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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Easy Summer Pasta Salad

If you want to be the most adored person at your next pool party or BBQ, be the person that brings that pasta salad.

I think we can all agree that a cool and creamy loaded pasta salad is a basic requirement at any summer party. The meats always get all the attention: the burgers, the dogs, steaks, chicken wings. The men huddled around the grill, taking inventory of how many burgers there are, how many need toe be cheeseburgers...and who wants a dog? But you know where you'll find me? Yes, the bar area but I mean other than'll find me hovered over the fixins. The pasta salad, the side dishes. That to me is what I gravitate to. I swear I could do without the grilled meats and be totally happy and full off the assortment of side dishes and appetizers at a party. That's why for me, it's so important to have a pasta salad such as this one at a summer party.

A sweet and tangy sauce of mayo, mustard, sugar, vinegar and dill drench every cork-screw rotini noodle...and take a look at all that color going on! Red onions, red peppers, bright green beans, and vibrant yellow Cheddar cheese make this an inviting dish you just want to dig in and take a heaping spoonful for your plate. Since this is a mayo-based dressing keep this in the fridge until your ready to serve, and put back in the fridge if there are any leftovers. I doubt there would be leftovers since this is so good, but you never know, and it's best to keep leftover mayo chilled.

Make this for your next summer get-together!

-1 box rotini pasta
-1 cup mayo
-3 tablespoons dijon mustard
-2 tablespoons white vinegar
-2 and 1/2 tablespoons sugar
-1/4 cup fresh dill, lightly chopped
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon pepper
-1 and 1/2 cups cooked frozen peas
-1 red pepper, diced small
-1 cup diced red onion
-6oz sharp Cheddar cheesed, cut into small chunks

1. Cook the pasta according to box directions. The strain, drizzle with a little olive oil and stir to prevent from sticking, pour into a large mixing bowl.

2. To make the dressing, in a bowl combine the mayo, mustard, sugar, vinegar, chopped dill, salt and pepper.

3. To assemble the pasta salad, pour the dressing over the pasta and stir until all the noodles are covered in the dressing. Then add in the diced red onion, diced red pepper, cooked peas, and Cheddar cheese. Stir until everything is well distributed throughout the pasta. Garnish with a little fresh dill. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

Adapted from: Eating on a Dime

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Creamy Curry Pasta

I don't want this to sound like I've given up, but I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that I may never wear a two-piece bathing suit again.

Why am I having a hard time with this? Maybe I'm feeling like having to retire the bikinis forever means a stage of my life is over that isn't coming back. Or maybe it's that I feel a little bit like a failure for not 'snapping back' all the way since having Lilly. Moms, we are so hard on our bodies. A pregnant woman's body, especially the stomach/abs area, goes through such enormous change carrying a baby. It stretches, getting bigger and bigger until baby decides they're good and ready to come out. Once baby is here, this little invisible clock starts ticking...time to get your body back to just as it was, or maybe even better, before getting pregnant.

I remember those first few weeks after having Lilly. You literally have no ab strength, standing over the sink to wash a few dishes felt like I was doing 1,000 crunches. And the thing is, you're not even supposed to workout your ab muscles until 6 weeks postpartum since they also need time to heal before being thrown into a strenuous know those strenuous workouts that you'll have so much time and energy for now that you have a non-sleeping newborn. As time passed, and Lilly is now 20 months old, I did my best to fit in workouts here and there, be mindful about not eating sugar, and trying to eat sensibly. But here I sit, with a flabby tummy I didn't use to have, tummy rolls I didn't use to have, and a little feeling that people may wonder why I just don't workout harder.

Truth is, while I do get hit with waves of wishing my stomach was flat or wishing I had the energy and stamina for daily workouts and the willpower to eat healthy all of the time, I have to cut myself some slack. I had a baby. My body did an amazing thing, pushed to it's limits, all for Lilly. When I look at that little girl how can I beat myself up so much? I'd want her to love her body as it is, and not feel pressured to be a certain size or weight. So if anything I'm trying to not body issues take room in my life and potentially doing damage to her self-image down the road. So this summer you can catch  Lilly and I at the beach, soaking up the our one-pieces.

Since I am trying to be mindful about making meals too indulgent or high calorie, this pasta dish is so perfect. This has:

-No butter
-No cream
-No dairy
-No cheese

And yet, it's creamy and rich and so satisfying. The sauce is made with a blend of curry power, sesame seed oil, garlic and onions and a can of coconut milk. My trick is making a slurry of corn starch and water and that thickens the sauce from a soup-like consistency to more of a cream sauce. Roasted chick peas and broccoli give this some substance, each bit is so savory you'll be wanting seconds. And since this isn't packed with any high calories fats go ahead and have those seconds, or thirds.

-When I cook with pasta I almost never use the entire box, I'm pretty consistent with using 3/4 of the box of whatever type of  pasta I'm cooking. I've always found that the entire box is just way too much.

-A slurry is a combination of water and cornstarch and is used to thicken sauces.

-You must use the canned coconut milk, you'll find these either near the Mexican/Spanish food or near the Asian/Thai food in your grocery store. Don't use the coconut milk found in the milk section of your store, it's not going to give you the same results.

For the Pasta
-3/4 box thin spaghetti
-2 teaspoons sesame seed oil
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-1/2 cup small diced white onion (I like them diced very small)
-2 teaspoons white sugar
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 teaspoons curry powder
-1 13.5oz can coconut milk
-2 tablespoons water
-4 teaspoons cornstarch
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 ladle of reserved pasta water

For the Broccoli
-3 cups chopped fresh broccoli (this was about 2 and 1/2 heads of broccoli for me)
-1 and 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-1/8 teaspoon salt

For the Chick Peas
-1 15.5oz can chick peas, drained
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place the chopped broccoli florets in a large bowl, toss with the EVOO and the salt, then pour onto the baking sheet. Dump the chick peas into a strainer and toss a few times, remove any of the shells that have pulled away from the chick peas, then pour them into a bowl and season with the salt, garlic powder, and EVOO. Place the broccoli in the oven for 5 minutes, after they have cooked for 5 minutes remove the baking sheet and dump the chick peas onto the other side of the sheet, then place back in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

3. Once the chick peas and broccoli are baking, bring a large pot of water to boil (make sure you always salt pasta water!). I like my pasta on the softer side so I boil mine for 11 minutes. Want firmer pasta? Only cook it for 9-10 minutes.

4. While the pasta is cooking heat the 2 teaspoons of sesame seed oil, diced onions, and grated garlic in a medium pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the curry powder and stir to coat the onions. Pour in the coconut milk and season with the sugar and salt. In a small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch then pour into the coconut sauce, raise heat so the sauce boils, then reduce to simmer. Add 1/2 of a ladle of the boiling pasta water to the sauce and stir. Simmer the sauce on low heat until the noodles are done cooking. If the sauce at any point gets to watery/thin, add cornstarch a teaspoon at a time and whisk into the sauce, you'll just need to reboil any time you add cornstarch so that it activates and thickens the sauce. If your sauce ever gets too thick, add small amounts of the boiling pasta water to bring it back to a cream sauce consistency.

5. To serve, pour the drained spaghetti into the pan with the coconut curry sauce and stir until all the noodles are coated. To each bowl of pasta, top with the roasted broccoli and roasted chick peas.

Enjoy! This also tastes amazing as leftovers.

Adapted from: In Pursuit of More

Monday, June 10, 2019

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Pizza

Homemade pizzas deserve a gold medal.

