In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ~ Proverbs 3:6

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pan-Fried Brussel Sprouts with Bacon



As a child, I can remember certain things that I did not like, and brussel sprouts was one of them!  However, I think that if I would have had brussel sprouts made for me this way as a kid, I would have had a different opinion about this vegetable.

The bacon really does make this vegi taste so good!  I'm not even a lover of bacon, but when these two things are combined, something wonderful happens!  Because bacon makes everything better, right?

The simplicity of this dish is also something to love!  You don't have to be great in the kitchen to make this!  Sometimes simple is best.


INGREDIENTS:
1 lb. brussel sprouts
1 lb. bacon
olive oil
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Cut bacon into bite size pieces. Cut ends off of brussel sprouts and set aside. On medium high heat, fry bacon until cooked.  When finished, pull out bacon and let drain on a plate with paper towels.  Add brussel sprouts to the bacon grease.  Salt and pepper brussel sprouts and lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Go easy on the salt, as there is already salt in the bacon.  Cook brussel sprouts until tender.  Lower the heat if the brussel sprouts look like they are burning.  Add bacon back in once brussel sprouts are cooked, just long enough to warm the bacon back up.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Honey Glazed Carrots



Honey glazed carrots might be my favorite way to make cooked carrots.  My boys love this sweet little side dish!  This is quick and easy to make, and taste delish!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb. baby carrots (or chopped carrots)
1/4 c. stock (chicken or vegetable)
2 tbs. butter
2 tbs. honey
2 tbs. brown sugar
fresh thyme or parsley

DIRECTIONS:
On medium heat, melt butter.  Stir in stock, honey and brown sugar.  Add carrots and cook for 15 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Garnish with fresh thyme or parsley. 

Parmesan Herb Roasted Potatoes




Yesterday I shared how I make a lemon and herb roasted chicken. Tonight I thought I would share a couple sides to to with the chicken.

Potatoes are something you can always roast with your chicken, but roasting them separately and adding some Parmesan to the mix just takes things up a notch.  I personally prefer them this way!  They are so yummy!

I honestly don't measure with this dish.  I'm giving my estimated measurements below, but honestly, you don't need to measure either.  This is super easy.  Cut some potatoes, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with S&P, fresh herbs and parm, and these babies are ready for the oven!

INGREDIENTS:
1-2 lb. red potatoes
2-3 tbs. olive oil
2 tbs. fresh thyme, finely chopped
2 tbs. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roughly cut potatoes into bite size pieces.  Place on a baking sheet.  Drizzle potatoes with live oil.  Salt and pepper potatoes. Sprinkle fresh herbs and Parmesan.  Using hands, make sure all potatoes are evenly coated before placing in the oven for 45 minutes.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lemon and Herb Roasted Chicken



I love a good roasted chicken.  I don't roast chicken often, but when I do it's usually for Sunday supper.  Lemon and herb is my go-to combination when I'm roasting a chicken. We actually had this dish for Easter dinner this year, and it was perfect!  The lemon and herb combination made for a bright and beautiful spring meal.  The nice thing about roasted chicken is that it's "fancy" enough for a holiday, but "common" enough for a family supper. 


So let's talk chicken!  Whole chickens are one of those things that I only buy if they are on sale.  But in all honestly, the better quality chicken you buy the better it will turn out.  I've had roasted chicken turn out good and I've had it turn out not-so-good, and the only difference was the quality/price of my chicken, not the method that I used to roast it. There are few things that I really notice a difference on when it comes to price, but in my experience, whole chickens is one of them!  I stopped buying the least expensive brand whole chickens at the market.  Now I just wait for the good ones to go on sale.  


INGREDIENTS:
Whole Chicken
Olive oil
2 Lemons
Fresh Thyme
Fresh Rosemary
Salt and Pepper
4 tbs. melted butter
1 tbs. minced garlic or 2-3 cloves

