Monday, April 30, 2012

SRC: Homemade Granola

This is my third round in the Secret Recipe Club, and I am really enjoying it.  It's exposed so many other blogs to me that I would not have otherwise come across.  I thoroughly enjoy perusing over the blog I'm assigned every month.  It's so much fun to see what types of recipes they enjoy, and learning about new foods, cultures and techniques.  This month I was assinged a blog called Veggie Wiz, which is a blog written by Apeksha, who is from India, and enjoys vegetarian cuisine.

Apeksha had many recipes that looked amazing, and I have bookmarked many of them to try in the future.  The recipe I decided to make for the Secret Recipe Club reveal was simple, yet something I've been wanting to make for quite some time, homemade granola.  I am so glad that I came across this recipe for the challenge, because I finally had some motivation to make it.  Not that you really need motivation to make homemade granola, or a lot of time for that matter.  It has just been one of those things that has gotten pushed further and further down on my list of things to make.  Well, I finally got around to making it and I'm so glad!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blueberry Grilled Cheese

April is national grilled cheese month!  How awesome is that?  A whole month that is strictly dedicated the amazing sandwich we all know and love, the grilled cheese.  Not that I ever need a reason to indulge in a grilled cheese sandwich, but it's always nice to have an excuse every now and then.  Right?  Right!  Now, you didn't think I would let the month of grilled cheeses April pass by without sharing some type fabulous grilled cheese recipe, did you?  Of course not! 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Chicken with Creamy Green Chile, Tomatillo, and Avocado Sauce

I have a recipe to share with you just in time for spring and summer, and all those wonderful, fresh garden vegetables!  It's  a dish that is easy and so quick to put together  This chicken was filling, deliciously juicy and full of so much flavor.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Skillet Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli

Macaroni and cheese is one of my all time favorite comfort foods.  I mean, just the sound of it is comforting; mac and cheese.  Don't you think?  I'm glad we agree!  As much as I love a dish of classic mac and cheese, I am always eager to try new variations of this delicious classic.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Roasted Tomatillo, Onion, and Poblano Guacomole

I am a condiment girl.  I love dips, sauces and dressing.  Honestly, I could very easily make a meal out of salsa, cheese dip and guacomole.  There is just something completely satisfying and delicious about that tasty trio.  Since I'm such a huge fan of condiments and dips, it's no surprise that I can never get enough guacomole.  I love trying new variations of this classic dip, previously I made goat cheese and roasted poblano guacomole and it was amazing!  When we had tacos a few nights ago I wanted to make guacomole as a side but I wanted to give it a little twist, so I decided to roast some of the vegetables before combining all the ingredients.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan

Menu for April 22-28, 2012

Fishing at a friends house-we'll have a fish fry after we finish fishing
Bean burritos, jalapeno-cream cheese rice, salsa
Chiles rellenos, rice, and beans
Grilled chicken and spinach salad with spicy pineapple dressing
Eat out
Spicy sausage pasta and a green salad

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Brown Butter Banana Caramel Muffins

A few weeks ago I shared a recipe for brown butter banana muffins with streusel,  honestly didn't think anything could top those muffins.  Or even come close to topping them, for that matter.  All that changed when I decided to make those muffins again, except this time I eleminated the streusel and added a layer of homemade caramel in the center of the muffin. Yes, I did!  And let me tell you these were delicious.

These muffins were still full of the earthy, nutty flavor from the brown butter.  They were still light and fluffy from the egg whites that were folded into the batter.  They not only had the slight caramel flavor from brown sugar, but they were also given a punch of flavor from the layer of caramel that is baked between the layers of the muffin.  We're talking two types of caramel here folks.  Don't tell me that's not exciting!  You not only have a layer of caramel sauce but a caramel candy as well.  WOW.  Is your mouth watering yet?  And as much as this may sound like a dessert with brown sugar, vanilla and caramel sauce, I promise it's still a legitimate breakfast item.  Although I'm sure your tummy, family and friends wouldn't mind if you tried to pass them off as dessert to top off a delicious meal you prepared! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Grilled Coconut-Lime Tilapia Tacos with Kiwi Salsa

