Friday, December 20, 2013

Grinch Muffins for Christmas

Hi! Its been a while since I have posted. Were you thinking I was attacked by zombies? Little Liam joined our family in late August and since then I have been busy adjusting to life as a mama of two. Pregnancy was hard and draining and now there is this new little guy who demands even more of my time. Most days I find it hard to find time for sleep let alone time to blog so I do kind of feel as if I have been attacked by zombies. Many days I am the walking dead so I have put much of the "me" activities on hold, promising to return to them when I have time.

I have eased my way back into the kitchen over the last 3 months, starting basic with things like my famous pulled bbq chicken and moving into things that are more "advanced" ie require chopping and maybe even mixing! Now that the holidays are here I have tried to attempt to add some fun back into menu planning so when I got the chance to host the holiday party for B's preschool class today I jumped at the opportunity to make something just a little different.

I had my heart set on serving both a healthy and festive snack since we would be doing cookie decorating at the end of the day and I must say I really love how the Grinch Muffins turned out.

2.5 C flour
1.5 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon 
1 C unsweetened applesauce
1 ripe banana
1 bag of prewashed baby spinach

Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake tins

Blend together spinach, banana and applesauce until smooth (I did this in my food processor). Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl and fold in the liquids until everything is mixed well. Fill muffin tins and bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While muffins cool prepare fruit:
Strawberries (slice top off)
Yellow raisins
You can also add an additional slice of kiwi for the face if you want to offer more fruit.

The muffin recipe was adapted from A Little Nosh and The Green Forks

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Becky's Grilled Potatoes

Katie here!  My escapades in grilling this summer continues with this fun take on potatoes.  My husband recently commented that we should maximize grilling out to keep our kitchen cool during the DC heat waves.  So I went in search of some easy way to cook potatoes on the grill instead of using our oven.  Luckily I remembered a great way my sister Becky would make potatoes.  This recipe can be made with or without dairy and has room for improvising.

Baking potatoes
Earth balance, butter or olive oil
Onion, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut slices in the baked potatoes.  The slices should go almost all the way down in the potato, but not all the way through. Microwave the potatoes for 5 minutes. Place each potato on a piece of foil, large enough to wrap the potatoes in.  Place small slices of the earth balance or butter in each of the slits, or if using olive oil drizzle alittle bit in each slice. Season with salt and pepper. Stick a slice of the onion in each slit.  Place the remaining onions on top of each potato.  Wrap tightly in the foil.  Place on grill over medium high heat.  Cook for at least 30 minutes. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Grilled Lamb Chops and Veggies

Katie here!  It's summer and the grills are being fired up all over town.  Honestly I have been alittle weary of using the grill in the past. I love the results but was scared of manning the grill on my own.  My husband is an excellent grill master and over years past has cooked everything that I prepped. I recently was taken under his guidance to learn the ends and outs of grilling.  This week I tackled one of our go-to-tasty meals.  Super easy and really healthy.  My Son devours lamb every time we cook it, so needless to say this meal was a huge hit.  American chops may be bigger in size, but the little New Zealand chops have more powerful flavoring. I used indirect heating on the grill to cook the chops with low heat at the beginning to get the sear marks since the lamb fat tends to make the grill flame up and char the chops.  The veggies were cooked on direct heat.

Lamb Chops:
1.5 lbs lamb chops
5 large sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
Sea salt
Olive Oil

2 medium size zucchinis, thickly chopped
pint of cherry tomatoes
15 - 18 large mushrooms
sea salt
olive oil

Mince the rosemary.  Generously coat the chops with olive oil.  Sprinkle sea salt and rosemary on chops and rub to blend in the flavors.  For the veggies, coat with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt to taste.  String on a skew for cooking (if using a wooden skew, soak in water before hand). Heat grill to medium high heat (I had it around 400 degrees).  Place the veggie skews on the direct heat burners.  Cook the veggies for 10-15 minutes until tender, turning once.  Cook the lamb chops for approx. 5 minutes, turning once to sear on a low flame. If the grill starts flaming up, move chops away from flame.  Turn off burner under chops and cook using indirect heat from the veggies burner for approx. 10 minutes, until desired wellness is achieved.  Remove chops from grill, cover with tin foil and let rest for 5 minutes.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Banana Bread Cookies

The baking problem continues and so I have something to post.

