Thursday, May 19, 2011

Black Bean, Rice and Sweet Corn Salad

I should work for Cooking Light. I just love their recipes. They are so healthy, creative, usually pretty simple and delicious! Jared and I preferred this one with tortilla chips but it was good as a salad too. I personally want to try it in fajitas, tacos etc. to add a little something extra. Get creative and let me know how you use it!


Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 1/3 cup)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 cup long-grain rice
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup rinsed and drained canned black beans
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Combine 1 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large, heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Add rice to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork.
Combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, juice, oil, pepper, and garlic in a large bowl. Add rice and beans; toss to coat. Let stand 15 minutes or until completely cool. Stir in corn and cilantro.

***I have since added this to tacos and fajitas more than once and IT. WAS. DELICIOUS!!!!! I think my favorite was in fish tacos. Go figure!

Oreo Truffles

I was telling my sister and brother-in-law about these last night and decided that the world (or anyone who ever reads this blog) needs this recipe because some desserts are just worth the calories! My sweet friend and old co-worker, Krista, introduced myself and my fellow co-workers and friends to these amazing little treats at a fund raiser our company was hosting. From that day on, these have been requested at every opportunity any of us could come up with. I no longer work at that job but I imagine they are still the go-to treat for every occasion!

Thanks Krista!


1 package Oreo cookies
1, 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
23 oz. milk chocolate chips (or white chocolate chips, if you choose)
4 Tablespoons vegetable shorting
lollipop sticks (found at a craft store)

Optional topping ideas

crushed peppermint
shredded coconut
candy bar crumbs

In a food processor, blender or by hand, crush the Oreo cookies until all big chunks are gone. (If crushing by hand the bottom of a drinking glass or a pan work well to evenly crush the cookies) Pour cookie crumbs into a large mixing bowl and stir in softened cream cheese until mixed well. Form the dough into little balls (about golf ball sized, or smaller) and place on a wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Cover with tin foil and place cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour.

Meanwhile, combine chocolate chips and veggie shortening in a large sauce pan and melt together, taking care to not burn the chocolate. Once the oreo balls are frozen enough to allow for easy handling, stab the lollipop sticks in and dip each ball in the chocolate, (dip in other toppings at this point, if desired) returning them to the wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Freeze for another hour. Serve chilled, and keep the leftovers refrigerated.

Enjoy in several bites rather than one big bite, I have no idea why but they taste so much better this way :-)

*Other ideas

Try mint or peppermint filled Oreos

For a fancier look drizzle chocolate balls with the opposite color of
chocolate ie: dark chocolate truffles with white chocolate drizzle.

Get creative and make them cute for various holidays

Dip half of the truffles in white chocolate and dye remaining chocolate red. Fill a bowl with white and red truffles to use as a delicious centerpiece for Christmas or a U of U game.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

This one is new tonight, no transfers from the old blog.
I've been craving baked pasta all day today, but didn't want the calories of the cream and butter. I searched the internet and all the healthier versions of pasta called for weird things that I didn't have in my kitchen. Just as I was about to call it quits and begin experimenting...I found, this! It still ahs cheese so I don't think I can go super healthy but it's WAY better than most.

Dinner was inspired by a recipe I found on Food Network tonight. It has been heavily modified but I'll still give them the credit for the idea :)

  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into large strips

  • 1/2 C Broccoli Florets, broken into bite sized pieces

  • 1/2 C sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 C Pearl Onions

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil(or enough to coat vegetables)

  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided

  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence(I didn't have these specific spices so I mixed basil, cilantro, garlic powder and seasoning salt together and made my own "herbs de Provence")

  • 1/2 pound penne pasta

  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)

  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella (smoked mozzarella would be great)

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

On a baking sheet, toss the vegetables with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 20 minutes.

