Saturday, September 29, 2012

Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken

Another yummy crockpot meal that's super easy to put together and have ready on busy weekday evenings. We made it into soft tacos by adding it to tortillas and sprinkling with cheese.

Crockpot Cilantro Lime Chicken
Courtesy of Just Us and the Many Miles Traveled

One 24-ounce jar medium or mild salsa
Juice from one lime
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
One package taco seasoning
2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)
4-6 boneless chicken breasts

Add all ingredients to crockpot, mix, cover, and cook on low for 6 hours.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread

This was mighty labor-intensive, but as expected, it was also very yummy. I didn't really taste the pumpkin, so I'm sure just making monkey bread with prepared dough would be just as tasty. It was worth a shot though.

I didn't add the rum so that I wouldn't, again, have to worry about getting my kids drunk on dessert. They were plenty high from the sugar.

Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread
Courtesy of Sunny Side Up


2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup milk
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup white sugar
teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup granulated sugar
teaspoons ground cinnamon
teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
tablespoons unsalted butter

Buttered Rum Glaze:
tablespoons unsalted butter
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 1/2
tablespoon milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
tablespoon rum (optional)

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown 2 tablespoons of butter, letting it bubble up and turn a dark golden brown but being careful not to allow it burn (turn black). Once browned, remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the milk, return to stove and heat through. Pour the milk and butter into the bowl of standing mixer (fitted with a dough hook) and allow to cool so it is no longer hot but also not cool (about 100-110°F). Once it has reached a warm but not hot temperature add the yeast and 1/4 cup of sugar and allow to proof (this can take up to 8 minutes, the top will look foamy and the liquid cloudy). Then add the pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Stir until combined then add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time and knead for 6 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic and just slightly sticky. If the dough is too moist, add extra flour 1 tablespoon at a time.

Move dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size.

While dough is rising, brown another 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix well, making sure sugar evenly absorbs the butter. Set aside. Next, grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and flip out onto a clean floured surface and knead with hands for 1-2 minutes. Roll dough into a 20×12 inch rectangle. Evenly sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar mixture and press into dough with palms of the hand. Cut the rectangle into 6 strips. Lay strips on top of each other and cut each strip into 6 even squares (cut in half then each half into thirds). Stack strips vertically into the loaf pan. Cover the pan with a clean towel and let rise for 30-45 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat an oven to 350°F. After rising in the pan, bake for 30-40 minutes or until top is a very deep golden brown.

To prepare the glaze, heat the butter, milk, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to boil then immediately remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rum (if using) and powdered sugar.

Apple-Cheddar-Squash Soup

This is a splendid option for a first course during a holiday meal. Paired with some good bread and a salad, it makes a very yummy autumnal meal.

Apple-Cheddar-Squash Soup
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium apples, thinly sliced
1 large white potato, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled butternut squash, fresh or frozen
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup apple cider
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
Chopped chives, for garnish (optional)
Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium-low heat and add the onion, apples, potato and squash. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Stir in the sage and flour. Add the cider and cook over high heat, stirring, until thickened. Add the broth and milk, cover and bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the potato is soft, 8 to 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and cook until crisp, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Add the cheese to the soup and stir over medium-low heat until melted. Puree in a blender in batches until smooth; season with salt and pepper. Garnish with the prosciutto, more cheese and chives, if using. Serve with bread, if desired.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme and Giant Gruyère Crostini

This was my first attempt at French Onion Soup, and it was very good, if I do say so myself. I would love to say that I enjoyed it on a chilly Fall day, but I really made it out of frustration with the lingering humidity that will not leave us alone. I will make it again though, and hopefully when I won't have to sweat my way through its preparation.

This recipe was from a cooking for two recipe book, so since I doubled the recipe, I'm accounting for that here.

Onion Soup with Loads of Thyme and Giant Gruyère Crostini
A variation on this recipe from Cooking for Two: Perfect Meals for Pairs


2 pounds yellow onions, halved and thinly cut lengthwise
8-10 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups beef stock
2 cups water
Ciabatta bread, sliced to fit crocks or ramekins
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups grated Swiss Gruyère cheese 

In a heavy 5-quart pot melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste and cook until the onions are deep amber and exceedingly soft, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. 

Add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then add the wine, increase the heat, and let the wine bubble away for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and water, and let the soup simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
Preheat the oven to broil. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. 

Place the ciabatta on the middle rack of the oven and toast until crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. 

Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs from the soup and discard. Pour the soup into ovenproof bowls, float the toasted ciabatta on top, and cover it with a thick layer of the Gruyère. Put the soup bowls under the broiler on the middle rack and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted and golden.

