Monday, March 31, 2014

Homemade Granola Bars

Granola bars are such a great breakfast or snack.  I usually snack on almonds throughout the day but this week I decided granola bars would be a nice change for me so I made Giada's Chewy Granola Bars from her cookbook "Giada's Feel Good Food".  I actually followed the recipe and only made minor changes to it, and the granola bars turned out perfect!



The recipe called for 1/3 cup of raisins, 1/3 cup of dried cranberries and 6 dried apricots.  I'm not a huge fan of raisins so I added extra dried cranberries and I doubled the amount of dried apricots because I love apricots.  The recipe also calls for chopped almonds but I used sliced almonds instead.

3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
3 egg whites
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup flaxseed meal
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
12 dried apricots, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Then place tin foil or parchment paper into the baking dish and spray the tin foil or parchment paper with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk the honey, grapeseed oil, egg whites and vanilla extract until blended.  In a separate bowl, whisk the oats, flaxseed meal, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together.  Then pour into the honey mixture.  Stir until combined.  Then add the almonds, walnuts, dried apricots and cranberries into the mixture and stir until combined.  Pour the mixture into your baking dish and spread the mixture with a spatula. 

Bake for about 35 minutes. 

Cool for about 30 minutes before removing the tin foil or parchment paper from the baking dish.  Then cut into squares.

This makes about 15 - 20 granola bars.




Friday, March 28, 2014

TGIF!

It's finally Friday!  Is it just me or did this week feel like it lasted FOREVER?!  Before I sign off for the week, I just wanted to tell you about a new cookie one of my co-workers introduced me to.  They are the Marshmallow Crispy Oreo cookies.  They're limited edition so stock up while you can!  These cookies are so ridiculously yummy!!!  I don't have a major sweet tooth but these cookies are addictive.  You have to try them!


Have a great weekend!!!



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thirsty Thursday...Peach Cran Lemonade

The weekend is almost here!!  Tonight, I'll be drinking Luke's newest cocktail.  He named this drink Peach Cran Lemonade.  When he made it the other night, I was tempted to have a second but decided I'd better not.  It was so tasty though!  It's really simple to make too!

Servings: 1

3 oz. light rum
1.5 oz. peach schnapps
3 oz. cranberry juice
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
1 tbsp. agave

Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker.  Shake to combine.  It may take a little extra "shaking" to blend the agave with the other ingredients.  Pour into your glass of choice and enjoy! ;)

+
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cheese Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

While grocery shopping a few weeks ago, I found BellaFina sweet peppers (baby bell peppers) in Publix.  I bought a package of them because I thought they'd be great for an appetizer or a side dish.  When I got home, I noticed a recipe on the back of the package so then I was even more excited!  The recipe included ricotta cheese which you can't got wrong with!  However, I did have to make a few adjustments to the recipe.  This is how we made our cheese stuffed baby bell peppers...I baked mine and Luke grilled his. :)

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp. oregano, chopped
1 tbsp. basil, chopped
1 tbsp. flatleaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup arugula, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a medium skillet.  Add the onion to the skillet and saut√© until the onions soften.  Once softened, remove from the heat and set aside. 

Next, cut the baby bell peppers in half and remove the core and seeds.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, onions, herbs and salt and pepper.  Spoon the mixture into each pepper. 

Spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray.  Place the peppers on the cookie sheet and bake for about 10 - 15 minutes. 

Or you can grill your stuffed peppers which is what Luke did.  Either way, they're delish!!!

 
These really are a great appetizer or side dish! 
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Marble Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

By now I'm sure you've figured out I love baking!  I enjoy baking from scratch but I'm also not opposed to using a box mix to help me out every once in a while.  This weekend I made marble cupcakes with homemade buttercream frosting.  Of course, I had to add something to the box mix so I threw in a cup of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips (Luke's favorite).  I wanted to make sure the cupcakes were chocolaty enough for Luke. :)

I thought buttercream frosting would be a yummy on the cupcakes, but instead of just spreading the frosting on the cupcakes, I decided to swirl the frosting on with a decorating tip.  Keep in mind I've never taken a cake decorating class so I'm no professional.  I'm also a little impatient so I didn't take the time to practice swirling the frosting.  I just went for it.  They're far from perfect, but it was a lot of fun swirling the frosting!


