Friday, January 31, 2014

Roasted Vegetable Pizza

Happy Friday! It was a pretty fast week here at the homestead. The hubby had the week off, and as usual, the week went too fast. There was lots of being lazy, watching numerous movies, and eating bowl after bowl of popcorn. But, like always, the hubby had to go back to work. So off I go on my normal activities, which include making Loaded Baked Potato Soup and baking Nutella-Swirled Banana Bread. It's going to be a delicious day :)

Funny story- About 2 weeks ago, I was really craving pizza. However, if you've read my pizza dough recipe, you know it takes all day. I make it early in the morning because it cold rises in the fridge for +8 hours. That was the predicament- no dough. Not such a big deal in most areas, but I was soon to discover it was in mine. I do not do Pillsbury pizza crust, it's pretty gross. I'm really not into the prepared crusts like Boboli either. In Portland, I could pick up a ball of fresh dough at any grocery store. I usually picked them up at Safeway, but they sold dough at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's as well. On top of grocery stores, you could go into any pizza place and buy a ball of their fresh dough. It makes sense. If you aren't going to buy their pizza, at least they are selling you something in the dough. I always thought that was the point of a business- you give the customer what they want so they come back. Revolutionary, I tell you.

The point of all this. On this day, when I had no dough and all I wanted was to make a pizza (not buy a pizza from the numerous greasy chains around here), I called 10 or so pizza places to see if I could buy a ball of fresh dough. The first store I called, the woman on the phone acted like she'd never heard of anyone wanting to buy dough before. Then, without asking anyone, she said, "No, I don't think we would sell our dough." Fantastic. I was annoyed, but mildly. Until I called numerous other stores to be met with the same incredulousness that someone had the gall to want to buy dough. And then refused. Then I was super annoyed. I was not buying a pizza from any of these evil people, so I went with the Pillsbury. It was, as usual, so disappointing.

The moral of this story?

When I make pizza dough, I now make 2. And freeze one. And glare at these pizza places every time I drive by. Maturity at it's best, I tell you :)

Have a great weekend everyone!


1 onion, roughly chopped
8 oz mushrooms, quartered
1 zucchini, quartered and chopped
1 yellow squash, quartered and chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
garlic powder, salt, pepper
Pizza Dough
1/2- 3/4 cup prepared pizza sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded


1. Preheat oven to 425º. Lightly coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Set aside
2. In a large bowl, combine chopped vegetables with olive oil. Season to taste with garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Spread vegetables into a single layer on cookie sheet. Bake in preheated oven 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and browned. Set aside.
3. Turn oven up to 550º, placing pizza stone on top rack. Preheat oven 1 hour. Remove pizza dough from fridge and allow to rest on counter while oven preheats.
4. Roll pizza dough into a round. Remove pizza stone from oven, place on holder. Turn oven off, and turn broiler on. Move pizza round to the stone (carefully, the stone is beyond hot!). Brush pizza sauce onto dough. Layer vegetables over pizza sauce, then layer with mozzarella.
5. Bake in oven 5-7 minutes, or until cheese and crust are starting to get blistery. Slice, and serve immediately.

Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bourbon and Brown Sugar Marinated Flank Steak

There's just something so American about steak and potatoes. The standard meal of the "burly" man. I'll give it this- it's true comfort food, and exactly what the doctor ordered in the middle of our region's third polar vortex of the month. 

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare flank steak. We don't eat steak a lot, but when we do, we devour. This recipe was actually a happy accident. I discovered it when I was first learning how to cook, about 6 years ago. My husband and I were living in our first apartment in Portland, OR and we were both working jobs with crazy hours. We didn't have a lot of time to cook, so I made stuff I could prep in the morning or the day before. I had put a flank steak in this marinade in the morning for that evening's dinner. The hubby ended up having to take clients out, and dragged me with him. We decided to leave the steak in the marinade and cook it the next night. You really aren't supposed to leave meat in marinade that long (it breaks down the fibers in the meat), so I was nervous 24 hours was too long. One bite instantly erased the doubt, however.

