Pineapple Lime Punch



While this week was all about finger foods, this technically doesn't fit the theme. However, my idea for a chocolate yogurt fruit dip was a bust. A serious bust. So I'm improvising with this refreshing fruit punch which was a crowd pleaser.

I kept this punch PG since a soon-to-be mom was attending, and we were experimenting to see if she would like this punch (to serve at her baby shower), but I'm sure this would make an equally tasty adult beverage with the addition of your favorite rum.

Note: I used a different title than Paula Deen because Raspberry Ginger Ale Punch does not describe the prominent flavors here.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1 cup limeade concentrate
  • 2 liters raspberry gingerale
Chill all ingredients prior to assembling. Within 30 minutes of serving, combine all ingredients in a 1 gallon jug. Stir well. 

Makes 11 8-oz servings.

Source: Paula Deen

Bacon and Egg Salad Sandwiches


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Bacon, it's everywhere in the blogosphere, but it's not a trend I gravitated toward. That is until I saw this fun play on Bacon and Eggs on Oprah.com, Bacon and Egg Salad Sandwiches. Genius! I'm pretty sure that's what my guests were thinking as they quickly gobbled these up. I will definitely be making these again, and I'm looking for an excuse to make them soon (excess Easter eggs, anyone?!)!


I mixed the egg salad the night before and assembled the sandwiches a few hours before the party. I opted to place cooked bacon on top in order to avoid it getting soggy. I suppose I could have just crumbled the bacon and given the salad a stir before assembling too.

Here is what you'll need:
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs , chopped
  • 6 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 strips bacon, cut in thirds and cooked until crisp
  • 12 mini rolls, sliced (I used potato rolls)
Add the eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper to a mixing bowl and combine well. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of egg salad onto each roll.

Place 2 pieces of bacon on each sandwich. Makes 12 mini sandwiches.
    Source: Adapted from Oprah.com

    Buttermilk Herb Dip


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    Finger foods Day 3. I had leftover buttermilk from Irish Soda Bread, so I knew I wanted to incorporate this into a dip for my vegetable platter. I was happy to come across this Buttermilk Pepper Dip on Simple Bites which I used for my base (by the way, isn't their presentation adorable!). I love using low-fat buttermilk in recipes, and the fact that along with light sour cream it helps cut back the calories and fat while boosting flavor!

    I prepared this the night before, which I would recommend doing to allow the flavors to develop. I'm happy to have a little leftover to munch on and will definitely be making it again!

    Here is what you'll need:
    • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup light sour cream
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 Tbsp Penzey's Sunny Paris Seasoning

    Mix all ingredients together and allow to chill before serving.  Makes 1 1/2 cups.

    Source: Adapted from Simple Bites

    Chicken Salad for the Ladies


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    As I mentioned in my Pistachio Pudding Tart post, I had several ladies over recently which was a great opportunity to make a bunch of finger foods. I'm sure many of you can relate to this, it took me forever to finalize what I planned to serve. And it wasn't until the night before when everything came together, and these Chicken Salad Sandwiches were added.


    Truth be told, I was exhausted and wanted something easy. Since I had stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work to pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner, I decided to use the leftover chicken for sandwiches. I knew I had a plain eating crowd, so I had to keep things simple, but I wanted a little something special so I opted to add a bit of cranberries for sweetness and scallions for balance. And since a few of us are watching what we eat, I cut the mayonnaise with yogurt which added a nice flavor as well.

    I made the filling the night before and assembled a few hours before the party. These were well received, and even though I'm saying this recipe is "for the Ladies", JR enjoyed the leftovers as well! 

    Keep your eye out later this week for a fun spin on those egg salad sandwiches you see hiding in the background! In the meantime, mix up a batch of this salad for your lunch tomorrow.

    Here is what you'll need:
    • 2 cups finely chopped chicken 
    • 1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
    • 1 green onion, finely chopped
    • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
    • 3 Tbsp plain non-fat yogurt
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
    • 1/4 tsp garlic powder 
    • 12 mini sweet Hawaiian rolls
    Add all ingredients, except rolls, to a mixing bowl and combine well. Scoop a heaping tablespoon of chicken salad onto each roll. Makes 12 mini sandwiches.

