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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Lemon Garlic Pasta with Sausage and Baby Spinach

Okay, so I have been making this recipe forever and I seriously cannot believe that I had not posted it on my blog yet. I made this dish for a neighbor back in July after she had her baby boy and when she asked for the recipe a couple months ago I realized that I didn't have it posted! I meant to post it right away, but I am just getting around to it. Greg and I really love this meal. It is very easy to make and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. It also makes a ton of leftovers for us which we love. I use chicken sausages, but I'm sure pork sausage would be good in it too. The dressing for the pasta is pretty amazing. You can't really go wrong with olive oil, garlic, lemon, salt, and pepper! Oh, and to spice it up a little you can add in the crushed red pepper flakes. I had originally added in kale to this recipe, but then decided I like the addition of spinach better. I've also used mustard greens which taste great too, but it is a bit of a stronger flavor. You can make it vegetarian by leaving out the chicken sausages too. Enjoy!


Recipe for Lemon Garlic Pasta with Sausage and Baby Spinach

INGREDIENTS
 4 chicken sausage links, cut into 1/8-inch slices
1 pound of penne or farfalle pasta
For the dressing
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
Juice of 1 lemon
5 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
A few grinds of fresh black pepper
 1/2 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese
To mix in
Baby spinach leaves (desired amount - I used about 4- 5 cups & there are 6 cups in an 8 ounce package)

DIRECTIONS
First, cook the chicken sausages according to package directions. Set aside.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, make the dressing. Put the pressed garlic into a small bowl and add in the salt. Press the salt into the garlic with a spoon and make sure it is mixed in well. Then add in the lemon juice, olive oil, red pepper flakes, and freshly ground black pepper and stir well. Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

When the pasta is done cooking, drain in a colander and then return pasta to the pot that it was cooked in. Pour the dressing over the pasta and mix well. Then add in the baby spinach leaves and stir until they are wilted. Finally, mix in the chicken sausages and serve!

Recipe Adapted from: Annie's Eats, Spoon with Me, and originally from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite
Recipe makes approximately 6 - 8 servings.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pumpkin Coffee Cupcakes with Whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce

Wow, this was an amazing cupcake! I actually had made these cupcakes a couple years ago around the same time of year for my mother's birthday, but I didn't get around to taking a picture. I can't believe it took me another two years to make them again. They are spectacular.

A few months ago I met a new neighbor who has a daughter that is just two weeks younger than Wendy! I felt so happy to know that Wendy had her friend Cayd, who is a few months younger, and Elyse, on the same street as her! I envisioned many play dates in her (and my) future. The other day Wendy had a play date with Elyse while Angela and I made these cupcakes. Although it is a little difficult to cook with babies in our arms, we were able to make these cupcakes without too many disasters. I did have to remind Angela on the recipe the difference between the tablespoon and teaspoon (she is from Italy and cooks in grams) and fortunately we realized when almost a tablespoon of salt went into the flour mixture!

What I love about these pumpkin coffee cupcakes is that they are incredibly moist. I also love the whipped cream topping and caramel sauce. It is a cupcake that you can seriously eat for breakfast (and I did...twice). It reminds a bit of eating gingerbread with whipped cream and lemon sauce. They are pretty easy to make and I know you will enjoy every single bite! I will definitely not be waiting two years or even one year to make these again. Maybe I will make them next week. Or today. Only time will tell....

Enjoy!

Recipe for Pumpkin Coffee Cupcakes with Whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce 

INGREDIENTS:
2 2/3 cups of all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. of instant coffee powder
2 tsp. of baking powder
2 tsp. of baking soda
1 tsp. of salt
1 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon
1/8 tsp. of ground cloves
1/8 tsp. of ground nutmeg
15 ounces of canned pumpkin
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
4 eggs

For topping
4 ounces coffee (to be brushed on when cupcakes are still warm)
2 cups of heavy whipping cream
3 Tbsp. of powdered sugar
*Salted vanilla bean caramel sauce - I halved this recipe and it was plenty. You will need 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 5 ounces of heavy cream, 1/2 vanilla bean, 1/8 tsp. of coarse sea salt, and 1/4 tsp. of vanilla extract (if you also choose to cut the recipe in half)

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the flour, instant coffee powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg into a medium bowl and then sift to mix. Put the pumpkin, oil, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar into a large bowl. Use an electric hand mixer set on medium speed to beat. Then add in the eggs, one at a time, and beat after each addition to incorporate. Put the hand mixer on low speed and add in half of the flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated and then add in the rest of the flour mixture and beat again until just incorporated.

Line a cupcake pan or muffin pan with paper cupcake liners. Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop the batter into the liners and fill about 3/4 full. Place the pan in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Then transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the pan and place on top of a paper towel or a pan (to avoid getting coffee all over your countertops). Generously brush the tops of each cupcake with the coffee. Brush one coat of coffee on each cupcake, then brush each one again. Add another coat if desired. Make sure to do this while the cupcakes are still warm! Then allow the cupcakes to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the caramel sauce.

Before making the topping, place a metal bowl and a beater in the freezer for a few minutes. Then make the whipped cream topping. Pour the heavy whipping cream into the cold metal bowl and use an electric hand mixer fitted with the cold beater to beat the cream. First beat the cream on medium low speed and then gradually increase to high speed. When soft peaks begin to appear, blend in the powdered sugar. Then whip until stiff peaks form in the cream mixture and make sure not to over beat it. Use a spoon or spatula to top each cupcake with the whipped cream topping. If you are fancy, you can use a pastry bag with a decorating tip to frost (but I'm not that fancy). Then drizzle with the caramel sauce.

If you aren't serving right away, drizzle caramel sauce on right before serving. These cupcakes are best eaten within a couple days of making them. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

*Comment on the caramel sauce: Be patient. When I was making it, the mixture turned rock-like and I didn't think it would work. As you continue to stir it will liquefy and turn into caramel! It does take a long time for the sugar to caramelize. And, it's okay if the caramel sauce is thin (like mine was). It is still absolutely divine.

Recipe Source: Annie's Eats, cake recipe originally from Williams Sonoma

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dark Chocolate Ginger Truffles

I am back to truffle making after quite a long break! I am excited to try so many truffle recipes and I just need to fit in the time to try them all. I made these dark chocolate ginger truffles about a month ago and I was quite happy with they way they turned out. I am a lover of ginger. I think that ginger is one of those things that people either love or hate. So, if you're not a ginger lover than perhaps this truffle is not for you. But, if you enjoy its warm and subtly spicy flavor then I do believe you will absolutely love this truffle. I was first introduced to the combination of ginger and chocolate at a chocolate shop in San Francisco several years back. My husband and I visited my sister in Noe Valley and we  happened to walk into the store. It was the first time that I realized that chocolate could be combined with spices and it opened up a whole new world for me. I ordered a bunch of the chocolate and then later chocolate by Vosges started popping up and I was able to  buy exotic chocolates at the grocery stores! And, I have tried the bacon and chocolate bar and I've got to be honest, I'm not a fan. There are many members of my family who do like it, though!