There is soooo much flavor in the marinade. It really tenderizes a tough cut like flank. I love the slightly sweet flavor from the bourbon, mingled with the salty, savoriness of the accompanying ingredients. The leftover marinade is boiled on the stove to kill any bacteria, infused with some cornstarch to thicken it up, and drizzled over the steak. Hmmmm, I wish I had some more. No such luck ----> :(

I hope everyone's having a great week so far. The hubby's had the whole week off, so we've been plowing through the Oscar nominations for Best Picture. It's our tradition. They are a hard bunch to watch this year! We've watched "The Wolf of Wall Street", "American Hustle", "Gravity", "Captain Phillips", and I made it through about 30 minutes of "12 Years A Slave". I had a very visceral reaction to "12 Years",  I'm not sure I'm going to be able to watch the whole movie. It's really hard to watch, I was crying within 10 minutes with no end in sight. The hubby might be watching it on his own. Today we are tackling "Dallas Buyer's Club" and "Her". Whew. So far, the only movie I've enjoyed watching is "American Hustle". I'd highly recommend it, the acting is superb and the movie doesn't drag.  I loved the fast pace. Ah, if only I chose the Oscars :)

Now back to the food-


1-lb flank steak
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup green onions, minced
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch


1. Combine flank steak through Worcestershire sauce in a large ziploc bag. Marinate in fridge for 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
2. To cook the steak- remove from fridge 1 hour before serving. Allow steak to come to room temperature. Preheat a gas grill over high heat. When hot, add steak, reserving the leftover marinade. Grill 5 minutes on each side, remove from the grill. Allow steak to rest on a plate, covered by tented foil, for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice meat against the grain for best results. 
3. While meat is resting, prepare sauce. Pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Mix cornstarch with 1/2 tsp water. Whisk cornstarch mixture into pan. Cook over medium heat until sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat and serve over meat. 

*This sauce + mashed potatoes= heaven. I recommend mashed potatoes as the accompanying side dish.

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.
Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Spicy Szechuan Chicken

Time to get my Chinese food fix on!

I know I've mentioned this before, but the lack of restaurant choices in my area really irks me. I know I signed up for this when I left Portland, but you really don't understand your choices until you are living them. When we left Oregon I thought, "Yes, I'll be living in the country and I won't have access to Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, fresh fish, specialty food items, and endless possibilities of restaurants. That's ok, I have Amazon!".  Well, Amazon does not provide you everything, including restaurant choices. In Portland, you can find a restaurant for anything. I don't say that lightly, it's just true. What if you want Argentinian tacos with crispy menudo? You can find that. What about a raw vegan experience? You can find several of those. You want Chinese food? You can literally find hundreds of thousands of Chinese restaurants, each more delectable than the last.

I really must add, if you are looking for a doughnut in the shape of a man's genitals, you too can find that in Portland. Just saying'...

It does make me sad that I can't take care of a Chinese food hankering at my leisure. Tradeoffs, I tell you. And if you want to get right down to it (minus the lack of access to fresh, unique foodstuff), the benefits of living in the boonies far outweigh the cons for me.

That being said, I think this dish knocks Chinese food right out of the park. You know me and veggies, so this stir fry is mostly veggies. I only added one chopped chicken breast for a smidge of protein. You really don't miss the meat though, between the leafy boo choy, crunchy peanuts, and the spicy, lip-smacking sauce. I made sure there was plenty of sauce in this stir fry, there must always be enough sauce for me to mix with my rice. Another pro? This makes great leftovers. I highly recommend giving this recipe a whirl.

Chopsticks optional :)


2 tsp canola oil
1 chicken breast
salt and pepper
1 tbsp peanut oil
1 onion (cut into slices, then cut slices in half)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 baby bok choy (separate leaves from stem. Thinly slice leafy portions. Roughly chop bok choy stems. Keep leafy portions and stems separate.)
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp chile paste with garlic
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp garlic, minced
hot, cooked rice
garnish- chopped peanuts (optional)


1. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat. While heating, season chicken breast with salt and pepper. Cut chicken into bit-sized pieces. When pan is hot, add chicken. Sauté 4-5 minutes, or until chicken is browned and cooked through. Remove chicken from pan, keep warm. Wipe pan out.
2. Heat peanut oil over medium-high heat in same pan. Add onions, red pepper, and bok choy stems. Sauté 4-5 minutes, or until vegetables have begun to soften.
3. In a small bowl, combine chicken broth through garlic. Whisk to combine. Add sauce mixture to pan. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken.
4. Add chicken and bok choy leaves to pan. Cook 1 minute, or until chicken is heated and bok choy leaves have wilted. Spoon over hot cooked rice, sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Serve immediately.

Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mom's Sloppy Joes with Garlicky Potato Wedges

There's something so comforting about Sloppy Joes. It's a super easy recipe to make, which is precisely why this dinner was prepared when I was in the thick of my cold. 40 minutes of hands-off cooking time for the potatoes, and 10 minutes of stove-top cook time for the joes. Perfect for the girl who had a hard time peeling herself off the couch and away from her box of Kleenex. The hubby and I don't really eat burgers and fries anymore, indulging this way is pretty much how we do these days.

