Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal


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After a week of heavy meals and overindulgent sweets, it always feels good to switch back to "normal" eating. Yesterday flipped that switch for me. The leftovers were gone and I didn't want anything resembling a holiday meal, and I'm craving crisp vegetables like crazy. This morning was no different. Actually, last night I felt the need to make a good oatmeal this morning since I've been terrible about eating breakfast this past week.

I guess some might say that Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal has an overindulgent holiday feel to it, but pumpkin is a year round flavor in my house. Plus, pumpkin is really good for you, so it's a win all around. Go ahead and start your New Year off right with a big steaming bowl of oatmeal!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk or unsweetened almond milk (almond milk is super yummy here!)
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/16 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/16 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup rolls oats
Combine water, milk, pumpkin, brown sugar and spices in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Add oatmeal. Combine well and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serves 1.

Source: An Adventures in My Kitchen Original

What's Baking: Peppermint Meringues


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It was fitting that this month's What's Baking theme was peppermint. I had Peppermint Meringues on my holiday baking list. My original plan was to make candy cane meringues, but come game time I didn't have red food coloring (note to self: must get red coloring before February!). I forged on anyway.

These are a welcome addition to any holiday tray. They're a light treat with just a hint of peppermint flavor, that perfect bite of something sweet to satisfy my must have something sweet after dinner craving.

Now what to do with 6 egg yolks...

This month's What's Baking was hosted by Carrie's Sweet Life. Head on over soon to check out this month's roundup of peppermint treats.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
Preheat oven to 250F degrees. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Using stand mixer, beat egg whites on medium-high until foaming.

In a small bowl, combine cream of tartar, salt and sugar. Gradually add to egg whites and continue beating. Beat until stiff peaks form, or when the bowl is turned upside down nothing moves. This could be anywhere from 10-20 minutes, mine took about 17 minutes.

Fit a piping tip into a pastry bag (or large ziplock bag) and fill bag with meringue. Pipe meringue onto lined baking sheets.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, meringues should easily lift from parchment paper. Turn oven off and leave meringues in the oven while it cools. Once cool, store in an airtight container. Makes 8 dozen 1 1/2-2 inch meringues.

Source: The Penny Whistle Christmas Party Book

Chex Caramel Corn


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My week of sweet treats continues, after a one day interruption (sorry, I had unexpected schedule overload!). I was looking for something to munch on while I baked and something I could throw in my lunches. Something that was sweet, salty and crunchy. I looked around Chex's website to see what I could come up with since I have 2 boxes of Corn Chex.

When I spotted this Caramel Corn Chex Mix recipe it brought me back to my childhood, when we used to make caramel popcorn balls that we wrapped and hid in our Christmas tree. I don't know if this was only something our family did, or if this was a thing back in the day. Do any of you have memories of this?

Of course this would be great bagged up for your holiday trays, or just as a big bowl for guests to munch on before or after a meal. I'm not sure what I liked about this most, the fact that you use the microwave and it's done within 15 minutes, or that it has just a light coating of caramel, enough to add sweetness, but not so much that it sticks to your teeth.

By the way, I don't plan on bringing the popcorn ball tradition back anytime soon, not with this frequent sighting in our tree...

Here is what you'll need:
  • 4 cups popped popcorn
  • 4 cups of your favorite Chex Cereal (I used Corn Chex)
  • 1/2 cup peanuts 
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • decorating sprinkles
Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Set aside.

Mix popcorn, cereal and peanuts in a large microwaveable bowl.

In a medium microwaveable bowl, add butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and vanilla extract. Microwave 1 minutes. Stir. Microwave another 1 minute, until bubbling. Pour over popcorn mixture. Stir.

Microwave popcorn mixture for 1 minute. Stir and scrape side of the bowl. Repeat microwaving and stirring 4 - 5 times. When the mixture comes of the microwave the last time, shake on sprinkles and stir.

Spread mixture on lined baking sheet. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Slightly adapted from Chex

Hot Cocoa Cookies


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 While shopping at Target I decided to browse down the baking aisle to see if there was anything interesting. I came across Kraft's Mallow Bits and read a recipe on the side for Hot Cocoa Cookies. At the time I thought this was a new product, until I searched online and saw I was way behind in my discovery.

I couldn't wait to try these bits and dug right in when I got home. I quickly discovered these are exactly like the marshmallows from Lucky Charms!

Since it has been a while since JR had sweets (he's SO sad about the demise of Ring Dings and Funny Bones), I got to making a batch of these. He loved them, as did my sister. I thought they where a bit sweet, but, I guess they are cookies!

The great thing about this recipe is that it makes a ton of cookies, which is great for the holiday cookie exchanges going on right now. And the kids will go crazy for them!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup (or 4 individual packages) Hot Chocolate Mix (not sugar free)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup Mallow Bits (you could substitute mini marshmallows)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, hot chocolate, salt, baking soda and baking powder.

Slowly add dry ingredients to mixer and mix until well combined. The dough will be very thick; the motor in my mixer sounded like it was struggling!  Once dry ingredients are mixed well, add chocolate chips and mallow bits. Mix until just combined.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and drop onto cookie sheets. Bake for 8-11 minutes or until the edges begin to brown. Be careful not to over bake as these are soft cookies. Makes 4 dozen.

Source: Love from the Oven as seen on Kraft's Mallow Bits

Irish Cream Fudge


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My Week of Sweet Treats continues with something boozy! I'm not a big drinker, but Irish Cream is something I like to keep on hand, especially during the holidays. When I saw Melissa post this Irish Cream Fudge last year I knew it had to make an appearance on my holiday trays.