    Source: Adventures in My Kitchen original

    What's Baking: Pistachio Pudding Tarts



    This month's What's Baking is hosted by Yudith at Blissfully Delicious. Yudith choose the theme "Bake something for St. Patrick's Day." I wasn't so ambitious for our annual St. Patrick's day celebration this year, the only baking I did was Irish Soda Bread (which I should have used for this entry) and break and bake cookies.

    Since I was having a bunch of ladies over for a purse party this weekend I thought it was a good opportunity to make up for my lack of St. Patrick's Day baking. But, I needed something easy. I haven't been into stretching myself in the kitchen lately, so these Pistachio Pudding Tarts worked at great in terms of being easy and something green, which is really their only connection to St. Patrick's Day. They also went over well with the ladies, and I could see making these time and time again with different pudding fillings. I froze half the tarts for use another time, so I will report back how they do post freezer.

    Be sure to come back this week for more finger foods from the party, and be sure to visit Blissfully Delicious to check out this month's round-up. Thanks for hosting Yudith!

    Here is what you'll need:
    • 1 cup butter, softened
    • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 3/4 cups cold 2% milk
    • 1 package (3.4 oz) instant pistachio pudding mix
    Preheat oven to 400° F.

    Beat butter and cream cheese together in a mixing bowl at high speed until smooth and fluffy. Reduce to low and slowly add flour, and mix for 20-30 seconds. Scrape down sides of mixing bowl. Continue mixing until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a ball.

    Split the dough in 2 balls, and set one aside. Working with 1 of the balls, make 24 1-inch size balls. Place one ball in each cup of a 24-cup mini muffin pan. Using the index and middle fingers of each hand, press each dough ball to spread it across the bottom and up the sides of each mini muffin cup.

    Repeat above steps with second large dough ball. Place pans in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until browned.

    Remove pans from oven and allow tarts to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Place a cooling rack over the top of the pan. Grabbing both the pan and cooling rack together, turn them over so the tarts are now on the cooling rack. Allow to finish cooling completely.

    In a mixing bowl, whisk milk and pudding together until pudding is completely dissolved. Refrigerate at least 1 hour until pudding sets (it will still jiggle, but will be firmer than when you finished whisking).

    Assemble up to 1-2 hours before serving by placing a teaspoon of pudding on top of each tart. Makes 48 mini tarts.

    Source: Taste of Home

    Strawberry Pancakes with Strawberry Maple Compound Butter


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    It's recipe swap time! This time the theme is Secret Recipe Club Style, meaning we are given a blog and can choose any recipe from it to make. I was given Lishie's blog, DeLish. It was really early, think 4:45 AM Sunday morning, when I started searching for what I would make. After searching for a while I got hungry and settled on something I could make for breakfast.

    As I mentioned last week, strawberries are at a great price right now and I'm still looking for ways to use them up. I settled on these Strawberry Pancakes with Strawberry Pancakes with Strawberry Maple Compound Butter. This was my first experience with compound butter, I added the maple not sure how it would work out. I'm happy to have discovered how easy these are to make. I can see experiments with different flavor combinations in my future.

    Here is what you'll need:

    For the Pancakes:
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 Tbsp sugar
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1 egg
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1/4 sliced strawberries
    • butter (for the pan)
    Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt in a mixing bowl. Add egg and milk, and whisk together until smooth. Add strawberries and gently stir until combined.

    Melt 1/2 Tbsp butter in a small frying pan over medium heat. Pour ~1/2 cup batter into pan and allow to cook about 3-4 minutes, or until the bottom is golden brown and the top is covered in bubbles. Flip the pancake over and cook the second for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter.

    To serve, plate and top with a small dollop of compound butter (recipe below) and maple syrup. Makes 5 pancakes.

    For the Butter:
    • 4 Tbsp butter, softened to room temperature
    • 2 Tbsp finely chopped strawberries
    • 2 tsp maple syrup
    Combine ingredients in a small food processor. Pulse 15-20 seconds to combine. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate to set-up.
      Source: Slightly adapted from Delish

      One-Pot Rosemary Chicken and White Beans


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      When I first scanned the ingredient list of this recipe I immediately knew we would like it. After tweaking the recipe a few times, we LOVE it! One-Pot Rosemary Chicken and White Beans is not only packed with protein, but I've bumped up the produce, for a well balanced dish that comes together in no time. This has quickly become a weeknight go-to meal in our house, and after trying it I can imagine this will easily become a go-to in your house as well.