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken

This tasted wonderful as a leftover dish. When it was fresh, it was a bit sweet. I think I will definitely serve it with something green next time too. Another easy mix and freeze crockpot meal for our busy kid-activity-filled weekdays.

Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken
Courtesy of Ring Around the Rosies

Medium – large bag of baby carrots, chopped
Red onion, chopped
2 large cans pineapple (undrained)
4 garlic cloves
4 chicken breasts
1 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce, divided

If you're freezing before cooking, mix ingredients together (only using 1 cup of teriyaki sauce), split between 2 bags, seal, and lay flat in freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator the night before you plan to cook it.

Add all ingredients to crockpot. Add additional 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce to crock pot. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Serve over hot rice.

Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken

This. Was. Delicious. It's especially wonderful served over greens. The glaze is perfection. I will be making this again. Soon.

Maple-Mustard Glazed Chicken
Courtesy of Cooking Light

2 teaspoons olive oil  
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/4 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth  
1/4 cup maple syrup 
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 
2 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced  
1 tablespoon cider vinegar 
1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt. Add chicken to pan; sauté 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove chicken from pan. Add broth, syrup, thyme, and garlic to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add vinegar and mustard; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return chicken to pan, and spoon mustard mixture over chicken. Bake for 10 minutes or until the chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Place pan over medium heat; cook mustard mixture 2 minutes or until liquid is syrupy, stirring frequently. Serve with chicken.

Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread

I made this for my brother-in-law for his birthday, after he posted a link to the recipe on Facebook. It was not my favorite thing in the world, but the look on my brother-in-law's face when I told him what we were having for dessert made it totally worth it.

I added less peanut butter cups than the original recipe called for. I wanted to be able to taste the banana, and I thought the amount of cups called for was a bit of overkill. I'm sure that helped protect me from total sugar shock... Though the follow days of eating the rest of the cups as an afternoon snack didn't do so. Oof, I can't eat sweets the way I used to.

Peanut Butter Cup Banana Bread
A variation on this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen


1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup of softened butter
¾ cup of sugar
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup of milk
¼ cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, and mashed banana together until very creamy about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and eggs and beat until well combined. Add flour, yogurt and milk alternatively until well combined.

Gently fold in chopped peanut butter cups.

Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 55-65 minutes, or until golden brown and toothpick comes out almost clean in center.

Cool for 10 minutes in pan, then remove from pan gently and transfer to wire rack. Cool completely.

Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream

This is a very tasty Fall treat. And it's a far better pumpkin ice cream than the last one I made. While the recipe note said that the gingersnaps will get soggy after a few days in the freezer, we found the kind we used stayed pretty firm. I love the flavor they give too. I decided against adding the bourbon. I'm not a big fan of alcohol in my ice cream. Plus, I figure it would be a bad idea to get the kids drunk on ice cream.

Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream
Courtesy of Sunset

1 pint whipping cream 
1/2 cup milk  
1 cup packed light brown sugar 
1 cup pumpkin puree 
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract  
1/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup coarsely crushed gingersnaps 
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)

Whisk all ingredients except gingersnaps and bourbon in a bowl to blend. Strain into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Scrape ice cream into a bowl and stir in gingersnaps and bourbon (if using). Freeze, covered, until scoopable, 2 1/2 hours and up to 1 week.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers

This is super easy to make up, freeze, and then throw into the crockpot. I paired it with some cheesy garlic bread. Delish.

Crockpot Sausage and Peppers
Courtesy of Ring Around the Rosies


6 Italian sausage (or chicken sausage), chopped
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
1 large red onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Italian diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning

If you're freezing before cooking, mix ingredients together, split between 2 bags, seal, and lay flat in freezer. Defrost in the refrigerator the night before you plan to cook it.

Add all ingredients to crockpot. Drizzle of olive oil, and cook on low 6 hours. Serve over hot noodles or fresh bread with mozzarella cheese.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cider-Glazed Chicken Sausage with Butternut Mash

Really tasty stuff. My butternut squash was a bit on the bigger side (fresh from the in-laws' garden again), so there's some mash in my freezer, waiting for some delicious bangers with which to go at another time. It all went beautifully with roasted kale (chopped and then roasted at 375°F for 30-40 minutes, depending on your preferred crispiness level). Now if only the weather would cooperate and I didn't have to sweat profusely through my dinner preparations. Come on, Fall weather!

Cider-Glazed Sausage with Butternut Mash
Courtesy of Martha Stewart


2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
1 pound chicken sausages
7 fresh sage leaves
3 cups apple cider
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 small butternut squash (1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large russet potato (10 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup 2 percent Greek yogurt

In a large skillet or shallow heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and sausages and cook until sausages are deep golden brown, 6 minutes, turning sausages and stirring onion halfway through. Add sage and cider and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a rapid simmer and cook until cider is syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine squash, potato, and apple. Cover by 2 inches water and bring to a rapid simmer over medium-high. Cook until squash and potato are tender when pierced with a knife, 15 minutes.