I was a big fan of this unusual combination. It is super sweet, so I recommend cutting it into very small pieces (my pieces were too big!). And obviously if you gift this on a tray, be sure to label it or include a note. We don't want any tipsy children stumbling upon Santa! 

I have my sights on experimenting with chocolate chips and mint flavored Bailey's next. Keep your eyes peeled for this one!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 36 oz white chocolate chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup Irish cream liquor, plus 3-4 tablespoons
  • 1/3 cup salted pistachios, chopped
Line a 9 inch square baking dish with foil, allowing the foil to hang over the sides of the pan. Lightly grease pan, I used cooking spray, and set aside.

In a medium sauce pan over low heat, combine chocolate chips, condensed milk and liquor. Stir constantly until chocolate has almost melted.

Remove from heat and stir constantly until chocolate is melted and smooth. Add pistachios and stir until incorporated.

Pour into lined baking pan. Let cool until set. Lift fudge by foil and remove from pan. Remove foil and cut fudge. Makes 64 small squares.

Cappuccino Fudge


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Today begins my Week of Sweet Treats! 

Christmas is often a time known for sweet treat in our family. I have many memories of making dozens and dozens of cookies since childhood. Recipes varied from easy to complex. Over the last 5 years or so I've tried to stick to easy, and in doing so branched out to different candies as well.

The recipes I'm sharing with you this week are all easy ones! I hope you'll get inspired to make some for your family as well.

I'll begin with a recipe that was new to me last year as last year became known as the year of fudge around here. It is so easy to make and always well received. This Cappuccino Fudge would be a perfect gift for any coffee lover as it delivers an afternoon jolt in a bite or two!
Top: Cappuccino Fudge, Bottom: Irish Cream Fudge
This fudge is on the softer side, so I'm recommending keeping it refrigerated.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 7 oz marshmallow cream
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp instant coffee
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
Line an 8 inch square baking dish with aluminum foil and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine marshmallow cream, sugar, cream, butter, coffee, cinnamon and salt. Stir constantly while bringing to a boil. Continue to boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth.

Pour into lined baking pan. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours before cutting. Makes 36 small pieces. Keep refrigerated.

Source: Annie's Eats

National Blogging Day of Rememberance



Toasted Coconut Custard Pie


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This post was meant for November's What's Baking. I guess it's obvious now that I didn't make the deadline. Actually, the pie was made, it's just the post that didn't make it. Oh well! I'll have a December post for sure!

Toasted Coconut Custard Pie has become a traditional pie for our family since after I began dating JR. I wanted to take something to his parent's house for Thanksgiving. Dessert is usually my domain when it comes to his family's celebrations since very few people in his family bake. Since my family sticks to pies on Thanksgiving, my mind was on bringing pies for his family as well.

Coconut is favorite flavor with his family, so I knew this Toasted Coconut Custard Pie would be well received. It was, and so the tradition began of taking this pie every year. I can't remember now if I made one for my family that first year as well or not, if not it was very soon after that this pie made it's way to my family's Thanksgiving table as well.

Here is what you'll need:

2 deep dish pie crusts (I use frozen)
4 extra large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut, divided
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 425F degrees.

To partially bake pie shells:

Place a piece of aluminum foil in each pie shell. Fill each pie shell with dried beans to weigh down the foil. Place pie shells in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove pie shells from oven and remove beans and foil. Place pie shells back in the oven and bake for 4 minutes. Remove pie shells from oven and set aside.

Reduce oven to 325F degrees.

To make pie filling:

Using a stand mixer, beat eggs on high for about 5 minutes until they become thick and light yellow.

Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a small bowl. Beat this mixutre into the eggs until well combined. 

Reduce mixer to medium speed. Add cream, milk and vanilla to egg mixture. Beat for about 3 minutes until light and frothy. Gently stir in 1 1/4 cup coconut.

Evenly divide filling between 2 pie shells. Place pies on a baking sheet. Dot tops of pies with butter pieces and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Place pies in oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove pies from oven and sprinkle with remaining coconut. Place pies back in oven and bake 20-30 minutes more. The pies are done when the center slightly jiggles when the pie is moved, and the coconut is toasted. A knife inserted into the middle of the pie will also come out clean.

Remove pie from oven and cool on wire racks for 1 hour. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Makes 2 - 9 in. deep dish pies.

Source: TheRecipeLink.com

Peanut Butter Cup Blondie Bites


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We've cut back our grocery budget since my change in career, which means we're not buying as many of JR's boxed treats and I'm trying to make him more snacks instead. You'd think he would be thrilled, but truth be told, he loves those individually packaged treats sold in a box!

The one way I know to win him over is with peanut butter. As I've mentioned on here before, JR adores peanut butter anything. It was no surprise that he loved these Peanut Butter Cup Blondie Bites.  

This preparation was a bit unique in that you melt butter on the stove and add ingredients from there. Beware, I didn't give the batter enough time to cool and the peanut butter cups started melting as soon as they hit the batter. I tell you this so that you don't miss that important step in the directions! 

I think these would be a big hit on a holiday cookie tray! Familiar, yet a little different.

Here is what you'll need:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mini peanut butter cups
Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. 

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Remove pan from heat and add brown sugar. Stir until dissolved. Once sugar mixture has cooled slightly, add egg and vanilla, and stir until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir until combined. Once the mixture has cooled, add peanut butter cups and stir until just combined.