The filling of this dark chocolate ginger truffle is made of a dark chocolate ganache with freshly grated ginger and then it is coated with an even darker chocolate and topped with a piece of crystallized (candied) ginger. The ginger truffle is perfect for this time of year since ginger is usually associated with "fall spices." Another fun fall truffle that I tried out has a chocolate ganache filling with pumpkin, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, and cloves. It is then coated in a mixture of milk and semisweet chocolate and topped with pecans, chunky sugar, and cinnamon. I hope to post those soon!

Back to the ginger truffles. They are so good that someone who sampled them came to me weeks later and asked me to make them for her so she could give them to someone as a gift. That is the thing with truffles. They are very special and if you take the time to make them, they make perfect gifts during the holiday season. Once you learn how to make them, they are really easy to do and even though they take time because of the steps, each step can be done in 15 minutes or less. I'm happy I learned to make truffles a few years ago and it is definitely a bit of an obsession. Enough rambling for now. Here is the recipe for the dark chocolate ginger truffles. Enjoy!

Recipe for Dark Chocolate Ginger Truffles

INGREDIENTS:
For the ganache filling
4 1/2 ounces of heavy whipping cream
3/4 - 1 tsp. of grated fresh ginger (use a microplane to grate)
5 1/2 ounces of semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
For rolling, dipping and topping
Dutch-processed cocoa powder (for rolling)
8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (for coating)
Several pieces of crystallized ginger, cut into thin and small pieces (for topping)
decorative sugar, if desired (for topping)

DIRECTIONS:
Heat the cream and ginger in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to a simmer, immediately pour the very finely chopped semisweet chocolate it and remove from heat. Cover the pan with a lid and allow it to sit for five minutes. After five minutes, use a spoon to stir gently until the mixture is smooth and all the cream is mixed in to the chocolate. Pour the chocolate into a shallow container, cover tightly, and set in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
Take the mixture out of the fridge and open container. Dust hands with cocoa powder and have a bowl of cocoa powder and paper towels very close by. You may want to roll up your sleeves, too! Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop some of the mixture and gently shape into a ball. Drop onto a foil lined container. Continue to scoop and shape and drop until the mixture is gone. Then cover the container tightly and put in the freezer for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Prepare a double boiler with about one inch of water. Once the water begins to steam, put the pan with the bittersweet chocolate on top and stir until it is thin and smooth. Take the ganache filling balls out of the freezer. Line a baking tray with foil. Drop a ball into the chocolate, use a spoon to coat, and then drop on the foil lined tray. Top with a piece of crystallized ginger and sprinkle on some decorative sugar, if desired. Put the tray in the fridge until they harden, then store in an airtight container in the fridge. Store in the fridge but when they are served, serve at room temperature.

Recipe makes approximately 2 dozen truffles.

Recipe Adapted from: Truffles, by Dede Wilson

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Best Cream of Crab Soup

I have been wanting to make cream of crab soup for a couple years now, and I finally did it on Saturday. It was possibly the best cream of crab soup I have ever had, and I have had a lot of cream of crab soup in my day, because I live in Maryland! I found the recipe in a cookbook called "The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook," and it was one of 22 crab soup recipes. I thought the cookbook was the right place to look for my cream of crab soup recipe, especially since I loved the crab cake recipe I used from the book. The soup was easy to make and it tasted amazing. Greg exclaimed how much he liked it, and then after eating it for awhile, he turns to me and says "um, so how unhealthy is this soup, because it seems really rich." And I was like, "um, well it is CREAM of crab soup, and why do you have to take the fun out of everything?" I then explained to him that although it did have heavy cream, that is was thickened because a flour roux was added to the soup. It is the roux that makes this soup so nice and thick (but of course it's the cream that makes it so deliciously, um, creamy).  I ended up using crab claw meat for the soup and it worked out well. You can choose to add the sherry, but I don't think it is necessary. I do recommend sprinkling it with some extra black pepper and Old Bay Seasoning before serving. Oh, and make sure you have some toasty bread or crackers for dipping. Enjoy.

Recipe for The Best Cream of Crab Soup 
INGREDIENTS:
4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1 small to medium yellow onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
3 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. of Old Bay Seasoning
1 1/4 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. of ground yellow mustard
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. of salt
16 ounces of heavy cream
16 ounces of half and half
1 pound of crabmeat (I used crab claw meat)
3 Tbsp. of sherry, optional
Parsley leaves for garnish, optional

DIRECTIONS:
Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a large stockpot. Add in the diced onions and pressed garlic and stir. Stir frequently and cook until the onions come to a light golden color.
While the onions are cooking, put the flour, Old Bay Seasoning, black pepper, yellow mustard, cayenne pepper and salt into a smallish bowl and mix.
Once onions are light golden in color, adjust the heat to medium and then make a roux. Add the flour mixture in, and stir continuously to make a blond roux (until the mixture is light golden in color), about 3 - 4 minutes.  After the roux is made, pour in the cream and half and half. Bring it to a boil, and then stir in the crabmeat. Bring the soup back to a boil, and then immediately stir in the sherry, if using.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle each with some extra black pepper and Old Bay Seasoning, and garnish with some parsley leaves, if desired.

Recipe makes approximately 6 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: The Chesapeake Bay Crabbiest Cookbook, by Whitey Schmidt 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Not So Sloppy" Turkey Sloppy Joes

There were only a few meals that I did not like to eat when I was a kid. I was never fond of meatloaf or Sloppy Joes. Luckily, both these meals weren't something that were served frequently in my parent's home. I didn't mind singing about Sloppy Joes after Adam Sandler sang his Lunch Lady song on Saturday Night Live, but I still wasn't interested in eating them. It had been at least 25 years since I thought about eating a Sloppy Joe sandwich until I saw this Sloppy Joe recipe a couple months ago on a blog that I like. I read the author's writeup and apparently she wasn't crazy about the idea of  Sloppy Joes EITHER until trying them again with this recipe. So I thought I'd give it a try and  I'm glad I did. I don't like to cook with meat much, but this meal was so easy to make and helped me to overcome some of my meat preparation fears.

Greg is also not a Sloppy Joe person and he was really happy with these not so sloppy Sloppy Joes!
I call them "not so sloppy" because they aren't too saucy and the sandwich pretty much stays in tact. I omitted the tomato sauce from the recipe and used ketchup instead. This recipe uses ground turkey and the sauce combines things like root beer and apple cider vinegar. I will definitely be making this recipe again. Enjoy!

Recipe for "Not So Sloppy" Sloppy Joes

INGREDIENTS:
1 Tbsp. of olive oil
2 Tbsp. of dried onion flakes
1 pound of ground turkey meat
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp. dried mustard powder
1/4 tsp. cumin powder
2 Tbsp. of ketchup
1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar
2 tsp. of Tabasco sauce
3 ounces of root beer
3/4 Tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns, lightly toasted
Ketchup or other sauce, for serving

DIRECTIONS:
Put the olive oil in a large (nonstick) skillet over medium heat. Add in the dried onion flakes, stir, and cook for about 45 seconds. Add in the ground turkey and break the meat up as it cooks. Cook for about 4 - 5 minutes, or until it starts to brown. Stir in the pressed garlic, mustard powder, cumin, ketchup, and salt. Cook and stir until the mixture is fragrant, about 1 minute. Then stir in the apple cider vinegar, Tabasco sauce, root beer, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook for about 7 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with some ground pepper.

