Sunday, September 15, 2013

Loaded Cauliflower Soup

Rain, rain, and rain. We have had so much rain lately! I love the rain, except that it forces my kids to play inside all day which makes a much bigger mess. Mess = memories so it's all good, right? That's what I'll tell myself anyways. The good thing about this weather is the soup! And bread! And desserts! I am always in the mood for these things when the weather turns colder.

I'm an Idaho girl so I absolutely love potato soups. But I'm also trying to eat a little healthier to make room for all those breads and desserts so I thought I would try this soup out. I had the rough draft of the recipe in my head for the last couple of weeks so when I got two heads of cauliflower from Bountiful Baskets, I knew the time was right. And fortunately I had a huge group of gals to try it out on from my neighborhood. They loved it! Awww, success. I love when my recipes get the thumbs up.


Loaded Cauliflower Soup

  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1-2 heads cauliflower (I used 1 1/2 large heads)
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 4 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 - 1 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp chives
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation Instructions

Start by chopping bacon into 1/2 inch pieces. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, sauté bacon until crispy. Spoon bacon onto a paper towel covered plate and pour out most of the bacon fat into a bowl to discard. Save about two tablespoons of fat in pot.
While bacon is rendering, chop onions, carrots, and celery finely. After removing bacon and excess fat from pot, add onion and saute for a couple minutes until soft. Add the carrots and celery and cook an additional couple of minutes. Chop cauliflower pretty small. Don't  worry about making nice florets, just a good rough chop, discarding the green leaves and the core. Add cauliflower and stir to combine.
Cover and cook over very low heat for 10 minutes. Pour in vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for a minute. Whisk in milk and cook until thickened. Add shredded cheese and mix until smooth.
Remove from heat. Add mixture to the simmering soup. Allow to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add heavy cream (optional), chives, bacon, and sour cream. Check seasoning and add salt or pepper.


Looking for more comforting soups? Look no further, here they are:
Leeky Potato and Chicken Soup
Tuscan Chicken Soup with Fall Veggies
Fiesta Lentil Soup
Potatoes and Leek Soup

Or try this Italian Oven Roasted Cauliflower.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Herb Crusted Chicken and Pasta in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

It's been a rainy and stormy weekend in Utah. When that happens I always feel like making soup. I decided to make some Baked Potato Soup. That was before I realized I didn't have any bacon. Or cheddar. Or sour cream. I really needed to make a run to the grocery store but it was pouring buckets outside so I turned to a different kind of comfort food. Pasta.

I absolutely adore this dish. It's warm and flavorful and comforting. Everything that's needed on a stormy evening, or a warm evening, or any evening. It's absolutely delicious!


Herb Crusted Chicken and Pasta
in Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

3 boneless skinless chicken breast (sliced in half for thin cutlets)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 cup dried bread crumbs (I used a mix of regular and panko)
3 tsp Italian herb seasoning, divided
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 tomato, diced
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz cream cheese (1/3 fat kind works well), cubed
1 cup 5 cheese Italian blend
2 Tbsp fresh basil or 2 tsp dried
2 Tbsp fresh chives or 2 tsp dried
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb pasta (any kind works, I like penne)

Cook pasta according to package directions. If the pasta gets done before the rest of the meal, toss it with a little oil or butter to keep from sticking.
Place bread crumbs and two tsp Italian herb seasoning in a dish (loaf pan works well) and mix.
Place milk and egg in a separate shallow bowl and mix well.
In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil on medium heat.
Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, then coat with crumb mixture.
Cook chicken in skillet until browned and cooked through flipping halfway through (about ten minutes). Remove and keep warm (I put it on a plate and in the microwave but don't turn it on.) Do the chicken in two batches adding more butter and oil to the pan if necessary. Resist eating a chicken breast straight out of the pan like I did. They are seriously yummy even without the decadent sauce.
In the same skillet, add garlic and saute for approximately 1 minute. 
Add chicken broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir occasionally to loosen browned parts from the pan.
Stir in cream and cream cheese and bring to a boil and stir for one minute making sure to stir out any lumps of cream cheese.
Reduce heat to low; add Italian cheese, basil, chives, 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning and a dash of salt and pepper, stir sauce and cook until heated through and thickened. (about 5 minutes)
Serve by placing a chicken cutlet over the pasta and then drizzle with the sauce.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Homemade Graham Crackers

Road trips. I can't seem to decide if I love or hate them. We just went on one with my two kiddos and my parents a couple of weeks ago. I still can't decide if I love them or not. I do love to travel and spend time with the family though.