Drain vegetables and apple and transfer to a food processor. Process until smooth. Add yogurt, season with salt and pepper, and pulse to combine. Divide butternut mash among four plates and serve with sausages and onion.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spaghettini With Bacon, Mushrooms and Herbs

Since we just got back from Disney World, I decided to use the Mickey pasta that I purchased while we were there to take this tasty-looking recipe. And it was tasty. We've decided that bacon is such a glorious but more subtle addition to recipes that sometimes use sausage. It adds a smokiness that I love love love.

Spaghettini With Bacon, Mushrooms and Herbs
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


Kosher salt
6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons tomato paste
12 ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced
12 ounces spaghettini
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper flakes and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the mixture is brick red, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes.

When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes. Meanwhile, add 1 cup of the cooking water to the skillet with the sauce; stir and bring to a low simmer over medium heat.

Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and add to the skillet along with the butter and herbs. Cook, tossing, until the pasta absorbs some of the sauce, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved cooking water to loosen, if needed. Divide among bowls and top with cheese.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole

I will never make a whole turkey ever again. This is perfection. The stuffing was the best I'd ever had. Add a few sides dishes and some gravy, and Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner is done. Perfection.

I used a turkey London broil (boneless skinless turkey breast), that I cut into two halves, and 3 turkey legs.  The breast pieces definitely needed to be taken out a little earlier than the legs, only by about 15 minutes or so. Next time, I'm going to brine the turkey pieces and use breasts with the skin on. I'm telling you, this is perfection.

Turkey and Stuffing Casserole
A variation on this recipe from Budget Bytes


6 ounces bacon, diced
1/2 bunch celery, diced
2 medium apples, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 loaf French bread, cubed
1 teaspoon chicken base
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 pounds turkey pieces

Cook bacon in a large pot over medium heat until crispy. Add the onion, apples, celery, and garlic to the cooked bacon. Sauté just until slightly softened (about five minutes). Turn off the heat and add the thyme, sage, freshly cracked pepper, and salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. If your bread is fresh, slice it and place it in the oven as it heats up to dry it out. Or, buy the bread a couple of days ahead of time and allow it to dry out or get stale on your countertop. Once the bread is dry, cut it into small cubes. Add the cubed bread and parsley to the cooked vegetables and bacon. Stir until everything is well mixed.

Mix one teaspoon of chicken base with one cup of hot water. Pour this over the bread mixture and stir until everything is well coated. Transfer the stuffing mixture to a large 9x13 inch glass casserole dish.

Unwrap the turkey pieces and rub the skin with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and freshly cracked pepper. Arrange the turkey pieces over the stuffing in the casserole dish. Place the whole dish in the oven and let roast, uncovered, for one and a half hours. The turkey skin should be brown and crispy and the stuffing should be bubbling around the edges. Transfer turkey pieces to a plate and let rest under tin foil for about 10 minutes. During that time, return stuffing to oven and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the stuffing to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

Spaghetti With Spicy Tuna Marinara Sauce

I think I like other tuna pastas I've made better. But it's a good and relatively inexpensive option if I'm looking to switch things up a bit. As usual though, I felt like it could use a second can of tuna.

Spaghetti With Spicy Tuna Marinara Sauce
A variation on this recipe from Food Network Magazine

Kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes (6 to 8 tomatoes)
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1/2 cup dry white wine
12 ounces spaghetti 
2 5-ounce cans light tuna packed in water, drained
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor; set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the garlic is just golden, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high, add the wine and cook until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the pureed tomatoes and 3/4 teaspoon salt and simmer, stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 6 more minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as the label directs; drain. Return the skillet to medium heat, add the pasta and tuna and cook, tossing, 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

My in-laws grew butternut squash in their garden this year, and this is one of the meals I chose to make with the ones they shared with us. It's a delicious and unique take on lasagna. Light but satisfying.

Butternut Squash Lasagna
Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (1 1/2 to 2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water
3 amaretti cookies, crumbled
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
Pinch nutmeg
3/4 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 1/2 cups shredded whole-milk mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan 

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pour the water into the skillet and then cover and simmer over medium heat until the squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly and then transfer the squash to a food processor. Add the amaretti cookies and blend until smooth. Season the squash puree, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Melt the butter in a heavy medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg. Cool slightly. Transfer half of the sauce to a blender. Add the basil and blend until smooth. Return the basil sauce to the sauce in the pan and stir to blend. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375°F.

