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Monday, November 30, 2009

Chobani Review...and a GIVEAWAY!

Hopefully everyone is recovering from their Thanksgiving weekend of indulgence :) I had an awesome time at home filled with the family time I've been craving and (way too much) good food. Now I'm back home and trying to get my eating back on track...eating normal sized meals at normal times and whatnot! Thankfully, it's been a little bit easier to do with the pack of greek yogurt that Shari from Chobani sent me.

I LOVE yogurt and eat it daily, usually with granola or cereal and sometimes fruit mixed in. I'm not very particular when it comes to yogurt brands, but I do have a special love for greek yogurt. I tried it for the first time while in London last summer and I was amazed by how much better it is than standard yogurt. It is much thicker and creamier, and tastes better overall. Furthermore, it's much higher in protein (18 grams total) than typical yogurt, keeping you fuller for longer (and hence a good choice for breakfast, snack, or lunch!). I've been a little resistant to buy greek yogurt regularly, mostly because it's significantly more expensive than regular yogurt. But like I said, Shari was gracious enough to send me a whole pack of Chobani yogurts to try. I think I might be a greek yogurt convert...it's worth the extra cash!

As always, I've been loving them with granola mixed in, but another great thing about greek yogurt is its versatility! Greek yogurt can be used in baking and cooking, often replacing higher fat ingredients such as sour cream. Stay tuned for a recipe later this week where I incorporate the plain Chobani into our dinner!

The best part about Chobani?! They're willing to send some to YOU to try too! That's right, Shari has graciously offered to send one reader a CHO-case of their fruit flavors (peach, blueberry, & strawberry). So how can you be a lucky receiver of some Chobani Greek Yogurt?

For an entry in the giveaway, do any of the following:

1. Go to Chobani's website, look at the recipe ideas on there and leave a comment on this post saying which recipe you'd be most interested in making.
2. Go to Chobani's website, look at the various flavors of yogurt and leave a comment on this post saying which flavor you'd most like to try.
3. If you have a blog, link to this giveaway post and leave me a comment saying you did so. If you don't have a blog, email this post to a friend and leave me a comment saying you did so.

**Each comment is eligible for one entry...meaning you have up to 3 potential entries. I will accept comments between now and Friday, December 4th at 11:59 pm. I will pick a random winner on Saturday morning!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Creamy Wild Rice Soup

I'm enjoying one last day at home with the family, and then my sister, Ryan, and I are driving back to St. Louis. My sister Julia is moving here in a few months (yay!) so she's coming back with us to take care of some logistical stuff for work. After a week in Denmark and a weekend at home, I'm eager to be back in the kitchen cooking! Keep reading and stay tuned for a review and a GIVEAWAY later this week! It's a good one-you don't want to miss it :)

I made this soup the Monday before Thanksgiving, knowing it would last us two meals until we left town. This soup is another one of my mom's recipes and one of my all-time favorites. It's one of her go-to meals when she's cooking for big groups (have I mentioned that she's awesome and is always hosting get-togethers for friends, school events, etc etc!?!). I've also made it for groups before-specifically last winter when I hosted book club at my house. The ladies loved this soup, especially when served with warm bread and a spinach salad!

The recipe is easy to double and leftovers can be frozen. However, one batch of this makes quite a lot of soup...enough for us to get at least 6 servings out of it. Make it and let me know what you think!

Creamy Wild Rice Soup

-8 Tbsp butter (or less) **I use half of this
-2 Tbsp minced onion
-2/3 cup flour
-6 cups chicken broth
-4 cups cooked wild rice (1 box)
-1 cup grated carrot
-6 Tbsp slivered almonds (1 small package)
-1 tsp salt
-2 cups half and half

1. Melt butter on saucepan. Saute onion until tender.
2. Blend in flour, gradually adding broth.
3. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
4. Stir in rice, carrots, almonds, and salt. Simmer about 5 minutes.
5. Blend in half and half. Heat to serving temperature.

**So easy and doesn't require any blending--gotta love that!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Streusel Coffee Cake

The morning after I got home from Denmark, we were on treats duty for church. I was exhausted from almost 24 hours of traveling but Ryan was nice enough to make this coffee cake. I really wanted to make a peanut butter chocolate coffee cake I've had my eye on, but we were out of chocolate chips. I'm sure I'll make it soon :) This streusel coffee cake was pretty good--I wish we'd done a filling in the middle instead of just on top. It was a little too boring for my taste, but they can't all be grand slams, right?! (btw, this isn't a knock on Ryan's baking abilities...I think I should've picked a better recipe!)