My mom used to make these monthly when my brother and I were growing up. I'd never experienced a Manwich until I met my husband at 23. Yuck! One was enough for the remainder of my life. I think they put sugar in Manwich, and I don't do sugar in my sloppy joes. I don't like my salsa, my tomato sauce, or my Sloppy Joes sweet. The hubby had never had homemade sloppy joes before he met me, and he converted immedately. After having my joes, and then imbibing in Manwich, the hubby was really turned off the canned stuff. I've happily been making my mom's version ever since. And honestly, there's 3 ingredients in the sauce. Why buy a canned version when the homemade tastes better, is homemade, and it's not even hard o make?

On a separate subject, I'm getting a wee bit tired of this polar vortex. It's -1º right now, and this is not fun. It takes me 5 minutes to put on enough clothes to go outside. I did the grocery shopping yesterday in (from the feet up): boots, leg warmers, socks, thermal underwear, jeans, gloves, a thermal undershirt, sweatshirt with hood, coat, scarf, hat, and headband that covers my ears. Sheesh. Haloti is not as sensitive to the cold, but Gizmo is so miserable. I can't imagine how cold it must be for a 4-lb dog without an insulating double coat.  We pretty much have to carry the little dude out, put him in the grass, and pray he does his business before he makes a beeline for the house. Argh. It's January, and I'm sooooo ready for spring. There's no squirrels, birds, or deer visiting my yard in this weather, and that's so not cool.

Stay warm, my friends!


4 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed and diced
2 tsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
garnish- minced parsley (optional)

Sloppy Joes:
1 tsp olive oil
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1 lb ground hamburger, 90/10 mix*
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup ketchup
2 tsp yellow mustard
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
hamburger buns


1. Preheat oven to 425º. Lightly coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. To prepare potatoes: Combine potatoes, olive oil, and garlic powder in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread potatoes in a single layer on cookie sheet, and bake in preheated oven, 40-45 minutes, or until potatoes are browned and crisp. Stir potatoes once, about halfway through. When done, remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley, and allow to cool while you prepare Sloppy Joes.
3. To prepare Sloppy Joes: Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. When warm, add onions and celery. Sauté 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add hamburger to pan. Stir to crumble. Cook until meat is well browned. Add ketchup, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce to the pan. Cook 2-3 minutes more, or until mixture is heated. Spoon onto hamburger buns, serve alongside potatoes. Serve immediately.

*A note about hamburger meat- I highly recommend using a 90/10 fat mix on the hamburger. The Sloppy Joe mix really gives the meat flavor, you don't need a fattier mix. If you do use a fattier mix, such as 80/20, you'll end up with sloppy joes swimming in grease. Icky. Save your 80/20 for when you need the flavor, like burgers.

Recipe brought to you courtesy of my mom!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chewy Mint Chocolate Cookies

These cookies are... divine.

I mean, I was expecting good things when I made them and all. But what I was gifted with is probably my new favorite cookie base. I'm relatively new to the new baking world (and not ashamed to admit it!) so the majority of chewy cookie recipes I make involve creaming butter and sugar. This is the first recipe I'e tried using melted butter instead of a creaming process.

What a revelation! Now, I'm sure the experienced bakers among you are snortling along, thinking "Yes dear, the concept of melted butter in cookies is not exactly a novel concept." You'd probably be right. But it's new to me, so you'll just have to put up and listen :)

This cookie is chewy. It's moist. It reminds me of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. The best part is that I now have this wonderful brown sugar cookie base with a world of endless possibilities. You could omit the mint baking chips, and instead add chocolate chips. Or M&M's. Or make it funfetti. Try a fruit and nut combination! Add red food color to make it Red Velvet. I'm envisioning a Valentine's theme cookie on the way soon...

I hope everyone had a great weekend and somehow, inexplicably, managed to stay warm!

