May 29, 2010

What I'm Doing:

I am at the Casual Blogger Conference with my sister. We are meeting lots of new friends and reconnecting with old friends. I am learning a lot and will share some with you. I hope you have a great weekend!

Hannah and me, having a blast!

May 27, 2010

How to: Freeze Fruits

Have you ever stuck some fruit or something else in the freezer, only for it to come out in a big block and you can't use it until you defrost the whole thing. Well, I have a trick for you!
So I am a memeber of a produce co-op and get some amazing things. I have been gone from my house a little more than normal so I can't use up all the produce before it goes bad. Plus, my husband is gone for the week and can't help me eat it. So I decided to freeze some things rather than letting it go to waste. I love freezing fruit because I can make delicious smoothies later.

How to freeze fruits:

Place items you want to freeze (for me, it was blackberries, strawberries and bananas) on a cookie sheet and place in the freezer until hard.

Remove and place in freezer safe bag.
Not too hard right?

If you are going to freeze something like peaches, mangoes, etc - it works best to cut them up in peices then freeze them. That way they are ready to go into any dish.
For bananas - I just cut them in half because I only use them in smoothies or banana bread (if you use it for banana bread, let them defrost a little. But you could also cut them into slices to make it easier on your smoothie blender.

Other produce that freezes well:
Grapes - these a fabulous mini popsicles (don't thaw great though)
All berries
Brussels sprouts
*if you see it in the freezer section at the grocery store - you can freeze it too.

May 25, 2010

Steel Cut Oats

I am not a huge fan of oatmeal - a little mushy and sometimes gluey. But, I love steel cut oats. They are similar to the flavor of oatmeal, but a much more appetizing texture. I buy mine at a local grocery store in the bulk section. Much cheaper that way.
I love how easy this breakfast is to make and it is so good for you.

Steel Cut Oats
1 part oats
3 parts water
salt (I use a large pinch for every cup of oats)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until liquid has been absorbed (about 20 minutes).
Serve with a splash of milk and your favorite fruits, nuts, or whatever you like!

Today I had mine with peaches, blackberries, and strawberries. It was delicious. Another of my favorite ways is craisens, pecans, and cinnamon.

May 21, 2010

Happy 1st Anniversary

Well, it was one year ago that I started this blog. I started it after some coaxing from my sister. I loved making different foods, and loved beautiful food. (Honestly, I go somewhere fun and the only pictures I would come back with is the food!)
It has been really fun to see the changes over the past year. I have gone from pretty pitiful pictures to pictures I am proud of. I have found, somewhat, my voice. I have grown as a cook and have experimented more than ever before.

Here are some of my favorite moments:
My first post ever - Caramel Cheesecake Flan
Having a pretty nasty Anonymous comment and learning to overcome it with humor. I also learned that women rally together. Thanks for your support. I have learned to not let it bug me.
Showing off one of the dishes I am known for - Dinner rolls and learning a new shape.
Posting about what's in season monthly
My first recipe made completely on my own, no altering or googling of other recipes.

And here are some of my favorite, tastiest recipes:
Zucchini Bolognese
Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Chicken Posole I am actually making this tonight
Mint Chocolate Swirl Cookies
Minestrone Soup
Surf and Turf Steak
Chocolate Souffle
Sweet Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa

Thanks for reading, supporting, commenting, and trying the recipes! I hope you have liked this blog as much as I have.

May 19, 2010

Barley and Kale Soup

It sure was rainy here yesterday. A perfect day for soup. I hope it rains again so you can enjoy this. Mmm. Although, it's good enough to eat even if the weather is nice. I love this soup because it is full of flavor, but I also feel so healthy - beans, kale, barley! Can't get any better or better for you!

