"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?" - Kathleen Kelly (You've Got Mail)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Turkey Taco Peppers

I read a few different Mexican style stuffed pepper recipes and then made this one myself. I wanted to make something that would use up several ingredients I've had lying around for much too long. This did the trick! And they were pretty tasty, too :)

Turkey Taco Peppers

3 bell peppers
1 small onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. ground turkey
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 c. chicken broth (water would work fine)
1 c. cooked rice or orzo pasta
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the bell peppers in half horizontally and remove all the seeds and white parts. Place, cut side up, in a baking dish. Saute the onion over medium/low heat in a little bit of olive oil. Once they are tender and translucent, add the garlic an saute another 2 minutes. Turn heat up to medium and add the turkey. Cook, breaking it apart as you go, until it is no longer pink. Sprinkle with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and stir well. Next, stir in the tomato paste and chicken broth. Bring to a bubble and cook until broth has reduced slightly, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the rice or orzo and spoon the mixture into the pepper halves. Top each pepper with a pinch of the cheese. Pour half a cup of water into the bottom of the pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired. Makes 4-6 servings.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Skillet Dijon Garlic Chicken

I posted this recipe a while back as one that you bake in the oven. The other day my house was feeling particularly warm so I didn't feel like heating it up even more by turning on the oven. So I decided to throw the chicken along with all the marinade in a skillet and I'm glad I did! This was WAY better than the oven baked version. Plus, as the marinade reduced it made an awesome sauce to serve over the top. I will make it this way from now on!

Skillet Dijon Garlic Chicken

4 chicken breasts, pounded thin (I cut mine in half horizontally and had 8 pieces)
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 c. dijon mustard
1/4 c. dry white cooking wine
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. Sriracha (optional, if you like it a little hot!)
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

Place the chicken in a container with a lid or a gallon size Ziploc bag. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour marinade over the chicken, seal it up and shake around to coat evenly. Place in the fridge to marinade at least 1 hour, or overnight.
After marinading, heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the chicken along with all the marinade. Cook 5-7 minutes on each side, until fully cooked. Served with the marinade spooned over the top chicken breasts. Serves 4.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chai Bars with Honey Ginger Icing

Here is yet another delicious recipe I came across on Pinterest! I love chai and I love an easy dessert to throw together. This is both! I'm embarrassed to say that Randy, Margot and I devoured these all on our own over the last several days. They were awesome! Super moist, too. They had a nice fall taste, almost like pumpkin spice. The blend of spices in these bars is amazing. I figured this could the last dessert like this for a while since yesterday was the first day of Spring ;)

Chai Bars with Honey Ginger Icing

Bar Ingredients:
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. butter, softened
1 egg
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt salt
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 tsp. cardamom (I didn't have)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Icing Ingredients:
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. ginger
1 c. powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 baking pan and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Add the egg and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and spices and stir into the butter mixture until thoroughly combined. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until the cookies are a light golden brown. Let cool.
To make the icing: mix the honey, ginger, and powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add water, half a teaspoon at a time, until the icing is spreadable. Spread over the cookies and allow to set before cutting into squares.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan - Meatless Monday

This is a recipe I've had flagged for a long time! Don't know it took me so long to try it out. I think eggplant intimidates me a little bit. There's a fine line between it being too bitter and tough and too mushy and flavorless. Sauteing it in small pieces was a great way to gauge it. This dish was fresh and tasty, loaded with flavor. 

It made a lot which was great for leftovers. The original recipe says this feeds 4. I'd say it serves 6-8, easy! There were a few little changes I made based on the ingredients I had on hand. If you're a eggplant parm lover, this is a simple, delicious, less messy way to enjoy it!

Recipe found here

Deconstructed Eggplant Parmesan

2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 c. marinara sauce
1 c. water
1 lb. rigatoni or penne
10 basil leaves, torn
1/2 lb chopped fresh mozzarella (I had shredded I needed to use)
1/4 c. panko breadcrumbs
1/4 c. grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. In the meantime, set a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add olive oil. Add the eggplant, onion, and 1 teaspoon salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the eggplant is tender. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 2 more minutes.
Pour the marinara and water over the eggplant mixture and stir to combine. Simmer gently until the the eggplant is soft and just barely falling apart, about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.
In a small skillet pan, toast the breadcrumbs with a little bit of olive oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Set aside. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and add to the pan with the sauce. Add the basil leaves (reserving one or two for garnish) and the mozzarella and toss to combine.
Spoon the pasta into serving bowls and top each with a tablespoon of breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Garnish with torn basil leaves, and serve immediately.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Irish Cream Bundt Cake

I was in charge of dessert this year for our family's St. Patrick's Day meal. I came across this recipe on allrecipes.com and it had great reviews and looked easy to make so I decided to give it a try! Baileys is some good stuff...especially in dessert form! This cake was awesome! Super moist, super flavorful and it had a great texture. Everyone loved it. I think Randy is going to request this cake a lot from now on...not just for St. Patrick's Day! The original recipe called for using a bundt pan but I suggest using an angel food pan. I think it bakes more even and makes the cake look better :)

Irish Cream Bundt Cake

1 c. chopped pecans
18.25 oz. package yellow cake mix
3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix
4 eggs
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. Irish cream liqueur
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. water
1 c. white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. Irish cream liqueur