They deserve a gold medal in "The Easiest and Fastest and Most Fool Proof Dinner Ever". Homemade pizzas beats pasta, it beats a grilled cheese, it even beats casseroles. This is the dinner you need when you sat in traffic for an extra 30 minutes because they decided 5pm was the perfect time to start road construction, when it's pouring rain but you had to make an extra stop for diapers on the way home, or when you're just too tired to slice and dice ingredients but you want something home cooked.

I always keep a few refrigerated thin crust pizza dough containers on hand, because I know that feeling of just being too exhausted at the end of a long work day. Trust me, I get you. I don't blog full time, even though I wish I did, so I understand those feelings of walking in the door and the thought of cooking dinner feels like someone just thrust you onto an episode of Chopped. So to have these types of "saves the day" recipes are everything. Ready in under 30 minutes, you're going to feel so good about making this and not ordering take out. Honestly, this is going to be faster than take out. So if you're starving, tired, and ready to eat now this recipe is for you.

Roasted red pepper sauce is a savory sauce the blends well with the large pools of cool ricotta cheese.

-1 refrigerated thin crust pizza dough
-1 7oz jar roasted red peppers, drained
-1 garlic clove
-1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-2 and 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
-1/2 tablespoon Parmesan cheese
-5 basil leaves, chopped
-extra virgin olive oil, garlic powder, and salt for crust

1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, unroll the refrigerated thin crust pizza dough onto the baking sheet and spread the dough until it covers the sheet. If the dough splits and gets any holes just knead the dough a bit to close the hole. Bake for 8-10 minutes then remove from oven,

2. In a food processor or blender, blend the roasted red peppers, garlic clove, salt and 1/2 tablespoon of oil.

3. After the pizza dough has pre-baked, cover it with the Mozzarella cheese, leaving a small border for the crust. If you feel it needs more cheese depending on how large your pizza dough is, by all means add more cheese!. After the crust is covered with the Mozzarella, spoon over top in small dollops the ricotta cheese, then sprinkle over top the Parmesan cheese, then drizzle the roasted red pepper sauce, and lastly sprinkle the chopped basil over the whole pizza. With a basting brush (or you can use a paper towel as a brush) coat the crust with some extra virgin olive oil and very lightly sprinkle with garlic powder and a little salt. Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes until the crust is crispy and the cheese is browned and bubbly.


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Easy Enchilada Twice Baked Potatoes

Easy Enchilada Twice Baked Potatoes combine the comforting flavors of a warm enchilada sauce with sharp Cheddar cheese, soft black beans, and cool Queso Fresco for the finishing touch. An interesting and fun way to enjoy the essence of an enchilada.

I'm writing today with a lot of excitement. Tonight is date night.

Date nights are those elusive things that seem to become so rare after adding a little one (or little ones) to your life. I remember the freedom before a baby when it felt like any night had the potential to be a date night. Going to dinner on a whim, happy hour drinks, it didn't matter the time or day. As I mention in a previous post, the thing about life before kids is that your time always belongs to you. Once you add a child into the mix, well, your time is basically belonging to someone else...their schedule, their needs...and you just try and find a hidden chunk of time here and there to fit in some "you" time, or in this case, "us" time. 

We're actually celebrating tonight which is why tonight's date night is a bit more special than others. June 18 will be our 3 year wedding anniversary! To say time has flown by is an understatement. It feels like all the anticipation and nervous energy and extensive planning was only a year ago. Has it really been 3 years?So much change in only a few years. For those of you who might now know, this is my second marriage. I remember a time after my ex and I had recently split and the thought of marrying again seemed too scary. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to have kids, I was on the fence. But here we are, 5 years together, 3 years married, and one incredibly smart and beautiful little girl. I'm truly happy.

So Enchilada Twice Baked Potatoes. Ok, I have terrible segues from the content of my post to the actual food part. Sorry. But you're going to love these because they fall into the category of easy to make after working all day. Making enchilada sauce is SO easy, and it doesn't even compare to the canned kind you can buy. Seriously, please please do not buy the canned sauce and then try and make this. The flavor isn't the same and I don't think you'll like these without the homemade kind, it takes about 15 minutes to make the sauce, that's it! Also, this does make more sauce than you might need. I usually like having more sauce for leftovers or for dipping on the side. If you have extra sauce just store it in a container in the fridge and use it on some chicken or ground beef the next day. Another note, I totally use a hack and microwave the potatoes instead of baking them first in the oven. You can absolutely bake them instead, but my goal here is to get a quick dinner on the table so it helps to speed things up and during these crazy hot summer days it helps to have a day where I don't need to crank up the oven and make my kitchen feel like the depths of hell.

Make these Easy Enchilada Twice Baked potatoes for dinner this week!

The best part is finishing them off with a generous amount of crumbled queso fresco and dollops of sour cream. Don't skip the queso fresco! It adds a very crucial coolness to the little spice of the enchilada sauce.

 Packed with sharp Cheddar cheese, black beans, pools of homemade enchilada sauce and that pillowy sour cream. You'll be happy there is leftovers! 

Food Exhibit
Refer to this photo when I mention cutting around the permimeter of the potato to make and outline of how to scoop out the cooked potato.

For the Potatoes - Yields 8 potatoes
-4 baking potatoes
-3 tablespoons salted butter
-3 tablespoons milk or cream
-2 tablespoons cream cheese
-3 tablespoons sour cream
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-3/4 cup canned corn, drained
-3/4 cup canned black beans, drained
-1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
-1 10oz wheel Queso Fresco 
-Sour cream for garnishing
-Paprika for garnishing 
-Oil for brushing potato skins

For the Enchilada Sauce
-1 tablespoon vegetable oil
-1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
-Dash of chili powder (you can use more if you love heat, but I like mine mild)
-1 15.5oz can crushed tomatoes
-1 cup water
-1/2 tablespoon onion powder
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Poke each potato several times with a fork, microwave for 13-15 minutes until cooked. Pre-heat oven to 350.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, start making the enchilada sauce. Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium high heat, then add the flour and stir until the flour has absorbed the oil. Reduce the heat to medium and stir for about 30 seconds, then pour in the crushed tomatoes, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and salt. Lastly stir in the water. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes until thickened. If the sauce is too thick, add water a little at a time. If it is too thin or watery, you can add corn starch about a teaspoon at a time and that will thicken a sauce. Any time you add corn starch to thicken a sauce you need to bring the sauce up to almost boiling so it's very bubbly, then reduce heat to low again.

3. In a large bowl, place the butter and cream cheese. Once the potatoes are done, carefully remove them from the microwave and place them on a cutting board. Slice open each potato in half so that you have two long halves. Then, using your knife cut along the inside perimeter to give yourself a guide for scooping out the inside. See Food Exhibit photo above for instructions. Scoop out the inside of each potato, being careful not to break the skins. Place all of the potato in the bowl on top of the butter and cream cheese, and place the empty skins on a large baking sheet. Lightly brush the potato skins with some oil and sprinkle with a little garlic powder just to give them some taste.

4. To the bowl of potato, add the milk and sour cream. With a potato masher or large fork, mash until everything is combined, you do NOT want a mashed potato consistency. There needs to be some lumps and structure to the potatoes. If it is too thick, add milk a tablespoon at a time to loosen the mixture. Stir in the corn, then last the black beans. You want to be very gentle with the black beans so that you don't break them apart and create too much of a black color to the potatoes.

