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Showing posts from July, 2012

Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries

We all have them, or we know people who do. Those giant green garden logs have taken up our counter space log enough. It's time to take a stand before it gets out of control (those of you who have zucchini-infested gardens understand exactly what I'm talking about.)

When my Mom brought over a couple zucchini and squash last week, I was pretty pumped about the squash. I love squash. I usually bread it up and fry the heck out of it. Done. But that zucchini could only be met with a glazed-over look of complete hopelessness.

I used one of them on my Thin Crust Garden Vegetable Pizza with Pepper Jack Cheese last week, but I still had another zucchini lingering over my head, and I hate to be wasteful - especially with fresh garden produce.

It was then when I remembered eating at one of my favorite places in Utah:Magleby's. We don't get to eat there often, (the entrees are a wee bit out of our price range), so we usually save it for Valentine's Day or our Wedding Anniv…

Garlic Roast Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon + Green Beans with Toasted Almonds

Yesterday for Sunday dinner I decided we needed a little bit of Rachael. This chicken recipe has been on my list for a while, and I wanted Ryan to give green beans another shot.

You see, he hates green beans. I love green beans. So naturally, I'm going to try to make them in new ways to get him to like them, too. I thought maybe if the little beauties were smothered in butter, garlic, and tossed with a bit of toasted almonds, they'd be enough to tip his scale. Long story short: I went crazy over them, Ryan still doesn't like them. *Sigh* I guess if someone tried to feed me pickles, in any way/shape/form, I'd sense them from a mile away. And I'd still avoid them like the plague. These beans, on the other hand, were a definite win (if you like beans, that is). They were still a little crisp, had beautiful flavor, and oh how I loved the addition of those toasted almonds.

The chicken smelled incredible cooking in the oven. The fresh rosemary combined with the lem…

Mini S'mores Cups

Chocolate. Graham Cracker. Marshmallow.  These flavors just will not stop.  These will satisfy any and every s'mores craving you could ever have, and are thankfully easy to throw together.  That said, as I type this entry, and look at these delicious pictures, I'm saddened to relate, I was only able to eat two of them. "Oh! She must have given the others away! How generous of Blondie!" you might say. I regret to report, the other 10 mini S'mores Cups weren't given away, nor were they kept for ourselves...

Let me explain. 

This weekend Ryan's family generously let us borrow one of their cars for the trip to the airport/grocery store - I wrecked ours the night before the bridal shower. We hopefully get it back from the auto repair shop on the 7th of August. Anyway, I was getting ready to pick Ryan up from the airport/return the car to his family. So I made a batch of these little lovey bites of s'mores heaven to say thank you to them. I took a few qu…

Thin Crust Grilled Garden Vegetable Pizza with Pepper Jack Cheese

I have the most wonderful neighbors around, and they're always so generous with the beautiful vegetables they grow in their gardens. I temporarily looked like quite the vegetable hoarder.... and decided I needed to use them up in one bang. 
Pizza was the perfect vessel, and the grill was calling to me (minus the spider episode, this time.)
I decided a sauce would have been too heavy on the decadent thin crust, so I used a light drizzle of EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil.... for those who don't watch the Food Network/Rachael Ray enough) and some light seasonings on a bed of shredded pepper jack cheese to cushion the beautifully colorful vegetables. Ever since I used pepper jack on pizza a while ago, it's been hard to not crave that extra depth of flavor it provides. 
My little brother Ryan came over today after work for a visit. He arrived right when I was assembling the grilled vegetables. He must have thought I was nuts as I was carefully placing each piece... but I wan…

Pink Ombre Mini Cakes

Ombre is taking the design world by storm. Thankfully, it's now bleeding into food land. It is most welcome, I must say.

Yesterday my husband flew out of town for some law interviews, so I needed a little somethin' extra to keep me busy. These little cakes took less time than I thought, but were so much fun to prepare, color, frost and assemble. I only wish Ryan were here to help me eat them. Being trapped in a house with these lovely stacks of velvety frosting and moist white cake staring at me all day... I think I'll have to sneak in an extra run this weekend...