*my amounts are guesstimated as close as I could. My favorite part about this recipe is how easy it is to modify to your situation. Substitute whatever veggies you want/have; squash, zucchini, yellow onions, mushrooms, etc. and add fancy cheeses if you want. The amount of spices needs to coordinate with the amount of veggies, sauce and pasta but everything can be changed to your liking very easily.

This was delicious and very easy. It's definitely a repeat menu item, and that's saying something!!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Coffee Cake Muffins

These muffins were love-at-first-bite! They took a little more time than most muffins, however, TRY THEM!!!
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (we just used white but I think whole wheat flour would be delicious as well!)
  • 3 Tbsp. Brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp. Ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 3 Tbsp. Chopped walnuts or pecans
  • 1 ½ C all-purpose flour (again wheat would work)
  • ½ C granulated sugar (not Salt! refer here)
  • 1 ¼ tsp. Baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. Baking soda
  • ¼ tsp. Salt
  • ¼ C butter
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ½ C buttermilk or sour milk (I used
    dry milk and added just a little bit of lemon juice to make it sour)

  1. Grease 12 muffin cups, set aside
  2. For the topping: in a small mixing bowl
    stir together the 3 Tbsp. Flour, brown sugar and the ¼ tsp.
    Cinnamon. Cut in the 2 Tbsp. Butter till mixture resembles coarse
    crumbles. Stir in walnuts or pecans; set aside
  3. In a medium mixing bowl stir together
    the 1 ½ C flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, the ½ tsp.
    Cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt. Cut in the ¼ C butter till
    mixture resembles coarse crumbles.
  4. In a small bowl combine the egg and
    buttermilk/sour milk. Add egg mixture all at once to the dry mixture.
    Stir just until moistened. (batter will be a little lumpy)

  5. Spoon half of the batter into the
    prepared muffin cups, filling each about 1/3 full. Top with half of
    the topping, the remaining batter and then the remaining topping.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-18 minutes.
    Cool on a wire rack and ENJOY!!!

Tip: mine only made 6 muffins because I
filled my cups WAY too full! They were still delicious but if you
want 12 be careful on how much you fill yours up.

Chicken and Bacon Pot Pie

This recipe is a modified version of a recipe featured on NPR
I have a hard time with pot-pies of any kind because I know how un-healthy they are and just thinking about them adds a pant size to my lower half, however, sometimes a good pot pie just really hits the spot and this one did not let down! If you are going to indulge, and once in a while, you really just need to indulge, this is one recipe that is worth every bite. Mmm, I can still taste the flakiness of the crust and the flavors of chicken and bacon. Dang this one was yummy!!! Enjoy!


  • 3 slices bacon cut into 1 inch strips

  • 1 tsp. olive oil

  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic

  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms

  • 1 large chicken breast cut into 1 inch strips

  • 2-1/2 tbsp. flour

  • 1/4 tsp. dried sage

  • 1 tbsp. butter

  • 1-1/4 cups hot chicken broth

  • 1 tbsp Marsala

  • 1 17.2 oz. package of frozen puff pastry (or make your favorite pie crust)

Thaw the puff pastry according to package directions, and roll it out large enough for a 9 inch pie plate.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large frying pan, fry the bacon and garlic in the oil until the bacon begins to crisp. Add the mushrooms, and cook until softened.

Turn the chicken strips in flour and sage. Add the butter to the bacon-garlic mixture. After the butter melts, add the chicken strips. Cook until the chicken begins to brown.

Pour in the chicken broth and the Marsala. Stir, and allow the mixture to simmer for about 5 minutes.

Line the pie plate with one of the sheets of pastry. Fill the pie plate with the chicken gravy mixture. Dampen the rim of the crust with a wet finger, and place the second pastry sheet on top. Cut it to fit, and seal it with a fork.

Bake the pie for about 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and puffy.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Grilled Vegetables and Garlic Chicken

In my mind this is a 5 star meal! mmm!!!