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove insides of the chicken.  Rinse entire chicken inside and out. Place the chicken in a roasting pan, lined with aluminium foil and drizzled with olive oil. Salt and pepper chicken.  Rub butter and garlic mixture all over chicken.  I always like to put some under the skin as well.  If you want more butter and garlic, go for it!  In my attempt to keep this somewhat lean, I draw the line at 4 tbs. Slice two lemons.  I like to place a few slices inside the chicken and the rest arranged on top of the chicken.  Chop fresh rosemary and garlic and sprinkle it all over the chicken.  I don't usually measure, but if I had to guess it's probably a tbs. of each herb.  I also place a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme inside the chicken for additional flavor.  Roast chicken for 40-60 minutes, depending on size of chicken, or until internal temperature of chicken is 165 degrees.  If it looks like the chicken is getting too dark while roasting, cover with aluminum foil. Let set for fifteen minutes to let the meat rest before slicing. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Peach and Blueberry Greek Yogurt Cake


Peaches and blueberries are in season, and I found the perfect recipe to celebrate the occasion!  I discovered this recipe, while searching Pinterest and decided to give it a try. Check out the original link for a printable recipe.


This cake turned out great! I love that Greek yogurt is used as a butter substitute.  There is still butter in the recipe, but for a dense cake like this, 4 tbs. of butter is not much at all!


My husband, lover of all fruity desserts, claims that this may be one of his new favorites, which means this recipe is definitely a keeper!


INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 tbs. butter, softened
1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
6 oz. blueberries
2 peaches, pitted and sliced
1 tsp. sugar

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat eggs, butter and sugar on high for 2-3 minutes or until fluffy.  Add vanilla and Greek yogurt until well creamy.  Mix in dry ingredients.  Pour into a greased nine inch spring form pan.  Arrange peaches and blueberries on top.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for for about one hour or until cake turns golden and is done in the middle.  Let cool before putting on a plate and dusting with powdered sugar.

NOTE:  After reading some of the comments in the original link, I waited to add the peaches and a few blueberries on top until about 10-15 into bake time, due to some people saying the fruit sunk too far into the batter while baking.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chinese Slaw



In our home, we really enjoy Asian flavors in our food.  This crunchy slaw goes great with just about any Asian dish.  Of course, one can make their own Asian style vinaigrette to complement the slaw, but Trader Joe's has a really inexpensive dressing that I like to use in this slaw.  The crunchy peanuts and noodles give additional texture to this dish.  Just make sure to add the dressing just before serving, or the peanuts and noodles will get soggy.  


INGREDIENTS:
1 Napa cabbage, finely chopped
1/2 of red cabbage, finely chopped
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 c. scallions, chopped
1/4 c. peanuts, chopped
1 tbs. sesame seeds
1 c. Asian Vinaigrette (I use Trader Joe's Sesame Soy Ginger vinaigrette)
1 c. crunchy chow mien noodles

DIRECTIONS:
Toss cabbage, carrots and scallions together.  Just before serving mix in dressing.  Toss in Peanuts and crunchy chow mien.  Top with sesame seeds.

Lettuce Wraps (a healthy P.F. Chang's version)



I don't know about you, but when I go to P.F. Chang's, I always order those oh-so-yummy lettuce wraps as an appetizer!  I like them so much, that on occasion, I've even ordered them as my meal!


There's just something about the flavor and texture of this dish that I enjoy.  It's savory, and when that bit of crunch in the meat is combined with the smooth crisp lettuce, it's like a party in my mouth.


When I saw this copycat recipe for lettuce wraps, I knew I'd have to try it.  This has become one of my husband's favorite week night meals! Best of all, this copycat recipe not only taste a lot like the real deal, it also makes a healthy meal! The link even gives recipes to the sauces that P.F. Chang's serves with this appetizer, although my husband and I enjoy this dish without the sauces. 


INGREDIENTS:

Stir Fry Meat:
2 tbs. sesame oil
3 tbs. olive oil, divided
1 pound ground turkey
1 8 oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1/2 c. minced mushrooms
1/2 of an onion, minced
1-2 tbs. minced garlic, or about three cloves

Stir Fry Sauce:
2 tbs. light soy sauce
2 tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

Heat sesame oil and 2 tbs. olive oil over medium heat.  Add ground turkey and fry for 5 minutes.  Push meat aside and add remaining oil and remaining ingredients. Add stir fry sauce and cook for another five minutes, stirring frequently.  Serve with lettuce.  I recommend Boston lettuce.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lemon Raspberry Bars


There are two things that my husband loves when it comes to sweets ~ citrus and berries!  Often when making dessert, I purposefully make them to his liking, so I am not the only one indulging in something not-so-healthy.  When I came across a recipe for these lemon raspbery bars here, I knew he'd love them!