They're not the most evenly-shaped little lovelies, by any means, but how pretty would they be for a little tea party? mother's day? little girl party? You could switch up the colors to fit just about any theme you want - as well as the frosting. With the cake mix flavor (yes, I used a cake mix this time), be sure to choose a flavor with a lighter-color batter. That way it will be easier to guide the ba…

BLT Pasta

My love/hate relationship with tomatoes started long ago. I grew up hating tomatoes. I'm pretty sure my Mom made sure of it (she hates tomatoes, too). When we were little kids, my Mom would gather us all together in the backyard next to the brick-red picnic table. On said picnic table was strapped the devil himself... the tomato press/strainer. We knew what we were in for when we saw that thing.
My Mom was (and is to this day) huge on canning - this was the machine that took the whole tomatoes and transformed them into a very fine seedless juice/thin puree. Seems harmless, right? So why did the children in my family hate this thing so much, you ask?   ... While writing this blog post I actually called my older brother and sister and asked them if they remembered processing tomatoes in the backyard with Mom - and oh, how they remember the vegetable gore.

The pungent smell of tomatoes in the summer heat, the guts flying out of the side of the press, the horrible smell of tomato ju…

Texican Pillows

On Sunday I made this crazy rice-bean-corn dish and it totally bombed. Ryan loved it. The manchild loved it, but for me it wasn't goopey enough for a casserole. It tasted like dry rice, with random corn and beans here and there. Just wanted to keep it real on here. Not all the recipes I try turn out well, and those ones just don't make it up on the blog. Thankfully, the leftovers are edible for their lunches for the next few days.

These, on the other hand, have received the official 'husband stamp of approval.' I knew the second I put a mixture including cream cheese inside a crescent roll that Ryan would stuff about 4 of them in his mouth before they hit the plate.

Just in case I haven't already shared, whenever I make a recipe that Ryan can't resist, and asks for on a weekly basis, I label the recipe as 'husband approved' on the blog. So, if you scroll down on the blog and look at the right sidebar at the bottom, there's a label cloud - if you c…

Honeymoon Bridal Shower

\ This weekend I threw a wee little bridal shower for my friend Megan. It was less of a traditional bridal shower, and more of a 'honeymoon' shower :)  She already had plenty of things ready for their home/kitchen from previous showers, but really wanted more of what my husband calls "recreational pajamas."
Of course I'm not going to include all the pictures (mostly because they all came out completely fuzzy like these ones).... but I can tell you we had a grand 'ol time as giggly girlies. I think it turned out alright for a pretty tight budget!
I served my favorite fruit salad (Strawberry, Blueberry, and Grape Fruit Salad with Honey Lime Dressing), some lovely sandwiches (Zupas Chicken Pesto Sandwiches) and had a friend bring Megan's Mom's famous salsa (I've had the recipe since high school - maybe someday I'll ask for permission to post it on here - it's a goodie).

For dessert, I had little light lemon cupcakes with vanilla buttercre…

Bacon Ranch Chicken Pasta

Sometimes you just need some comfort food. Despite the weather, temperature, season, I wanted some stick-to-your-bones pasta this week.

I originally wanted to use penne, but I spotted a box of beautiful little campenelle pasta instead. I've never cooked with them before, but pasta is pasta, right? You just boil until al dente and you're all good. Plus, it's always fun to use a different kind of pasta shape here and there in the kitchen.
This recipe was very simple, but very tasty (that phrase is practically a cliche at this point, but it's the truth). Bacon goes so well with a nice cheese sauce - and this recipe is no exception. The sauce is kind of heavy, though (meaning: Ryan is going to love it), so if you wanted to use skim milk, fake butter, and less bacon drippings, I think it might help tone things down a bit. This recipe makes a ton of pasta (a whopping pound), so plan on leftovers if you're serving a small family like I am.

I think next time we make thi…

Grilled Pineapple Guacamole

Ladies and Gentlemen, guacamole has been redefined in the Blondie household.

I love this recipe - and it was worth what I went through this afternoon making the dang thing.

Let me explain.

I'm deathly afraid of spiders. The gag reflex gets kicked into high gear whenever I spot a large one (small/medium spiders, not so much). I loathe spiders. If I find a large spider in my house, I usually put a cup over it until my husband gets home. I don't even have the guts to look at it, let alone get close enough to squish it.