Ingredients (makes 18 cookies):

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coffee extract
1 1/2 cups Andes Mint Baking Chips


1. In a large bowl, whisk to combine flour through cocoa powder. Set aside.
2. In another separate bowl, whisk butter and sugars until there are no more lumps. Mix in egg. Mix in egg yolk. Whisk in vanilla and coffee extracts. Add dry ingredients to wet, combine with a spatula. Fold in the mint chips. The dough will be very soft, do your best to distribute the chips through the dough. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour <--- mandatory
3. Preheat oven to 350º. Line 2 cookies sheet with parchment paper, set aside. Remove dough from fridge, and allow to sit on counter for 10 minutes.
4. Use a 2 tbsp cookie scoop, then roll cookie dough into a little log. Yes, not a ball, a log. A short, stout log. Stand the logs up tall on the cookie sheet. Take care to make sure the dough is pretty secure on the cookie sheet. If your little log falls in the oven, while it will still be delicious, it will resemble a biscuit rather than a cookie. These cookies fall and spread, so making them little logs allows them to spread into a perfect cookie. Place 9 logs on a sheet.
5. Bake in preheated oven 11-13 minutes. Cookies will look under-baked in the middle, but they are done. Allow to cool 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them to a cooling rack. Cool completely before storage.

Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A Snowy Saturday in Kentucky

We've gotten so much snow! We already had about 2 inches on the ground, and we got another 4 last night and over the course of today. I've never seen this much snow, except at Mt. Hood. The most we ever got when I was growing up was a couple of inches. And it inevitably melted the next day. The good news was school was always cancelled when I was growing up if there was what even appeared to be a centimeter of snow. So we at least had lots of snow days off from school. But there's a huge difference between being off from school with no snow, and being off from school with inches of snow to play with. The hubby and I had our own snow day today, and veritably acted like kids :)

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes...

This is what adults do on a snow day :)


Our finished snowman.

And we ended up getting about another 2 inches after this!

Got snow?

I love a snowy landscape.

That's a lot of snow!

Haloti enjoys it, while...

This is as far as Gizmo wants to go!

My favorite evergreen in the backyard.

Hanging out on a snowy log... Doesn't everyone do that?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Chicken Soup with Egg Noodles

Well friends, you had to know this one was coming.

It appears I may have overdone it yesterday, as I've slid backwards on the feeling-good scale. The hubby is not happy I haven't been taking it easy, and thus has relegated me to a day of rest. I don't know about any other housewives out there, but resting at home is a near impossible task for me. My home is my job, and there's always something to be done. Always. Sitting on the couch, surrounded by reminders of chores not being completed really rattles my cage. Tis' frustrating. I understand the hubby's irritation though, it's no fun coming home to someone who's sick and trying to pretend they aren't. Like Monica on "Friends".  Plus, we've got a ski weekend planned next weekend, so I suppose I do need to take it down a notch.

Whilst I'm lazing on the couch today, I'll be dining on homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Last week, when the hubby was sick, I was kicking myself for not having any homemade chicken noodle soup prepared in the freezer. I mean, chicken noodle soup is a necessity when you're sick. Instead, I picked up a can of Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup. Ick. It's bland, yet seems to be 100% sodium. Funny how that works. The canned stuff just wasn't going to cut it for a drawn-out illness. I've found that the ingredients needed for the homemade version are pretty much pantry staples that I always have on hand. Therefore, I threw this soup together without a trip to the grocery store. That's what I like to call "winning". A helpful hint about making this soup- I prepare large batches of soup because I freeze the leftovers for future meals. I've found with this soup it's better to prepare the pasta on the side, and then add it to your soup. The pasta has a tendency to overcook and start to break down if left in the soup. No one likes crumbly, mushy pasta, right? I freeze the soup without the noodles, and simply prepare noodles the day I defrost the soup.

All right friends, please send positive thoughts my way. I cannot stand one more day of being sick and resting. I'm young, and there's running to be done! Have a great weekend everyone!


1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
9 cups chicken broth (I use homemade, but if using commercial, use low sodium broth.)
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped
hot prepared egg noodles


1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. When hot, add onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté 5 minutes, or until tender.
2. Add chicken broth, salt, pepper, and parsley to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
3. Uncover and add chicken to the pot. Let chicken warm in the soup while you prepare the noodles.
4. To serve, place a spoonful of egg noodles in a bowl. Ladle soup over the noodles. Serve immediately.

Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Easy Homemade Applesauce

Hallelujah, I'm finally starting to feel a little bit better! Yesterday seems to have been the roughest day. I woke up today feeling a smidgen of a bit better. I actually drug my sorry butt to the gym, which amazingly seemed to help quite a bit. It was an easy day, I leisurely rode the bike and jumped on the elliptical to give my limbs a wake-up. I was still feeling a bit weak from having been sick, but the actual process of working out gave me a much needed energy boost. Truth be told, I needed to get out of the house. I hadn't left since Monday, I was going a little stir crazy. After the gym, I stopped by the library. I'm ready and set for the next snowstorm to blow into town!