I have gotten to the point where I MUST HAVE cookies daily. Im not talking about an oreo either. I want the real deal. Bakery style, homemade, decadent in some way that cant be good for my health. Thankfully I have found these banana bread cookies which make me feel a bit better about my eating habits because they contain oats, bananas and whole wheat flour which makes me feel as if I am eating something that could at least be claimed is healthy when its really just a butter and chocolate delivery device.

They are, by the way, delicious. Martha deserves an award for these. So give them a try.

1 C all purpose flour
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 C butter, softened
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 large mashed banana ( I freeze my bananas when they start going brown so I used a frozen one that I defrosted and it worked fine)
1 C rolled oats
1 1/2 C chocolate chips
1/2 C of chopped nuts (I used pecans but original recipe called for walnuts)

Preheat oven to 375
Whisk together flours, salt and baking soda in a small bowl. In another bowl (I used my stand mixer) mix together sugars and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue mixing until combined. Mix in banana and flour mixture until it is combined and then add oats, chocolate chips and nuts.

Drop cookies out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-13 minutes. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Coffee Cake: Tastes like summer!

Its strawberry season again and one of my new favorite Memorial day weekend traditions is hitting up the berry patch to pick our hearts out. This year we spent a blustery morning with the entire clan while we were visiting B’s grandparents in Rehoboth. We ended up with a nice haul and I immediately began thinking of how to best put them to use. The result was a delicious Memorial Day Salad, a batch of strawberry Rhubarb syrup and a couple the positively scrumptious strawberry rhubarb cakes.

I am a huge fan of the strawberry rhubarb combination and with my addiction to baked goods haunting over this pregnancy  I decided to give a coffee cake a try. I found this recipe for Rhubarb upside down cake and decided to change it up a bit to fit my needs and boy am I glad I did. It was absolutely delicious! 

4 tbs butter
½ C flour
¼ C sugar

1.5 sticks of butter, melted
1 ¾ C sugar
1 ½ C flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 C plain yogurt
1/2 lb rhubarb, cut into ½ inch thick slices
1 lb of strawberries sliced
½ lemon, juiced

Toss rhubarb and ¾ c of sugar in a deep pan an heat on low for 10-15 minutes or until the rhubarb begins to cook. Add strawberries and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes allowing the mixture to break down and thicken. Set the fruit aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 and begin to make the topping by stirring together the ingredients until it resembles small crumbles.  Butter your pan of choice, I used a bunt baking pan but the original recipe used 9 inch rounds. Dot the entire pan with small chunks of butter (about 4 tbs worth) and then pour your strawberry rhubarb sauce over the butter. The sauce layer should be about 1 inch thick across the bottom of the pan. The remainder can be set aside to drizzle over the cake or other treats later.
Whisk together flour, baking powder and 1 ½ tsp of salt. In a separate bowl add the remaining stick of softened butter and cup of sugar mixing until pale and fluffy. Add in lemon zest and juice and eggs continuing to mix throughout the process. Begin to incorporate flour and yogurt in small batches until smooth. Spread evenly over the fruit mixture and carefully run a knife back and forth through the cake and fruit in a zig zag motion to add a swirl effect. Add crumble topping over the batter and bake for about an hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to cook for about 10 minutes. Tap the edges of the pan or run a knife around to loosen the cake before inverting it on a tray.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dijon and Apricot Roast Beef Sandwiches

When I was in the middle of party planing a few weeks ago I was looking for a preggo friendly finger sandwich to go along with our nursery rhyme theme. I had it in my head that I wanted to use "this little piggy had roast beef" as a food tag line so I decided a hot roast beef sandwich would be just the thing to try. As you know, I am a huge fan of Amber's Ham Biscuits so I wanted to mimic that sweet and savory flavor profile with a little twist.