These truly do not disappoint!  They are bright and lemony in flavor, with a sweet buttery crust and smooth creamy texture!  They really are yummy treat that scream summer time!



INGREDIENTS:
Crust:
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
6 tbs. salted butter, melted
1/4 c. sugar
zest of one lemon

Filling: 
2 large egg yolks
1 14 oz can of fat free sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
6 oz. fresh raspberries

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8x8 baking dish with nonstick spray.  In a bowl, mix crust ingredients until crumbs are moist, then press into the prepared baking dish and bake for ten minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.  In a bowl, mix egg yolks and condensed milk until well combined.  Mix in lemon juice and lemon zest.  Fold in raspberries making sure not to break the berries.  Pour over the crust and bake for 15 minutes.  Let cool to room temp then refrigerate for a few hours before cutting.

Tip:  These are best when made the night before and served the next day.  Having them set up in the fridge overnight also makes them easier to cut.  



Stuffed Salmon Salad Avacodos



In our house, we love avocados.  I love that they are packed with protein and healthy fats and can be used in numerous ways!  These stuffed salmon salad avocados with Greek yogurt take the protein and healthy fats up a notch.  These make a great weeknight simple summer supper!

INGREDIENTS:
2 avocados, pitted and halved
5-6 oz canned salmon, drained
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt (I prefer non fat)
salt and pepper
paprika

DIRECTIONS:
In a small bowl, mix salmon and yogurt with a fork. Stir in eggs and onions. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Scoop mixture into pitted avocados.  Sprinkle with paprika and serve. 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Avocado Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad (no-mayo chicken salad)



I use a lot of Greek yogurt in our home.  We use it in smoothies, mac and cheese and even biscuits!  This Avocado Greek yogurt chicken salad is a no-mayo chicken salad that is packed with protein.  I make this often for our little family, and will serve it as a simple evening supper or a quick Saturday lunch.  I originally found this recipe here and knew it was a  keeper the first time I made it.  I made a few tweaks to it, but overall, mine is pretty much the same recipe as the original.

My boys have been eating this stuff on toast since they were about ten months old, so it's a good toddler food as well.  The only thing I make sure to do when feeding this to my little ones is to pick out the onions (and even the chunks of cucumbers before they had molars) before giving it to them.  Of course if you don't like onions or cucumbers, those could be omitted, whether you have little ones or not. 

INGREDIENTS
2 12 oz. cans chicken, drain (or two to three cups of shredded chicken)
1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt (i usually use nonfat)
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
juice of a lime
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Smash up avocado and chicken until well combined.  Add yogurt, lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Stir in onions and cucumbers.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Spinach and Egg Baked Portobello Mushrooms



Looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal that is still healthy. Stuffed portobello mushrooms are a common supper in our home. These are great served with roasted vegis or a salad.  


INSTRUCTIONS:
olive oil
portobello mushrooms
spinach 
mozzarella cheese
an egg for each mushroom
Parmesan cheese
thyme
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a small baking dish with foil and spray with non stick spray.  Gently tear out the stem and gills off the mushrooms.  Drizzle with oil and bake for five minutes.   Pull mushrooms out of the oven and fill the mushrooms with spinach leaves and mozzarella cheese.  I usually use shredded cheese, but fresh mozzarella would be good too. Be sure not to stuff the mushrooms too full, or your egg will slide off when you top the mushroom. Gently crack an egg on top and put mushrooms back in the oven for about ten minutes or until egg whites are cooked but the yokes are still runny. Top with salt, pepper, thyme and grated Parmesan cheese before serving. 

NOTE: I usually buy a pack of the large mushrooms for my small family.  There are typically only two or three mushrooms in a pack. 

Summer Vegi and Sausage Foil Packs


School might be starting, but summer isn't over yet!  One of my favorite things about summer is grilling.  This dish is a favorite of mine this time of year.  


Here is why I love this dish.  For one, it taste yummy.  But secondly, I can do all of the prep work hours before grilling, or even the day before grilling.  So if I'm making this for dinner on a week night, I can do all the prep work while my toddlers are napping, and then when it is time for dinner, the foil packets go on the grill.  If this is what I have planned for a Sunday supper, I prep everything on a Saturday night, and then as soon as we get home from church, the foil packets are ready for the grill.



