Browsing Category "Food"
15 Jun
Posted in: Food
By    No Comments

Recipe Roundup

Lest you think all I’ve done in the past few months is read and fed my my family frozen dinner, here are a few things I’ve made that are delicious. Like, f’real. I am cooking, just not anything I’ve developed or modified on my own. Hopefully summer produce will change all that soon. Until then:

Strawberry Nutella Muffins
These are, quite honestly, the best muffins I’ve ever tasted.

Gooey Cherry Bars
My father in law wanted something gooey for his birthday, and the buttery shortbread bottom with a gooey topping was just the thing. Mmm.

Skillet Cornbread
The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook was worth the price for this recipe alone – except you can get it free on her site. Best. Cornbread. Ever.

Salted Browned Butter Rice Krispie Treats
My friend Mandy asked, “What’d you put in these – crack.”

Chicken Chorizo Jambalaya
Yes, I’m linking to a recipe on my own site. What can I say…it’s yummy.

25 Apr
Posted in: Food, Main Dishes
By    No Comments

Spinach & Bacon Bread Pudding

A new bakery opened up in town, and I headed in to purchase some delicious Parmesean Basil Sundried Tomato bread. Trouble was, my eyes were bigger than my stomach and come weekend I had a loaf and a half of stale bread reminding me of my bad decision. So I showed it who was boss.

Somehow I made it to the ripe age of 23 before ever having touched bread pudding. It was love at first bite. Yet I’ve never made it myself. And while I enjoy the dessert variety thoroughly, I knew a fancy-pants Parmesan Basil Sundried Tomato did not a sweet dish make. That’s above my skill level. So I devised another plan, took a quick photo for the blog and lost it. But it was a hit with all our guests, and I think you’ll enjoy it, as well.

Spinach & Bacon Bread Pudding
8 slices of bacon
1 large loaf of day-old crusty bread, cubed
5 eggs
1/2 C. heavy cream
1 C. milk (or more)
2 cups baby spinach
1 medium yellow onion
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
3/4 C. shredded cheese of your choice (I used parmesan)
Salt & Pepper

Pan fry the bacon until just crispy, set aside to cool. Roughly chop onion and peppers. In a large bowl, crack eggs and mix with a fork. Crumble the bacon and add it to the bowl. Next mix in bread, cream, 2/3 C. of the milk, spinach, onion, peppers, cheese, salt and pepper until well combined. The mixture should be quite wet, so depending on your bread, you may need to add more milk at this step.

Pour in a greased 13×9 baking dish and bake for 45-60 minutes. The dish should be brown and crispy on top, and set on the bottom.


7 Mar
Posted in: Breads, Food
By    1 Comment

Easy Bread! (No, really.)

A while back I heard about a book from another blog. The book: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day. Bread? In five minutes a day? Yes, please. I added the book to my Amazon wish list, and at Christmas, my wish came true. Thanks, mom.

Truly for the first month following Christmas, I probably baked 20 loaves of bread, and each loaf simply used what the authors refer to as the “Master Recipe.” The cookbook offers plenty of delicious variations, but lucky for you and me, the basic one is delicious. And the recipe is on their web site for the whole world to see, so I don’t have to feel bad about sharing it here. Regardless, if you are interested in baking bread at home, this book is a must-have.

The only kitchen equipment you’ll need is a wooden spoon, a very large container, a baking stone, and a roasting pan.

White Crusty Bread
3 Cups of lukewarm water
1 1/2 T yeast
1 1/2 T coarse salt
6 1/2 Cups of white, unbleached, all-purpose flour

In a very large food-grade container, add the water, yeast and salt. Stir to combine. (Note: The water should be warm, but not hot – similar to a child’s bath water.)

Add in the flour and stir until well-combined with a wooden spoon. This is a very wet dough. Cover the container, but leave a small vent for gasses to escape. Let the dough rise at room temperature for two hours.

After two hours, you can either 1) place the dough in your refrigerator for up to two weeks and use as needed, or 2) bake a loaf right away and store the remaining bread in the refrigerator.

To prepare the bread for baking, sprinkle flour on the top of the dough and pull out about a grapefruit sized piece of dough.

This recipe will make four medium loaves, and one loaf is more than enough to feed my family with dinner. Shape the dough into a ball. Place on a cornmeal-covered piece of parchment paper. (Note: If you don’t have parchment paper, you can place it right on a cutting board or a completely flat baking sheet. Just use plenty of cornmeal because you have to slide the dough from that surface onto your hot baking stone in a bit. And don’t try to substitute waxed paper for parchment paper. Trust me.)

Let the dough sit for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Place your baking stone on the top oven rack and a shallow roasting pan on the bottom oven rack. Wait 20 more minutes. Add a bit of flour to the top of your dough, and using a sharp serrated knife, slice 2-3 slashes across the top of the dough.

Add a cup of water to the hot roasting pan in your oven, and slide the dough onto the baking stone.

