Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spice Cookies after a long day

So I didn't get to eat much lunch today.  I had a granola bar at 8:00 with my coffee followed by a small snack at lunch.  I had every intention of eating at least an apple in the afternoon, but time just got away from me and I didn't get around to it.  Because of this occurrence, I was STARVING when I got home today.  All I wanted when I finally got home tonight was one loaf of french bread with a container of butter.  Good ol' white flour carbs.  So, I went to the store to buy a loaf of French bread before Breeze got home.  On the way I stopped to get gas (second attempt of the day) but my gas tank opening would not open.  No budging.  I knew for sure it was broken and we would have to take it into the shop tomorrow.  I went to show my sister the problem when I arrived at home and it freakin' popped right open!  To make a long story somewhat short, I got gas and finally went to the store to get french bread, a spice cake mix to make cookies, some veggies, flour and cinnamon sticks.  My only thought on the way home was which item I was going to eat for dinner first.  Fortunately I have a rational husband who made me tacos for dinner and I made the cookies for dessert.  The recipe is below. 

Recap- Hunger is NOT good for the mind!! I'm pretty sure there are studies out there that say you get dumber (see!) when you don't eat.  

One Spice Cake + One Can Pumpkin + 10-12 minutes on 350 = Deliciousness

You don't even have to be smart to make these... Perfect for a day you skip lunch

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

First Trip to Trader Joes

I got to go to Trader Joes this weekend!! And to add bonus points, it was with my mom, sister, aunt, and cousin and they love food as much as I do.  We had so much fun.  I walked around the perimeter of the store first, then I walked up and down each aisle, up one side then down the other to make sure I didn't miss anything.  I'm pretty sure I bought one of each of everything they had to offer.
This isn't everything.  I kept trying to get everything together for a picture and just couldn't manage it.  I kept forgetting 1-5 items.  I was tired, okay.

Booze, baby!  Ginger beer for Moscow Mules (my girl Oprah's favorite drink), 3 Buck Chuck, and Trader Jose.
Grocery items, some of which I needed anyway and some of which I just had to take home.  2 salad dressings- Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette and Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola (OMG!), fancy cherries, better 'n peanut butter, Trader Joes pizza sauce, Gouda cheese, Munster cheese, whole wheat pizza dough!, almond milk, and spicy jalapeno chicken sausages.
Sweets and junk.  Reduced fat cheese puffs (total hungover impulse buy), Fiberful fruit bars, dark chocolate pistachio covered toffee (ah-mazing), smashed smores, vanilla something caramels, chocolate frozen banana bites, brownie batter, and dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt.

Believe it or not this isn't even everything.  I had so much fun there!  The only thing they didn't have was Kombucha tea but I won't bring that up because I don't want to be a Debbie Downer.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chili + Corn Muffins + Apple Cake

Yeah, it's totally fall around this neck of the woods.  It's stormy and rainy today and I was so happy we went to the store before the nasty weather rolled in.  We planned for the ultimate "first weekend it really feels like fall" kind of weekend.  I'll give you three guesses on what we planned to make.

Chili, duh.

We made Breeze's famous chili!  And corn muffins (I'm not talking about Jiffy here).  And apple cake.

Since you'll be making all this tomorrow, here are the recipes.

Chili- There is no recipe, but this is the general outline of how we make chili.

Black beans
Chili beans- medium and mild
Kindey beans
Red beans
Fire roasted diced tomatoes
Chili diced tomatoes
Tomato paste
Tomato sauce
Orange pepper
Yellow pepper
Red peppers
Green peppers
Pickle juice (this is the secret ingredient that makes all the difference)
3 lbs. ground beef
Salt and pepper

Brown the meat with the onion.  Add everything together in the crock pot on high for a few hours or until heated through.

Corn Muffins
Adapted from How Sweet Eats Blog
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup creamed corn
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 425.
Stir together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl.  Add the cream corn, melted butter, milk, cream, and egg.  Mix it all together.  Fold in the grated cheese and jalapenos if using.  Bake for 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Caramelized Apple Upside Down Cake
Adapted from Food Network
1 stick butter
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
1 apple, thinly sliced
For the cake
6 tablespoons butter, very soft
1 cup sugar (I only had 1/2 cup white sugar left so I used 1/2 white, 1/2 brown sugar)
2 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare the cake 9 inch round cake pan by buttering the bottom and the sides.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  After everything melts together, let boil for 30 seconds.  Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, scraping all of the mixture with a spatula evenly into the pan. Place the apple slices on top.

