Sunday, December 30, 2012

Peppermint Bark Rice Krispy Treats

Do you have a ton of candy canes left over from your holiday celebrations? I totally do! I think I may still have some from last year's holidays. Then I saw these peppermint marshmallows at the store and had to pick them up!

I made these for my Sunday School class and they loved them! I actually am not a fan of white chocolate so I made them again but just left that off. Give them a try, they are pretty great with the extra whole marshmallows in the middle. Mmmm.


Peppermint Bark Rice Krispy Treats

 4 Tbsp butter plus more for greasing the pan
6 cups mini Peppermint Marshmallows
6 cup Rice Krispy Treats
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 tsp oil
2 candy canes, crushed

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add 4 cups marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add cereal and 2 cups marshamallows. Stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Melt milk chocolate chips and spread over treats. Melt white chocolate chips and oil using this tip. Spread over slightly cooled chocolate. Top with candy canes and press in slightly. Cool. Cut into 2-inch squares. Best if served the same day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Double the Nutella Cookies

You know when your just in the mood for chocolate. Basically every sing day. Well, this is one of those recipes that you could whip up even on the busiest and craziest of days. These are fantastic! Chocolatey, chewy, Nutella-y, and superb warm or cooled.

I had to take a plate to my neighbors just so I wouldn't eat the entire batch straight from the oven! She ate 3 just while I was there for the five minutes. I take that as a compliment. This is what Santa is going to get this year at my house for sure!



Nutella Frosted Nutella Cookies

3/4 cup Nutella plus more for frosting
2 Tbsp butter 
1 large egg
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350°. With a hand held mixer beat together Nutella, butter, and egg. Mix in baking soda and salt. Add in flour and mix just until incorporated. Using a tablespoon, scoop out dough and roll into balls. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or baking mat. You can put theses pretty close together, the don't spread out much. Bake 8-10 minutes, just until set. Mine were perfect at 8 minutes but I didn't crowd them too much. Let cool on baking sheet for 3 minute. Move to a wire rack. Heat up about 1/2 cup Nutella in the microwave for 15 seconds. Using a small spoon (a baby spoon works best), spoon Nutella onto cookies and swirl around. Tada! I chocolate fix in 15 minutes! That's pretty awesome!
Makes about 20 cookies, definitely enough to share but I'll leave that up to you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Decadence Cafe

Decadence Cafe
584 W. 1600 N.
Orem, UT 84057

Decadence Cafe caught my eye a few months ago when I was running errands and I stashed it away to my list of places I wanted to try. It's located in a small building on 1600 N. in Orem, don't blink or you'll miss it. It's a little mock coffee shop, minus the coffee and caffeine (which is fitting for the Utah demographics).  Instead of coffee beans they use Crio, a cocoa bean based product. They have ice cream made from butter fat (heart stopping words, literally), cupcakes, cookies, and other desserts.

Girls night brought us here, and it seemed like the perfect place. We originally planned on getting dinner, but soon realized we would be having dessert first. They had a few sandwiches in the display cooler, but we went straight for the chocolate and dessert.

What We Got...

Drinks
Peppermint Mocha
I was expecting more of a pepperminty flavor, but instead it was almost hidden behind the dark chocolate.  It was good, but nothing to rave about. I would have liked it to be more pepperminty, maybe with a cute candy candy to stir it with.


Caramel Apple Frappe

A cold drink that was quite good. But for me I would have enjoyed it more on a summer day. I turn to the hot drinks once fall hits the calendar.


Mocha

If you like dark chocolate, this is the drink for you. I prefer dark chocolate and thought it was again, another ok drink. When I compared the peppermint mocha the minty flavor was more apparent, but still I wanted more mint.

Cupcakes
Mini Caramel Apple

This was by far the best cupcake we had.  There was a little bit of a crumble on top that just made this cupcake stand out.  Get this cupcake!

Red Velvet  $2.50
I've had better red velvet. That's all I'm going to say.

White Chocolate Raspberry  $2.50


Another ok cupcake. 