Streusel Coffee Cake

-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup butter, room temperature
-1 tsp cinnamon

-1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
-2 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 egg, beaten
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/3 cup melted butter
-1/2 cup milk
-1 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the topping ingredients. Blend with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
2. Sift flour with baking powder and salt in a small bowl.
3. In another bowl, mix together beaten egg, sugar, and butter. Mix in milk and vanilla.
4. Stir in flour mixture and mix well.
5. Pour into a greased 8 x 8 in dish. Sprinkle crumb topping over batter.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes (ours took 30 minutes).
7. Cool & cut into squares before serving.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Spinach Ricotta Pasta Salad

This isn't so much of a recipe as leftovers thrown together, but I think it's a good example of how you can turn a few ingredients into multiple meals. This is particularly great when there's only two of you, like there is in our household. Hopefully this just gets your brain turning on how you too can whip random stuff together to make easy meals and get rid of leftovers!

Ryan actually threw this together for dinner one night after we'd made the stuffed portabello mushrooms, but I thought it looked pretty so I snapped a picture and thought I'd post it. I stole a bite too and it was a really good (and healthy!) cold pasta salad!

Spinach Ricotta Pasta Salad

-leftover spinach ricotta mixture
-penne pasta
-2 cups fresh baby spinach
-chopped carrot
-chopped zucchini
-bean sprouts
*could definitely add whatever vegetables you had on hand, this is just what we had

1. Cook penne pasta as directed on the box. Drain, rinse in cool water, and set aside.
2. Pour pasta into a large bowl. Pour spinach ricotta mixture over the pasta and mix well.
3. Add fresh vegetables and mix until blended.
4. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone is enjoying lots of yummy food and family time today! Thanksgiving is extra important to me because two years ago on this day, Ryan showed up on my doorstep and proposed. It was a wonderful surprise!

In lieu of posting a recipe today, I'll leave a few pictures of what currently stands as the BEST Thanksgiving ever. Enjoy :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Apple-Banana Baked Oatmeal

The day has finally arrived! As you read this, Ryan and I are on the road north to Chicago for Thanksgiving. I have a few posts scheduled for the next few days of things I've been making recently and who knows, maybe I'll do some cooking/baking while I'm home that I can post about :)

I actually made this baked oatmeal the morning I left for Denmark, because I knew this would keep me full for several hours until I got served food on the plane (side note--because I traveling for work I got to fly business class and I am AMAZED by the quality of food! It's going to be tough stomaching my next meal in coach, ha. Of course, my favorite part was the ice cream sundaes for dessert!!). Anyways, this made a great pre-flight breakfast! It's very similar to my amish-baked oatmeal, but slightly healthier because I eliminated the butter completely and substituted with banana. I think I still like the flavor of the original recipe better, but this was still really good and a nice way to sneak extra fruit into breakfast!

Apple-Banana Baked Oatmeal

-1 cup applesauce
-2 ripe bananas, mashed
-1/4 cup brown sugar (might want to add more for a bit more sweetness)
-2 eggs
-1 cup milk
-3 cups oatmeal
-1 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 large apple, chopped (used Granny Smith)
-cinnamon, to taste

1. Beat applesauce, bananas, brown sugar, and eggs until fluffy.
2. Add milk, oatmeal, baking powder, and salt. Mix.
3. Stir in apple and cinnamon.
4. Pour into a greased round casserole dish.
5. Bake for 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees.
6. Serve with warmed milk.

**like the amish baked oatmeal, this can be topped with pecans and brown sugar before baking. I eliminated this time, but it's always a nice touch!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

No-Bake Marshmallow Bars

These are great to whip up when you're short on time and need a dessert! Only 4 ingredients, and simple ones at that. I prefer these cold, so I usually refrigerate them for a few hours before serving. Unfortunately I was in a huge rush to get to a trivia night when I made these, so I just snapped a quick picture on our way out the door.

The recipe below is for a 9 x 13 pan. I scaled it back and made an 8 x 8 dish, but I recommend making the full batch. You can't go wrong with marshmallows, peanuts, chocolate, and peanut butter!!

No-Bake Marshmallow Bars
(no clue where I got this recipe from!)