In preparation for this road trip I made lots of travel snacks. I loaded up on homemade fruit leather, dried fruit, oatmeal raisin cookies, granola bars, roasted chickpeas, and these graham crackers. When I procrastinate cleaning or packing or anything really, I bake. So we had lots of snacks. I had lots more that I wanted to make but the house wasn't going to clean itself.

These were the favorite by far of all the snacks. My mom even asked for the recipe after we got home and that's a big deal. You'll love them too, I know it. They are far more flavorful than store bought graham crackers and better for you. The taste is pretty close to gingersnaps, without the ginger. Does that make any sense? It did to me.


Homemade Graham Crackers

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup wheat bran
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter, chilled & cubed
1/4 cup honey or molasses
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor combine flours, wheat bran, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Add cubed and chilled butter to the mix and pulse until it resembles coarse meal. Add honey/molasses and water and continue to mix until it all combines. Place dough in the fridge for two hours.(Clean house during this time.) Flour work surface and rolling pin or spray with cooking spray. Roll dough out until 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes. Place cookies on a baking mat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Cool and serve.

To Freeze: After cutting cookies, place the cut out cookie shapes on a baking sheet and freeze for 20 minutes. Remove, place in a Ziploc bag, label and freeze for up to 4 months. When ready to bake, add 1-2 minutes cooking time. You can also freeze the cookies after you have baked them.

Adapted from Weelicious

Monday, July 22, 2013

Quick Orange Beef and Broccoli

Ah, Asian food. My ultimate comfort food. I craved Asian food the entire time I was pregnant with my daughter. Now I'm on a budget and don't get to go out for dinner too often. Sooooo .... I've been making it myself! I love it when I can cook something just as good as any restaurant and I think this recipe fits just right into that criteria. I make this recipe just a little simpler and more economical by using petite sirloin steak that I had the butcher slice up into "fajita" strips. This just makes dinner-time go twice as fast. I had this entire dinner done in 15 minutes flat. That's a win in my book for sure! Especially when there is no sacrifice in flavor.

Quick Orange Beef and Broccoli
 
 
Juice of 1 orange
Zest from 1 orange
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
¼ cup beef broth
⅓ cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon oil
1 lb. petite sirloin steak, very thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 head broccoli, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces

Mix the first juice, zest, ginger, soy sauce, broth, marmalade and cornstarch, whisking until the cornstarch is dissolved. Boil the broccoli for just a few minutes, until tender crisp. Heat the oil in a skillet over high heat. Add the steak and garlic and a bit of salt and pepper, draining off extra fat after a few minutes. Saute until evenly browned. Add the sauce to the pan and stir for 1 minute until the sauce starts to thicken. Stir in broccoli and cook for a couple more minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with orange zest and/or scallions.

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

Yup, I'm a breakfast fanatic. I make pancakes at least once a week. But I tend to get a little bored with plain old pancakes. I usually make banana pancakes because of the abundance of overly ripe bananas on my counter but this week I made my grandmas Banana Bread so I made these pancakes instead. They are super duper easy which is a must for busy mornings, but indulgent enough to serve on the weekend. Everyone at my house loves them!

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup soy (or regular) milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 Tbsp vanilla

Maple Icing Syrup
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cups butter – melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup milk 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients together. Add in the wet ingredients and mix well. (If you don't have coconut oil, use melted butter.) Drop the batter by about 1/4 cup fulls onto the pre-heated/greased griddle and cook until the tiny bubbles start appearing on top, then flip over. (I like using 1/4 cup to make pancakes because it makes the pancakes the perfect size to freeze and toss in the toaster.) These only take a couple of minutes to cook. Serve warm with maple icing.

Here's a bonus tip: Use a pizza cutter to cut pancakes fast. I saw my sister do this a couple years ago for her 5 kids and thought "Holy smokes, that's brilliant!" I've been doing it ever since!


 Looking for more pancakes? Try these:

Monday, July 15, 2013

Bars Fantastic

For any of you that live in Utah or have visited Temple Square know that the Lion House has great food! My first experience that I remember of the Lion House was at my grandparents wedding anniversary dinner. They held the dinner there and I remember all the food being incredible! The second time I went was with a church group and we just went for lunch. I was hooked. Now every time I am around Temple Square I have to stop in. They specialize in comfort food and their Chicken Pot Pie is to die for! Fortunately they are not greedy with their recipes and have numerous cookbooks, many of which I own. My newest cookbook of theirs is the Cookies & Sweets book. YUM-O! It's a dangerous book. I'm sharing one of my favorite recipes from this book today.

