Cooking with J

J has been clamoring to help in the kitchen lately, so I figured this weekend was a good opportunity to let him help make dinner. We made biscuit pizzas which are super easy (can of biscuits, pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese), and he did a great job! Let J take you through the steps…

First, you roll out the biscuits a bit…

Then spoon and smooth the sauce onto your flattened biscuits: Add your cheese:Bake for minimum time limit on biscuit can (but I typically do 375 instead of 350), and play Connect 4 while you wait:  And then eat dinner while you binge watch Chopped with your Mama (the boys are obsessed with Chopped!):  And then it’s super easy clean up and soon you’re ready for snuggles and finishing the episode of Chopped you started at dinner:

Then the next morning we got up and made a dutch baby pancake. We used Meyer lemons and boy was it delicious!

We also just blended everything in the blender (eggs first, then add your other ingredients):

And then after twenty minutes it goes from this:

To this:

This is such a great dish to make with kids (obviously you have to do all of the dutch oven work because it is so crazy hot), but the effect of seeing it go from a liquid to this huge puffy pancake is a wonderment to watch!

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Barbecue pork mac and cheese

I made this quick spin on our homemade mac and cheese for B and I the other night. It came together in under twenty minutes (you have to have already cooked pork to make it that quick!). If you’re wondering why I didn’t make it for the boys, they don’t like my homemade mac and cheese, they like the boxed kind.

Barbecue Pork Mac and Cheese

  • 1 tbs flour
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 3/4 cup of milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 box rotini pasta cooked to al dente
  • 1 to 2 cups left over barbecue pork warmed (I microwaved it).

Directions

  1. Put rotini pasta on to cook.
  2. Melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Add flour to butter and whisk. Cook for about one minute
  4. Add milk to butter and flour mixture and cook stirring until mixture has thickened (about five minutes)
  5. Add cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat
  6. Add drained and cooked pasta to cheese mixture
  7. Scoop into bowls and serve with pork on top!
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Cookies and baseball

This weekend was warm enough that despite it also being rainy the boys spent quite a bit of time outside. J is busily preparing for t-ball beginning this Spring, and while the boys were outside practicing I took the opportunity to whip up a batch of oatmeal chocolate chunk cookies. The recipe is below! Enjoy!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup softened unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 + 1/8 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 regular size (I think around 4 oz) chocolate bars of your choosing chopped into chunks (it depends on how much chocolate you want….I used about 1 1/2 cups of Hershey kisses that I needed to use up!).

Directions

  1. Cut butter into tablespoon slices and place in the bottom of the mixer. Set your egg out on the counter. Do this first then prep the rest of your ingredients
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt. Set aside.
  4. Crack egg into a small cup and whisk with vanilla.
  5. On medium speed cream butter for about three minutes.
  6. Add sugars to butter and mix until light and fluffy about 3-4 minutes.
  7. Scrape down the sides and then add in the egg mixture. Mix until it resembles cottage cheese (so slightly lumpy, but well mixed).
  8. Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix just a little by hand (so it doesn’t puff out when you start the mixer), and then mix on low speed only until barely blended.
  9. Stir in oatmeal and chocolate chunks.
  10. Bake for seven minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for two additional minutes. Let cool on the pan for 2 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. Will keep in an air tight container at room temperature for 3-5 days. In our house they rarely last that long.

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Simple chili

My favorite chili is simple and straight forward, with not a lot of extra sauce. I’ve found if I make it this way, the boys eat it really well. An added bonus! Here is our current go to chili recipe.

Simple Chili

1 lb ground beef

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can diced tomatoes

1 40z can tomato paste

2 chopped bell peppers (any color)

taco seasoning

1-2 cups chicken broth

Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese and cilantro

Directions

Saute’ bell peppers in 1 tbs canola oil for about 5 minutes. Brown ground beef. Add in taco seasoning and stir. Add in the rest of the ingredients and cook on medium low for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

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Double dark chunk chocolate cookies

Across between a brownie and a cookie, you need these in your life. They’ll go fast!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup Dutch Process Special Dark Cocoa (I use the Hershey’s brand)

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 extra large dark chocolate bar chopped into chunks

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.

3. On medium speed cream butter and sugars together (using a mixer) until smooth (about three minutes). Add eggs in one at a time. Add in vanilla extract. Mix until blended.

4. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture and mix until flour disappears. Stir in chocolate chunks. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoon fulls onto prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.

5. Bake cookies for 6 minutes, then turn the pan 180 degrees and cook an additional 2 minutes.  Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely. Store in an air tight container.

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Spiced chicken with sweet potatoes

Spiced chicken with sweet potatoesThis dinner will make your day! It is so quick and straightforward, with simple ingredients, and everyone in my family gobbled it up.