The steam from the roasting pan helps create a lovely crispy crust on your bread, with a nice soft, chewy interior.Bake for 25-30 minutes. The crust should be a dark golden brown. Let cool completely before slicing and serving. Enjoy!

18 Aug
Posted in: Desserts, Food
By    1 Comment

Peaches & Cream Crumble

Over the weekend, my husband stopped by a produce stand in Tennessee near where we were visiting and bought a giant basket of peaches from an elderly lady. They were delicious, and even after eating some with breakfast, eating some with nothing, and sending some home with friends, I still had enough in the basket to think… what in the world am I going to do with all these peaches.

So I made up this recipe which sounded delicious to me, and I thought you should know about it.

Peaches & Cream Crumble

5-6 large peaches, peeled and sliced. (Or enough for about 3 cups of peach slices)
1/2 C. half and half
1/2 packet instant vanilla pudding (I try to use fresh, whole foods in my recipes, so if you’re anti-instant pudding, try 2 T sugar, 1 T flour and 1/4 t. vanilla extract)
1/8 t. nutmeg – I highly recommend freshly grated

1/2 C. Oats
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
1/2 C. pecans or walnuts (I left these out because I was serving someone with a nut allergy, but I think it sounds delicious)
1/2 stick butter (4 T)

For the peaches: combine peaches, half and half, pudding and nutmeg. Pour into baking dish.

For the topping: Combine oats, sugar, nuts in a small bowl. Cut in the cold butter until a crumbly mixture forms. See below. (I use my hands to combine the topping – it’s much quicker than using a fork if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty.)

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. The result is a bit soupy, so don’t be alarmed. Feel free to serve with ice cream. Enjoy!

20 Jul
Posted in: Food
By    7 Comments

Ode to the BLT

Believe it or not, I used to be quite the picky eater. I still have a few things I don’t like (mayo, anyone?) but in general, I’ll try just about anything now that I’m all growed up.

Which now includes a BLT. Hold the mayo, of course.

Oh, BLT, where have you been my whole life?

While in Arkansas last week, we had peeled, sliced, fresh, ripe, red tomatoes on the table every evening for dinner. Because we were in the south, and that’s what you do in the south. There, and at my Grandmother’s house and Aunt Allyn’s house here. But I digress. Anyway, one day we were planning for lunch and I thought… tomatoes, bacon, toast, lettuce – that sounds delicious! And by George, I was right.

You see, I used to be averse to raw tomatoes. I’m not sure what was wrong with me, really, but I couldn’t stand the taste. Then they started sneaking into my salads, but only if they were chopped very finely. Once I had mastered the small chopped tomato, I didn’t so much mind bigger chunks. Then pico de gallo and bruschetta became my amigos, and all of the sudden last week I was putting a sliced tomato with salt on my plate and gobbling it up.

So, listen, BLT. I’m really sorry I stiffed you all these years. It wasn’t you, it was me. I hope you’ll forgive me and we can remain friends for a long, long time.

5 Jul

Zucchini Dill Salad

I may have mentioned a dozen times or so we planted our first garden this year. I knew we’d have more vegetables than we’d be able to eat at once, and have plans for making homemade marinara when (if, at this point) our tomatoes come in, bags of frozen corn in August, and a couple cans of banana peppers to put away. What I hadn’t planned on, however, is all this zucchini. I feel like Bubba in Forrest Gump going through all the ways you can prepare shrimp.

Grilled Zucchini
Fried Zucchini
Zucchini Bread

That’s about as far as I got on my own.

Then I ran across a zucchini salad ┬árecipe in Real Simple and thought – a ha! I can make that! So with a few adaptations here is a delicious, fresh, and light zucchini salad perfect for getting rid of at least two medium sized gourds. (Original recipe is here.)

Zucchini Dill Salad
2 medium zucchini
8 oz. orzo pasta (half a box/bag)
1/4 cup chopped dill
1/2 cup chopped pecans
8 oz. Feta cheese (crumbled)
3 T olive oil
1 lemon, juiced (and zested, if desired)
Salt & Pepper to taste

In a pot, bring water to boil. Cook orzo according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, quarter zucchini lengthwise, then cut into thin slices. In a large bowl, combine zucchini, dill, olive oil and lemon juice. Allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes. When pasta is finished, drain and rinse with cold water until cool. Combine with zucchini mixture and add feta cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve. (This is a great dish to make ahead!)


20 Jun
Posted in: Food, Main Dishes
By    No Comments

Chicken Green Chili Soup

I am not going to deny the fact that I enjoy soup. Even when it’s 90 degrees outside, I will still eat the soup. And this particular soup is so light, so fresh tasting that it’s great in the summer. Even if it is hot outside.