Lightly butter a 13 by 9 by 2-inch glass baking dish. Spread 3/4 cup of the sauce over the prepared baking dish. Arrange 3 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Spread 1/3 of the squash puree over the noodles. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. Drizzle 1/2 cup of sauce over the noodles. Repeat layering 3 more times.

Tightly cover the baking dish with foil and bake the lasagna for 40 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the lasagna. Continue baking uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the top is golden, 15 minutes longer. Let the lasagna stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Tofu and Peanut Stir-Fry

Meh. For all the flavor-adding ingredients there are in this recipe, it was surprisingly bland. I don't think I'll be making this again.

Tofu and Peanut Stir-Fry
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


6 tablespoons cornstarch 
3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry 
1/3 cup oyster sauce 
1 14-ounce block firm tofu, drained
1 cup unsalted peanuts (preferably raw)
1/4 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil 
2 teaspoons minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 whole dried arbol chiles (or 2 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise)
Kosher salt
12 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps quartered
1 pound sugar snap peas, strings removed, halved crosswise

Make the marinade: Whisk 2 tablespoons cornstarch, the rice wine, oyster sauce and 2 tablespoons water in a large bowl. Cut the tofu in half horizontally to make 2 large rectangles, then cut each rectangle into 4 squares. Add to the marinade and turn to coat.

Cook the peanuts in the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring, until lightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the nuts to a bowl with a slotted spoon.

Drain the tofu, reserving the marinade; sprinkle both sides with the remaining 4 tablespoons cornstarch. Return the skillet to medium-high heat; add the tofu and cook until golden, 4 minutes per side. Remove to a plate. Add the ginger, garlic, chiles and 1 teaspoon salt to the skillet; stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and snap peas; stir-fry until crisp-tender. Whisk the marinade with 1 1/2 cups water, add to the skillet and stir until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tofu and nuts and heat through. If using dried chiles, remove before serving.

Waffles and Blueberry Sauce

I reserve the right to serve something like this for dinner in order to guarantee a whine-free meal when my husband is out for the night. And it worked. Because not only were these waffles delicious, but the blueberry sauce was wonderful. And it's even better over vanilla ice cream.


A variation on this recipe from Taste of Home 

2 cups all-purpose flour 
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 2/3 cups milk 
3 eggs, separated 
1/4 cup butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk the milk, egg yolks and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

In a small bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form; fold into batter.

Bake in a preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer’s directions until golden brown.


Blueberry Sauce
Courtesy of

1 cup sugar 
1 tablespoon cornstarch 
1/8 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon 
2/3 cup water 
3 cups blueberries 
Zest from one lemon 
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Go through blueberries and remove any moldy, soft, or blemished berries. Remove any stems remaining on the blueberries. Place in a colander and gently swish in cold water to wash berries. Allow to drain.

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, cinnamon and water. Stir until mixture is smooth and then add the blueberries.

Cook over medium heat until sauce becomes translucent and has thickened. If sauce is too thin, add 1/4 teaspoon of cornstarch and continue to cook. If still not thick enough, add more cornstarch, 1/4 teaspoon at a time, until sauce is the desired thickness.

Remove from heat and add lemon zest and lemon juice to the sauce. Stir until well mixed.

Allow the sauce to cool before storing in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Almond-Tomato Sauce

This was surprisingly delicious. It had a creaminess that I didn't expect (though I'm sure that had a little to do with the Parmesan that I added before serving). And the roasted broccoli gave it a great pop of freshness.

Pasta with Roasted Broccoli and Almond-Tomato Sauce
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


Kosher salt
1/2 cup blanched almonds
1 head broccoli, florets and some stems, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Freshly ground pepper
12 ounces bucatini or spaghetti
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil
1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Put 2 pieces of foil side by side on a baking sheet. Put the almonds on one piece of foil and the broccoli on the other. Transfer to the oven; roast until the almonds are lightly toasted, about 7 minutes. Remove the foil with the almonds. Continue roasting the broccoli until tender, about 7 more minutes. Season the broccoli with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as the label directs. Meanwhile, pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely chopped; with the motor running, add the garlic and process until finely chopped. Drizzle in the olive oil and process until blended. Add the basil and pulse until smooth; transfer to the bowl with the broccoli.

Put the tomatoes and half of their juice (about 1 cup) in the food processor and pulse until pureed. Add to the bowl with the broccoli mixture and stir to combine. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.

Sweet Chicken Nuggets

These are a decent substitution for the fast food ones that I'm finding less and less appealing these days. They certainly take a lot more time and effort than visiting the drive-thru does, but they don't make me feel like crap afterward. Win.