5. To assemble, fill each potato skin with the potato mixture, top each potato generously with the sharp Cheddar cheese. Bake for 15 minutes.

6. To serve, generously spoon the enchilada sauce over each potato, then lots of crumbled queso fresco, and lastly a dollop of sour cream.


Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Oven Chicken Tenders with BBQ Tahini Sauce

Oven Chicken Tenders with BBQ Tahini are chicken tenders suitable for any adult dinner. Crispy seasoned chicken tenders dipped in a tahini sauce with BBQ sauce, lime juice, and almond butter will satisfy your craving for a chicken tender. The kids will even like these too!

They tell you all about the sleepless nights with a baby. People love to talk about that. I think that's one of the first things out of someone's mouth when they respond to news about a new baby. "Hope you enjoyed your last restful night!" or "You'll sleep again when they're 18!" And to an extent, they are right. The no sleep, terrible sleep, can't even sleep on a business trip because I'm used to be woken from my sleep is all very very true. But there's something people don't mention that I struggle with daily: never-ending cleaning.

The messes. The cleaning...constant cleaning. After meal time Lilly's highchair looks like I dumped out the contents of a dustbuster all over it. The table top of her highchair becomes a finger-painting masterpiece of tomato sauce. I'll admit, I fall back on feeding her just to avoid creating yet another crumbly, saucy, all over the floor mess. And for all you pet-owners, you know where I'm going next. Our furry friends have learned if they wait underneath the highchair it's only a matter of time before  a morsel of something is dropped from those little baby fingers on it's way to the floor....well now the pet's mouth. The added problem for me is, my kitty cat has IBS. So when he's in a flare-up these little treasures don't sit well with his guess what I'll be cleaning up next? I'm writing this as there's a sink piled high with dishes, I have a dishwasher but it's full with clean dishes that I'm too tired to unload and reload with the dirty ones. Sometimes, it ends up being a night we eat dinner on a paper plate. Parenting takes every last ounce of mental and physical energy you have, and at the end of the day sometimes the dishes sit, the crumbs stay in the highchair, and I eat off a paper plate. 

 Oven chicken tenders are great because you'll cut down on dirtying up some silverware, all cheer for less cleanup! Chicken tenders are really easy to throw together, slice up some chicken breasts, coat them in some seasoned breadcrumbs, and bake. DONE. Then you can have a little fun with the sauces, which is what I did here. BBQ Tahini sauce is THE sauce of the summer. I'm not making that up. You're going to want this on everything, I'm already thinking of burger recipes I can use this on. 

A couple things to note about this recipe:

  • Tahini sauce can be made with tahini or nut butters, you'll see below I use almond butter and I do this quite often. Tahini sauce might not be something you can find in your grocery store so don't worry, almond butter or cashew butter is a completely acceptable replacement. 
  • I always buy chicken breasts and slice them into my tenders, I never buy the chicken tenderloins. I find that the tenderloins are tougher and don't cook as well for me.
  • The seasoned breadcrumbs recipe below is a basic mix of spices, it has lots of flavor but feel free to mix it up or add heat like chili powder if that's your thing.
  • These are kid-friendly! Lilly ate these up, after I tore them up into bite-sized pieces that eventually made a crumbly mess I had to cleanup.

If you have extra tahini sauce you can store it in the fridge for a few days, just know you'll need to add some water to it before you use it next since it will set into a thick paste consistency once it is chilled. It will loosen back up, add water a little at a time until it reaches a nice saucy consistency again.

Eat these oven chicken tenders with BBQ tahini and enjoy a childhood favorite with a bit of a mature spin to them.

For the Chicken Tenders
-2 large chicken breasts, slice into chicken tenders
-1 cup plain breadcrumbs
-1 cup Panko
-1 cup half and half
-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
-1/2 teaspoon onion powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-Olive oil for brushing chicken

For the BBQ Tahini Sauce
-1/4 cup almond butter
-1 lime, juiced
-1 teaspoon soy sauce
-3 garlic cloves, grated
-3 and 1/2 tablespoons BBQ sauce 
-4 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Pour the half and half into a large bowl. In another large bowl, mix the Panko, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, paprika, dry mustard, onion powder, salt and pepper. Take your chicken tenders and dip into the half and half, then into the seasoned breadcrumbs making sure they are well coated all around. Press the chicken firmly into the breadcrumbs to help them stick and get a nice coating. Place all coated chicken tenders onto a large baking sheet that's been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Last, pour some olive oil into a bowl and use a basting brush to dab a little oil over each chicken tender. Bake for 18-20 minutes. 18 minutes was perfect in my oven.

3. While the chicken tenders are baking, make the tahini sauce. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and stir until everything is combined. If it's too thick, add more water a tablespoon at a time until it has thinned out.

4. To serve drizzle a little of the BBQ tahini over each chicken tender and serve with a generous bowl of tahini for dipping.


Thursday, May 30, 2019

Sun-dried Tomato Lemon Basil Pizza

Sun-dried Tomato Lemon Basil Pizza combines robust flavors to create an aromatic white pizza. Pools of cool ricotta cheese over top browned Mozzarella cheese provide the perfect foundation for the sun-dried tomatoes.

Homemade pizza saves dinner.

No, I don't think that statement dramatic at all. Homemade pizza is quite literally one of the easiest and most satisfying dinners you can make on a busy weeknight.

Let me set the stage for you. You arrive at work just after 8am. Traffic was a nightmare which means you had to skip getting your Starbuck's since the line would have made you late so the day has barely begun and you're under-caffeinated. You manage to make it through the work day, through all the conference calls, the emails, the putting out fires left and right and now it's time to get back in the car and fight the same traffic just going in the opposite direction. Oh and also, it's raining. And not a drizzle, the sky just opened and it's a downpour. You manage to make it home, not too behind schedule, you're starving and it's time to cook dinner. There's no way you're spending an hour or more preparing're beginning to think of ordering from your favorite spot. This is when pizza saves dinner. Homemade pizza can be ready in under 30 minutes, it's fresh, it's cheesey, it's over the top savory, and is an all around crowd-pleaser.

That scene didn't resonate with you? How about this one. You've been home with the kids all day. Nap time didn't go as planned, it's been one tantrum after another. There's no way a Pinterest-inspired sensory box is going to happen, and it's raining so no outdoor activities. You somehow managed to make it to 6pm, bedtime for the little ones is insight.'s time for dinner. Time isn't on your side though, the kids won't hang in there for an hour or more as your prepare something complex. This is when homemade pizza saves the day. Quick, easy, little mess created, barely any cleanup. Kid-friendly, mom-friendly, an all around crowd-pleaser.

Yes, homemade pizza can absolutely save dinners everywhere. What makes this extra easy is using refrigerated pizza crust. While you can buy the ball of pizza dough and roll it out yourself, I feel this adds an extra unnecessary step and I don't find it easy to get a thin crust from the balled dough. A little special trick I like to do is to brush the crust with a little extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle it with garlic powder, it really helps make the crust become this final savory seasoned bite at the end of the cheesy pizza. Keep a few packages of the thin crust refrigerated pizza dough in the fridge so you're always ready to whip up some homemade pizza on one of those nights that needs a little saving.

A note on the Mozzarella cheese, while I typically like grating my own cheese, especially for Cheddar, I think it's fine to use packaged shredded Mozzarella cheese for pizzas. If you want to grate your own from a block of cheese, absolutely do that, but I've had this both ways and I find either way produces the perfect pizza cheesy-ness.

