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.

Nov 14, 2013

Whole Grain Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I really love keeping our freezer stocked with muffins for a quick breakfast or to grab a snack when hunger strikes.  Jack definitely loves muffins and I don't think that Will is far behind in his love for them, either, so any time that I can incorporate whole grains, I count that as a win, especially if they are to start off the day.

These are a little bit more on the indulgent side because they have chocolate chips mixed in but you could leave them out if you wish.  Although, dark chocolate and banana is a favorite combination around here. ;)  I adapted Mel's original recipe to make it dairy free by using coconut milk in place of yogurt, but I can't wait to try it with yogurt when we are back to eating dairy.

Whole Grain Banana Chocolate Chips
Printable Version
just slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe 

2 bananas, peeled and mashed
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup light coconut milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners then lightly grease the liners with cooking spray; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, brown sugar, coconut milk, vanilla, egg, and applesauce.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and stir just until combined. being careful not to overmix. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Divide the batter evenly between muffin tins and bake for 16-18 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of a muffin comes out mostly clean. 6. Allow muffins to cool in tin for about 5 minutes then remove the muffins to a wire rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container or freeze in a zip-top bag.

Oct 28, 2013

Glazed Gingerbread Doughnut Muffins

I know things have been extra quiet around here.  I can only say that I've been a little bit distracted by these two:

Will is almost 10 months old and in the last few weeks it has become abundantly clear to me that I have two little boys.  Tons of wrestling and other boy things are going on.  I love it.

On to the food, though.

I've made several things that have been blog worthy lately but just haven't gotten my act together enough to take a photo, edit it, and then write a blog post.  This blog is for sure something that I like to do in my spare time and sometimes, the spare time that I do have ends up getting spent on other things (like reading all the books ever written and playing with my two little wrestlers).

I was perusing Pinterest one more morning and saw these muffins three different times on my home page.  I finally clicked on it, drooled a little, then realized that I had everything I needed to make them (well, a dairy free version, at least).

There isn't any special technique with these guys, pretty standard muffin directions.  Then they come out tasting like doughnut!  I was really surprised with the likeness to a doughnut, to be perfectly honest.  They are light yet still cakey and are really more of a dessert than a breakfast. ;)  They also aren't overpoweringly ginger-y, if that isn't your thing.  Definitely don't skip the glaze, either - it's so worth it and ramps up the doughnut similarity.  (If you have leftover glaze, you may or may not want to glaze the muffins again.  Or you might want to scoop up the glaze that drips off the muffins and drizzle is back over the top.  That's totally your call. ;) )

Clearly Jack liked them.

Glazed Gingerbread Doughnut Muffins

Printable Version

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. ground ginger
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
¾ cup packed brown sugar
6 tbsp. coconut oil, at room temperature (or unsalted butter)
¼ cup vegetable oil, divided
1 tsp. orange zest
2 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tbsp. molasses
1 ¼ cups coconut milk (or regular milk)

For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp. fresh orange juice
2-3 tbsp. coconut milk
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 400° and grease muffin tins; set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg, set aside
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the brown sugar with coconut oil until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add in 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil and the orange zest, and mix on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Stir in remaining 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and the applesauce.
4. With the mixer on low, add in eggs one at a time and mix just until combined after each addition, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Add in the vanilla, syrup, and molasses and mix to combine but do not overbeat.
5. Beginning and ending with the flour, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk until combined, scraping down the bowl as necessary.
6. Divide batter among prepared muffin tins, filling ⅔ full. Bake in preheated oven for 8 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 375° and continue to bake another 7 - 10 minutes. until a tester comes out with just a few crumbs attached.
7. While the muffins bake, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar, vanilla, orange juice and 2 tablespoons of milk. Whisk to combine and add additional milk if necessary. Set glaze aside.
8. Transfer tins to a wire rack to cool for five minutes, then carefully remove the muffins to the cooling rack. Using a spoon, pour glaze over each muffin then allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

adapted slightly from Cooking Classy

Sep 30, 2013

Honey-Lemon Pasta Salad

I know that cold pasta salad probably doesn't seem super fall-ish as far as food goes, but I just love the ease of them.  I love that we can have lunch for several days from just a few minutes work.  On top of that, this particular pasta salad hits on all the high notes - sweet, salty, savory, crunchy, tart...it has (almost) everything.

After an evening filled with a kiddie birthday party, we still needed to eat dinner and luckily, there was a Fresh Market right next door.  I was looking for something light and as soon as I saw a honey-lemon pasta salad sitting in the display, I knew I had to try it.  I'm not proud to say that I ate way, way too much of it that night.