I think I may have a problem, an addiction, to be quite clear.  I think am addicted to fish tacos.  I don't know what it is about them but I love them and I quickly save every fish taco recipe I come across.  Now that I have that off my chest, I will now say that I have yet another fish taco recipe!  And boy, oh boy, it is good. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Creamy Taco Mac

I love recipes like this.  They are so easy to throw together, delicious, comforting and instant classics.  Ashley simply referred to this recipe as "better for you hamburger helper" and I think that description fits perfectly.  I, personally, have never had Hamburger Helper but I know may people who have and who utilize this convenience food.  With life being so chaotic we all need a little help every now and then and that's when the box comes in handy.  I believe this creamy taco mac still gives you the same convenience but utilizes items already in your pantry. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad

The warm weather is here and it's only April.  Summer is rapidly approaching; it's time for grilling, picnics, vacations and more.  It's time to shed the coats and sweaters and break out the shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits (eeekkk)!  Along with packing up those heavy winter wools, it's also time to say fairwell to those soups, stews and chilis we all love during the winter months and hello to the lighter dishes we relish so much in the spring and summer!

Weekly Meal Plan

Menu for April 15-21, 2012
Sunday-traveling back from my parent's so we'll eat something easy
Bacon burgers, french fries and bbq beanse
Grilled chicken and spinach salad with spicy pineapple dressing
Dinner with my brother and sister-in-law
Chiles rellenos with tomato sauce, rice and beans
Tacos, salsa, cheese dip and guacomole
Brisket, macaroni and cheese, green beans and corn

Friday, April 13, 2012

Soft Banana, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whew!  That's a mouth full.  With such a long name these cookies have to deliver on taste.  And I guarantee they do!  They are light, fluffy, thick and chewy.  The texture is almost cake-like.  If you like cake-y cookies, these are for you.  They are packed full of flavor witht he mixture of bananas, peanut butter and chocolate chips.  I mean, with these flavor combinations you honestly can't go wrong.  These cookies are actually almost healthy.  At least, that's what I'm telling myself!  Why is it healthy, you ask?  Well, silly, because it includes bananas.  Bananas are good for you.  Bananas are in this cookie, therefore making this cookie good for you!  Right?  Sounds like a good theory, doesn't it?  (It's kind of like that mindset of ordering a double cheeseburger, extra large fries and a large Diet Coke...because the Diet Coke cancels out all of the bad stuff)  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Homemade Taco Seasoning

Tacos are a house favorite in my house.  Tacos, seem to be a popular staple in many peoples menus.  It makes sense.  They are tasty.  Incredibly easy.  Pretty healthy...hey...I said pretty healthy, not completely healthy. And let's not forget fun.  There are those times where I get a a craving for tacos, not just any kind of taco, but homemade tacos.  There's nothing special about my homemade tacos, but they are different than the kind you get from the fast food joints.  Once I sink my teeth into that taco I begin to float on cloud 9.  What can I say?  I love them.      

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Cinnamon Crisps

I have a feeling if I keep this up I will personally be responsible for putting you into sugary, carb overload.  Between the brown butter banana muffinsovernight cinnamon rolls, and blueberry muffins I've recently posted, I could honestly put someone in a carb induced coma.  I think I have a slight obsession with breakfast pastries and as of late it seems like I am acting on that obsession and making Every. Single. Breakfast item I come across or can dream up.  If I keep this up for much longer I don't know how good it will be for any of us.  Of course we'll love the taste and deliciousness of each and every carb loaded breakfast goody, but our bodies will hate us. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Cheesy Chili Mac