-2 cups chocolate chips
-9 cups mini marshmallows
-1 cup (maybe 1 1/2 if you want them really nutty!) dry-roasted peanuts
-1/2 cup peanut butter

1. Grease 9 x 13 pan and set aside.
2. Melt chocolate and peanut butter either in the microwave or over the stove, careful not to burn!
3. Allow chocolate mixture to cool slightly (about 5 minutes). Stir in marshmallows and peanuts.
4. Pour into greased pan and use a spatula to spread evenly.
5. Refrigerate for a few hours, until ready to serve.
**These last a long time, so feel free to make ahead!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms

While the picture of these looks a little weird, to say the least, I promise they're more appetizing than their appearance suggests. I bought some portobella mushrooms at the farmers market, but hadn't really decided what to do with them. One night I decided to combine a bunch of leftover ingredients, and this is what I came up with. While these were good, I think I'd do things differently next time. For instance, I probably wouldn't puree the mixture in my food processor, and instead I'd just chop the other ingredients, and stir them with the ricotta, leaving the filling a little more chunky. Even so, these turned out well and made for a quick, random dinner. I'll post below how I made them, but these are one of those recipes that would be easy to experiment with according to tastes & what's on hand.

Stuffed Portobella Mushrooms

-3 Portobella Mushrooms (**I had some leftover filling, so I recommend using at least 4-5)
-1/2 cup ricotta cheese
-5-6 cups fresh spinach
-1/2 can black olives
-1/2 zucchini
-1/8 cup red onion, chopped
-shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray a cookie sheet and place mushrooms on it, cap side down. Bake for 5-10 minutes to soften.
3. Combine ricotta, spinach, olives, zucchini, and red onion in a food processor. Puree until desired consistency.
4. Remove mushrooms from the oven and spoon filling into mushrooms.
5. Return to oven for 15 minutes. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top, bake for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with desired sides.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mom's Famous Sugar Cookies

Remember how I talked about my mom's famous praline mix? Well this is another one of those recipes she's known for. People have come to expect her decorated sugar cookies at every holiday and special occasion. In fact, she even made 250 of these for mine and Ryan's wedding because we knew these would go over so much better than any dinky favor (and they did!). These cookies, while time-consuming with the chilling, the rolling, the cutting, and the decorating, are worth every bit of extra effort. Try these and I promise you won't be needing any other sugar cookie recipe anytime soon!

I used a small-ish star cookie cutter and this made a TON of cookies (70-80 I believe!). Decorating all those cookies took quite some time (I give my mom so much credit for all the years she's been decorating these!), but I needed a bunch so I could bring half to work as a thank you to my group (just rotated into a new group) and half for our Wednesday night community group. People in both places loved them...in fact, at work they were gone before lunch! Told you they're good :)

Mom's Famous Sugar Cookies

-3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
-1 cup sugar
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 stick of butter
-1 stick of margarine (be sure to use a stick of both, this is key!!)
-1 egg, slightly beaten
-3 tbsp cream
-1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Sift flour with sugar, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl.
2. Cut in butter/margarine, using an electric mixer or pastry blender, until particles are fine.
3. Add egg, cream, and vanilla extract. Blend thoroughly.
4. Chill for at least a few hours (I find it's best to chill overnight).
5. Roll dough out on floured surface (you'll need lots of flour! This dough can be very sticky and you'll need to knead it in your hands for a few minutes before rolling it out)
6. Roll to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes.
7. Bake on ungreased cookie sheets at 400 degrees for 5-8 minutes (do NOT overcook these! I actually only bake mine for 4 1/2-5 minutes).

To frost, mix powdered sugar and half and half until desired consistency is reached (start with the powdered sugar, which you'll need a lot more of, and very slowly add half and half in small amounts). Add food coloring and stir. Frost cookies and sprinkle with jimmies!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Ball

Hey all! I return from Denmark later today and will be home for 2 1/2 days before heading north to Chicago to celebrate Thanksgiving. Posting should still be somewhat regular, so keep checking :)

Let me preface this by saying Ryan is perfectly capable of cooking and baking on his own. Remember his awesome scones? However, I didn't want him to have to worry about making a dessert for Community Groups while I was in Denmark. So, I went on the hunt for something easy that I could whip up ahead of time. This "dessert cheese ball" fit the bill. It literally took me 5 minutes to make and I threw it in the freezer where it sat until the following week's community group. All Ryan had to do was let it thaw for a few hours and it was good as new! He served this with pretzels and graham crackers and from what I heard, everyone loved it. I snuck a few tastes when I was putting it together and let's just say it was probably a good thing I wasn't around to help eat it....!