Now make the cake.  Beat the butter and sugar until creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth and fluffy (about two minutes).  Add in the dry ingredients and beat 10 seconds.  Add the milk and beat until until fully mixed, about one minute.  Pour the batter on top of the apple slices.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Flip the cake over onto a plate.

To review-
Corn Muffins
Apple Cake

Enjoy!  And try not to do this!
So we put too many chili ingredients in the crock pot.  Our bad.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Let's Talk About the Weather

I have super conflicted feelings about this weather.  I'm okay with it being this wonderful outside as long as we have a few more outrageously hot days.  I need to get my fix before the heat is gone.  Plus, the ragweed has come out in full force.  Welcome back to a wonderful piece of nature that ruins my life.  I had to get a shot in my butt cheek yesterday to try and ward off the pollen's power.  And I had no time to prepare for it. Looking back it was probably best not to tell me any more than two minutes that the shot was coming or I guarantee I would have rescheduled it!
Anywho, back to the weather.
The one thing I do love about this weather is grilling.  It always seems to be associated with summer but who wants to cook outside when it's a million degrees outside?  Not my hubby.  So now that we have these amazing temperatures, we get to grill again!
On tonight's menu, we had cheeseburgers from outside and roasted broccoli and asparagus from inside.  That's what we call teamwork!

Step One:
Our burgers were a modified version of Breeze's favorite recipe.  I used ground beef, bits of bacon, Worcestershire, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Step Two:
Roasting vegetables is the best way to cook any veggie, I swear on it!  Just spray down some asparagus and broccoli pieces with some olive oil, sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder and pop it in the oven at 450 for 20-25 minutes or until the burgers are ready.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hey, what's up?

Hey Blog Followers!
First things first, I'd like to apologize for my loooong absence!  I can make up excuses or I can just tell you is that I put the blog on the back burner.  Because there are no signs of anything slowly down, I have new blog goals.
1. To blog at a minimum of once a week, hopefully more.
2. To blog about many things, not just recipes, but keeping healthy living as the main theme.  Trust me food is on my mind about 99% of the time so there shouldn't be any issue with it coming up frequently.

Now, let's catch up!

I've still been cooking dinner almost every night since I started working/quit blogging.  It makes me feel guilty that I don't share the recipes/pictures.  The main problem is I'm in much more of a hurry these days.  If I remember half way through the cooking process that I forgot to take pictures, I scrap the idea of blogging about that specific recipe.  I guess that is another goal of mine, to take pics of more meals so I have more options on which recipes I want to blog about given a more limited amount of time.

Tonight I had a cardio meltdown.  It's pretty much what drove me to blog tonight.  I'm sooooo bummed because I didn't get signed up for Spin in time this session and all the bikes were reserved when I called.  I literally almost cried.  This led to me really dreading working out/doing cardio  tonight, which led to the following routine:
Dance cardio DVD I haven't done in months.  Lasted ten minutes.  Treadmill to do interval training.  Lasted ten more minutes.  Five jumping jacks. Blog.

Lastly, I want to address the main reason I've been gone so long which is as most people know, I started my new career.  I love saying career vs job.  Job was explained to me as just over broke and I never liked thinking that is how I was living.  One of the best things about my current work is I'm so busy I don't even think about paychecks or stress about when pay day is anymore.  It's such a relief.  That's not to say there aren't new stresses, because there totally are.  I feel a whole different kind of stress/pressure than I felt at the salon.  Joining a new company means there is so much to learn: names, faces, responsibilities, terminology, etc.  Although marketing is a whole different ballgame than coordinating chaos at Salon 9, I use many of the skills I was taught or developed while I was there.  One thing that definitely didn't change when I switched to a new workplace is that I still work with mostly women.  I might as well get used to it, huh?

Well there are my somewhat random thoughts to get me back to blogging.  I'll be back soon!
By the way, what's for dinner?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zucchini, Baby!

Steph 1: Buy one of these bad boys at the farmer's market.
Step 2: Make it into a cake.

But wait!
Before you eat your cake made from a vegetable, eat this fish for dinner!

Oh yeah, THIS fish.  Topped with butter and cheese. Mmmmm.