So you can now imagine the panicky blonde running around the backyard with her apron on, waving her tongs around, after opening up her mini-grill... and finding the devil himself in spider-form nesting away between the grates. I'm talking fangs. 

As much as I hate spiders, nothing was going to come between me and grilling my pineapple for this guacamole. I had to pull out the big girl pants....  I turned on the gas and dropped in the match. End of spider. Cle…

No-Bake Energy Bites

I've actually heard them called 'gorilla poops'. What a great way to start out a blog post, eh? I'm sure we all needed that mental image right about now.

Ryan said his Mom called these volcano cookies. She used to shape them into little mounds, and poke holes down the middle with the end of a wooden spoon - must have raised all boys :) Cute idea!

This recipe is the healthier version. I saw these on Pinterest a while back, and thought they looked delicious. However, I thought they'd taste less-awesome than my beloved childhood 'microwave cocoa cookies'. I mean, how could they? There's no butter and sugar! Thankfully, I was wrong, and they taste just as wonderful! I stand corrected.

I've never worked with flax seed before. I'm so glad I was on the phone with my Mom when I was buying it at the store. I was about to buy whole flax seed, instead of ground. She recommended I buy ground, and it was a good move. The ground state of the flax seed help…

Zupas Chicken Pesto Sandwiches - Copycat Recipe

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant several times, and found yourself ordering the same thing each visit? Why do we do this? Answer: for me, it's because the second I walk into that door, I always crave that one thing. And I gotta have it. It's not worth the risk ordering something that could be less awesome.

If you live in Utah and Arizona, you've been blessed with access to a gem of a place to eat: Cafe Zupas . It's one of our favorite restaurants. They have the most wonderful soups, the most beautiful salads, and the most killer sandwiches/paninis I've ever eaten. Plus, at the end, they give you a free chocolate-dipped strawberry. Ryan loves the Lobster Bisque (surprise, surprise) and I usually switch around between the Wild Mushroom Bisque and Tomato Basil with Orzo Pasta. The salads are huge, and healthily worth every bite, but I love their sandwiches the most. I've tried several things on the menu, and have yet to taste something that's not complete…

Cherry Tomato and Ravioli Soup

I have three gardening pots in my backyard. In one of them, I've planted my herbs (cilantro, basil, and Italian parsley). I thought I had planted a little packet of wildflowers in the next.... turns out they're giant sunflowers that have now grown past the height of my shoulders. Yikes. In the final pot, I planted a wee little cherry tomato plant.

That tomato plant has gone nuts, and has decided to produce ridiculous amounts of cherry tomatoes in the past week. Sure, we use them in salads, and Ryan eats them like grapes. But we still have a ton left over. What to do?
Throw 'em in a soup (yes, in the middle of 100+ degree weather). Not a soup fan in the summer? Pin it for later, man. We like soup year-round in this house!  
This recipe calls for 2 pints of tomatoes, and we had about one pint from the "garden". So I had to buy another pint from the store to compensate.

So now that I've stuffed this blog with Rachael Ray recipes over the past 2 weeks, I thi…

Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter Brittle

We love our desserts around here. But sometimes a cookie/bar just won't massage that sweet tooth enough to satisfy our sugar-cravings. We've made these a few times now, and I've always just kept the recipe around. Must be a good one, eh?

I was so frustrated making them this time, though. I usually buy this really delicious melting chocolate from our local supermarket, but for some reason, it was about $7 for the package this time. Yikes. So I left with regular chocolate chips. I really wish I had just bought the pricey stuff - the chocolate was made for a chocolate fountain, so it melts like a dream. Unlike regular chocolate chips.... they melt fine, but not as heavenly. Then I thought to myself: what's the downside, anyway? They're both chocolate, they're going to taste the same, and who cares if the chocolate is chunky vs. creamy? I blame my husband for this kind of thinking. Sometimes it just doesn't matter how it looks, but how it tastes (at least tha…

Bacon Cheeseburger Calzone

Two words: Man Food. 

Sometimes I feed bad that Ryan is my kitchen guinea pig.Most of the time, I think he's spoiled rotten in the food department. Other times, I feel bad for serving yet another salad, or trying out a new quinoa recipe again... He's a really good sport, but sometimes after he's had my "chick food" for dinner, I hear him pour a bowl of cereal in the kitchen only a few hours after. Man needs man food. It's a fact.