Spoon batter evenly into muffin cups and smooth tops with back of spoon. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until just set. Allow to cool completely in pan. Run a butter knife around the edge of each muffin cup before removing. Makes 24.

Source: Adapted from All You, May 2008 via My Recipes

Swedish Meatballs over Egg Noodles


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Swedish Meatballs is a meal I cannot recall ever eating. We may have had this meal growing up, but it's not one that I can remember. As an adult, this was never something that appealed to me. After all, meatballs are meant to be in a red sauce. Right?

Well, that's partially right. However, much to my surprise, meatballs are great in this sauce as well! I'm so glad that I talked to my friend The Home Cook and my sister, both of whose recommendation convinced me to give Swedish Meatballs a try. If you've never made them, I hope you will try them too!

Here is what you'll need:

For the Meatballs:
  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small onion, finely grated
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
For the Sauce:
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter 
  • 2 Tbsp all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 1/2  cup beef broth
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard 
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 lb egg noodles, cooked
  • handful of chopped chives
Combine meatball ingredients, with the exception of the olive oil, in a bowl until just mixed. Roll into mini meatballs, a bit smaller than golf balls.

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Fry meatballs until they are browned on each side, about 8-10 minutes. You may need to do this in batches in order to avoid overcrowding the pan. Once meatballs are browned on all sides, remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add the butter and melt. Add flour to melted butter and whisk together into a paste. Add sherry and whisk until smooth. Add beef broth slowly while whisking to make a sauce that coats the back of a spoon. Add salt and pepper and mix well. Turn heat to low and add mustard and yogurt. Stir to combine.

Add meatballs back to the pan and stir so meatballs are coated with sauce and are warmed through. Serve over egg noodles and garnish with chives. Serves 4.

Source: Slightly adapted from Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals as seen on A Taste of Home Cooking

Stuffed Cabbage and Peppers


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Now that Fall is here, we've switched from lighter grilled meals to heartier stovetop meals. What I love about Stuffed Cabbage and Peppers is, while it's a one-pot, hearty, stovetop meal, it's still on the lighter side. 

I have 2 stuffed cabbage recipes that I normally make. This one loosely resembles the recipe made by my mother as far back as I can remember. I don't know her measurements (there probably aren't any), nor do I know her exact ingredients, but I do remember piling all the wrapped cabbage and stuffed peppers in a pot, adding potatoes and covering them all with tomatoes. I took that memory and created a recipe around it and this is what I came up with. Enjoy!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 7 outer cabbage leaves
  • 3 cubanelle peppers
  • 1 lb. ground sirloin
  • 1 tsp oregano 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (or minute rice)
  • 1/4 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 head of cabbage, chopped
  • 1 cubanelle pepper, diced
  • 8 small potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 8 small tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
Fill a large pot with water and boil the 7 outer cabbage leaves until they are softened and partially cooked. Drain and set aside.

Hollow out 3 cubanelle peppers by cutting a circle around the stem and emptying out the seeds. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl add ground sirloin, oregano, salt, pepper, egg, Worcestershire, bread crumbs and onion. Combine until just mixed. Divide meat mixture into 10 portions.

Wrap 1 portion of meat mixture inside each of the cabbage leaves as if you were making a burrito. Stuff the remaining portions of meat into each of the cubanelle peppers.

Place wrapped cabbage and stuffed peppers in a large pot. Add chopped cabbage, diced pepper, potatoes, and tomatoes to the pot.

In a small bowl, combine tomato sauce, brown sugar and garlic. Mix well and pour over all ingredients in the pot. Cover.

Turn stove to medium/medium-high heat until the liquid begins to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 35-45 minutes, or until meat is cooked through and potatoes are tender. Serves 4-5.
Source: Adventures In My Kitchen Original

What's Baking: Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes


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This month's What's Baking is being hosted by Eva at Eva Bakes. There couldn't be a more fitting October theme than pumpkins and/or sweet potatoes. I was really excited about this theme becuase I have a slight addiction to sweet potatoes.

If you haven't noticed already, I normally end up baking a sweet each month for What's Baking, but this month I decided to use the sweet potato theme and bake a side dish. Jr loves sweet potato casserole, so I decided to do a switch up on that casserole and make Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes.

These were really great, and what I especially like about them is that it's easier to make exactly what you need and in individual portions. Also, you can taylor them to individual tastes like we did (some with and some without marshmallows). These are great for a weeknight, but would be a great side dish for Thanksgiving as well.

Be sure to head on over to Eva Bakes to look for this month's roundup which is sure to have a lot of inspiration for the upcoming holidays!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tsp real maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Marshmallows, optional
Preheat oven to 375F degrees.

Cook Sweet potatoes by either baking them or microwaving them until

Split sweet potatoes in half, scoop out insides of potatoes, leaving skins intact, and place in a bowl. Set sweet potato skins to the side.

Add butter, 1 Tbsp brown sugar, maple syrup and seasonings to the bowl with the sweet potato flesh. Combine well. Scoop mixture into the reserved potato skins. Sprinkle tops with remaining  brown sugar. Place on a baking sheet and place the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes.

Cut marshmallows in half if you are using regular size ones (you don't need to do this if using mini marshmallows). Remove baking sheet with sweet potatoes from the oven. Place marshmallows on top of each sweet potato (2-3 marshmallow halves per potato depending on the size of your potatoes). Place potatoes back in the oven and bake another 10 minutes, or until browned.

Source: Inspired by Guy Fieri

Potato Crust Quiche


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It's been a while since I've participated in the recipe swaps, and I'm really glad to be back participating with the group. This round was Blogger's Choice, and the blog I was assigned was Prevention RD. I love Nicole's blog, having tried many recipes from it in the past. 

