guacamole hummus.

February 4, 2014 § 2 Comments

I have a simple dip to share with you today: guacamole hummus!  It is fresh, healthy, and pairs as well with veggies as it does pita chips or crackers.  It also really takes just a few moments to prepare, so long as you have a food processor.

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I could (and do) eat this by the spoonful on its own.   It’s tangy and savory–my favorite!

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Guacamole Hummus

Recipe from Shutterbean

What you need:

  • 3 cups fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 15oz. can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 1 ripe avocado, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • sea salt and black pepper

What to do:

In a food processor, combine the cilantro leaves and garlic clove.  Process until finely chopped, then add the rinsed and drained chickpeas and chopped avocado.  Keep processing!  Drizzle in a stream of olive oil into the mixture as it processes, then add the lemon juice.  Keep processing until smooth.  Season with an additional squeeze of lemon juice and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper to taste.  Garnish with additional cilantro, if you like.

In my world, this makes about 2 servings—so if making for an appetizer for a party, you may want to double or triple this recipe.

P.S. Thank you to Kate for the lovely new bowl!

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roasted blue cheese stuffed mushrooms.

January 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

In the spirit of the Super Bowl (um…) and delicious, salty, cheesy foods, I bring you these stuffed mushrooms.

Mushrooms are the perfect blank palette, really.  You can fill them with whatever you want.  I just happened to choose seasoned Panko bread crumbs, garlic, and oodles of blue cheese.

You could choose any cheese you like: feta, Gorgonzola, mozzarella, Parmesan…I love cheese. Sigh.

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Roasted Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

What you need:

  • 8-12 baby Portobella mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • salt and black pepper

What to do:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil.

Clean the mushrooms, and remove the stem.  Place them bottoms up on the baking sheet, and brush the mushrooms with one tablespoon of olive oil.  Then, scoop one tablespoon of blue cheese crumbles into each of the mushroom cavities.

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Disclaimer:  I may have tried to stuff more than one tablespoon of cheese in there.  Sue me.

In a separate bowl, combine the minced garlic and the Panko bread crumbs, and season the mixture with salt and black pepper.   Drizzle in one tablespoon of olive oil and mix well.

Put a spoonful of the breadcrumb mixture on top of the blue cheese in each mushroom cavity.

Bake for 25 minutes—the mushrooms will be tender, and the cheese will be melted.

Try not to eat them all while they are still piping hot…

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These make a great appetizer, but they also make for a pretty easy dinner.  Besides, why would you want to share?  Nom nom…

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crockpot cheeseburgers.

January 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

Ground beef.  It kind of perplexes me.  I hardly ever buy it, cause I don’t really know what to do with it, aside from making traditional beef tacos.  But, Ty came home a few weeks ago with about 15 pounds of frozen ground beef — his share from an auction.  So now I feel challenged to think of how to use it – aside from endless taco nights.

I think I found the answer:  these crockpot cheeseburgers.  Simple?  Yes.  Makes a lot?  Yes, so plenty to eat off of for dinner all week long.  Win!  Plus I love finding another go-to slow cooker recipe.

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Crockpot Cheeseburgers

Recipe from How Sweet Eats

What you need:

  • 3 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • 6 ounces cheddar, cut into small cubes
  • buns
  • other toppings as desired, such as lettuce, tomato, and extra cheese

What to do:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add a drizzle of olive oil.  Put the diced sweet onion in the skillet and cook for several minutes, until it becomes translucent.  Then add the minced garlic.  Cook for an additional few minutes.  Add the ground beef, salt, and pepper, and cook the beef just until it starts to brown.  This will take about 5 minutes.  Transfer the ground beef into the slow cooker, and add the milk, ketchup, and mustard.  Stir in the cubed cheddar cheese.  Slow cook the beef on low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.

I prepared the sandwiches as sliders on toasted King’s Hawaiian buns, with a heaping spoonful of the beef, a little extra cheddar cheese, and some lettuce.

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I’m obsessed with King’s Hawaiian rolls.  They are the best, in my humble opinion.

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What are your favorite ground beef recipes?  I’d love to know.

lemon bars.

January 23, 2014 § 4 Comments

Say hello to one of my favorite sweet treats…

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…lemon bars!