Speaking of which, Ryan loves these. He often asks for them when I'm making my grocery list. It's no wonder why... they taste like cheeseburgers (without the lettuce and condiments, of course)! I used to make these all the time when we were both finishing up our undergrads (and for good reason!) First, they're easy to make. Second, they're filling. Third, they're not that pricey - especially if you spread out each package of meat you buy over a few meals.

Whenever we buy meat, (in this case ground beef and baco…

Pork Tenderloin and Bell Pepper Stir Fry with Eggplant

Today started off with some much-needed rain. I could finally see the beautiful mountains, instead of the thick-layer of nasty fire-smoke that has been covering the valley for weeks.

The manchild took a long nap this morning, so I had plenty of time to turn on some music, and slowly work my way through another new recipe. I love fast and easy recipes, but sometimes it's nice to take a little extra time, and keep things relaxed in the kitchen. The smell of rain mixed with stir-fry was most excellent.

I've never cooked with eggplant before, and the only time I've tasted it is in a restaurant. It has such a beautiful color, and it's texture is pretty surprising. By itself, it's not my favorite. But coupled with the sweet bell pepper, crispy taste of the green onions, and the juicy pork in this dish, it'd say it's a definite win.

Speaking of pork tenderloin.... oh my goodness. It's beyond juicy. It's like eating a meat starburst. Sounds strange when y…

Toasted Marshmallow S'mores Krispie Treats

S'mores = Summer.

There's just no way around it. We loved eating these at our family BBQ tonight - and can't wait to finish them off tomorrow at the pool with the little ones!

Ryan and I whipped these up last night after a little Fourth-of-July shindig down the block... um... make that a GIANT shindig. Our neighbors know how to celebrate in style, and if it wasn't for our sleepy manchild, I think we would have partied the night away. Nonetheless, we slept the night away while people set up camp right outside our front door (we live on a major parade route). Thank heavens we're heavy sleepers.

Speaking of camp, you don't need to go camping to get a taste of your beloved s'mores. These literally took minutes to throw together, and taste almost like the real thing. I say almost because I usually light my marshmallows on fire, admire the flames, blow it out, and then stuff it in my mouth. It's hard to re-create that fire-burnt-to-the-crisp taste in a ki…

Triple Chocolate Crunch Ice Cream

Yesterday morning was one of those days when I wanted to blow up my kitchen.

Seriously.

I decided I wanted to make these beautiful white chocolate strawberry cupcakes (from this cookbook) with white chocolate mousse frosting. I was so excited, my strawberries were perfectly ripe, and couldn't wait to use some of my new cupcake liners (Thanks Frugal Girls for the Michael's giftcard!)

When I was making the cake batter, I noticed it seemed a little dry, and was a funny texture. So I triple-checked the recipe, my ingredients, the measurements, and my oven temperature to make sure I wasn't just being a blonde. (couldn't help myself with that one...) Everything seemed fine, so I filled my cupcake liners, and threw them in the oven.

I usually set my oven for a few minutes shorter than the recipe calls for, just to check-up on things. My timer went off early, and I opened the oven....

I should have taken a picture of that horrible mess. The cupcakes had sunk so much, that i…

Chicken and Orzo Soup with Kale

It seemed like a complete oxymoron simmering soup in the kitchen with the air conditioner on in the house. Soup is not a summer-time meal, but I couldn't resist this simple recipe on a Sunday afternoon. The clouds came out a bit as the time went on, so I didn't feel as bad serving soup. After savoring each bite of flavor, we still would have devoured this soup on any scorching day nature could throw at us.

Originally, this soup called for arugula as the leafy green - but I love the familiar taste of kale from Olive Garden's to-die-for Zuppa Toscana soup. So I couldn't wait to substitute it right into the recipe. I loved how easy it was to make this soup, but how it tasted like it had been simmering away all day. We loved everything about the soup (except for the mushrooms. Ryan really isn't a fan unless they're stuffed with cream cheese and sausage.) The manchild really loved this dish, too - even though he missed out on the delicious broth (we strained the s…