Divide the meat amongst the 4 buns and serve. Serve with extra ketchup or other sauce (I used extra Tabasco on mine), if desired. Serve with your favorite sides. We had some tasty barbecue potato chips and a spinach salad!

Recipe Adapted from: Pink Parsley, originally from Cooking Light, September 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Nutella Cupcakes with Creamy Nutella Frosting & Nutella Ganache

Remember how just the other day I said I really wasn't craving things like cake these days, and that I was totally cool with healthy sweet fixes? Well, it's still true, but I certainly enjoyed these cupcakes after making them on Saturday. Our neighborhood had a crab feast/cookout and everyone in the neighborhood got to sign up to bring a dish. I chose a dessert because I figured if I had a hard time getting out the door that it wouldn't matter if I was a little late, and because I think baking is way more fun then preparing a potato salad. I was having a hard time deciding what to make and when I finally decided on cupcakes, I knew they had to be these Nutella ones. I put Nutella in the cupcake itself, in the frosting, AND in the ganache topping. If you're a Nutella fan, this cupcake is definitely for you! I didnt' get a chance to take a picture before the cookout so I was secretly hoping there wouldn't be any left so I had an excuse to make them again, but Greg came back with two of them in hand. They were a hit in my house and a hit with the neighbors, and I definitely might have to make them again very soon! Enjoy.

Recipe for Nutella Cupcakes with Creamy Nutella Frosting & Nutella Ganache

INGREDIENTS:
For the cupcake
2 cups of water
2 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 2/3 cups of flour
4 tsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp. of salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (16 Tbsp.), softened at room temperature
2 cups of granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup of Nutella
4 eggs

For the frosting
2 sticks unsalted butter (16 Tbsp.), softened at room temperature
1 cup Nutella
2 cups powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. of heavy whipping cream

For the ganache topping
7 Tbsp. heavy whipping cream
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (or 5 ounces chocolate chips - I used Ghiradelli)
2 Tbsp. Nutella
1/2 tsp. of coconut oil


DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Bring the water to a boil and then add in the cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Remove from heat, let rest for a minute, then put in fridge to cool.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer to beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the Nutella and vanilla and mix until well incorporated. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Remove cocoa mixture from fridge and with the mixer running, add it in a steady stream and beat on low. Scoop batter into cupcake liners (I filled them almost to the top of the liner, but you can fill just 3/4 full if you want). Put in oven and bake for about 16 - 19 minutes (I baked mine for 17:30). Remove from oven and then transfer cupcakes to wire rack to cool.

Once cooled, make the frosting. Use an electric hand mixer to beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Then add in the Nutella and mix until well incorporated. Add in 1 cup of the powdered sugar and mix and then add in the other cup and beat until smooth. Pour in the 3 tablespoons of cream and beat until well incorporated. Frost the cupcakes.

Once cupcakes are frosted, make the ganache topping. Put the chocolate or chocolate chips into a bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. While the cream is heating, put the Nutella and coconut oil in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds. Then stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds. Continue as needed until the mixture is thin and pourable. Once the cream comes to a very slight boil and is hot to the touch, pour it over the chocolate or chocolate chips. Stir until smooth and creamy and then add in the Nutella mixture and stir. Use a spoon or fork to put over the frosting in a fun design or just globs, it still will taste the same! Put cupcakes in fridge so the ganache topping can harden before serving.

Store cupcakes in an airtight container in the fridge. They taste amazing the first day they are made and pretty amazing the second day too. Store in fridge for up to 5 days.

Recipe makes approximately 22 cupcakes. You should have enough frosting for all the cupcakes - unless you like TONS of frosting - then you might want to double the frosting recipe!

Recipe Adapted from: Sally's Baking Addiction 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Healthy Peach Cobbler Bites (made with cashews)!

Hi there! Time really flies. I can't believe I have not posted an entry on here in four weeks. I am really slacking these days. I was all set to post a new zucchini brownie recipe (see the old recipe here) a few weeks ago, but then I never got around to downloading the pictures...and now zucchini isn't really in season. I had made another awesome recipe with zucchini (zucchini, corn, and ricotta fritters) over the summer that I wanted to post, but I never got around to doing that either. But next summer I will post them! The thing is, you just don't really have much time when you have a baby in the house. It's the truth. Wendy is super active and loves to play, and she really doesn't want to nap during the day. She fights it hard. But she has a bit of a cold right now and she is actually napping (very sad for her, but I do enjoy the extra time while she is resting), so I am posting! Another thing besides having no time that changes after having a baby is food preferences. I had heard it before but didn't really believe it but it is definitely true for me. This might shock you, as it even shocks me, but I do not crave sugar much at all these days. I definitely still love dark chocolate, but I can totally pass up cookies, cakes, and other baked goods that used to endlessly taunt me. When I am craving sweet, I turn to things like granola or banana cookies. A new sweet and healthy treat recipe I tried last night are these  peach cobbler bites, that are made with cashews, coconut, dates, and peaches! They seriously taste like little pieces of peach cobbler and I love them. Greg is a huge fan too. I got the idea when I came across this recipe on Pinterest (follow me if you'd like at beffy78). At first I wasn't sure because cashews are super pricey, but they have them on sale at The Fresh Market in Annapolis on Saturdays so I bought a bunch. Then I looked for freeze dried strawberries but couldn't find them, and the alternative of using dried strawberries is ridiculously expensive (16.99 for 6 ounces - I don't think so)! So I tried them with dried peaches, and they are amazing. I think you will enjoy them too. They are great for a quick snack on the run. You can also choose not to roll them into balls and use the mixture to sprinkle onto yogurt or add to smoothies. Yum!

Oh, by the way, these are vegan, no-bake AND gluten-free. Score!

Recipe for Healthy Peach Cobbler Bites
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of raw cashews
1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes
8 - 10 (or about 6 ounces when weighed with pit) Medjool dates, pitted and cut in half
1/2 tsp. of coconut oil
1 tsp. of vanilla extract
A pinch of coarse sea salt
A couple pinches of ground cinnamon (optional)
7 ounces of dried peach rings

DIRECTIONS:
Put the cashews and coconut into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times until finely chopped (about 10 - 12 seconds). Add in the dates and pulse until the mixture becomes a bit sticky (about 8 seconds). Add the coconut oil, vanilla extract, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse briefly (1 - 2 seconds). Add in the dried peaches and run the food processor for about 10 seconds or until the peaches are well incorporated. Put the mixture into a bowl, put on an airtight lid, and put into the fridge for a couple hours. Then use a cookie dough scoop to scoop and use your hands to shape into desired sized balls. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Recipe makes approximately 30 bites

Recipe Adapted from: Better with Cake 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bacon and Tomato Sandwiches with a Garlic Balsamic Mayo

Bacon and tomato sandwiches are pretty much the best thing ever. Seriously. There is nothing better than a big juicy tomato with crispy bacon and mayo in between two pieces of toasty white bread. Trust me. I have come across people in my life who had never had a bacon and tomato sandwich or even heard of one, so that is why I am doing this post today. It is for all of you out there who have never had the experience of the bacon and tomato sandwich, because I believe that everyone needs to have it.