The base of this bar is just like any chocolate chip cookie bar but instead of adding everything into the batter, you layer it all in the middle. Genius! You will love it! Make sure you wrap up half of the pan to take to a friend or you just might eat the entire pan in one sitting.

Bars Fantastic


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1 cup caramel bits (or caramels cut into 6 pieces each)
1 cup Skor bar bits
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Cream butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until fluffy. With mixer running on low speed, add salt, baking soda, baking powder and flour (in that order). Mix until well incorporated.
Line a 9x13 pan with plastic wrap and spray the wrap. Spread half of dough evenly into pan, the easiest way to do this is by spraying your hands with cooking spray and using them to pat it down. Lift plastic wrap and dough carefully out of pan and set aside. Spray pan with more cooking spray. Spread the other half of dough evenly in pan, again I used my hands. Sprinkle with white chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips, caramel bits, and Skor bits. Carefully turn the other layer of dough onto the chips and bits. Press down gently. Sprinkle nuts on top of dough and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool, cut and enjoy!

A plate for a friend :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Microwave Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Wow, I have been so busy busy busy lately. I had to kind of put the blog on the back burner. That doesn't mean I haven't been cooking up a storm, just that I haven't been documenting any of it. Sorry. I am back ... for now anyway. August is going to be pretty busy too so we'll see how things go.

If you can't already tell, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It gets outshone most of the time but not in my house. I love healthy homemade breakfasts best and this one can't be beat. It's fast, tasty, and full of good-for-you ingredients that will keep you full till lunch. You certainly don't need to make this in the microwave, I routinely make it on the stove. But the benefit of microwave is I can toss it in a walk away. Always good on a busy morning. The kids love it too. Actually when I pull out the raisins my son kind of whines and says he doesn't want them but then he picks all the raisins out and eats them first. He's a goofy kid.

Microwave Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

 
1 Apple
1 1/2 cups old fashion oats
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup skim milk (or almond milk or water)
1 tsp cinnamon
Sweetener of choice (sugar, splenda, brown sugar, honey, maples syrup: all work well)
1/4-1/2 raisins (optional)
1/4 cup chopped glazed walnuts (optional)

First, prepare your apple. You can grate it if you don't want big chunks, peel it if you don't want skin, or just do what I did and dice it with skin on. I prefer the chunks of apple. Combine the apple, oats, water, milk, and cinnamon in a microwave safe bowl with a lid. Microwave for 8 minutes. (Make sure your bowl is big, it grows and may overflow if your bowl is to small.) Add your sweetener, I use about 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Add raisins and stir. Top each serving with walnuts. Splash on some extra milk if you would like and enjoy! Double the batch and eat it all week! I do!


Looking for other breakfast ideas? Try:
These Make Ahead Breakfasts (burritos, breakfast hot pockets, smoothies, fritatas, and more)


Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April Foodie Pen Pals

Today is reveal day for foodie pen pals. This month I received a package from Dallas over at Day-By-Day Masterpiece. She spoiled me! Here's what she sent.

-Quinoa Pasta Shells. I didn't try this yet, but I'm a fan of quinoa so I'm sure this pasta will be delicious.
-Pesto.  Dallas must have known somehow that my favorite pasta sauce is pesto!
-Sunflower growing kit. I love spring and flowers, so I can't wait to get my little sunflower growing.
-Hot Cocoa. Already used up both packets, mmm. (we had a few chilly days in Utah)
-Not 1 but 2 bars of chocolate! Dark chocolate with cranberries & almonds and white chocolate.
-Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips. These tasted similar to a churro.  
-Freeze Dried Tropical Fruit
-Water bottle


I loved the dark chocolate with cranberries and almonds.One little square was a perfect treat for when I had a chocolate craving.


I was surprised by the tropical fruit. It was a nice crispy treat. A good alternative instead of chips for when you need a crunchy treat. I gave some to my little boy and he loved them too!

Thanks Dallas for the package! 

If you are interested in becoming a foodie pen pal check out the website here for more info. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Melty Way

Melty Way
821 W. State St. #3
American Fork, UT

Grilled cheese is one of my favorite meals. Some may think it's crazy to go out and order grilled cheese, because a 5 year old could make it. But I'm a sucker for it and couldn't wait to try Melty Way, a gourmet grilled cheese restaurant.

I met up with a few of my old roommates from college. It was a perfect place to meet up with girlfriends.

What We Got...
Tomato Basil Soup-Good tomato soup. It wasn't wanything out of the ordinary, but it was just as good as any other tomato soup.

Artichoke and Tomato ($4.99)-Provolone, pepper jack, marinated artichokes, grape tomatoes, and basil pesto. I fell head over heels for this sandwich.  The artichoke and melty cheese, was delicious.