Spiced Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2-3 sweet potatoes (depending on size)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp of all spice
  • 1 tsp of chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1/4 chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime cut into wedges

Directions

  1. Wash, peel, and cut sweet potatoes into chunks
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a high sided cookie sheet with foil.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, allspice, chili powder, and salt
  4. Place chicken breast in a Ziploc bag, and then add half the olive oil mixture
  5. Place sweet potatoes on a pan, and pour the rest of the olive oil mixture over top.
  6. Roast sweet potatoes in the oven for 15 minutes, while the chicken marinates.
  7. Add the chicken to the sweet potato pan, and cook for another 20-25 minutes until chicken is cooked completely and potatoes are fork tender.
  8. Out of the oven sprinkle with cilantro and squeeze lime wedges over the top.
  9. Serve warm with Hawaiian rolls!
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Santa hat cookies

J is all about the holidays this year, and I’m pretty sure he’s on  a mission to make all the cookies possible between now and Christmas. He wants to help with every single step of baking, which can be a bit challenging, but also terrific. So our first cookie of the season he named “Santa hat cookies” because the cookies have red & white m&ms, and peppermint chocolate chips (just like Santa’s hat, J said).

So here is J’s step by step process. Start with a stick of butter…Santa cookiesWhile it’s softening mix together your dry ingredients…  Santa hat cookiesPlay hide and seek while the butter is creaming in the mixer… img_0933Check to make sure your butter and sugars have mixed completely… Santa hat cookiesAsk repeatedly if you can try one of the candies (and then another, and then another)… Santa hat cookiesPut the cookies in rounded teaspoonfuls on a pan and count them… Santa hat cookiesWait patiently ten minutes for them to cook and another three for them to cool and then wince at your Mom in annoyance as she tries to take your picture while your eating your cookie… Santa hat cookiesAnd that’s it! The complete recipe is below!

Santa hat cookiesSanta Hat Cookies

Ingredients

 1 1/2 + 2 tbs of all purpose flour

3/4 tsp of baking powder

1/2 tsp of baking soda

1/2 tsp of kosher salt

1/4 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of butter at room temperature

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tbs of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of peppermint chocolate chips

1/2 cup of red m&ms

1/3 cup of white m&ms

Directions:

1. Cut butter into tablespoon slices and place in the bottom of the mixer. Set your egg out on the counter. Do this first then prep the rest of your ingredients.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Set aside.

4. Crack egg into a small cup and whisk with vanilla.

5. On medium speed cream butter for about three minutes.

6. Add sugars to butter and mix until light and fluffy about 3-4 minutes.

7. Scrape down the sides and then add in the egg mixture. Mix until it resembles cottage cheese (so slightly lumpy, but well mixed).

8. Add all of the flour mixture to the bowl. Mix just a little by hand (so it doesn’t puff out when you start the mixer), and then mix on low speed only until barely blended.

9. Stir in mix ins.

10. Bake for seven minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for two additional minutes. Let cool on the pan for 2-3 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

11. Will keep in an air tight container at room temperature for 3-5 days. In our house they rarely last that long.

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B’s cheese dip

B's cheese dip B made the best dip last weekend, I had to share! All you do is preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread a layer of refried beans, then one can of rotel, and then a layer of cheddar/Monterey jack in a 9×9 pan and cook for fifteen minutes. Serve warm with tortilla chips, and that’s it!

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Shrimp orzo pasta

Shrimp orzo pastaThis is a dish that is deceptive in its simplicity. It’s one pot, less than forty minutes total, and most of the ingredients you may already have on hand. However, the flavor combinations make it more hearty than a simple pasta, it’s on par with a winter soup, but refreshing in its use of shrimp. You could also use scallops and it would also be wonderful! Perfect for those finally Fall nights, it’s a comfort food we’ll make again from fall into winter!

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Chili on sweet potatoes

chili on sweet potatoesB declared that this meal needed to go on our weekly rotation of meals, which is good because it was really easy to make!

Chili on Sweet Potatoes (chili serves 4-6)

1 sweet potato per person

1 lb ground beef

1 can diced tomatoes

1 yellow pepper diced

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 cup chicken stock

1 tbs chili powder

1 tsp cumin, paprika, and kosher salt

2 tbs tomato paste

Optional toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, green onions, hot sauce

Directions

Cook scrubbed & poked sweet potatoes until done (I did about twelve minutes in the microwave). Brown ground beef and drain off fat. Add all other ingredients and simmer for 20-30 minutes on medium-low heat, adding more chicken stock if necessary. Top cooked sweet potatoes with chili and additional toppings.

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