-1 package thin crust refrigerated pizza crust
-1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-1 lemon, zested
-1/4 cup chopped, fresh basil
-1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes
-2 and 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
-Extra virgin olive oil +  garlic powder for dusting the crust

1. Preheat oven to 425. Lightly spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, then place the unrolled pizza dough on top and gently knead and stretch the dough until it fits the size of the pan. Don't worry if you get a hole, pinch the dough back together and press it together and it will seal back up. Once the dough has been fully unrolled, bake it for 8 minutes.

2. While the dough is pre-baking, in a medium pan over medium heat, pour the extra virgin olive oil. Add the grated garlic, the chopped basil, the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, and all of the zest from the lemon. Cook and stir for 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and pour into a bowl.

3. When the dough has been pre-baked, remove from the oven. With a brush lightly brush what will be the crust with extra virgin olive oil, then very lightly sprinkle with garlic powder. If you don't have a brush, no big deal. Pour some of the oil into a small bowl, then bunch up a paper towel. Dip the paper towel in the oil and use that to brush the crust.

4. Once the crust has been prepared, cover the remaining dough with the shredded Mozzarella cheese, spoon in dollops the ricotta cheese over top the Mozzarella, sprinkle the 1/4 teaspoon of salt over top. Next, spoon the sun-dried tomato lemon basil mixture over top the ricotta and Mozzarella. Lastly, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the whole pizza.

5. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees.


Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Amaretto Blueberry Pastries

I remember when weekend mornings used to be relaxing.

I'd wake up when my body said it was time to wake up. Lay around in the covers for a few minutes, stretching and flipping my pillow over to the cool side, grabbing my phone and starting to scroll through Instagram posts and morning news stories. Eventually, when I felt awake, it was time for the first cup of coffee and a little bite of something to go with it...maybe a piece of a muffin or pastry. What time was it? Who knows, I wasn't on a schedule. The day was mine, my time was mine.

If you couldn't tell, all that is in the past. Like way way in the past. Since having Lilly 1 year 7 months and 22 days ago there have been no more relaxing weekend mornings. I remember that first feeling of "my time isn't mine anymore" in the hospital the day after she was born. Lilly was having low sugar readings, which meant she needed to stay in the NICU, and any time I wanted to see her or feed her I needed to make the trek from my maternity room to the NICU. If you've ever birthed a baby you'll know how painful that walk was, and making that journey several times a day, yikes, I just wanted to crawl there. But in the early morning hours I couldn't relax, my mind was racing of all the things I needed to do or should be doing.

"How's Lilly? I need to go see her."
"I need to pump, am I doing it right?
"I should be doing something for Lilly."
"If I'm not in the NICU all day, they will think I'm lazy."
"I'm so tired, I need to rest, is that selfish?"

These are the new mom thoughts, and you realize life has changed forever. Now on weekend mornings, I'm woken up way before my body says it's ready. When I come out to the living room, coffee isn't the first thing. Instead, it's setting Lilly up with what she needs: pouch, sippy cup of milk, clean diaper, second pouch because she's sucked down the first pouch at light speed and is whining for another. Now there's the overwhelming pile of dirty dishes in the sink, a dishwasher full of clean dishes that needs to be unloaded, somehow I'm feeling crumbs underneath my bare feet even though I swept and vacuumed yesterday.

"What are we eating for breakfast? She'll need breakfast soon."
"Lunch. What do I have in the house that is kid-friendly?"

In the middle of all this, I'm running on auto pilot. Grab the coffee pod, brew coffee, a teaspoon of sugar, half and half, drink.

You see, weekend mornings the mood is much different now. There's an un-relaxed feeling, on edge, I'm on someone else's time schedule. While I love being a mom, I miss being able to completely relax.

"She woke up at 7am, that means nap time at 11am...3 more hours to go."

When I can grab a few minutes of peaceful alone time, I enjoy a fresh baked treat like these Amaretto Blueberry Pastries is heavenly. There's just something about fresh baked pastry, the freshness of the puff pastry dough, homemade blueberry sauce is warm and sweet without anything artificial like packaged desserts. These Amaretto Blueberry Pastries deserve to be eaten with a hot cup of coffee, reading a good book, in the peaceful quite morning.

Food Exhibits

 After slicing the sheet into strips, take each strip and twist into a cork screw shape.

Then, take each cork screw and twist into a circular pastry form. I do this by taking on end, making that the center and wrapping the rest of the dough around this center. Make sure to close any gaps in the spiral, if there are gaps then the blueberry sauce will spill out onto the baking sheet.

The final pastry cups should look like this above, you'll see the circular spiral shape and there are no gaps between the dough. Press down lightly in each center to make a small well where you can pour the blueberry sauce into. Do not fill yet with the blueberry sauce, you're going to pre-bake the pastry unfilled before filling it.

Amaretto Blueberry Pastries are a warm and sweet pastry filled with a blueberry sauce with cinnamon, nutmeg, and amaretto. Top with toasted shaved almonds for a light crunch, these make the perfect breakfast snack with coffee or for a brunch gathering. Amaretto is a subtle flavor the will be complimented by the toasted shaved almonds.

-1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (this takes about 30-40 min to thaw, so take this out of the freeze and leave it on the counter to it's ready for when you want to make these)
-1/3 cup shaved almonds
-1 cup fresh blueberries
-2 tablespoons white sugar
-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
-1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-1 and 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
-4 teaspoons Amaretto liquor

1. Heat oven to 350. Pour the shaved almonds onto a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until browned and toasted. Once they are toasted, remove from the oven and increase oven temperature to 400.

2.  In a medium sized pot, pour in the blueberries over medium heat, lightly mash them a few times with a large fork or potato masher to break up some of the blue berries and let the juices out. You don't want to break all of them, but you do need some of them to be mashed. Once there is some juice in the bottom of the pot, add both the white and brown sugar, as well as the lemon juice. Stir so the sugars dissolve. Next pour in the amaretto, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and corn starch. Heat to a light simmer, then reduce heat to low. Stir until thickened. If this blueberry sauce is watery, add corn starch a teaspoon at a time to re-thicken. If you add more corn starch, you'll need to heat the sauce to bubbly for the thickening process to happen. This whole process of making the sauce will take about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a bowl and allow to cool before filling the pastries.

3. To form the pastry cups, see the instruction photos above. Using a pizza cutter, slice the sheet of puff pastry into 11 or 12 strips, I did 12 although one strip was very thin. Then, take each strip of the puff pastry and twist into a spiral. Last, take each spiraled strip and wrap it around until you have a circular pastry cup. Press down in each center to make a well where the blueberry sauce can be poured. If you didn't look at the instructional photos please do this, just scroll up. It's a bit hard to explain the process and the photos will help you work with the puff pastry to get the correct method and shape.

4. Place each each unfilled pastry onto a lightly greased baking tray. Bake unfilled at 400 for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, fill with blueberry sauce, then bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and top with some shaved almonds.


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Easy Layered Salsa Dip

At any party or get together, a dip is an absolute must.

I don't care what other snacks there are, there's got to be a good dip. Hot or cold, doesn't matter....just make sure it's there. Everyone loves grabbing that crispy chip and going in for the perfect scoop. The scoop that contains a little part of each of the dip components so that the chip has transformed into a mini replica of the full dip.