The Italian ($4.99)-Whenever I see fresh mozzarella or pesto on a sandwich it is an easy decision. This sandwich had both! This was good too, but I preferred the artichoke and tomato.

They also have a variety of dipping sauces that I would recommend trying. I liked the sriracha sauce for a little kick.

Service..
This is an order/pay and then they bring out your food. We didn't have a waitress, but the service we did receive was good. Also our food came out quick.

Overall...
Green Light Restaurant. I loved it. I may be a little biased because of my love for grilled cheese, but you better believe I'll be back to try the many other sandwiches I was debating on getting. 

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.
Melty Way on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 12, 2013

Pineapple Thai Curry

One of my favorite meals to make is curry. I grew up eating Japanese curry and had never tried Thai food until I started college.  Thai food is now one of my favorites. My husband was the one who taught me how to make Thai curry. Actually, I think it's the only meal he has ever cooked for me. Anyways, before we started dating, we were part of the same dinner group.  One time he made Thai curry and everyone loved it. We actually liked it so much, we requested he make it each time he cooked. It is still a favorite in our home.

Curry is like soup, you can add whatever veggies that you have on hand. Hope you enjoy one of our family favorites.



Ingredients
 
1 can Lite Coconut Milk
2 Tbsp Yellow Curry Paste
1 Tbsp Fish Oil
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 onion chopped
1 cup crushed or chunks of Pineapple
3 Chicken Breasts, diced
2 Tbsp Sugar
Salt to Taste
Green Onions (only the green part)
Rice

Directions
I first start by cooking my potatoes in a little water to soften them so that they are up to speed with the rest of my vegetables. After they are starting to soften, I pull them out.

Pour 1/2 a can of coconut milk into a big pan. Add in curry paste and fish oil. If you don't like things very spicy cut back on the amount of curry paste. If you like things hot, then add a little more. I like things medium hot and 2 Tbsp was perfect. Stir in the curry paste, until it is dissolved. Add in the potatoes, bell peppers, onion, and pineapple. Bring to a boil.

Add the rest of the coconut milk along with the raw diced chicken. Let the chicken cook for about 8 minutes. After 8 minutes add the sugar and turn to low. Cover the pan with a lid and let it simmer.   It's good to let everything sit and  absorb the flavor of the curry. Simmer on low for at least 15 minutes. Salt to taste (I usually add about 1 Tbsp).  Serve over rice and sprinkle with green onions.

**You can easily make this vegetarian. I have substituted black beans for the chicken and it tastes just as good.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Harvest Restaurant

The Harvest Restaurant
3003 N. Thanksgiving Way
Lehi, UT

The Harvest is tucked away at Thanksgiving Point and I don't think very many people know about it. It has a more up scale feel but the prices are reasonable. We saw two prom groups come in as we were eating, if that tells you anything. The painted murals on the wall made us laugh because a pig was peaking its head through a window.

What We Got...

Butternut Squash Soup (green light)
I love this soup. The pumpkin/squash seeds that they sprinkle on top are a great touch.

Homemade Meatloaf (green light)
The waitress said that people come back just for the meatloaf, so I had to give it a try. I can see why people come back for it because it was amazing. The sauce on top was sweet and savory. The texture was spot on with a slight crunchy top with moisture in the middle. The mashed potatoes and green beans were delicious.

Halibut (yellow light)
It was ok, but nothing special.

Service...
Green Light. No complaints about the service. The waitress suggested the meatloaf because it's the most common dish that people come back for specifically.

Overall...
Yellow-Green Light restaurant. It's a perfect date night restaurant and I highly recommend the meatloaf. I give it a yellow because the halibut wasn't anything special.

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.
 


Harvest Restaurant at Thanksgiving Point on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Skinny Cream of Asparagus Soup

Oh, I think I've died and gone to heaven. This soup is so delicious I'm sure I could eat it every day for the rest of my life and be happy. You probably don't view cream of anything soup as something to fall in love with but this one is different. The smooth savory taste of asparagus with just the right touch of cream (which is actually Greek yogurt!) is scrumptious. Try it, I know you'll love it!