As far as prep work goes, it is pretty easy.  I boil the potatoes, which I think is key.  Having the potatoes boiled before they go on the grill means that the other vegis won't burn while waiting for the potatoes to get done on the grill.  I rough chop everything else and divide it onto four pieces of foil.  Then I wrap up the foil packets, put them on a baking sheet and stick them in the fridge until it's time to grill.  I typically serve this with cornbread or corn muffins.



INGREDIENTS:
1 head of cabbage, cut into four wedges
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
8-12 red potatoes, boiled and chopped
16 oz cooked smoked sausage, chopped 
4-8 tbs, butter
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Once potatoes are boiled and vegis are chopped, divide all ingredients evenly into four foil packets.  Salt and pepper everything for good flavor.  Put a few tabs of butter (1-2 tbs) in each packet as well.  You can go heavy or light on the butter, but I tend to go heavy because of the potatoes.  If avoiding butter, you could use olive oil.  Wrap of foil packets and place packets on the grill until cabbage is tender (about 20 minutes).

Friday, August 7, 2015

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Fritters



It's that time of year.  Summer squash is in abundance and what greater way to use some up than by making easy and yummy zucchini and yellow squash fritters.  Of course Matt and I loved these, but I also loved that my twin toddlers love to eat these!  What a simple and healthy toddler food that my boys can pick up with their hand without any problems.  Everyone has their own way to make this simple side, but here's how i make mine.




INGREDIENTS:
1 medium zucchini, peeled and grated
1 medium yellow squash, peeled and grated
1/2 sweet onion, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 c. seasoned Italian bread crumbs.
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
black pepper to taste
1 egg.
2-3 tbs. olive oil

DIRECTIONS:
Heat oil in a pan on medium high heat.  Mix remaining ingredients together.   I think my hands work best as the best "mixing tool" for this dish. Onions are optional.  My husband prefers onions, but I don't always have them in the house.  Green onions would work for this too.   Once ingredients are combined make small "patties" with the mixture. I can usually get about six fritters out of this mixture.  If mixture is too wet, add more bread crumbs.  Fry patties in oil until browned, flipping half way for even cooking. Set on paper towels when they come out of the pan to soak up additional oil.  Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream and some parsley for garnish.  

Chocolate and Cream Cheese Swirl Zucchini Bread



I'm a real sucker for a good zucchini desert!  I love zucchini bread and zucchini brownies, and have been making both for years.  Recently, I discovered what may just be my new favorite zucchini dessert!

Behold chocolate and cream cheese swirl zucchini bread!  Yep, it pretty much taste as awesome as it sounds!  What's not to love about it?  It's incredibly moist, thanks to the zucchini, plus it is chocolatey, but not too chocolatey, with the cream cheese swirling throughout, giving it a bit of richness. 



I found this recipe while looking for chocolate zucchini bread recipes to try.  This recipe one my heart because of the addition of cream cheese.  A few things about the above recipe.  It calls to make the bread in five mini loaf pans.  I found that two regular loaf pans worked great for me.  We shared one loaf over a meal with friends, and then I easily froze the second loaf for another time.  

Another thing is that after pouring my chocolate layer in the pan, adding the cream cheese layer, and then adding the second chocolate layer, I then swirled the batter together, much like I would for brownies with caramel or cream cheese swirl.  The directions did not say to do that, and I think I figured out why.  You can not see the pretty swirly marble effect of cream cheese in my loaves, and I am assuming it is because I mixed the layers too much before baking.  Perhaps next time I will just let it be and see if it makes the marble effect all on its own while baking. It tasted good either way, but was not as pretty as I would have liked.


INGREDIENTS:

Cream cheese layer:
8 oz soften cream cheese
1/4 c. sugar 
1 egg

Chocolate layers:
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. instant ground coffee or espresso
1 tsp. salt
6 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. oil
1/2 c. sour cream
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 large eggs
3 c. grated zucchini
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray loaf pans with non stick spray.

In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese 1/4 c. sugar and egg with an electric mixture until smooth and set aside.  

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground coffee, salt and cocoa powder together. 