Our tomatoes came very late this season. That means Greg and I were both craving these sandwiches for quite a long time. But now they are here and this is definitely our meal of choice! Serve the sandwich with a side of sauteed squash or your favorite chips. If you are not down with the balsamic mayo, just slather regular mayo on there instead. Enjoy!

Recipe for Bacon and Tomato Sandwiches with a Garlic Balsamic Mayo 

INGREDIENTS:
Bacon
White bread
Large tomatoes, such as Beefeaters
Salt and pepper
Fresh basil leaves
Garlic balsamic mayo

DIRECTIONS:
Cook the bacon according to package directions. Remove from oven and allow it to cool. While bacon is cooling, make the balsamic mayo (recipe below). Then very lightly toast the bread. While bread is toasting, cut the tomatoes into thick slices and sprinkle salt and pepper on each side of the tomato slices. Assemble the sandwiches. My recommendation is to slather on about a half tablespoon of the mayonnaise onto two slices of bread, top one of the slices with 2 pieces of bacon, put one very large or two large tomato slices on top of the bacon, add on the basil leaves, and sandwich it up with the other piece of bread. You can use as much mayonnaise, bacon, tomatoes, and basil as you like per sandwich though!

Garlic Balsamic Mayonnaise (enough for 4 sandwiches)
In a smallish bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, several grinds of freshly ground black pepper, and 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Taste and then adjust to your liking.

Well there you have it! Now go make yourself one of these sandwiches. Yum!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Honey and Hemp Milk Chocolate Truffles

I have found a new addiction. I'm addicted to hemp seeds. I saw a post about them on a blog recently and then just a few days later I saw them in an aisle at The Fresh Market in Annapolis. So I bought a bag. I first tried them straight and loved them. Then I put them on cereal for breakfast, yogurt for lunch, and inside chocolate for dessert. These honey and hemp truffles are pretty awesome. I fell in love with them from the start. When I told my friends and family what was in them they scoffed but once they had one they kept coming back for more. You know what's great about these truffles? Not only do they taste delicious, they are also super healthy. Hemp hearts are full of Omega 3s, amino acids, and other great stuff that is totally good for your mind and body. You can make these truffles vegan by using vegan chocolate or skipping the freezing part and rolling them in cocoa powder or flaked coconut. The texture of the truffle filling is so smooth and creamy and the honey and chocolate compliment each other oh so well. Enjoy!

Recipe for Honey and Hemp Milk Chocolate Truffles

INGREDIENTS:
4 Tbsp. of hemp hearts
2 Tbsp. of coconut oil
2 Tbsp. of wildflower honey
2 - 3 ounces milk chocolate baking chocolate for coating
Extra hemp hearts for topping (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Put the hemp seeds, coconut oil, and honey into a small bowl and use a spoon to mix well. Cover the bowl and put into the fridge for at least 2 hours. Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop up and use your hands to shape into about 1/2 to 3/4-inch balls and place in a parchment lined container. Cover the container and put into the freezer for at least 2 hours.

Break up the chocolate into small chunks and place into a small saucepan. Set the heat on medium-low and stir constantly until melted. Then drop a honey and hemp ball into the chocolate, use a spoon to coat, and place on a foil lined tray or plate. Sprinkle some hemp seeds on top of the chocolate if desired. Continue until all the honey and hemp balls are coated. Put in fridge to set and then store in an airtight container in the fridge. Serve chilled.

Recipe makes about one dozen truffles. 

*Original recipe

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What Can I Make with Zucchini? Here are 30 Delicious Ways to Eat It!

The answer - tons of things! Back in the day, I really didn't know there was much you could do with zucchini. I thought all it was good for was cooking in a little olive oil, salt, and pepper or grilling it. A few years ago when I started growing it, I had to get creative and realized there are so many other great ways zucchini can be prepared. Zucchini can be a main course, side, or even a tasty dessert! If you happen to be growing zucchini this year too, you might have it coming out of your ears. I have a large bowl of zucchini and yellow squash on my kitchen table right now. There are many recipes that I already know I love with zucchini, and I searched the web for some more. I'm definitely excited about trying out some zucchini fries, which I've been wanting to do since last summer. I think it's time. And I think it's time for you to get wild and crazy in the kitchen with your zucchini too!

*Last night I made the summer pasta dish with zucchini, yellow squash, corn, and basil. It was delicious! Planning on making some zucchini bread today. Yummy!

What Can I Make with Zucchini?

Baked Zucchini Cakes (for dinner)

Main Courses:

Zucchini Cakes for Dinner (Bake I tand Make It with Beth)

Roasted Zucchini and Ricotta Sandwiches (Annie's Eats)

Zucchini and Lemon Spaghetti (Oh My Veggies)

Zucchini and Ricotta Fritters (Pink Parsley)

Corn and Zucchini Queso Chowder (Southern Living)

Zucchini and Mushroom Quesadillas (Bake It and Make It with Beth)

Stuffed Zucchini Boats (Annie's Eats)

Zucchini and Corn Panini with Pepper Jack Cheese (Oh My Veggies)

Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Herbs (A Couple Cooks)

Summer Pasta Dish with Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Corn and Basil (Bake It and Make It with Beth)

Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad (Smitten Kitchen)

Spicy Zucchini Frittata (Whole Living)

Portobello Sandwiches with Veggies (Bake It and Make It with Beth)


Sides: 

Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan Pine Nuts (Epicurious)

Baked Zucchini Bites (Six Sisters' Stuff)

Sauteed Shredded Zucchini (Annie's Eats)

Fried Zucchini Strings (The Pioneer Woman)

Baked Zucchini Fries (The Recipe Critic)

Cheesy Zucchini Rice (Pink Parsley)

Zucchini Ribbon Salad (A Couple Cooks)

Grilled Zucchini with Lemon Salt (The Pioneer Woman)

Zucchini Brownies (No Flour, Butter, Sugar or Egg)
Sweets and Treats: 

Zucchini Brownies with No Flour, Butter, Sugar or Egg (Bake It and Make It with Beth)

Pineapple Zucchini Sheet Cake (The Pioneer Woman)

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake (Chocolate Chocolate and More)

Zucchini Coconut Bread (Two Peas and Their Pod)

Irresistible Zucchini Brownies (Sweet Happy LIfe)

Spiced Cream Cheese Frosted Zucchini Bars (A Kitchen Addiction)

Zucchini Bread (Bake It and Make It with Beth)

Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal Cookies (Mom on Timeout)

Glazed Lemon Zucchini Bread (Lil' Luna)

So, there you have it! Now go ahead and make something with that amazing zucchini of yours! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Blueberry Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate

A couple days ago I received a message from Facebook letting me know that fans of my Bake It and Make It With Beth page wanted to hear from me. I'm sorry to all the people (and I know there are so many of you) I have disappointed by not posting in so long, and I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me! The email from Facebook made me realized that it had been 3 weeks since I had posted a new recipe on the blog. Wow, time sure flies.