I seem to be posting a lot of apple recipes lately. This could be for one of two reasons- One, apples are in season right now and they look so very pretty at the grocery store. Two, I'm crazy about apples. I just love them. We had a couple of apple trees when I was growing up, and I still remember all the apple treats my mom used to make. Apple pie, dried apples, apple fruit rollups, apple muffins, and of course, applesauce. Since I've been a adult however, I've always just bought applesauce at the store. Now, I'm wondering why. It takes about 45 minutes to make applesauce, and 30 minutes of that is hands-off cooking on the stove. It was so easy, and the results so much better than commercial applesauce. I used 3 lbs of apples, which made almost a full Mason jar of sauce.  Double, triple, or even quadruple the recipe if that's what floats your boat. I made one jar because I think that's how much the hubby and I will be able to eat while it's fresh. Making my own applesauce really fits into my New Year's goal of eating more whole foods, as my recipe isn't laden down with preservatives.

Now, I must go. I've been stalking a deer near my yard for about 30 minutes. He's so close to entering my yard where I'm going to be able to capture pictures of him using my huge paparazzi lens on my camera. He seems to have a bit of stage fright about being caught on camera however, since he's reluctant about coming further into the yard. I've got patience though, and since I'm still recovering a bit from being sick, I don't have a gigantic to-do list today. So lay in wait, I shall. I'm really wanting to work on my nature shots with the paparazzi lens.

I hope everyone's staying warm on this oh-so chilly day!

FYI- This may be one of the easiest recipes I've ever posted :)


3 lbs apples (I used Red Delicious on this batch), peeled, cored, and chopped
1/2 cup apple juice
1/8 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon


1. In a large saucepan, combine apples through cinnamon over medium heat. Cover, and cook for 25 minutes, or until apples are very tender, stirring occasionally.
2. Either blend apple mixture in a food processor until you achieve desired texture, or take an immersion blender to the sauce. Serve immediately, or store in the fridge for up to a week.

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman.
Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Buffalo Shrimp with Creamy Blue Cheese Slaw

Annnnnnd.... the cold gets worse.

No, not the polar vortex, but my cold. Ugh, I woke up this morning feeling worse. I rested all day yesterday, I barely even lifted a finger. I even skipped baking cookies. Therefore, I'm sitting here trying to contemplate how the cold got worse. On top of intensified symptoms, I slept on my neck wrong which is making turning my head a conundrum. What can I say? I'm a hot mess today. I've decided another day of rest is the way to go. And I loathe resting.

I made this meal over the weekend, as I've been doing very basic, easy cooking this week. As I was editing the pictures this morning, I realized what perfect timing sharing this recipe is going to be. Buffalo sauce and blue cheese? Sounds like a perfect combination for... the Super Bowl! I'll admit, we'll be making Buffalo Wings for the Super Bowl, but you might be looking for something different to sample. This recipe totally captures the essesence of that winning combination of buffalo sauce and blue cheese, but in a way you're not likely to have had before. While I had high hopes for this recipe, I was shocked at how perfectly the shrimp and slaw go together. Even my buffalo wing loving' man loved this meal, despite the obvious lack of poultry.

It may be only 8:30 am here in Northeastern Kentucky, but this girl is headed back to bed. Taking on the world will have to wait until tomorrow, for it sounds like another afternoon of studying my latest literary victim, The Science of Good Cooking -----> In case you are wondering, this is an excellent read. I'm learning so much, and I'm only about 60 pages in.

I hope everyone's having a better Wednesday than me :)



3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup radicchio, thinly sliced
1 cup carrot, shredded
1/3 cup canola mayonnaise
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
3/4 cup blue cheese crumbles


1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper
4 tbsp canola oil
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 cup panko
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup buffalo sauce


1. To prepare slaw- combine cabbage through carrot in a medium sized mixing bowl. In a small bowl, combine mayo through pepper. Whisk to throughly combine. Pour dressing over slaw, toss to combine. Fold in blue cheese. Store in fridge while you prepare the shrimp.
2. To prepare shrimp- Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil over high heat. Crack eggs into a small bowl. Combine panko and cornmeal on a plate. When oil is hot, dip shrimp in egg, shaking off any excess. Dredge in panko mixture, shaking off any excess. Add shrimp to the oil. Cook until browned on one side, about 1 minute. Flip, and brown on the other side, about 1 minute. Remove shrimp from pan to a plate covered with paper towels. Repeat process with the remaining shrimp.
3. Once all shrimp are friend and drying on paper towels, put buffalo sauce in a small bowl. Using a basting brush, brush the shrimp with buffalo sauce. Serve shrimp alongside slaw, immediately.

