash. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
9. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the pretzels are golden brown. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.