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Showing posts from May, 2012

Our New Favorite Chicken Tacos

I had such a beautiful afternoon with my almost sister-in-law. I can't wait for her to marry my little brother! We first went to Michael's so I could use up my gift card (Thanks Frugal Girls!)on some baking goodness (and a couple little summer toys for the manchild). Then we hit up the DI for some dishes and textiles. We found some life-sized plastic bald women heads. Always an adventure.

Then my stomach wouldn't stop grumbling....

So we came home and made some tacos together. To be 100% honest, this was the first time I've set out to make tacos without using the packaged taco seasoning. I know. Apparently that's weird in food land? No idea. However, they were fantastic! And oh-so-simple! But did they taste like "plain-chicken-tacos?" Heck no. WAY no.

We've had tacos hundreds of times at our house, so I wasn't really planning on blogging about trying this Rachael Ray recipe today. But there's just something deeply perfect about these "…

Rolo Cheesecake Bars

A nearby tall glass of milk has never been so much of a necessity.
These are dangerously addicting - and the hard thing is that they're just so darned rich! It's hard to eat more than one of them. But the deep, caramel taste in your mouth beckons for more..... the flavor was pretty difficult to say anything but YES PLEASE to. I love myself an over-the-top dessert, and this recipe was perfect for such a craving.
I loved this combo of flavors - the classic cheesecake (with graham cracker crust) dotted with Rolos, enveloped in thick chocolate, and drizzled with caramel. Don't you just love the design? It's what first caught my eye when I saw this recipe on Pinterest last week. 
If you've already looked over the ingredients, and laughed your head off at how much butter/fat there is, know this: I cut it down from the original recipe.... 
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Rolo Cheesecake Bars recipe adapted fromBakers Royale
Crust 1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs 1/2 C sugar 6 T butter
Cheesecake …

Lady Bug Pizzas

Aren't they just the cutest little things? And who knew bugs could be so tasty? 

A while ago, our family fell in love with the Caprese Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. This little lady bug pizza is basically the kiddie version - same ingredients, but add some olives for the spots.

This recipe is from another one of my Rachael Ray books (Can I praise my mother-in-law enough for the stack of cookbooks in my kitchen? Never :) This one is called Rachael Ray, Yum-O, The Family Cookbook, and it is crammed full of food that adults would typically eat - transformed into kid-friendly snacks and meals. She also has tips on how your little one can help prepare the meal. Good, good stuff.

I guess you could say we had our own little ladybug party this afternoon. The manchild and I ate these for lunch while I read him from one of our favorite Sara Gillingham series. On My Leaf. They are just the cutest books! I received a few from the manchild's baby shower and ended up using up a Barnes &…

Grilled Corn with Cilantro Butter

I've never really seasoned my corn on the cob with anything other than butter, salt, and pepper. Also, I never grilled my corn before either.

My friends, those days are over. This recipe was revolutionary. And Memorial Day was the perfect stage for it.

We all know my obsession with cilantro and lime is beyond therapy at this point. This was just another shot of pure heaven in food form. I can't wait to try other spreads on grilled corn - it added so much flavor, and made each bite something to remember.

Corn on the cob screams summertime - the next time you serve it to your family (and there are many opportunities coming up over the next few months for it), I highly recommend this recipe. Plus, it's Martha Stewart's recipe... she's yet to steer me wrong. Enjoy!

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Grilled Corn with Cilantro Butter
adapted from Martha Stewart's recipe for smaller portions 

4 ears corn, husked
1/4 C packed fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 t finely grated lime zest
1 t fresh li…

Homemade Sweet Potato Fries

Memorial Day was very relaxing this year. We had our own little BBQ in our backyard and pulled out the kiddie pool for the manchild to play in.

The menu was very simple, but Ryan and I had fun making everything together, and were grateful for such a beautiful afternoon to share as a family. We made cheeseburgers with bacon/lettuce/tomato on wheat buns, grilled corn with cilantro lime butter, Simply Lemonade (we call it ''rich people juice'' because it's expensive, but the BEST tasting juice in existence), and.... sweet potato fries!

After tasting them today, Ryan has decided that making sweet potato fries should be a new family tradition on the holidays.... as in ALL of the holidays. I settled with just having them on the menu for  future Memorial Days. He must have liked them just a little bit, eh?