Parmesan topped Tilapia

What you need:
4 tilapia filets (thawed if frozen)
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp butter
1/8 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
3-4 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp fresh thyme

How to do:
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. 

Pat down the filets with paper towels.  Place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

In the meantime, mix together the butter, cheeses, garlic, and thyme.  

When the fish is finished baking, take it out and turn on the broiler. 

Flip the fish over and top with the mixture.   

Broil for 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is beautifully golden and bubbly and your kitchen smells wonderful.  (Please note: the smell is of garlic and parmesan, not fish)

recipe adapted from How Sweet Eats
--back to zucchini--
Serve with zucchini and onions with basil, unless you follow a recipe from a not-to-be named website that has poor directions and so it gets done 25 minutes after your main dish. 

I know this might seem a bit heavy and maybe even (gasp!) unhealthy, but it really isn't.  I love Brummel and Brown butter spread and it's only 3 tbsp.  Shoot, I make cookies and muffins with WAY more butter than that on a regular basis.  Cheese is always good, so it doesn't neccessarily count.  I used the two different kinds because I think shredded parm has a much different flavor than the grated kind in the plastic container and Breeze isn't a huge fan of it.  It really isn't heavy either, it's very light and delicoius.  Also, we don't eat a lot of fish at the Breeze house but I know Omega-3's are very important. 

This is a great dish to fit in some fish. 
I think I'll end on that. =)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Burritos! Whole Foods!

Clockwise from the left:  7 layer dip, Nancy's avacado garlicky dip and homemade pita chips, veggie chips, burritos, and an assortment of veggies with ranch dip. 
 Do you have foods that when they are cooked or even mentioned they remind you of someone or something??

Burritos are that way for me.  They remind me of Salon 9 and Brian Hendrickson.  He makes the best burritos ever!  That's them on the left.  The mixture of meat and beans paired with the crispy shell is ba-nanas!  For my last day of work on Thursday, the Salon 9 staff had quite the spread of deliciousness to send me off.  Even Kennedee, who I'm pretty sure is scared of the kitchen, made some ah-mazing seven layer dip!  I so appreciate what they did for me and I was so happy they went with the Mexican theme. 

Nancy made me white texas sheet cake.  Yummmmmm.
Somebody had a few bites before I got to take a pic.  I don't blame them, it is out of this world fabulous.  The almond flavoring is nothing short of amazing. 

I'm so going to miss everyone at the shop AND their food.  As my last attempt at being in charge, I pulled everyone together for a group photo.  It took an act of congress, but look how good the picture is!  Isabel needs to be a model! 

What a good looking group!

On another note, Friday I got to go to Whole Foods with my mom!  It was really fun!  I had to hold back and not buy everything I wanted, but I grabbed a good amount of things that I can't find in the Burg. 
My favorite finds:
I've never even seen Quinoa pasta! 
My sister and I always talk about how celeberties love coconut water but we tried the regular flavor and both think it is sick!! So I got some flavored kinds to test out. 
Seseme crisps- a super healthy snack!
Veganaise!  A much healthier alternative to Mayo.
Pop Chips!! 3 bags for $5 at that! 
And the best find of all:
Synergy Kombucha!! I'd give anything to be able to buy this in town!

Did you notice all the exclamantion points?  Exciting stuff!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sweet and Sour Sesame Chicken

When things seem out of the ordinary, like when you are approaching your last day of a job you've been going to every day for the past eight years, sometimes all you want is normal.  Well, tomorrow is my last day at Salon 9 and so tonight all I wanted was taco meat and my favorite orange blackberry muffins. 

But last week everything seemed totally normal, so I took a walk on the Asian side!

Sweet and Sour Sesame Chicken

2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, whisked
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup agave nectar
1 cup ketchup
3 tbsp soy sauce (low sodium)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like spicy!)
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

How to do:
Pre-heat your oven to 350. 
For the chicken:
Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.
You'll want to do this in two batches.
Roll the chicken in the cornmeal, then in the egg.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the chicken and cook until just browned on the outside, not fully cooked.
In a 9x13, place the battered chicken in a single layer. 
For the sauce:
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, agave, ketchup, soy sauce, garlic and red pepper flakes. 
Pour half the mixture over the chicken and place in the oven for about 40-45 minutes, flipping every 15 minutes.
In the meantime, pour the remaining sauce in a small saucepan, and reduce the sauce over medium heat, stirring frequently.
When the chicken is done, pour most of the remaining sauce over the top.  I reserved just a little bit of sauce to have on the side. 
Pour the sesame seeds on top of the chicken.

