Tuesday, April 29, 2014

quinoa stuffed peppers

I've recently started getting baskets of fruits and vegetables from Bountiful Baskets (you should check it out and see if it exists in your area...great program!).  I have been loving the variety of produce, and it's forced me to try things that I normally wouldn't buy in the grocery store.

For instance, one day I got 10 anaheim peppers in my basket.  What exactly do you do with 10 anaheim peppers?

My thought - why don't I stuff them with seasoned quinoa and cover them with spaghetti sauce?  BAM!  It was easy and absolutely delicious.  We've eaten this recipe twice, and I've loved it both times.  And I love that it can easily be turned vegetarian.  I've got some vegetarian friends that I love having over, but I'm running out of ideas for things to feed them.  This recipe is sure to be a hit!

If you aren't into quinoa, you could easily use rice, although I think quinoa is absolutely perfect in these peppers.  Experiment with your own favorite herbs for seasoning, and try topping it with different versions of spaghetti sauce.  I think you'll love it!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 t. parsley flakes
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 t. paprika
  • 1/8 t. marjoram
  • 1/2 t. thyme
  • 2 T. sunflower seeds
  • 10 anaheim peppers

In a small saucepan, bring the water, quinoa, bay leaf, and seasonings to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Discard bay leaf and stir in sunflower seeds.

Cut stems off peppers and discard seeds.  In a large kettle, bring water to a boil.  Drop peppers in and boil for about 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender.  Remove peppers and spoon quinoa mixture into them.

Place peppers in a large baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until peppers are tender.  Serve with spaghetti sauce.

Monday, April 21, 2014

flaky cheddar-chive biscuits

I remember when Cookie Bandit and I were dating, he came to visit me in college and suggested that we go out to dinner.  I asked where he had in mind and was floored when he said Red Lobster!  Not that I have anything against Red Lobster, but it just seemed odd.

We were young 20-year-old college students who both hated Red Lobster?

But then I discovered the real reason he wanted us to go there.  He loves the biscuits.  Who cares if we would be the only people of our generation there?  Who cares if we'd have to eat the dreaded seafood?  As long as he got the biscuits, he was happy!

I was so thrilled to see this recipe in a Taste of Home magazine recently and knew we had to give it a try.  It's been years since we've been to Red Lobster - in fact, I think the last time was that particular date we took in college - so it was so fun to surprise Cookie Bandit with these biscuits!  They taste very similar to that restaurant favorite and easy to make.

You just combine the dry ingredients and then cut in butter...

Stir in the cheddar and chives and then add the buttermilk, stirring until just moistened.  Pat out, cut with biscuit cutters, and bake on a greased cookie sheet.

So delicious, especially when eaten fresh out of the oven.  Make sure you have plenty of butter!  Seafood is totally optional. :)

Flaky Cheddar-Chive Biscuits
from Taste of Home
2 1/4 cups flour
2 1/2 t. baking powder
2 t. sugar
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese
3 T. minced fresh chives
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk the first five ingredients.  Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs; stir in cheese and chives.  Add buttermilk; stir just until moistened.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 8-10 times.  Pat or roll dough to 3/4-in. thickness; cut with a floured 2 1/2-in. biscuit cutter.  Place 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.  Yields 10 biscuits.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

split pea soup

Here's another delicious and easy recipe from Gooseberry Patch's latest - 101 Super-Easy Slow-Cooker Recipes!  You MUST enter to win this book - go here for the giveaway!

Honestly, I didn't know what I was going to think about this one.  I decided to try it because it only called for a few ingredients and seemed relatively inexpensive.  Split pea soup has never seemed all that appetizing to me, otherwise.  But I really don't know why I doubted - this soup is great!

Because it's got ham in it, it's a full meal.  There is so much fiber and nutrients packed in, that I felt great about feeding it to my toddler.  And it was easy to customize - I swirled some sour cream in my husband's and topped mine with a bit of bacon.  Mmmmmmmm.........

Split Pea Soup
from Gooseberry Patch's Super-Easy Slow-Cooker Recipes
1 lb. cooked ham, diced
1 lb. carrots, peeled and finely diced
1 onion, finely diced
2 12-oz. packages dried split peas
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ham, carrots and onion in a freezer-safe container.  Refrigerate overnight, or freeze until ready to cook.

To cook: Thaw ham mixture overnight in refrigerator if frozen.  Combine thawed ham mixture and dried peas in a slow cooker.  Add enough water to cover.  Cover and cook on high setting for 6 to 8 hours, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender and soup becomes very thick.  Add additional water to reach desired consistency, if desired; season with salt and pepper.  Serves 8 to 10.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

spicy chicken soup

Here's another great recipe from Gooseberry Patch's latest cookbook, Good-for-You Everyday Meals.  If you haven't already entered the giveaway to win a copy of this book, you can do so here.

