Simple summer dinner

While I love trying new recipes, I also love enjoying the simplicity of summer meals.

Fresh, scrubbed, and poked sweet potatoes roasted at 350 degrees for an hour and a half

Sweet potatoes

Ripe apricots, washed, halved and pitted, tossed with a bit of sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon and roasted in the same oven with the sweet potatoes for 30 minutes:IMG_2438

A NY Strip Steak prepped with just a bit of steak dust and Worcestershire and grilled to medium:IMG_2444

Lemon blueberry bars, prepped early in the day and chilled:Lemon Blueberry Bars

The bars are sweet, but not overpowering and the blueberries add this really interesting twist. All very simple, all very delicious!

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PB&J Smoothies

This is a really simple recipe that A and I whipped up this morning because he “wanted something CRAZY” for breakfast. So I made these smoothies that he ate along with some fruity pebble cereal. Crazy, indeed.

So here are your basic ingredients:

PB&J Smoothies: Cupcakesandcommentary Milk, 3 oz yogurt, peanut butter, banana, and either jelly or jam (not pictured). A picked apple jelly, but I added raspberry jam when I re-tested it and it was good!

And you also need a blender. The most important thing to making this is to put the jelly or jam in first and blend it for a good 30 seconds to a minute because it will break down the jelly/jam so you won’t have chunks of it in the smoothie.

IMG_2383 Then you just put in the rest of the ingredients and blend it up!

And while your at it you might want to get some for the kid yelling from the highchair:

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And at our house we serve smoothies in Star Wars cups with neon green straws. How we roll, that is.

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Smoothies. J approved. One toothy smile up!

PB&J Smoothies: CupcakesandcommentaryAnd here is a little sample shot. The left is the raspberry, the right is the apple, and the recipe is below! Enjoy!

PB&J Smoothies
Nicole: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 sliced banana (the riper, the better)
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 1 3 oz container of yogurt (we used vanilla)
  • ¼ cup of smooth peanut butter
  • ¼ cup of jelly or jam (we used apple jelly for one and seedless raspberry jam for another)
Instructions
  1. Blend jelly (or jam) until broken down (about thirty seconds to a minute). Add all remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Serve immediately!

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DIY Popsicles

DIY Popsicles

This was one of our long weekend adventures. It is relatively easy to do (unless you overly complicate it, as I did), and you can use popsicle molds if you have them, or you can just use dixie cups and popsicle sticks.

We tried three different combinations (at A’s choosing):

Cherries + Cucumbers + Yogurt + Coconut Milk

Cherries + Coconut Milk

Lemonade + Cherries

Oh and please do not think my children eat up vegetables, they do not. I made A choose a vegetable and he picked cucumber.

If you want to layer it we poured the first layer then put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes, then do the same for the second and third if you have those layers.

I stemmed, pitted, and cooked the cherries down (similar to my cherry turnovers) and then let it cool until room temperature. Then I blended it with a seeded and chopped cucumber. You can also use a jar of cherries or cherry juice.

They need to freeze for about three hours.

DIY PopsiclesThis is them setting before the last layer and before we put the sticks and tops on them. Don’t forget to do that!

While A is showing off the yogurt, coconut milk, cherry, cucumber combo; he said the lemonade was his favorite.

DIY Popsicles

However, J LOVED that cucumber combination:

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Even though I have no idea why….I thought if you mixed in the cucumber it would not have a taste and was totally wrong. Cucumber does have a taste and you could taste it in the popsicles….which I did not care for. I particularly liked the cherries and coconut milk combo (Half cherry juice/half coconut milk). I know A really liked making them, so we will definitely do it again later this summer. I want to try these ice cream ones from Pioneer Woman for A and these margarita ones for the adults. Yum!

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The power of yogurt and pizza

I have found that there are two foods that I can serve in pretty much any way and style and the boys will eat: yogurt and pizza. The boys will both eat the spectrum of yogurt from greek yogurt, to fruit mixed yogurt, to cereal mixed yogurt, to yogurt with veggies, and so on and so on. It’s one of my favorites to find when we are traveling because I know that they will both eat it in any shape or form.