      This latest version happened accidentally when JR picked up escarole at the store. I'd never cooked with escarole before, however, I'm happy this was an accidental purchase because I have a new love to work with in the kitchen. This is such a simple delicious meal, I hope you'll try it in your kitchen this week. Don't forget to serve it with some crusty bread for dipping!
      I'm sending this post out to Jey at The Jey of Cooking in honor of her mom who received a heart transplant almost 1 year ago. Jey, I'm so glad to hear your mom receive a second chance at life! If you'd like to help Jey spread the word about her cause, check out her post here.

      Here is what you'll need:
      • 2 tsp olive oil
      • 1 spring fresh rosemary, chopped
      • salt and pepper
      • 1/2 chicken, cut into 5 pieces (drumstick, thigh, wing and split the breast into 2 pieces)
      • 1 fennel bulb, diced
      • 1 medium onion, diced
      • 1 clove garlic, minced
      • 1/2 cup white wine
      • 28 oz canned plum tomatoes, low-salt or no-salt added preferred
      • 15 oz canned cannellini beans, rinsed
      • 1/2 head escarole, rough chopped
      Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper. Sear chicken in dutch oven for 3-4 minutes on each side until browned. Remove the skin and move all the chicken pieces to one side of the pot (stack it up if needed).

      Add fennel and onion to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften and brown about 5-8 minutes. Add garlic, stir and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.

      Rearrange chicken to evenly distribute among vegetables in the pot. Add wine to the pot, allow to simmer and scrape bottom of pot with wooden spoon to remove browned bits. Add tomatoes and their juice, and crush with wooden spoons. Add beans, stir and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 10-15 minutes.

      Remove cover, add escarole and stir. Cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Serves 4.

      Source: Adapted from Cooking Light

      Irish Soda Bread


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      Before this year, I would use this recipe for Irish Soda Bread, however, every year I would get comments about the bread being a little dry. This year I opted to try a new recipe with great success. I must even admit that this adaptation from Emeril's Every Day is Party cookbook was much moister, tastier and simpler.

      Here is what you'll need:
      • 4 cups bleached all-purpose flour
      • 1 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 cup raisins 
      • 2 cups buttermilk
      Preheat oven to 450F. Grease baking sheet and set aside.

      Combine flour, baking soda, salt and raisins in a mixing bowl. Add buttermilk and mix with a fork until a dough forms.

      Lightly flour a work surface, either a board or countertop. Transfer dough from the bowl to the floured surface. Gently fold the edges into each other four times, turn over, then pat the dough out into a circle about 9 inches in diameter and about 1 inch thick.

      Place dough on baking sheet. Using a knife, slice the top of the dough to make an X.

      Place baking sheet in oven and bake 15 minutes. Turn oven temperature down to 400F. Continue baking bread for 25 additional minutes until bread is browned. To test the bread, tap on the top of the loaf and listen for a hollow thumping sound. Cut into 8 large slices or 12-16 smaller slices.

      Source: Adapted from Emeril's Every Day is a Party Cookbook

      Baked Macaroni and Cheese


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      Before I discovered Stovetop Mac and Cheese, this Baked Macaroni and Cheese was my go-to recipe. They both have a place in our menu rotation, but this will always have first place in my heart (or is it stomach?). Overtime I've experimented with several cheese blends, and surprisingly extra sharp cheddar paired with American cheese is by far our favorite.

      I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while now, but until now I haven't been able to get a decent photo. Thank you time change for giving me better light for dinner photos! Coincidentally, this year's time change brought with it a drastic change in weather, which indicates this may be the last baked mac and cheese of the season. If you want to fulfill your mac and cheese craving before spring and summer are here to stay, go ahead and make this soon.

      Here is what you'll need:

      • 8 oz. short pasta (I prefer cellentani, but I only had medium shells on hand)
      • 5 Tbsp butter
      • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
      • 2 3/4 cup 1% milk 
      • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
      • 1/2 tsp dried mustard powder
      • 1/4 tsp black pepper
      • 6 oz. shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
      • 4 oz. shredded American cheese
      • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 9x13 baking dish and set aside.

      Bring water to a boil in a large pot, add salt and pasta. Cook pasta partially through, removing from boiling water 2 minutes before instructions tell you to (you want the pasta undercooked since it will cook more in the oven). Drain and set aside.