(picture from google images)

This picture is what I'm assuming it looked like when it was ready to be served. Here's what it looked like in its pre-frozen & ready for the freezer states:

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Ball
recipe from Taste of Home

-8 oz cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
-1/2 cup butter, softened
-3/4 cup powdered sugar
-2 tbsp brown sugar
-1/4 tsp vanilla
-3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
-3/4 cup finely chopped pecans (I omitted)
-Graham crackers and pretzels, to serve with

1. In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add sugars and vanilla, continue to mix until combined.
2. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours (I refrigerated for about 45 min and it was good to go)
4. Place cream cheese mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a ball. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (after I formed it into a ball, I put the plastic-wrapped ball into a freezer bag and stuck it in the freezer)
5. Just before serving (allow to thaw at room temperature if frozen), roll cheese ball in pecans (skipped this step)
6. Serve with graham crackers & pretzels.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rosemary Bread

YUM. Words cannot even describe how good this bread was. It was the perfect accompaniment to our veggie soup and we literally had to stop ourselves and put it away before we devoured the whole loaf. While it was still great the next day, it was definitely best warm out of the oven! This bread was so easy to make and yielded such perfect results (despite the fact that I didn't add enough flour due to my inability to read measuring cups!), I'll definitely be making this again and again! Obviously it's easier just to pick up a loaf of bread at the grocery store or bakery, but after tasting this fresh, I'm excited to keep experimenting with baking breads!

Rosemary Bread
recipe from Steph Chows

-1 1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp Italian seasoning (I just sprinkled some oregano and basil)
-1/4 tsp ground black pepper
-2 tsp dried thyme or rosemary (I used 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary)
-2 1/2 cups bread flour
-1 1/2 tsp white sugar
-2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one package)
-1 cup water
-3 tbsp olive oil
-dash of large grain sea salt to top the loaf (optional but totally worth it!!)

1. Add dry ingredients (salt through yeast) to a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and combine (can also do by hand, it's just a little more difficult).
2. Warm water to 100-130 degrees (30 seconds in the microwave)
3. Create a well in the dry ingredients and add oil and warm water.
4. Mix dough until it cleans the sides of the bowl. Allow dough to knead on the hook in the bowl for 1-2 minutes.
5. Coat a clean bowl with olive oil. Add dough to bowl, turn to coat, and allow to rise in covered bowl for 1 hour.
6. Shape dough into square or round loaf. Brush top of dough with oil and top with sea salt or other seasonings.
7. Bake at 375 for 25-30 minutes.

SO GOOD, you must try this!!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Very Veggie Soup

This is my 100th post, I can't believe it! I started this blog at the end of August for a couple of reasons...to share recipes with friends & family and to give me a new hobby while I was injured and unable to run. Since then, I have come to really love blogging. There are plenty of fancier blogs out there with more beautiful picture and better descriptions, but I'm thankful for those of you that stop by to read :) This blog has kept me creative in the kitchen and it even has me shopping amazon.com for fancier cameras! Here's to the next 100 posts...

As you've noticed, we've been making a lot of soups lately as the weather gets colder. This vegetable soup was one of those "throw whatever you have in the fridge" soups and it turned out AWESOME! It made enough for us to eat it for dinner a couple of nights and it was hearty, thanks to the bulk of the vegetables, but still really healthy. We ate this with amazing homemade bread that will be posted tomorrow!

Very Veggie Soup

*note--measurements are an estimate as we literally threw whatever we had in there. this soup can easily be modified based on what you have on hand and how big a pot of soup you want to make!

~6 cups chicken broth
~2 large carrots, chopped
~2-3 stalks celery, chopped
~1/2 onion, chopped
~1 zucchini, chopped
~3 medium sized red potatoes, chopped
~2 cups bean sprouts
~5-6 cups fresh spinach leaves
~1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
-salt, pepper, garlic powder, to taste

1. Chop all of the veggies into bite-sized pieces.
2. Heat broth in a large stockpot over medium to high heat. Add potatoes.
3. After 5-10 minutes, add remaining vegetables (except spinach) & cilantro.
4. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
5. Cover pot and continue to heat for approximately 20-30 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
6. Stir in spinach until wilted.
7. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Ryan's part of the Birthday Treat club at work, meaning he's responsible for bringing in treats from time to time for co-workers' birthdays. I chose this cookie recipe because it seemed relatively easy and these were one of Ryan's favorite cookies back in the day at Truman. These didn't turn out as large as the ones at Truman, but word on the street is they still tasted pretty great! These almost taste more like a brownie than a cookie and they're very chocolately!