Service...
Was amazing. The girl who took our orders was very helpful. She explained the different types of drinks, let us sample the ice cream, and gave us recommendations according to our preferences. A+

Overall...
Yellow Light. It's a fun concept and I would recommend stopping in for a drink to check the place out.  Skip the desserts, there are better cupcakes out there that I would rather be eating.  


Scale Rating Descriptions
Green Light: I'll be coming through all the time, call me a regular, recommend to everyone and all, I"ll crave this place when I'm pregnant, loved it!

Yellow Light: I'll be slow to go through,  I'd go back if someone suggested it,  nothing special, not something I'm going to crave, it was ok.

Red Light: STOP! Don't go, tried it once and that's enough, warn people not to go, thinking about it brings back bad memories, didn't like it.


  Decadence Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, December 10, 2012

Honey Sesame Chicken

Yup, it's that time again. Dinner time. And beside pulling out chicken from the freezer, I haven't even thought about it. Generally I pull out some type of meat from the freezer in the morning and then think all day about what to make with it. Not today. Five o'clock hit and I still hadn't thought about what to cook. So I just started cooking.

I had some rice left over from last night's dinner so I just went Asian-ish. This turned out fantastic and was really quick and easy. It's actually a spin off of one of my regular dishes I make. I have no idea where the recipe came from, I printed it off years ago before Pinterest and blogging. But I changed it up a bit over the years to make it mine.



Honey Sesame Chicken

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of any fat and cut into bite-size pieces
2 Tbsp cornstarch
Kosher salt and ground pepper
2 Tbsp oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 cups white or brown rice, cooked according to package directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine chicken pieces and cornstarch. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Once hot, add chicken. Cook, stirring often, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken pieces onto a plate and put the pan back on the heat. Pour in the soy sauce and honey. With a wooden spoon, scrape the cooked bits on the bottom of the pan while the soy sauce mixture simmer. Let simmer for 2 minutes. Add the chicken back into the pan. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and toss well, coating all the chicken pieces in the soy mixture. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

This is a double batch, I also threw the onions in with the sesame seeds.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fiesta Lentil Soup

This is another quick and easy soup recipe that is sure to warm you up on a cold day.

When I cook, I look for ways to incorporate more nutrition. That is what I did with lentils in this recipe. Lentils are packed with fiber. Fiber makes you feel fuller quicker and thus you tend to eat less because you aren't as hungry.  This soup is a twist on taco soup and chili, check it out.

Fiesta Lentil Soup


1 can black beans
2 cans (14.5 oz) Mexican style stewed tomatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1 can corn
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic
4 ribs of celery, chopped
1/2 cup lentils sorted and rinsed
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 bay leaf

Combine everything into a pot*. Let it come to a boil for a few minutes then turn down the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf before serving. I topped it off with green onions, sour cream, cheese, and tortillas chips.

*You could easily combine everything in the crockpot and let it cook for a few hours.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Peanut Butter Pancake Syrup

So we had this tradition growing up where all of us kids would get to choose the food we ate all day on our birthday. It's something that I loved, cost no extra money, and really made my day special. I have decided to always do this with my kids too. Well, it was my son's 5th birthday last week. He loves breakfast more than any other meal of the day. One of his favorite breakfast foods is banana pancakes which we make on a weekly basis. He also loves chocolate chips, and he LOVES peanut butter! So I thought "why not add all of these things into a pancake!"

I have actually made something similar to this before and called them "chunky monkey" or "Curious George" pancakes. But they are really sweet for breakfast so it's not something I do often. Like only once a year. But they are SOOO good!


Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes with Peanut Butter Pancake Syrup

1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 Tbsp oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk, plus more to get to desired consistency
1 ripe banana, mashed with fork
Handful of mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup pancake syrup

For syrup: Heat peanut butter for one minute. Add syrup and mix.