Being in the kitchen, cooking and baking is a passion of mine.  I enjoy making delicious meals and baked goods for my family and friends.  I also enjoy trying new recipes and techniques and pushing myself outside my comfort zone.  There is something so rewarding and gratifying about taking raw and fresh ingredients that alone aren't that impressive and combining them to make something amazing.  Something that is worthy of sitting on a plate in a fine restaurant.  Normally time is not an issue to me; I go in the kitchen and start working on a meal with the mindset of "when it's done, it's done and we'll eat". 
Now, in a my perfect world I would always have time to make a delicious and elaborate meal that may (or may not) be very time consuming.  But if we're talking about the real world where I work full time, have a 2 year old and I have to have a decent and balance meal on the table in a timely manner I don't have the luxury of making a labor and time intenssive meal every. single. night.  Normally from the time I walk in the door until the time the Tucker goes to bed I'm running.  Running to make supper.  Running to clean the kitchen.  Running to get Tucker bathed and ready for bed...then finally in bed.  By the time my day ends and I can sit and relax it feels like I have run a marathon.  So having fancy 5 star quality meals aren't in the picture...during the week at least!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Sausage Cheese Kolache

I have to start out by saying Thank you! Thank you! Thank you to Shawnda of Confections of a Foodie Bride for sharing this recipe!  I have long been a fan of Kolaches.  You know those delicious, lightly sweet pastries at the doughnut shop that are filled with sausage and cheese and baked to golden perfection?  You know what I'm talking about!  They are the perfect way to start your mornings; a slightly sweet bread encasing a savory and spicy combination of smoked sausage and cheese.  I love them and have a slight weakness for them.

If I didn't have a problem before, I definitely have a problem now.  Recently I have had an undeniable, unquenchable craving for these breakfast pastries.  I mean a craving so strong that every Saturday morning for oohhh, the past month or two I have gone to the doughnut shop and purchased some of the Kolaches just hoping to finally satisfy my craving.  While it does satisfy me at that point in time, when the next Saturday rolls around I find myself getting in the car and heading for the doughnut shop.  Yes, folks, I have a problem.  And now I have an even bigger problem because I can now make these delicious pastries all for myself in the comfort of my own home.  Uh oh!  I think a monster is being created in front of your very eyes. 

Weekly Meal Plan

Menu for April 8-14, 2012

Chicken with creamy green chile, tomatillo and vaocado sauce with black bean, corn, tomato salad
Strawberry, blue cheese and walnut salad with balsamic dressing
Eat out-Mexican
Grilled chicken, broccoli mac and cheese, and a salad
Steaks, grilled asparagus and new potatoes with garlic butter
With my family for a few days...meals TBD

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bird's Nest and Peter Cotton Tail Cookies

Happy Good Friday!  I have a fun idea to share with you today.  I saw this incredibly cute idea for  Easter nest sugar cookies the other day on Pennies on a Platter.  I agree with Nikki, this is a perfect activity to do with your family and/or friends this Easter weekend.    

Bake a batch of these chewy frosted sugar cookies, then gather your family, friends and kiddos around to help decorate them and turn them into mini bird's nests.  I think these are so cute and fun and they can be enjoyed by kids of all ages!  I made a few changes to the original recipe, by making the cookie smaller ( I used a tablespoon of dough for each cookie and reduce baking time by 1-2 minutes) and added a little more powdered sugar to improve the consistency to making piping easer.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bird's Nest Cupcakes and Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes

Easter is just a few days away!  I have always enjoyed making holiday goodies to share with everyone, but now that Spencer and I have a little one of our own making those goodies to share with him and his friends is just that much more fun.  There is nothing better, or more rewarding than the look on Tucker's face when he spots the different goodies I have made for him.  His reaction was no different with these cupcakes.