I was initially looking for a meat-free dinner option, and almost made this Eggplant Zucchini Bolognese (minus the meat), but I just couldn't get into the mood for making it this week. I was really craving breakfast type foods, but JR isn't a believer in breakfast for dinner. When I came across this Potato Crust Quiche, I was pretty sure we could have breakfast for dinner without complaints. I was right! He ate it for dinner, and lunch the next day!

While there is nothing like the buttery crust of a quiche, this was a nice alternative and definitely satisfied my breakfast cravings. I went ahead and subbed ham and spinach, where Nicole used bacon and broccoli. This is one of the reasons I love quiche so much, you can make so many variations.

I mentioned early in this post that it has been a while since I participated in the swaps and in that time a few improvements were made. At the bottom of this post you will find a linkup of the recipes made during this swap.

I hope you'll give this quiche a try. This would be perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner this upcoming weekend.

Here is what you'll need:

For the Crust:
  • 3 cups coarsely shredded uncooked potatoes (I used frozen ones, defrosted)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a 10-inch cheesecake pan or pie plate and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine crust ingredients. Press into prepared cheesecake pan or pie plate. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Reduce heat to 350F.

For the Filling:
  • 3 oz cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 oz. ham, diced (or other meat of your choice)
  • 1 box frozen spinach, defrosted and strained (or other vegetable or your choice)
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup fat-free half-and-half
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • dash ground nutmeg
Layer cheese, onion, ham, and spinach onto crust. 

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, half-and-half, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Pour egg mixture over ingredients and crust.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6 for a breakfast or with side (we had 4 dinner servings with no sides).

Source: Adapted from Prevention RD

What's Baking: Beer Bread



This month's What's Baking is hosted by Jenna of Jenna's Cooking Journey. Jenna asked us to bake our favorite quick bread. If you've been following me for while, you know that I've made quite a few quick breads. This is mostly due to my fear of yeast. I love how easy quick breads are to throw together and I find they are very difficult to mess up, unlike plenty of yeast experiments that have ended up in the garbage.

I wasn't in the mood for a sweet bread which I generally gravitate toward. A quick Google search taught me that Beer Bread is in fact considered a quick bread. I've made Beer Bread before, however, it was from a box mix. I didn't realize how easy it was to make from scratch. I served the Beer Bread as a side to homemade vegetable soup which was a perfect meal for the early autumn chill in the air. I think this would be great with some fresh herbs mixed into the batter, I'll probably add chives next time I make this.

Be sure to check out Jenna's Cooking Journey to see the roundup of quick breads. I'm sure there will be some great ideas to make for gifts for the upcoming holidays!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375F degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add beer and mix until just combined, being careful not to over mix (the batter will be lumpy).

Pour batter into greased loaf pan. You will need to use a spoon to evenly distribute the batter in the pan.. Spread butter over top of batter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool on iron rack. Makes 1 loaf.

Source: Epicurious

Fried Green Tomatoes


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A few green tomatoes fell of the vine as I was harvesting in the garden a while ago. I've been saying for years that I want to try fried green tomatoes, so after canning all the ripe tomatoes I got to work on dinner. I thought they'd pair nicely with the grilled steak we were planning.

I couldn't resist taking a bite while the first batch was cooling and I was immediately hooked! It's hard for me to really pinpoint the flavor, however, I expected something sour and that was not the case at all! While these are a little time consuming, I already have them on the menu again later this week. This new discovery may work against my plan to can enough tomatoes to take through to next year's harvest. With any luck, my neighbor will share some of his crop so I can continue to feed my new addiction!

I want to point out that while I found this recipe in one of my newer cookbooks, I didn't measure anything so this recipe below is really loosely written.

Here is what you'll need:
Slice tomatoes into about 1/4 inch rounds. Sprinkle both sides of sliced tomatoes with seasoned salt. 

In a shallow bowl, beat eggs. Place bread crumbs in another shallow bowl.

Coat bottom of frying pan with vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat.

Dip both sides of tomato slices in egg, allow excess egg to drip off. Dip both sides of egged tomato slices in breadcrumbs making sure they are well coated (no tomato showing through). Place coated tomato slice in preheated frying pan. Lower heat of pan to medium. Repeat with remaining tomato slices, working in batches and being careful not to overcrowd the pan.

Cook about minutes or until golden brown, turn over and cook another minutes or until second side is golden brown. Remove from pan and place on a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess oil.

Source: Adapted from Old-Fashioned Tomato Recipes

Barbecue Potato Chip Chicken



When we were in Portland, ME this summer we stopped at a little gourmet food shop after we left Portland Head Light and Fort Williams Park. If you're ever in that area, make sure you check out The Buttered Biscuit which is about 2 miles outside the park on the main road. Not only do they have a cute name, they have amazing homemade food! If I had known better, we would have picked up lunch first and taken it to the park for a picnic. Now you know!

This particular day they had a chicken salad wrap which include pecans and cranberries, and a unique fennel based coleslaw which I chose for lunch. JR (pictured above) tried the barbecue potato chip chicken and a cumin based yellow rice. We both enjoyed everything, especially the dessert bars (date and peanut butter) we brought back to the hotel for a late night snack!

Not too long ago I was stumped on ideas for dinner when I remembered we had a half a bag of leftover barbecue potato chips. The Buttered Biscuit became my inspiration for dinner. This wasn't an exact replica, I have no idea how they make their chicken, but it was good and a unique way to prepare chicken. I served the chicken with zucchini sauteed with onions and peppers.