For Pancakes: Mix four, baking powder, salt, oil, egg and milk together with whisk. Add milk to get to desired consistency. Add in banana and chocolate chips. Use a 1/4 measuring cup and pour onto a medium heated griddle. Flip after about 3 minutes or when your pancakes look like this:


They should look like this:


Take off griddle after a couple more minutes. Or you can always use a tablespoon and make dippers!


Either way you can't go wrong!
Place any leftovers in a single layer on a pan and freeze for 30 minutes (or longer). Place in a freezer bag and freeze until you need them. I put mine in the toaster to reheat but you can use a microwave or toaster oven.


Happy Birthday little man! Can't believe how far you've come in five years!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Buttercream

I LOVE hot chocolate! Like, willing to spend eight bucks at the coffee shop to get the good stuff. So when the Young Women in my ward came to my door, full of flattery and telling me how great of a cook I was, I said "Of course I'll make cupcakes for your program." I can't resist flattery. Or a reason to bake. I always can use a good reason to turn that oven on. And I really wanted to make some hot chocolate cupcakes.

These are great! Moist and rich and the perfect amount of sweetness. I actually got a little adventurous and threw some Marshmallow Bits in them this time but that was a mistake, they completely disintegrated while baking. I'm just going to leave those out of the recipe. They would be really fun as a decoration though. 


Hot Chocolate Cupcakes with Candy Cane Buttercream

For the cupcakes:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 packet Hot Chocolate
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup liquid creamer (Irish cream flavor is great!)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
 
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350° and line muffin pans with cupcake liners. In bowl of stand mixer combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Heat milk and creamer until just warm. Mix hot chocolate packet in. Add eggs, hot chocolate/milk mixture, vegetable oil and vanilla to dry ingredients. Beat on medium speed until well combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Fold in chocolate chips. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 16 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pans for 5 minutes, then remove to wire racks to finish cooling.

For buttercream:
 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
6 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 – 1/2 cup milk
4 candy canes
plus 2 more for garnish

Place candy canes in blender or food processor and pulse until candy canes are mostly ground, with just a few little pieces. In bowl of stand mixer beat butter until creamy. Gradually add in confectioner’s sugar one cup at a time, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Add milk until you reach desired consistency. Add candy canes and mix well. Place buttercream in piping bag fitted with a large star tip and frost cupcakes. Garnish with crushed candy canes.
  
Did you love these cupcakes?! Rate them on Tasty Kitchen 
We were featured on Red Head Can Decorate Christmas Party!
 











 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Banana Leaf

409 N University Ave
Provo, UT 84601

Banana Leaf, is a restaurant that provides an experience meal! Any foodie adventurous will love Banana Leaf!!  The featured menu items come from Singapore and Srilanka. Most of their entrees are cooked in a banana leaf (hence the name). The banana leaves are fresh and shipped from Florida, and give this restaurant an original edge.


What We Got...
It was girls night out with Jen, Stacie, and I. With three of us we got a good sampling of what they have to offer. 
Drinks 

Avocado Shake ($3.99)
Rich avocado blended with ginger, vanilla bean, cream and sugar. Don’t be intimidated by this green drink, it is sooooooo good. I now crave it! It has the perfect sweetness, with chocolate syrup, vanilla bean, whipped cream, and avocado. Plus if you put an avocado in anything BAM, instantly made healthy!


Mango Lasi ($3.99)
Fresh mangos pureed and blended with Sri Lankan yoghurt. Jen can’t resist mangos and naturally got the Mango Smoothie. Sometimes mango flavored drinks disappoint, but this was delicious and tasted just like a mango!

Appetizer
Pa’an flatbread ($2.99)
This reminded me of Naan (the flatbread served at Indian restaurants) but on a diet. It was thinner and seasoned with a garlic salt.  I love anything with garlic and the pa’an was great.

Dinner
I got the Sri Lankan Beef Kothu ($12.25)
It came out on a huge leaf platter. The beef was almost like bbq beef strips. It was served with vegetables, a mixture of cheeses, egg, masala curry, spices, and shredded pa’an. It was tasty. I would say out of the three dishes I tried this was the least exotic tasting. It is a safe dish if you’re not feeling adventurous.