A’s current favorite is Yoplait Cars Vroom Vanilla:

Very Vanilla And J’s current favorite is Stonyfields Yo Kids Raspberry Greek Yogurt:IMG_2247

I tried to get a picture of the face he makes when he eats it because apparently it’s quite tart. He scrunches up his eyes and puts his hand on his head, like he has a brain freeze, but then he always wants more! Silly boy!

The second item that I can switch up and mix up is pizza. A and I made pizza last week and we used the following toppings:

Pizza IngredientsRagu pizza sauce (A’s request), mini pepperoni’s, sliced fresh spinach (from our potted garden!), provolone, sharp cheddar, and mozzarella cheese.

I made the crust using this recipe from Lauren’s Latest, and we cooked it at 500 degrees for about 9 minutes on a pizza stone (it’s faster than you can make a Totino’s pizza…just saying):IMG_2217

And the boys ate it up! Yum! A told me next time he wants to try artichoke hearts and fresh parsley. What I have found is that if he thinks of the item and helps me make it he will eat it. Although I still am not sold on his peanut butter and cheese pizza idea. 🙂

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The Christmas Countdown Extra: Molasses Crinkle Top Cookies

These cookies just remind me of Christmas. I remember making them when I was in high school with a friend and I kept the recipe. I still have the recipe on the same little blue post it I wrote it down on. Sooo….on the longest day ever (Fall Back Sunday), A and I made the cookies and I didn’t have the shortening. So we used applesauce. And they were gross. So my husband offered to run to Wal-Mart and get shortening. And I finally re-made them on Wednesday with A. SO much better. The moral of the story is: don’t believe the “internets”. HA!

OH and they were the fodder of a quote that my husband will go down in history as saying:

A: Daddy do you want to help make cookies?

B: Sorry, dude. I don’t make them. I just eat them.

True story.

Here is the recipe picture story:

Dry Ingredients:

Flour, Baking Soda, Salt, Cinnamon, Cloves, and Ginger

And these wet ingredients:

A Helper, egg, shortening, sugar, and molasses

You’ll combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and sift to make sure they are well combined. In your mixing bowl you will combine the sugar and shortening and mix on low to medium speed until combined. Then you’ll add in the egg and blend well and lastly the molasses. Then while on low speed you will slow add in the flour mixture being careful not to over mix (I do it a ladle full at a time).

By far A’s favorite part. Sitting on the counter and watching the items mix together.

Then using a cookie scoop put them on a cookie sheet that has either parchment paper on it or a silicon mat:

I place them about an inch to an inch and a half apart (they don’t spread a whole lot), and I use a tablespoon size cookie scoop.

Then bake them off in a 375 degree preheated oven for about 8 minutes. DO NOT overbake! They will come out hard and yuck, instead of crunchy with a soft center.

After they come right out of the oven they should look like this:

Puffy and golden, and a little more golden on edges.

Let them cool on the cookie sheet for three minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to let them cool completely.  But before you do you need to eat at least one or two warm…sooo yummy. Anyway. Then they will look like this:

See how the top looks broken? That’s why they are called Molasses Crinkle Top Cookies.

Now stack ’em up on the plate and eat them!

Delicious by themselves or dipped in coffee or my favorite Trader Joe’s Chai Tea. Yum!

Here’s the written out recipe…enjoy!

Ingredients (Makes about 2 dozen)

3/4 cup shortening

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 tsp baking soda

2 cups flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp clove

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat (I love Silpats!).

In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, clove, ginger, and salt. Set aside

In a mixing bowl, using an electric mixer beat together shortening and sugar until creamed. Add in egg on low speed and mix, then add in molasses and mix. On low speed slowly add in sifted ingredients mixing until just combined. Then using a tablespoon cookie scoop place dough on cookie sheet about an inch a part. Bake in oven for about 8 minutes (don’t over bake!). Let them cool on the pan out of the oven for about three minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an air tight container (my Nannie always used to through in a slice of bread to keep the cookies from getting stale…and her cookies were never stale. Just saying).

 

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Shrimp and Scallop Cocktail and Roasted Potatoes

I whipped up this tasty treat on Saturday night before our dinner and movie with A. A had popcorn shrimp with waffle fries, and we had shrimp and scallop cocktail with roasted red peppers.

It was from my new cookbook that my husband got me for Valentine’s Day “Mexican Made Easy” by Marcela Valladolid.