If you can't make it to Portland anytime soon, give this dinner a try instead!

Here is what you'll need:
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, cut in half lengthwise into 2 thinner pieces (4 pieces total)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed barbecue potato chips
  • 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp vegetable oil for frying
Preheat frying pan over medium-high heat. Add butter and oil, and turn down to medium if it begins smoking.

Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Mix egg and barbecue sauce in another shallow bowl. Place crushed potato chips in their own separate shallow bowl.

Take 1 piece of chicken dip in flour, turning until the entire piece is coated with the flour. Dip the floured chicken into the egg mixture, turning until the entire piece is coated well. Dip the egged chicken into the potato chips, turning until well coated (you don't want any of the egg or chicken showing through).

Place chicken into preheated frying pan and cook until browned about 5-7 minutes. Turn the chicken over and brown the second side, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate until remaining chicken pieces are cooked. Serves 4.

Source: Inspired by The Buttered Biscuit in S. Portland, ME

Italian Pasta Salad


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In my last post I declared I was back in a rhythm. I unintentionally lied to you! You see, as of September 1, I began a new chapter in my life and there is no rhythm at all this point. I've been off the last few weeks after resigning from our company in order to make a major career change. Exactly what I want to be when I grow up is still unclear at this point, however, I know it will involve working with children in some way. In the meantime, I'll be gaining experience working with children by substitute teaching starting today. I'm really excited about what the future holds!

You know what else makes me excited? Pasta. I could eat it several nights a week if JR was on board with me. However, he is a rice guy (nothing wrong with that!), so while pasta makes its appearance, it's only once a week if that.


When we are invited to gatherings, especially last minute ones, I use that as an opportunity to sneak in a pasta dish. This Italian Pasta Salad has made it's appearance at many family gatherings, which included a recent picnic. One of the things I like most about this dish is that I often have all the ingredients on hand and I can mix up what I use for vegetables, cheeses, meats and dressings that you This salad is so forgiving, and while I never have a duplicate final product it's always delicious. If you have time, make this the night before so the pasta has time to soak in the dressing.

Here is what you'll need if you're feeding a crowd (otherwise, cut back ingredients for a smaller portion):
  • 2 pounds medium shaped pasta (i.e. shells, rotini, wagon wheels, bowties, etc.)
  • 4-6 oz. pepperoni, diced (or diced ham, salami or other meat)
  • 4-6 oz. cheddar cheese, diced (or any cheese of your choice)
  • handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • 1 can of small black olives
  • 6 oz. jar marinated mushrooms, halved (or artichokes)
  • 6 oz. jar roasted peppers, chopped (or fresh peppers)
  • 16 oz. bottle balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing (or other dressing of your choice)
Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain and cool.

Once pasta is cooled, mix all ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Before serving, stir. Serves 12+.

What's Baking: Harvest Muffins


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I think I'm back in a rhythm now, and that means I'm also back to What's Baking participation. This month's host is Joanna from Newlywed and Newly Cooking and she chose the theme "Bake Your Happy Place". 


I'll be honest, I was pretty stumped with what to make. Does that mean I don't have a happy place? Can't be so. I think the issue is narrowing down to 1 pick. I decided on these Harvest Muffins.  I'd say one of my most happy places is being outdoors during the harvest season. Whether it's strolling through a country fair, picking apples, taking a drive to see the colorful leaves or sipping something warm by a bonfire, being outdoors during harvest season always makes me happy.

These muffins were fantastic! If you're looking for something fairly healthy and just slightly sweet, here's your match! Additionally, they have little flecks of color and crunchiness, and a warm spicy smell and flavor. These are going to be a great grab-and-go breakfast for this week!

Be sure to check out Newlywed and Newly Cooking for this month's What's Baking round-up.
Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini
  • 1 shredded carrot
  • 1 shredded apple
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
  • 1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1/8 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Spray 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder and spices in a large mxing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine shredded zucchini, carrot and apple.

In a small bowl, combine, eggs, brown sugar and milk. Whisk until well combined. Add egg mixture to shredded vegetables and fruit. Stir until well combined.

Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until almost combined (mostly wet, but a few dry spots). Add flax seeds and cranberries, and fold until combined being careful not to overmix.

Evenly distribute among pre-greased muffin cups (~1/4 cup batter in each cup). Bake for 12-14 minutes until browned and toothpick inserted comes out clean. Serves 12.

Source: Adapted from Shrinking Kitchen

How Does My Garden Grow: End-August


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I was recently called out for not updating my blog. If I recall correctly, last summer my posts also took a plunge. It must be the heat that does it to me. Can anyone else relate to it just being too hot to cook? Even though that's how I felt most of the summer, I do have a few things to share with you in the coming weeks. Which by the way, I'll have a lot of time on my hands starting next week so you'll be seeing more posts from me.

But first, I thought I'd update you on my garden which did AWESOME this year! We've enjoyed so much fresh picked produce and I've also been busy preserving so we'll have our own produce for a few more months. So far I've been able to put up the following:
  • Quartered Tomatoes, canned - 2 quarts, 9 pints
  • Quartered Tomatoes, frozen - 1 gallon bag (and still many more to come!) 
  • Tomato Juice, canned - 3 pints
  • Garlic Dill Pickles, canned - 4 pints
  • Sweet Sandwich Pickles, canned - 3 pints
  • Peas, frozen - 1 cup
  • Sugar Snap Peas, frozen - 5 cups
  • Turnip, frozen - 2-1/2 gallon bags
  • Buttercup Squash, frozen - 1/2 gallon bag
  • Rhubarb, frozen - 2 cups (farmer's market)
  • Blueberries, frozen - 9 pints (pick-your-own)
I also have a few tomatoes, pattypan squash, radishes, tomatillos and 1/2 zucchini to use in meals this week. While most of the plant beds are now empty, we are still harvesting tomatoes, radishes, peppers, eggplant, brussel sprouts and tomatillos.