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
recipe found here

-4 tbsp butter or margarine
-1 cup chocolate chips
-1/2 cup sugar
-2 eggs
-2 tsp vanilla
-1 1/2 cups flour
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 cup powdered sugar

1. Melt butter and chocolate chips in a small bowl in the microwave (I nuked for 30 seconds, stirred, then put them in for another 30 seconds and they were perfectly melted)
2. Beat together sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
3. Stir in melted chocolate.
4. Add flour, salt, and baking powder.
5. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours.
6. Remove dough from fridge and roll tablespoons of dough into balls.
7. Pour powdered sugar into a bowl. Roll dough balls through powdered sugar until completely coated.
8. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 325 degrees.

**made about 40 cookies

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sweet Potato Apple Casserole

Since I covered the cornbread and the pie for our church potluck, Ryan took charge of the sweet potato dish. Ryan's grown up always eating sweet potato casserole with not only marshmallows, but also green apples. It's his favorite holiday dish and he was eager to share it with everyone. Surprisingly, many had never heard of the sweet potato/apple combination, but many were converted after sampling Ryan's dish!

Sweet Potato Apple Casserole

-4 lbs sweet potatoes (Ryan used 4 large potatoes)
-3 Granny Smith apples, cored and cut into thin slices
-4 tbsp butter
-brown sugar and cinnamon, to taste
-approximately 2-3 cups mini marshmallows

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add sweet potatoes and boil until tender (our large potatoes took 45 minutes).
2. Remove potatoes from water and peel (the peel should fall right off).
3. Slice potatoes about a centimeter thick, cutting in half again so each piece is a half circle.
4. Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan with a layer of potatoes. Cover the potatoes with a layer of sliced apples.

5. Dot with butter and sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon and brown sugar over the top of everything.
6. Repeat the sweet potato, apple, and cinnamon/sugar/butter layers.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes.
8. Remove from oven, top casserole with mini marshmallows and broil until marshmallows are lightly browned (our broiler was quite strong, as you can see from the pictures :))

Monday, November 16, 2009

Upside Down Apple Pie

I decided to enter the pie contest at our church Thanksgiving potluck, despite the fact that my pie experience is pretty minimal. I've made this pie and this pie, but that's about it! However, I wanted to contribute something anyways, and went with this apple pie because not only did it call for store-bought pie crust, but it recommended it! I'm all for attempting homemade crust, but I'm waiting for a tutorial from my grandma, who truly makes the best apple pie in the world. Until then, this will have to suffice :)

This pie ended up being amazing. I was a little worried about how it would turn out because I prepared it on Saturday but didn't bake it until Sunday right before we went. It didn't affect the taste of the pie, although the top of mine was not nearly as pretty as the pictures on the blog I found this on. While it wasn't the most beautiful looking, it was delicious. In fact, it won for "most delicious" pie in contest! If you're looking for an easy, but impressive alternative to traditional apple pie, you must make this!!

Upside Down Apple Pie

-6 tbsp butter, melted & divided
-1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
-1/2 cup chopped pecans
-2 refrigerated pie crusts
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1/3 cup all purpose flour
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-5 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, & cut into 1/2" slices

1. Coat a pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. Coat the paper with cooking spray also.

2. In a small bowl, combine 4 tbsp melted butter, brown sugar, and pecans. Mix well and spread evenly over the bottom of the pie plate, on top of the parchment.

3. Place one of the crusts in the pie plate, pressing firmly against the topping and up the sides of the plate.

4. In another bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and 2 tbsp melted butter. Mix until combined. Add apples and toss gently until evenly coated.

5. Spoon apples into the pie crust.

6. Place the second crust over the top of the pie. Trim and fold the edges together to seal the pie. Cut some slits in the top crust for venting.

7. Bake 60 to 75 minutes or until crust is golden brown in a 375 degree oven. Place a cookie sheet on the bottom oven rack to catch any drips from the pie.

8. Let the pie cool for 5 minutes and then place a plate that is larger than the pie on top of it. Flip the pie over (using oven mitts). Remove the pie plate and peel away the parchment paper. Allow it to cool, slice and serve!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cornbread Muffins

Well...hopefully by the time you're reading this, I've arrived safely in Denmark. As promised, there are still plenty of posts headed your way this week, so keep reading! I made these cornbread muffins last Saturday for our Thanksgiving Potluck we had at church last Sunday.

While making them, I turned to Ryan and asked him if cornbread was even a Thanksgiving food. He claims its typically not, so I'm not really sure where I got this notion....maybe one of my food magazines suggested it?! Oh well, it was a potluck, so I figure anything goes! That being said, I'll definitely make these again sometime for a chili dinner or something :) They were a breeze to make and had a great sweet corn flavor!