Cream of Asparagus Soup
  
2 lbs asparagus (2 bunches)
1 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
6 cups fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
salt and fresh white pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt better on low heat. Add onion and sauté on low for about 2-3 minutes. Snap the tough ends off the asparagus and disgard. Chop the asparagus into 2 inch pieces. Add to the pot with the onions. Add chicken broth, salt and white pepper. Cover and cook about 20-25 minutes or until asparagus is very tender. Remove from heat, add yogurt an immersion blender, puree until smooth.
Slightly adapted from Skinny Taste

Friday, April 5, 2013

Power Oatmeal Pancakes

 I love the idea of oatmeal pancakes. I don't love the idea of grinding oats every morning though. Enter: this recipe. I didn't add this recipe to my list of Make Ahead Breakfasts because I never make it ahead of time. It is relatively easy to whip up as I'm making pancakes for my kids in the morning. It has 11 grams of protein and only 230 calories! If you are eating this as a post workout meal then you can add a bit of protein powder to it as well!


Power Oatmeal Pancakes

1/4 cup quick oats
1 egg (or 2 egg whites)
1/2 of a ripe banana, mashed
1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp splenda
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk
Protein powder (optional)
1/4 cup blueberries (optional)

Mix all ingredients (except blueberries) in a bowl. Heat griddle to medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Pour batter onto griddle in one or two pancakes. (I do two, it's easier to flip.) Dot blueberries on pancakes. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side.


Top with more bananas and blueberries and whatever syrup you love! I use Sugar-Free.



P.S. It's kind of annoying that the word "protein" doesn't follow the i before e rule. I misspelled it every time I typed it. Haha!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Black Sheep Cafe

Black Sheep Café
19 North University Ave
Provo, UT

Black Sheep has a wonderful, unique menu and that's what I liked most about it. Their menu is always changing and the newness of the favors is refreshing.

What We Got...

Cactus Pear Lemonade
The bright pink and purple hues of the lemonade are intriguing and make you want to try it. It is made in house. I was expecting a unique flavor but it just tasted like normal lemonade.

Blue Burger with Southwestern Street Corn
Blue cheese in the middle with bacon and onions. It was a good burger. The street corn was a cob of corn with parmesan cheese and a little kick of spice. We tried a few sweet potato fries off our friend's plate and I wish we had gotten them instead. They were the best sweet potato fries I've ever had.
 

Hog Jowl Blue Corn Tacos with Beans and Rice
This dish won best of State. The waitress said it would be life changing and really sold us. It was very colorful with purple cabbage and blue corn tortillas. The meat was seasoned perfectly but the beans are what I would rave more about. We licked the bean bowl clean! They were good. I think because waitress talked them up so much I was a little disappointed. I won't go as far as saying they were life changing but they were good.




















Service...
Green light service. Our waitress was nice and sold us on the "life changing" hog jowl tacos. My only complaint, and no restaurant owner would call this a complaint, is she talked up the tacos too much, and my expectations after her pitch weren't met. ( I know, I know it's her job and she is doing a good job, but I just regret not getting the Navajo Tacos!)

Overall...
Yellow-Green Light Restaurant. I give it a yellow-green because I left wishing I had ordered
differently. I thought our entrees were ok and the sides (refried beans and sweet potato fries) were more life changing. I think this is backwards. But, because of the unique menu and tastefully thought out dishes it makes me want to come back. I wish I would have gotten the Navajo tacos because once I saw them come out I regretted my decision. The fry bread looked yummy. Oh well, I'm going to give it another shot because I know exactly what I want to order and I'll be sure to order the navajo tacos.

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.
 
Black Sheep Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 1, 2013

Foodie Pen Pals

This was the first time I participated in foodie pen pals.  Short version of the program. It's the same idea as a pen pal, but you send food! Awesome idea, right?

I had fun shopping for my pen pal, but the anticipation of getting a package, was even better!  Carly from Snack Therapy got my name. Carly is a big snacker, and that was the theme of her package. Here is what she sent.


Snackimals Crackers
Plantain Chips
Robin Eggs
Clif Bar-White Chocolate Macadamia Nut
Larabar-Chocolate Chip Brownie
UC Davis Olive Oil Lip Balm

I wanted to highlight a few of the products.

Tuscan Almonds with Herbs. The almonds, oh the almonds, were delicious!  I had never tried them before, and I didn't want the package to end. They were good, with parmesan and a spicy kick. I added them to my salad that day but ate most of them plain. I am now going to have to find a store that carries them. 

 
The Clif Bar was good too. I'm not a huge protein, fiber bar type person, but I enjoyed the macadamia nut. I ate it on a walk with my little boy. 

The plantain chips were surprising to me. I was expecting more of a sweet banana flavor, but it tasted like a thick baked lay. No hint of a banana flavor at all. I crumbled this on top of my yellow Thai curry and it added a nice crunch. I liked them alone too.