Eggplant, tomatillo, radish and brussel sprouts (peppers are upper left)
In the next few weeks I'd like to get some peaches and corn from the farmers market to put up as well. And then of course there will be winter squash and apple season!

Leave me a comment to let me know what you were able to preserve this year!

Buttermilk Banana Bread


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I can't believe I'm posting a recipe that involves baking. It's been way too hot to bake in the last few weeks, but a few weeks ago I did heat up the house to make this banana bread again. I originally made it on Easter for both of our family gatherings, and at both it disappeared in a flash. JR was disappointed it went so quickly and has been requesting it ever since. He describes it as "the best banana bread ever" and "bangin' good".

Whenever I buy bananas we never eat them all so I always have some on hand in the freezer. I freeze them as is with the peels on. When I need them in a recipe, I take them out and place them in a bowl of cold water until they begin to soften (generally less than 10 minutes). Peel, mash, and now they are ready to use!


Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3⁄4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup oil
  • 1⁄3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease loaf pan and set aside.

Combine flour and baking soda in a small bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Add dry mixture and mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

Pour batter into loaf pan. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before cutting.

Source: Adapted from Saveur and What's Cooking Chicago via Carries Sweet Life

How Does My Garden Grow: Early-July


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I don't know how a month managed to fly by since the last time I posted a garden update. Our garden has been producing so much in late June and early July that we jokingly referring to it as our farm. The growing season is about 1/2 over here and JR and I both agree that this is the best garden we've ever had! Not only have we yielded more than ever before, we've also had a lot of success growing new types of vegetables. I won't bore you with any more talk, I'll just get on to what we've harvested in the last month.

First up is greens, lots and lots of greens. We've enjoyed multiple salads with crisp heads of 2 varieties of romaine and bowl after bowl of arugula and spinach. We've had so much that we've shared with family and friends. You may also see a small amount of dill peeking out. The dill bolted a while ago and spinach recently bolted so those were both pulled. I hope to reseed once the summer heat starts to fade.

I've also harvested 2 bowls of both peas (left) and snow peas (right), which I've flash boiled and frozen. It looks like a lot of peas until you shuck them...

This sink-full below is a twice weekly scene in our house. I've lost count of the cucumbers and zucchini we've picked, but I can safely say more than 20 and 12 respectively. We've enjoyed many ourselves, shared with family and neighbors, and I foresee lots of pickle and relish canning in the very near future. Note: I try to pick them smaller than shown here, but they got away from us while we were on vacation.

Here is a sampling of some new items this year, turnips, pattypan squash and radishes. I've used the turnip in soup but we've yet to try the others. Again, we've shared our pickings with family and neighbors and tomorrow's dinner will use up these pattypan shown here (recipe coming soon).

A few things harvested but not pictured are a handful of golden cherry tomatoes which didn't even make it into the house (eaten straight from the vine!), more strawberries, rosemary, scallions, chives, mint and cilantro.

Things we've yet to harvest: black raspberries, buttercup squash, peppers, tomatoes and thyme.

Things which have yet to produce: eggplant, tomatillos, brussel sprouts and spaghetti squash.

Do you have any ideas for cucumbers other than pickles and relish? What have you been enjoying from  your garden or the farmer's market?




Sorry for the sudden silence and lack of posts. I took a much needed vacation and as we were driving I decided to unplug for the week (instead of frantically catching up on blog posts). It was heaven. How could this not be:

I'll be back this week with some recipes to share. Thanks for sticking around!

Crockpot Pulled Pork v2.0


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It's recipe swap reveal day! The theme this time around was Burgers/Sandwiches and I was given Pulled Pork Sandwiches from Dough See Dough. I know what you're thinking, and you're right, this photo is not a sandwich. We did make this into sandwiches, twice, and I didn't get a photo either time. However, I did capture this quesadilla photo which I made from the leftovers.

The photo wasn't my only issue. I had a moment of panic when I smelled something sweet as I was pouring what I thought was chicken stock into the crockpot. It wasn't chicken stock. It was pineapple juice! Ugh! Note to self, you may want to consider labeling the containers you put in the freezer! Despite my mistake, this recipe turned out well and we enjoyed this for several meals as sandwiches with coleslaw and as quesadillas. There was still more leftover which I froze for a future meal.

Since this utilizes the crockpot, it was a perfect recipe to make during the heat wave that hit New England last week. If you're in for a heat wave this weekend or are hosting a July 4th picnic, you may want to dust off your crockpot and let it do the work while you sit in front of the air conditioning with a drink!

Check out A Taste of Home Cooking for the upcoming Recipe Swap Roundup: Burgers/Sandwiches.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 lb pork shoulder roast
  • 1 cup homemade barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
Place chopped onion in the bottom of crockpot. Place pork roast on top of onions.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Pour over roast.

Cover crockpot and cook on low for 9-10 hours, or until roast shreds easily with a fork.

Transfer roast from crockpot to a large cutting board. Shred roast using two forks. Return meat to crockpot, stir and cook for 30 minutes. Serves 10+.