Cornbread Muffins
recipe found here

-1 1/2 cups flour
-2/3 cup sugar
-1/2 cup corn meal
-1 tbsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/4 cups milk
-2 large eggs, lightly beaten
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-3 tbsp butter or margarine

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease or line muffin cups (I made 12 full sized and 9 mini).
2. Combine flour, sugar, corn meal, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
3. Combine milk, eggs, vegetable oil, and melted butter in another bowl. Mix well.
4. Combine flour mixture with liquid mixture. Stir until just blended.
5. Fill each muffin cup 2/3 full.
6. Bake for 18-20 minutes (my little ones were done after 10 minutes and my big ones were done after 16).
7. Cool in pans on wire racks. Remove and continue to cool. Serve warm (I reheated in the microwave at church).

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Candy Sushi

For dessert after our sushi dinner with friends, I wanted something fun and relatively light...because I'm always super full after lots of sushi! I've seen this candy sushi floating around the internet from time to time and I always thought it looked awesome, but way too skilled for my unartistic ways :) However, I knew this would be an adorable finish to our meal so I couldn't resist trying them. I'm so glad I did, as they turned out so cute! I wasn't sure how they'd taste--rice krispy treats and gummy worms seems like kind of a weird combo, but it works! These were definitely worth the extra effort and I loved the way they looked on our serving platter! My only regret was that I didn't buy multi-colored swedish fish or fruit by the foot...our dessert sushi was very RED as you can see. Oh well!

-1 batch rice krispy treats (I just followed the recipe on the marshmallow package)
-1 box Swedish Fish candy (preferably multi-colored!)
-1 bag gummy worms
-5-6 individually wrapped fruit by the foot

1. After making rice krispy treats, spread on a large cookie sheet, pressing evenly until there is a thin, even layer.
2. For the sushi "rolls", cut a 1 1/2 in wide section of the rice krispy treat so that you have a long thin rectangle.
3. Place two gummy worms on one end horizontally.
4. Roll the rice krispy treat over the worms until the worms are completely enclosed in the treat.
5. Break this off of the rest of the cut section. Wrap fruit by the foot around the edge. If sushi pieces are too big, use kitchen shears to cut in half.
6. For the swedish fish "sashimi", tear off a small section of the rice krispy treat and shape into a rectangular chunk.
7. Place a swedish fish on top, wrap fruit by the foot around it.
8. Continue until you've run out of ingredients, display on a platter, then enjoy your candy sushi!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Asian Meatballs

Last weekend, we had some friends over to make homemade sushi. We basically did the same thing as last time, except we had a few additional ingredients for the rolls (smoked salmon, zucchini, etc). I wanted something else to serve besides sushi and edamame and when I saw this asian meatball recipe on Alice and the Mock Turtle, I thought it sounded perfect! I halved her recipe, and made 24 meatballs. These were the perfect accompaniment to our meal, especially when dipped in a "spicy eggplant sauce" we purchased at the asian grocery store.

Asian Meatballs
original recipe here

-1 lb ground chicken
-1/2 bunch cilantro, washed and dried
-1/3 cup bread crumbs
-1/8 cup soy sauce
-1 tbsp chives, chopped
-1 tsp sesame oil
-1/4 tsp ground ginger

1. Chop off cilantro stems and chop the leafy parts.
2. Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix.
3. Shape into meatballs, about a tbsp per meatball.
4. Bake meatballs on a prepared cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 375 degrees, turning once.
5. Serve with preferred dipping sauces!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuna Chickpea Salad with Pesto

I must say, I didn't really have high hopes for this meal. I thought it sounded interesting enough, but I didn't expect it to "wow" me. We threw it together one evening when we were home late from work and needing a meal on the table fast. This recipe is from realsimple.com, but we kind of used it as a starting point and modified it slightly as we went along. Either way, this was fantastic and I almost wish we hadn't scaled back the recipe (the original serves 6). This would be great on a sandwich, in a wrap, or on pita chips. Dang, I just realized we had pita chips and shouldn't eaten some with this! Instead we ate it over spinach, which was also awesome!

Tuna Chickpea Salad with Pesto
adapted from realsimple.com

-2 cans tuna
-12 black olives, pitted and chopped
-2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
-1 can chickpeas, roughly chopped
-3 tablespoons store-bought pesto
-1/8 cup red onion, chopped
-sprinkle of kosher salt
-black pepper, to taste
-garlic powder, to taste

1. Chop your celery, olives, onion, and chickpeas.
2. Dump tuna, olives, celery, chickpeas, and onion in a bowl.
3. Mix well, adding pesto to combine.
4. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

This is honestly my new favorite tuna salad! The pesto gave it something special and it was a great non-mayo based version!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

I can't say it enough times-I love my crockpot! As much as I love to cook, life in general has been busy lately and it relieves so much stress knowing I don't have any cooking to do when I get home from work. This is a dish I've made a few times before. It's easy and you can make quite a bit as the leftovers taste great! We ate the dish this time with tortilla chips, but it's also great wrapped up in a tortilla, over rice or even eaten over spinach.

