March 2017

roasted-parmesan-cauliflower

It’s the weekend! And I’m off to Nashville with my sisters! Baby free! I actually can’t believe how good it feels like to have two functional arms again. Two functional arms that I can do whatever I want with. I can even read the news on my phone in one hand and drink a cup of coffee in the other at the same time!!  (just kidding no coffee this weekend – I’m only doing wine.)

I miss those little boys already, but the freedom feels nice. Shout out to my husband for taking on a weekend of mobile 8-month old twins in stride – and even being excited about it. (sorry for saying ‘shout out;’ I couldn’t think of a more appropriate term).

Anyway, it’s the weekend and if you’re cooking dinner, here is your side! So good! Obviously so easy. There is no reason I used purple cauliflower here other than the fact that I could. I was at the grocery store, and it was pretty. Use whatever you want!

Recipe

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 teaspoon kosher/coarse salt
  • Fresh cracked pepper
  • ~2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano (I used a combo)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Chop up the cauliflower into individual florets, and transfer to a baking sheet lightly coated with nonstick spray.  Include all the little tiny pieces of cauliflower that break off during the chopping process. They get really brown and delicious. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and toss to coat. Season with a little fresh cracked pepper.  Roast for 25 min, then toss on the cheese, and roast for a few minutes more until melted.

chicken-teriyaki-with-zucchini-noodles

Just to get one thing straight, I am not a low carb person.  While I can appreciate what low-carbing can do to your body, my Norwegian-grew up on white bread-and rice self just could never pull it off. I love carbs and can’t really feel full unless they’re included in my meal. But, BUT. Zucchini noodles are fun. I love the flavor, I love the color, and I love that you can call them zoodles.

This was a wonderful and easy weeknight meal that got a double thumbs up from my toughest critic, my husband.  Tough critic might be harsh, but he definitely doesn’t hand out recipe compliments when they’re not due. And I appreciate that! (when he doesn’t like something, his first bite is usually followed by something like “I wonder if you could [insert anything here].”  This weekend I tried out these new breakfast cookies with craisins, and he said “I wonder if you could use raisins instead.”  I mean, yes, I could. They would turn out exactly the same but with raisins instead of craisins.

Recipe

  • 1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • ~2.5 lb zucchini noodles (I buy them at the store, two containers)
  • 3/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Rice vinegar
  • 1-2 cloves chopped/minced garlic
  • 1/2 (heaping) teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Green onions for garnish (optional)

Make the sauce by combining the soy sauce, water, honey, brown sugar, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger and corn starch.  Whisk to make sure everything is combined, then marinate the chicken in 1/2 cup of the sauce, about 1 hour.  Set aside the rest.  When you’re ready to cook, start with the carrots. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat, and add in the carrots. Pour in some water (~1/2 cup), cover and steam for 8 minutes (or steam them in microwave or any other method). Transfer to a bowl.

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.  Add in the chicken, season with pepper and cook until done, about 8 -10 minutes. Pour in the remaining sauce, and allow to thicken over medium heat. Mix in the carrots.

To cook the zoodles, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large pan.  Add in the zoodles, and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain excess water.  Assemble your plate with zoodles, teriyaki chicken, and green onion if you want. Zoodle zoodle zoodle.

Zoodle.

Almond Sugar Cookie Bars

almond-sugar-cookie-bars

Did you guys study Dia de los Muertos in high school? Day of the dead. Loved that celebration. It was like Halloween but spookier and the traditional celebration food included a delicious little skull cake that was loaded with almond extract. That little skull – and I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called or what else was in it – but that little skull started my lifelong obsession with almond extract. Love, love LOVE almond extract. For a long time, before my baking exploration really took off, I would randomly taste almond extract in things and not be able to place what it was – but remember that it was in the skull cake and that I loved it. I can’t remember what enlightening event occurred that tipped me off to the extract, but I am forever thankful. Love that stuff.

So these bars are a dream if you like that flavor. It’s like a sugar cookie bar but almond-y. I made these on Saturday, and they were gone by Tuesday.  Someone needs to pop by my house every day to remind me that I’m going on a beach vacation next month.

Recipe

  • 2 sticks butter, room temp
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1.5 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 cups slivered almonds, for topping

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream the butter and sugar; add in the eggs, vanilla, & almond.  Mix in the powder, soda, corn starch, salt, and flour. Press dough into a greased 9×11 inch pan, sprinkles with almonds, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Center should be not quite set for maximum chewy deliciousness.

roasted-cheesy-tomato-bites

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the store to get stuff for Caprese salad, only to come home with every ingredient but the mozzarella. I don’t know why that one ingredient is so hard for me to remember, particularly because I tend to spend a lot of time in the cheese aisle. The good news, though, is that I have an incredible go-to backup.  These roasted tomato slices topped with Parmesan are oh-so-good and so easy. And topped with fresh basil and balsamic make them pretty, too. Great roasted in the winter, grilled in the summer. Plus if you sprinkle the cheese recklessly enough, some of it lands outside the tomatoes and melts into perfect chewy little cheese bites that you can snack on in your free time (see photo above. lots of cheese bites).