Jen got Indonesian Style Shrimp Nasi Goreng ($14.99)
Order this dish mild or spicy depending on your spice meter. The shrimp, vegetables, and basmati rice were seasoned with the Chef’s secret sauce. Comes with 2 mussels on the side. I don’t recall ever trying mussels, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m an adventurous foodie right? Today, I don’t regret trying it, but I know I NEVER want to eat another mussel in my life. Just the name brings back the rubbery, I can’t swallow this, experience I had (I did swallow, but it took a good 3 minutes of chewing before I could down it, ekk). For all you mussel fans you get not one, but two with this shrimp dish. Let me know before hand if you like’m and I’ll box them up and ship them to you, free of charge.  


Wrapped and cooked in the banana leaf

Unwrapped
Stacie got the Sri Lankan Lamprice ($12.99)
If monkeys wrapped their presents it would look something like this dish. Wrapped nicely in a banana leaf was seamed seasoned rices, a fried egg, curried chicken, potatoes, with sambols and chutneys.  It was delicious. It reminded me of a tin foil dinner because everything was wrapped up and cooked together, but in a banana leaf. I never knew with each bite what flavor I was going to get.


Service... 
The menu at first was overwelming, mostly because everything looked sooooo good and I couldn’t make up my mind. The waiter came by and asked if he could explain some of the menu items. He was great, and described the unique aspects of all the dishes.  Once we ordered our food it came out quickly and someone was always around to fill up our water.

Overall..
Green light restaurant.  I would make a quick stop to the Banana Leaf for another sip of the avocado shake!! I have nothing bad to say about this restaurant. It was a restaurant that let me travel the world through food, and that’s what I dream about!


Scale Rating Descriptions
Green Light: I'll be coming through all the time, call me a regular, recommend to everyone and all, I"ll crave this place when I'm pregnant, loved it!

Yellow Light: I'll be slow to go through,  I'd go back if someone suggested it,  nothing special, not something I'm going to crave, it was ok.

Red Light: STOP! Don't go, tried it once and that's enough, warn people not to go, thinking about it brings back bad memories, didn't like it.


The Banana Leaf Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 23, 2012

Dutch Caramel Apple Pie

I absolutely love apple crisp! Love, love, love it! So warm and crispy and full of fruit. What's not to like. But Thanksgiving is all about the pies, right? So I decided to combine the two and do a dutch apple pie which is basically an apple pie with a streusal topping. It turned out so good! I was so excited to eat it, I almost didn't make it through Thanksgiving dinner before digging in! The caramel just takes it over the top.

I used a refrigerated pie crust because with everything else I needed to bake, I didn't want to have to worry about that as well. I did sprinkle some rolled oats on the crust and rolled it out a bit. Then for the apples I mixed them with some butter, brown sugar, and cream to make a caramely flavor. Topped with an oat streusal and some caramel ice cream topping. Mmmm, can't get better than this!



Dutch Caramel Apple Pie

Apple Filling
8 large honey crisp apples
  1/4 cup packed brown sugar sugar
  1 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
  3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  1/2cup half and half

Streusel Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 heaping cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

 Pie Crust
1 refrigerated pie crust (or make your own)
1 Tbsp rolled oats

Caramel ice cream syrup

Directions

1. For the pie crust: Lay refrigerated pie crust on work surface that has been sprayed with cooking. Spray top of crust with Pam and sprinkle with oats. Using a rolling pin, gently roll the oats into the crust. Carefully transfer crust to a pie pan. Take a piece of aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place sprayed side down and gently press down into pie crust, covering the edges. Fill with pie weights, rice or beans. This will keep the crust form shrinking. Bake in a 375° oven for 25 minutes. Carefully remove beans and foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes. or until it is lightly golden brown. 

