Kale Chips

28 Mar

Kale ChipsWhen I was in elementary school, I used to collect pens. Before you laugh and think I was all nerdy, I used to collect the cool ones. Gel, feather-tipped, pastels, fluorescent…you get the idea. I was pretty cool. I don’t know what it is about pens, but even though I don’t collect them anymore (I promise), I still have a strong affinity for them. Once you’ve loved pens, you’ll always appreciate them I guess.

I think that’s true for food as well. And ohmygosh, you guys. After making these kale chips, I’m converted: roasting veggies really does make them delicious! Remember my faaaavorite Roasted Broccoli I posted a while ago? Well these kale chips, my friend, are of that level. And I’d dare to say that it’s even easier and possibly better because I categorize this as a snack food.

And I love my snacks.

Don’t be dissuaded by the way this looks in a bowl. It may just look like a bowl of salad. Very deceiving. These chips are a finger food, no matter how confused you are when you see them in a bowl. They’re light and crispy and roasted to perfection.

Kale Chips

Spread the kale in a single layer on each cookie sheet.

Kale Chips

Bake to crispy, light perfection.

Kale Chips

 

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No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

20 Mar

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

As I may have mentioned before, we have two long-haired cats. They’re adorable, cuddly, and (mostly) sweet putter tats. But they’re long-haired. Which is basically a nightmare to vacuum/clean/keep from looking mangy. Their long hair also makes them look about 10 pounds heavier than they really are, which in cat-weight is pretty darn hefty looking.

Over the past few months, we’ve toyed with the idea of getting them shaved. I know, I know. It will make them look like weird, little rats, but the benefit of no hair is enticing. But before we could make a final decision on this, the hubs thought he could double as a barber and decided to start chopping their hair off with some scissors. Needless to say, they now have wildly uneven coats of hair. Can’t decide which is preferable: shaved rat cats or Homemade Hairstyles by Hubs.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

Here’s a recipe that doesn’t involve scissors or cats. In fact, it’s so easy that it doesn’t even involve your stove. That’s right, a no-bake beauty with only three ingredients.

I am forever indebted to Tess for introducing me to these devilishly easy “cookies.” They’re the perfect combination of salty and sweet, and who can resist the peanut butter/chocolate combo? (No one in their right mind, that’s who.)

I list measurements in the recipe, but feel free to adapt to however many you want or need at the moment. These are simple, and I’d venture to say a definite staple for your recipe box.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker CookiesThe cast of characters.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker CookiesStep 1 = a no-brainer.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

Make cute cracker sandwiches.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker CookiesDip cracker sandwiches in melted chocolate and top with chopped peanuts for fanciness or leave them plain and smooth.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

Let the chocolate harden up for at least 20 minutes or else you may notice an embarrassing chocolate stain on your face a few hours later when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror.

No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Ritz Cracker Cookies

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Twice Baked Potatoes

13 Mar

Twice Baked Potatoes

These twice baked potatoes are heavenly. Whenever I feel truly proud of something I’ve cooked, I always say, “This could be restaurant food,” because that’s my compliment of choice.

Twice Baked Potatoes

These are full of bacon, freshly grated cheeses, and potatoey goodness, a.k.a. the trifecta of flavors. The original recipe called for sour cream, but all I had was buttermilk, and I’m glad I used it because the potatoes didn’t feel quite as heavy that way. (Still wonderfully heavy, though—don’t get me wrong—just not AS heavy.) Feel free to use whatever cheese and other ingredients you have on hand. These potatoes don’t have to be made with an exact science or precise measurements to taste delicious.

Twice Baked Potatoes

In a large bowl, combine bacon pieces, butter, and cheeses.

Twice Baked Potatoes

After the potatoes finish baking, slice them in half. Use a tea towel to hold the potatoes—they’ll be piping hot!

Twice Baked Potatoes

Scoop the innards into the bacon/cheese bowl

Twice Baked Potatoes

Keep those potato skins nearby.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Add the buttermilk, onion powder, seasoning salt, and pepper, and start mashing and mixing until combined.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Tasty filling!

Twice Baked Potatoes

Fill each potato half with the filling and top with reserved cheese.

Twice Baked Potatoes

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until cheese melts. Ready for scarfing. Continue reading 

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Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

6 Mar

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Did I ever tell you that I hate vegetables? Hopefully I haven’t, because I don’t hate them. But I used to. Oh, how I used to.