While I in the process of baking and decorating these cupcakes for Tucker's class Easter party, he walked in the kitchen and immediately said "those are Tucker's cupcakes" and had the biggest smile while saying so.  He then proceeded to say he needed one...isn't he the greatest, my own little quality control department!  After he approved the cupcakes he walked away, then came in a few minutes later once the decorations were coming into place.  I picked him up and he said "oohhh, little birdies, chirp chirp chirp".  Then continued to say "cute, momma".  I would say these little bird's nest cupcakes got Tucker's seal of approval; both in the look and taste department.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Menu Inspiration

Easter is this Sunday, April 8.  For many of us it's a time to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  This Sunday represents His rising from the grave after sacrificing His life for us.  A sacrifice for which I am truly grateful. 
This is also a time many people to gather around a table with family and friends and feast on a multitude of incredibly delicious food.  Have you started preparing your Easter menu yet?  I have some suggestions for recipes that are sure to please.

Muffins are always a perfect and easy option for breakfast.  There are so many options when it comes to muffin flavors; so this is the perfect way to accomodate the tastes multiple guests.  Here are a few of my favorite muffin recipes:

Blueberry muffins-loaded with tons of blueberry flavor.  These muffins not only have healthy helping of whole blueberries, but a blueberry reduction is swirled into the batter right before baking.  Top these delicious muffins with a simple and slightly sweet streusel topping and everyone is sure to be please.

Brown butter banana muffins-These muffins are packed full of flavor.  The nutty flavor the brown butter brings to this dish is incredible.  The brown butter not only brings a flavor all it's own, but it compliments the banana flavor as well as cuts the sweetness slightly.  These were a hit with my family and friends and I know they will be a hit with yours, as well.  

Sour cream muffinsThese are incredible.  These muffins have a slight citrus flavor from the orange zest that is complimented by the slight tang added by the sour cream.  The streusel topping adds a slight crunch which is a wonderful addition, not only for flavor but texture, as well.

If you're serving brunch, a muffin bar would be a wonderful option for your guests who are looking for a lighter option.  If you are looking for options that are more filling then I have the perfect suggestion for you!

Cornmeal-herb waffles with salsa and poached eggs-these would be perfect for your Easter brunch.  Simple, elegant and full of flavor.  These waffles topped with brightly colored salsa and poached eggs; are not only full of flavor and simply impressive.

If you are hosting lunch here are some of my suggestions that have been reader favorites for quite some time now.

Red wine pork roast- This roast has the best flavor; pan seared with crust of roughly chopped peppercorns not only helps to seal the juices in the roast but add a nice crunchy layer of flavor.  The red wine adds another level of rich flavor that permeates the entire roast.  Since Easter, or any occasion where entertaining is involved can be chaotic, to say the least we look for every little bit of help.  This roast can be assembled the night before, and either cooked over night on low/warm or refrigerated overnight and cooked starting in the morning.

Pork tenderloin with balsamic-cranberry glaze- pork tenderloin is such a simple dish that can be easily dressed up.  That is exactly what has been done with this tenderloin; lightly seasoned and cooked to perfection then topped with a glaze that's a combinatin of cranberries and balsamic vinegar that's been cooked down.

Chicken with tomato-herb pan sauce-This is one of my favorite chicken recipes.  The chicken is lightly coated in flour, then pan fried to achieve a light crispy coating.  This cooking method allows for the best, most tender and juicy chicken you've ever tasted.  If that isn't enough, this deliciously cooked piece of meat is then topped with the most incredibly, buttery tomato sauce.  The brightly colored tomatoes and herbs would be the perfect addition to any Easter table.  Simple sides are perfect; steamed asparagus and lightly seasoned rice
                                                        compliment this dish perfectly.

Pancetta wrapped asparagus-this side dish is simple, yet elegant and full of flavor.  The salty pancetta helps to add a lot of flavor as well as crunch to this side dish.  This asparagus wrapped pancetta would compliment any dish and be perfect on your Easter table.

From scratch green bean casserole-I love green bean casserole and, honestly, I think it's a staple at pretty much every holiday table, no matter the holiday.  This year, if you're having green bean casserole, you have to try this recipe.  It consist of fresh green beans, homemade cream of mushroom soup that is incredibly tasty, a topping that not only contains those ever so popular fried onions but butter, and homemade bread crumbs.  A bonus about this recipe, it can be assembled in advance and stored in the refrigerator until ready to cook.  A great help for an already chaotic kitchen! 