On a side note:  Next time I would either use less vinegar or more agave/sugar.  Breeze thought it tasted perfect though so do what you please!
Recipe adapted from  this Tasty Kitchen Member. 

Follow these photos for a wonderful dinner:

Everyday ingredients you have in your cabinet to make sweet and sour chicken!

Brown the chicken covered in cornmeal.

Bake the browned chicken for about less than an hour.

 Thicken the sauce over medium heat.
Serve with brown rice and mixed veggies!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Faj-hi-tas! Say it with me!

Chicken & Steak Fajitas

We made enough dinner to feed a small army tonight.  Dinner was ready to eat at 9:00 pm.  TONS of food at 9 on a Sunday.  We will be eating fajitas all week long!

It was one of the best meals we've made in a while.  I would highly recommend that you make it this week.  Or you could just come over and eat the pounds of fajita meat and veggies that we have left!  Either way, fajitas should be in your near future.

for the marinade
2 oranges
3 limes
~2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp chili powder

2 chicken breasts
Around 1 pound fajita steak
1 red pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 small onion

Lettuce, tomato, avocado, cheese, refried beans, and salsa for topping

How to do:
Mix the juices from the oranges and limes with the other marinade ingredients.  Pour over the meats and refrigerate for up to 4 hours. 

Slice up the peppers and onion.  Heat some olive oil up in a skillet and add the veggies.  Cook until softened. 

Dice the tomatoes, chop the lettuce, dice the avocado, and shred the cheeses.  (see note for an avocado tip.)

In a skillet, cook the meat. 

Dive in! 
Recipe adapted from the lovely Giada
This meal really awakens your senses, the colors and the smells were both amazing!  Check out these photos!

Mmm.. Veggies!
Toppings.  We clearly love cheese.
Can you see that steam!?  I like my fajita veggies HOTT!
A feast fit for two. 
Washed it all down with a water with lime.  Tequila sounded good but it was Sunday and I had my fair share of margaritas y cervezas this weekend.

Note:  To slice avocados cut the avocado in half and remove the seed.  Leaving the avocado in the peel, cut the slices and remove them one by one from the peeling.  Smooth as pie!  Or something like that!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Eggs + Muffins = Meggs or Effins? You Decide.

These egg muffins are ah-mazing!  They are fluffy and wonderful on the inside and have a nice golden edge on top.  Girl, breakfast for dinna don't get much betta.  Except when you add bacon and toast. 

5 eggs
1/4 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 medium zucchini, finely chopped
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 handful fresh spinach
7 or so basil leaves, torn
A little bit less than 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
salt and pepper, heavy on the salt (I RARELY say this)

How to do:
Pre-heat the oven to 350.
Crack the eggs, separating the whites from the yellows. 
Saute the onion, zucchini, and tomatoes in a tiny bit of olive oil.  Add the spinach until just wilted followed by the basil leaves. 
To the yolks, add the sauteed mixture, cheese, milk, and salt and pepper.  
With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until peaks form.  Fold them into the egg mixture.

Grease the muffin tins to the max!  This is really important because you do NOT want stuck on eggs.  Trust me, you want them to pop out cleanly.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes and transfer to a plate.  If you have extras, place them on a cooling rack so they don't become soggy. 

Recipe adapted from The Sweet Beet.

From start:
To finish:

         Add whatever veggies you want to these.  Heat them up throughout the week for a quick and easy breakfast or snack.  To store in the refrigerator, wrap in paper towels and store in a container.  To store in the freezer, separate them by wrapping them in plastic wrap and store in a container. 


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Peaches 2 Ways: Peach Crisp & Rustic Peach Pie

I bought a bulk amount of peaches this week.  I just couldn't resist their sweetness and the way the just melted in your mouth.  I did the only logical thing to do when one has too many peaches, added butter or bourbon (or both) and baked something delicious!  I have two recipes to share today.  The first I would recommend for a weeknight and the second I would recommend for the weekend. 

First up, peach crisp.