In a separate bowl, mix together sugar and oil until creamed.  Add eggs one at a time until well combined.  Mix in sour cream, vanilla and zucchini.  Slowly add in dry ingredients until batter is smooth.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Pour half of the chocolate batter in the bottom of loaf pans.  Then pour the cream cheese mixture into the loaf pans evenly.  Pour the remaining chocolate batter evenly on top of the cream cheese layer.  Bake for 40 minutes (I found that I needed almost an hour of bake time using two loaf pans instead of five mini loaf pans) or until the center pokes clean. Tip:  I also placed my loaf pans on top of a cookie sheet before baking, to prevent the batter from pouring out into the oven. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Simple Garden Tomato Salad



Garden tomatoes!  It is summertime at it's finest!  I see nothing wrong with eating a garden tomato like an apple, but that's just me!  So much better than the store-bought tomatoes!


We planted a garden for the first time this summer, and I was really looking forward to harvesting tomatoes.  Unfortunately, all of our tomato plants died, due to the abundance of rain we've had.  Fortunately, their is a farmer's stand down the street, and his tomatoes did ok this year, giving me the option to at least buy local homegrown tomatoes.


Garden tomatoes don't really need anything to taste good.  But if you're wanting to dress them up a little, rough chop a few tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar.  Don't over due the oil and vinegar.  It doesn't take much.  You still want the tomato to be the star, not the dressing.  Sprinkle with a little parsley for the finishing touch.

I don't usually use measurements for this, but if I had to give a recipe, it would probably be this....

INGREDIENTS:
3 good sized garden tomatoes, roughly chopped
2-3 tbs. olive oil
2-3 tbs. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS:
Toss everything together before serving.

Perfect Oven Roasted Corn on the Cob



Corn on the cob, a summertime favorite!  My husband LOVES corn on the cob!  In fact, his mom sent us home with four ears of leftover corn on the cob from a family get-together over the weekend, and he ate all four for an evening snack before bed!  Since he had a birthday this week, it was only natural for me to make corn on the cob to go with his birthday supper that consisted of barbecue chicken drumsticks, coleslaw and garden tomatoes.  And so the boys and I walked down the street to the farmer's stand and bought Daddy a dozen ears of corn for part of his birthday supper.  


But here's the thing.  We usually grill corn, and I was unable to that on a weeknight while my husband was at work and I had the twins at my ankles while I cooked dinner.  I know you can boil corn, but I decided to turn to Pinterest for the easiest way to cook corn on the cob.

THANK YOU PINTEREST!  You have yet again made my life easier.  I saw this method on several pins from several sites, so who knows who originally put it out there in the Pinterest world.  Whoever you are, I thank you, and I'm passing on the knowledge.

Seriously, this is foolproof and so easy!  The corn turned out perfect, and there was no mess!  I don't know about you, but shucking corn can get messy when I do it. This was mess free, and resulted in perfect corn on the cob.


This isn't really a recipe, as much as it is basic instructions.

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place corn un-shucked on a baking sheet lined with foil.  The foil is optional.  What is not optional is cutting the "hairy" ends of the corn off before placing on the pan.  Otherwise, your corn might catch fire in the oven.  That would definitely NOT be good!

STEP TWO:  Bake for 30 minutes.  Ok, so everyone seems to say 30 minutes of bake time.  My corn turned out good at that time, but I found it was better and softer when I made a second batch and baked it for 40 minutes.

STEP THREE:  Take out of the oven and peel off the outer layers.  You'll find they peel away very easily now that the corn is cooked.  Unlike when corn comes off grill, there is no  mess when shucking corn cooked in the oven.  To make the peeling easier, you can cut off an end before peeling, but that is optional.

STEP FOUR:  Eat and Enjoy!  I usually salt and pepper the corn and rub a little bit of butter on it before serving it for a family supper.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Easy Baked Honey Barbecue Drumsticks



These baked honey barbecue drumsticks that I made for my husband's birthday dinner this week were a Pinterest recipe find. Thank you Pinterest!  These seriously could not have been easier and were finger lickin' good!



I saw this three ingredient recipe on several sites, so I don't know who exactly to credit for this idea.  Basically, you're just adding honey to your favorite BBQ sauce and baking the chicken in the oven for an hour.  The finished result taste so good!  Of course you could make your own BBQ sauce from scratch if you have a recipe you like.  I like Sweet Baby Rays honey barbecue sauce, but any good BBQ sauce will do.  Adding additional honey not only sweetens thing up, but it helps the sauce stick to the meat. 