Now that we've covered breakfast, brunch and lunch let's move on to the good stuff!  Here are some of my recommendations for dessert.

White cake with apricot filling-I made this cake last year for my brother's wife (then girlfriend) for her birthday.  It was such a hit that I ended up making it three more times for various Easter gatherings.  The white cake is so moist, light and fluffy and incredibly delicious.  The apricot filling adds a tangy sweetness, then everything is encased with a delicious buttercream frosting.  The white and orange in this cake sream spring.

Italian cream cake-this dessert is a classic that has been around forever.  It's dessert that is traditional, that is a favorite of everyone and is full of flavor without being heavy.  This dessert can be served as a cake or in a more playful way as cupcakes. 

 Blueberry lemon cupcakes-Blueberries and lemon go hand in hand with spring.  These cupcakes combine these two flavors to make the most delicious cupcake that is sweet and slightly tart.  These little cakes are then topped with a light POM buttercream frosting.  Pomegranite, blueberries and lemon are incredibly delicious in this beautiful cupake that screams Easter and spring.

Pound cake-The quintessential of all pound cakes.  This cake is simple yet delicious.  To brighten up the plate and presentation serve with fresh, sliced fruit and fresh whipped cream.  This dessert is so refreshing and light, and the perfect end to a wonderful celebration with family and friends.

I hope you and your family have a truly wonderful Easter holiday!  Happy Easter from our family to yours!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cold Oven Pound Cake

In my opinion, this is the quentessential of all pound cakes.  I have grown up eating this pound cake and I absolutely love it.  I've had a lot of other pound cakes through the years that were delicious, but every time I hear the word pound cake my mind automatically goes to this particular recipe.  This has to be my favorite, and dare I say the best pound cake I've ever had!

There aren't any off the wall ingredients in the recipe, honestly every ingredient in the particular recipe is probably a staple in your pantry, I know it is in mine.  The flavors, and ingredients, are simple but the flavor is incredible.  This pound cake is so smooth, light and fluffy, and the bottom of the cake develops a slightly crispy layer through the baking process that is incredible, and also add a little bit of texture as well.  The lemon juice adds the slightest amount of tartness, but the tartness is quickly cut by the butter and the butter flavor really steals the it should with whopping 3 sticks of butter! Hello, Paula Deen!  The combination of sugar as well as brown sugar make for a winning combination, and makes the cake just that much more fabulous.  Probably the biggest difference between this particular recipe and others is it starts out in a cold, non pre-heated oven.  This is a big and necassary difference, this cake cannot go into a warm oven.  I don't know why, but it just doesn't turn out properly if it goes into a warm oven, so be sure not to preheat the oven (it's hard...and a habit...I know)!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Weekly Meal Plan

Menu for April 1-7, 2012

Creamy taco mac, green salad and jalapeno cornbread
Grilled coconut lime tilapia tacos with kiwi salsa
Pasta with roasted asparagus with balsamic butter
Asparagus, bacon and egg salad
Tacos, beans and rice

Cornmeal-Herb Waffles with Salsa and Poached Eggs

Waffles are one of those things that are always associated with breakfast and 99% of the time they are more of a sweet dish, rather than savory.  I honestly had never heard of the savory variety of waffles until I came across these on Josie's blog, Pink Parsley.  Immediately I knew I had to make these and make them soon.  This dish, honestly made me think of a disht hat would be ordered in a nice restuarant for brunch.

These waffles, alone were delicious and full of so much flavor.  The addition of cornmeal gave it a different texture and really set this waffle apart from the traditional breakfast variety.  The fresh herbs not only added a burst of color, but a nice bright earthy flavor.  The addition of cayenne pepper was minimal but gave just the perfect amount of heat.  The waffles could definitely stand alone, but topping them with not only salsa but poached eggs really took them to a different level.
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