I was really scared of making these - I've never fried anything at anything higher than medium temperature (making tortilla chips) and I didn't want them to b…

Marinated Grilled Sirloin Tip Steak with BLT-Smashed Potatoes

I love Rachael Ray. Love her show, love her magazine, love her food. I'm convinced she can cook just about anything - she won Iron Chef with Mario Batali for crying out loud (beating out Chef Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentiis.) She also won a 2011 People's Choice award for Favorite TV Chef - you go, girl! 
However, I think she gets a lot of flak for using non-accessible ingredients. I think there's a bit of truth to this. In my nearest Rachael Ray cookbook, I flipped through some of the pages to find the following ingredients peppered through her recipes: palm, eel, vermouth, sake, haddock, and sopressata. I mean, who really has these type of ingredients on hand, anyway? I don't even know what half of them are! 
With that said, I still adore Racheal Ray. With each of the strange recipes she puts out, there's about 50 family-friendly and completely accessible ones on top of them. She has entire books dedicated to quick meals, family meals, but also meals for chef…

Creamy Cookie Dough Dip

I know. Insane. And very naughty.

I've seen a bunch of Cookie Dough Dip recipes floating about on Pinterest, and am happy to have finally made one. On Thursday (the day I make my grocery list for Friday), I once again I pulled up my D e s s e r t s page on Pinterest, and had Ryan choose whatever the heck he wanted from it. Last time, it was the Lava Flows. This time it's the crack dip.

This stuff is nuts. I mean, with that list if ingredients, it's bound to be good, right? (Maybe too good...) Don't be deceived by the graham crackers. After Ryan and I overdosed on the dip Saturday afternoon, we decided this dip is better eaten in much smaller portions - as in, using teddy grahams or small apple slices to scoop it up versus a giant graham cracker shovel. Don't get me wrong, it was beyond heaven eating this dip, but man, it's some rich stuff. Small doses is the key here, folks.

Then again, Ryan ate with a spoon for a while - I think that's just asking for a …

Spicy Apple-Glazed Meatballs

Another week night meal success! I decided to go all "dinners" on you guys this week. Last week I felt like I was making dessert after dessert.

Tonight's dinner recipe was a huge hit - and super easy (thank heavens). Sometimes I really don't like cooking dinner, but when I find recipes as quick and tasty as this one, it motivates me on those harder days. Tonight I have rehearsal, so these were so easy to prepare ahead, simmer away, and have the white rice all ready in my little rice cooker (for whenever Ryan gets home...sometimes it's a mystery).

I love meatballs. Whenever I go to a wedding reception or baby/bridal shower and they have meatballs, I clean them out. Why not? A savory little pop of juicy meat? Count me in. Always. I snuck a little taste of the meatball sauce while making it, and I immediately couldn't wait for the meatballs to be finished! It was sweet, but had a little after kick. My house smells so wonderful from the sauce!

If you wanted to …

Sweet Potato Cakes & Sour Cream with Black Bean Salsa

Sweet potatoes and I have fallen in love again.
My favorite way to eat them is via the ever-addicting sweet potato fries. We live near a lovely little eatery called Gurus. They have everything there - salads, wraps, sandwiches, soups, rice bowls, pasta, and of course - desserts. The first time I went there was about a year ago to catch up with some friends from the music studio/college. We ate al fresco, and it was such a beautiful late afternoon. One of my buddies ordered the most delicious sweet potato fries for our table. It was the first time I've ever had sweet potato fries, and it was beyond delicious. 
These lovely potato cakes provided the same crunchy potato fries flavor, but with more of a subtle crispiness, and a lovely creamy center. The cool sour cream was a perfect bed of softness for the light and vibrant black bean salsa, too. These would be really wonderful appetizers if you made them more bite-sized. We just made bigger patties, and ate them as a meal. The man…

Gnocchi, Sweet Corn & Arugula in Cream Sauce

What a fun weeknight meal this turned out to be!

Another recipe from Better Homes & Gardens strikes again! I love those guys! I'm definitely their new biggest fan. I would have never thought of putting these ingredients together, but after tasting them in this dish, I don't know how I'll ever keep them away from each other in the kitchen.

The creamy, soft gnocchi was great contrast to the the tasteful crispiness of the corn and arugula. I threw in some mushrooms (leftover from yesterday), too. The recipe originally calls for less corn, but I wanted three whole ears (corn is in my blood, so to speak). Also I changed the herb seasoning to fresh basil. The basil went so well with the arugula and creamy sauce. We'll definitely be making this one again. It was light, and had a little taste of everything.

Ryan said it needed bacon :)

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Gnocchi, Sweet Corn & Arugula in Cream Sauce
recipe based on Better Homes & Gardens

3 medium-sized fresh sweet corn on th…

Tortellini and Garden Vegetable Bake

Ryan licked the bowl. He doesn't always do that - but when he does, I know I've done good.

Today was another rough day wrestling with my almost-toddler through church. This savory and veggie-crammed dish was just the comfort I needed (accompanied by a long nap later in the afternoon, thanks Ryan!)

So, when I say veggie-crammed, I meant it. This dish has carrots, sugar snap peas, red onion, parsley (eh?), cherry tomatoes, green pepper, and mushrooms (even through it's a fungus, I'm gonna throw it right in there). Plenty of veggies to go around - and cleverly paired with cheese tortellini.