Slaw recipe adapted from Cooking Classy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Spicy Turkey Spaghetti

Ugh, I feel yucky. I've still in the throes of a nasty, winter head cold. It's not my normal cold, as I'm not coughing and my nose is not congested. However, my throat is hoarse, my lymph nodes are swollen, and my head feels as if it might explode. Bleh. I'm not sure what to do with my day now. The original plan was to go to the gym but between my illness and a solid two new inches of snow on the ground, I don't think that's going to happen. While the Net' does say you can workout if you are sick (as long as you don't have a fever---->no fever here!), I am not feeling it. Staying home and baking cookies is sounding better every second.

I made this spicy, comforting spaghetti sauce over the weekend. This is one of those recipes that's pretty hands off, it just simmers away on the stove for the afternoon. The hubby's usually not home for these all day simmering events, and this one got him all worked up. I caught him in the kitchen taste testing the sauce more than a couple of times. And by early evening, he was clamoring for dinner. Pretty amazing considering the man is constantly telling me how much he dislikes spaghetti. Apparently that dislike took a backseat as he devoured a huge plate of pasta.

In my opinion, what really makes this dish is the parmesan cheese rind I simmered in the sauce. I'm not sure what it is about these cheese rinds, but man do they ever impart some delicious flavor! This is my 3rd batch of tomato sauce with a cheese rind simmered in it. I totally advise not skipping this step. Where do I get my rinds? I frequently purchase parmesan cheese wedges at the store for grating over my dishes- pastas, salads, soups, etc. When I finish the cheese, I wrap the rind in aluminum foil, label it, and throw it in the freezer for occasions such as this. Voila- flavor town! Another key point- you could make this sauce with any meat you wanted. Ground hamburger, ground pork, lots of sausage, ground chicken, really whatever you can think of. I just happened to have turkey on hand, although I do like the health benefits of turkey vs. hamburger.

Uh oh. Gizmo is sitting by the door. This means I have to drag my sorry sick butt off the couch, dress in my winter's finest, go forth into the snow, and shovel a spot in the yard for him to do his business. Sigh. Chihuahuas.

Happy Tuesday!


1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 lb ground turkey
1 link spicy Italian sausage
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can garlic diced tomatoes
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper (optional depending on heat preference)
1 rind from a wedge of fresh parmesan cheese (optional)
1 (8 oz) package fresh mushrooms, sliced


1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. When warm, add onions and garlic. Sauté 5 minutes, or until onions are tender. Add turkey and sausage to pot, stir to crumble. Cook until browned, another 5 minutes or so.
2. Add tomatoes through cheese rind to the pot. Bring sauce to a boil, lower to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours. If your sauce is too thick for your preference at this point, you can add up to 2 cups of water. I chose not to.
3. Using tongs or a spatula, remove cheese rind from the pot and discard. Add mushrooms to the pot. Prepare desired pasta. When mushrooms are tender (about 20 minutes), spoon sauce over desired pasta. Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Puffy Apple Muffins

I learned something new about muffins while baking these lovelies, and that was how to make tall, puffy muffins. Not something I'd ever aspired to do before, but nevertheless, all techniques must be mastered at some point. It's actually quite easy to come up with a puffy muffin. It all comes down to a combination of baking powder and an initial heat spike when you put them in the oven. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I pulled these muffins at the end, but I was pleasantly surprised to see these muffins rose a ton.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a post on these puffy muffins, or as Sally from Sally's Baking Addiction refers to them, "Sky-High" muffins. The technique to mastering these tall muffins is to start with a really hot oven. I usually bake muffins around 350º, but for the first 3 minutes baking these I baked them at 425º. The higher temperature allows the muffins to rise quickly. After 3 minutes, I lowered the temperature back to 350º and finished baking the muffins for another 15-20 minutes. Perfection! The end result was a soft, moist interior with a tall, crunchy exterior. Another tip- make sure and fill the muffin cups all the way full. 3/4 or 2/3 full will not yield a tall, puffy muffin. The batter ends up very thick and spoonable, so it's easy to fill the muffin cups as much as you like.

The hubby wanted me to add that these muffins have a large stamp of approval from him. I liked mine best after heating in the microwave for 20 seconds, but the hubby prefers his the way nature intended- room temperature :)

I hope everyone is having a great weekend! The hubby and I both have colds, and there's about an inch of snow on the ground here. Needless to say, we are holing up and camping out in Casa de Jarrell today!