These are deceptively easy to make, even for a novice baker who is still slightly terrified of her mixer.  Ahem.

I am the kind of girl that reaches for the bag of chocolate when I crave sugar, not a doughnut or a cookie.  But when I do crave a baked treat, these lemon bars are it–I love the tartness of the lemon combined with all the sweet sugar.

I keep these lemon bars in the fridge and eat them super cold with a spoon.  To each their own!

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Lemon Bars

(I followed this recipe from Foodie Crush, except with regular lemons.)

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (plus a bit extra for sprinkling)
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 2 cups plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups white  sugar
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a 9 by 3 baking dish with PAM or another nonstick spray.  Set aside.

In a stand mixer, cream the powdered sugar and softened butter until light and fluffy.

Add 2 cups flour and continue to beat until mixed.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and press it evenly into the bottom of your baking dish.

Pop the dough into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until it begins to turn golden.

While the dough is baking, beat the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest by hand or with your mixer, until blended.  Sift in the additional 1/2 cup of flour and the baking powder, and continue to mix on a low speed.  Once the filling is completely mixed, pour the mixture over the hot crust.  Put the pan back in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow the bars to set and cool completely before dusting the top with powdered sugar.

Cut into small squares–I was able to get nearly 25 bars from one pan.

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Yum, yum, yum….yum.

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slow cooker Big Red soup.

January 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am not a Nebraska Cornhusker, aka a “Big Red” fan.  I am 100% a Ohio State Buckeye (and a Kent State Golden Flash every now and then because of my fiancé.)  But I sure do love this Big Red Soup.   The soup may be named for a Nebraska football team, but spoiler alert:  It’s just a simple, tasty slow cooker soup that will keep well in the fridge all week long.

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Slow Cooker Big Red Soup

adapted from Taste of Home magazine

What you need:

  • 2 pounds beef stew meat (cut in 1-inch cubes)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of chopped sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans of tomatoes in sauce (14.5 oz cans)
  • 1 can of low-sodium beef broth (10.5 oz can)
  • 1 can of low-sodium chicken broth (10.5 oz can)
  • 1 can of tomato soup, condensed and undiluted (10.75 oz can)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup of picante sauce
  • tortilla chips and shredded cheese for topping

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What to do:

Drizzle your olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Cook the beef until it’s browned on the outside.  Then, put the beef in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Add all of the additional ingredients, except for the chips and cheese.  Let the soup cook on low for 8-10 hours, until the beef is tender.  Ladle the soup in bowls.

Top with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheddar cheese, if you like.

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I definitely like.

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sautéed salmon with light dijon mustard sauce and toasted breadcrumbs.

January 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

So I just got back on Tuesday evening from a long weekend in San Antonio, Texas.  It was my first visit to Texas, so I was excited to cross another state off my “list.” I didn’t know what to expect, but I really enjoyed San Antonio.  I was totally shocked to see palm trees on our taxi ride from the airport to our hotel on the River Walk.  I guess I didn’t realize how far South we actually were!  Temperatures reached 70 several days, the sky was a brilliant blue–it was lovely.  Our hotel was on the River Walk, which is very neat, lined with restaurants that offer plenty of outdoor seating, and small tour boats that travel up and down the river from early morning to late evening.  I was thrilled because we got to do a lot of walking.  I may or may not have dragged Ty on many a stroll up and down the River Walk.  Stuff a taco in my face, walk a while, stuff another taco in my face… you get the picture.

We ate CONSTANTLY and it was WONDERFUL.  I will be doing a recap of our San Antonio meals at some point.

But right now, we’re going to talk about something else.  Not tacos or chips and salsa–oh so much chips and salsa.

We’re talking about salmon!  The fish I’ve learned to tolerate.  I am not a huge fish fan.  Basically, if I eat fish, I don’t want it to taste like fish.  Which is why this recipe makes me so happy.  The fish is  sauteed in a hot skillet for about 12 minutes, and topped with a light (truly light!) dijon mustard sauce and crispy breadcrumbs.  So many wonderful flavors to distract me from the fact that I am eating fish.  Also, this is a quick fix for a weeknight, especially if you prepare your sides ahead of time.  Like baked potatoes and green beans.  Or some other vegetable variety.