Things have been busy as usual. I started two summer classes in early June, little Wendy is taking less naps during the day, and the home renovations are still a work in progress. Wendy is so much fun these days. She is laughing up a storm and talking a lot, and I wish I knew what she was saying! Greg is convinced that she was saying "I love you" to us the other night. I'm pretty sure she was saying "oooh oooh ahh," but I pretended that I believed she was saying it too, just to humor him.

Even though I haven't posted in awhile,  I am still doing lots of cooking. I've been cooking a lot of my old favorites and a couple of new things too. This ice cream is a new favorite in our house. I made it for the first time when Greg's parents came to visit in May. I've made it a couple times since then and I will most likely make it again very soon. Since blueberries are in season they taste wonderful and they aren't too expensive. You'll love the sweetness of the blueberry and the richness of the dark chocolate in this delicious summer-time treat. Enjoy!

Recipe for Blueberry Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate 

INGREDIENTS:
4 ounce bar of semisweet chocolate, such as Ghirardelli
1 pint of fresh blueberries
1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
1/16 tsp. of salt
1 1/4 cup of whole milk
1 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice

DIRECTIONS:
Break the chocolate up into squares and put into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until chocolate is chopped into desired sized pieces (not too finely so that it is a powder, but not too chunky). Put chocolate into a sealed container and set aside.

Put the blueberries, sugar, and salt into a medium saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Then reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the saucepan from heat and allow it to cool for about 30 minutes.
Put the milk and cream into a large metal bowl. Add in the cooled blueberry mixture and stir well. Cover the bowl and put into the fridge for at least 4 hours or put into the freezer for 30 minutes. After chilling, stir the lemon juice into the ice cream mixture. Make the ice cream according to ice cream maker manufacturer directions. Add in the dark chocolate pieces about 5 minutes before the ice cream is done. For soft ice cream, serve immediately. Put into a sealed container and store in the freezer for a couple hours before serving for harder ice cream.

Recipe makes approximately 8 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: Driscoll's 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Delicious Cauliflower Burgers (that don't taste like cauliflower)!

Cauliflower burgers - you never knew that cauliflower could taste SO good! 
Yeah, so I know what you are thinking. Cauliflower...in a burger? Yes, it's a thing and it's a totally awesome thing. I came across the recipe for cauliflower fritters on the vegetarian food blog Oh My Veggies. This recipe is an adaptation of those fritters. I was a little skeptical of it but I thought it was worth a shot after reading all of the glowing comments from readers who had already tried the recipe. I am so happy I tried them!  I've made them twice in the past couple weeks and bought another head of cauliflower the other day so I can make them again this weekend. Greg was definitely skeptical too when I told him that there was cauliflower in the burgers I was making. He has never liked cauliflower before, and after eating a couple of the burgers, he said that he never knew that cauliflower could taste so good! I agree. I have never been a huge fan of cauliflower either and I am now looking forward to trying more fun recipes with cauliflower!  These burgers are easy to make and take about 1 hour or less from start to finish. They are a great vegetarian meal where nobody will miss the meat. Don't forget to add the spicy mayo! Enjoy.

Recipe for Delicious Cauliflower Burgers
INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of baby carrots, chopped into matchstick sized pieces
2 cups of cauliflower florets
1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
1/4 tsp. of cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. of Panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. of finely grated Asiago, Parmesan, or Romano cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup of Italian parsley leaves, stems removed and torn
Olive oil or olive- canola oil blend, for frying

Fixings: 
Spicy Mayo: In a small bowl, mix together 4 Tbsp. of mayonnaise, freshly ground black pepper, 1/8 tsp. of garlic powder, and a couple pinches of cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
6 Lightly Toasted Buns
Baby Spinach Leaves

DIRECTIONS:
Bring a pot with 4 cups of water to a boil and add in the chopped carrots and cauliflower. Cook for 4 minutes. Drain well. Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and chop more finely (it doesn't have to be perfect, you can have some bigger pieces and some smaller pieces)! Gather vegetables in paper towel and press down try to get out as much excess water as possible. Transfer to a large bowl. Add in the flour and stir well to coat. Add in the garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, Panko bread crumbs, grated cheese, egg, and parsley leaves and gently mix until ingredients are well incorporated.

Heat 1 - 2 Tbsp. of oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to scoop up mixture and then tap it onto the saute pan. Press down with a spatula to shape into a patty. Cook for about 3 - 4 minutes, or until golden brown on one side. Carefully flip and cook the other side until it is browned. Transfer to a plate. Continue this process until there is no more batter left. Then sprinkle each one with salt and pepper. If desired, place patties on a baking pan and heat in the oven at 225 degrees for a couple minutes while the buns are toasting, just to warm them back up a little.

Toast the buns lightly in a toaster oven. Put mayo on each side of the bun, add on the patty and a few spinach leaves. Serve with your favorite sides. We served them with baked beans and potato chips!

Recipe Adapted from: Oh My Veggies

Recipe makes 6 burgers (unless you nibble a bunch on the burgers while making them...)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Creamy Nutella Popsicles

Lately I've been wanting to eat lots of Nutella. I've put it in shakes, had it with apple slices, eaten it by the spoonful, made ice cream with it, and most recently, made popsicles with it. Originally I was going to share the recipe for the Nutella ice cream that I made last week. But then I made these popsicles, and I realized that they are a lot easier to make, plus not everyone has an automatic ice cream maker (even though they should). I guess probably not everyone has popsicle molds, but you can be creative if you don't have them, and they are really not that expensive if you want to buy some. I just bought my molds off of Amazon the other day because I want to be cool like everyone else this summer and be able to make super exciting popsicles all day long. Anyways, I was planning on making lime popsicles the other night when I did Mexican food with the neighbors (chicken taquitos, slow cooker beans, and corn pudding), but then I chose to make key lime pie tarts instead. Yesterday while Wendy was napping I thought of the Nutella popsicle idea. The popsicles were SO easy to make. I tasted the mixture before pouring it into the molds and fell in love. It was painful having to wait the four hours before I could try one. And it was such a treat when I bit into that creamy and dreamy Nutella popsicle. When Greg got home from a cold day out on the water, I offered him a popsicle and once he bit into it he said it was amazing. He almost started to cry when a small piece of the last bites of popsicle fell off the stick. Not only are these delicious and super easy to make, they also are not too bad for you either. Each popsicle has about 250 calories and they are made with 2% milk and just a little bit of cream. I know you and everyone you know will love them. Enjoy!

Recipe for Creamy Nutella Popsicles

INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 cups of 2% milk
3 ounces of heavy cream
10 Tbsp. of Nutella

DIRECTIONS:
Put the milk, cream, and Nutella into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into six 4-ounce popsicle molds (you might have some mixture leftover, go ahead and drink it)! Place the molds into the freezer for 4 - 6 hours before enjoying.