 It was fun that Carly included something unique from her campus with me. Olive oil lip balm, my husband will like this :)



It was so fun to get a package in the mail with FOOD! Shout out to Carly for a great package. I can't wait to see who gets me next month and the new foods I will get to try. If you are interested in joining the program check out the website here for the details and be sure to sign up before the 4th of the month.
 
From one foodie to another, thanks Lindsay for setting up such a fun foodie inspired program. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Roasted Radishes

Yes, I realize that radishes are not most peoples favorite food, or even on their "like" list. The strong peppery flavor is definitely a deal breaker one way or the other. I was raised growing radishes in our garden so I actually don't mind them. But when I came home from Bountiful Baskets with two bags of them, I knew I would have to get a little creative in eating them. The hubby will not touch them, even in a salad. I don't want my kiddos to have his picky palate though so I like to try to find a way for them to eat, even like, all veggies. After reading some ideas on Bountiful Baskets facebook page I decided to try roasting them. I was so pleasantly surprised. They lost most of the peppery flavor and become much more mild. Almost a mix between cauliflower and potatoes. We had pork verde tacos and fiesta rice that night so I threw in a little cumin to give them some Latin flair. There is a city in Mexico that actually celebrates the "Night of Radishes" so I felt the Latin flair for these radishes was well suited!


Roasted Radishes

Radishes, washed andcut into quarters
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Cumin

Pile radishes on a cookies sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper, and cumin. You don't want to overdo it, especially on the pepper. Toss with your hands to evenly coat. Arrange in a single layer and roast at 400° for 20 minutes, stirring 2-3 times during cooking.
  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Easy No-Roll Biscuits

I love rolls. But I usually don't remember to make them until about the same time I'm making the rest of dinner. When that happens I turn to biscuits. But sometimes I don't even have time for rolling out biscuits. That's when I turn to these. They are actually really good! I know they look like muffins but don't dismay, they are biscuits. Perfect for butter and honey and served with soup and salad or whatever you are cooking for dinner.


Easy No-Roll Biscuits

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter

Mix all ingredients and stir until smooth. Pour batter into baking cups. Fill 2/3 full. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes. Makes 12 biscuits.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pesto Salmon

This recipe is so easy, I almost debated not posting it. I decided to post it anyways because it may just be something you haven't thought of yet. Plus it's something that can be baked from frozen and I love those types of meals for crazy busy days.


Pesto Salmon

Place salmon in a single layer on a greased shallow baking pan. Tuck any thin edges under. Spoon pesto over fish. For fresh or thawed fish, bake uncovered at 450° for 4-6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness. For frozen fish, bake uncovered at 450° for 9-11 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness.

 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Waterzooi

aka Leeky Potato and Chicken Soup

 I love soup! I would make it every day if my hubby would let me. It's such a great way to eat veggies and make them taste great. I got some leeks from Bountiful Baskets a couple of weeks ago and they have just been hanging out in my fridge, begging to be used since. I debated make this Potatoes and Leek Soup because I had the potatoes, sweet potatoes, and leeks to make it. However, I love trying new things so I decided to play a spin off of this recipe for Waterzooi. I changed it up a bit to suit my families taste. It's a winner for sure! Makes me want to grow leeks in my garden just so I can make it all the time. I looked up what Waterzooi meant, and loosely translated I think it means "boiled water". But trust me, this soup is more than just boiled water. In fact the exact text from my hubby when he ate it was "This soup is awesome babe, I approve!" which is really high praise coming from my not-so-in-love-with-soup hubby.





Waterzooi
 
2 tablespoons butter
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 leeks, chopped, rinsed and dried (white and light green parts only)
2 all-purpose potatoes, peeled or unpeeled and diced
Salt and white pepper (or black, I used both)
6 cups chicken stock or broth
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped fine
2 sprigs oregano, chopped fine
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup heavy cream
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Crusty baguette, warmed, for passing
In a deep pot over moderate heat melt butter and saute the vegetables for 5 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper. Add oregano and rosemary to the pot with stock or broth. Cover the pot and raise heat to bring liquid to a boil. Add chicken to the pot, cover and reduce heat to medium low. Poach the chicken 10 minutes. Uncover the pot. Remove chicken and dice. Whisk cream and egg together. Add a ladle of cooking broth to cream and egg to temper it. Stir cream and egg mixture into the waterzooi and stir constantly for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken. Add chicken back to the pot along with chopped parsley. Add more salt or pepper to taste. Ladle waterzooi into warm shallow bowls and serve with crusty baguette for dipping.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Communal

Communal
102 University Ave.
Provo, UT

It was my birthday a few weeks ago and I wanted to go somewhere good. I had been wanting to go to communal for about three years, no joke. The one-time I did attempt to go we didn't make reservations and there was no chance we were going to be seated without one. So finally, three years later, I returned excited to try it out because I had only heard good things.