Ingredients (makes 12 muffins):

Streusel topping-
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp cold unsalted butter

3 cups flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup almond milk (you can sub regular milk)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp apple yogurt (I used Chobani Apple Cinnamon)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
2 apples, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 425º. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray, set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl, combine brown sugar through cold butter to make streusel topping. Cut into the mixture with a sharp knife until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.
3. To prepare the muffins, combine flour through nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. In a separate mixing bowl, combine almond milk through eggs. Whisk to combine. Add dry ingredients to the wet. Fold mixture until mixture is just barely mixed. Over-mixing will result in a dry, tough muffin. Fold in the chopped apples.
4.  Fill the muffin tin with the batter. Batter will be very thick. Fill muffin cups all the way full. Bake in preheated oven for 3 minutes, then lower temperature of oven to 350º. Bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool muffins in tin for 10 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Serve immediately, or cool completely before storage.

Recipe courtesy of Sally's Baking Addiction.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chipotle Shrimp Tacos with Lime Sour Crema

Let me tell you, it's an almost impossible task to feed me tacos I don't like. I'm not picky, I've eaten them from everywhere, all over the country. While I eat them all, I do know a good taco when I come across one. There's a very modern taco shop in Huntington, WV called Black Sheep that I love. They are one of those places that serve unlikely taco combinations like duck with pickled blackberries (to die for) and brisket with blueberry sauce (drool). There's just so much flavor in their creative tacos. And speaking of flavor...

These tacos are packed with flavor. That was the first comment the hubby made after trying them. Actually, it was just that one comment and then these tacos were magically gone from his plate. He's not the lover of Mexican dishes that I am, so I was pleasantly surprised. There's only a couple of spices that flavor the shrimp, but those few flavors pack a punch. Top the shrimp off with crunchy cabbage and fresh made salsa, guacamole, and lime sour crema? Holy good guacamole!

And now I feel I must share this injustice with my readers. My favorite Mexican restaurant in town closed! They had amazing fish-bowl sized Patron margaritas that could knock your socks off. The type of margaritas that make any dinner taste amazing. Sigh. Just like Chinese food, I'm now relegated to only getting my Mexican fix by my own hands. It's just not the same when you have to prepare it and clean up the kitchen that looks like it's had a bomb dropped on it. 

So in the meantime, I'll continue to wait patiently for a new Mexican restaurant in town and keep my fingers crossed it's decent. On the other hand, dear readers, if any of you know a restauranteur looking for a new market, there's a HUGE niche where I live due to the complete lack of options. And please hurry- must. have. enchiladas.

Happy Thursday everyone!


Lime Sour Crema-
1/3 cup fat free sour cream
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder

Chipotle Shrimp-
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp canola oil

tortillas or crunchy taco shells
thinly sliced cabbage
cilantro, roughly chopped


1. To make lime sour crema- combine sour cream, lime juice, and chile powder in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
2. To prepare shrimp- combine shrimp with chile powders and salt. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes. Heat canola oil in a large skillet. When warm, add shrimp. Cook 3-4 minutes or until shrimp are opaque.
3. To prepare tacos- spoon shrimp onto tortilla. Top with lime sour crema, cabbage, salsa, guacamole, and cilantro. Serve immediately.

*Recipe adapted from Heather Christo

Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fresh Guacamole

Holy guacamole! Ooh lord child, I love me some guacamole. Funny story- I hated avocados when I was young. Absolutely hated them. You couldn't have paid me to eat guacamole. I actually didn't start liking avocados and guacamole until I was in college. This was also the time in my life I decided I would eat eggs and clam chowder. Yes, I had quite a different palette as a young adult.

It's easy to just pick up some prepared guacamole at the grocery store, but you really don't know what you're missing until you make your own. The ones you buy at the grocery store are full of preservatives, and I've found most contain dairy to make them creamy. That's fine and all, but traditional guacamole doesn't contain dairy. My guacamole has 5 ingredients. It's super-easy and fast to make, and best of all, the flavor is out of this world! Especially if you are used to buying the less-flavorful grocery store variety.

A couple of tips- I've found if you sprinkle the top of the guacamole with a little lemon juice before you store it, it will ward off the brown color a bit longer. Don't sprinkle too much, you don't want to add flavor to the guacamole. I also store mine with a little piece of plastic wrap tucked inside the tupperware, pressed down onto the guacamole. This  also aids in keeping the bright green color of the guac. Eat this fast though, it's better in the first 2 days post-preparation. I think this recipe makes the perfect amount for a dinner, meaning eating some guacamole with chips before dinner and then adding some guac to whatever dish was prepared.