This Easy Layered Salsa Dip is something my mom would make every summer. The funny thing is, as a kid I didn't appreciate how great this dip is. Instead, I'd run up to it, steal some of the Cheddar cheese off the top then sneak away. I can see how obnoxious this was to the other adults who would see the Cheddar cheese slowly disappearing off the top. Now as an adult, I've come to appreciate this dip for it's delicious simplicity. Just 5 inexpensive ingredients, arranged in a colorful layer make a salsa dip that will surely disappear by the end of the party. The base is comprised of a blend of cream cheese and sour cream, then pour a jar of salsa over top. You'll love the combination of the coolness for the cream cheese and sour cream with the spicy bite of the salsa. Then the sharp cheese and onion finish the bite. I think the chill of this dip makes it the perfect thing to bring to a pool party. It's not going to weigh you down, the flavors of bright and light, and will be a refreshing chilled snack on a hot day.

Get that chip layered up with the sour cream mix, salsa, Cheddar cheese, and white onions.

Easy Layered Salsa Dip is a layered dip of sour cream and cream cheese spread, salsa, Cheddar cheese, and white onions. Whip this up in under 10 minutes for an easy, inexpensive, and flavorful dip. Spicy salsa, cool sour cream, and tangy Cheddar cheese.

-8oz block cream cheese, softened
-8oz container sour cream
-15.5oz jar salsa, however spicy you like
-2 and 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
-1/2 cup diced white onions

1. Soften the cream cheese by leaving it out on your counter for 30 minutes. You need to do this so that it blends well with the sour cream. Once the it has softened, mix this with the sour cream in a medium sized bowl. Set aside as you prepare the next ingredients.

2. Next, grate the block of sharp Cheddar cheese until you have 2 and 1/2 cups. I highly recommend buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself, it will be smoother and fresher compared to a package of pre-shredded. After the cheese is grated, dice small 1/2 cups of white onion.

3. To assemble, spoon the cream cheese sour cream spread into your serving dish and spread to cover the entire bottom. Whatever dish you use, you want it to have an edge higher than the dip, like the pie plate in the photo. This will make sure as the liquid from the salsa separates it doesn't run right off of a platter onto your table. Next, pour the entire jar of salsa over top an smooth to cover the sour cream. Next, cover the salsa with all of the Cheddar cheese. Lastly, sprinkle with the diced onions.


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Lemon Blueberry Scones

I first launched A Seasoned Greeting back in 2011. It has been an incredible journey and to be honest, I'm not the same person as the person who made that first blog post in March 2011. I was thinking of this as I was writing the  About Me page that I just added to the site last week. Yes, I've been blogging for 8 years and have only now posted a page about myself. But as I wrote it, it's transformative to see in black and white in front of me just how changed I am from the person back then. The thing is, while so much change has happened, I have this feeling that I'm on the brink of the next big things in my life. Part of that is related to this blog, and where I want to take it.

I recently purchased this book and reading it was one "aha!" moment after another. In addition to learning about recipe development, recipe writing, and how to descriptively write about food without using go-to words like 'yummy' and 'delicious', I've learned that I haven't been embracing my voice here. Many of my earlier posts were sterile, I described why I cooked the recipe, told you it was yummy, and then posted the ingredients and cooking method. And there, I had a blog post. But now, I'm making a conscious effort to embrace my voice. To connect more with you, and hopefully you'll feel a bit more connected to me. I need to work on breaking down the walls I've built around myself. To quite those voices that tell me "But...they won't like you!" and just DO IT. So I hope you'll continue on with me, and like what you read.

To date, my most popular blog post are these Copycat Panera Orange Scones. Funny thing is, the photo is pretty mediocre and it wouldn't pass my scrutiny at this stage of blogging. But for some reason, it took off on Pinterest and it continues to drive me the most traffic even nearly 5 years later. It truly is one of my favorite scone recipes, so when I set out to create a fresh Lemon Blueberry Scone I went right to that base recipe for the scone.

The best thing about these scones is that they aren't the crunchy kind. The sour cream in the dough helps keep these soft and pillowy. The tops and bottom have the much needed light crunch, while the inside is softer than a biscuit, but denser than cake. Each blueberry is a welcomed bite of cool freshness that will leave you hoping each bite contains a hidden blueberry. Just in case you weren't getting enough lemon in the scone themselves, the glaze is packed with lemon zest and lemon juice. The last thing I love about scones, is they are easy. No rising needed, so special complicated method. Make a batch of these and enjoy them with your morning coffee, or a little treat in the afternoon. Their light and summery flavor won't leave you weighed down!

Food Exhibit A

When you knead the dough into a circle and slice into the scone triangles it would look like this. You will be able to get 8 scones from this recipe.

Lemon Blueberry Scones are an easy scone recipe perfect for the Spring and Summer. Zesty lemons paired with cool and fresh blueberries make the perfect pair for a sweet and satisfying scone. No complex methods needed, you can easily make these scones and have them come out perfectly!

Makes 8 scones
-1/3 cup sugar
-1 lemon, you'll be using the zest and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
 -2 cups flour
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon baking soda
-8 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1 egg
-1 cup fresh blueberries

1. Heat oven to 400. Combine the sugar and the zest of the whole lemon. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the cubed butter, using a pastry cutter or a fork to break up the butter into the flour. You want the flour to get to a course meal texture. Avoid using your hands, this will begin to melt the butter too much and make it too soft.

2. In another bowl, stir together the sour cream and the egg. Stir in the 2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice. Using a fork, stir this sour cream batter into the flour dry ingredients and lightly stir, then lastly fold in the blueberries. I say fold in, because you want to gently stir them in so you don't break them or burst them. You want to make sure the blueberries stay whole. Now, using your hand, form dough into a ball. It will help to lightly flour your hands to prevent it from sticking like crazy to your hands.

3. Lightly flour your counter top, place the dough ball onto your lightly-floured surface and form into a circle about 7" wide. Cut into triangles. See Food Exhibit A above. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake 17 minutes.

-3 tablespoons butter, melted
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1 lemon, you'll be using 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon of the juice

1. While the scones are baking, combine the melted butter, powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, and 2 tablepoons + 1 teaspoon of fresh squeezed lemon juice. When scones have cooled, spoon glaze evenly over each scone.  


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Crispy Tuna Cakes with Dijon Mayo Sauce

Now that it's officially Spring I've started my annual "time to get in shape" mindset. This basically involves me promising myself that I'll workout, that this will be the year I can confidently wear any outfit I want and not feel like I should be covering this or that up.

So yesterday I did it. I ran in the park for the first time this season. I'm lucky to live near a large park that sits right on the edge of the the river that separates Bayonne from Newark. There's a promenade right on the water's edge where you'll get the most refreshing breeze which is a much needed relief during those hot weather runs, but on the flip side that water breeze can freeze you right in your tracks in the winter.

The good thing about this park is it also has a track. I may be in the minority here, but I love running around the track sometimes instead of running through the park trails. It definitely has to do with the fact that I ran track in high school. Now, I'm using the phrase "ran track" very loosely. I was totally the weakest link on the team, I didn't practice as hard as I should have but I was using it to stay in shape not to be the all-star track runner. But when I hit the track here in the park, the memories come flooding back. Seeing those big numbers in the lanes 1-2-3-4-5-6, the turns, those straights of 100 meters that felt like a mile at the end of the race. Running the track makes me feel energized, like "I've got this" feeling.