*Here's an interesting fact..did you know Nutella originates from Italy? 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Arugula and Fruit Salad with a Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Here is a super healthy and delicious salad for you! I am quite a fan of arugula. If you look through my blog postings, you'll see plenty of meals made with arugula. I'll post some yummy arugula recipe links at the bottom of this entry for you because I am very generous. I love the flavor of arugula. It is so much more sophisticated tasting than most of the leafy greens that are out there, and it also has tons of health benefits. It is a good source of several vitamins, folic acid, iron, and phytochemicals that fight cancer. And, not only is it good for you, but eating arugula also makes you more sexually energized - it's an aphrodisiac!

I think you'll find this salad to be very tasty. You'll love the combination of the fruit, avocado, and toasted walnuts with the sweet tasting vinaigrette. This salad makes quite the pretty display of colors and it is fun to eat. Enjoy!

Recipe for Arugula and Fruit Salad with a Blood Orange Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS:
6 cups of arugula leaves
2 medium Hass avocados, chopped
2 large mangos, chopped
3 mandarins (I use Wonderful Halos), separated into pieces
1/3 cup of walnuts
2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. of honey
1 1/2 Tbsp. of blood orange vinegar
1/8 tsp. of kosher salt
Several grinds of fresh black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Toast the walnuts. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and arrange walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place in oven and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

While walnuts are toasting, mix up the dressing. Add all ingredients to a bowl and whisk well. Set aside.

Divide the arugula onto plates. Top each with chopped mango, avocado, mandarin pieces, and toasted walnuts. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and then sprinkle with some extra black pepper, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Original Recipe

More Tasty Arugula Recipes
Mediterranean Orzo Salad
Asparagus and Arugula Pizza
Penne Pasta with Arugula Pesto
Asparagus and Arugula Risotto
California Pizza Kitchen-Style Quinoa Salad 
Greek Pizza

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Looking for something to talk about? I'll give you a topic. Mexican Wedding Cakes are not really Mexican nor wedding cakes. Discuss. Yes, if you watched Saturday Night Live back in the early to mid 90s, you might remember the skit "Coffee Talk." The "host" was Mike Meyers playing a woman and he would always say things such as "the Partridge Family were neither Partridges nor a family" during the skit. It was awesome. Back to the Mexican Wedding Cakes. They are cookies and there is nothing really Mexican about them. They actually go by several different names, including Russian Tea Cookies. People might not be able to agree on a name for these cookies, but they can agree on one thing - that these shortbread-like cookies melt in your mouth and that they are like buttah.

I had forgotten about these delicious cookies. My mom used to make them when I was a kid.  I was googling desserts to make for Cinco de Mayo and I came across the recipe. I immediately remembered that they were the cookies my mom used to make. When I bit into my first cookie, I was instantly transported back to my youth. I love feelings of nostalgia! These cookies are super easy to make. I especially liked making them because I felt okay with eating tons of the batter since there are no eggs in the recipe. Score! I hope you like these cookies as much as I do. You can call them whatever you want to! Enjoy.

Recipe for Mexican Wedding Cakes 

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup of walnuts
2 cups + 2 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour, divided
16 Tbsp. of unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened at room temperature
5 Tbsp. of powdered sugar
1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1/16 tsp. of pure almond extract
1/4 tsp. of salt
For dusting
1 cup of powdered sugar

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spread the walnuts onto a baking sheet. Cook in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove and let them cool a bit before using. Turn off oven.
Put the walnuts and 2 Tbsp. of flour into a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times until the walnuts are finely ground. Set aside.

Put the butter and powdered sugar into a large mixing bowl. Beat together on medium speed with an electric hand mixer until well blended. Add in the 2 cups of flour, walnut mixture, vanilla extract, almond extract, and salt and beat again until well incorporated. If the batter seems a little dry, add about 1 - 2 tsp. of milk to it. Cover the bowl with a lid and place in the fridge for at least an hour.

Put the powdered sugar into a bowl and sift. Preheat oven back to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop dough into 1-inch balls. Place on the lined baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Put in oven and bake for 12 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 5 minutes, no more than 8. Roll each cookie in the powdered sugar and then place back on cooling rack. Once cookies are completely cooled, store cookies in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 36 cookies. 

Recipe Adapted from: Joy of Baking 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mediterranean-Style Orzo Salad with Avocado and Arugula

I was pleasantly surprised by how delicious this orzo salad was! It was the first meal I made since before I had the baby (unless you count cheese quesadillas as a meal..). For the first couple weeks after having Wendy all I wanted to do was eat something super quick and easy, such as frozen pizza. Well, that got old fast. I decided I was ready to start cooking again and that I wanted to eat healthier. I went out to the grocery store with a list of healthy ingredients in hand. It felt good to get out of the house all by myself (yes, I'll admit it) and I'll even admit that I took my time at the store! I had this salad in mind when I did my shopping, but the cauliflower didn't look too hot and I couldn't find farro, so I decided I'd just go with a a different type of salad. Greg was amazed with how good the salad was. I think he commented like five times while he was eating it on how much he loved it. And usually I have to ask him f he likes something I made or not! This salad is super easy to make and it's incredibly healthy. It reminded me a little of this awesome salad I made a couple summers ago, that has quinoa and asparagus. Make the orzo salad vegan by leaving out the feta! Enjoy.

Recipe for Mediterranean-Style Orzo Salad with Avocado and Arugula
INGREDIENTS:
2 cups of dried orzo
1 1/2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1/8 tsp. of kosher salt
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. of oil from sun dried tomato jar
12 - 16 sun dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
16 - 20 kalamata olives, chopped
Desired amount of feta cheese (I like a lot), crumbled
Desired amount of baby arugula (I recommend a couple handfuls a serving)
2 avocados, sliced
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin

DIRECTIONS:
Cook the orzo according to package directions. While the orzo is cooking, make the dressing. Combine the olive oil, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper, lemon juice, and sun dried tomato oil in a small bowl and whisk well. Once orzo is finished cooking, drain it of any excess water and then immediately transfer to a large bowl. Allow it to cool slightly while you chop the sun dried tomatoes and kalamata olives.

Then toss the orzo with the dressing and add in the sun dried tomatoes and olives. Toss again. Cover the bowl and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Just before taking it out of the fridge, slice the avocados and cucumbers.

Put the arugula leaves, cucumber slices, and avocado slices on a plate(s). Drizzle on a little bit of olive oil and a couple squeezes of lemon juice (just a tiny amount). Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on top. Top with a generous amount of the orzo. Add the crumbled feta on top. Serve with your favorite bread.