Happy Tuesday friends!


2 ripe avocados (make sure they are SOFT)
2 tbsp red onion, minced
2 tbsp cilantro minced
1/2 tbsp lime juice
1 tsp salt


1. In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients. Mash with a spoon until you reach your desired consistency. Season to taste with more lime juice and salt, if desired. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1-2 days.

Monday, January 13, 2014

My 2014 Goals

Yes, I'm a little late to the party. Sue me :)

My goals would have been here a lot sooner, but I really have been thinking about what I want to accomplish this year. I love New Years' and the feeling of a blank slate. Like anything is possible. As I was thinking about my 2014 resolutions, I happened to ponder if I had accomplished my 2013 goals (you can read that post here). After re-reading the post, I concluded I did a pretty darn good job. I did get back in shape. I kept a food diary for half the year, until July (I should write a post on why I stopped because the conclusion I came to is that a food diary is completely unnecessary for me, and somewhat unhealthy). I successfully learned how to roast a chicken. I did improve my photography, however I now know I will probably be improving my photos until the day I die :) And while we did save a lot of money, we did have an extremely decadent month in Oregon. YOLO, right?

I've put a lot of thinking into 2014. Here goes-

1. Run a 10K.

In 2013, I successfully ran my first 5k. Heck, I started running successfully period. The hubby and I ran (4) 5k's last year, and we are definitely planning on running more. I would like to get my time under 30 minutes for the 5k. I've been doing a lot of speed training at the gym, so 2014 looks like the year of "The Under 30 5K". A 10K will happen this year too! I've conditioned myself to run 5 miles, I'll definitely be able to add one more mile. I hate long distance running on the treadmill though (too boring), so I'll be working on my endurance when I get back outside.

2. Plant my first garden.

The hubby and I are composters now! My parents have been into composting for awhile, and I really got bitten by the bug when I was out in Oregon. As of last Thursday, we've started. I've got my little house compost bucket, and we've got a bigger one for the back yard.

What does composting have to do with a garden? It's simple, really. Our soil on our property is almost pure clay, which is not conducive for growing anything really. We are going to need nutrient rich soil to grow my vegetables, and this seems to be the way to do it that makes the most sense. We've got one composter in the backyard so far. We will be investing in another when we fill this one, since it will take 10-12 weeks to make compost once the contraption is full.

Another reason for planting the garden? Another one of my 2014 goals is to eat more whole foods and drastically less processed foods. Having fresh fruit and vegetables in the garden will help with that goal, plus I plan on canning and/or freezing as much of my garden harvest as possible to have on hand for next winter.

3. Read more!

Through trial and error over 30 odd years, I've discovered I'm a lot happier off the Internet. There's a lot of awful news, and bad images out there. While I'm by no means saying I want to be an ignorant ostrich who sticks her head in the sand, it's enough for me to say I'm aware of certain bad situations but I don't need to know every detail. Getting caught up in the fantasy of a fiction novel, or being fascinated by a how-to book can be a lot healthier for the psyche than reading about the situation in Syria for the 100th time. I got a library card at the local library, and I plan on taking full advantage this year.

4. Increase charitable donations.

Beginning of 2014's Salvation Army donation.
Beginning of 2014's Animal Shelter donation. 
In 2013, I made donations to the local women's shelter, the Salvation Army, and my local animal shelter. I also participated in the March of Dimes, and each 5k the hubby and I ran was for a local charity. I still plan on participating in the March of Dimes, and competing in those 5k's. I've also begun donations for the Salvation Army and the animal shelter. My plan this year is to add to my donation boxes (buying items free or close to free with coupons), and have really nice donations for my local charities at the end of the year. I think this is one of the projects I'm most excited about, I can't wait to see what I have to donate at the end of the year! I hope I can provide my readers with pictures of overflowing boxes to take in :)

5. Save MORE money.

Here's what's cool about my goals. They all tie in to each other quite nicely. Running outside is FREE, achieving my goal of saving money. It gives me the energy to do yard work, and makes me want to eat healthy. It also relieves my anxiety, which makes it easier for me to focus on reading. Planting a garden will also help save money, since the majority of my grocery budget is spent on fresh produce. Reading more means more trips to library, where I'm not spending any money. And I'm trying to increase my charitable donations while spending as little money as possible.

-There you go! My 2014 resolutions. I think it's going to be great year! I hope everyone had a great weekend :)