INGREDIENTS:
12 pack of chicken drumsticks
bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce
1/4 c. of honey
salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with foil and spray with non stick spray.  Place chicken on foil.  Salt and pepper chicken.  In a small bowl, mix barbecue sauce and honey.  Brush sauce on both sides of chicken and place in oven.  Bake for one hour.  Half way through cook time, turn chicken over and brush another coat of sauce on top before placing back in oven.  Brush more sauce once chicken is done cooking and has cooled. Serve with extra sauce.

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes



My sweet husband turned 33 yesterday.  Happy Birthday to him!  In our home, birthdays mean you get to choose a birthday cake/cupcakes and a birthday dinner.  I've mentioned in previous posts my husband's love for lemon, well all citrus really.  When I found this recipe for lemon blueberry cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting, he had made his cake choice!


These cupcakes worked out perfectly, because I had blueberries from last week's blueberry patch trip to use up!  I also like that the recipe only yields 16 cupcakes, which means less for me to eat!  Cupcakes are a weakness of mine!  Who am I kidding?  Any kind of sweet is a weakness of mine!  While I know my husband will consume the majority of these cupcakes, I have no doubt that I will eat at least 25%, which I don't exactly NEED to be doing!


Overall, I think this recipe turned out great!  Very good lemony flavor!  The only thing I will say, and by no means is this negative, is that the cake was more like a small muffin to me rather than a cupcake. The icing was also on the thinner side for cupcake icing.  It was certainly not the consistency of a traditional buttercream, but was still tasty nonetheless.  Feel free to visit the link above for her printable recipe.  Below is the recipe I used to make these refreshing cupcakes.


INGREDIENTS:

Cake.....
3/4 c. plus 2 tbs. all purpose flour (divided)
3/4 c. cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbs. unsalted butter (room temperature)
3/4 c. plus 2 tbs. sugar
zest of one lemon
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tbs. lemon juice
1/2 c. plus 2 tbs. milk
1 c. fresh blueberries

Icing...
8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
5 tbs. unsalted butter (softened)
3 c. powdered sugar
1 tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
zest of a lemon
blueberries for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners and spray with non stick spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3/4 c. flour, cake flour, baking powder, salt and set a side.  In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time until well incorporated.  Mix in vanilla lemon juice and milk.  Add in dry ingredients slowly, until well incorporated.  In a small bowl, mix 2 tbs. of flour with the fresh blueberries, then gently stir  the blueberries into the batter.  Pour batter in cupcake liners, filling 3/4 of the way full, and bake for 20-22 minutes.  Let cool all the way before icing the cupcakes. To make the icing, beat all ingredients together with an electric mixer until well combined.  I like to have the icing sit in the fridge and get firm before icing the cupcakes.  I also put the icing into a freezer bag and cut the tip off of the end of the bag, as a make-shift pastry bag for icing cupcakes. I garnished with some sugared sprinkles and a few blueberries for the finishing touch.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Italian Pasta Salad with Cucumbers and Tomatoes


Still thinking of uses for your garden cucumbers? This cold pasta side dish could not be any easier!  I make this often, usually in the summer as a side during grilling season.  It's great for a cookout, but also makes yummy leftovers if you're just making it for a weeknight supper. My husband will eat it straight out of the bowl if he finds it in the fridge the next day!

INGREDIENTS:
1 lb. tri color spiral pasta
1 c. Italian salad dressing
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
1-2 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. crumbled feta, optional

DIRECTIONS:
Boil and drain pasta.  Add cucumbers, tomatoes and dressing.  Let sit in the fridge for a few hours for the flavor to set in.  Sometimes I find, I need to add more dressing after it has set awhile. I usually start with the one cup of dressing, but may add an additional half cup before I serve it.  The pasta really soaks up the dressing.  Before serving toss in the Parmesan cheese.  Crumble feta on top right before serving if desired.

* Black olives would also be good in this. No one in my family likes olives, so I choose to make this without any olives.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Refrigerator Dill Pickles (aka Quick Pickles or Quickles)



With and abundance of cucumbers in the garden, I decided to give refrigerator pickles a try last weekend.  Also called quick pickles or quickles, refrigerator pickles come in handy if you want to make homemade pickles but don't want to can pickles.  Unlike canned pickles that have a long shelf life, quick pickles only last a few weeks in the fridge, so it is best to just a make a batch at a time.  