Servings:  24 cupcakes 

Cupcakes:

1 box fudge marble cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray the muffin tin with cooking spray.

Your box mix will have 2 packages inside (one package is yellow cake mix and the other is the chocolate mix).  In a large bowl, mix the eggs, water and vegetable oil with the yellow cake mix.  Once combined, reserve 1 cup of batter in a small bowl.  Then pour the remaining batter into the muffin tin. 

Next, pour the chocolate mix in the bowl with the reserved cup of the batter and stir to combine.  Then stir in the chocolate chips.  Spoon the chocolate mixture into the muffin tin over the batter and swirl into the batter.

Bake for about 18 - 20 minutes.


While the cupcakes cool, start on the frosting.  I found the buttercream frosting recipe here http://savorysweetlife.com/ but I adjusted it to get it the way I wanted it.  Below is the recipe for the frosting I made.

1 cup Parkay or butter/margarine of choice (2 sticks), softened
4 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp heavy cream
Mini chocolate chips
 
Using a mixer, beat butter and then add the sifted powdered sugar.  Once combined, increase to medium speed and add vanilla extract, salt, and 2 tablespoons of  heavy cream and beat until all ingredients are combined.  If you like a thinner frosting, you can always add more heavy cream. 
 
After frosting the cupcakes, sprinkle the cupcakes with mini chocolate chips.  I used mini semi-sweet chocolate chips.
 
 
Monday, March 24, 2014

Meatless Monday

Why do the weekends always fly by?  It's so not fair.  Luke and I had such a nice weekend.  He played golf Saturday and Sunday and I just enjoyed doing what I wanted, even if that meant doing nothing.  If you know me, you know I can't sit still for too long so my doing nothing only lasts about 30 minutes.

Saturday night was our date night.  We had dinner in downtown Columbia, SC at a restaurant called Basil.  It's a Thai restaurant and it's super yummy!!  The first time we went to Basil was a few years ago in downtown Charleston, SC with my brother and his wife and we loved it.  So Luke and I were both really excited when a Basil restaurant opened in Columba last year.

I have a new favorite drink.  It's a Pineapple Mojito. I don't usually like Mojitos, but the pineapple was calling my name so when I saw that on the menu, I thought I had to try it.  Oh my gosh, it's so good!  I told Luke he has to try to remake this drink at home! ;)

Yesterday I spent most of my afternoon in the kitchen.  Luke and I had separate meals for dinner but we cooked and ate dinner together so it worked out. :)  For dinner, I had Giada's lentil burger.

Giada De Laurentiis is one of my favorite Food Network chefs.  I love her show and her recipes!  Over the years, I've tried so many of her recipes and they've all turned out delicious.  I recently bought her new cookbook, "Giada's Feel Good Food" which offers a wide variety of recipes.  I've already tried several of the recipes in this cookbook and none of them have disappointed. 

The Lentil Burger with Lemon-Basil mayonnaise which I had for dinner is from her cookbook.  Oh my goodness, yum!  However, it is time consuming so don't expect to whip this recipe together within a few minutes and eat.  Once you combine everything, you have to put the "burgers" into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to set, but they're delicious so they're worth the wait. :)

Lentil Burger:

1/2 extra-virgin olive oil
2 large shallots or small onion, minced
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped (or 1 tbsp. dried thyme)
1/2 cup green peas
2 cans lentils, rinsed and drained (or 1/2 bag of dried lentils, rinsed, then cook for 20 minutes)
1/2 cup, plus 1/3 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1tbsp fresh lemon juice


In a medium skillet, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil and add the shallots along with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Cook until shallots are softened.  Then add the garlic, mushrooms, thyme and 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Cook until mushrooms are soft and set aside.

