Thursday, June 27, 2013

 

Lemony Orzo Pasta Salad



 Citrus is the perfect flavor to add to your summer menus. It is such a light and refreshing flavor and it is easy to add in any dish. The lemony zing in this pasta salad is a perfect summer side dish. While making the rounds at summer BBQs, there is always a pasta salad. After the first few times I eat it during the season I get a bit bored with it. This is a delicious variation that you and your potluck companions will love.

Ingredients

1/2 lb orzo pasta
3 Tablespoon Olive Oil, divided
1/2 white onion, diced
2 zucchini, diced
1 clove of garlic, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
zest and juice of two lemons
salt and pepper, to taste




 Orzo is a rice shaped pasta that cooks quickly and adds a fun twist to the salad. Cook the orzo according to the package directions until al dente.


While the pasta is cooking, saute the onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil until it is tender.  I added a bit of salt and pepper in this step to help soften and season the onion.


 Once the onion is softened, add in the rest of the veggies. You want the zucchini and carrots to still be a little crisp. I like to add the garlic in at this stage since it can easily become bitter if it is cooked for too long.


 Once the veggies are tender, place them in a large bowl. Over the top add in the lemon zest, juice and the rest of the Olive Oil. Combine this very well and add in some more salt and pepper if it is needed.


Serve this along side your favorite grilled meat or just add chicken for a complete meal, you will love it!

Monday, June 24, 2013

 

Cheesy Pull Apart Bread



 Appetizers are something I always look forward to but I don't typically have a lot of recipes for. Sometimes a group of girls just need a little something to nibble on while they hang out and chat. This perfect for that very thing! Not to say that a group of men wouldn't like it for when they howl at the moon, because I'm pretty sure they would love it. I made this last week for some friends and it was gone in just a few minutes. It really is a super tasty combination of crusty garlic bread and cheesy goodness all in a fun to eat package.

 Ingredients

 1 large loaf of crusty bread (I used my Magic Bread Recipe)
8 oz cheddar cheese, sliced or shredded
1 tablespoon of butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder




Let's talk about this bread business first. A French or Italian loaf would work great, just make sure it is a sturdy bread that won't fall apart. My Magic Bread Recipe is perfect for this No floppy white bread here!



Take the bread and slice almost all the through it in one direction. 


You want the slices deep enough to hide some yummy cheese, but not so deep that it falls apart. Leave about 1/8th inch on the bottom like this. 


 Cut slices in the opposite direction in the bread so it creates diamond shaped pieces. You could certainly do squares, but this looks really pretty. 


Go through each of the folds and sprinkle a bit of cheese. This is where sliced cheese is easier. I will say it seems like the cheese globs up and makes the bread greasy if the slices are too thick. And shredded cheese is bound to get on the outside and bake into the crust. How terrible is that?


 Once all the cheese has been placed into the slices of the bread, slather on the butter and sprinkle the garlic powder over the top. It adds a nice golden crust with an extra punch of flavor. 


Bake the bread for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and oozy. You and your family will love this bread transformation!

Thursday, June 20, 2013



 Mexican Stuffed Shells

 Is there anything better than a casserole? I would have to argue that casseroles are some of my favorite foods. They are quick to put together, easily portable and crazy delicious. This is a new favorite casserole of mine. Its everything I love about a casserole with a spicy cheesy flavor. Mexican Stuffed Shells are pretty easy to make and can be frozen for later, making it a speedy dinner idea. 

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 jalapeno, chopped finely
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
1/2 lb large pasta shells, cooked
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups enchilada sauce, divided



Start by browning the ground beef along with the onions and jalapenos. Add in the taco seasoning and cook until the meat is browned and the veggies are tender. 


 Turn off the heat and add in 1/2 cup of cheese and 2 tablespoons of the Enchilada sauce.


Take the meat mixture and fill the pasta shells with it. The shells should be cooked, but not mushy. I start by putting a little bit of the Enchilada sauce in an oven safe dish, and then arrange the shells close together. 