 

2. For the apple filling: Peel, quarter, and core the apples; slice each quarter crosswise into pieces 1/4 inch thick. Heat the butter in a large Dutch oven (or pot) over high heat until foaming subsides; add the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt and toss to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the the apples are tender, about 10 minutes.

Apples tossed in butter, cinnamon, and sugar.
Apples after they have cooked down.
3. Set a large colander over a large bowl; transfer the cooked apples to the colander. Shake the colander and toss the apples to drain off as much juice as possible. Put the apples in the pie crust. Bring the drained juice and the half and half to a boil in the Dutch oven over medium high heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened and a wooden spoon leaves a trail in the mixture, about 5 minutes. Pour the reduced mixture over apples and smooth with a rubber spatula.

4. For the streusel topping: Combine the flour, oats and sugars in a medium bowl; drizzle with the melted butter and toss with a fork until evenly moistened and the mixture forms many large chunks with pea-sized pieces mixed throughout. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the pie filling. Set the pie plate on a baking sheet and bake until the streusel topping is light golden brown, 10 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Drizzle with caramel ice cream syrup and and serve.

Pie before baking.


Did you love this pie?! Rate it on Tasty Kitchen

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What's in the Fridge Hash

It's the week of Thanksgiving, which means I'm trying to clear my fridge out as much as possible in preparation for the yummy goodness that will be happening. So in a random surplus of energy I decided to whip up a hash for lunch for my friend and I. Oh my goodness it was good. Totally hit the spot and I will definitely be making this regularly! I love hash's too because they are great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

This one I used a leftover baked potato, onion, red pepper, orange pepper, eggs, and bacon. All of which needed to be used up about last week. Seriously, my peppers were as shriveled as an elephants skin and my bacon was a week past its best by date. But it's all good cause I'm still alive and not sick so I'm assuming it was fine!


What's in the Fridge Hash

1 baked potato, cooled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/2 onion, diced
1/2-1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2-1 orange bell pepper, diced
4 eggs
12 oz bacon, cut up
Salt and pepper to taste
Shredded cheese
(Seriously try whatever you want in here! As long as you have a potato or sweet potato)

Heat oven to 350°. Sauté bacon over medium heat. Remove from pan and drain all the grease except a couple tablespoons. Sauté peppers and onion. Add diced potato and sauté another couple minutes. Salt and pepper. Add bacon and stir. Make four little wells and crack the eggs into each one. Break the yolk if you like hard eggs or leave intact if not. Salt and pepper. Put the pan in the oven (wrap the handle with foil if it is not oven safe) and bake for about 5-10 minutes depending on desired doneness of the eggs. Top with shredded cheese. Ta da! Another fast meal that the family will love!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu Pockets (Freezer Meal!)

We celebrated a birthday of one of the kids I babysit this week and it got me thinking. Every year on our birthday my mom would let us choose whatever we wanted to eat for every meal. It was awesome and something I really looked forward too. I always chose German Pancakes for breakfast but I couldn't remember if I always chose the same thing for dinner every year. I remember choosing chicken cordon bleu a couple of times. I always loved that as a kid but because it's a little labor intensive we rarely had it. We were a very busy family. But my mom would always make time for our birthday dinners.

As I was getting ready to make pizza for lunch (the birthday boy's choice for lunch) I decided just to make a double batch of pizza dough and use some for dinner. I didn't know yet what I was going to make with it, but if all else failed I could just do breadsticks. I started thinking of my favorite birthday dinner and thought "I should definitely make chicken cordon bleu tonight!" But of course, as always, time got away from me. Around five o'clock I decided to go the easy route, Chicken Cordon Bleu Pockets! Kind of like hot pockets, but homemade and oh-so-much-better!

I love doing pocket/sandwich type things for lunch because I can freeze them and pop them in the microwave whenever I need them. These ones turned out fantastic and I pulled together a  great dipping sauce to act like the sauce that usually goes over chicken cordon bleu.