  • 1 med. eggplant
  • 2 medium Zucchini
  • 1 sweet onion
  • White balsamic vinegar
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese...however much you want :-)
  • 3 tomatoes on the vine
  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Worcestershire Sauce
Sprinkle Sea salt over grill (if using an inside grill). Slice up Eggplant, Zucchini, 2 tomatoes and onion. Lay out on grill and let cook until veggies are done. Turn over. Season to taste with white balsamic and let simmer for a few minutes. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese, let melt then combine in a bowl and set aside. Cook chicken on half of grill over the remains of the seasonings from the vegetables. rub garlic into raw chicken while cooking. cook chicken thoroughly. On the other half of the pan, lay out slices of eggplant ( as many as you want), add one slice of tomato to each slice of eggplant and top off with cheese (my personal favorite is mozzarella but Parmesan was good too). Let grill until eggplant is done and tomato is soft.

In a separate pan melt 1 Tbsp. butter. Saute 1/2 sweet onion until caramelized. Add mushrooms (as many as you want). Let saute flavor with Worcestershire sauce, let simmer.


Goes great with Crystal Light Lemonade!

Simple Stuffed Peppers

This one only gets 2 1/2 - 3 stars (out of 5) you may want to alter it a bit, but at least this is a starting point!


  • 2 Bell Peppers (we used green)
  • 1/4lb Ground Beef
  • 1 Italian Sausage
  • 1/2 Sweet onion
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1/3 C grated cheddar cheese
  • Preheat the oven to 400 Degrees

Peel the skin off of the Italian sausage. Combine sausage and ground beef. Set aside. Heat oil in pan and add onion. Saute until onion is caramelized. Add garlic and saute until garlic begins to caramelize. Add meat mixture and brown. Fill peppers with mixture and top off with cheese.

Bake about 10 minutes.

Hazelnut Cream Soup

This one's from La Tienda

"A light starter with an original flavor. The smoothness of the cream contrasts with the texture of the chopped hazelnut garnish."Hazelnut Cream Soup

Jared and I want to go to Spain more than anywhere else in the world right now. We have been talking about it since we were dating and one day, hopefully sooner than later, we will go and love it. Our budget right now, however, doesn't have a "Spain" section so, I improvised.

I was in charge of one of our date nights and I decided that we were finally going to go to Spain. I made quite a spread of Spanish food and we had so much fun. It wasn't even close to the real thing but we got a little taste (ha ha pun intended!) of our dream vacation.

This was the appetizer, and it was a GREAT start to a very fun evening!

Servings: 4

Prep Time: 30 min.

  • 4 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • 3.5 oz hazelnuts
  • 3 leeks
  • 1/2 onion
  • 6 tbsp oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tbsp single cream
  • Chives and chopped hazelnuts for decoration

Roast the hazelnuts and chop into small pieces. Set aside 2 tbsp and crush the others to a
powder. Wash the leeks and onion and stew slowly in the oil (5 minutes
in the microwave on high). When soft, add the hazelnuts, fry lightly
and cover with the stock. Cook for 10 minutes. Blend, then check for
salt and add the cream. Serve in cups sprinkled with the chopped
hazelnuts and chives.

When we made this it wasn't quite as thick as it was supposed to be. Our guess is that it was because our hazelnuts weren't quite to a powder stage.

Garlic Ranch Burgers

Summer is here and it's time to get that barbeque up and running again. The first barbeques of summer are always so refreshing. It is a sign of what's to come for the next 3ish months. These burgers hit the spot every time and are guaranteed to be a hit at the next bbq! Invite the family over, you'll be the talk of the next family party for sure!

  • 1/2lb ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic

  • 1/4 C Ranch Dressing

  • 1/4 C Flour

  • Salt

  • Pepper

Mix everything together and form into patties. Grill and serve with tomatoes, onions, cheese and lettuce.

***Ideas for next time: add some sauteed mushrooms and use Boston Leaf Lettuce.

Split Pea Soup with Cheddar Biscuits

I was definitely skeptical when Jared suggested Split Pea Soup. This was not something I grew up with and personally it sounded repulsive.
I stand corrected of all of the thoughts I had while Jared cooked this one up! It was delicious and if I like it, you will too! Try it. (In my opinion, the biscuits made this one! Don't forget those! But then again, when will carbs ever lead you wrong?)