Recipe makes about 4 - 6 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: Cookie and Kate 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spicy Ginger "Labor Inducing" Cookies

Wow, it has been awhile! Things have been crazy for me the past couple weeks. I was due with my baby girl on March 28th, but she decided to wait until better weather to join the world. For days I thought I was going into labor, and each day I thought "today is the day." But then it never happened. I had to be induced at 130 AM on Monday April 7th. I gave birth to Wendy Olivia at 7:20 PM that evening. She is perfect and wonderful! Greg and I came home with her on Wednesday April 9th, and then on Friday I ended up having to go back to the hospital. I kept noticing that my swelling was getting worse, not better, and on Friday I got worried. My blood pressure had skyrocketed, and I was treated for post partum pre-eclampsia (which I had no idea you could get after birth). I was in the hospital for a few days and now I'm back home, trying to adjust to the meds and get used to being a new mom! Luckily Wendy is making things pretty easy (although she has quite the pair of lungs on her and she does like to pee when the diaper is off)!

Anyways, before I was induced I was trying natural ways at home to induce labor. I came across a recipe for these cookies. They are called "Labor Inducing"cookies because of the ginger in them, which apparently has been known to induce labor.  Obviously, it didn't work for me, but the cookies were dang good! They are probably the best ginger cookies I have ever had, and Greg definitely agrees. Once I have a little more energy they are the first thing I am going to bake! They have just the right balance of sweet, gingery, and spicy and they are totally a comfort treat. Enjoy!

Recipe for Spicy Ginger "Labor Inducing" Cookies

INGREDIENTS:
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. of baking soda
1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. of ground ginger
1/2 tsp. of ground cloves
1/2 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. of cayenne pepper
8 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup of blackstrap molasses
1/2 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
For rolling:
Granulated Sugar
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
Put the butter in a large bowl. Add in the granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Beat with an electric hand mixer set on medium-low speed until smooth and creamy. Add in the molasses, vanilla extract, and eggs and beat well. Add the flour mixture and beat again until well-incorporated.
In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, and ginger.
Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop dough into 1-inch balls. Roll each ball in the sugar mixture and then place on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a few minutes on baking sheet then transfer to a cooling rack, although these cookies do taste best when they are still nice and warm!

Recipe Adapted from: Just Mommies

Here is a picture of my sweet Wendy Olivia, which was taken shortly after she was born.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

So, I was due to have my baby on March 28th. And guess what? I'm still pregnant! Someone suggested that maybe I have been feeding baby Wendy too well, and I guess that is a possibility - I mean, she'll have to go from eating yummy things like pineapple upside down cupcakes and chocolate to MILK. No fun. I took my maternity leave over a week ago, thinking that I'd be having baby soon. The relaxing has been nice, but there are several days where I've thought "today is going to be the day," and then nothing happens. One friend from work emailed me a recipe for pineapple upside down mini cakes (or cupcakes) and I decided to bake them a few days ago. Distractions, such as baking, have been great! Pineapple is also known to induce labor. Well, it didn't happen...but the cupcakes were REALLY good. Greg, my non-sweets loving husband, ate at least half of them - my parents and I split the rest. Well tonight I'm supposed to go in for my induction (well actually tomorrow, but it's at 12:45 AM tomorrow so basically tonight)! I'm hoping I can still go into labor naturally, so I cooked some "labor inducing" cookies earlier.

Anyways, I loved these cupcakes because they were easy to make and less filling than a big huge piece of cake. I will definitely be making them again. Enjoy!

Recipe for Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:
2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
4 Tbsp. of pineapple juice (from the canned pineapple)
4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
2/3 cup of light brown sugar, packed
1 can of pineapple rings
Maraschino cherries

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of a muffin tin.

In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a largish mixing bowl, use an electric hand mixer set on medium-low speed to beat together the eggs, sugar, and pineapple juice. Then add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on medium speed for 1 - 2 minutes. Set aside.

Melt the butter over medium-low heat in a small saucepan. Once it is melted, adjust heat to low, add in the brown sugar and stir for about a minute.

Put a spoonful of the brown sugar mixture into the bottom of each muffin tin. Put a pineapple ring on top (you might have to cut a piece out of the pineapple ring to make it fit). Then place a maraschino cherry in the middle of the pineapple ring. Top each one with the batter, filling a little over 3/4 full.

Put in the oven and bake for 22 - 25 minutes. You might want to put a baking sheet underneath the muffin tin to prevent anything from spilling into the oven. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then carefully loosen each one with the edge of a knife and then flip onto a baking sheet, reassemble any if necessary, and place on a cooling rack to cool.

Recipe makes about 10 cupcakes.

Recipe adapted from: Big Mama's Home Kitchen 


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pasta with Green Veggies and Cheese Sauce

This pasta dish is kind of like a grown-up mac and cheese. The cheese sauce on it reminds me of cheese fondue, which I absolutely love. It is made with white wine, roasted garlic, and sharp cheddar cheese. This recipe was super easy to make and it took less than 50 minutes from start to finish. It is yet another pasta dish that can be filed away under "quick and easy." You can choose what green vegetable you want to add to the pasta. The first time I made it, I used a combination of asparagus and green beans. Then I just used asparagus the second time around. Snap peas would also probably be a good choice! Greg loved this meal and was impressed that I could still cook something tasty in my FORTIETH week of pregnancy. My dad helped himself to three or so servings for lunch the other day. It was definitely a hit. Even though it taste good leftover too, it is best straight from the pot. The cheese sauce gets a little thinned out after being in the fridge and reheated. But the leftovers are still tasty and that's what I'll be eating for dinner tonight. Enjoy!

Recipe for Pasta with Green Veggies and Cheese Sauce 
INGREDIENTS: 
1 clove of garlic
1 - 2 tsp. of Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 bunch of chopped asparagus or another green vegetable, steamed
16 ounces of dried pasta, such as Farfalle (bowtie) or Penne
4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
3 Tbsp. of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of dry white wine or cooking wine
2 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 3/4 cups of grated sharp white cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Panko bread crumbs (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Roast the garlic first. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the garlic on a baking sheet and drizzle with about a teaspoon or so of olive oil. Place in middle rack of oven and cook for 25 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven to cool slightly. *I took the shortcut way on roasting garlic. If you want to do it the longer way, check out the roasted garlic recipe here.

While the garlic is roasting, steam your veggies and then set aside.

After your garlic is roasted and veggies are steamed, bring a large pot of water to a boil and sprinkle with a couple teaspoons of salt. Then add in the pasta and cook just 30 seconds past al dente, according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. Carefully squeeze the insides of each clove of garlic into a small bowl, making sure to discard of any of the papery bulb. Sprinkle the garlic with some kosher salt, mash it with a fork, and make it into a paste. Set aside.

Put the butter into a very large skillet and melt over medium heat. Once it is melted, add in the garlic paste and cook for one minute. Then add in the flour and stir until the flour is lightly browned, about 1 1/2 minutes. Then pour in the white wine and the chicken broth. Stir constantly until the sauce is a little bit thickened, about 3 minutes. Add in the grated cheese and stir until it is completely melted. Turn off the heat. Add in the steamed veggies.

Drain the pasta with a colander. Then add the pasta into the skillet with the cheese sauce and veggies. Toss to coat well and turn the heat back on low and cook for one minute or until warmed through. Serve immediately. Top each serving with some panko bread crumbs and black pepper, if desired.

Makes approximately 6 - 8 servings.