Chicken Cordon Bleu Pockets

1 recipe Pizza dough (recipe below)
1 chicken breast, cooked and diced
Diced ham
Shredded swiss or mozzarella cheese
Olive Oil
Garlic Herb Seasoning (recipe below)  
Sauce for dipping (recipe below) 

Roll dough out about 18x12 inches. Cut into 8 squares with a pizza cutter. Top each square with cheese, chicken and ham. Fold over edges and pinch shut. Place seam side down on greased baking sheet. Rub each pocket with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic herb seasoning. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes. 



To freeze: Let cool all the way. Place in a freezer Ziploc bag. Try to get as much air out as possible. Freeze in a single layer. When ready to eat, wrap in a paper towel. For best results microwave for 4 minutes on 60% power, but if your microwave doesn't let you adjust the power level, just microwave for 2-3 minutes.


Sauce for Chicken Cordon Bleu
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup milk
2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
   1 Tbsp hot water
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Combine chicken bouillon, hot water, dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add flour and stir until smooth and bubbly. Add milk while whisking. Add mustard mixture and heat until thickened. 

Garlic Herb Seasoning
 (From Our Best Bites)

1/2 cup powdered Parmesan cheese
2 tsp Kosher salt
2 Tbsp garlic powder
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp basil
2 tsp marjoram
2 tsp parsley
 
Add all together in a jar and shake!
 
Pizza Dough
Heaping Tablespoon yeast
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup steaming water
2 3/4 to 3 cups flour
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
 
Dissolve yeast, salt and sugar in mixing bowl. Let proof for 10 minutes. Gradually mix in flour and vegetable oil. Should pull away from the sides of the bowl but stick to your finger slightly when touched. Add more flour or oil accordingly. Cover with a towel and let rise up to an hour (15 minutes in a warm place will do in a pinch).       

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

White Chocolate Pomegranate Blondies

We had a crazy busy weekend here in Utah. But so much fun! We were planning on going to Idaho for my father's birthday but a freak storm came and destroyed our plans. We were really looking forward to getting away so we decided to have a "staycation" instead. We booked a room at the Hampton Inn because they have a pool and a hot breakfast. We went to the UCCU Family Festival at UVU. Tons of fun! You should definitely take your kids next year if you live in Utah County. We swam, ate lots of food, shopped for fun (we never shop anymore, except when necessary), and relaxed in front of Disney Junior. It was the perfect weekend. But it also didn't allow anytime for cooking. So Monday I decided we needed a little treat and I whipped up some of these!

Mmm, this is the perfect fall/winter treat. Which is great because our fall has kind of meshed in with our winter. I love the white chocolate with the pomegranate arils. Plus these are so easy to whip up! The hardest part is deseeding the pomegranate and melting the white chocolate.

To deseed the pomegranate: Get a bowl of cold water. Cut your pomegranate in half (not like an apple where you would cut from stem down. Cut around the "belly"). Hold the pomegranate loosely in your hand cut side down and take the back of a spoon and thwack (I love that word!) the pomegranate all around it and shake out the arils into the bowl of water. The water will allow any membrane that comes loose to rise and the seeds to sink.

To melt white chocolate: This is actually really easy. If you try to melt white chocolate like any other chocolate it will seize up within seconds and form a crumbly mess. You can always melt your white chocolate over a double boiler over simmering water but that's entirely too many dishes for me. Here's what I do. Put 1/4 cup white chocolate chips in a glass or ceramic dish with 1/2-1 tsp vegetable or coconut oil. Now microwave the chocolate in 20 second increments at 40% power, stirring after each round. When the chocolate gets to a stirrable consistency, even though not completely melted, just stir until smooth instead of putting it back into the microwave. See, not so hard.


White Chocolate Pomegranate Blondies  


3/4 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 - 1 cup pomegranate arils
1 cup white chocolate chips  
   
Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar  
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
1/2 cup white chocolate, melted
1/2 - 1 cup pomegranate arils 
   
In a microwave, melt butter; stir in brown sugar. Transfer to bowl of mixer and cool to room temperature. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Beat in cinnamon, salt, baking powder and flour. Stir in pomegranate arils and white chocolate (batter will be thick).  