  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 Italian Sausages
  • 1 Small Sweet Onion
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Flour
  • 4 1/2 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Split Peas
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Red Tabasco Sauce to taste

In a large stock pot or sauce pan, heat the oil over medium heat. While the oil heats, slice the sausage. Add the sausage to the oil and brown. While the sausage browns, dice the onion. Add the onion to the browned sausage. Cook both together until the onions begin to caramelize. Sprinkle with flour to absorb most of the oil. Stir together. Add the water to the pan, scraping the bottom to de-glaze the pan. Add the split peas. Cover, turn down the heat, and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour (until peas are tender). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red Tabasco sauce.

Cheddar Biscuits

  • 1 Cup Flour

  • 1 Tbsp Baking Powder

  • 1 Tbsp Sugar

  • 1/4 Tsp Salt

  • 1/4 Cup Butter

  • 1/3 Cup Milk

  • 1/2 Cup Grated Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add milk all at once; stir until moistened. Knead in cheese, kneading 10-12 times. Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into biscuits. Place biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Serve hot.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Valentines Day, heart shaped pies on a stick, and some fun gifts!

I had so much fun this year celebrating Valentines Day! Between decorating my house (with my few decorations) and making yummy treats it was a blast, and the week before was very busy :-)
First off, I have to do a quick shout out to my cute mom. She gave me the cutest Valentines blocks and they fit perfectly on my shelf.

Aren't they adorable? I love them! It was also so much fun to pull out my tissue paper balls again. I made these with my cute girl friends back in October. They were hanging above our table for Christmas and it was so fun to be able to use them again!
So, onto the goodies...
I found this fun idea on Our Best Bites and just couldn't resist. They were so fun, I actually made them twice last month. Once on sticks and once smaller, you'll see.

These are individual pies with a delicious glaze that hardens to the touch and makes these babies look irresistible! People were so excited when I gave them out and it was such a fun little project. I did several flavors and types but my favorite was the apple.
*Some other ideas you can have fun with:
Nutella, any flavor jam with chocolate chips, pumpkin?, real fruit - get a few berries in there and seal it up- mmmm!
Here's the how-to...

Sweetie Pie Pops
Recipe by Our Best Bites

Yields 16-18 2" Pops, 6 4" hand pies

1 recipe pie crust (or store bought pie crust dough) - use your favorite

6" lollipop sticks (available at craft stores, including Walmart)

small bowl of water

2 tablespoons butter, melted

Course sugar or sprinkles for top

Canned pie filling, homemade apple below or any other filling you want

Cookie Cutters

Apple Pie Filling (combine all ingredients below):

1 medium tart green apple, peeled and grated

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon cold butter, grated

Glaze (Whisk all ingredients until smooth. Add milk until desired consistency is reached):

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1-3 tsp milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat if desired.
Roll out pie dough on a floured surface about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out
heart shapes (or other shape of your choosing) and place them on your
baking sheet.

Place about 1-2 tsp of filling on one cut out, keeping it at least 1/4 inch away from the edges. Place 6 inch lollipop stick in center of shape, with the top of the stick near the top of the shape.
Wet your finger in a small bowl of water and wet the edge of the pie dough shape. Wet the edges of a 2nd pie dough shape (one without filling) and place on top of the other. Press together gently with your fingers to seal the pieces together. Use a fork to crimp edges, being careful to seal edges around the stick. Poke a fork into top of pie one time so steam can vent. If desired, brush top of pie in melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. (Or leave plain to glaze after)

Bake pies for 15-20 minutes until barely golden brown. Cool for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. If glazing, gently brush or spoon glaze over pies while still warm. Cool completely before packaging. If desired, place in cellophane bags and tie with ribbons and labels.