 
 Cover the shells with the remaining sauce and cheese. Make sure they are all covered so the edges don't get dry.









 Bake the shells in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the center bubbles.

Monday, June 17, 2013



Ice Cream Sandwich Cake


 I love having people in my home and making them my guinea pigs for my silly little blog. Recently I was going to bake a treat for some friends, but this was a terrible plan. The thermostat for summer in Colorado has been racing to the top and  baking is not the best idea. My recipe needed to bake for over an hour. Regardless as to how good it would have tasted, it wouldn't have mattered as my guests wold have melted into puddles in my living room!

A backup plan was desperately needed, and this is an easy one. I swung by the store and picked up some ice cream sandwiches. A humble but fantastic dessert everyone loves. I combined these in layers with caramel sauce, whipped topping, and chopped almonds. It was delicious! This is a great dessert to keep on hand or take to a summer soiree you have in your future.

Ingredients

1 box (24 count) vanilla ice cream sandwiches
1 16 oz container of whipped topping
2/3 cup caramel ice cream topping
1 cup chopped almonds



Unwrap and place half of the ice cream sandwiches into a 9 X13 pan. Depending on the size and shape of the sandwiches, you may need to cut and squish them to fit. 



Spread half of the whipped topping over the sandwiches. I may have put a bit less than half to make sure there was plenty to spread over the top to make it nice and pretty. Drizzle half of the caramel and the chopped almonds over this. Make sure each bite gets a good amount of everything.


Unwrap and place the remaining ice cream sandwiches over the ooey gooey toppings. This layer will probably squish really well. Just try to fit all the spaces of the pan. 


Spread the remaining whipped topping over the top and throw on the rest of the caramel and almonds. I used salted and roasted almonds and it was a delicious sweet and salty combination. 


Place the cake into the freezer for at least half an hour before serving so all the toppings will mix together nicely. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013


 Apricot Mustard Chicken

 "I don't need to write that down, I'll just remember it." I say this frequently but it's not often true. I came across a scrumptious looking picture of a chicken dish and I wanted to make it. After not writing it down, the only things I really remembered about it were the Apricot Preserves and the mustard. 

Despite my not writing anything down, this came out deliciously! The chicken was tender, moist and oh so flavorful. This would also work well with pork or other cuts of chicken. If you are grilling, you could just take the Apricot sauce and baste the chicken on the grill. Either way you cook it, the sauce has a sticky and well developed flavor. Try this out soon!

Ingreidents

4 chicken breasts or thighs ( I used a combination)
2/3 cup of apricot preserves
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard



Start by slowly melting the preserves over low heat. Then add in the soy sauce and mustard. Stir this well. 


Brown the chicken on both sides, preferably in a pan that can go in the oven. Since I used a combination of breasts and thighs, I cooked the thighs for about 10 minutes longer here.


 Once the chicken has been browned on both sides, pour over the sauce. If you are not using an oven safe pan, transfer the chicken to a baking dish and then pour over the sauce. I like to turn the chicken over a few times to make sure it is well coated.

 

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until the top is brown and the chicken's juices run clear. 


 Serve this over warm rice, pasta or at least with some good crusty bread to soak up all the sauce. This is a delicious chicken dinner idea!


Monday, June 10, 2013


Fried Corn Salad


 
Potlucks are always a gathering of friendly faces and delicious dishes. It's so fun to see what other people bring and enjoy tasting it. "Fried" and "Salad" are not words that usually go together, but I think they should always be added to a potluck menu. Especially if the things being fried are bacon and corn. I brought this side dish to a potluck recently and I knew people would love it. This is really tasty with any combination of other salads or meats. It's also really convenient since it can be served hot, cold, or anywhere in between. 

I of course made this rather last minute (Procrastination will be the death of me) and didn't get a chance to get the real recipe I was wanting to make. My mom made a salad similar to this a few years ago for a BBQ from a Taste of Home magazine recipe. It has been one of my favorites ever since. It has a few differences due to my bad memory. The important parts are for sure there: corn, bacon, and peppers. Try this easy recipe out soon!