I wish you could at least smell this crisp's amazingness.
 I combined two recipes for this.  I found one for bouron peach hand pies at  Smitten Kitchen and one for apple crisp in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.  I adapted the filling from the first recipe and used the crisp from the second. 

for the filling
5-6 peaches, peeled, chopped, and pitted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp bourbon
for the crisp
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
5 tbs cold butter, cut into bits
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup flour (either all-purpose or wheat)
dash salt

How to do:
Preheat the oven to 400. 
In a small bowl, combine the peaches with the sugar, vanilla, and bourbon.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, oats, flour, and salt.  I did this by hand, working the softened butter in with the other ingredients.  This can also be done with a food processor, a fork, or a pastry blender.  I went old school and used my clean hands. 

Pour the peaches in a greased (or buttered) 9 inch pie pan. Crumble the topping over the peach mixture and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. 

Next up, Rustic Peach Pie!

I feel like the word "rustic" perfectly describes this pie.
This recipe came directly from Hungry Girl Por Vida.  The pie crust she used was from Martha Stewart.  I'm pretty sure 99% of the pies I found online used Martha's recipe.  She clearly knows her sh*t. 

I made this pie for my dad today and served with vanilla ice cream, it was the perfect Father's Day gift!  It didn't look all that beautiful, but luckily dads don't care about that kind of stuff.

for the crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 sticks butter, cut into cubes
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice water
for the filling:
5-6 peaches, pitted and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean or 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp cornstarch

How to do:
Crust first.  Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Chop the butter into cubes.  Mix the butter into the flour mixture with your clean hands until it resembles a crumbly mixture.  This takes a little while, so be patient.  To be honest, it was kind of relaxing and the mixture was so much softer than I expected.  Try to enjoy this step!  Next, add about 1/4 cup of the ice water and start forming the crust.  Add more water as needed until the crust is easy to work with.*  Form into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. 
Mixture second.  In a bowl combine the vanilla bean paste and the sugar to make vanilla sugar.  Whisk in the cornstarch.  Mix in the peaches.  Let this mixture set aside while the crust is still chilling. 
Pie.  Roll the crust out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or if you're out, spray the baking sheet with Pam).  Pour the peach mixture into the center of the crust.  Bring the sides of the crust up around the mixture, leaving the middle exposed.  Sprinkle sugar on top. 
Bake at 375 for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. 

*I did not use enough water because I was afraid of it being runny and my crust came out drier than I would have liked.  It looked similar to a biscuit but tasted like pie crust.  Next time, I'll use more water.

I hope you try one of these recipes during the summer while peaches are in season. They are both very good and pretty simple and best when served to your family! 

And as my final thought, vanilla bean paste shuts it down.  Buy some soon!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Zucchini & Squash

We are on a zucchini and squash kick.  It's just so summer-like.
Tonight we couldn't decide what would be the better way to cook the vegetables.  Foil pack on the grill?  Sauteed on the stove? 
What's the best way to decide?


pre-cooked vegetables

Breeze headed out to the grill.  I headed to the couch to relax until there were only 10 minutes left for the food on the grill, then to the kitchen.

The recipes were similar, but I kept mine a secret until dinner was served.  Mine had to be just a little bit different than his...

Breeze's Method:
He put the zucchini and squash slices along with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.  He sees nothing wrong with excess amounts of ingredients.  He then placed the veggies on the grill at the same time as the hamburgers and flipped them a couple of times. 

Jenni's Method:
First, I put a couple of teaspoons of oil in a skillet and let it get hot.  Second, I placed the zucchini and squash slices in the skillet with salt, pepper, and a large pinch of red pepper flakes.  Third, I sauteed the vegetables on the stove top for about 10 minutes until they were cooked but not too soft.  While the veggies were still hot, I sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top. 

post-cooked vegetables.  don't they both look good?!

The Results:
A tie?  They were both very good.  Breeze's had a bit much oil and mine could've used a little more seasoning.  If you had to nit-pick. 

Vegetables together.  Like bffs. 

As my mother would say, they were just a little different but real vegetables.  Wouldn't you say that, mom?  :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Red Sauce

The pasta bake recipe I posted last night called for your favorite red sauce. 
Here is the recipe for mine.