You can find the recipe for the shrimp and scallop cocktail by following this link. The cocktail has clamato juice in it, it may sound strange but it was tasty, and you can find it at Publix. It is a bit spicy, if you want to reduce the spice, add a bit less of the serrano pepper and half of the hot sauce, but I have to say the spice is what makes it so good.

The roasted potatoes with chipotle butter were a slight deviation from the original recipe in the cookbook. Here is what I did:

I roasted quartered red potatoes (dressed with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper) on a high sided baking sheet at 350 degrees for about twenty five minutes. I mixed a half stick softened butter with one canned chipotle pepper that I had minced. I then put the butter in the fridge for about a half hour to forty five minutes, then topped the finished potatoes with the butter.

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Two Wraps One Picture

I can’t remember if I have posted these recipes before, but if you come over to my house for lunch sometime this is probably what we will have if I have all the ingredients (which I usually do!). I do not care for sandwiches, so I make a lot of wraps. I am constantly tweaking one basic recipe (the turkey wrap) with what I have in my fridge. Here is the base recipe (the turkey wrap) and one of new additions.

Turkey Wrap (inspired by my favorite at Amsterdam’s in Auburn)

Ingredients (I don’t have “amounts” listed, for each wrap you will need one flour tortilla, two slices of turkey, two slices of cheese and one romaine lettuce leaf)

– Flour tortillas (I like Aztec’s medium size tortillas)

-Light Cream Cheese

-Turkey (I get honey maple boar’s head)

-Sliced cheese (I like either white American cheese, provolone, or even pepper jack)

-Romaine lettuce

-Ken’s Steak house light honey mustard

Directions:

-Spread a thin layer of cream cheese on tortilla, place two slices of turkey, two slices of cheese, and one romaine lettuce leaf. Roll and slice diagonally. Dip in honey mustard.

Chicken Salad Wrap

Ingredients (For each wrap you will need one flour tortilla, one romaine lettuce leaf, two slices of cheese, and a few tbs of chicken salad)

-Chicken Salad

-Romaine Lettuce

-Provolone cheese

-Flour tortilla

– Light cream cheese

Directions

Spread thin layer of cream cheese on flour tortilla, then layer with two slices of cheese, one leaf of romaine lettuce, chicken salad in the middle, then roll and cut diagonally.

Chicken Salad Recipe (will fill about four wraps)

– 2 cups of cooked shredded chicken (I used left over chicken from making quesadillas that had been marinated in mesquite lime marinade…it was quite tasty)

– 1/3-1/2 cup of mayonnaise (this is a personal decision for how mayonaissey you like your chicken salad)

– 2 tbs of dijon mustard

– 1/4 tsp of salt and pepper

– 2 celery stalks finely minced

Directions

Mix all ingredients together! When making chicken salad it really is a personal choice of how dry or wet you want your chicken to be. I like mine somewhere in between.

For more information on my fine china please consult the Up and Up brand of paper plates at Target. HA!

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French Dip Croissants with Homemade Au Jus

I found this recipe on Pinterest. I was particularly excited about this recipe because it comes with a recipe for homemade au jus sauce. I stopped getting the canned au jus when I read on the package that it has MSG in it. We have had just beef broth with our french dip sandwiches in the past, but this was much tastier.

French Dip Croissants with Homemade Au Jus

It makes me laugh that somehow whenever I take food pictures I am still using the dishes my sister gave me from college. And the reflection of the light in the sauce is so lovely! We’ve had a lot of spinach salad this past week, obviously. The only thing I would do a little differently was the croissants were not quite cooked enough. Next time I am going to try lowering the temperature twenty five degrees and cooking an extra five minutes.

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Chicken Stew and Spinach Salad

I found this recipe while cleaning out our junk drawer, it came with my dutch oven I got for Christmas last year. What I really like about it is that you slide the chicken breasts in and essentially poach them in the stew for most of the cooking time. Doing this really kept the chicken moist and tender (something that I often find is lacking in soups and stews with cut up chicken).

The chicken stew is a Giada DeLaurentiis recipe and you can find it here. I paired it with a spinach salad (baby spinach, croutons, mandarin oranges, and honey mustard dressing), and Sister Shubert rolls per my husband’s request!

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