      In a large saute pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add flour, stir and allow to cook 3-5 minutes until it becomes golder brown. The mixture will bubble and foam, stir to be sure it doesn't burn.

      Slowly add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add Worcestershire, mustard and pepper, combine well. Add cheddar and American cheeses and stir until melted and smooth. Add cooked pasta to cheese sauce and combine well.

      Pour pasta into greased baking dish. Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until top is golden brown. Serves 6-8.

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

      Strawberry Lemon Glazed Muffins


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      JR and I both had a busy Saturday ahead of us so since I woke before the alarm, not unusual, I wanted to prepare something we could eat before we heading out. The truth is, I wanted to prepare something that JR would eat rather than leaving on an empty stomach. We only had 1 egg and we had eaten our share of oatmeal and fruit breakfasts during the week, so I turned to my muffin cookbook (in my quest to actually cook from my cookbooks) and thumbed through for recipes requiring only 1 egg.

      The first recipe in the book happens to be a basic muffin recipe. Perfect. I adapted the recipe to include whole wheat flour and decided on a strawberry lemon flavoring. Good strawberries are starting to appear at our grocery store now and I'm able to get 2 lbs for less than 1 lb normally costs. As you can imagine I've been buying them up like crazy.

      To finish off the muffins, I topped them with a simple lemon glaze. JR and I both enjoyed these for a weekend morning treat. The addition of the glaze was perfect because the muffin itself is not overly sweet. My mind is already churning with ideas for other flavor combinations.

      Here is what you'll need:

      For the Muffins:
      •  1 cup all purpose flour
      • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
      • 2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/4 tsp salt
      • 1/3 cup sugar
      • 1 egg
      • 3/4 cup milk
      • 1/4 cup canola oil
      • 3/4 cup chopped strawberries
      • 1 tsp dried lemon peel
      Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 cup muffin pan and set aside.

      In a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Make a hole in the center of the ingredients.

      In a small bowl, combine egg, milk and oil. Add to dry mixture and mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

      Add strawberries and lemon peel, and stir into batter.

      Divide batter evenly into 12 muffin cups. Bake 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

      For the Glaze:
      • 3 Tbsp sugar
      • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
      During the last few minutes of baking, combine sugar and lemon juice.

      After removing the muffins from the oven, drizzle 1 tsp glaze over each muffin top. Allow to cool 10 minutes before removing from pan. Makes 12 muffins.

      Source: Adapted from The Muffin Book

      Fettucine Carbonara with Bleu Cheese, Asparagus and Artichokes



      I participated in another round of recipe swap. This latest theme was Pasta and the recipe I received was for a "kicked-up" carbonara from A Taste of Home Cooking. I suppose it's time to confess that I've never eaten carbonara before, so I was excited for this opportunity. When I saw the ingredient list I was pretty confident we would enjoy this dish, and I went ahead and made it as-is with no substitutions.

      While we liked this dish, and JR even ate leftovers (yay!), I will warn you that it is heavy (like dragging your overstuffed-after-vacation luggage up the stairs heavy). I was a bit surprised that the bleu cheese flavor did not come through as much as I imagined, so don't be afraid to use the full amount. The only regret I had was that I made the mistake of making the full recipe, so we have had our fill of creamy pasta for a bit and probably gained a few pounds this week eating the leftovers.

      Thank you to The Home Cook for another successful swap and a great recipe! Be sure to check out The Taste of Home Cooking for an upcoming Recipe Swap Round-up of Pasta. 

      Here is what you'll need:
      • 1 lb pasta (I used fettucine)
      • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut
      • 8 slices bacon, cut into1-inch pieces
      • 1/2 large onion, diced
      • 3 garlic cloves, minced
      • 2-8 oz cans quartered artichokes hearts (in brine), drained and rinsed
      • 1 cup crumbled bleu cheese
      • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
      • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
      • 3 large eggs
      • 1/2 cup half and half
      • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
      • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil (I used 3 frozen cubes)
      Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

      In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook until the bacon just becomes brown and begins to crisp. Add onion for 8-10 minutes, cook stirring occasionally, until onion begins to become translucent and browned. Add garlic and artichokes and continue to cook for about 3-5 minutes until garlic becomes fragrant.

      Add pasta to pot of boiling water and according to package directions or until al dente. About 3 minutes before pasta is done, add asparagus to pot to cook. Drain and set aside.