Using a food processor, puree the peas and half of the lentils until smooth.  Then spoon into a bowl and add the remaining lentils, 1/3 cup of cornmeal, mayonnaise, lemon juice and mushroom mixture.  Mix together with a spoon and then form into 6 patties.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cornmeal onto a cookie sheet and place the patties on top of the cornmeal.  Then sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of cornmeal on top of the patties and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook the patties in the skillet until golden brown on each side.

Mayonnaise topping:

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 1/4 cup of the basil in a tube)
Zest of 1 lemon

In a small bowl, stir the mayonnaise, basil and lemon zest until combined.

Place the patties on top of butter lettuce.  Then top each pattie with sliced tomatoes and a dollop of the mayonnaise mixture.


YUM!!! :)


Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Treat!

HAPPY FRIDAY!!!  We survived another week!  Earlier this week, Luke and I made homemade ice cream with our Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker.  I can't even begin to tell you how great it is!  We absolutely love it!  It's so easy to use and the ice cream is so much better than any ice cream you buy in the store. 

This week we made chocolate caramel ice cream and then we made strawberry ice cream.  Both were so yummy!  We used the recipe that came with the ice cream maker because we haven't mastered the ice cream recipes yet.  Last night, we decided to make a milkshake using the strawberry ice cream. 


Strawberry Milkshake for one:

1 Pint of strawberry ice cream
1/4 cup of milk (for thinner shake add more milk)
1/4 cup of strawberry's diced small (add a tablespoon of sugar)
1/4 cup of cool whip (thawed)

First, put your diced strawberries into a bowl.  Sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar over the strawberries and let it sit for a few minutes.  Next, spoon the pint of ice cream and cool whip into a blender along with the milk and diced strawberries.  Blend until combined. 

By the way, I mentioned last week that Izzy seemed to be feeling deprived of my attention so I spent a lot of time with her last weekend.  I threw tennis balls for her to fetch in the backyard, we went for a walk and I gave her a new toy.  As you can see, she was a happy girl!



I think she was very ready for me to go back to work on Monday though.  She was totally exhausted.  I don't think she could have handled a third day with me. :)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

My Favorite Blueberry Muffins

I used to follow every step to every recipe I tried and if I didn't like it, I just didn't make it again.  Over the years, I've learned I can take a recipe and change it until I like it.  These days it's actually very rare for me to follow a recipe exactly as it's written. 

The first recipe I took apart and made my own was a Sunny Anderson muffin recipe. I made her recipe a couple of times but decided there were some things I wanted to change.  Her recipe called for strawberries, bananas, blueberries and nutmeg with only a pinch of cinnamon.    

First I decided to eliminate the strawberries and bananas because I thought there was just too much going on in those muffins.   With those gone, I liked the muffins better but I still wasn't completely happy with the recipe.  The flavor of the nutmeg was too strong so I decided to add more cinnamon and less nutmeg.  It took me a couple of attempts to figure out the right amount of cinnamon but now the recipe is exactly the way I want it. 

This recipe is one of my favorites not only because the muffins are delicious but also because this recipe made me realize how much I love to cook, bake and create new foods.  I hope you all enjoy my blueberry muffins as much as I do! :)




This recipe makes 12 muffins.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1 1/2 cups blueberries
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1/2 tsp. raw sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Make sure you spray the muffin tin with cooking spray.

In a bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, canola oil, and sugar together.

Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients.  Using a mixer, mix the ingredients until combined.  Then fold in the blueberries and walnuts.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop the batter into the muffin tin.  I sprinkle raw sugar over the top of each muffin before putting them in the oven.  The raw sugar creates a crust on top of the muffins which I think perfects the recipe. ;)

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes.


Do you have any recipes that are special to you?  I'd love to hear about them! :)
 
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What's for Dinner Wednesday

I love looking through cookbooks to get ideas for new recipes, but when I'm in a hurry and need a dinner or dessert idea quick, I find myself Googling recipes.  I've found some of the best recipes online which is one of the many reasons I decided to start blogging about food.  I'm really enjoying reading other food blogs and trying some of their recipes. 