**There were no leftovers this time...we were hungry hungry hippos and finished this entire batch off in one sitting!

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

-2 large chicken breasts
-1 can black beans, drained
-approximately 1 cup frozen corn
-1-2 cups salsa (I used medium)
-cumin and chili Powder, to taste

1. Dump all ingredients in crockpot.
2. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or high for 2-4 hours.
3. Using a fork, shred chicken and mix crockpot contents well.
4. Serve with tortillas chips, flour tortillas, rice, or spinach.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Cilantro Lime Hummus

Hummus is one of Ryan's favorite snacks and when I sent him to the grocery store a few weeks ago, he returned with a few cans of chickpeas for just this purpose. Making hummus has become infinitely easier now that we have a food processor, but it can also be made in a blender, as we used to do. "Real" hummus has tahini in it, so I suppose this is a faker version, but it still tastes pretty good! Ryan gets all the credit for making this--he also gets (almost) all the credit for eating it :)

Cilantro Lime Hummus

-1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
-chopped red onion (just a little bit, to taste)
-1/4 bunch cilantro
-2 tbsp lime juice
-2-3 tbsp olive oil (more if you want more creaminess)
-garlic powder, to taste
-salt & pepper, to taste

1. Combine chickpeas, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil in the food processor.
2. Process until its at your desired consistency, adding olive oil as needed.
3. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
4. Serve with pita chips or cut vegetables, or use as a sandwich spread.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lemon Rosemary Tilapia

Buying fresh herbs at the grocery store is not cheap, and being the frugal person I am, I'm always determined to use them up before they go bad. As a result, you can expect to see a few different rosemary recipes over the next few weeks!

I've discovered recently that I really love the taste and flavor of rosemary...I think it's grown on me. My mom makes some great rosemary spiced nuts that my dad always goes crazy for. I always liked them, but they were never my favorite. I think if I tried them now I'd have a hard time staying away!

This fish was so simple to prepare but it tasted great. We ate this fish with green beans and roasted spaghetti squash. It was a "great meal", to quote Ryan :)

Lemon Rosemary Tilapia

-2 tilapia filets, thawed if frozen
-2 tablespoons of lemon juice (I'd use a fresh lemon next time, but I didn't have one on hand)
-1 rosemary branch, chopped into small pieces
-Garlic powder, coarse salt, and pepper, to taste

1. Place each tilapia filet on a piece of foil.
2. Brush lemon juice on both sides of the filet.
3. Sprinkle with desired amount of garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
4. Top with rosemary.

5. Fold foil around fish.

6. Grill for about 10 minutes.
7. Unwrap and enjoy!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blog Announcement

Hey all...

Just a quick post to let you know the status of the blog for the next few weeks...

This week I'm in town, but will be working like crazy in preparation for a trip.

A trip, you ask. Where to?

I'm headed to Denmark!

I'm going on a work trip. It's a little last minute, and I'll be gone from November 14th-21st.

Then I come home, work for 2 1/2 days, and then head HOME for Thanksgiving! I haven't seen my parents and grandparents since July and I am more than ready to spend some quality time with these people:

Because of this crazyness, I might not be posting every day. However, because I've been cooking/baking faster than I'm posting, I have several scheduled posts to go up while I'm gone...so keep reading....all 15 of you, ha! Seriously though...some yummy recipes headed your way...tuna chickpea salad, upside down apple pie, and cornbread muffins, to name a few!

And if anyone would like to guest post while I'm in Denmark next week, let me know (natalie.mclaury@gmail.com) and we can work something out!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Homemade Pancakes with Peanut Butter Chocolate Chips

I wanted to send my sister off on her flight back to Ohio with a satisfied tummy, so I offered her the choice between waffles and pancakes. She opted for pancakes, so I looked on my favorite allrecipes.com for an easy pancake recipe. As I've mentioned before, I love ALL forms of pancakes, and I'm always eager to try new recipes and variations (I'm really craving some good buttermilk pancakes. Must buy buttermilk asap!). I made a few changes to the recipe (incorporated whole wheat flour, eliminated the oil, used less sugar, etc), so click the link if you're interested in the original. These turned out to be very good--especially with the addition of the peanut butter/milk chocolate chips. Those were definitely the best part; I can't wait to use the rest of the chips in some cookies!