      Add bleu cheese, heavy cream and pepper to Dutch oven, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce thickens about 5 minutes.

      Add pasta and asparagus to the artichoke cream sauce. Toss to coat pasta.

      In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs, half and half, Parmesan cheese and basil together. Pour mixture over pasta and toss to combine. Serves 6.

      Source: Modified from Gourmet Day to Day, as seen on A Taste of Home Cooking

      Minty Green Smoothie (healthier alternative to the famous green shake)


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      Every year around this time I, along with millions of other people, wait for the arrival of a famous minty green shake. Every year after I consume the famous minty green shake, I feel regret. Why? Because normally it's in addition to a meal from the same establishment, meaning the shake was not the meal, and based on the number of calories it has, it's more than enough for a meal!

      You see a small size minty green shake has 540 calories, 16 grams of fat, 74 grams of sugar and 10 g of protein. Are you stunned? Don't fret, you can make my Minty Green Smoothie and feel better about it because it has 382 calories, 7 grams of fat, 17 grams of sugar and 33 grams of protein. The best part is that you can even enjoy this for breakfast, and it will keep you full!

      I'm so happy I no longer have to feel regret and I can have this any time I want, all year round!

      Here is what you'll need:
      • 1 cup 1% milk
      • 2 scoops of vanilla whey protein powder (I use Pure Protein Vanilla Cream)
      • 8-10 ice cubes
      • 3/4 tsp peppermint extract
      • 3 drops green food coloring (optional)
      Place all ingredients in a blender. Using the ice crush setting, blend for 30 seconds. Switch to the blend setting, and blend for 10-15 seconds.

      Serves 1 (~2 cups).

      Source: Adventures in My Kitchen original

      Simple Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache


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      This wasn't a planned post, but I decided to use it anyway. My coworker (and friend) and I were doing an experiment for work, we're trying to find a cooking example that mimics some of the processes in aluminum smelting. Whether or not this is a good example, I still don't know. One thing I do know is that I wouldn't mind if this becomes a good example, and if there are dozens of these in my future.

      These cupcakes are both simple in terms of making the cake and frosting. They come together in a minutes, and don't require obsessing over how my frosting will look (please tell me I'm not the only one who worries about this!), because the ganache will look elegant no matter what.

      One interesting thing to note is that there are no eggs in this recipe, so as long as you have pantry staples can go ahead and make these (you know, even on those days the meteorologists forecast a snowstorm and the grocery store's egg shelf is empty).

      Here is what you'll need:

      For the Cupcakes:
      • 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
      • 1 cup sugar
      • 1 tsp baking soda
      • 8 tsp baking cocoa
      • 1/2 tsp salt
      • 6 Tbsp vegetable oil
      • 1 tsp vinegar
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla
      • 1 cup water
      Preheat oven to 350F. Place cupcake papers in 12-cup cupcake pan and set aside.

      In a mixing bowl, sift dry ingredients. Combine well. Make three holes in the mixture, one for the oil (make this one largest), one for the vanilla and one for the water. Place each wet ingredient in their hole.

      Pour water over all the ingredients. Mix together well, being sure no dry ingredients are stuck on the bottom of the bowl.

      Evenly divide batter into cupcake pan using a 1/4 cup measuring cup (it's actually just a little less than 1/4 cup each cupcake).

      Place pan in middle rack of oven and bake 18-20 minutes. Test by gently touching the cupcake tops, if they spring back the cupcakes are done. Be careful not to overbake.

      Remove from oven and place cupcakes on cooling rack.

      For the Ganache:

      • 4.5 oz semisweet chocolate chips
      • 1/2 cup heavy cream
      Once cupcakes are cool, place chocolate chips in a small bowl and set aside.

      Pour cream into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring cream just to a low rolling boil, being careful not to let it boil up and over the pan.

      When the cream is ready, pour it over chocolate chips in bowl. Whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Allow to cool 3-5 minutes.

      Take cupcake, turn upside down and dip top of cupcake into ganache just far enough so the ganache covers the entire top of the cupcake but doesn't touch the cupcake paper. Lift cupcake, allow excess ganache to drip off, then turn cupcake right side up and place on cooling rack. Repeat with remaining cupcakes.

      Allow ganache to set before serving (note, the ganache will remain shiny and look wet, but to touch it will be set). Serves 12.

      Source: Cooks.com (Cupcake) and Allrecipes.com (Ganache)