I've adapted it from the Skinny Bitch in the Kitch cookbook.
2 tbsp EEOO
1/2 onion, diced
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce
1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp (10 or so) fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tbsp oregano or mixed dried herbs like an Italian mix
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp agave nectar, optional

How to do:
1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onion, stir occasionally (making sure to avoid browning) for 6-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, again stirring. 
2.  Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste and bring to a boil by increasing the heat. 
3.  Once at a boil, remove from heat.
4.  Stir in the red wine vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper. 
5.  If the sauce is too acidic, add the agave nectar.
Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Depending on what recipe I am using the sauce for, I like to use either diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano or fire roasted diced tomatoes.  If you haven't tried fire roasted, you definitely should!!


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pasta Bake

Cheesy.  Pasta.  Bake. 

Sometimes I crave cheese, pasta, and meat.  It's typically when I'm tired.  So after an entire weekend outside in the sun, I was super tired and super hungry.  I searched the Internet for recipes with cheese and pasta and found exactly what I wanted.  The original recipe was only meat, cheese, pasta, and red sauce.  Luckily for me I have a husband who LOVES his veggies so we made the dish much healthier!!  It makes me so happy!  When we went to the grocery store to get meat, we scoured the veggie section trying to decide exactly what we wanted to put in the pasta bake.  We decided on green peppers, zucchini, squash, and some delicious looking sweet and mild cubanelle peppers.  He also picked up some broccoli and cauliflower to snack on pre-dinner.  So cute!

clockwise from the top: yellow peppers, green bell peppers, squash, zucchini, and chopped fresh basil.
 Pasta Bake
1/2 box spaghetti noodles, 1/2 box rotini noodles
1 small zucchini
1 small summer squash
3-4 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
1 1/4 pounds ground beef (leaner beef is preferred)
salt and pepper
20 basil leaves, chopped
3-4 cups your favorite red sauce
1 package Italian blend cheese

How to do:
Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.
All at once, you have four tasks to complete at once.  They are the following:

1. In one pan/skillet, brown meat mixed with the onion.  Set aside.

2. In another, mix zucchini, squash, peppers, and garlic for 2-3 minutes just softening.  Add the basil at the very end.  Set aside. 

3. Cook your pasta as directed on the box, shortening the time by a couple of minutes.  My pasta said to cook 7 minutes, so I cooked it 4.  It will keep cooking as it bakes.

4. In another pan, make your pasta sauce.  Set aside.

Once everything is completed, pour into one big bowl.  Stir it up as best as possible. 
Pour half of the pasta mixture into the pan.  Sprinkle half the cheese over the pasta.  Pour the rest of the mixture on top, followed by more cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden and bubbly!

I attempted to make garlic bread to go with our pasta. 
This is how it turned out.  Oopsie!  I was reading The Pioneer Woman's blog and forgot about the bread until I felt my eyes burning from the smoke. 

Good thing we had roasted green beans too!
Everything (except the bread) turned out delicious and it was just the hearty comfort food my tired, sunburned self needed.  Thank god I won't have to wear a bathing suit again until next weekend!
Pasta bake servings, roasted green beans, non-toasted bread with butter

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Spin Class & PB Cake

I forgot to take a picture until we already tried the cake last night.  It's not the prettiest cake anyway...  But it is delicious!
 I took my first spin class tonight with my sister.  We were super nervous about what to expect and praying that we would make it through the class without a. barfing and b. looking ridiculous. 
Well.... it was AWESOME!!
I can't say it would be great for everyone, but for me and my current fitness level it was perfect.  I can't wait to go back!

So do you think Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting counts as my post-work out protein?
Okay, probably not.  But I'll definitely be having a sliver later this evening. :-)
If you like peanut butter and chocolate, you should totally try it!

for the cake:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk
for the frosting:
2/3 cup milk*
3 T maple syrup
8 oz semisweet chocolate chips

How to do:
1. In a bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
2. Separately, cream the butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar.  Add the egg and vanilla and mix until smooth.
3.  Add the dry ingredients and the milk to the wet ingredients, alternating back and forth in thirds.
4. Pour the batter into a greased 8 inch cake pan.  Bake on 350 for 25 minutes or until the batter is pulling away from the edges.  Turn the cake over onto a plate and let cool.

After the cake is cooled, prepare the frosting.
1. Pour the chocolate chips into a bowl.
2.  Bring the milk to a simmer over the stove.
3. Pour the milk over the chocolate chips and add the maple syrup.  Stir until smooth.
4.  Let cool for about 15 minutes.  Pour the frosting over the cake (there's lots of pouring going on) and refrigerate for 25 minutes before diving in!
5.  Wipe the chocolate off of your face after you take a bite and it drips down your chin.