Sweet Chicken Nuggets
Courtesy of My Name is Snickerdoodle


2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Peanut oil (is best) or canola oil

In a medium bowl whisk the egg and stir in the milk. Trim any fat away from chicken. Cube chicken into bite size pieces. Place chicken in milk mixture,and cover. Let it "marinate" for 2-4 hours in the fridge.

In a gallon size resealable baggie combine flour, powdered sugar, salt and pepper. Seal and shake to combine.

Place about 2 inches of oil in a medium deep pot. Heat heat oil over medium-high. If using a thermometer let the temperature reach 375°F. If you don't have a fancy gadget, test the oil by dropping a few drops of water into it. You want it to sizzle and not pop too much. Adjust your heat if necessary.

Using a fork or tongs, remove cut chicken from milk mixture and place in the flour mixture. Seal and shake until nuggets are completely coated. Place about a 6-8 nuggets into hot oil and let them cook until golden brown, turning half way through once the edge of your chicken starts to turn white. About 1 minute each side. Always double check to see if any chicken you make is cooked through by making a tiny cut to see if it's pink. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all nuggets are cooked.

Primavera With Prosciutto, Asparagus and Carrots

A very lovely primavera.

Primavera With Prosciutto, Asparagus and Carrots
Courtesy of Ted Allen from In My Kitchen: 100 Recipes and Discoveries for Passionate Cooks for Food Network Magazine

Kosher salt
1 pound penne or farfalle
1 pound asparagus spears, stems trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 cup snap peas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces sliced prosciutto, jamon iberico or other high-quality ham, diced
1 large shallot, sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade or low-sodium store-bought
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it generously and cook the pasta for 8 minutes; add the asparagus, carrot and snap peas and cook for 3 minutes. Check the pasta and vegetables to make sure they're cooked through but still have texture, then drain.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan, add the ham and shallot and cook until lightly browned, 3 minutes or so. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the cream, stock and mustard and simmer for a minute or two, scraping up any brown bits.

Add the pasta and vegetables to the pan. Toss and cook for another 2 minutes, until cooked through and the pasta is coated. Taste for seasoning, add salt if necessary and serve immediately in warm bowls.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nutella-Filled Sugar Cookies (and Cardamom Sugar Cookies)

When I saw this recipe, it reminded me of a fudge-filled sugar cookie that I loved when I was little (though I can't, for the life of me, remember what brand they were). And they far exceeded my expectations. I love Nutella.

Because of how warm it was today (heat index of 106°), I had to make sure to keep the Nutella blobs in the freezer the whole time. And I ended up running out of them before I ran out of the sugar cookie dough, so I created a cardamom sugar cookie too, which I did by adding a bit of cardamom to the sugar in which I rolled the cookies before putting them on the baking sheet. While the flavor was great, it was a little too subtle. So I'll know to add more cardamom next time. I may have found a new holiday cookie favorite...

Nutella-Filled Sugar Cookies
Courtesy of Buns in My Oven


1/2 cup Nutella
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) butter, softened
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
Using a 1 teaspoon measure, scoop out Nutella and place in small drops on a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat together the butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar on medium until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and add in the the vanilla.

Turn the mixer to low and gradually beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down the bowl to ensure everything is well incorporated.

Place 1/3 cup granulated sugar in a small bowl. Use 2 tablespoons cookie dough for each cookie. Split the piece of dough in half and slightly flatten the bottom half by pressing it together with the palms of your hands.

Use a small metal spatula to lift the mounds of Nutella from the baking sheet and lay on the bottom half of cookie dough. If the Nutella starts to soften, place it back in the freezer for a few minutes.

Cover the Nutella with the other piece of cookie dough. Seal the edges with your fingers and roll the ball in the sugar to coat it. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining dough and Nutella mounds, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart from each other on the baking sheets.

Bake the cookies, one sheet a time, rotating from front to back halfway through baking. The edges will start to turn brown when they are finished, about 10 to 13 minutes. The centers should still be soft and puffy.

Remove the cookies from the oven and cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Using a spatula, remove the cookies from the baking sheet and cool on a rack.

Taco Cupcakes

These would be great for a party. So tasty and not terribly difficult to make. Just a little prep and assembly. Worth the work.

Taco Cupcakes


3 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons taco seasoning 
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed 
48 wonton wrappers 
1/2 cup salsa con queso 
1/2 cup chunky salsa 
1 cup reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese 
Guacamole, for serving

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly mist a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.  

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan or large skillet over medium-high heat, add the ground chicken and taco seasoning and brown, breaking it with a spoon. Add black beans and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until warm.

Push a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each of the sprayed cups in the muffin tin. Spoon a teaspoon of
queso into each wonton wrapper and spread across the bottom.

Follow by spooning some of the meat/beans mixture into each cup (about two teaspoons) and then spooning a teaspoon or so of salsa on top of that. Sprinkle a pinch of the cheese evenly over the top of each cup.

Press another wonton wrapper on top and repeat the layering steps with the remaining ingredients.

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Breakfast Cookies

I made these since I hadn't been to the grocery store for the week yet and had run out of most of our breakfast staples. They were pretty much like baked oatmeal bites. Not exactly my cup of tea, but they weren't bad.  

Breakfast Cookies 
Courtesy of Wise Bread


3 mashed bananas (ripe)
1/3 cup applesauce
2 cups uncooked quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup raisins (or any other dried fruit you want to add)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon sugar or other sweetener

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl really well. Let this mixture stand for at least 5 minutes to let the oats become good and hydrated.

Heap the dough by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes and let cool.

Mushroom Stroganoff with Goat Cheese

This is a great twist on a classic. And it goes really well with Chardonnay.

Mushroom Stroganoff with Goat Cheese
Courtesy of Alton Brown


12 ounces extra-wide egg noodles
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 portabella mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 bunch green onions, sliced and white bottoms and green tops separated
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
14 ounces beef broth
8 ounces sour cream
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground, plus more for garnish

Add the noodles to 4 quarts of cold water in a 6-quart pot, cover and place over high heat. Cook to al dente, stirring occasionally. 

Melt the butter in a 12-inch straight-sided saute pan set over medium-high heat. Increase the heat to high, add the mushrooms and sprinkle with salt. Saute until they darken in color, soften and give off their liquid, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the white bottoms of the green onions and saute 2 to 3 minutes.

Sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine. Cook until the flour disappears and the fond on the bottom of the pan turns dark brown, about 1 minute. Deglaze with the beef broth. Bring to a simmer and decrease the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, and then add the sour cream, goat cheese and black pepper. Stir to combine, and then partially cover and bring to a simmer to warm through, 2 to 4 minutes.

Drain the noodles, add to the pan and stir to combine. Garnish with the green onion tops and additional black pepper. Serve immediately.

Roasted Pork with Cajun Slaw

This was seriously awesome. We've always been big fans of pork and slaw, and this particular version was really satisfying. I added a little less horseradish to the slaw dressing just so that the kids would actually try it, but I imagine it would be even better with a little more kick.

Roasted Pork with Cajun Slaw
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine


1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, divided
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar, divided
1 large pork tenderloin (about 1 1/2 pounds)
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Creole or whole-grain mustard
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons drained horseradish
1 12-ounce package broccoli slaw mix
2 small bell peppers (1 red, 1 orange), thinly sliced
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 400°F. 

Mix 1 tablespoon each Cajun seasoning and brown sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle the pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt and rub with the sugar-spice mixture. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the pork and sear until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 145°F, about 18 minutes. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, make the slaw: Whisk the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, horseradish and the remaining 2 teaspoons each Cajun seasoning and brown sugar in a small bowl. Toss the slaw mix, bell peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise dressing and toss to coat.

Slice the pork and divide among plates. Drizzle with any juices from the skillet. Serve with the slaw.

Honey Cashew Chicken

Super yum. 

Honey Cashew Chicken
Courtesy of Cooking Light


2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes 
2 tablespoons cornstarch 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1 tablespoon canola oil 
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil 
2 cups broccoli florets 
1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans) 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped 
1 red bell pepper, sliced 
1/2 cup dry-roasted cashews, unsalted 
1 tablespoon rice vinegar 
3 tablespoons honey 
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce 
1 tablespoon Sriracha (hot chile sauce, such as Huy Fong) 

Combine chicken and next 3 ingredients in a bowl; toss to coat.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola and sesame oils. Add chicken mixture, and sauté for 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Increase heat to high, and add broccoli and the next 4 ingredients (through red bell pepper). Cook 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and chicken is done, stirring frequently. Stir in cashews.

Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Add vinegar mixture to chicken mixture; toss to coat. Serve with rice.

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Thyme-Scented Peaches

This was very tasty. The fruit was called "thyme-scented", but it was really the garlic that was the stand-out flavor. I never knew how delicious garlic roasted peaches could be.

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Thyme-Scented Peaches
A variation on this recipe from Cooking Light

2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided  
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin  
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided  
1 pound small, ripe peaches, quartered and pitted (about 6) 
2 tablespoons honey 
1 garlic clove, minced 
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 500°F.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil to pan; swirl to coat. Sprinkle pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Place pan in oven. Cook for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145°F. Remove pork from pan. Let stand 10 minutes; slice crosswise into 12 slices.

Preheat broiler to high.

Without cleaning pan, arrange peaches, cut sides up, in pan. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon oil, honey, and garlic, stirring well; brush peaches evenly with honey mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Broil peaches 6 minutes or until lightly charred; sprinkle with chopped thyme. Serve with pork. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.

Basil Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes

This was interesting. I'm not sure I'll make it again though. The leftovers weren't great. Meh.

Basil Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes
Courtesy of Real Simple 


12  ounces  spaghetti 
large beefsteak tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds), each cut into 4 thick slices 
3  tablespoons  olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet 
Kosher salt and black pepper 
8  ounces  fresh mozzarella, grated 
1/4  cup  grated Parmesan (1 ounce), plus more, shaved, for serving 
cloves garlic, chopped 
1/4 to 1/2  teaspoon  crushed red pepper 
3/4  cup  torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

Heat broiler. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and return it to the pot.

Meanwhile, arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Dividing evenly, sprinkle the slices with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, warm the oil with the garlic and red pepper over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the garlic oil, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve topped with the tomatoes, additional basil, and shaved Parmesan.

Cheesy Quinoa Mac and Cheese

Meh. It's not great. But it was worth a shot.

Cheesy Quinoa Mac and Cheese


1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained 
Veggies of your choice (optional) 
Good pinch of salt 
A few grinds of seasoning salt 
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1 cup soy milk or non-fat milk
1 1/2 cups grated Cheddar cheese, more for sprinkling 
Optional - crushed red pepper, Panko bread crumbs for topping 
Toppings (optional) - salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, scallions
Lightly saute any veggies you would like in this dish.  

Cook quinoa to packaged instructions until fully cooked. (About 15 minutes) 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 13x9 inch dish (or 8 individual ramekins) with cooking spray.Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and cheese. Stir very well and let some of the cheese melt.  Transfer to prepared baking dish and if using Panko crumbs or bread crumbs add now and bake 30-35 minutes, until bread crumbs are browned. 

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread

We loved this so much that we didn't get a chance to take a picture of it. Delicious.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Bread
Courtesy of My Baking Addiction 

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups strawberries, rinse, dried and chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

With electric mixer cream butter, sugar and cream cheese until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in vanilla.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Blend flour mixture with butter mixture just until blended. Add buttermilk and only stir until just combined; do not over mix.

Carefully fold in strawberries. Dough mixture will be thick.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter

This is so lovely. Light but very flavorful. I love how nutty the balsamic reduction made the dish. Though I do wonder how much more amazing it could have been with some toasted pine nuts. The only thing that was lacking, really though, was the wine that this dish was screaming for. Next time.

Penne with Roasted Asparagus and Balsamic Butter
Courtesy of Food & Wine

1 pound asparagus 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 teaspoons salt 
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper 
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar 
1 pound penne 
1/4 pound butter, cut into pieces 
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving 

Heat the oven to 400°F. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and discard them. Cut the spears into 1-inch pieces. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from the heat.

Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the butter, vinegar, asparagus, Parmesan, and the remaining 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Serve with additional Parmesan.

Stuffed Pizza Rolls

These take some time to put together, but they're worth the work. Very tasty, perfect for a party.

Stuffed Pizza Rolls
Courtesy of Our Best Bites

1 roll refrigerated pizza dough (or make your own)
Mozzerella cheese
Pizza toppings of your choice: ie, ham and pineapple, pepperoni slices, sausage, etc.

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Marinara/pizza sauce

Preheat oven to heat specified on pizza dough package. Usually it’s 400°F. If you make your own dough, 400°F is usually a good heat as well.

Unroll your pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll the dough so it’s about 12″ by 8″. You’re going to want to cut it into 24 squares, so just eyeball it if you need to. Use a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 24 squares.

Place cheese and desired toppings on each square. Just eyeball how much. You just need to be able to enclose the toppings in the dough so keep that in mind.

When all of your dough squares have cheese and toppings on them, carefully lift up each square and wrap the dough around the toppings. Pinch to make sure each ball is sealed shut and then place them seam side down in a lightly sprayed pie pan (or similar sized dish).

Brush the tops of the dough balls with olive oil or melted butter and then sprinkle with the garlic and Italian seasoning and top with Parmesan cheese. (In lieu of the Parmesan, garlic, and Italian seasoning you could substitute this garlic bread seasoning.)

Cook them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top. Keep an eye on them! Doughs vary, so I’d check them after even 10 minutes.

Serve warm with warmed marinara sauce on the side for dipping.

Southwestern Egg Rolls with Avocado Ranch

Mine came out a little on the flat side, but they were still very good. And the leftover innards that I had made for some tasty quesadillas a couple days later.

I decided to use the whole avocado in the dip rather than the half that was called for since I didn't want it to go bad. To make it, just mix all of the ingredients together.

Southwestern Egg Rolls with Avocado Ranch
A variation on this recipe from Budget Savvy Diva

Egg rolls:
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 ounces baby spinach, chopped
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese

1 4-ounce can diced green chiles, drained
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon chili powder
teaspoon salt
teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 package of egg roll or wonton wrappers

Avocado Ranch:
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing 
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and mashed 
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro 
Juice and zest of 1 lime

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large bowl mix all the egg roll ingredients together ( except the egg roll wrappers).

There should be instructions in the back of the wrappers about how to roll them.

Once they are all wrapped place egg rolls onto parchment paper on a baking sheet

Brush a small amount of olive oil onto each roll and cook for 20 minutes. You will have to turn them once. They are ready once they are golden brown.

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

Totally delicious.

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf
Courtesy of Sweet Pea's Kitchen

For the Loaf:
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed
For the Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
For the Lemon Glaze: 
1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing loaf to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.
While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.
Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.
To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.

Perfect Salmon Burgers

Perfect, indeed.

Perfect Salmon Burgers
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

1 1/4 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, skin and pin bones removed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 scallions, chopped
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing 4 brioche buns, split 
Tartar sauce and arugula, for topping

Cut three-quarters of the salmon into 1/4-inch pieces. Put in a large bowl. Cut the rest of the salmon into chunks; transfer the chunks to a food processor along with the mustard, mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest and cayenne. Pulse to make a paste. 

Add the pureed salmon mixture to the bowl with the diced salmon. Add the scallions, 2 tablespoons panko, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. Gently mix until just combined.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. Divide the salmon mixture into 4 mounds on the parchment paper. With damp hands, pat into 4-inch-wide, 3/4-inch-thick patties. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Spread the remaining 1 cup panko on a plate. Press both sides of the salmon patties in the panko. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the patties (in batches if necessary) and cook until browned on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes, adjusting the heat if necessary. Turn and cook until the other side is browned and the patties feel springy in the center, 3 to 4 more minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain; season with salt.

Meanwhile, arrange the buns, cut-side up, on a broiler pan and broil until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve the patties on the buns; top with tartar sauce and arugula.

Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese

Another scrumptious warmer weather recipe. It was especially tasty using grilled chicken.

Chicken-Orzo Salad with Goat Cheese
Courtesy of Cooking Light

1 1/4 cups uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta) 
3 cups chopped grilled chicken breast strips 
1 1/2 cups trimmed arugula 
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved 
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper  
1/4 cup chopped red onion  
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano 
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar  
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil  
1/8 teaspoon salt  
1/8 teaspoon black pepper 
6 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain well.

Combine pasta, chicken, and the next 6 ingredients (through oregano) in a large bowl; toss well.

Combine vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle vinegar mixture over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Mushrooms and Prosciutto

I love me a twice-baked potato. And this is a splendid version.

Twice-Baked Potatoes with Mushrooms and Prosciutto
Courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

4 russet potatoes 
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons
1 small onion, chopped
8 ounces small mushrooms, such as cremini or button, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded extra-sharp cheddar
4 thin slices prosciutto, halved
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Using the tines of a fork, prick the skins of the potatoes all over and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours until tender and cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool until warm enough to handle, about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooling, in a medium skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are golden and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 6 minutes. Put the mixture into a medium bowl. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and, using a small spoon, scoop out all but 1/4-inch of the flesh. Add the potato flesh to the mushroom mixture. Add the butter, oregano, and 1 cup of the cheese. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Arrange the potato halves, cut side up on the baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush both sides of the potatoes with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season the inside with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon the mushroom mixture into each potato half. Arrange 1 half-piece of prosciutto on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and the prosciutto is crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving platter, garnish with chopped parsley and serve.

Sweet and Sassy Turkey Burgers

These are named appropriately. And doing them on the grill added a bit more depth of flavor, which nicely cut the sweetness.

Sweet and Sassy Turkey Burgers
A variation on this recipe from Taste of Home

6 bacon strips, diced and cooked
1/4 cup dried cranberries 
1 tablespoon maple syrup 
1 teaspoon rubbed sage 
1/8 teaspoon pepper 
1-1/4 pounds extra-lean ground turkey 
1 Italian turkey sausage link (4 ounces), casing removed 
3 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut in half 
6 onion rolls, split 
6 tablespoons jellied cranberry sauce 
6 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise 
6 lettuce leaves
In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Crumble turkey and sausage over mixture and mix well. Shape into six burgers. 

Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill burgers, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 in. from the heat for 5-7 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer reads 165°F and juices run clear. Top with cheese; cook 1-2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. 

Toast the rolls; spread warm rolls with cranberry sauce and mayonnaise. Serve burgers on rolls with lettuce.