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Sautéed Salmon with Light Dijon Mustard Sauce and Toasted Breadcrumbs

Recipe slightly adapted from How Sweet Eats

What you need:

  • 1 pound salmon filet
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3/4 cup low-fat evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard

What to do:

Let’s make our breadcrumbs!  Heat a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of butter and allow it to melt.  Then add 2 minced garlic cloves.  Let the garlic cook for about a minute, then stir in 1/2 cup of panko breadcrumbs.  Mix well.  When the crumbs are beginning to brown, remove from heat and set aside.

Now let’s cook our salmon.  1 pound of salmon should be two nicely sized filets, about 1-inch thick.  Season the salmon with salt and pepper before cooking.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add two drizzles of olive oil.  Place the salmon in the skillet.  Cook for 5-6 minutes per side; the salmon will brown on each side and be opaque in the middle.

Something like this:

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Salmon just beginning to cook.

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Salmon ready to remove from the skillet.

Once it’s cooked, remove the salmon and set it aside.  In the same skillet, add 1/2 tablespoon of butter, the diced shallot, and the remaining minced or pressed garlic clove.  Stir well for 1-2 minutes until the mixture begins to sizzle.  Now, pour in the white wine.  Let the wine bubble, then whisk in the evaporated milk and Dijon mustard.  Whisk for another 1-2 minutes.  The mixture should begin to slightly thicken.  At this point, give it a taste–add more mustard if you like and salt and pepper, as needed.

Place a piece of salmon on a plate, then pour a generous drizzle of the Dijon mustard sauce over it.  Top with breadcrumbs!

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If you are like me, you will put an obnoxious amount of sauce and breadcrumbs on your salmon.  It’s OK.  It’s delicious!

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Serve it with a green veggie, and perhaps some potatoes.

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This is good.  Really good.  Trust me.

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Italian wedding soup.

January 8, 2014 § 1 Comment

Folks, I just have one more meatball-related recipe for you – Italian wedding soup!

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When I was a kid, I thought this was a soup that Italian people ate at weddings.  Seems logical, right?  Well I just Googled wedding soup and learned that “wedding soup” actually means “married soup”—referring to the marrying of the flavors of green vegetables and meat.  Now you know.

Typically, this soup contains some sort of green leafy vegetable, such as escarole or spinach or curly endive, and meat – usually a small meatball made of beef and pork, cooked in a chicken broth.

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Chances are, you’ve had this soup before.  You’ve probably had several varieties.  For this soup, I used my own Italian meatball recipe.  I rolled smaller meatballs with this soup in mind, but you could totally cut larger meatballs in half or quarters.  Otherwise, I loosely followed Giada de Laurentiis’s recipe, with some minor changes and some additions to make the soup more hearty.  This girl needs sustenance!

A quick note:  You can really play with the ingredients of this soup.  Add as many meatballs or as much shredded chicken or as much pasta as you like, etc.  You get the idea!

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Italian Wedding Soup

What you need:

  • 20  small Italian meatballs, or several large meatballs cut into small pieces
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, shredded
  • 12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups of small pasta shells
  • 1 pound spinach, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, plus extra for topping
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

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What to do:

If your meatballs are not already prepared, make them! Otherwise, make sure you have the cooked meatballs ready to go.  If using meatballs that were previously frozen, I suggest defrosting them before adding to the soup.  Also cook and shred your chicken breast.

Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large stockpot over medium heat.  Season the broth with the dried basil, salt, ground black pepper, and dried oregano, or an Italian seasoning blend of your choice.  Add 2 cups of small shells to the pasta and boil for 8 minutes, until pasta is tender.  Now add the meatballs and the chopped spinach to the broth.  Cook for 5 minutes, then lower the soup to a simmer.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and the Parmesan cheese until blended.  Slowly drizzle the egg mixture into the soup, while continuously stirring the soup in a circular motion.  By stirring gently, you will form thin strands of egg in the broth.  This should take about 1-2 minutes.  Add the shredded chicken and stir well. Taste the soup, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

Serve in bowls topped with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Note:  Don’t be alarmed if your meatballs crumble while simmering.  Mine became so tender that they broke apart easily while I stirred the soup.  This is a good thing!

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