We had a delicious dinner the other night!  I got the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs!  We had Potato and Poblano Pepper Tacos with refried beans.  We had plenty of refried beans left over so Luke decided to make another meal out of them.  This is Luke's recipe but I was a good wife and proof-read his recipe so this is the corrected version!  However, there wasn't much I could do with the photo he took. ;)

This recipe makes 8 servings.

Quick bean roll up:
8 Flour tortillas
2 14oz. cans of refried beans
1 10oz can rotel tomatoes or favorite salsa (Luke likes to use salsa to change the flavor)
1 1/2 cup of Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack Cheese 

Prepare your beans first:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Stir the refried beans and the rotel tomatoes (or salsa) together and pour into a greased 8x8 pan.  Bake for 10 - 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and sprinkle 1 cup of cheese over the top of the beans.  Then put back in the oven for another 5 minutes.

If you don't want to take the time to bake the refried beans, you can just mix the refried beans and rotel tomatoes (or salsa) in a microwave safe bowl and warm the beam mixture in the microwave on high for a few minutes until heated through.


2nd step:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place flour tortillas on a flat surface and spoon the refried bean mixture onto each tortilla.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over the bean mixture and roll up each tortilla.  Place the tortillas on to a greased cookie sheet, flip the tortillas over every few minutes and bake until brown (about 5 - 8 minutes).

Top with some of your favorite salsa or enchilada sauce and more cheese, if desired.  If your using leftover refried beans like we did or if you decide to skip the baking step, this recipe should not take more than 15 minutes.

 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mini Strawberry Sugar Cookie Pies

I'm super excited about this season of Dancing with the Stars!  I'm already ready for next week's episode!  I don't think the cast could get much better than this one!  NeNe is hilarious, Candace Cameron Bure is absolutely adorable and who doesn't love Winnie Cooper (Danica McKellar)!  I'm a huge fan of Candace Cameron Bure so I'm definitely pulling for her.  She seems like such an incredible person.  I read her first book "Reshaping It All" and her new book, "Balancing It All," is on my list of books to read this summer.  So who are you pulling for on DWTS?

For Sweet Tooth Tuesday, I decided to recreate one of my friends yummy desserts.  She makes the best fruit pizza!  It's one of my favorite spring and summer treats.  Last week, I started craving her fruit pizza but I decided to take the sugar cookie crust and orangey topping from the fruit pizza and make something new.  Strawberries were on sale this week which worked out great because they are the perfect fruit for my makeover dessert.



1 package 24 count refrigerated sugar cookie dough
1 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz. cool whip, thawed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lb. package fresh strawberries, chopped

In a mini muffin tin, press the individual sugar cookies into the individual cups.  Bake according to the package instructions.


While the cookie cups are cooling, mix the cream cheese and vanilla extract.  Then add the cool whip.  Once incorporated, stir the strawberries into the mixture.


Spoon the strawberry mixture into the cooled cookie pies and refrigerate.

The orange glaze:

1/2 cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp. corn starch
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup water

In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the sugar, salt, corn starch, orange juice, lemon juice and water.  Bring to a boil, continue stirring and cook for about a minute.  Remove from heat and allow to cool but not set.  Drizzle the orange glaze over the strawberry cookie pies and serve.

 
Enjoy!
Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patty's Day Cake Pops

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Yesterday morning, it occurred to me that today was St. Patrick's Day.  The day just snuck up on me, but I had to do something to recognize St. Patrick's Day.  While I was trying to figure what I was going to make, I starting thinking back to a weekend we spent in Savannah, Georgia a long time ago.

When I was about eight or nine years old, I was in the Girl Scouts.  My Girl Scout troop spent a weekend in Savannah so we could learn more about this history of the Girl Scouts and tour the house of the Girl Scouts founder, Juliette Gordon Low.  It was St. Patrick's Day weekend.