After a workout, and especially this time of the year, I want something light for dinner. I won't go so far as to call this a healthy dish, but it is on the lighter side and has more of a refreshing element to it without making you feel weighed down or sluggish. This is a unique way to enjoy tuna fish, move over crab cakes, now tuna can be the star of a fish-cake. The top and bottom will get just crispy enough for a slight *snap* when you cut into it with your fork, and the inside will be tender and soft. Top this with a quick and easy mustard-mayo sauce, it will give this a much needed punch from the tangy mustard.

Tuna cakes are a light but satisfying dinner. Tuna takes center stage in patty-form seasoned with mustard and lemon, seared with a crunchy outer top and bottom to add texture to the inner soft tuna. Top this with a mayo-mustard mixture to add a tangy bite. Recipe yields 4-5 cakes.

For the Tuna Cakes
-2 5oz cans tuna in water, drained
-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
-1/2 cup Panko crumbs
-1 teaspoon lemon zest
-1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
-1 tablespoon water
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
-2 tablespoons chopped fresh scallions
-1 egg
-salt and pepper
-1-2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Sauce
-2 tablespoons mayo
-2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1. Drain the cans of tuna and place tuna in a bowl. Add in the Dijon mustard, lemon zest, lemon juice, Panko, water, parsley, scallions, and salt & pepper. Mix together until everything is combined. The great thing about this recipe is you can taste it at this point (no raw meat!) and adjust any amounts if you feel it might need more seasoning. After tasting and adjusting, add the egg.

2. Form the mixture into patties, if you make them a little on the smaller side you could get 5, otherwise make 4 patties. Flatten them slightly, you want them more the form of a burger not rounded like a meatball. Place the patties in the fridge for an hour to chill. While chilling isn't absolutely necessary, it's going to make it much easier to manage them in the cooking process. If you don't chill them just be aware they make break apart a bit and you'll need to be careful.

3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat, the amount of oil will depend on your pan size. You want enough to have a slight layer of oil in the bottom of your pan so all patties will be sitting in some of the oil. Start pouring on the lighter side then add more until you get to the full 2 tablespoons. Cook the patties 3-4 minutes per side until they are nice and browned and crispy on both sides. While the patties are cooking on one side, mix up the topping sauce. Just mix together the mayo and the mustard...done!


Source: Simply Recipes

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Lighter Creamy Lemon Orzo with Toasted Almonds

Making lighter versions of recipes isn't really my 'thing'. It's not that I'm not a fan of shaving off calories or swapping a high fat content ingredient for a lighter one, it's just that those types of recipes aren't what I gravitate to and not what I set out to create. But what happened with this lovely Lighter Lemon Orzo is I stumbled upon a dish that sounded amazing, tasted amazing, and just so happened to be a light version of a cream based pasta.

I actually first made a version of this recipe many years ago, back when I still lived in Charleston, SC. It was when I was still very much a novice in cooking and my food photography was....pretty terrible. I'll spare you that photo and you can just enjoy the one below.

Anyway, back then I was part of a forum of other food bloggers and we'd share recipes, food photos and blog posts so I was always finding new things to try. Prevention RD had a delicious post for a creamy pasta that used Greek yogurt to make the dish light cream!

I've made a few adjustments since I wanted this to be a side dish not the main dish. Orzo pasta is such a perfect choice for an easy pasta side dish. And the toasted almonds I added...oh my. You are going to LOVE this. The crunch is a needed interruption from the pasta becoming too monotonous and the lemon is just enough without being too overwhelming. And the fact that this is easy...and light...makes this a win all around. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

 Lighter Creamy Lemon Orzo with Toasted Almonds is an easy and light pasta side dish to add to your Spring and Summer menus. Get the flavor of a cream sauce by using Greek yogurt!

-1 and 1/2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
-1/2 cup almond slivers
-2 tablespoons butter
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 large lemon, juiced and zested
-1 5.3oz container plain Greek yogurt
-Salt to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour almond slivers onto a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 10-13 minutes until browned.

2. Cook pasta, then drain and leave in strainer, drizzle very lightly with some olive oil and stir to prevent it from sticking.

2. Melt butter in the pot that was used to cook the pasta over low heat. Add garlic cloves, then lemon juice. Turn heat off, then add yogurt and stir to combine. Add lemon zest and salt to taste.  Pour mixture over pasta and stir. Garnish with toasted almonds.


Adapted from: Prevention RD

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Gingerbread Spiced Energy Bites

Yes, I know it's May and here I am making a totally Fall recipe.

I don't know what it was, but I was really in the mood for gingerbread flavor. I tried playing around making a puff pastry with the gingerbread but it didn't come out quite right. Then, breakfast bites popped into my really can't go wrong with these. You'll notice when I make breakfast bites I really love to add chopped dark chocolate. You can omit this, but for me I love to find a way to sneak in some chocolate into something you can eat for breakfast. These are packed with chia seeds, flax seed, cashew butter, chopped dark chocolate, honey and the super warm and flavorful gingerbread spices.

Make a batch of these and enjoy with your morning or afternoon coffee. There's no rule that says you can't eat gingerbread in Spring.

-1 and 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
-1 and 1/8 teaspoons ginger
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-dash of cloves (just a very small dash, less than 1/8 tsp!)
-1/2 teaspoon sugar
-2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
-1 tablespoon chia seeds
-1/3 cup honey
-1 cup cashew butter
-1 teaspoon molasses
-2 cups quick oats
 -1 3.5oz bar of dark chocolate, I like Ghirardelli 72%, chopped

1. Mix together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and sugar. Pour the molasses into the cashew butter and stir to combine.

2. In a large bowl pour the quick oats, then stir in the spices mixture. Stir in the flaxseed and chia seeds, then the honey and cashew molasses butter. Lastly stir in the chopped chocolate pieces. Place bowl in the fridge for 10 minutes.

3. After the mix has cooled, roll into the balls, making sure to continually grab some of the chocolate pieces that could pool at the bottom of the bowl.


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Toasted Sesame Spinach Dip

New pic, who dis?

Let me just say, and I hope you've noticed, that I've seriously stepped up my photo game. I've taken advantage of some training and learned a lot about angles, lighting, and styling shots to be more inviting and not just a a closeup of the food itself. That's one of the biggest things I've learned. If you take a look at my photos from last year and the year before, the photos weren't inviting, they didn't help you envision making and eating the food, they were pretty flat and boring. But no more. Just dive right in a take a a bite, right? Take a look at the original post and photo here: Sesame Spinach Dip 2016

I'll admit, I don't think I've reached my happy place with my photography. I still have a lot of growth that I want to do, and to help with that I'm getting a new lens in next week that I'm super excited to start playing around with. Thanks for coming on this journey with me!

This is a great easy dip to whip up. First, there's no cheese! That's right, no cheese. No cream cheese, no Mozzarella cheese...nothing. Ok so it does have sour cream, but if you're trying to cut back on cheese or looking for a lighter dip option this is going to be right up your alley. Toasted sesame seeds, chopped scallions, spinach and chopped water chestnuts all come together to make a light and crunch dip perfect for Summer. If you've never bought water chestnuts before you'll find them near where you'd by soy sauce and teriyaki sauce, they come in a can a bit larger than a tuna fish can.

-1 cup sour cream
-1 cup chopped scallions
-1 teaspoon garlic salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
-1 package (10oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained
-1 can (8oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1. To toast sesame seeds, pour them onto a foil lined baking sheet and toast at 350 for 10 minutes.