Recipe

  • About 8 medium/small tomatoes on the vine (I used Campari)
  • Olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan
  • Balsamic glaze (store bought)
  • 6-8 leaves fresh basil, chopped

Preheat oven to 350. Arrange thick-cut tomato slices on a greased baking sheet (I had about 20 slices). Drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt.  Roast tomatoes for about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle parmesan on top, then roast for about 3-5 minutes more, until melted.  Let cool for several minutes, then transfer to your serving dish.  Drizzle with balsamic glaze and chopped basil.  I buy my balsamic glaze and it is THE BEST pantry staple (Caprese sandwiches, caprese salads, caprese flatbreads, I could go on…)…but you can also make your own by simmering balsamic vinegar until it reduces into a thick glaze.

Chocolate Milk Pancakes

chocolate-milk-pancakes

One of the best parts of having kids is getting to eat kid food again. I know seeing them meet milestones, accomplish things, build relationships, yada yada yada is going to be very special, but let’s be real. Kid food is AWESOME.  We’ve already started ordering off the kid menu and our little babies are clearly nowhere near ready to eat chicken fingers. But I mean, the grilled cheeses, the hot dogs, the kids burgers, oh my!

This translates to home too. I envision a day in the future when I wake up on a Sunday and I need a project to keep my little busy bodies busy. For me, that project will probably always include some kind of cooking/baking. So this morning me and the babes had a wonderful mother/son cooking adventure with CHOCOLATE MILK pancakes. They were not helpful. But wow these are good, and pretty healthy because we used Dark Chocolate Almond Milk (um, have you had it? Even my husband can’t stop drinking that stuff).  You guys, your kiddos will love these.

Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup chocolate milk (we used almond milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Heat a nonstick pan to medium. Coat with butter. Mix all pancake ingredients, and drop onto heated pan. Flip over when the top looks dry and a little bubbly. Cook until done. Add chocolate chips if you’re feeling crazy!

 

How many different ways can we load a potato with bacon, cheese and sour cream? That’s really what I should call this blog (as evidenced here, here, and here, to name a few). When it comes to potatoes I have tried a lot of things, but my husband and I always reach the same conclusion: nothing beats the BCS (bacon, cheese, sour cream) combo. One of our favorite date nights is going to our favorite steakhouse and splitting the ribeye and loaded baked (+ wine + chopped salad + a loaf of bread). And every time the waitress brings the lazy susan full of potato toppings and asks us how much cheese, John says ‘keep it coming. She’s from Wisconsin.’ Literally every time. 

He’s right though! Keep it coming. Anyway, for blogging and dinner party purposes I can’t always just make loaded baked potatoes. I have to get creative. So I load them all sorts of different ways. This way was awesome, and cool-looking, making it dinner party worthy. 

Recipe

  • 6 large russet baking potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup light sour cream 
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 6 slices cooked bacon, chopped
  • S&P

Slice potatoes into thin rounds, as thin as you can…about 1/8 inch thick.  Place in a bowl, and sprinkle with tablespoon salt. This will help draw out excess water. Let sit for about 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.  Drain potatoes and pat dry with a towel.  Grease whatever your baking dish of choice is…I found a spring form pan to work perfectly, but a pie or round cake pan could work too.  Mix the sour cream, milk and tsp olive oil in a bowl. Pat the potatoes dry again and toss them in melted butter in another bowl.

Next, layer the potatoes. This will create three layers of potatoes, with sour cream, bacon and cheese in between.  Lay the first layer of potatoes down, overlapping each potato to create one thin layer of potatoes. I started on the outside and layered in. Generously salt and pepper. Spread half of the sour cream on the potatoes and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Next add 1/3 of the bacon. Add the next layer of potatoes with S&P, followed with the remaining sour cream, another 1/2 cup cheese, and 1/3 bacon.  Add the final layer of potatoes and salt and pepper. We’ll add the remaining 1 cup cheese and bacon towards the end (no sour cream on this layer).  Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Stick a fork in to make sure potatoes are fork tender, baking a bit longer if needed. Top with remaining cheese and bacon, and bake for another 10 minutes. Let cool for at least ten minutes before slicing. Serve with more sour cream, of course.