The result was the most delicious hot roast beef sandwiches I have ever made. Granted, I rarely purchase roast beef so this was no big accomplishment, but they really were amazing. If you are looking for a fun finger food to serve at your next party I would definitely recommend giving these babies a try!

1 lb roast beef (I love the Boar's Head brand)
1/2 lb thinly sliced Havarti cheese
1 large (or two regular) packages of Kings Hawaiian Rolls
2/3 C Apricot jam
1/2 C chopped walnuts
1/2 C dijonaise (half and half mixture of dijon mustard and mayo)
1/4 C finely chopped shallots

Preheat the oven to 325. Mix the jam and nuts together in a small bowl and the dijonaise and shallots in another bowl. Slice the rolls in half and spread the jam mixture on one half of the roll and the dijonaise mixture on the other. Place a slice of cheese on each piece of bread and a couple of layers of roast beef in the middle. Reassemble the sandwiches and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the rolls are golden brown on the top.
These sandwiches can be assembled up to a day ahead of time and then thrown in the oven right before serving which is awesome because I am always a mess the morning of an event.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Truffled Deviled Eggs

A few weeks ago I had the honor of hosting a super cute baby shower for one of my nearest and dearest friends G. She is a super classy and timeless kind of chica so we decided to honor both she and her (gender yet to be determined) bump with a classic nursery rhyme themed shower. Since I am a sucker for a theme we decided to name all of our food items after different nursery rhymes. One of my favorite menu items from the day were these DELICIOUS truffled deviled eggs that I whipped up
the night before the shower and then quickly piped out the morning of. If you are a truffle lover you should definitely give these bad boys a try.

Truffled Deviled Eggs
1 dozen eggs
5 tbs mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp truffle oil (I used white truffle oil)
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp freshly chopped chives
4 pieces of cooked bacon, crumbled
Salt and pepper

My foolproof way of boiling a great egg: Bring a saucepan with eggs covered in at least an inch of water to a boil. Once you see the water boiling (Im usually a little late on this) turn the burner off, cover the pan with a lid and set the timer for 12 minutes. When the timer goes off rinse the eggs with cold water to cool them quickly and you are finished!

Peal the eggs and slice each egg in half lengthwise. Set whites aside and use a fork to break yokes up in a large mixing bowl. Add other ingredients to the egg yokes and mix well. Place mixture into a gallon ziplock bag and refrigerate until you are ready to plate your eggs. Set your egg whites up on a serving tray and then cut one corner of a ziplock bag off with a pair of kitchen sheers. Squeeze the yoke mixture through the hole into your egg white shells and sprinkle with paprika and you have one trufflerific egg!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Old Bay Chicken - Crockpot

Katie here! Okay I'll say it about this meal - Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!  I found a pin on Pinterest for the "Ultimate List of Slow Cooker Recipes" by the blogger Hodgepodge.  So I bit and found an Old Bay recipe for chicken. I'm originally from Maryland and well....I literally start drooling when Old Bay is mentioned. When I say that this was easy, it is an understatement!  We had the chicken as is, but I think it would also be tasty as a sandwich with maybe some coleslaw on it.  I typically purchase frozen organic boneless chicken thighs from Costco and keep them in the freezer for emergency dinners.  This recipe is great for a fix it and forget it dinner.  Below are my exact measurements for the recipe.

2 lbs of frozen boneless and skinless chicken thighs
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 of a large onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp of Old Bay seasoning

Throw all of the above ingredients in a slow cooker.  Toss to coat.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Shred chicken with fork once done.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spring Cleaning - Where to Donate

Katie here!  I recently moved and the months leading up to putting our house up for sale I did a massive purge.  It was insane to see what my Husband and I had been living with for all these years! Items pre-marriage to tons of post marriage accumulations.  Over the years we have held yard sales and given majority of our items to Goodwill. The drop off at Goodwill is just so easy!  But as I started to accumulate odds and ends I wanted to explore other charities in the area too.  Here is a list of charities that I have donated to over the years.  Maybe there are few items laying around your house that you weren't sure whether to trash it or where would the appropriate new home for it be.