I had never seen St. Patrick's Day the way I saw it in Savannah.  All of the lines in the street were painted green, the water in all of the fountains were green and the adults walking around downtown Savannah were drinking green beer.  It was fascinating to all of us!

One of my lifelong friends decided to walk around and balance on the edge of one of the fountains.  I also need to add she was wearing all white (white wind suit, white socks and white tennis shoes).  Several of the chaperones told her she needed to get down but she wasn't having it so she continued.  The next thing we knew, there was a green splash.  She'd fallen in and when she climbed out, her entire white outfit was a pale green.  She had to walk through the street of Savannah back to the hotel in her wet, newly green clothes.  I laugh every time I think about that.  My friend is such a great person and a great sport so I know if she's reading this, she's laughing as hard as I am typing this.  ;)

For St. Patrick's Day, I decided to make St. Patty's Day Cake Pops.  The cake pop recipe is actually my mom's recipe.  She started making red velvet cake pops and brownie pops years before it became popular.  My mom is such creative cook!!

 
 
This recipe makes 32 cake pops.
 
1 box yellow cake mix
1 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 lb. vanilla flavored almond bark, melted
Green food coloring
Cake Pop sticks

Follow the instructions on the cake mix box and bake accordingly.  Allow the cake to cool.  Cut off the edges of the cake because the edges are too crisp to use.  Then remove the center of the cake from the pan and put into a bowl.  You want the cake to still be warm when you add the cream cheese.  Mix the cake and cream cheese together with your hands.  Pinch off bite size pieces and roll into balls.  Place the balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.


Place in the freezer for about an hour.  Melt the vanilla flavored almond bark.  Once melted, pour in a few drops of green food coloring and stir.  Dip on end of the cake pop stick into the melted almond bark and press the end of the stick into the center of the cake pops.  ***Don't push the sticks all the way through the cake pops.***


Place the cake pops back into the freezer for a couple more minutes to make sure they're still cold and holding together.  Then dips the balls into the almond bark and set to dry.  I cut holes into an empty egg carton and put the ends of the cake pops into the holes so they would stand upright and dry smoothly.


Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!
Friday, March 14, 2014

Finally Friday!!!

It's Friday!!!  Is anyone else as happy about that as I am?!  I'm going to spend a lot of time spoiling my little baby girl (our dog Izzy) with lots of attention this weekend.  I have to make up for the lack of attention she's gotten from me this week.



I realized I've got to reprioritize some things and manage my time a little better.  I made a promise to myself that I'd post on the blog Monday through Friday, and I've really enjoyed doing it.  This is my "happy place".  Working full time and commuting to and from work doesn't leave me much free time at home.  It also doesn't help that I worked late twice this week and didn't get home until after 7PM (one of those nights was the night I only skimmed over Luke's post...oopsy).  I also workout at least three times a week which is something I won't change.  I'm committed to staying in shape.  I'm committed to all of these things and once I commit to something, that' it.  I'm not going to let myself or anyone else down (Izzy for example) so I've got to come up with a plan.  Any suggestions for juggling it all?

I was able to prioritize my work day enough to take the time to have lunch with friends on 2 different days this week which is amazing with everything I've got going on at work.  This is progress because over the last year, I was horrible about making room in my schedule to spend time with friends on a regular basis.  However, Luke and I had an unbelievably crazy year last year.

On a whim, we decided to put our house on the market (for sale by owner) to see if anything would happen.  We honestly thought we'd show the house a couple of times and that would be the end of it.  We didn't think we'd get a single offer.  Boy, were we ever wrong.  We showed the house one time and they made an offer before they pulled out of the driveway.  They also told us they wanted to close in 30 days.  We accepted the offer but we had a lot to figure out in a very short amount of time.  We definitely weren't prepared for this to happen.