2. Mix together the sour cream, scallions, garlic salt, pepper, drained spinach, and chopped water chestnuts. Stir in half the toasted sesame seeds. Pour into a large bowl and then garnish the top of the dip with the remaining toasted seeds.

Source: Keebler Toasteds Crackers

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Southwest Chicken Fajitas

If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I occasionally run polls where ingredients face-off to be featured in recipes. I know what you're exciting right? (Yes there's sarcasm there.)

But seriously, when I engage with my Instagram followers I really want to know their feedback as to what recipes they want to see more of, what ingredients they want to see highlighted, and even what types of things they aren't interested in. While this is my food blog, I wouldn't be here without my readers and followers so I want to be sure that I'm consistently giving you recipes and content that you want to see and not just what I'm interested in.

So a few weeks ago bell peppers went up against asparagus and bell peppers won the poll to get their featured recipe. I cook with bell peppers a lot, mostly in quesadillas or in omelets. But to win a poll I felt like they really needed to be highlighted in something special, something different that you probably hadn't cooked before. Stuffed peppers was too obvious for me, and with that I felt like the focus is more on the stuffing and not on the pepper itself. I've been obsessed with chipolte aioli recently so I decided to make a Southwest Chicken Fajita and top with with a spice Chipolte Sour Cream. I also wanted to feature as many colors of peppers as I could, not just the red and green that are most common.

You can find sheet pan fajita recipes which are a bit easier since you dump everything on a pan and bake it, but I find with that method the peppers and onions lack a certain something. I really prefer to cook them in a pan so you can get the char and caramelized pieces that add a depth a flavor you can't get if you're just baking them. This makes a nice big pan so will definitely get you some leftovers if you're not going to eat 6-8 fajitas. Lefotvers would be great over a bowl of rice.

 I've noted below, when you make the chipolte sour cream just start with 1 tablespoon of the chipolte then give it a taste, if you can handle more heat go ahead and add the second tablespoon. The sour cream does have a nice kick to it, but I want to make sure you enjoy it...once you add the heat you can't take it out so start light and go from there.

Southwest Chicken Fajitas with Chipolte Sour Cream use colorful bell peppers and onions topped with a spicy sour cream. So much flavor and makes enough for leftovers.
For the Fajitas -1/2 green pepper, sliced thin
-1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
-1/2 yellow pepper, sliced thin
-1/2 orange pepper, sliced thin
-1/2 white onion, sliced thin
-2 chicken breasts, cut into thin slices about 1/4" thick
-10.5 oz can black beans, drained
-11 oz can corn, drained
-flour tortillas
 -3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the Fajita Seasoning
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon paprika
-1/2 teaspoon coriander

For the Chipolte Sour Cream
-1 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons chipolte in adobo sauce (I recommended starting with 1 tablespoon and tasting, if you like more heat add the second tablespoon...this does have quite the kick)
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-juice from two lime wedges

1. Preheat oven to 400. Slice the chicken breast into slices about 1/4" thick, if some are very wide just give them another cut. 2 chicken breasts should get you enough for 6-8 fajitas. Mix all of the fajita seasoning ingredients together. In a large bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the chicken slices and all of the fajita seasoning, stir until the chicken is well coated. Pour chicken onto a sheet pan and spread out the pieces so none are touching each other. Bake for 25 minutes.

2. While the chicken is baking, heat a large pan over medium heat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once hot, add all of the peppers and onions. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, and turning up the heat to medium high if pieces aren't getting browned. You want to get some nice browned and charred look to the peppers and onions. Pour in the drained black beans and corn, cook an additional 5 minutes. Then, turn off heat.

3. To make the chipolte sour cream, combine all ingredients in a food processor. As noted above, start by adding only half of the chipolte in adobo sauce and give it a taste. If you want more heat, add the second tablespoon.

4. To assemble, spoon a generous helping of the peppers and onions mixture into a flour tortilla, top with chicken, and lastly spoon with chipolte sour cream. You should get 6-8 fajitas depending on how thick you want to make them.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Lemon Zest

Move over green bean casserole. Like wayyyy over. There's a new green bean on the block and it's about to take center stage.

Growing up, my mom had a recipe for green beans with toasted almonds and sauteed shallots and it's such a perfect Thanksgiving side dish. The toasted almonds add such an interesting flavor to the bite and are a nice little surprise. I was looking to update the recipe a bit and make it perfect for Spring and Summer, and what better flavor to add then lemon?

Oh this green beans with toasted almonds and fresh lemon juice and lemon zest is so bright and refreshing. It's not a complicated recipe to make either. A note though, you must use fresh green beans. Anything else will not get the quality flavor that you get from using the good fresh greens.

Add this to an otherwise heavy dinner to lighten the flavors and add a crisp bite, or thee would be perfect as a side to some summer grilling. Have these once and I bet you'll want to be adding these to your menu every week!

-1.5-2lbs of fresh green beans
-1 shallot, minced
-2 and 1/2 tablespoons butter
-zest of 1 lemon
-1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
-1/2 cup slivered almonds
-1 bowl of ice water

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spread the slivered almonds on a foil lined baking sheet, bake for 10 minutes.

2. Trim the ends off the fresh green beans and bring a pot of salted water to boil. Boil the green beans for 3 minutes, strain, then immediately dump into the ice water bowl. Leave in the ice water for 5 minutes, then strain into an empty bowl.

3. Melt the butter in a large pot, add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Dump in the zest of the whole lemon, the lemon juice, toasted almonds and the green beans. Stir so everything is well blended. Turn heat to low and simmer covered for 10-15 minutes.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Pesto Chicken Parm

I'm a huge fan of the super easy, requires little clean up dinners. Aren't you?

As a food blogger, I'll admit, I love to experiment with flavors and try new adventurous techniques. But, I'm a mom. I work full time. I'm exhausted 99% of the time. I absolutely hate..HATE doing dishes and cleaning up. So when there's a meal that saves me time, requires minimal cleanup, but is a delicious homemade meal I'm all for it.

This recipe is a fun twist on the traditional chicken parm. Who doesn't love chicken parm?! Ok...I do love chicken parm but it does get a bit...boring? Maybe a little predictable? Add a generous layer of pesto underneath the tomato sauce and cheese and you'll have a dinner that's not at all boring or predictable. And since there's no chopping, no slicing and no dicing you can have dinner on the table without breaking a sweat.

I'll also add this was kid approved. Miss Lilly loved this! I take off the melted Mozzarella before I feed her since that can get a little stringy and I'm not comfortable with her ability to chew that. But she loved the pesto tomato chicken, so a meal that works for mommy, daddy, and Lilly is a winner in my book.

So the recipe below lists out the ingredients you need, but some of the quantities can be up to you...there's no right or wrong here...another reason to love this recipe! If you're a huge pesto fan go ahead and add more!

-2 chicken breasts, butterflied
-1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
-1 jar of pesto
-Shredded Mozzarella cheese
-Grated Parmesan cheese
-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Salt & Pepper

1. Heat oven to 350. Lay the butterflied chicken breasts in a baking dish, drizzle with some EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Generously cover each chicken piece with pesto, then with tomato sauce (again, generously), and lastly the Mozzarella cheese. bake for 27-30 minutes until chicken is cooked. Place under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the cheese (always watch the food when it's under the broiler, things can burn very quickly!).

2. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and serve with a side of pasta.