Another blonde moment today - all the beautiful colors of the veggies put me in such a trance, that I forgot to read my directions. I chopped all of them up, in the proper quantities, then threw them all in a big happy bowl together. Well. Um. Let's just say a few minutes after I went through that entire bowl, sorting them out again into their own families. Some veggies were to be…

Simple, but Decadent, Poached Pears

Today it poured and poured outside, only to have full sunshine a few hours later. I love days like this. I think the rain soothed my little man into an almost 3-hour nap. These poached pairs didn't even take a small fraction of that time to prepare.

The first thing that captured me about this dessert is the way it looks. Pears are so beautiful. They look beautiful. They taste beautiful. I originally wanted to make the Poached Pears/Pear Compote earlier this week, but the pears were taking their sweet time ripening. They were well worth the wait.

The second thing I noticed was the star. What is that? I quickly looked through the ingredients - it's called the Star of Anise. I couldn't find it at two of my local supermarkets. A friend told me to head on over to the Latino Market, and that's exactly where I found them (about 10 stars for 74 cents). The star of anise coupled with the cinnamon smelled just like Christmas wassail. It was absolutely wonderful. When the buzze…

Chicken Pillows with Creamy Parmesan Sauce

I learned tonight that onion powder looks very identical to garlic powder. They're in the same type/color container, too. It's a good thing I noticed this difference right when it happened, versus after the chicken pillows came out of the oven. I ended up scooping the top layer of chicken right outta the bowl and tossing it. I guess my blog title can be perfectly fitting sometimes...   The onion powder is now on the opposite side of the cabinet.

These little pillows of love were just perfect for an overcast day. Ryan got off work early, so he walked in right when these came out of the oven. We all (including the manchild) gobbled them up with some fresh pears and green beans (excluding Ryan... he hates green beans with a passion) and headed straight to the park to enjoy the evening. The chicken pillows were so filling, and very rich with creamy parmesan flavor. I loved how the inside filling was so warm and scrumptious, but the outside biscuit layer was crispy - with the parm…

Pear Cake Brûlée

My mother-in-law is a complete gem. She finds the most wonderful cook books for me, and I'm so grateful! The book I baked from today is called "Creme Brulée". What a fancy little thing it is. This book is stuffed with over 50 creme brulée recipes ranging from basic vanilla, to your savory dishes (they look more like little dinners than brulée).

I've had a few recipes on my list from this book for a while. I've tried the basic vanilla, and it was simply wonderful (I served it with fresh raspberries). This time, I wanted to make the Pear Cake Brulée. I love pears. They're not quite in season, but still available. You only need pear juice anyways for this dessert, so it wasn't a bit deal at all.

My favorite part of this book is the caramel tutorial in the back. I didn't realize how fun it is to make caramel garnishes! I started with the very very basic, and it was crazy. That stuff burns layers off your skin in an instant, and almost destroyed my piping…

Chicken Crunch Wrap

If you've never had a crunch wrap from Taco Bell... then you don't know what amazing goodness this tortilla keeps in hiding...
I love taking my favorite foods from restaurants (in this case... a not-so-restaurant) and making them at home. I can't get enough of that dang Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme. If I go to Taco Bell, I get this almost every time (it's not like we really ever eat out... unless it's Cafe Rio or a special occasion). 
After eating one of these tonight for dinner, it'll be hard to talk me into going through that drive through again. It was too easy to make these, and (didn't think it was possible) they tasted a thousand times better. The gooey nacho cheese is the star - it's what makes this thing absolutely heavenly.
Let's just talk about the layers of this little lover: 
Layer one: Gooey, warm, shredded chicken. (normally, crunch wraps are prepared with ground beef, but I'm on a bit of a chicken kick this week). 
Layer two: Spicy …

Blackberry & Mint Brownie Parfait

Blackberry, Mint, and Chocolate, eh? Not usually the combination you see in one glass. After tasting how fresh and vibrant they can be together, I'd say they should be permanent neighbors.

First of all, Chasing Delicious has got to have some of the most beautiful food photography I've ever seen. Visit his site when you have a chance - it will change the way you see food. The two recipes I prepared today, I'm proud to admit, are all his.

Blackberries are such a gorgeous little fruit, aren't they? They're packed will all kinds of goodness, have such a fun texture, and can be used in so many different ways. Today, I coupled them with fresh mint, homemade whipped cream, and gooey chocolate. My kind of late-afternoon treat.

The recipe was originally listed with almost all "ounce" measurements. It was not my favorite at first, but forced me to remember my metrics, and convert the ingredients accordingly. I have yet to purchase an ounce scale, and would have lo…