Recipe Adapted from: Annie's Eats

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dark Chocolate Lemon Truffles (made with chocolate chips)


Typically I do not make truffles with chocolate chips. I actually do not think I have ever made any truffles with chocolate chips, unless you count the chocolate chip cookie dough truffles, where the filling has mini chocolate chips. Well, I don't have the time to be a chocolate snob anymore (or the money), so I'm glad these turned out so amazingly delicious.  I had been wanting to make these truffles for awhile. I chose to make them last night as a distraction because my due date came and went, but still no baby. Usually I make these lemon truffles with Scharrfen Berger bittersweet chocolate. I thought I had some in my baking cabinet, so when I set out to make them, I realized I actually had an unsweetened chocolate baking bar with 99% chocolate - not ideal for truffles (but it did work well as a topping). I had half a bag of semisweet Ghiradelli chocolate chips in the cabinet, and I thought, hey, I'll give these a try. They worked perfectly! It was so nice to eliminate the step of finely chopping the chocolate for the truffles because I usually use the big baking bars. These truffles have the perfect balance of rich chocolate and zesty lemon. I rolled and coated them this morning and started the day with 18 of them - now there is only 1 left in the fridge (shared between 5 people - I did not eat them ALL)!  I have a feeling I'll be pregnant until mid-April. But I'm on my maternity leave, so I'll just stay home to make and eat truffles all day long. Yum! I hope you love these truffles as much as I do. They are delicious and easy to make. An added bonus of eating a dark chocolate lemon truffle over other treats is that one truffle only has about 55 calories. So if you eat three for breakfast, you still are having an under 200 calorie  breakfast (not that I know anyone who would ever do something like that...)! Enjoy!

Recipe for Dark Chocolate Lemon Truffles (made with chocolate chips)

INGREDIENTS:
8 Tbsp. of heavy whipping cream
1 1/4 tsp. of lemon zest
5 ounces of Ghiradelli semisweet premium baking chips
2 tsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Cocoa powder
1/2 ounce of bittersweet or unsweetened baking chocolate, grated with a box grater (optional)
Cacao nibs (optional)
Extra chocolate chips, for topping

DIRECTIONS:
Put the heavy cream and the lemon zest into a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Once it simmers, remove from heat and pour in the chocolate chips. Cover the saucepan for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, gently stir the mixture until it is completely smooth. Gently stir in the lemon juice. Cover the saucepan (make sure to wipe the lid of any moisture before covering) and set in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

Put the cocoa powder into a shallow bowl. Lightly dust your hands with the powder. Scoop up some of the mixture and then use your hands to roll into 3/4-inch balls. Dust with more cocoa if desired. Continue until the mixture is gone. Then roll each ball into the grated chocolate, cacao nibs, or a combination of both. You might need to use your fingers to gently press down the grated chocolate/cacao nibs onto the truffles. Top each truffle with a chocolate chip. Put truffles into the fridge until you are ready to serve.

Recipe makes approximately 16 - 20 truffles. About 55 calories per truffle. 

Recipe inspired by various cookbooks in my home and sources on the web. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Quick and Easy Meals Roundup

Creamy Lemon and Thyme Pasta is a really quick and easy meal! You can serve it with or without greens - I used kale. 
I have a confession to make. This post is really more for me than it is for you. I know, I'm selfish. I have been feeling more and more tired these days and therefore much less motivated to cook, as I anxiously await the arrival of baby Wendy. She is due to be here by this Friday, but it seems like she is pretty comfortable where she is and she just might be waiting for the warmer weather before she decides to come! As of now, there are no signs of her showing up on Friday, unless you count being extremely huge, tired, and uncomfortable as signs!  I thought that having a compilation of quick and easy meals would help to encourage me to cook because I know that they require little preparation and cook time, and they seem to be healthier than pre-made meals from the grocery store. Pasta meals pretty much dominate the quick and easy meal list - I have definitely been craving carbs all throughout my pregnancy.

If you are super tired these days or you find yourself pressed for time in the evenings, this post is for you, too! Enjoy.

Quick and Easy Meals Roundup 


Eggplant Parmesan (Romano) Burgers
Tortellini Soup with Sun Dried Tomato, Artichokes, and Chickpeas
Creamy Lemon and Thyme Pasta 
Super Easy Pad Thai (no meat)
Penne Pasta with Arugula Pesto, Chicken Sausages and Goat Cheese
Crustless Quiche with Quinoa, Kale and Peppers
Savory Kale and White Bean Soup
Spicy Bean Burritos 
Quinoa, Corn and Black Bean Wraps
White Chicken Chili Soup 
Pasta with Red Grapes and Sausage 
Easy Chicken Risotto with Caramelized Onions

So, there you have it. The easiest meal on this list would definitely be the tortellini soup. It seriously takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish. The creamy lemon and thyme pasta only requires one pot, so that's nice for clean up! I hope you find these meals to be as convenient and as delicious as I do.

Just for fun I'd like to share a couple pictures of Wendy's nursery . My parents and husband have been doing major home renovations in the last several months and they are turning out to be amazing. I was pretty scared about a month ago that things would never get finished before Wendy was born. I am super impressed with the way things have turned out and wanted to share!







Monday, March 17, 2014

Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (using marshmallow creme)

Greg and I were invited to dinner at a friend's house a few weeks back, but everyone had to keep rescheduling because of adults or kids not feeling well! I had been asked to bring a dessert. The first time we planned to go over there I made the salted caramel brownies the day before, but then we had to reschedule. I couldn't eat all the brownies myself so I still dropped some off for the family. When I asked my friend how she liked the brownies she said she is allergic to chocolate (poor girl), but that her kids and husband thoroughly enjoyed them. So, after finding that out, I decided to go with a non-chocolate dessert when we went over there Saturday night. I also chose to do an easier dessert since I'm more and more tired these days. I thought that the kids and adults would all love funfetti cupcakes with a vanilla buttercream frosting (I was right). The cupcakes were simple, since they came from a box, and then I made the easy and delicious frosting!  I have made chocolate buttercream frosting with marshmallow creme before and this was my first time making vanilla buttercream frosting with it. I think the frosting is amazing! It has such a smooth consistency and I wish I would have had some frosting leftover because I would have totally eaten it for breakfast the next morning! I sprinkled the frosting with mini shamrock sprinkles and gold sanding sugar in the spirit of St. Patrick's Day. Enjoy!

*I call this easy buttercream frosting because traditional buttercream calls for using egg whites and heat and lots of time. The marshmallow creme is the trick in making this recipe so easy!

Recipe for Easy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (using marshmallow creme)
INGREDIENTS:
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 7 ounce jar of marshmallow creme
3/4 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of powdered (confectioners) sugar

DIRECTIONS:
Put the butter into a medium bowl. Use an electric hand mixer set on medium speed to beat butter until it is smooth and creamy. Add in the marshmallow cream and beat again on medium speed until well incorporated (about 2 minutes). Stir in the vanilla extract. Add in the powdered sugar, about 1/4 cup at a time, and beat after each addition until well incorporated. Continue adding in the powdered sugar and beating until it is at your desired consistency, and add more as needed. Use to frost cupcakes - or eat with a spoon!