I pretty quickly found a recipe that looked really similar to the ingredient list and I bookmarked it away for another time.  I finally got around to making it at home and it was honestly just as good as the version in the store!

Honey-Lemon Pasta Salad
Printable Version

12 oz. small pasta shapes
½ bell pepper, finely diced (any color)
1 roasted red pepper (fresh or from a jar), finely diced
1 cup mandarin orange segments, drained, rinsed and chopped
2 tbsp. finely diced red onion
2 tbsp. minced cilantro
¼ cup toasted sunflower seeds
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the dressing:
⅓ cup olive oil
zest of ½ lemon
juice from ½ lemon, plus more as needed
2 tbsp. honey, plus more to taste
pinch dried thyme
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water to cool down quickly; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add bell pepper, roasted red pepper, mandarin oranges, red onion and cilantro. Add pasta.
3. In a glass measuring cup, whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, honey and thyme together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour over pasta and toss everything together to combine well.
4. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours, to let flavors meld. If necessary, drain some of the liquid. Top with the sunflower seeds just before serving.

idea from The Fresh Market, recipe slightly adapted from Me and My Pink Mixer

Sep 25, 2013

Roasted Chickpea and Vegetable Salad

I'm pretty sure that everyone struggles with what to make or eat for lunch from time to time, I know that I do.  While a sandwich is easy, it's not always all that filling or satisfying.  Sometimes you just want or need more.  Enter this salad.  It's full of vegetables and chickpeas then topped with an herb filled dressing.  I've made this so many times, with so many variations, and every time it's great.  I make a large batch and we eat it for several days.  It's a great way for me to use whatever vegetables I have around.  Feel free to swap out with whatever you like.  I've added kale to the roasting pan instead of spinach and used a myriad of vegetables.  Play around with it and find your favorite combination!

Roasted Chickpea and Vegetable Salad
Printable Version

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved or 2 medium tomatoes chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 poblano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
About 1 ½ cups corn (cut from a cob or frozen that has been defrosted and patted dry)
2 (15 oz.) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 large sweet potato, finely diced (or leftover cooked sweet potato, diced)
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp. olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 oz. fresh spinach
1 roasted red pepper, chopped (You could also roasted a chopped bell pepper with the other vegetables.)

For the dressing:
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. fresh herbs (any combination - parsley, chives, basil, cilantro…)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400˚ F and line two baking sheets with aluminum foil, set aside.
2. Add the tomatoes, poblano or jalapeno, red onion, corn, chickpeas, carrots, sweet potato, and garlic to the baking sheets. Toss with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables into an even layer on both sheets and roast about 25-35 minutes until vegetables begin to char slightly, stirring once or twice and rotating baking pans halfway through.
3. To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a glass measuring cup and whisk to combine.
4. Place the spinach and roasted red pepper into the bottom of a large bowl and carefully add the roasted vegetables on top of the spinach. Pour the dressing over the top and stir to combine and wilt the spinach. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or cold.

adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from How Sweet Eats

Sep 23, 2013

Coconut Oatmeal Cookies (dairy free)

So these cookies are now what I will judge all other cookies by. Sure, sure, I've had favorites before but this is my new standard. Every bite of every cookie of this entire batch (and the next one) we sheer perfection. Sweet, chewy, crisp edges, full of coconut and oatmeal and just...so flipping good.

This recipe does use coconut oil in place of butter but I'm sure you could swap unsalted butter for the coconut oil without any problems. I do find that cookies made with coconut oil don't hold up as well. Usually by the second day they are already pretty crumbly. To combat this, I scoop out all of the cookie dough into dough balls and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. Then I freeze the whole sheet of cookie dough balls until they are pretty solid. Once they are frozen, I put all of the cookie dough balls into a zip-top freezer bag and write the instructions on the bag. Then I just pull out as many cookies as I need and bake them that way. You can bake them directly from the freezer, though they may take a few extra minutes, or you can let them thaw a little while you preheat the oven.

Coconut Oatmeal Cookies (dairy free)
Printable Version

1 cup coconut oil, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1. Preheat the oven to 350° degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer cream together the coconut oil and both sugars until fluffy and well combined, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add to the mixing bowl just until combined. Stir in shredded coconut and oatmeal.
4. Using a cooking scoop or two tablespoons, place dough balls onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the cookies are just set and very lightly browned. Cool on baking sheet for 3-4 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

very slightly adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod