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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.


Sunday, April 7, 2019

Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers

When I wake up in the morning and start brewing that extremely needed first cup of coffee I always find myself looking for a little tasty treat to go along with it. I definitely not ready for eggs but need something to take the hunger edge off, and there's nothing better than something fresh and home-baked.

I've made some braided danishes with puff pastry and was looking around for other things to bake with puff pastry that would pair well with that morning coffee. Enter the sweet palmier.

Palmiers are so beautiful and they look complex and difficult But here's the best part, it's just a few simple folds of the pastry that result in those flaky layers and crispy folds. I wanted to start with just a basic cinnamon sugar mixture, and added just a bit of butter for more moisture and to help the folded ends stay shut. The result is a sweet and cinnamony crispy and flaky breakfast treat that is so easy you'll want to whip these up every week!

I thought this photo might help when discussing the folding method below. You take the left and right edges and fold to the center to make a crease, coat generously with the cinnamon sugar mixture, then you're going to repeat the fold again by taking the left and right edges and folding to meet that crease. Lastly, you will make one last fold by folding the left side on top of the right, as if you are closing a book. 

Look at these little beauties! I love that they are crispy, not soft and doughy. You'll really enjoy their subtle sweetness 

Cinnamon Sugar Sweet Palmiers are an easy breakfast treat that pair pefectly with tea or coffee. These would also make a great addition to a brunch spread. Their delicate design look like it takes a complex method to create, but just a few folds of puff pastry are all it takes!

-1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
-1/2 cup sugar
-1 tablespoon cinnamon
-1 tablespoon butter, softened

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix the cinnamon and sugar together.

2. Place a sheet of parchment paper on your counter and generously coat with cinnamon and sugar. Open the sheet of thawed puff pastry and lay it on top of the cinnamon sugar and press firmly to allow the mixture to stick. Now coat the face-up side of puff pasty with cinnamon sugar.

3. Take the left and right side of the pastry sheet and fold to meet in the center (see photo above). Spread the softened butter over these two sides then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Repeat the folding process, taking the left and right side and folding again to meet in the middle. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Make the final fold by taking the left side and folding it on top of the right side, as if you are closing a book. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar on any part that looks exposed or like it could use some of the mixture. You might not use all of the cinnamon sugar mixture, you can save whatever isn't used.

4. With a knife, slice into the palmiers. The edges might open a bit as you're slicing, just press them closed again as you put them on the baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then using a spatula flip the palmiers over and bake another 5 minutes. Flip one more time and bake for a final 1 minute until caramelized and browned. Keep an eye on these at the end, the sugar can burn if your oven runs hot, you want these to be a rich brown color and crispy but not burned.


Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Greek Zucchini Tots

Move over zucchini fries, zucchini tots have arrived. That's right...zucchini is now in a delicious Greek inspired tot.

If you follow me on Instagram (if you don't look me up @aseasonedgreeting) you'll know that I post polls in my story where foods face-off to be featured in recipes. A few weeks ago I had a "Battle of the Greens" where, you guessed it, different green vegetables faced-off and the winners got recipes. So the winners were:
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
You'll notice zucchini wasn't in that list. Well, that's because it lost it's poll to Broccoli. But, my mommy-exhausted brain for some reason had it in my mind that zucchini was supposed to be featured in a here we are. The bonus recipe in the Battle of the Greens.

When I started on the zucchini recipe I actually was intending to make a fritter, but along the way fritter just seemed to average. Of course, I love a fritter, but to be a feature poll-winning recipe I thought I needed to be a bit more adventurous. I found a recipe on Pinterest, I didn't alter it one bit and I am seriously obsessed with these little guys. Dip them in some tzatziki sauce (which is super easy to make) and you've got yourself a really great snack or dinner side item. I also ate these with some eggs at breakfast! These make a really big batch so be ready to save the leftovers, which is perfectly fine with me since that means I get a few days of eating these. I'm definitely brainstorming now more vegetable tots, what a great way to eat more veggies...this is great for toddlers too!

Greek Zucchini Tots are a great way to eat more vegetables without sacrificing savory flavor. Cooked with feta cheese and Parmesan cheese then zipped in homemade tzatziki. These will become a family favorite!

-2 medium zucchini
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup finely sliced scallions, use all of the scallion including the light green and white
-2 garlic gloves, grated
-1 cup panko breadcrumbs
-2 eggs
-5 oz feta cheese, crumbled
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 tablespoon dried oregano
-1/2 cup all purpose flour

For the Dipping Tzatziki Sauce
-1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
-1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
-1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
-2 tablespoons grated cucumber
-salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a large baking sheet with oil spray.

2. With a box grater, grate the zucchini and place into a strainer in the sink, add the salt and let sit for 30 minutes. I find that using a circular motion on the grater with the zucchini was quicker than the typical up/down motion, watch your fingers!

3. While the zucchini sits in the strainer, in a large bowl add the eggs, panko, grated garlic, scallions, feta cheese, Parmesan, flour and oregano. When the zucchini is finished resting in the strainer, grab handfuls at a time and firmly squeeze to remove as much excess water as possible, then place in the bowl. Repeat until all zucchini is in the bowl. Stir everything together until incorporated.

4. This part gets a little tedious, but now it's time to make the tots. Place small spoonfuls onto the baking try and form into tot-shapes. They don't have to be perfect, but you do want to make sure that the mixture is pressed together firmly so it bakes into a solid form. Once you've made all your zucchini tots, bake for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, flip tots over and bake an additional 5 minutes.

5. While tots are baking, mix all the tzatziki ingredients together. For the cucumber, remove the skin and grate so you have a cucumber paste almost. Add 2 tablespoons into the tzatziki, or as much as you like for the cucumber flavor.


Source: Recipe Tin Eats

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Sazon Chicken

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes when I want something that's super flavor but isn't difficult to make. Now, I can't classify this as "quick" since the chicken takes about an hour, but after I made this a few times I do consider this an easy dish since it's basically marinating the chicken, then cooking it in the marinade until there's no more liquid left. It's kind of one of those "set it and forget it" cooking methods. If you've never had sazon seasoning, oh boy are you in for a treat. While the recipe below links to the recipe of how to make homemade sazon, you can also purchase Goya Sazon Con Culantro y Achiote packets, I'd typically use 2 packets when cooking this. But what I love about mixing up the homemade version is:

1. It's easy.
2. It's inexpensive.
3. No MSG.
4. Control the salt levels.

 The packets can be a little salty if you use too much, so when I made my seasoning I use half of the normal amount of salt and prefer it that way.

So, want to know where I got this recipe from? Well that would be from my amazing husband. Yupp, the first time he cooked for me was a version of this with pork chops. Once you try this you can see why I married him.

-4 bone-in chicken thighs
-1/2 cup Goya Naranja Angria Marinade
-1/2 cup Goya Mojo Criollo
-1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
-2 garlic cloves, grated
-2 teaspoons homemade sazon ( click here for recipe)
-1 small red onion
-1-2 limes
-1/2 cup water

1. Remove skin from chicken thighs, place chicken in a large bowl. Season with 2 teaspoons of homemade sazon  (or 2 packets of Goya Culantro y Achiote Sazon), add the grated garlic cloves, both Goya marinades, and the soy sauce.

2. In a medium pan heat the 1/2 cup water to boiling. Add the chicken thighs and pour in all the marinade from the bowl as well. Reduce heat to low, and cover.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

3. While the chicken simmers, slice the red onion into thin slices and cut the lime into wedges.

4. After the chicken has simmered for 30 minutes, flip each thigh so it is now face-down and increase heat to medium. Cover and continue to cook for 15 minutes.

5. After 15 minutes, remove the cover and increase heat to high to create a boil. Flip chicken so it is now face up again and sprinkle the tops with a little sazon. At this point, you are cooking off the liquid in the pan and for me this process will take about 20 minutes. During this time when you're cooking off the liquid when there only a little of the marinade left in the pan, add the red onions. The onions will caramelize by allowing them to absorb the marinade. When there is no more liquid left in the pan, remove the chicken but leave the onions. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan and allow the onions to caramelize even more, about 5 minutes. I usually do this process of adding the water to deglaze twice.

6. To serve, squeeze a lime wedge over the chicken and top with the caramelized onions.


Sazon Seasoning

-1 tablespoon ground annatto
-1 tablespoon garlic powder
-1 tablespoon cumin
-1 tablespoon coriander
-1/2 tablespoon salt
-1 and 1/2 teaspoons oregano
-1 teaspoon black pepper

1. Mix all ingredients together. Use 1-2 teaspoons to season chicken before cooking.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Honey Glaze

So I am 34 years-old and March 24, 2019 was the first time I've ever eaten a Brussels Sprout.

Why had I avoided these adorable little green cabbages my whole life?! Well, I didn't grow up eating them. They just weren't part of our meals as kids so I just never really gravitated to them even as my cooking got more adventurous. But I've been seeing some mouth-watering Pinterest images of roasted sprouts in balsamic honey sauces that really gave me that kick in the pants to try these out for myself.

A couple things to note, the texture once these are done roasting is similar to roasted broccoli. They aren't crunchy, a bit softer than I anticipated but the outer leaves that have roasted nicely with all that sauce have an amazing caramelized flavor. The other thing to note, and this is a little weird, but in the beginning stages of roasting their smell is a bit...odd. But once they get all nice and roasted they smell perfectly fine!

So the verdict after my first Brussels Sprouts experience? I will definitely make these again, and try even more versions. I'm thinking bacon, maybe adding a crunch like pecans or walnuts. I've also seen some recipes that have a lime marinade and crumbled Cotija cheese on top which sounds incredible. I hope you enjoy these!

-1 12oz bag of fresh Brussels Sprouts
-3 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
-2 tablespoons honey

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. To prepare the Brussels Sprouts, peel off the outer leaves that are a bit dry then cut off the stems. Cut each sprout in half lengthwise, for ones that are a little large I also then cut them into quarters and toss into a large bowl. Note: Some leaves will continue to fall off as you're doing this. Some I discarded but I also left some in the bowl. Pour in 2 tablespoons of the EVOO, the salt and pepper. Stir to coat.

3. Pour sprouts onto a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 min. While they are roasting, in a small bowl mix the balsamic, the honey, and the remaining tablespoon of EVOO.

4. When the sprouts are done roasting, pour into a large bowl and coat with the honey-balsamic sauce. Pour back onto the baking sheet and bake another 5 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.


Source: Kevin is Cooking

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Roasted Sweet Potato and Broccoli Buddha Bowls with Almond Butter Tahini

So it's officially Spring. It doesn't quite feel like it yet, ya know since the temperatures are still right around freezing in the morning and the heat is still kicking on at night. But, with the longer and lighter days and a bit of warmth during the day now it's that time of year when I make a change in my eating habits and try to be a little more health conscious. I try to leave the heavy dishes back in the winter and bring out meals that are fresher, lighter, and don't make me feel like I want to hide behind big layers and poofy coats.

Funny thing is, I usually find myself gravitating towards the healthier lighter options anyway. But like most people, I still struggle with keeping my fridge stocked with those healthy options, or if I do have lots of veggies on hand I'll be lacking the energy or motivation to whip something up. Yes, even us food bloggers hit mental blocks whether it be lack of energy or lack of motivation.

Roasting veggies is one of my absolute favorite ways to eat vegetables. The crispiness and depth of flavor roasting adds makes just about anything so savory and addicting. This Buddha Bowl has roasted sweet potato, roasted broccoli, and crispy roasted chick peas. So much flavor. Then, to really take this over the top it's drizzled with an Almond Butter Tahini recipe I found. Guys, this tahini is literally the best thing I've eaten in a long time. I was just dipping tortilla chips in it as I waiting for the veggies to finish roasting.

I haven't mentioned yet the best part about the sweet potatoes....they're seasoned with curry. If you've never eaten curry before I really urge you to try it on these sweet potatoes. The flavor is similar to cinnamon and cumin mixed together, it's not spicy at all. More like a really warm spiced flavor. It's incredible when it's paired with the almond butter tahini sauce.

And these crispy chick peas? You're going to want to put these on everything you make from now on. Truth is, I don't really like the chick peas on their own, like just as a snack. I know a lot of people like to just roast them up and pop them like chips, but I much prefer them mixed into something to add a crunchy texture. I also feel like they do much butter with some kind of sauce. I'm looking to come up with some taco recipes that have roasted chick peas in them. Stay tuned.

Once you eat this not only are you going to feel full and satisfied, but you're going to feel great too. No bloated way-too-full feeling here! After eating these delicious roasted veggies with brown rice and an almond butter tahini you're going to want to keep the healthy eating momentum going and add more veggie based dishes to your weekly menu.


For the Bowls
-2 medium sweet potatoes, diced into medium sized chunks (slightly larger than the size of homefries)
-1 large head of broccoli, diced into chunks removing as much of the stem as possible
-1 15.5oz can of chick peas, drained
-5 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-1/2 teaspoon curry powder
-salt, pepper, garlic powder
-Cooked brown rice (I have a rice cooker)

For the Almond Butter Tahini
-1/4 cup almond butter
-1 lemon, juiced
-1 tablespoon soy sauce
-3 gloves garlic, grated
-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
-3 tablespoons water

1. Preheat oven to 425. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes. Pour into a large bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of the EVOO and the curry powder. Pour onto a large baking sheet. Next, dice the broccoli into small pieces removing as much of the stems as possible. Pour into the large bowl, add the sea salt and 2 tablespoons EVOO. Toss to coat then pour onto the other side of the large baking sheet with the sweet potatoes. Lastly, drain the can of chick peas into a strainer. Shake the strainer a bit so that any of the loose shells of the chick peas come off. Remove any of the visible loose shells then pour chick peas into a bow, coat is 1 tablespoon EVOO and season lightly with salt, pepper, and a few dashes of garlic powder. Place the chick peas onto a separate baking sheet. (There's so much flavor elsewhere in this dish that I keep the chick peas a little basic and using them mostly for the crunch factor).

2. Place the sweet potato/broccoli baking sheet in the oven and set the time for 30 minutes. After 5 minutes has passed, place the chick peas in the oven for the remaining 25 minutes. So basically the sweet potatoes and broccoli bake for 30 min while the chick peas bake for 25 min.

3. While everything is baking is you're cooking rice on the stove top now's the time to do that. As mentioned above, I use a rice cooker which I love. I love that it saves me from having to watch one more pot or stir something else. Just set the cooker and let it do it's thing.

4. To make the tahini sauce, juice the entire lemon into a bowl and grate the 3 gloves of garlic and also add to the bowl. Add in all remaining ingredients and whisk together. If it is too thick add another tablespoon of water. You want this to be the consistency of a dressing and not heavy or thick like peanut butter.

5. Assemble to bowls by first adding as much rice as you want, then as much veggies and chick peas. Drizzle generously with the almond butter tahini.


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Nutella Breakfast Energy Bites

To all you Nutella lovers out there, there's a way to enjoy Nutella at breakfast and it's not just a boring smear of Nutella on a piece of wheat toast. Oh no, these Nutella Breakfast Energy Bites are packed with chia seeds and ground flaxseed and lots of oats. When you pop a few of these with some morning coffee you'll feel good about eating these, I've cut down on the amount of honey to offset the sugar in the Nutella. I think you'll really like these, and they are incredibly fast and easy to whip up!

I love these since they also make a great breakfast-on-the-go, or an eat at your desk. We all do it, run out the door without eating breakfast but sucking down that oh-so-needing cup of coffee. Well, now you don't need to resort to that anymore. Keep a bowl of these little guys in the fridge, then just grab a few on your way to work!

Nutella Energy Bites are a healthy way to enjoy the flavor of Nutella while also getting the health benefits of chia seeds and flaxseed. 

-2 cups quick oats
-1/2 cup almond butter
-3/4 cup Nutella
-2 tablespoons honey
-2 tablespoons chia seeds
-3 tablespoons ground flaxseed
-1 3.5oz bar of dark chocolate, chopped...I like to use Lindt 72%

1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate 15 minutes, then roll into balls. Yes, it's that easy. I like to keep mine stored in the fridge for a cool refreshing energy snack.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Sun-Dried Tomato and Lemon Basil Pasta

Busy people everywhere rejoice! There exists an easy and quick pasta dinner that is so wonderfully flavorful you'll want to make this every week, and it's this Sun-dried Tomato pasta in a delicious basil and lemon tomato sauce.

I love a good pasta dinner, and like adding new recipes to my rotation that are a bit lighter and aren't your typical cream-based pasta. Especially now that we're in Spring and headed towards Summer (aka bathing suit season) I really am loving some lighter meals and staying away from the heavy indulgent dishes that I lean to in Fall and Winter. This sauce is made with sauteed garlic, fresh chopped basil, lemon zest, tomato paste and some of the pasta water. Lots of sweet sun-dried tomatoes and of course, burrata cheese. If you've never had burrata cheese before please go to the store tomorrow and buy it immediately. Burrata is basically an outer shell of Mozzarella cheese and an interior of smooth and creamy Mozzarella. It's heavenly. I want to think up a million recipes now to use burrata...and once you try this recipe I think you'll agree.

To make this easier for you I've written the instructions so that you take care of all the chopping/zesting in the beginning. Another note, the original recipe called for a 1-lb box of rigatoni pasta. I made an entire box, but did not use all of the noodles in the sauce. If I did, I think there wouldn't be enough sauce to generously cover the noodles. So, my recommendation is make the pasta as called for in the recipe but then add it slowly to the sauce and when you've reached the desired amount stop adding pasta.

 Look at these perfectly coated noodles!

And that creamy burrata cheese. Ok, I'm getting hungry again.

-1lb box of rigatoni pasta
-5 cloves garlic, grated
-1 8oz jar of sun-dried tomatoes in oil (you will use the oil and the tomatoes!)
-1 lemon, zested
-1 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
-2 tablespoons tomato paste
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper to taste
-3/4 cup of the boiling pasta water
-Burrata cheese

1. Bring a pot of water to boil and boil the pasta for 12 minutes. While the water is coming to a boil zest the whole lemon, grate the garlic cloves, and chop the basil. Pour the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar into a large sauce pan, then dice the tomatoes. See, all the hard work is out of the way!

2. Heat the sun-dried tomato oil over medium heat and add in the garlic, oregano, lemon zest, and 1/4 cup of the basil. Cook 2-3 minutes, then add in the tomato paste and stir to combine then pour in 3/4 cup of the boiling pasta water. Simmer until the pasta is done cooking. I like to reserve about another 1/2 cup of pasta water on the side in case the sauce gets too thick.

3. When the pasta is done, strain and pour desired amount into the sauce pan. As mentioned above, I found the whole box of pasta is too much and didn't use all of the cooked pasta in my sauce. Add the Parmesan cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and the rest of the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Serve with sliced burrata cheese.


Source: Half Baked Harvest

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Whipped Feta

Ever feel like you're struggling to find new and interesting appetizers for a party? If you've been in a snacking rut, let me introduce you to Whipped Feta. Whipped Feta came onto the food scene not too long ago, and boy am I glad it did. This seriously is a game changer when it comes to party snacks. It's smooth, it's creamy, it's got so much flavor you you're not going to want to stop eating until your cracker is scraping the sides of the bowl and you're embarrassed by how much you just ate.

Another bonus, is this is SO easy to whip up (pun intended). It's literally just blend everything together then service. Yes, that's it! I cam across this recipe when I wanted to make whipped feta for a little get together, and I think it's a really great starter recipe. Eventually I'll want to try making a few other versions, maybe some additional herbs or roasted garlic, or adding a bit of heat. But if you just follow the recipe below you're going to be very happy with the results. Serve with pita bread or crackers, this isn't something you'll want tortilla chips for.

Whipped Feta Dip is a refreshing and light cheese spread. Serve with pita bread or crispy crackers, this easy party appetizer is impressive and packed with tons of flavor!

-8oz feta cheese, crumbled or block is fine
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1/2 cup Hellman's Olive Oil Mayo
-zest from 1 lemon
-1 garlic clove, grated
-1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
-1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and additional black pepper.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Irish Soda Bread

Every year I go to make my annual Irish Soda Bread, and every year I make the same mistake. You'd think I would have learned by now, right?

Every year, I plan to make my Soda Bread. I think about how delicious it's going to taste, about seeing that unique "x" cut into the top, about the sweet raisins in dough. When I've done my food shopping for the week, I'm always proud of myself for remembering the raisins. I don't really eat raisins so they're never a pantry staple, so the fact that I've added them to my shopping list and actually remembered to buy them is pretty impressive for me. So here we go...ready to make that bread. I scan the recipe and BAM...there it is...buttermilk. Yes, in addition to raisins there's another unique ingredient this bread needs and its buttermilk.

I promise I'm not making this up, I forget this every year and have to make a special trip bake to the store just for this. Maybe writing about it in this detail will make me remember next year?

This brings me to something else, I don't know why I only make this once a year. This is a GREAT bread. It's incredibility yeast, no waiting to rise. Just mix everything together, do a little light kneading to get the right shape, then bake! It also has a refreshing sweet flavor unlike any other bread. This makes a great snack with coffee or even a breakfast item.

The spoiler is about this, the "soda" in here is baking soda. As a kid, I always thought I was eating bread make with actual drinking soda, when I learned it was just a leavening agent I was pretty bummed. Honestly, I'm still kind bummed it's not a super cool bread made with soda.

- 4 cups flour
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup raisins

1. Heat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment, I just greased the bottom of my pan so the bread won't stick.

2. Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt with an electric mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low until the butter is combined.

3. Lightly beat the egg in the buttermilk and with the mixer on low speed pour into flour mixture. Mix the raisins in a tablespoon of flour and add into the dough.

4. Flour your counter-top and your hands. Dump the dough on the flour and lightly knead a few times until you get a round loaf. It will be very sticky at first so make sure you have enough flour so it doesn't stick to your hands.

5. Place the loaf onto the baking sheet and cut an 'X' into the top with a serrated knife. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. I only needed to bake 50 minutes and it was done perfectly.

Source: Barefoot Contessa

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Roasted Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes

So something really big happened: I became an Aunt!

My older brother and his sweet wife welcomed their beautiful little girl into the world in the wee hours of the morning on March 5th. We are all completely smitten with this little girl. Since I have my daughter, who is somehow now 17 months old, I know what those first few weeks are like with a newborn. During this time you're in total survival mode. You're doing just enough so that all of you are fed and surviving, and everything else comes in a very distant after thought. Those weeks I felt like I was sleep walking, it amazes you how you're able to function on just a handful of sleep hours that you get sporadically through the night. So it goes without saying, cooking during this time felt like I was being asked to make Thanksgiving dinner every.single.night. Not only are quick and easy meals a necessity, but also meals that make for great leftovers for lunch...or for some much needed nourishment at 2am when you're feeding a newborn for the second time that night.

Twice baked potatoes have lots of filling cheese, but these guys have savory roasted broccoli and garlic to really pack in the flavor. Scale this recipe up as much as you want to make a bunch of potatoes and store them in the fridge, a quick pop in the microwave or about 10 minutes in the oven warms them back up for that leftover meal.

Oh, you'll notice below there's a bit of a cheat. I use the shortcut of microwaving the potatoes first. By all means, if you prefer to pre-bake instead do that. But this is supposed to be the quick time-saver version so throw those potatoes in the microwave and make it easy on yourself!

Roasted Broccoli Twice Baked Potatoes are a savory and filling meal that can be used as a side item to a larger meal or eaten alone. Make enough to save for leftovers for a quick and easy lunch! 

Recipe below yields 4 twice baked potatoes.

-2 cups chopped fresh broccoli florets (remove as much of the stem as you can using only the floret)
-2 tablespoons EVOO
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-2 Russet potatoes
-2 tablespoons butter
-2 tablespoons milk
-2 tablespoons cream cheese
-3 tablespoons sour cream
-fresh shredded sharp Cheddar cheese for topping

1. Heat oven to 450. In a bowl combine the broccoli, EVOO, and sea salt. Stir to coat. Pour onto a baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Then reduce heat to 425 and bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and lower temperature to 350.

2. While the broccoli is baking, pierce your potatoes several times with a fork. Microwave for 11-13 minutes. They should easily be sliced with a knife when they are done. 

3. Place the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl. Carefully slice open the potatoes length-wise and scoop out the potato and spoon into the bowl on top of the butter and cream cheese (the heat helps them melt). To make it easier to spoon out the potato without splitting the skin, I take my knife and cut all around the perimeter to make a guide of where to scoop. Doing this prevents you from scooping directly onto the skin of the potato.

4. To the potato bowl, add the sour cream and milk. Mash until combined, just enough so that the mixture is smooth but some small lumps are OK, you're not looking for a mashed potato texture you just want it to be mostly smooth with all of the ingredients incorporated. If the mixture is too stiff, add little bits of milk until you get a smoother consistency. Lastly, fold in the broccoli and garlic. Sitr lightly so you don't break up the florets too much.

5. Place the empty potato skins onto a baking sheet. Spoon the potato and broccoli mix into the 4 skins. Top with shredded Cheddar cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake for 15 minutes.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Spiced Walnut Granola Crumble

Your morning yogurt is about to change forever.

Yogurt is great and all, but let's agree it's a bit boring and the one-note texture leaves a lot to be desired. It needs crunch. It needs texture. Might I say, it needs this Spiced Walnut Granola.

This is one of those recipes that just popped into my mind as I was going through the ingredients I had on hand and working with recipes I've already made. Let me tell you, the mix of crunchy chopped walnuts mixed with cinnamon, sugars, and nutmeg and baked until crispy is so addicting. This makes a big batch so it's perfect to make on a Sunday and have it for the week. And if I'm being honest, my husband and I found ourselves just snacking on this over the's that good.

Spiced Walnut Granola Crumble is made with the mixture of chopped walnuts, sugars, cinnamon, and nutmeg combined with melted butter and baked to perfection.

-1/2 cup quick oats
-1/2 cup all-purpose flour
-3/4 cup chopped walnuts
-1/4 cup dark brown sugar
-1 tablespoon white sugar
-5 tablespoons butter, melted
-1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg 
-1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, walnuts, sugars, and spices. Add in the melted butter and stir until all the dry ingredients are wet. Lastly, add in the vanilla and stir.

3. Pour the crumble onto a baking sheet. It's ok that this will be a mix of larger chunks and then portions that are small pieces. Once it bakes you can break up the larger pieces into more of a crumble. Bake for 15 minutes.


Friday, February 22, 2019

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Energy Bites

Dinners get a lot of attention, don't they? It's all about the dinner. What are you making for dinner? What are we having for dinner?

Quick and easy dinner recipes are sought after. And I get it, I'm there with you. I'm always searching for new ways to make quick, easy, and nutritious dinners for those weeknights after a long day of work. But breakfast and lunch need a little attention to.

Who eats a good breakfast every morning? I know no one is whipping up a well-balanced breakfast at 6am before your way into work. If you are, I applaud you and you deserve a medal. I think most of us hit the coffee first, then maybe search for a bagel or a packaged granola bar. Yogurt is a good idea, but I've always needed something solid to get me going in the morning and for me yogurt is more of a mid-morning hold-me-over-til-lunch snack. So, if you're needing an energy-packed quick and easy breakfast that you can eat in the car or bring to work and eat at your desk, breakfast energy bites are for you.

I'm obsessed with dark chocolate bars and chopping them up for recipes. I love the variations in sizes and the dark chocolate flavor is so rich it helps to town down any sweetness. These dark chocolate almond butter energy bites are everything you need to get you out the door in the morning. Ground flaxseed, chia seeds, almond butter, and did I mention dark chocolate chunks? The ground flaxseed almost takes on a cinnamon-like flavor it was so warm and was the perfect match for the richness of the chocolate. Make these on Sunday and you'll have your grab-and-go breakfasts for the week!

A note about the recipe, you can buy ground flaxseed or do it yourself. I preferred to buy the seeds and put them in my Nutribullet to create the powder.

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Energy Bites are a quick and easy breakfast or morning snack with coffee. Packed with energy rich flaxseed and chia seeds these are so easy you'll want to make these every week!

-2 cups quick oats
-1 cup almond butter
-1 cup chopped dark chocolate (I use Lindt 72% Dark Chocolate)
-1/3 cup honey
-1/4 cup ground flaxseed
-1 tablespoon chia seeds
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Combine the oats, almond butter, vanilla, and honey. Stir in the ground flaxseed and chia seeds. Lastly, stir in the chopped chocolate. Place in the fridge for 15 minutes.

2. Once chilled, remove from the fridge and roll into balls. Towards the end it might get a little sticky as the warmth from your hands warms the mixture. If you need to, pop the bowl back in the fridge for a few minutes and then finish up rolling the last of the bites.

I like to keep these in the fridge, the coolness is refreshing and the chocolate chunks get an extra crispiness.

Adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod

Penne alla Vodka

Penne alla Vodka is the perfect weeknight dinner. The sauce comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta and in less than 30 minutes you have a bursting with flavor pasta dinner on the table.

A home cooked dinner in less than 30 minutes? Yes please!

Let's face it. No one has the time or energy to whip up involved dinners every night. At the end of an exhausting work day I want to relax and unwind, but I also don't want to eat snacks for dinner or resort to ordering takeout...again. So meals like this really save the day. There's very little chopping, nothing too complicated, and it makes enough for leftovers. Eat this meat-free, or if you have a little extra time and energy on a weekend you can cook up some chicken and add that for a little extra heartiness.

The vodka in the dish brings out the tomato flavor, the actual alcohol will cook off. However, if you prefer to remove the alcohol entirely you can absolutely do that.

-3/4 of a 16oz box Penne Rigate (yes, this is how I measure pasta. It's not perfect, so if you want more or less you can cook however much pasta you want. I find that 3/4 of the box is what I typically cook. This gets us a dinner for 2 plus leftovers.)

-2 garlic cloves
-1 tablespoon butter
-2 tablespoons flour
-2 and 1/2 cups light cream
-1/4 cup tomato paste
-1/4 cup vodka
-1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon pepper
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Boil the pot of water and cook the pasta.

2. While the pasta is cooking, in a large pan melt the butter over medium-high heat. With a zester, zest in the garlic cloves and cook until lightly browned. Add the flour and whisk to form a paste. Turn heat to medium and add the light cream, tomato paste, vodka, and basil. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, then add the grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. At the very end, if sauce has thickened a bit too much add a small ladle of the boiling pasta water to thin out the sauce. Never add more cream, add the pasta water to thin out a sauce.

3. Drain the pasta and pour into the the sauce pan. This is my trick for only having to clean one pan, I always pour the pasta into the sauce pan and not dump the sauce into the pasta pot creating two dirty pots and pans. I also never dump ALL the pasta at once, I start with about half then keep adding until I have as much pasta as I want. Garnish each plate of pasta with a little extra Parmesan cheese.

**Leftover idea alert!! Before tossing the pasta and sauce together, I like to remove about 1/2 of a ladle of the sauce and pour it into a small bow. When I reheat my leftovers for lunch heat this reserved sauce and pour over the leftover pasta and stir, it gives life back to the dish as if you just made it!**

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

No Bake Dark Chocolate Cookie Dough Truffles

Serious question: is there anyone who doesn't love the taste of raw cookie dough?

Come on, we all do it. Ya know, taste the cookie dough before we bake it? We totally push out of our minds that old salmonella risk thing for those sweet moments of raw cookie dough bliss. There's only been one time in my life when I've listened to that warning, and that's when I was pregnant with Lilly. But once she was born, right back to eating raw dough every time I was baking.

But boy do I have a treat for you. A safe way to eat raw dough right here. Since these cookie dough truffles have no egg we can all indulge as much as we want without a single worry of a foodborne illness. I love...LOVED...the ones I topped with sea salt. It was the perfect combination of dark chocolate and salty.

A note about the presentation of these, when you dip them in the melted dark chocolate and place them back in the fridge to harden you're going to get some chocolate that pools underneath each truffle. For photography purposes, I used my knife and broke those edges off but there's no reason why you have to do that...the more dark chocolate the better!

These little guys would make the perfect addition to a party. Bring these as a dessert and watch them disappear!

No bake cookie dough truffles are an easy and whimsical dessert. Now you can enjoy the taste we all love of raw cookie dough without the risk of eating raw dough. You can eat these plain, or top them with rainbow sprinkles or seat salt. Recipe below yielded 15 truffles.

- 1/3 cup butter, softened
- 1/3 brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon white sugar
- 1/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 2 cups dark chocolate, you can use dark chocolate morsels or dark chocolate bars like 70% Lindt

1. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. In a bowl mix the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Slowly stir in the flour and white sugar and mix until it reaches cookie dough consistency. I've had to use my hands towards the end in a kneading fashion. Stir in the mini chocolate chips. Form into truffles and place them on the wax paper pan and freeze for 15 minutes.

2. Over a double boiler melt the 2 cups of dark chocolate. Once the chocolate has completely melted keep the flame on low as you begin to dip the truffles. Dip the  frozen cookie dough truffles in the chocolate until completely covered then place back on the wax paper. The method that works for me is using a toothpick to spear the balls and dip into the chocolate and use a spoon to spoon the melty chocolate over top. Top with sprinkles, sea salt or leave plain. Place in the fridge until the chocolate has set.

Adapted from: I Heart Naptime

Monday, February 18, 2019

Pesto Pizza

Ok total honesty here, I am totally not in the mood tonight to write a lot. So this is going to be short and sweet, but hey it's all about the recipe anyway, right?

Mini pizzas are my go-to when I want a quick and easy dinner, but still something hot and homemade. While I love a fresh dough crust, premade crusts are such a convenient time-saver and dressed up the right way they can be quite good! I love that these crusts get extra crispy, nothing I hate more than a soft whimpy pizza crust.

This pesto pizza is topped with diced cherry tomatoes which help add a lightness to the pesto cream sauce. Keep these ingredients on hand and next time you're "this close" to ordering take out, just whip up a few pesto pizzas!

As noted in a previous recipe, the cooking times below are based on using mini pizza crusts. If you get fresh dough or a different crust you'll need to adjust the cooking times according to the package instructions.

-3 mini pizza crusts, I like Mama Mary's
-1/2 tablespoon butter
-1 1/2 tablespoon flour
-1 cup light cream
-4 tablespoons jarred pesto sauce
-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-8 oz package of shredded Mozzarella cheese (you won't use all of it, just enough to cover the pizza)
-cherry tomatoes, diced

1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter then whisk in the flour to form a roux. Pour in the light cream, then stir in the pesto sauce and Parmesan cheese. Simmer until slightly thickened.

3. To assemble to pizzas, spoon pesto sauce and spread leaving an edge for the crust. Top with a layer of Mozzarella cheese. Bake for 9 minutes, then broil on Hi for 1 minute to brown the top.

4. Garnish with as many diced cherry tomatoes as you like and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan. I like a lot, the cool taste adds a refreshing lightness to each bite.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Herb Baked Eggs

This is one of my favorite breakfast dishes. Herb Baked Eggs is probably the best way you can start a Saturday or Sunday morning. Pair these with some thick bacon and a flaky buttery biscuit and you'll be ready to take on the day.

Something to note is that everyone likes their eggs a bit different. I personally like them nearly set with only a slight bit of runny yolk, while some people prefer them sunny-side up style with a super runny yolk. The cooking time below is going to yield you a firm yolk. Not your style? Adjust the cooking times a bit, and  give them a check as their cooking to see how "done" the yolks are. When they've reached the style you like, take them out and enjoy!

-5 eggs
-1/2 teaspoon minced thyme (fresh, don't use dried herbs)
-1/2 teaspoon minced rosemary (again...fresh!)
-2 tablespoons minced parsley (you guess it...fresh not dried)
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-salt and pepper
-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-1 tablespoon butter, cubed
-5 tablespoons light cream

1. Heat oven to 450. In a pie plate, place the cubed butter and the light cream. Bake for 5 minutes.

2. While the butter and cream are heating, crack the eggs into a bowl. Combine the garlic, thyme, parsley, rosemary, and Parmesan in a small bowl. 

3. Pour the eggs into the heated butter and cream mix. Top with the Parmesan herb mix, season with salt and pepper. Bake for 7 minutes, then place under the broiler for  2 and 1/2 minutes. As noted above, if you want runny eggs adjust these times lower and keep checking them for your desired "doneness". I like firm eggs but if you like more of an over-easy you'll want to cook them a bit less. 

Source: Barefoot Contessa

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


A long time ago, my first waitress job was at an IHOP. Yupp, that blue roof International House of Pancakes. I can still remember that identifiable smell of pancake batter and sticky syrup and the order of the syrups in the caddy on the table was Old Fashioned, Butter Pecan, Strawberry, and Blueberry. Now, this was way way back in about 2001 so they may have made some changes to their syrups. It's funny how certain things just stick with you through the years. Servers will agree with me, we remember the computer codes for menu items. When I turned 18 and was able to get a job at a restaurant that service liquor I started working at Macaroni Grill. I still write SPAG MEAT or FETT ALF if I'm making my home menu and it includes spaghetti and meatballs or fettuccine Alfredo. My favorite was for an amazingly delicious dish called the Penne Rustica, the code in the computer was CROCK. 

Anyway, back to breakfast.

From my days working at a pancake house my palate has matured...a lot. I find myself searching for new flavors and savory dishes for breakfast. A few weeks ago I came across some recipes for Shakshuka, an amazing North African dish with onions, pepper, eggs and warm spices of cumin and paprika. Oh yea, this was definitely happening. I added a Spanish twist (can you blame me?) and this recipe below includes chorizo sausage and is topped with crumbled cotija cheese instead of feta. I also did a cooking hack and instead of cooking the eggs in the dish, I cooked them on the side and then added them to the top to serve. I'm telling you, I followed a recipe exactly the first time and I could NOT get my eggs to cook in the oven. So, I find for me it's easier and more predictable to cook my eggs on the side. You definitely need to eat this with sturdy bread or hearty biscuits. Trust me! The sauce is just begging to be soaked up and the best bite is topping your bread with a piece of chorizo, some pepper and onions, a little egg and a cool piece of cheese. Oh my. You're going to want this every weekend. 

I wonder if IHOP has Shakshuka on the menu now? Doubt it. 

-1 white onion, sliced thin
-1 red pepper, sliced thin
-3 cloves garlic
-3 chorizo sausage links removed from casing
-3 tablespoons EVOO
-1 tablespoon paprika
-2 teaspoons cumin
-1 (28oz) can whole plum tomatoes (I used Tuttorosso, you'll use the tomatoes and the sauce and I found the sauce had a good thickness), roughly chopped
-salt & pepper
-crumbled cotija cheese

1. Mix together the cumin and paprika. In a large sauce pan over medium/ medium-high heat, cook the chorizo. I like to cook on one side for a few minutes, then flip and cook the other side a few minutes more. Then, using your spatula break up the links into small pieces, continue to cook until no longer pink inside. Once cooked, spoon into a bowl.

2. In the same pan, heat the EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the sliced onions and peppers. Spread them out into an even layer and let them cook, untouched about 5-6 minutes. Stir and repeat until all the onions and peppers are nicely dark and charred a bit. With a zester, zest in the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds. Add the spice mixture and stir to coat the veggies. (Keep an eye on your heat, adjust down or up as needed). Now add the diced tomatoes and the sauce from the can and the cooked chorizo, reduce heat to low to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes and taste, season with salt and pepper.

2. While the sauce is simmering, in another pan cook your eggs to your liking. Most Shakshuka is served with poached eggs, but I prefer mine about over-medium. It's up to you, although scrambled wouldn't work here.

3. To serve, plate a few spoonfuls of the tomato mixture, top with crumbled cotija cheese, and lastly the egg. Eat with sturdy crusty bread or fresh biscuits.


Adapted from: Serious Eats

Monday, February 11, 2019

Balsamic Goat Cheese and Arugula Pizza

One of my favorite easy weeknight dinners is making mini cheese pizzas. They aren't fancy or creative, but on a Friday night after I've put Lilly to bed and I can pour that first glass of wine a mini cheese pizza is about all I have energy for.

Now, this is not at all a sponsored post, but I am in love with these mini pre-made pizza crusts: Mama Mary's Pizza Crusts. I stumbled onto these one day in the grocery store, figured they'd be a great time-saver for this tired mom and have been buying them ever since. What I love about them is that they get so crispy, they are almost more of a flatbread type texture. While the recipe below recommends using these, you can use regular sized pizza crust or fresh pizza dough. But, if you use something other than the recipe calls for you need to then follow the baking time and temperature on the packaging.

Anyway, so I love making mini pizzas. I got a bit bored of the old faithful cheese pizza and came across an amazing photo on Pinterest of a pizza with crispy onions, balsamic reduction, and goat cheese. This pizza is officially on my list of "best recipes". There's no sauce, so it is a cross between a pizza and a flatbread, but the flavor is so amazing from the rich goat cheese, tangy balsamic, and fresh arugula. Make this once and I think you'll be going to back to this one again and again!

-3 Mama Mary's Pizza Crusts thin mini pizza crusts (as noted above, if you can't find these or choose to use another crust or refrigerated dough you will need to bake the pizza according to the instructions on the package and not follow the baking time below. Baking time below is for using thin mini pizza crusts or flatbread)

-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/2 tablespoon sugar
-1 large red onion, sliced thin
-1 tablespoon EVOO
-1 8oz bag shredded Mozzarella cheese
-4oz goat cheese (you won't use the whole thing but this was the smallest size I could find.)

1. Heat oven to 425. In a small pan, add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Heat to a boil then reduce to low to simmer, about 7-8 minutes. Whisk occasionally to it doesn't burn. Remove from heat and pour into a small bowl.

2. In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat the EVOO and add the sliced onions. Cook until dark browned and lightly crispy. If onions are sticking to the pan, add a drizzle of EVOO and adjust the heat to medium if needed. Cook about 10 minutes, don't over stir. You want the onions to sit on the heat to get browned before stirring them around too much.

3. Top each pizza crust or flatbread with shredded Mozzarella cheese, making sure to leave an edge for the crust. Next add the onions, then lastly generously crumble goat cheese over top. Bake for 10 minutes.

4. To garnish the baked pizzas, drizzle with the balsamic reduction and arugula.


Source: Eat Good 4 Life

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Easy Pesto Pasta

Who doesn't need a fast and easy dinner idea for those busy weeknights? Whether you have a long commute, short commute, kids, no kids, gym sessions or no gym the end of the day we're all tired and recipes like these can be the difference between ordering takeout and eating something homemade and satisfying.

This pesto cream sauce pasta is just 5 ingredients and the longest part is waiting for the pasta to cook. The cream sauce comes together in no time and it's so packed with flavor everyone will think you'd been slicing and dicing away making an intricate pesto sauce.

This also makes a great leftover lunch! One of my tips from when I plan to save a cream sauce for lunch is to scoop out a ladle of the sauce and set it aside. The next day, when you're reheating the leftover pasta just pour the reserved sauce over top. It really helps bring back the right consistency since leftovers lose a little something once they've sat in the fridge.

Also, this photo below is of the leftovers so when you make this the first time it's going to be creamier and ticker than this photo depicts.


Easy Pesto Pasta is a delicious and quick pesto cream sauce topped with cherry tomatoes for a filling and fresh dinner that's a perfect meal idea for a weeknight. With only 5 ingredients, it's also affordable!

-3/4 box thin spaghetti pasta
-1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced into quarters
-1/4 cup jarred pesto sauce
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 cup light cream

1. Cook spaghetti according to desired texture, for thin spaghetti 6 minutes works for me. Pour into your strainer, give a few drizzles EVOO and stir in the strainer so that the noodles don't stick.

2. In the large pot where you cooked your pasta, pour in the light cream, pesto, and Parmesan cheese. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 5-7 minutes.

3. When the sauce is finished, pour int he pasta and stir to coat. Garnish with cherry tomatoes...I like a lot on mine, they really add a refreshing and cool flavor to the dish.


Adapted from: Tasty

Monday, February 4, 2019

Creamy Marsala Pasta

Has everyone thawed out from the Polar Vortex? I have an idea, let's never do that again. I think we'll know when the heating bills are delivered when we hear the resounding screams coming from the Midwest.

A chill in the air calls for some serious comfort food. Something that makes you feel warm and cozy even though outside the temperatures act like they got lost on their way to the North Pole. This Creamy Marsala Pasta has so much savory flavor and is topped with crispy mushrooms that really sets this apart from what you expect from a traditional chicken Marsala. This is also a perfect vegetarian dish since it's totally optional to make this with chicken, just sub the chicken broth with a vegetable broth. Honestly, I prefer this without any meat. I swear I can sometimes be an accidental vegetarian. Most of the time I'm completely fine to not have any meat in my meals. Other than the occasional craving for a burger or some spicy chorizo at breakfast, I'd be content and very full on meatless meals. So you can see why this is right up my alley, and right up yours if you are into pasta dishes that don't lack anything in the flavor department.

Don't believe me? Just look at this right here. The Marsala flavor is practically jumping off the fork. And those specs of Parmesan cheese? Yes please!

Ok so I'm totally busted, I did make this with chicken. But wait! I really only made the chicken for my husband. Since the creamy Marsala sauce doesn't need anything from the chicken when you omit it it doesn't change anything in the pasta sauce.

Just look at these crispy mushroom pieces.

I hope you enjoy this! This has made it's way into my dinner rotation, I love how the sauce tasted even better the next day after the flavors had even more time to marinate.

Creamy Marsala Pasta with Crispy Mushrooms is the ultimate comfort food. Warm, creamy, and bursting with flavor. Make sure you save the leftovers, this tastes amazing the next day! I also prefer to zest my garlic instead of chopping or mincing. I find you'll get a more even garlic flavor through the dish.

-3/4 box thin spaghetti
-5 cremini mushrooms
-1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-1 tablespoon butter
-1 clove garlic
-2 tablespoons flour
-3/4 cup Marsala wine
-1/2 cup light cream
-1/4 cup chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian)
-2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper to taste

1. In a small pan, heat a few drizzles of the EVOO over medium heat. Slice the cremini mushrooms thin. Saute them for 9-10 minutes until crispy. The mushrooms will shrink up as the cook. I alternated between medium and medium high heat. Spoon onto a paper towel on a plate and set aside.

2. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Toss in your pasta and cook until desired texture. (I do 12 minutes.) Also, I fully admit I am terrible at measuring the right amount of pasta. I did 3/4 of a box.

3. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter. Using a zester, zest the garlic clove into the butter. Cook until the garlic gets lightly browned. Once the garlic has browned, add the flour and whisk to make a paste. Pour in the light cream, chicken broth, and Marsala wine and simmer until thickened. Add the Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. I like my cream sauces peppery. Give the sauce a taste ad adjust as needed.

4. Let the sauce simmer as the pasta finishes cooking. Occasionally as the sauce thickens, add some of the boiling pasta water with a ladle to thin it out. Do not add more cream to thin out a sauce, use the pasta water.

5. To serve, lay a bed of pasta on your your plate. Spoon a generous amount of creamy Marsala sauce over top, then top with crispy mushrooms.


Friday, January 25, 2019

Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know I'm not alone in what seems like the never ending search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. If you're still wondering if such a thing exists, I promise you that it does...and the recipe is right here.

Well, let me back track a bit. I realize that 'perfect' is going to be different for everyone. Some like it crunchy, some like it chewy, some like milk chocolate, some like dark chocolate. So if your idea of the perfect chocolate chip cookies happens to be a soft, chewy, dark chocolate, super savory kind then I will repeat, the recipe for the perfect cookie is here.

Now, there are a few important things we need to discuss. If you want a cookie that's extra special, it means the recipe is going to have a few extra special things. And this cookie does. Please, don't skip these!

The first thing that makes this cookie different is that it uses browned butter. You're going to make browned butter. I first learned of this when I read this recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod. I tried this recipe and for whatever reason, it was a bit of fail which came from something I learned about browned butter: you need to measure. When you make browned butter, the water in the butter is going to evaporate so what you need to do is then replace this lost water by increasing another liquid in the recipe. But, if you're not exact in how much liquid to add you could either end up with really dry or overly wet dough. I ended up with overly wet and was never able to salvage the dough. So, in my recipe below, I've noted for you what measurement of browned butter you should end up with after the browning process and how much vegetable oil needs to be added back. I then read recipes about creating a flat and chewy cookie, like this one here, combined elements and added my own taste-testing changes and was practically singing "Hallelujah" when I took the first bite of one of these cookies.

The second thing about this cookie is it uses a combination of all purpose flour and bread flour. I use almost equal amounts and bread flour adds the extra special chewiness that you're not going to get from just using only all purpose flour. You can find bread flour in the same area as the all purpose flour, although I needed to buy a big King Arthur bag, I didn't see smaller bag sizes.

Next, you're going to chop up your own dark chocolate. That's right, skip right past the familiar bags of chocolate chips and find the bars of chocolate. As you'll see in my recipe, I really liked Lindt 78% Dark Chocolate. It's just dark enough without being bitter.

The next thing about these that's going to change your life is the use of sea salt instead of regular iodized salt. Trust me, this is so worth it. Getting that sea salt flavor combined with the browned butter and dark chocolate is so incredible, you'll never want a boring chocolate chip cookie again. need to chill the cookie dough for 30 minutes before baking. Hang in there, we're in the home stretch! You really need the dough chilled so that these will spread to the perfect consistency when you bake them. Not too puffy, not too thin.

Lastly (we made it!!), there's a little trick to get them to look like the finished product here. They don't come out of the oven looking like this:

When these come out of the oven, you're going to lightly bang the cookie sheet a few times on the counter, shake it back and forth, to encourage the cookie to settle flat and the melty dark chocolate to spread and pool. I also took my spatula and very very gently give a small press to the tops.

Ok, that's it! I really hope you enjoy these, I bought some dark chocolate today just so I could get some of these in the oven as soon as possible.

-1 cup butter
-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
-1/2 cup white sugar
-2 large eggs
-2 teaspoons vanilla
-1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
-1 cup bread flour
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon sea salt
-2 3.5oz Lindt chocolate bars 78% Dark Chocolate, chopped

1. Heat oven to 350.

2. To make the browned butter, place the butter in a sauce pan or pot and melt. Once the butter is melted, turn the heat up until the butter simmers and cook 3-5 minutes. Whisk constantly and keep an eye on this because butter can burn fast. You don't want a roaring boil, you want a light bubbly simmer. What you're doing is browning the milk proteins in the butter. You'll notice it will get a rich nutty smell and the color will start to turn a caramel brown. I've found 4 minutes has worked well for me. Once browned, pour butter into a heat safe bowl and let it cool slightly. (Now, here's where the exactness comes in). Pour the butter into a measuring cup, you should be right at 3/4 cup. If you have too much, pour out until you measure 3/4 cup. If you find you have less than this, add a little vegetable oil until you are measuring 3/4 cup.

3. With your browned butter in a bowl, whisk in the 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, bot sugars, and the vanilla. Whisk in each egg one at a time. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, and sea salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Lastly, stir in the chopping chocolate.

4. Form your cookie dough balls and place on baking sheet, chill for 30 min (don't skip this!!) Once chilled, bake for 9 minutes. When they come out of the oven, lightly bang the cookie sheet a few times on the counter, shake it back and forth, to encourage the cookie to settle flat and the melty dark chocolate to spread and pool. I also took my spatula and very very gently give a small press to the tops. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before moving to a plate.

These are incredible warm! I loved heating them up in the microwave the next day.