However, God always has a plan.  Everything fell right into place.  My boss, who is also a friend of ours, helped us find a great rental house.  The rental house had enough space for us to store our extra furniture and things which kept us from having to rent a storage space.  While we were renting the house, we started building our next house.  The house was finished before Thanksgiving so we were able to enjoy our new house for the holidays.  We're so fortunate that everything worked out like it did. 

I almost forgot to mention, a month before we closed on our new house I started a new job.  So as you can see, we've had A LOT going on this past year.  To be honest, I like being busy but I've realized I've got to slow down enough to do all of the things I'm committed to doing, do all things well and enjoy everything.  Especially when it comes to spending time with my little Izzy! :)


 

I hope you all have a great weekend!!!
Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thirsty Thursday!

First, I have to apologize on Luke's behalf.  I didn't proof-read his entire part of the post yesterday, and he always counts on me to do that.  Yesterday, I only skimmed over it and started working on my half of the post.  One of his friends pointed out his poor grammar and lack of detail so Luke asked me if I'd read it.  I admitted that I hadn't and his response was "you know I don't pay much attention to what I'm typing.  I rely on you to check behind me."  Oops... :)

It's finally Thursday so that means it's time for a drink to celebrate the upcoming weekend!!

Luke made this drink last weekend, and I really enjoyed it but it's strong.  I was seeing double by the time I emptied my glass.  ;)  I think this recipe should be for 2 servings instead of 1, but he disagrees.  This drink is delicious but like I said, it's strong so use your own discretion.  

The picture looks a lot like last week's drink but the taste is very different.  I'm obsessed with pear vodka right at the moment so don't be surprised to see a lot drink recipes with that as the main ingredient.

This is called the Peachy Pear Martini.

4 oz. pear vodka
2 oz. peach schnapps
2 oz. cranberry juice

Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker with ice.  Shake to combine and pour into a martini glass.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cook-off...Who Won It???

So here we are, our first meat vs. non-meat cook-off for the blog!  I have to say Jamie's whatever she is making has no chance to my Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Sundried Tomato, Calamata Olives and Feta Cheese recipe.  I think the Grecians would actually like this combo.

I had 3 big boneless chicken breast that were thawed and then I butterflied them.  It's really optional to marinade the chicken or just season the outside with you favorite Greek seasoning or favorite herbs.  But I will rundown the marinade quickly:

3 tablespoons of the olive oil out of the sundried tomato jar
about 1/4 cup of finely chopped sundried tomatoes out of the same jar
1 tablespoon of Salt and Black Pepper
1/2 of a squeezed lemon
2 tablespoons of Greek seasoning or Italian Seasoning (favorite seasonings)
Marinate this a few hours or marinate over night
=======
Feta cheese stuffing mixture"
6 oz of feta cheese
2 tablespoons of sundried tomato chopped
2 tablespoons of Calamata Olives

Once the mixture is fully mixed, then pull out the chicken breast and then thin them out a little.  Then spoon a couple of tablespoons of stuffing onto the chicken and roll the chicken up.  I used my Char-broil infared grille and cooked for approx. 40 minutes.  You can also bake, pan sear or use your regular grill of choice. 




I used my Char-broil Infared Grille and cooked for approx. 40 minutes.  You can also bake, pan sear or use any grill of your choice. 


Thanks for the vote of confidence Luke, and by the way, you know exactly what I'm making because I eat this at least once a week.  I'm not going to deny your chicken is delicious.  I haven't eaten it in about 2 years but I remember how good it is.  However, mine is pretty tasty too! 

In place of Luke's Grecian Chicken recipe is my Sundried Tomato California Turk'y "burgers".  The Grillers California Turk'y burgers are my favorite out of all of the Morning Star Farms products.  These are a staple in our house.  I always have at least 2 boxes of these in the freezer.





The sundried tomato spread and sundried tomatoes with herbs are also a staple.  I've always got several jars of each in the refrigerator and in our pantry.  There are so many great recipes you can make using these!