Food for Others - Located in Merrifield VA, they collect food for unemployed and low income residents in the NOVA area, among other services.  We all need to clean out those cupboards every once and a while!  Instead of throwing out that unused baby formula or jarred foods, drop them off here, as well as other canned goods, etc., taking up space in the cupboards.  Drop off is quick and easy. Just pull up to their loading dock.  They will weigh the food and give you a donation slip.

Suited for Change - A Washington DC based organization, they help low income women by providing counseling and clothing for career and employment development.  I use to be an auditor and had to wear suits everyday.  Once I left public accounting I had no need for the suits.  Drop off is easy.  They have literally curbside pick up.  Check out their website for their next drop off location.

OneSight - Got out-to-date glasses?  We had 10 pairs! This organization will give your glasses to those in need in poor areas across the world.  For some individuals this could lead to employment opportunities that were otherwise unavailable. OneSight has many drop off locations, such as, Target Optical (in most Target stores), Sears Optical, and Sunglass Huts.  I dropped mine off at Target.  And they will give you the tax donation slip as well. Click on the OneSight link to find a donation center near you.

Falls Church Community Service Council - Got furniture?  This organization provides human services to the poor or disadvantaged in the Falls Church area.  They work with a coalition of churches and human service organizations.  We donated two large couches and a desk to this organization.  They will come to your house to pick up the items. They also accept food, diapers and house supplies.

The Human Society - We have an adorable chocolate lab. And let's be honest she is spoiled.  We have a ton of toys that she has out grown or become disinterested in over the years.  Instead of just pitching them we donated all of her gently used toys, puppy supplies that she had out grown, old bedding, and old towels.  They also have a thrift store that sells household items to help support the centers. I dropped the goods off at the Fairfax Administration Building.

Vietnam Veterans of America - Once we moved into our new house we had a bunch of items that the previous owner had left and some household items that just didn't work in the new house.  In addition we had several bags of clothing to donate.  This organization will come to your home and pick up the items for you. Just go online to schedule a pickup date and leave the items in the front of your house the day of pickup.  They will leave you a donation slip on your door. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Minted Mashed Peas/Soup

Nothing says spring like a beautiful sharp green. I should know this as my name does mean the green of spring. I really do get all giddy when the first flowers begin to push through the ground and we get that vibrant color budding on trees. To celebrate the coming of spring, and those spring holidays, Passover and Easter, I thought I would post one of my favorite easy peasy spring green recipes.
Minted Pea Soup seen here

The first time I served these peas up was to the Mr's family a couple of weeks ago at our Seder dinner. That night I used my original recipe for Minted Mashed Peas which has a much thicker mashed potato consistency and they were found to be an overwhelming success. The dish resembles baby food a bit (which is actually where I got the idea from) but it is absolutely delicious and will surly brighten up any table year round. I froze my extras and used it a week later as this amazing Easter pea soup by adding additional fresh mint and chicken stock. The soup works great as a starter to a nice meal or as a pairing with a spring salad or sandwich.

Original Minted Mashed Peas
2 bags frozen peas
1/2 onion, chopped
1 C Mint, chopped
1/4 C parsley, chopped (optional)
1 C Chicken Stock
1/2 C butter
4 Tbs EVOO

Heat 2 tbs EVOO and 2 tbs of butter in a large pan. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add one bag of frozen peas and season with salt and pepper. When the peas are warmed through pour the mixture into a blender or food processor. Add fresh herbs and slowly add stock until you have achieved a thick soup like texture. Return the original pan to the range and heat the remainder of the EVOO and butter together in the pan. Add second bag of peas and season with salt and pepper. When the peas are cooked through smash them with a potato masher, fork or wooden spoon to break them up a bit. Pour the pureed mixture into the mashed peas and mix everything together. Serve or refrigerate.

Spring Pea Soup

1 C fresh mint
1 Quart good chicken stock

Add additional chopped mint and chicken stock to the recipe above. If you prefer a less chunky soup you can omit the smashed pea step and just blend the entire batch together.