* The original recipe called for non-dairy milk.  I missed that detail and my frosting was a little bit clumpy.  I'm not sure if that is why, but I have my suspicions. 
By the way, this is the original recipe: Peanut Butter Cake.

I know spinning and cake probably don't seem like they go together in the same post, but let me explain.
I think if you are going to eat dessert, it might as well be something really really good.  Something that comes from your kitchen.  Not something chalk full (is that the expression I'm looking for?) of ingredients that you can't pronounce.  This cake is nothing short of fabulous.  It reminded me of a grown up Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. 


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Stuffed Jalapenos Wrapped in Bacon

Continuing on with the jalapeno theme this week, please welcome to the party- stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon. 

I feel like these are a pretty popular dish, but so fantastic they were worthy of the blog.  Their spiciness and crispiness are like a bomb going off in one's mouth.  Mmmmm.

My friend Joel told me he was making them a few weeks ago and since then we've had them three times. They are pretty easy and pretty quick, making them an ideal side dish for summer.  Just don't wipe your eyes after de-seeding.  Or ask someone else to do the seeding (like, say, your husband). 

So you want to make these bad boys?
Fresh jalapenos
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 block reduced fat Neufchatel cream cheese
1/3 cup diced green peppers
5 slices turkey bacon

How to do:
1. Cut the jalapenos down the middle and de-seed the peppers.
2. In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, salsa, and green peppers.
3. Stuff the mixture into the peppers.
4. Wrap the bacon around the stuffed peppers and secure with a toothpick.
5. Grill in foil for 15-20 minutes.
6. Place peppers on grill grate for about 2 more minutes, searing the peppers.

Time:  About 25 minutes    Servings: 2 (5 peppers)
*Make sure you allow them to cool before serving!  I found them easiest to eat when cut into bites with a fork and knife. 

Oopsie!  Someone took a bite of her hamburger before the picture got taken.
 I was starving, okay!?
We ate our stuffed jalapenos with hamburgers, Pop Chips, and corn on the cob.  It was such a manly meal.  There was nothing girly about this feast except the skinny foccacia buns.  I didn't tell Breeze they were skinny or foccacia.  He thinks they were just buns.   

Monday, June 6, 2011

Jalapeno Pasta with Creamy Avocado Sauce

Some nights I cook dinner because we have to eat.  Other nights I cook dinner because I'm over the top excited to try a new recipe!  Tonight was the latter.

I got this really new and exciting pasta from the River Market this weekend in Kansas City.  Green Jalapeno.  Seriously. 
In fact, everything we bought at the market had jalapeno in the title (except our all natural cookies).  I must get my love for spicy food from my family. 
I've had mixed feelings about the pasta since we bought it.  I was super excited to try it, but also nervous that my sauce wouldn't go with it and it would be a waste.  I couldn't waste green jalapeno pasta.

  • I forgot to lay out chicken
  • I spent the weekend with my vegetarian cousin, Hannah
  • It's Monday, as in Meatless Monday
So, I made a vegetarian creamy avocado pasta sauce.
Jalapeno Pasta
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic
1 Medium Avocado
1/4 Cup Fresh Basil 
1/2 Tsp Salt
Salt & Pepper, Optional
Parmesan Cheese, Optional 
 How To Do:
1. Boil salted water.  Cook pasta for 8-10 minutes.
2.  Meanwhile, using either a food processor or blender, blend lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic.  Add pitted avocado, basil, and salt.  Process/blend until smooth and creamy.
3.  Drain the pasta and place in a bowl.
4.  Pour the sauce on the pasta and toss for pure deliciousness.
5.  Add salt and pepper and cheese if you please.

The creamy avacado sauce was found at this blog.
The pasta can be found at Pappardelles website.
Boiling the pasta.  I prefer mine Al Dente.

Toss it up.  It is so creamy and it coats about 6 oz of pasta.  It was plenty of food for Breeze and myself.

Add a salad to the pasta dish for a fullfilling meal.


I got so excited when I found this recipe, I almost peed my pants.  Combining jalapeno pasta with creamy avocado sauce completely lived up to all the hype I gave it.