Chicken Green Chili Soup
2 C. rice
8 C. chicken broth
2 C. water
2. C. chicken, cooked and chopped or shredded
1 can Ro-Tel (or other diced tomatoes with green chilies)
1 small can green chilies
Juice from 2 limes

2 Avacadoes, chopped
1/2 C. cilantro, chopped

In a soup pot, cook rice according to package directions. Add in chicken, chicken broth, water, Ro-tel, chilies and lime juice. Cook until simmering.

While soup is heating up, chop avocado and cilantro. Then admire your handiwork.

Spoon soup into bowls, and add avocado and cilantro just before serving.


14 Jun
Posted in: Abode, Food
By    3 Comments

I Picked A Pepper

This summer, my husband and I (along with the help of some fantastic friends) set out to plant our very first vegetable garden.

The places on our property that get the best light also happen to have the worst soil, so we settled on a raised-bed garden rather than a row garden, which is by far the most common way of operating in our neighborhood.

And so we set out to work. I don’t know about you, but I still find it nothing short of a daggum miracle that you can plant a tiny seed in some dirt (not even great dirt, at that!) and out pops a plant that will produce the most delicious vegetables your mouth ever laid… eyes(?) on.

We’ve been weeding and watering when it doesn’t rain, and checking the vegetables regularly. I’ve had my eyes on a couple of banana peppers and today one looked big enough to pick. So I brought it up and sliced it up and the kids and I had a few bites of the first bounty of our garden. I am thrilled. I can’t wait to show you what we end up with out of our humble little raised beds. And I can’t wait to cook and freeze and can some of the stuff!

8 Jun
Posted in: Food
By    No Comments

Favorite Restaurant Desserts

This week was my dear friend Brittany’s birthday, and for her birthday dessert (it’s a house church tradition!) she requested I make the Applebee’s Blondie with Maple Butter sauce. I happily obliged, as it is one of my all-time favorite restaurant desserts.

I mean, come on, I LOVE to bake, so most of the time if I want a dessert, I just make it. But there are a few available at your everyday chain restaurant that are worth the calories. So – my humble list of favorites.

Tiramisu from Olive Garden. I know this Tiramisu recipe is likely as authentic as the numbered menu at your local Mexican restaurant, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious in my opinion. Light fluffy cream over espresso-soaked ladyfingers with a dusting of bitter cocoa to top it off. Mmm.

Walnut Blondie with Maple Butter Sauce from Applebees. The inspiration for this post, a warm, moist walnut blondie served on a hot skillet with the most decadent maple butter sauce. And, of course, ice cream.

Torta di Chocolate from Olive Garden – Touted as their “no sugar added” option. HA! This is a joke – it is one of the most calorie and fat-laden dessert items on the menu, so don’t feel healthy for ordering it, ok? But do feel good for making an incredible dessert choice. Smooth, creamy dark-chocolate torte served with a vanilla creme sauce and strawberries. Yes, please.

Ice Cream Taco from Chili Willie’s – I realize this isn’t a chain at all. In fact, it’s a pretty delicious one-off local restaurant. But the fact is, their ice cream taco is so good, I would be remiss if I left it off my list. If you live in or around Huntington, WV, or are just driving through, do yourself a favor and eat here. And order this. You will thank me. A cinnamon-sugar taco shell filled with sweet cinnamon ice cream, topped with real whipped cream, honey, almonds, and chocolate chips. Oh, and a cherry.

Cookies and Cream Milkshake from Chick-Fil-A – I do not eat fast food frequently. With one exception – Chick-Fil-A. Also known as Yum-Yum-Yum. And of all the fast food dessert options, Chick-Fil-A’s milkshakes are to-die for.

Petite Vanilla Bean Scones from Starbucks. Little bite-sized bits of fabulousness. Perfect with a hot latte, and the perfect size for a sweet little bite without breaking the calorie bank.

Honorable Mention: Olive Garden’s Lemon Cream Cake – the underdog of the Olive Garden dessert lineup, this cake is surprisingly light and de-licious. Chick-Fil-A’s Lemon Pie – made with a flaky crust and real meringue.

So what did I miss? What are your favorite restaurant desserts?

25 May

Buttered Pecan Apples

I’m a fan of cooked apples. Scratch that: I’m a fan of apples when they’re cooked well. Not when they’re cooked down so much that as soon as you insert a fork you’re approaching applesauce, nor when they’re swimming in so much butter and sugar it’s more like a pie without the crust. My perfect cooked apples hold their shape but are still pleasantly soft, and are sweet and flavorful enough, but not void of all nutritional value because of an excess of sugar/fats.

These apples were, if I do say so myself, probably my favorite. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Buttered Pecan Apples

3 T butter
1/4 C. chopped pecans
3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 T. honey
1 pinch salt

In a medium frying pan, melt butter and add pecans. Toast for 2-3 minutes. (Resist the urge to add in heavy cream and throw in an ice cream churn. Yum.) Add honey and salt, then apples. Stir to coat. Cover, and cook over medium for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep apples from burning. Enjoy!