Source: Dough See Dough

Turkey Burger Pitas with Tzatziki


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Greek food is pretty high up on my list of favorites. I'm known for ordering a gyro platter (gyro, Greek salad and fries or soup) at our neighborhood pizza joint. When I saw these burgers pop up on A Taste of Home Cooking I knew they needed to make an appearance on our meal plan.

While this recipe looks like a lot of work, this meal came together fairly quickly. I made the tzatziki and while it was chilling I made the burgers, cooked them and assembled dinner. You could also make the components the night before or morning of, which I love to do in order to make dinnertime more manageable.

The tzatziki really makes this meal great! The burgers were really juicy due to the zucchini, but I think next time I'll add some oregano and possibly feta to bump up their flavor a bit. If you like Greek food, these are well worth putting on your weekly meal plan!

For the Tzatziki:
  • 1/2 English Cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
  • 12 oz Greek yogurt
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil 
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.

For the Burgers:
  • 3/4 lb ground turkey
  • 1 small zucchini, shredded
  • 1/4 small onion, shredded
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro
  • salt pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Divide into 8 portions, and form each portion into a mini burger about 1-1/2 inch thick.

Preheat a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Add burgers to the pan and cook for about 6 minutes. Flip and cook on second side for another 5-6 minutes.

To Serve:
  • 2 pita with pockets, cut in half
  • 1/2 English cucumber, sliced thinly
  • 1 small tomato, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 onion, sliced thinly
Place cucumber, tomato and onion slices in a pita half. Add 2 burgers and top with tzatziki.

Serves: 4, 2 mini burgers each

Source: Adapted from Weight Watchers as seen on A Taste of Home Cooking

Peanut Butter Pancakes


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Once in a while JR will request breakfast, and since he is not normally a breakfast eater I jump at the chance to fulfill his request. Last weekend he asked if we had peanut butter chips; he wanted peanut butter pancakes. Just so happens, I picked up a big bag a week or so prior.

I wanted to kick up the peanut butter flavor a bit, so I used peanut butter in place of butter in the batter. Topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a drizzle of real maple syrup, you basically have dessert for breakfast! And I don't think that's a bad thing (occasionally)!

I had every intention of getting these on the blog last week, but they were gone before I could get a photo. JR loved these so much he asked for them again Friday, so I snagged a photo quickly before heading out to work. Coming from a non-breakfast guy, 2 requests in one week speaks to just how good these are!

Here is what you'll need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 Tbsp peanut butter, melted
  • 9 tsp peanut butter chips
  • Stick butter for greasing griddle
Preheat griddle to 325-350F degrees.

Sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

Beat eggs, milk and melted peanut butter in a small mixing bowl. Add to dry ingredients and whisk until well combined.

Rub one end of the stick of butter over the griddle to grease it.

Drop 1/4 cup scoops of batter onto hot griddle.  Sprinkle 1 tsp of peanut butter chips over each pancake.

Cook first side of pancake for about 3 minutes until bottom is browned and tiny bubbles rise to the top and pop. Flip and cook second side about 2 minutes until browned on the bottom.

Makes 9 pancakes.

Source: Adapted from Rosemary Brown's Big Kitchen Instruction Book

Melissa's Bolognese Sauce


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When I was assigned I Was Born to Cook for the latest Blogger's Choice Recipe Swap, first I audibly exclaimed "YES!", then I started searching for something Italian to make. I mean Melissa is 3/4 Italian, so if I wanted something authentic this was about as close as I was going to get. 

Melissa's Bolognese Sauce was recipe choice #2. Recipe #1 was Pasta e Fagioli, however, I made the fatal mistake of using an un-smoked ham hock. After my additions to bump up the flavor, the resulting soup, while delicious, no longer resembled Melissa's recipe. Note to self, when it says smoked, use smoked!

Not quite ready, still simmering and reducing
I am so glad I was forced on to recipe #2 because this was fantastic! I must confess that I have never made bolognese before, as I'm not big into meat sauce (or so I thought). I also never started a sauce with mirepoix (onion, celery and carrots), and I'm really struggling to think of when I've made a sauce that included wine. That's a lot of confessions in one post! Having said of all that, I realize that I haven't had good meat sauce until now either.

Not only was this fantastic, this was so much fun and easy to make! I felt as if a friend was reading the recipe to me as I was reading through it. Melissa cooks a lot like I do, a pinch of this, 1/2 cup (maybe a little more) of that...that's exactly how I cook. I've actually found it difficult to discipline myself to measure in order to document recipes here on the blog.

If you haven't had good meat sauce, make this for Sunday dinner. Your family will thank you (and you'll thank Melissa like I am!) for dinner and the leftovers which were equally good, if not better.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 portobello mushroom, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1 lb ground sirloin beef  
  • 1/2 cup (maybe a bit more) dry white or red wine (I used white)
  • 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil and crushed red pepper. Once oil is heated, add celery, carrots, onions, mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring as needed, until soft and beginning to brown. Once the mushrooms begin to brown add salt and pepper. Cook about 8 minutes.

Add ground beef and break up using a wooden spoon. Salt and pepper, and stir meat until it is all browned (no pink remains). Add wine, stir with a wooden spoon to de-glaze the pan, and cook about 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes and basil. Stir, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring as needed, until sauce reduces a bit, about 20 minutes. Serve over pasta. Serves 4-6.

Source: Slightly adapted from I Was Born to Cook

Mango Passion Fruit Glazed Chicken Skewers


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Do you ever buy something, try it and think, "meh." Then a few days later you catch yourself grabbing for it thinking, "it wasn't that bad." That is until you are eating it and thinking, "I paid $3 for this, there is no way I am throwing this away." Who's with me?