My Sundried Tomato California Turk'y "burger":

2 tbsp. sundried tomato spread
2 tbsp. sundried tomatoes with herbs
Cheese

First, you brown both sides of the frozen Turk'y "burger" in a pan with cooking spray.  I spoon about 2 tablespoons of the sundried tomato spread onto one Fold It Flatout Flatbread which I use as the bun.  I place the browned Turk'y burger onto one side of the flatbread, and then spoon the cheese and sundried tomatoes on top of the "burger".  For the cheese, I've tried it with sharp cheddar, provolone and mozzarella cheese and I think all taste great with this.



Next fold the other side of the flatbread over the "burger" and brown both sides of the flatbread.


Then enjoy! :)
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sweet Tooth Tuesday Turtle Cookies

Okay, so first I have to get this off my chest...why in the world did the producers choose Juan Pablo to be The Bachelor in the first place!?!??!!  I never understood how or why he was chosen.  I remember all of this talk about how he was "the sexiest bachelor ever" and the previews kept referring to how women loved his accent.  Maybe I'm crazy but I never saw the appeal and his accent never did anything for me.

After watching this season of the show, I was blown away by how insensitive, rude and arrogant he was.  I feel so sorry for the girls who were on this season.  What a waste of their time and what a disappointment.

So now that I've gotten that off my chest, on to a sweeter, more pleasant subject.  :)  This week I've been in the mood for something chocolatey with a hint of caramel so I told Luke I wanted to create a turtle cupcake or a turtle cookie.  Luke with blunt-self said he'd rather have cookies, but then he had to add "aren't there tons of recipes for turtle cookies already".  I told him I was sure there were but I was going to make my own version. :)

This is what I came up with...



1 stick (1/2 cup) and 2 tbsp of butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven, to 350 degrees.  Cream the butter/margarine and sugar together.  Then add the egg and vanilla extract.



In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients.  To make sure there aren't any clumps, whisk the all purpose flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda and salt together.



Slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. 

Once combined, stir the chocolate chips and chopped pecans into the batter.



Using a small ice cream scoop, drop about 2 tbsp. per cookie onto a greased cookie sheet.  As I mentioned before, I hate cleaning dishes so I always place tin foil on the cookie sheet before I cook on it to avoid having to clean a sticky mess.



Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.  This makes about 26 cookies.



For the caramel drizzle, there are 2 recipes to choose from depending on how much you like caramel.  The first recipe is a thinner, milder caramel flavor but the second recipe is thicker and richer in flavor.

The Milder Caramel Drizzle:

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 tbsp. butter or margarine

In a saucepan, stir the brown sugar and water together over medium low heat.  Once combined, increase the heat and bring to a boil and continue stirring.  Boil for about 5 minutes (until it's a light caramel color).  Remove from heat and let cool.

OR

The Richer Caramel Drizzle:

2 sticks (1 cup) of butter or margarine
1 cup brown sugar, packed

In a saucepan, melt the butter.  Once melted, add the brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and continue to stir until it turns a light caramel color.  Remove from heat and let cool.



Once the caramel sauce you choose to make has cooled, drizzle the caramel sauce over the cooled cookies and enjoy! :)


 



Monday, March 10, 2014

Meaty Monday...Stuffed Clams and Stuffed Scallops

I love the fact that it's 7:20 in the evening and the sun is still out!  It's such a great feeling to know there are still a couple of hours of daylight left when I get home from work!  To me that's worth losing an hour of sleep.

The weather was perfect today too.  It was 75 degrees when I left work this evening.  I came home today and took Izzy for a walk around the neighborhood, and I didn't feel the least bit rushed to get back to the house to start dinner.  I feel like I still have time left in the day to enjoy.  That's such a great feeling!

Dinner tonight was super easy.  Publix offers the most amazing Stuffed Clams and Stuffed Scallops.  They're on sale 4 for $5 through tomorrow.  So they're not only delicious but they're cheap. ;)  If you like crab cakes, you'll love these and even if you don't like crab cakes, you'll love these.  Luke doesn't like crab cakes very much, but he LOVES these.