Barley and Kale Soup
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
3/4 cup regular pearl barley, rinses and drained
1 15-16 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup dry white wine (if you don't have or don't want to use this, just add another cup of stock)
8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp fennel seeds, crushed
6 cups roughly chopped fresh kale leaves
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 tbsp lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

In a large stock pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add barley. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes.
Add garbanzo beans, undrained tomatoes, wine, garlic, thyme, and fennel seeds to dutch oven. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. over and simmer for 20 minutes. Add kale and crushed red pepper. Cook, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until kale and spelt are tender, stirring occasionally.
Stir in lemon juice. If desired, season to taste with black pepper. Remove thyme sprigs before serving. If desired, sprinkle individual servings with parsley.

May 13, 2010

Salad Spinner Tips

I never had a salad spinner growing up. I thought it was kind of a silly invention. "Why do you need that? Just put your lettuce on a towel!" Little did I know.
I love my salad spinner now. When we were first married I had a smaller bowl, thinking I won't be making salad for more than 2 for a few years. But when we broke it, I was glad I bought this bigger model.

Here are a couple of my favorite things to do with my salad spinner:

1 - Have limpy lettuce? Don't throw it out! I had some spinach the other week sit in a hot car for a little too long. Just put the spinach in the spinner, fill it with cold water and stick it in the fridge for a until you are ready to eat. (This is great for fresh spinach because all the dirt goes to the bottom of the bowl. Remove the slotted bowl, dump the water, and spin the rest of the water out. It works with any lettuce. I just did it yesterday with this Romaine!

PS - if you don't have a salad spinner, you can do this with really cold water in a clean sink. Or big bowl. If you don't have time to put it in the fridge, you can just do really cold water, even ice water for 10-15 minutes.

2- I hate soggy salad. I also hate wasting food. So, here is another great tip. If you have accidentally put on too much salad dressing, put the salad through the salad spinner. Now you have a less soggy salad and you can dump that salad dressing right back into the jar. Beautiful!

Do you have any salad spinner tips?

May 11, 2010

German Pancakes

I grew up on a more fattening version of these pancakes - but really the only difference I notice in the final product is that the top of the pancake doesn't have little puddles of butter on the top. Don't get me wrong, they were tasty, but I like this German Pancake recipe just as much. This is delicious served with those delicious berries that are in season.
This recipe is easily halved - sadly, my baby and I eat the whole half recipe. I put this in the oven when we wake up and by the time we are dressed and hair done - it is ready for us to eat. Mmm. Love a delicious, quick breakfast recipe!

German Pancakes
adapted from
3 Tbsp butter
6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt

Place butter in 9x13 baking dish and place in oven. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine remaining ingredients in blender, blend until combined. Once butter is melted, remove baking dish from oven. Poor in batter. Bake for 20 minutes.
Serve with strawberries, powdered sugar, or maple syrup! (or if you are like my husband, all of the above!)

May 10, 2010

Spring Cleaning

I don't know what it is about this time of year - but everyone seems to be cleaning up, cleaning out, and organizing. Must be the fact that we don't have to be a recluse in our home and can get out and about.
I have read a few blogs and have talked to some friends and it seems we are all doing some spring cleaning - in our homes and in our heads. I see a lot of people setting worthy goals and trying to spend more time with their families. Go you!

This past month has been really fun. I loved exploring new recipes, ideas, products, and restaurants. I also loved seeing some of my loyal reader and new readers win some of those great things.
If you didn't know, my blog is kind of new - coming up on its first birthday. So this past month was a first of its kind. It was not only great to try something new, but I learned a little bit about myself as a blogger. I feel like you and I lost who I was. I felt like I wasn't showing enough of me or my food. I hope you don't mind if once and a while I let you in on a little bit about me, rather than just my food.

Here is the first of that expose:

I had a big change a couple weeks ago. I have always wanted to donate my hair to those who are suffering from hair loss due to chemotherapy. I am the perfect candidate - I have lots of hair (thickness wise I mean), my hair grows really fast, and I don't care about chopping my hair. I think it is such a great cause and have personally seen family members benefit from these types of places. If you follow me on twitter then you already know - but on April 20th, I cut my hair off. Well, about 10 inches off. It was a bit of a shock for me - but it is a fun, more hip 'do now. I hope someone else gets a fabulous new style because of the hair I donated.
Here are a couple of the pictures I took of the before and during... I still haven't taken an after shot. But I will. (Is the suspense killing you?!)