Source: Iowa Girl Eats

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

If you ever get that uncontrollable cravings for something chocolatey, oh boy are these cookies for you. The problem is, these aren't going to last very long. They are that good. Soft, chewy, totally decadent, and the pools of dark chocolate are such an incredible combination, I find myself going back to the plate for just one more...ok oneeee more....this is the last one I swear. You get the idea, once you taste one it's hard to not want to eat the entire plate. Pair these with a strong cup of coffee and you've got the best 3pm snack.

I added some sea salt on top of these and I think you're going to love that. It's a nice little salty bite with the dark chocolate chunks.

-1 cup salted butter
-1 and 1/2 white sugar
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-2 eggs
-3 tablespoons strong coffee
-2 and 2/3 cup all purpose flour
-1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-2 cups chopped dark chocolate (for these I was using Ghirardelli bars 72% dark)
-Optional sea salt for topping

1. Take 1/2 cup of the butter and melt it in the microwave until it is completely melted. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes until it has solidified again. The remaining 1/2 cup of butter bring to room temperature. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350. Once the 1/2 cup of butter is removed from the freezer cream that together with the other 1/2 cup butter, the sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. You can use a stand mixer or handheld mixer. Add both eggs and mix until combined.

3. In another bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Add this mixture to the butter mix and stir until it's incorporated. Add the coffee gradually as you're stirring. If the dough feels too sticky, add a little more flour. Lastly, stir in the chopped chocolate.

4. Drop dough balls onto baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes. Once baked, place ona  cooling rack or plate right away. These are meant to be super fudgy and soft. Sprinkle with a little sea salt if you want, enjoy!

Source: Pinch of Yum

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Crunchy Taco Meatballs

If you've seen my Instagram stories, you know that we've been dealing with some car troubles.

Wait, if you don't follow me on Instagram go find me @aseasonedgreeting

So anyway, our car was totaled (ok I totally downplayed that above, totaling a car is way more than 'car troubles') and we needed to start the car buying process again. I think what sucks about totaling a car and having the replace it is that you weren't in the market for a new car to begin with, and now you've been thrown into this scenario that's all kinds money and stressful that you weren't planning to be in. After working with a lease broker and dealing with a few hurdles we finally drove home our new 2019 Mazda CX-5 this morning and couldn't be happier. Of course while we were at the dealership Lilly was running all around making friends with the other toddlers and sales people. Once we got home we popped some bubbly and celebrated the new ride and putting the whole accident behind us. That's something about me, I love any reason to celebrate. Any reason to bring out the champagne flutes and pop a cork I'm totally down for it.

I'll be honest, I have zero natural segue to go from all that car talk to a recipe about taco meatballs. But that's not going to change the fact that these crunchy taco meatballs are going to be the best thing you can add to your dinner rotation. First, they are incredibly easy. Second, they are creative and totally not boring. And third, you can reheat these for lunch. The recipe below using 1 lb of ground beef will get you 16 meatballs. Don't want 16 meatballs? No problem, just cut the recipe amounts in half and make a smaller portion. The recipe does call for one egg, so if you need to halve the recipe crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk it a bit then just use half of that.

The toasted Panko really makes these little guys like a crunchy taco in meatball form.

Just look at these perfectly crunchy meatballs!

-1 pound ground beef (as close as you can get to 1lb, I find the packages are always a little higher or lower then exactly one pound, like 1.15 lbs and that's Ok to use)
-1 cup Panko crumbs
-Cooking Spray
-1/2 cup black beans, drained then roughly chopped
-1 egg
-1 teaspoon cumin
-1 packet taco seasoning

1. Heat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil and spread out the Panko crumbs in an even layer and spray with some cooking spray. Bake for 3 minutes, remove from oven and stir the crumbs then place back in the oven for another 45 seconds. (Watch them because they can go from nice and toasty to not so nice and burned very quickly.)

2. In a large bowl, mix the ground beef, roughly chopped black beans, cumin, taco seasoning, the egg, and 1/4 cup of the toasted Panko. Mix until combined, then form into meatballs. Roll each meatball in the remaining toasted Panko.

3. I like to bake my meatballs slightly elevated on cooling racks as seen in the photos above, this helps keep some of the fatty oils away from the meatballs. You don't have to do this, but it does help prevent the bottoms from getting soggy. Bake at 400 for 25 minutes. I like serving with rice and fresh lime juice. You can also top these with anything you'd put on a taco...onions, salsa, avocado...have fun with it!


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Cucumber Green Goddess Wraps

Eating fresh doesn't have to be boring, complicated, or dull.

I'll admit it, I struggle with staying on track with healthy eating. The thing is, I actually really like veggies and find myself gravitating towards the fresh and veggie meals at parties or events. But at home, it's more of an effort. It's an effort to keep the ingredients stocked in the fridge, because let's face it, who wants to make trips to the grocery store every other day? It's also an effort to think up healthy meals that have the veggies I'm looking for and taste good and aren't boring and are easy and aren't expensive and and get the idea.

Let me introduce you to a lovely little cucumber wrap that will solve all your healthy eating dilemmas. There is so much flavor in this wraps from the green goddess spread that's cool and creamy and I promise you're going to want to put this on everything. The cucumbers are so fresh and crisp and really make these wraps feel abundant. These are a great addition to a party spread, you'll be surprised how fast these disappear.

When you're prepping all the ingredients, you want your cucumbers to be about the length of the tortilla you use, since you're not going to be chopping this in halve, but actually slicing in half length-wise so each cucumber gives you two long halves.

Then, after you peel and cut length-wise, you're going to slice each of the halves into 4-5 sticks like so. 

For the Wraps
-4 flour tortilla wraps
-2 seedless cucumbers (you can use traditional cucumbers with seeds but I really prefer seedless here)
-Romaine lettuce
-Grated Parmesan cheese
-2 oz cream cheese, softened

For the Green Goddess Dressing
Source: 100 Days of Real Food
-1/2 cup fresh basil
-1 clove garlic, grated
-1/2 cup fresh parsley
-2 tablespoons lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/4 cup milk
-3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
-1/2 cup diced scallions (include the light green and white parts)

1. Peel both cucumbers, and slice both of them completely through the center from end to end so you have two long halves. Now, take each long half and slice length-wise about 4-5 times so that you've made cucumber sticks, see image above. Each wrap is going to be made using one of these halved cucumbers cut into sticks, so you are going to be making 4 full wraps in total like the image above.

2. Place all of the green goddess dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender, I actually use my NutriBullet so that works really well too if you have one. Process until completely smooth. You're going to have extra that you can use on salads during the week because you won't use all of the dressing in these wraps.

3. In a bowl, combine the softened cream cheese with 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon of the green goddess dressing and stir until smooth. I used a fork to help the cream cheese combine into the dressing.

4. To assemble the wraps you are going to make 4 full wraps that each get sliced into 4 pieces. So, lay one tortilla flat, cover with some of the green goddess mixture (you don't want to go all the way to the edges, keep most of it more towards the center leaving the edges bare). Then sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese (this doesn't have to be exact...add a little more if you want it cheesier!), then top with a handful of romaine, then lastly top with one of the sliced cucumbers halves (again, see image above for how it should look at this point). Now roll up, and secure with 4 toothpicks, slice into 4 individual pieces. Repeat 3 more times until all cucumbers have been used. If you're on the last wrap and notice you're low on the goddess mixture just whip up a little more, it all depends on how generous you are with coating the wraps. The leftover dressing can be stored in the fridge for a few days and used on salads.