If you like chicken soup, you'll love this spiced-up version!  It's similar enough to that down-home traditional favorite to make you all warm and fuzzy inside, but it's different enough to make your everyday dinner a fiesta!

I made a few changes to the recipe when I tried it.  We had leftover chicken in the freezer, so I used the leftover meat and 8 cups of chicken broth - it worked perfectly!  We also topped ours with our favorite pico de gallo.  Absolutely delicious.  You really can't go wrong no matter what you do!

Spicy Chicken Soup
from Gooseberry Patch's Good-for-You Everyday Meals
1 lb. chicken breasts and/or thighs
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
8 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 cup brown rice, uncooked
Garnish: lime wedges, avocado slices, shredded Monterey Jack cheese

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine all ingredients except rice and garnish.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes, or until chicken juices run clear.  Remove chicken and set aside to cool, reserving broth in soup pot.  Return broth to a boil; stir in rice.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, or until rice is tender.  Meanwhile, shred chicken, discarding skin and bones.  When rice is tender, return chicken to the pot and heat through.  Serve soup in large bowls, garnished with a squeeze of lime juice, a few slices of avocado and a sprinkling of cheese.  Makes 6 servings.

Friday, February 21, 2014

sweet potato coconut pie with marshmallow meringue

Over the holidays, I did what I always do - I got out all of my favorite holiday cookbooks and magazines to get ideas for what recipes to try.  This year, we went to visit my sister, so I got busy looking through all of her holiday cookbooks and magazines.  There was one recipe in particular that caught my eye.

My dear husband just loves anything sweet potato.  He would much rather have sweet potato pie than pumpkin (although if you ask me, they taste pretty much the same).  I've never made him a sweet potato pie because they just don't appeal to me all that much...until I saw this recipe, that is.

What won me over were the words marshmallow meringue.  I love marshmallows!  I really love marshmallow creme.  And I love the concept of adding it to meringue.

This pie surpassed my expectations.  I'll be adding marshmallow meringue to all of my pie recipes from here on out.  Way to go Taste of Home - another win for you!

Here's how you make this delicious dessert...

Wrap your sweet potatoes in foil and bake at 400 until they are fully cooked.  I always squeeze mine to check - if they are squishy, they are done!

Meanwhile, make the crust!  Combine flour, salt, and ginger in a food processor.  Add butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

While you are processing, add water just until moist crumbs form.  See my crumbs?  They are beautiful, if I do say so myself.

Take those crumbs and shape them into a flattened ball of dough.  Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to make it easier to handle.

Roll out your pastry to fit a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.  You MUST use a deep dish pie're going to have a lot of goodness to fit in there!

And another note - your pie crust edges don't have to look pretty for this pie to taste good.  Take a look at mine...they are hideous!  I've never been good at pie crusts, so I've pretty much given up.  Once the pie is covered with meringue, nobody cares anyway. :)

Cover your crust with a double-thickness of foil and fill with a pie weight.  I used dried beans.  Bake it at 425 for 8 minutes.  Remove the foil and weights and bake it for an additional 5 minutes.  Voila - your pie crust is ready!

Be sure to reduce your oven heat to 325 degrees at this point.

For the filling, combine coconut milk, brown sugar, and cream cheese - cook and stir these until smooth.  Then, transfer the mixture to a large bowl and let it cool for a few minutes.

Whisk in the mashed sweet potatoes, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.  Pour it into your prepared crust.  Bake it at 325 for about an hour or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  I used foil to protect the edges towards the end to keep them from overbrowning.

And now, the very best part!  Meringue! 

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form.  See my soft peaks?

Then, gradually beat in sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until stiff glossy peaks form.  See the difference?  I love the look of those stiff, glossy peaks.  I also put my meringue through an extra test - I rub a bit in between my fingers.  If I can still feel sugar granules, it's not done.  Keep beating until it's completely smooth.

Now here's what separates this meringue from traditional meringue.  Place marshmallow creme in a separate bowl and fold a third of the meringue in.  Once that's combined, fold the rest of the meringue in.  Spread that mixture over the hot filling, being sure to seal it at the edges of the crust.  Sprinkle with marshmallows and coconut for a fun touch.

Bake an additional 12-15 minutes or until the top is golden.  Cool it on a wire rack for 1 hour, and then refrigerate for an additional few hours before serving.  This is a pie to eat cold.