Ingreidents

8 slices of bacon, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 white onion, chopped
2 16 oz bags of frozen corn
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons of chopped cilantro (optional)



Start  by browning the bacon in a medium saucepan. I have always hated chopping bacon since its slimy texture makes it difficult to cut. Linda, from My Kind of Cooking posted a tip on using kitchen shears or sizors to cut it instead. I used turkey bacon here, but I would use regular if you have it. I ended up adding a little butter to the pan to help fry the next ingredients, but you shouldn't need to if you use regular bacon


Add the onion and bell pepper and allow this to soften. I also sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper on this as well. 


Once the pepper and onion are soft, add in the corn. The corn can be frozen or thawed. Cook this until the corn is heated through and mix well. Then sprinkle on the cilantro if you are using it. 



















Add this to your go to menu for BBQs, potlucks and dinner sides, you will love it!

Thursday, June 6, 2013


 Green Coconut Iced Tea



Summer is approaching and so are warmer temperatures! I love tea of all kinds, but as the season gets a little balmier it just doesn't sound as good. This is the perfect time to experiment with different types of iced tea. I am normally a black tea fan, but I thought something new sounded delightful.

Sweetening iced tea can be a difficulty. Adding sugar to a glass is a guarantee to watch a granulated tornado spin around and around as your stir.  Most fancy cooking experts would say to make some simple syrup and add it in. While it's an easy step to sweeten, it is also a missed chance to add in more flavor to the tea. I found it is easier and much tastier to use coffee flavoring syrups. Try out this easy process for 2 quarts of perfectly flavorful iced tea.

Ingredients

4 bags of plain or flavored green tea ( I love the Harney and Sons Green Coconut Tea)
6 cups of boiling water
2 cups iced water
1/3 cup coconut flavored coffee syrup



Add the boiling water to a large pitcher and throw in the tea bags. Let the tea steep for about two minutes, but not much more. This is not a set it and forget it type of thing. If the tea steeps for too long, it will be really bitter.


Once the tea has steeped, take out the teabags and add in the very cold water and coconut syrup. Stir this really well and allow it to cool in the refrigerator for a few hours. If you are in a hurry, serve this over a tall glass with lots of ice. 


 If you prefer to sweeten by the glass rather than the whole pitcher, just add a tablespoon or so of the syrup to each glass. Enjoy!




Monday, June 3, 2013


Lemon White Chocolate Shortbread

 Shortbread is one of those things everyone should know how to make. It's crispy, buttery texture makes it the perfect cookie or crust for so many desserts. This is a really good basic recipe with a twist. Lemon zest in the cookie and in the white chocolate topping make it really special.These are great cookies for an exchange or even a picnic. Not only are they delicious, they are super easy to make. 

Ingredients

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks) softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

White Chocolate Glaze
6 oz White chocolate chips
zest of one lemon




Make sure the butter is super squishy and room temperature before you start.  Combine the butter, sugar, and lemon juice until it's really well combined.


Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir only until it's combined. If you continue the stirring game it won't be as tender. 


Form the dough into tablespoons and place them on a greased cookie sheet. I like to press the dough to flatten it a little for even baking. 
 

Bake these at 350 degrees for about 15  to 20 minutes or just until the edges are lightly browned. 
 

Let these little beauties cool off before putting the glaze on them. Even if you are a tough cookie, it will be difficult to keep the chocolate on the shortbread. 
 

 Place the chocolate chips into a a container that is deep but narrow. This will help give you a really good pool of chocolate to do some dunking in. A very small coffee mug works well for me but you can use whatever works best for you. 

Microwave the chocolate chips in 20 to 30 second intervals. After each 3o seconds, stir well. Stop heating the chips once they are melted but not completely smooth. Once the chocolate is melted, add in the zest.


Take the cooled cookies and dip one half in the chocolate mixture to create a thin layer. If your chocolate cools too much you can add some milk and reheat it if you need. Let the chocolate cool before storing in an airtight container.