As a stubborn, indignant child, I would refuse to eat vegetables at all costs. This would start out as simply as me eating around my vegetables on my dinner plate. Then I would move the vegetables around my plate with my fork. (Because in child’s logic, when you spread them out, they look fewer and farther between, right?) I would sit at the table until everyone else was done and my vegetables were cold. Now cold, they probably did taste almost as gross as I imagined they did.

My utter loathing of vegetables mostly came from stubbornness. But. BUT. I also think there are loads more interesting ways to prepare vegetables than heating up a watery can of green beans (still ick).

Cauliflower is an easy vegetable for me. It’s not a crazy color or a crazy taste. It’s just cauliflower. I was quite pleased when I stumbled upon this recipe because Alfredo is a great addition to most vegetables, and it’s even better that this Alfredo is a healthier version than most out there.

Also, can we talk about roasting veggies for a minute? It makes them soooo good! I don’t know the science behind the roasting magic, but it really does do wonders for vegetables.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Chop a head of cauliflower, and sprinkle with olive oil. Prepare to roast.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Combine ingredients for Alfredo sauce in a small saucepan. Whisk until it thickens.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Heat up those silly frozen peas.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Combine it all in a nice, big bowl. Reserve some of the Alfredo sauce for topping individual portions.

Roasted Cauliflower with Alfredo and Peas

Pat yourself on the back. I feel healthier just looking at this.

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NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

27 Feb

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

So this one night, when my brother and I were teenagers, we were driving home from a dance. (Well, my brother was driving.) It was raining and stormy and hard to see and my brother was jamming out to the radio, singing dramatically, basically every parent’s worst nightmare. We went around a sharp turn way too fast and lost control. I was certain we were going to die. My brother almost killed me. Miraculously, we didn’t die. Instead, we were heading straight for a field with a long row of trees and slid right in between two of them until we came to a stop. He looked at me. I was OK. He was OK. The car was OK. No need to tell the parents, right? Of course right. Until now. Mother and father, my bro crashed your car once.

My brother got married last weekend. It was a spectacular affair. The night before their wedding, my brother orchestrated a concert/storytelling night. There were beautiful songs, and a few stories. He directed me to tell some funny stories about him. I used this moment to tell this car-crashing story that we had sworn each other to secrecy about many years ago. Seemed like an apropos time, right?

You know what it’s also an appropriate time for? COOKIES. More cookies.

I’ve been making this recipe for years, so I thought it’s about time I shared it with you. If you haven’t had the pleasure of tasting the famous NY Times Chocolate Chip cookies, now is your chance. The recipe originally comes from Jacques Torres and was published in the NY Times a whopping 5 years ago. It stands the test of time.

I strongly recommend the use of a kitchen scale for these cookies. I’m guessing great pains were taken to determine the amount of flour needed for this ULTIMATE recipe, so I always use my kitchen scale when measuring my ingredients for this recipe.

This recipe is a bit more involved than your regular, off-the-back-of-the-chocolate-chips-bag recipe. But. It makes them that much better. These cookies don’t get flat. It’s amazing! And the combination of the saltier dough with the dark chocolate is something to be savored. Beware: the dough must be refrigerated for at least 4 hours before baking (the original recipe says 24 hours, but I’ve found an impatient 4 hours works just fine).

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies

Stir together your dry ingredients.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesCombine your butter and sugars.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesAnd eggs and vanilla.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesCombine dry ingredients with butter/sugar combo, and mix for a few seconds with the mixer until partially combined.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesFinish mixing by hand.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesGet your chocolate ready.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesAdd the chocolate to the dough. Yummm!

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesNow comes the hard part. Wait it out while the dough refrigerates for at least 4 hours.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesThen—glorious day—make your large doughballs. About two tablespoons’ worth of dough per cookie!

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesBake to puffed perfection.

NY Times Chocolate Chip CookiesReady to eat!
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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

20 Feb

Coffee Cake

Did you ever have adventures at grandma’s house? When I was a kid, my grandma’s house seemed like a magical place full of mystery and adventure. Going down to the basement was like visiting a 1920s’ speakeasy. Going up to the attic, trying on all those old dresses felt like fashion shopping in France. Piggyback rides on her massive German Shepherd were like riding a grand horse. Playing with the cousins upstairs was top-secret spy business. We usually stayed out of trouble.

But.