-2 cups milk
-1/2 cup white sugar
-2 eggs
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 cup whole-wheat flour
-1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
-approximately 1/2 cup peanut butter/milk chocolate chips

1. Mix the above ingredients together in a large bowl until completely combined.
2. If you prefer thinner pancakes, like me!, add a bit of water to thin the batter.
3. Heat a griddle over medium heat on the stove.
4. Spoon batter onto griddle, flipping when light brown.

**This made about 18 pancakes

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pizza FAIL

The second that I saw the Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Rosemary on Maria's blog, I couldn't wait to try it. I immediately added it to this week's menu and added the ingredients to our grocery list. Sunday night, I sent Ryan off to the store, list in hand, and when Tuesday rolled around, we were all set to make 2 of this amazing sounding pizza. Things were going well at first...we thawed 2 dough balls, the red onion was chopped, and Ryan was busy cutting what we thought was a butternut squash. I questioned him about the bright yellow color of this squash, as it looked vastly different from the butternut squash we'd roasted last week. Ryan assured me everything was normal. That is, until he took the squash out of the oven, snuck a bite, and exclaimed, "This isn't butternut squash, this is SPAGHETTI squash!"

Um, talk about a major fail. Clearly not the end of the world, but after I'd spent days drooling over the thought of this butternut squash pizza, I was quite disappointed! We decided to go ahead and make one pizza as planned, only substituting spaghetti squash for the butternut squash. On the other, however, we opted to make a pesto pizza. Fortunately, the squash pizza was still pretty good--but I just know it'll be tons better once we try it with butternut squash...and believe me, we will be trying again sometime soon!

from Two Peas and Their Pod

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (or your favorite crust)
Roasted Butternut Squash
Caramelized Red Onion Slices
Olive Oil
Garlic, minced (oops, we eliminated accidentally amidst the craziness)
Feta Cheese
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Fresh Rosemary, chopped
Balsamic Vinegar (we also accidentally eliminated)

1. Roast butternut squash by cutting into small chunks and placing on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 40-50 minutes at 400 degrees.
2. Caramelize the red onions (we just heated the sliced onion in a small pan with a little bit of olive oil)
3. Roll out your pizza dough and drizzle with olive oil. Spread olive oil evenly over the crust.
4. Top pizza with garlic, butternut squash, the cheeses, and the fresh rosemary.
5. Cook the pizza for 12-15 minutes (we cooked ours on baking sheets at 400 degrees)
6. Cool and slice. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar if desired (we'll have to try this next time!)

Pesto & Tomato Pizza

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough (or your favorite crust)
Pesto Sauce (homemade or store bought, ours was store bought)
1 Sliced Tomato
Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

1. Roll out crust.
2. Spread thin layer of pesto sauce over the crust.
3. Top with tomato slices and cheese.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes on a baking sheet at 400 degrees.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Apple Oat-Crisp

I can't believe we're already into November. I'm feeling pressure to eat lots of fall foods while I still can...I'm trying to ignore the fact that winter is quickly approaching! When I think of fall, apple crisp is inevitably one of those foods that come to mind. I have to say, while I don't miss many aspects of the college dining hall situation, Truman State University served some darn good apple crisp! I would pile a big spoonful of the dessert into a bowl, always scraping extra crisp off of the dish and into my bowl, and then I'd pile it high with ice cream from the soft-serve machine!

This crisp is, I imagine, significantly lighter than the dining hall version, but it's still very delicious. Next time, I think I'll make an extra half recipe of the topping since that's my favorite part. Even so, a serving of this with some vanilla ice cream is almost enough to make me forget the ice cold temperatures, blustery winds, and snow flurries that are just around the corner!

Apple Oat-Crisp
adapted from Good Housekeeping

-2 tablespoons lemon juice
-3 lbs Granny Smith and/or Golden Delicious apples (I used 5 Granny Smith and 3 Jonathan), peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch wedges (I did not peel them...too lazy!)
-1/3 cup (plus 1/4 cup) brown sugar
-2 tablespoons (plus 1/3 cup) all purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 cup old-fashioned oats
-4 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a 9 x 13 glass or ceramic dish, toss the apples with the lemon juice, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until apples are evenly coated.
3. In a separate bowl, combine oats, remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/3 cup flour. With your fingers, blend in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle mixture over the apples.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until apples are tender and crisp is lightly browned. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.