...coming soon: after shots!

May 07, 2010

Chocolate Truffle Cake

My mom, sister, and I are headed for a girl's trip for the weekend. And, typical me, I am so freakin' excited (sorry, I love that clip!) about the food. In honor of our girl's trip I thought I would give you a very girl-friendly dessert: Chocolate Truffle Cake. It is so delicious. So delicious! (The guys will like it too)
This cake is super moist and rich. It is delicious with a ganache glaze if you are feeling up to it - or just with some whipping cream if you aren't.

Chocolate Truffle Cake
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 c butter
5 eggs
1 1/3 c sugar
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 9-inch round spring-form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Butter the paper then flour the paper and pan sides. Cover the bottom of the outside of the pan with aluminum foil so that the tin batter does not leak out. Set aside.
In a medium sized pan over medium-low heat, melt chocolate and butter. Stir until smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale in color. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Then stir in the flour, vanilla, and salt until combined. Batter will be thin.
Pour the batter into the pan. Bake until the cake is set and slightly puffed in the center, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool until warm. Invert onto a serving plate. Carefully remove parchment paper. Let cool completely. This cake can be covered tightly and refrigerated overnight, but you should remove it from the fridge about 2 hrs before you serve it.

May 05, 2010

Cinco de Mayo

I was feeling bad that I didn't have any latin-themed recipe for you. So here is a compliation of some of recipes, incase you need something for your party tonight

Chicken Posole - a delicious, really simple and quick Mexican soup. My husband says it tastes very authentic.
Tex-Mex Salad - a simple salad you can whip up in a flash
Pico de Gallo - yummy salsa
Caramel Cheesecake Flan - I wouldn't leave you without a delicious dessert
Shrimp Tacos with Mango Salsa - make just the tacos or just the salsa, or enjoy them together. mmm.
Cuban Braised Beef - I know, it says Cuban and Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday... but its latin.

Chicken Piccata

Yeah, yeah, I know. It is Cinco de Mayo and I am posting an Italian recipe.  Sorry - I didn't plan well enough ahead. Can I make up for it by telling you this is delicious and fast? Whew, thanks.

Chicken Piccata

2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
all-purpose flour, about 1 cup
6 Tbsp butter
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 c fresh lemon juice
1/2 c chicken stock
1/4 c brined capers, rinsed
1/3 c fresh parsley, chopped

1. Gather all ingredients, chop parsley, rinse capers, squeeze lemon juice, set aside. In a small dish (or cake pan in my case) combine flour and salt and pepper.
2. Butterfly chicken breasts, then cut in half. If needed, pound chicken so even thickness.
3. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour, shake off excess flour

4. In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter with 3 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add 2 pieces of chicken and cook for 3 minutes.
5. When chicken is browned, flip and cook other side for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to cookie sheet or plate. (Can place in warm oven to keep warm, or cover with foil).
6. Melt 2 more tablespoons butter and add another 2 tablespoons olive oil. When butter and oil start to sizzle, add the other 2 pieces of chicken and brown both sides in same manner. Remove pan from heat and add chicken to the plate.
7. Into the pan add the lemon juice, stock and capers. Return to stove and bring to boil, scraping up brown bits from the pan for extra flavor. Add salt and pepper if needed. Return all the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
8. Place chicken on plates. In skillet add remaining butter to sauce and whisk vigorously. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with parsley and sliced lemon.

If you have leftovers, cut chicken into strips and serve on a salad.

May 04, 2010

Modern Myrtle Winner

Congratulations to Jessica Hills! Email me with your contact information within 48 hours!

May 01, 2010

Mimiware Winner

Congratulations to Terri! Email me with your contact information within 48 hours!

NstarStudio Winner

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