There was this one time at my grandma’s house that we tried to stuff me down the laundry chute. All in all, it was a terrible idea. At the time, we thought it was a great idea. And it had to be me to go down the chute because I was the smallest cousin. “Like riding a really exciting slide,” they convinced me. Luckily for me, we got caught in the act of stuffing me in. I probably wouldn’t have survived three flights of a dead drop. But it was exciting. Another adventure at grandma’s house.

Coffee cake screams grandma’s house to me. Fragrant cinnamon and moist crumb cake. Definitely grandma’s house.

This recipe comes from the Joy the Baker Cookbook. A welcome addition to anyone’s recipe library has got to be coffee cake. Any excuse to eat cake for breakfast, right?

Coffee Cake

Stir together your crumb topping. Set aside for now.

Coffee Cake

Stir together your yummy cinnamon filling layer. Set aside.

Coffee Cake

Mix together your butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs.

Coffee Cake

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Coffee Cake

Prepare your sour cream and milk combo. Whisk ’em real good.

Coffee Cake

Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture in 2 additions.

Coffee Cake

Spread half of the cake batter on the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon filling layer.

Coffee Cake

Spread the rest of the cake batter evenly on top of the cinnamon filling layer.

Coffee Cake

Make a few swirls with a knife.

Coffee Cake

Top with the crumb topping and bake for 55 to 60 minutes until golden brown and crackly.

Coffee CakeLet rest for 20 to 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Continue reading 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

13 Feb

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

When’s the last time you got in trouble? I don’t think about getting in trouble much because, hey, I’m an adult, and adults don’t get in trouble, right? Wrong.

Last week while visiting San Francisco, I rode the famous cable cars. I sat on the outside seat so I could get a good look at the city as we drove by and so I could occasionally stand up and hang off the side of the car just like in the movies. While I was sitting down, I casually slung my arm over the back of the wooden seat. The cable car conductor/driver/operator was not having that. He yelled at me to move my arm and waggled his finger at me like I was a naughty kid. I’m pretty sure I was blushing out of embarrassment. But did I learn my lesson? A few minutes later, without thinking, my arm was right back around the back of the seat in a comfortable position. This time, I didn’t get a verbal warning. The conductor swatted my arm off the seat. He actually hit me! I was less embarrassed and more baffled. I just got smacked by a stranger. It was bizarre and weird and a little funny. Mostly bizarre, though.

I prefer not to get in trouble.

If you don’t want to get in trouble this Valentine’s day, try making a delicious homemade breakfast for your loved ones. How about the easiest one there is? I don’t know too many people who turn their noses up to smoothies.

Ever since my husband watched a few documentaries on obesity and unhealthy living, he’s finally come to the conclusion that vegetables are good for you. (Shocking!) Smoothies are a great place to hide healthy veggies. Your kids (and/or spouse) will think it’s a dessert-like snack, but it’s also sneakily good for them. I promise you can’t taste the green veggies at all in this recipe. It tastes like a pure treat!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

Load all ingredients in your blender.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

The greens will take up a lot of room…do not fear!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

Blend until completely smooth.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Green Smoothie

Serve immediately and drink with a straw (duh!).  Continue reading 

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Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

6 Feb

hash brown cakesMan, I love free stuff. I can’t help myself—I’ll do anything for a free treasure or even a free piece of junk (except pay, of course).

I probably discovered the best Twitter hashtag today: #giveaway. This is golden my friends. Golden. I was so caught up in entering giveaways that I even entered to win a homemade, wooden mermaid someone whittled (read: I WAS GOING CRAZY). I bestow upon you this hashtag in the hopes that it makes you as happy as it made me.

I also have a happy recipe to share. This is the first recipe I tried from my Joy the Baker Cookbook that I got as a Christmas present (thanks, hubs! you know what I like!). It did not disappoint. I basically ate these cakes as a savory snack.

I will warn you that they took a bit longer to make than I was anticipating, but once I started, I was all in. Hope you enjoy!

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

Grate your potato and zucchini, sprinkle with half the salt, and drain in a colander for 10 minutes.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

Cook the diced onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil for 5 minutes.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

Add the minced garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown CakesStart the “cake” mixture by combining the eggs, flour, baking powder, and remaining salt.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown CakesFinish making the cake mixture by stirring in the onions, garlic, and drained grated potato and zucchini. Stir gently until combined.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown Cakes

In a large pan over medium heat, drop batter by rounded tablespoons. Flatten slightly with a fork. (If you look closely in the oil, you can see my self-portrait. Eep!)