I hate waste, and I've mentioned before that I'm really trying to cut down on it. One thing I'm learning is that if I stick to cooking staples, I'm better off. However, I've mentioned before I have an obsession with jelly and jams. Whenever I see a unique flavor I have to pick it up. More ofthen than not I like it, however, once in awhile something comes along that just isn't pleasing to my palate.

Enter mango passion fruit fruit spread. It sounds good, but it's not. I've tried it several times thinking, "it wasn't that bad" and after tasting it I remember, "meh." Thanks to Branny Boils Over, I found a way to use up those "meh" jelly and jams that really isn't that bad!

These chicken skewers were super simple and have a lot of palate-pleasing flavor. I was a little apprehensive about rosemary with these flavors, but it worked so I'm thinking you could substitute with just about any flavor jelly/jam/fruit spread. If you're apprehensive about the rosemary, go ahead and use another herb in it's place.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 2 springs fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup mango passion fruit fruit spread
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar 
  • oil for the grill
Combine 1 sprig of rosemary, brown sugar, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes in a mixing bowl. Add the chicken cubes and mix well to coat all the pieces.

Place chicken on skewers and allow to marinate 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Just before grilling, combine remaining rosemary, fruit spread, soy sauce and vinegar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until well combined and thinned out. Set aside. (You could even heat this on the grill while the chicken is cooking).

Brush a little oil on the grill grate to help prevent the chicken from sticking. Place the chicken skewers on the grill and cook for about 3-5 minutes per side until browned. Turn skewers every 3-5 minutes until 3 sides are browned. When the last side is browning, use a pastry brush to coat the kabobs with the fruit glaze.

Total cooking time is about 12-14 minutes. Serves 2.

Source: Adapted from Fine Cooking via Branny Boils Over

How Does My Garden Grow: Early June



I can't believe it's been just 3 short weeks since I last posted about my garden! Big things are happening here, and I'm so excited. First, take a look at this beautiful bowl of greens (arugula, romaine and spinach), scallions and chives that I picked for dinner tonight. Paired with those apple sized radishes and sweet red onions from the farmer's market, we had a crunchy, slightly spicy and fresh salad to accompany dinner tonight.

Okay, now on to the big things. We went from this:

to this! In 3 weeks!

Thank you sun, rain and amazing soil! As you can see, all the squash are healthy! We're seeing signs of baby zucchini...

and white turnip heads....

There are tons of flowers on the peas and tomatillos. The radishes are plenty, and the brussel sprouts, cucumbers and peppers all look strong.

Sugarsnap peas are flowering as well, the scallions may make it, however, the dill was a bust and has bolted.

The tomatoes are strong, with a few plants already flowering.

And the black raspberries, well, we got them fenced and netted. However, as you can see, they've bolted right through the netting and continue to be out of control. They are producing a lot of fruit which I'm pleased about. I need to read up on the possibilities of transplanting these bushes. We're talking about moving them to the back of the yard, away from the house, since they are a bit unsightly. Not to mention, they are growing up under the siding now.

How is your garden growing? I'd love to hear what's working, as well as what's not working, for you. 

Hershey's Creamy Cinnamon Chips Cheesecake



JR's birthday was this week and I had a lot of making up to do. Last year I spoiled his birthday weekend, big time. Yep, I graced his birthday with an unplanned 2-night hospital stay (no worries, I'm fine!) which resulted in him backing out of his guy's racing trip. Fortunately, my family is awesome and brought dinner, including a few slices of cheesecake, over for him to enjoy on his birthday, the day I came home.

This cheesecake was a year late, but JR said it was worth it! The combination of creamy filling, a slightly crunchy crust and the unique cinnamon layer in between makes for one unexpectedly light and unique dessert.

In terms of cheesecake, this was fairly easy to make. Although, it did end up with a huge crack in it after cooling, but after drizzling it I didn't think it looked too bad. I bumped up the ingredients for the crust since I have a 10 inch cheesecake pan. If your pan is smaller, check the original recipe.

Here is what you'll need:

For the Crust:
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 6 1/2 Tbsp butter, melted
Preheat oven to 325F degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine crust ingredients until combined. Pour into cheesecake pan and press into bottom and up sides of pan.

Place pan in oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove and set aside.

For the Filling:
  • 16 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 24 oz sour cream
  • 3 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 2/3 cup (10 oz) HERSHEY'S Cinnamon Chips, divided
  • 1 tsp shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)
Increase oven temperature to 350F degrees.

Place cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed until well combined.

Add sour cream and beat on low until combined. Add eggs and beat on low until combined.

Pour 1/2 of filling mixture over baked crust and spread with a rubber spatula to level. Sprinkle 1 1/3 of cinnamon chips over filling. Pour remaining filling over cinnamon chips and spread with a rubber spatula to level.

Place cheesecake on baking sheet and place in oven. Bake for 1 hour until center is set, it jiggles slightly when the pan is tapped.

Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Run a sharp knife around the inner edge of the pan to separate the cheesecake from the pan. Cool for another 30 minutes on a wire rack. Remove side of cheesecake pan and cool for another 1 hour on wire rack. (At this point, I covered the cheesecake and refrigerated it overnight.)

Combine cinnamon chips and shortening in a small bowl and microwave 30 seconds. Stir. Continue to microwave for 30 seconds and stir until chips are melted. Drizzle melted chips over the cheesecake, cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. (I did this step in the morning and served it the same evening). Serves 12 to 14.

Source: Hershey's