Preheat  oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour an angel food cake pan and sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly in the bottom and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix and vanilla pudding mix. Add the eggs, 1/4 cup water, vegetable oil and 3/4 cup liqueur. Mix on high for 2 minutes. Pour batter into the prepared pan, on top of the nuts. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool for 10 minutes in the pan. While cake is cooling, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, 1/4 cup water, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Boil and stir constantly for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of liqueur. After cake has cooled for 10 minutes, gently remove from and pan and place on a serving platter, pecan side down. Poke holes all over the top of the cake with a fork and spoon half the glaze all over the top and sides of the cake, allow it to absorb and then spoon the second half of the glaze. Serves 10-12.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

Yum, yum, YUM! This dish was so good! I pinned it awhile back and finally got around to making it. The recipe originally came from an awesome blog called Budget Bytes. I've made several of her dishes and they never disappoint. I made a few minor changes, but followed the recipe for the most part. And don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients! This was relatively easy to make. I would've never thought you could have meatballs with Asian food but this totally works!

Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

Meatball Ingredients:
1 lb. ground turkey, chicken or pork (I used turkey)
1 egg
1/2 c. plaid breadcrumbs (I used whole wheat)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced*
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 green onions, sliced
Black pepper to taste

Glaze Ingredients:
1/2 c. low sodium soy sauce
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. water
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced*
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp. corn starch
1/4 c. cold water
1 tbsp. sesame seeds

Rice Bowl Ingredients:
2 c. long grain brown rice (the original recipe calls for jasmine rice)
4 c. water
1 tsp. salt
2 green onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cover a cookie sheet in foil and set aside. Place the meat in a mixing bowl and add the remaining seven ingredients. Mix until well combined. Using your hands works best! Roll into 1 inch balls and place on the prepared sheet as you go. You should get about 30 meatballs. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until fully cooked.

While the meatballs are in the oven, prepare the rice according to package directions; place rice, water and salt in a large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed and rice is fluffy.

While the meatballs and rice are cooking, prepare the glaze. In a medium saucepan, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar and water. Stir over low heat just until brown sugar has dissolved. Stir in the ginger and garlic and turn to med/high heat and bring to a bubble. Dissolve the corn starch in the cold water and stir into the soy mixture until thickened. Stir in the sesame seeds.

When the meatballs are cooked, remove them from the pan and place them in the saucepan with the glaze. Stir to coat. To build the bowls, place 1 cup of rice in a bowl, top with 5 meatballs and drizzle with some glaze. Sprinkle with green onions and serve immediately. Makes 6 bowls.

*I found the easiest way to "mince" ginger is by using the small holes of a cheese grater. This works great for garlic cloves too!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies (aka the only cookie recipe you'll ever need)

I'm not kidding when I say this is the only choc. chip cookie recipe you'll ever need! Ever.
I thought I had made some really good ones before but they don't even compare to these! Something about the vanilla pudding gives these cookies an amazing soft and chewy texture and kicks the flavor up a couple notches!
I made these years ago and then lost the recipe and then my cousin posted this recipe on Pinterest and I HAD to make them again. The recipe made 8 dozen cookies (yikes!) so I made a few adjustments and ended up with 3 dozen instead. Perfect :)

Vanilla Pudding Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 c. unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
3.4 oz. box instant vanilla pudding mix
2 c. semi sweet chocolate chips (12 oz. package)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a couple cookie sheets and set aside. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in a small mixing bowl and set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the sugars, butter and vanilla. Add eggs, one at at time and then add the vanilla pudding mix. Next, add the flour mixture into the butter mixture 1/2 cup at a time until well combined. Mix in the chocolate chips and drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until very lightly browned on the edges. Remove from the sheets and cool on cookie racks. Makes 3 dozen.

Fabric Scrap TuTu

So Margot's latest obsession is tutus. The first thing she asks for in the morning (before going potty or eating breakfast) is to put on a tutu. She has two that we rotate and wash all the time so I thought it would be good to add a couple more to her collection. I came across this tutorial on Pinterest and thought it was adorable and super do-able.

All you need for the easy project is....

-Fabric scraps (I used 35-40 per tutu)
-1/2 inch wide elastic band, sewn according to your child's waist size (I used pre-made elastic headbands...they were the perfect size! About 18 inches)
-Scissors or pinking shears (to cut fabric)
-Ribbon, tulle, silk flowers (optional)

Step 1: Cut your fabric into strips. I made two tutus and for one I made the strips 21-26 inches long. For the other they were 25-33 inches long. I made the strips 1-2 inches wide for both. I made them different sizes on purpose to add more character. I also used some coordinating ribbon and a flower for each. You can do whatever colors you want!

Step 2: Lay your fabric strips out to decide what order you want them in. This is an optional step but it helped me visualize what the tutu would look like. I wanted it to be randomly planned :)

Step 3: I found it easiest to place the elastic band around my knee to work with. Loosely tie each fabric strip to the band, making a double knot. It's as easy as that! This only took me about 5 minutes to complete.

Step 4: Once you're finished with the fabric strips, feel free to add some ribbon and/or tulle as well. Trim up the longer ends so they're all the same general length. I also added a flower to each of mine. I just sewed them through one of the fabric strips onto the elastic band. And you're done!

Aren't they adorable?? Margot absolutely loves them! She loves to twirl and dance in them. So fun! I'll have to post some pictures of her later :) Enjoy!