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown CakesCook on both sides.

Potato and Zucchini Hash Brown CakesTop with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with paprika to make it look pretty before serving. Huzzah! Continue reading 

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Pumpkin Maple Doughnuts

23 Jan

pumpkin, maple, doughnuts

Last week was our big first snow of winter. We got a good 6″ worth. I even got to work from home. It was awesome.

Naturally after a few hours’ worth of accumulation, my husband and I went out to build a massive snowman. We started at one end of the field (yes, we happen to live by a field) and rolled a perfectly round ball of snow the whole way down to the other end, until it was a huge, lopsided, dirt-covered snow boulder. It was a true team effort to make this beast of a snowman. He ended up being over 6′ 2″ (using my husband as a measuring stick). We were pretty darn proud of ourselves.

Not to mention we had jolly good fun. Our walk back to our house resulted in a smash-your-face-in-the-snow all-out fight. It’s amazing how fast the childlike competitiveness rushed back to me after lobbing a few innocent snowballs at each other.

Being a kid was pretty great, wasn’t it? One of my all-time favorite treats used to be doughnuts (“used to be” a.k.a. “still are”). Every time we’d buy doughnuts, I beg my mom to let me buy three. I remember thinking that was a good amount to fill my belly. Nowadays, that makes me feel a little sick to think about, but, alas, those were the days.

This Christmas I got a doughnut pan. I was more than excited to play with my new toy. I found a delicious-looking recipe and went to town. These doughnuts are extraordinarily moist and disarmingly simple. But they’re doughnuts! So impressive! I love that they’re not fried. See? I can be healthy sometimes.

Wet ingredients; step 1.

Stir together your first 3 ingredients.

step 2; dry ingredients

Add the dry ingredients all at once, and mix just until combined. Do not overmix.

fill doughnut pan

Evenly fill the doughnut pan, smoothing the top of the batter.

out of the oven, cooling, wire tester

Bake for 15 minutes, or until a wire tester comes out clean. Let the doughnuts cool for a few minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

glaze, cinnamon

Stir up the glaze.

glaze, doughnuts, setting

Dip just the tops of the doughnuts in. Return to the wire rack until the glaze is set. Continue reading 

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Peanut Butter Cup S’mores Blondies

16 Jan

Well, I’m not much for resolutions. In fact, the only resolution I’ve decided on thus far is to eat McDonald’s once a week. You might be surprised and disgusted to hear this, but I’ll explain my reasoning. First of all, I love McDonald’s. I’m unabashed about that. One time I went on a first date to McDonald’s and I was pumped. Secondly, I used to go to McDonald’s a TON a few years ago. I’d go a few times a week, usually to consume a hot fudge sundae with peanuts (only ONE DOLLAR, PEOPLE) or a cheeseburger and french fries (their french fries really are a league of their own) or a delicious breakfast sandy (“sandy” = cute word for sandwich). Looking back, I realized those were the good ol’ days.

I sincerely hope to get some impassioned responses to my one and only resolution. (Adrianne, you are disgusting or You are going to die a young death feeding your body that crap or Me tooooo, McDonald’s is AMAZE!!)

I realize many of you may feel McDonald’s is extremely unhealthy. So here’s a really healthy dessert option to balance out life. (Not! I FREAKING LOVE DELICIOUS FOOD.)

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

I first had a variation of these PB cup s’mores bars over Thanksgiving, thanks to a sweet coworker. They are seriously addictive and the most pleasant combination of flavors in your mouth. When I started searching for a recipe to base these off of, though, the only recipes I found called for 16 PB cups. 16!! I only had 3 in my cupboard, so I made do with my own little recipe.

The result? Better than OK. Much better. Probably what makes these so great is the browned butter and brown sugar combo. The blondie base is truly delicious, and it makes the bars have a buttery, almost-caramel flavor. To recap: butter caramel flavor + peanut butter cups + marshmallow + milk chocolate + graham cracker = heaven.  Enjoy these addictive little treats.

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

Stir up your blondie dough.

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

Press 2/3 of the dough into pan and cover with peanut butter cups and milk chocolate chips.

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

Add your marshmallow layer, then top with remaining 1/3 blondie dough. (This will not be an exact science.)

Peanut Butter Cup S'mores Blondies

Bake for 15 minutes, then top with graham cracker crumbles and continue baking another 5-7 minutes. Cool until set, then dig in!

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