Spread into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Bake at 350° for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (do not overbake). Cool on a wire rack.  This is best if you let cool for at least an hour.

For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and orange peel until blended. Gradually add the melted white chocolate; beat until blended. Frost brownies. Sprinkle with pomegranate arils. Drizzle with remaining melted white chocolate if desired. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator. 
Serve this with some velvety hot chocolate and you have the perfect afternoon treat on a cold day! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

One of the things that I love about Bountiful Baskets is that it makes me cook with ingredients that I don't very often buy in the store. Usually I end up falling in love with something new. I never use to like honeydew, so when I got one I diced it and blended it up with some lemon-lime soda and ice. I called it a daiquiri. It was delicious and totally changed my mind about honeydew. Now I really like it just on it's own.

A couple of weeks ago we received spaghetti squash. Three of them. Okay, I traded my brussel sprouts for one. What in the world am I supposed to do with three spaghetti squash? I had only had spaghetti squash once before when I used it as the noodles for spaghetti. Bad choice. I really didn't like it and had not eaten it since. I much prefer zucchini noodles in my spaghetti.

Well this casserole is kind of like my daiquiri. Totally amazing and I have changed my mind on spaghetti squash! It's got the flavor of a cheesy potato casserole but using good-for-you squash. My son couldn't get enough, he ate thirds! My husband gave it his seal of approval as well. Go me!

This would be a great, unique side dish to Thanksgiving... or any meal! You can make it in advance and bake it right before dinner. In fact, next time I make this, I'm adding in some diced chicken breast and bacon and making it my main dish! I love main dishes that are mostly vegetables, don't you!?



Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole

1 spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/4 cup chicken broth, warmed
6 oz cream cheese, softened (I used the 1/3 less fat stuff)
1/2-1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan
3 Tbsp Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Chives or parsley would be great for color, unfortunately my garden already died

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Place the squash, cut side down, on the sheet. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a sharp knife. With a fork, scrape the squash strands into a large bowl. 
Meanwhile, warm the oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and basil. Cook until the onion is soft. Add the tomatoes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture is dry.
In a separate bowl combine warmed chicken broth with about 2 ounces of cream cheese and stir till they are properly introduced and smooth. Then mix in the rest of the cream cheese. 
To the bowl with the squash, add the cream cheese, mozzarella, parsley or chives (if using), salt, and the onion mixture. Stir to mix. Pour into the prepared baking dish. I used individual serving dishes here. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and bread crumbs. Bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly and heated through.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Cubby's

Cubby’s
258 N State St
Provo, UT 84604


Signature Chicago Beef. Because of their location and the lack of good restaurants in the area, besides Kneaders, Cubby's would be one of the best lunch options in this area of Provo. I liked the decor with  the menu chalked up on the wall and wood panels, giving it a barn feel.


What We Got..
On the menu, there are multiple options to add to your sandwich. Different sauces, girl, boy, or man peppers. Man, being the spiciest. I like when I'm able to control how much spice I get!


The Bad Boy BBQ Beef ($4.99)-Shredded Italian beef with a mixture of their homemade BBQ sauces, spices, pickles, on a homemade bun. Nothing fancy, but tasty.  The beef was finely shredded. It was almost like melt in your mouth beef jerky, if that makes sense.  The beef was so soft and tender, that even my 6 month snuck a taste. It was actually his first man meat eating experience, so Cubby’s will always hold a tender spot in his milestone calendar.

The Original “Mr. Beef”($6.99)- Signature Italian beef with thin slices of seasoned roast beef topped with our famous giardiniera on a Italian-style roll that is dipper in our secret famous sauce.  Basically…beef meets beef.  It had a mild oil vinegar taste that was unique. We got our peppers boy style (the only option that day)


Service..
This is an order and pay place.  They were fairly busy but we got our food really quick.  I noticed multiple people come in and take out a bag full of sandwiches.  I'm guessing because they are located across from the hospital and Central Utah Clinic, it would be a yummy choice for lunch meetings.