We had a large group, nine of us, and it is family-style so we ordered about 12 different dishes to share. I like this because you get to try so many different dishes in one visit. The portions end up being small because we split them between nine people and you end up getting a sample. By the end, the women were full but all of the men joked about stopping at in-and-out burger on the way home. We reassured them quality over quantity and they couldn't argue about that.

What We Got...

Caramelized Fennel and Mushroom Tart-A great appetizer to share, because it was big enough to split between the group.  I never have cooked with fennel, but it tasted so good on the tart.

Shrimp Cocktail- your average, nothing special shrimp cocktail.

Roasted Winter Squash Salad- This was the groups favorite salad of the night. The little bits of squash were so good in the salad.

Fried Clifford Farm Egg- It was good but we liked the squash salad better.

Pan Seared Salmon- Good but nothing special.

Roasted Mary's Farm Chicken- I loved the maple sauce that the chicken was served with.  It was moist and the maple compliment the dish well.


Asian Pork (special that night)-This was the tables favorite protein choice. It was delicious!

Roasted Root Vegetables-Perfect blend of vegetables. I think the secret ingredient was butter. They were drenched in butter, I think that's why they tasted so good.

Macaroni and Cheese-Good Mac and Cheese. We all wish this had been a bigger portion because we literally only got one small bite.

Anson Mill's Fried Polenta

Yukon Gold Potato Puree-Fancy mashed potatoes with cheese curd. Mmmm, they were good.

Service...
The service was good. Our waitress explained the menu to us and she recommended that we get the mashed potatoes with cheese curds and I'm glad she did because they were delicious.

Overall...
Green light restaurant. Everything we got tasted amazing. The top favorites and what I would recommend getting are the roasted winter squash salad, Asian pork, roasted Mary's farm chicken, and yukon gold potatoes.  Don't waste your time with the average dishes, ask for their most popular dishes, and enjoy them.  The menu is always changing and I like that they try to use fresh, local ingredients in the dishes. Because it is a little pricier it wouldn't be a place that I would be able to go to all the time. But when I can find a good excuse, special occasion, or whatever reason, I'll take it so that I can go back.


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.


Communal on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 4, 2013

Make Ahead Breakfasts






Breakfast is the busiest meal for most people. Trying to get your hubby or kids to eat something healthy and filling to get them through till lunch or trying to feed yourself while getting ready. I would much rather my husband eat a home cooked breakfast every morning than running to the drive-thru on his way to work. It's generally healthier, faster, and cheaper. I, on the other hand, just don't want to eat a pile of carbs known as pancakes even though I make them for the kids. Here's some tricks and recipes to having a healthy fast breakfast every morning.

Breakfast Burritos
     This is not a new concept but it's a great one. When Bountiful Baskets has their tortillas I always order them and then stock the freezer with breakfast burritos. You get 3 dozen huge flour tortillas, 2 dozen small flour and 2 dozen small corn tortillas. You can do this with any large tortilla but I find that I really like the ones from my baskets. You can customize these with any veggies, meats or cheeses that you like. Here's a couple tips with these:
  • When in doubt, overcook the eggs. I usually put milk in my scrambled eggs but not when making these burritos. As they freeze the extra moisture will make everything soggy. I have also read somewhere of making them in the oven and that helps but I have never tried it.
  • Spinach is great in these but squeeze out ALL of the water. Spinach is the worst culprit for moisture.
  • Any potatoes/hashbrowns work but I love these from Our Best Bites. They take more time though. Most times, when I know I'm going to be doing breakfast burritos, I serve baked potatoes the night before and I just bake up 4-6 extra and make them into hashbrowns. Just shred, toss in a skillet with butter, salt and pepper (may need to work in batches) and let them hang out, flipping once or twice until golden and a bit crispy.
  • Make them for dinner! I always make breakfast burritos for dinner the day I'm going to freeze them. Why go through all that effort and then need to make a separate dinner as well? 

Breakfast Burritos
 LargeTortillas
Scrambled eggs (I make a bunch so I use about 24)
Breakfast potatoes or hashbrowns (4-6 potatoes worth)
Veggies (I like to saute red, green, and orange bell peppers, zucchini and onions)
Shredded cheese
Breakfast meats (Sausage, bacon, ham)
To assemble: Make an assembly line but having everything in order set out. I do potatoes, eggs, meat, veggies, then cheese. Microwave tortillas covered with a damp paper towel for about 10 seconds. Then pile on the goodies. When folding, first fold over each side and then hold those in while you fold over the bottom. Finish rolling and wrap in plastic wrap. Then just pop them in the freezer. If you have freezer paper, that works the best but I just use plastic wrap. When you're ready to microwave, take off plastic wrap, wrap in napkin or paper towel, and microwave for 1-3 minutes depending on the size. Enjoy! My husband loves these for breakfast or lunch.