Sweet Potato Coconut Pie with Marshmallow Meringue
Taste of Home Holiday Baking
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. ginger
  • 6 T. cold butter
  • 2 T. shortening
  • 3-4 T. cold water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese,s oftened
  • 2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 t. lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. cinnamon
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 t. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 7 oz. marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1/4 cup flaked coconut
In a food processor, combine the flour, salt and ginger; cover and pulse to blend.  Add the butter and shortening; cover and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  While processing, gradually add water just until moist crumbs form.  Shape into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until easy to handle.
Roll out pastry to fit a 9-in deep dish pie plate.  Transfer pastry to pie plate.  Trim pastry to ½ in beyond edge of plate; flute edges or decorate with pastry cutouts as desired.  Line unpricked pastry with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil.  Fill with dried beans, uncooked rice, or pie weights.  Bake at 425 for 8 minutes.  Remove foil and weights; bake 5 minutes longer.  Cool on wire rack.  Reduce heat to 325.
For the filling, in a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk, brown sugar, and cream cheese.  Cook and stir until smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl; cool 5 minutes.  Whisk in the sweet potatoes, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.  Pour into crust.
Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cover edges with foil during the last 15 minutes to prevent overbrowning if necessary.
For meringue, in a large bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form.  Gradually beat in sugar, 1 T. at a time, on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved.
Place the marshmallow crème in a separate large bowl; fold in a third of the egg white mixture, then fold in the remaining mixture.  Spread evenly over hot filling, sealing edges to crust.  Sprinkle with marshmallows and coconut
Bake 12-15 minutes longer or until top is golden.  Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

power goop

This recipe has the oddest name, but that's cause I named it myself, and I'm a bit odd sometimes.  It happens.

But, let me tell you, this recipe is my new secret weapon!  Here's the scoop...

Like most people, I decided that January 1 was a great time to start eating better and get off the few (okay, a bit more than a few) pounds that I gained over the holidays.  I teamed up with some friends on facebook as part of an accountability group - we cheer each other on, encourage one another to NOT eat that chocolate get the picture.

Well, one woman in the group said that she eats the same thing for breakfast every morning and is never hungry.  I was skeptical...I'm always hungry, no matter what I do.  In fact, I'm hungry right now.  I hate diets!

But I digress.  I decided to give her little breakfast a try since I had all of the ingredients in my pantry.  I was surprised that I didn't hate it.  It's not a cinnamon roll or anything, but my taste buds were happy.  I was even more surprised to find out that she was right...I wasn't hungry!  And not only was I not hungry, I wasn't even munchy!  I didn't think about food all morning long.  I ate that breakfast at 7:30, and I seriously made it until lunch at noon before feeling the need to eat again.

And now I'm hooked!  I don't eat it every morning, but if I do have a day where I know I'm going to need a bit more energy, I whip up this little bowl of happiness.  Time and again, it has never failed to hold me.  The fiber keeps you full, and the cinnamon prevents your blood sugar from dropping.  It's pretty awesome!

Power Goop
  • 1 small banana, or 1/2 large banana, mashed
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 T. ground flax seed (or chia seeds)
  • 1 t. cinnamon

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Add additional water or milk to soften if needed.  I highly recommend topping with chocolate syrup! :)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

sourdough biscuits

Back when we looked like this...

...and that was a few years ago...but back then, we got engaged.  My father-in-law announced that he was taking care of the whole rehearsal dinner.  And boy did he!

He picked out one of his own prize lambs to slaughter for the big day, and he smoked it for about 4 days before the event.  He made several different kinds of homemade ice cream, froze them in individual containers, placed those containers in buckets of water, froze those buckets, and then covered the buckets in frozen sleeping bags.  I get tired just thinking about it!

And he also experimented with a sourdough biscuit recipe until he got it just right.  :)

Everything turned out beautifully.  The lamb was delicious, the ice cream stayed frozen despite the August heat, and the bread was such a hit that I asked for the recipe.  Here it is!

First, dissolve yeast in water.  Then, add all of the remaining ingredients and knead until the dough is no longer sticky, adding flour if necessary.  Place it in a greased bowl and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, roll it out about two inches thick...

...and then cut it into biscuits.

Bake the biscuits at 450 degrees for about half an hour or until beautifully golden.

And that's it!  The only rising that takes place is what happens overnight in the fridge, so these are a relatively quick fix.  The sourdough flavor is very subtle, so even sourdough haters will dig in to these!

Sourdough Biscuits
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 t. salt
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 4 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 6 or more cups flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add remaining ingredients and stir or knead. Continue adding flour until dough is no longer sticky. Place dough in a greased bowl - cover and place in refrigerator overnight. The next day, roll out dough to a 2-inch thickness and cut into biscuits. Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes.
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