Overall..
Yellow light. I enjoyed the food and if someone wanted to go again I would, but it’s not something I’m going to be craving next time I’m pregnant. The prices were awesome!


Scale Rating Descriptions
Green Light: I'll be coming through all the time, call me a regular, recommend to everyone and all, I"ll crave this place when I'm pregnant, loved it!

Yellow Light: I'll be slow to go through,  I'd go back if someone suggested it,  nothing special, not something I'm going to crave, it was ok.

Red Light: STOP! Don't go, tried it once and that's enough, warn people not to go, thinking about it brings back bad memories, didn't like it.
Cubby's Chicago Beef on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lightened Up Pumpkin Muffins

I spent the entire weekend potty training. My house is a disaster, my kitchen especially, but we won! We now have two potty trained kids! I feel like a very successful mother and it has nothing to do with how good of a homemaker I am. Throughout this thoroughly exhausting weekend of bare bummed children we ate freezer meals, pizza and Kneaders. I didn't get around to cooking much but I did whip up some muffins!

I admit, I am somewhat of a muffin snob. I only really make muffins for breakfast. I don't want them too sweet, they're not cupcakes after all. I love when they are a vehicle for fruits or vegetables, it makes me feel like I'm getting in a serving at breakfast, however small.

While playing around with pumpkin muffin recipes for the last month I've altered every recipe I've tried to make it somewhat healthy and to my taste. Some have turned out dry, others too dense, one even spongy. 

This one is perfect! For me. Hopefully for you too. There's not too much sugar, only a small amount of oil, pumpkin (for my serving of vegetables), and just enough spice. Plus Greek yogurt! I think that's what makes this muffin so light. Most pumpkin breads and muffins are dense. Don't get me wrong, I love those too. But sometime for breakfast I don't want to be weighed down when I pop a dozen muffins into my mouth without even thinking (don't worry, they're mini).


Lightened Up Pumpkin Muffins
 
1 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 scant tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
15 oz pumpkin
2 large eggs lightly beaten
1/3 cup canola oil 
1/2 cup lowfat vanilla Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 400°. Spray mini muffin tins with cooking spray. Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice and salt in large bowl. In a separate bowl whisk together pumpkin, eggs, oil, and yogurt. Combine wet and dry ingredients until just blended. Spoon batter into muffin tins. I use baby spoons, they seem to be the perfect size. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Transfer muffins to rack to cool.  Makes 50 to 60 mini muffins.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Easy Parmesan Crusted Chicken

By the end of the day, when it's time to cook dinner, I want something that is quick to prepare.  I seek recipes that fit that qualification because, I usually only have 30 minutes to hurry and whip something up before it's time to eat!  This recipe fits that description and is easy, Easy, EASY!!!

Easy Parmesan Crusted Chicken


3 cups Corn flakes (really any cracker you have on hand will do)
1 cup Parmesan cheese 
1 tsp Pepper 
1 tsp Garlic Salt 
1 tsp Italian seasoning 
2 eggs
4-6 chicken breasts
1 to 3/4 cup Italian dressing

Directions
Crush corn flakes. A trick I learned from my grandma is to save a cereal bag and crush your corn flakes in that with a rolling pin. Pour into pie or cake pan. Add the parmesan cheese, pepper, salt, and Italian seasoning to the corn flakes.  In another pie pan beat the eggs. Now set up an assembly line. 1st chicken, 2nd eggs, 3rd corn flake crust, 4th baking pan.   Using just one hand (leaves one hand free of getting chickenified) dip the chicken in the egg on both sides. Then press both sides of the chicken in the corn flake crust.  Put in a 9 x 13 baking pan. Continue dipping assembly line until all chicken breasts are crusted. Once they are all lined up and covered in corn flakes, drizzle Italian dressing on top of each piece of chicken.  Bake at 425 for 20 min or until chicken is cooked all the way through.  I served mine over romaine lettuce but of course pasta is a good choice too.