Smoothies

   Pretty easy and a lot of people do these but I do mine a little different. Most people make little baggies of cut up fruit and put those in the freezer and that works great. Really. As long as you don't mind washing the blender everyday. I already do enough dishes so I don't do that. I make a big batch of smoothies and pour then into mason jars or these from Tupperware (I love them because they have fitted lids, my hubby loves them because it doesn't look like he's drinking a jar of jam like it does when he's drinking out of mason jars.) and freeze them that way. You can pop one in the fridge the night before to help thaw or just grab one in the morning and drink as it defrosts. My husband prefers just grabbing one in the morning because he's not usually hungry for a couple hours. That way it just sits on his desk at work until he's ready for it. 
For my smoothies I just use whatever fruit I have on hand (I'm not a big fan of frozen berries for this because you'll just be refreezing them and it makes them taste freezer burnt sometimes). I always have over ripe bananas to throw in, that gives the smoothie a good base. Then work from there. I do peaches, blueberries, strawberries, apples, even grapes. Then I throw in a peeled carrot or two to add some veggie power since you can't taste it. Fill up the blender to half way with juice or milk and blend away. If I'm using frozen juice concentrate then I don't mix the apple juice before hand, I just scoop out some concentrate and then fill the blender with water.

 If you're doing hard fruits and veggies, having a good blender is a must. After I've made 2 or 3 blenders worth of smoothies I keep about a cup of smoothie in the blender, toss in some baby spinach, kale, zucchini or crookneck and ice and whip up a green smoothie for me. Just so you know, the flavor of the green smoothie gets more potent in the freezer so I hardly ever freeze my green smoothies.
Bagel Sandwiches

  Ok, I've never frozen these before because I only make up six at a time and they'll keep in the fridge the whole week. These are pretty basic. I fry up six eggs, breaking the yolk so it gets hard. I put those on the bagel bottoms then add a slice of cheese. Take some Canadian bacon, ham, regular or turkey bacon and fry that up (optional) and place on top of the cheese. Put each sandwich in a little ziploc bag and your done! Easy peasy and very filling. I've also done this with those multi-grain sandwich thins for those that are watching their carbs.

Baked Veggie Frittata
   This one is mostly just for me because it's so healthy. At the beginning of the week I will saute up some veggies (I love red and green peppers, onion, and zucchini but use whatever suites your fancy) with some olive oil, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp basil and salt and pepper to taste. You could also put some diced ham in there. Divide it into oven-safe ramekins, I use 5 (picture #1). Put the lids on or wrap in plastic wrap and pop in the fridge (picture #2). Each day while I'm getting kids ready and making their breakfasts I turn on the oven to 350°. Pour an egg or two in depending on the size of your dish (picture #3). I actually just use 1/3 cup of egg whites. You can top if with a bit of shredded cheese after it's baked. I don't always, depending on the day. After your oven has heated up, put the dish in there for 20 minutes (picture #4). It's the perfect amount of time to get the kids dressed and make their breakfast, maybe even get ready before the timer goes off.

Muffins
  Any type of muffin will freeze well. I make banana, pumpkin, and apple muffins pretty routinely. I usually don't freeze mine because we eat them so fast. Here's a couple recipes that I really love!



Bran Flax Muffins (sorry no pic)

Pancakes (and French Toast)
I make these A LOT. Pancakes are a staple at my house. On Saturday mornings I go do Bountiful Baskets though and just don't have time to cook up a stack. That's why I love to freeze my leftover pancakes or French toast and then my hubby can just pop them in the toaster or microwave and they are ready for the kids. Try these Banana Chocolate Chip Pancakes, or these Whole Wheat Gingerbread Pancakes, or these Banana Oatmeal Pancakes or these Carrot Cake Pancakes.
 
Breakfast Pockets

I love these Breakfast Pockets from Our Best Bites. The recipe says Homemade Hot Pockets but if you read through her post she tells you how to make them breakfast pockets. She also has freezer instruction but I've learned that if you microwave them for 5 minutes on 50% power they turn out way better. This is another one that we eat for dinner when I'm going through the trouble of making it.


Any other ideas? I would love to hear it!