I was very pleased with the results of my refrigerator pickles.  I made four jars of pickles, using a combination of both sweet and dill pickles and spears and sliced pickles.  Here is the recipe I found for dill quick pickles.  I based my recipe off this, but made a few adaptions.  Below is what I came up with that worked for me.

INGREDIENTS:
Cucumbers (enough to fill two quart jars, I did one jar of sliced pickling cucumbers and one jar of cucumber spears)
3 1/2 c. water
1 1/4 c. vinegar
1 tbs.sugar
1 tbs. sea salt
2 tbs. pepper corn
2 tsp. mustard seeds
2 cloves of garlic
4-6 sprigs of fresh dill

DIRECTIONS:
Fill two jars with cucumbers.  Add 2-3 sprigs of fresh dill in each jar.  Add one tbs. of pepper corn and 1 tsp. of mustard seed to each jar.  Add a clove of garlic to each jar (I quartered each clove of garlic).  In a large sauce pan, combine remaining ingredients over high heat and bring to a boil.  Take off heat and let cool completely before pouring liquid over cucumbers using a funnel.  Seal with lids and keep in fridge for four days before eating.  

* I've been told refrigerator pickles last a few weeks in the fridge, although I can't confirm this as ours were eaten up within a week:)

Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles (aka Quick Pickles or Quickles)



With and abundance of cucumbers in the garden, I decided to give refrigerator pickles a try last weekend.  Also called quick pickles or quickles, refrigerator pickles come in handy if you want to make homemade pickles but don't want to can pickles.  Unlike canned pickles that have a long shelf life, quick pickles only last a few weeks in the fridge, so it is best to just a make a batch at a time.  

I was very pleased with the results of my refrigerator pickles.  I made four jars of pickles, using a combination of both sweet and dill pickles and spears and sliced pickles.  Here is the recipe I found for bread and butter quick pickles.  I based my recipe off this, but made a few adaptions.  Below is what I came up with that worked for me.

INGREDIENTS:
Cucumbers (enough to fill two quart jars, I did one jar of sliced pickling cucumbers and one jar of cucumber spears)
1 tbs. Kosher Salt
1 c. of a thinly sliced sweet onion (I used half of an onion)
1 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
1 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. celery seed

DIRECTIONS:
Slice pickles as desired, sprinkle with salt and place into jars. Add onion to jars and set aside.  In a medium saucepan, combine remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer until all sugars are dissolved.  Using a funnel, pour hot liquid over cucumbers.  Put lids on jars and set in fridge for at least four days to let the flavor set in.  

* I've been told refrigerator pickles last a few weeks in the fridge, although I can't confirm this as ours were eaten up within a week:)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cucumber Crab Salad with Tomato



Years ago, I made my own version of a crab salad, using imitation crab, mayo, cucumbers, tomato and some S&P.  No exact measurements when I whipped it up, just a rough salad for summer time. 

Basically, it's just a cheap no lettuce salad, similar to tuna salad, chicken salad or egg salad.  Like the other salads, it could be served by itself or used with crackers, wraps or sandwiches, although I don't know that this would be good with just any kind of bread.  

Recently I found a similar salad here, that actually had measurements and used garlic and green onions.  The beautiful pictures from the recipe enticed me to make this dish.  Turns out it was pretty good.  If you like basic crab salads that use imitation crab, give this one a try!  The garlic and green onion really bring it up a notch! I even went a step further and added celery seed!

My recipe makes half of what the original recipe makes, since I make this for just me and my husband.  If looking to feed more people, just multiply the recipe to meet your needs.  

Also plain Greek yogurt with lemon, salt/pepper and/or a few fresh herbs could be a substitute for mayonnaise.  Just thought I'd throw that idea out there for those that try to avoid mayonnaise all the time.  Although I have not tried this substitution and cannot testify to the taste, Greek yogurt is commonly used as a mayo substitute. 

INGREDIENTS:
1  8 oz. package of imitation crab, roughly chopped
1 small to medium cucumber, peeled (optional) and chopped into small pieces
1 tomato, diced
2 green onions finely chopped
2 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. celery seed
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. mayonnaise, more or less to taste

DIRECTIONS: 
Mix all ingredients until well combined