You can find them in the fresh market section (the fish counter) of the store.  The cooking instructions are printed on the price label.

To cook the stuffed clams and the stuffed scallops, you preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Place the stuffed clams and/or stuffed scallops on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 18 - 20 minutes.  Then they're ready to serve!


The green beans:

1 lb. of fresh green beans, rinsed and trimmed
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 garlic clove, minced

First, blanch the green beans (in a pot of water, bring the green beans to a boil, remove from heat as soon as they start to boil and use a slotted spoon to put the green beans into a bowl of ice water).  Pour 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a pan over medium heat.  Then add the cooled green beans to the pan.  Add the salt and pepper and toss the green beans to make sure they're all coated with the EVOO, salt and pepper.  Then add the minced garlic and cook for a few more minutes.


Don't forget to run over to Publix before Wednesday to grab your stuffed clams and/or stuffed scallops!!! :)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Friday Funday

TGIF!!!!  I'm so glad it's finally the weekend!  Luke and I rented a movie so we're going to have a quiet evening at home.  I'm so excited for our quiet night at home after having such a long, crazy week at work.

Before I sign off for the week, I wanted to share a yummy treat I found last week...a cream cheese spread with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Oh my goodness, it is so delicious!  It's actually Wal-Mart brand (the Great Value brand) and it's a "Limited Edition" so I'm not sure how long they're going to have it on the shelves.  I've decided I'm going to have to go back and stock up on it before it disappears. 

For breakfast this week, I've been eating the cream cheese spread on an English Muffin and it's such a treat.  I've looked forward to it every morning.  It's kind of like eating cream cheese icing on an English Muffin.  It's delish!  I can't imagine how amazing the cream cheese spread would be with  apple slices but I'm going to find out this weekend. ;)



Have a great weekend!!!
Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thirsty Thursday!!!

YAY!!!!  It's almost the weekend!!!  It's time to make a toast to the upcoming weekend with one of Luke's cocktails.

Luke is the bartender/cocktail maker in our house.  I usually make drink suggestions and he comes up with a drink combination.

This is what I'm toasting with tonight ;)

 
We named this drink the Pear Berry Fizz.
 
3 oz. Pear Vodka
1 1/2 oz. Sour Apple Pucker (or any apple liqueur)
1 1/2 oz. Cranberry Juice
1 oz. Sprite (or lemon lime soda)
 
Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice.  Shake to combine and pour into your glass of choice and ENJOY! :)
 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What's for Dinner Wednesday

If you're anything like me, by the time Wednesday rolls around I'm so ready for the weekend, and the last thing I want to think about is what we're going to have for dinner.  I just want dinner to be as simple as possible.  So tonight's dinner is a crockpot/slow cooker meal. 

In my opinion, crockpots/slow cookers are one of the best appliances you can have in your kitchen.  Especially since most of them have timers you can set so you don't have to worry about whether or not you'll get home in time to turn it off before your food burns.  Plus, crockpot/slow cooker meals are usually a one-pot meal which is great for me because I hate washing dishes!

Tonight's dinner is a recipe I recreated based on a recipe I found in one of my vegetarian cookbooks.  It's an Italian Potato "Stew" and it couldn't be easier to make!



Italian Potato "Stew":

1 oz. package dried porcini mushrooms
6 medium red potatoes, washed and quartered
1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup white wine
3 cups jarred marinara sauce
1 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste
Basil

Soak the porcini mushrooms in a large bowl of water for 20 - 30 minutes or until softened.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the softened mushrooms from the water.

Pour the potatoes, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, garlic, wine and marinara sauce into the crockpot/slow cooker.

Cover and cook on low for 6 - 8 hours or until the potatoes are tender.  Before serving, add the Kalamata olives and the salt and pepper to taste and continue cooking for another 20 - 30 minutes.

Drizzle each serving with EVOO and chopped basil or you can use 1/4 teaspoon of Gourmet Gardens Basil Paste which is what I used instead of fresh basil.

 

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Simply Gloria

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