Friday, February 28, 2014

Roasted Potato, Bacon, and Spinach Salad

Happy Friday! You've made it to the end of "Week of Salads". Congratulations, you've earned a pat on the back and a big glass wine! 

I've saved a truly comforting salad for last. That's right, I called this comfort food. Crisp-on-the-outside/ creamy-on-the-inside potatoes, salty bacon, toasty pine nuts, savory parmesan cheese... and some spinach. Honestly, once you've dressed the salad in the bacon vinaigrette, just about anyone is going to want to eat this salad. It's perfect for a cold winter's day, much like the last 500 days of this winter have been. Seriously, we are looking at 0.35 of an inch of ice on Sunday night, and possibly 10-12 inches of snow on Monday. Argh. It's the winter that feels like it's never going to end. I'm going to have to do a "Week of Soups" at this rate. That's actually not a bad idea...

The hubby and I are off on a mini-vacay this weekend. We are leaving our troubles (and dogs!) at home and tossing our hair to the wind. To the very cold, very arctic, polar vortex wind. So, we'll be riding into the sunset with the windows rolled up and earmuffs on, no biggie. I still plan on having a great time, no matter Mother Nature's attempts to derail my plans. I'm not feeling too worried at this point about this latest storm, the hubby and I plan on being back long before it starts. 

Gizmo, on the other hand, has already confessed he's having doggy nightmares of cold, snowy paws :)

Have a great weekend everyone!

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 lb baking potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
1/8 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10 oz) package of fresh baby spinach
4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated


1. Preheat oven to 400º. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine potatoes through black pepper. Toss to thoroughly coat. Distribute potatoes in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven 45-50 minutes, or until browned and crispy. Keep warm.
3. In a large skillet, render bacon. Cook until bacon is browned and crisped. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
4. Whisk vinegar through garlic into the skillet. Cook 3-4 minutes or until thoroughly heated.
5. Combine spinach and dressing. Toss salad to coat spinach. Distribute spinach among plates. Top salads with potatoes, reserved bacon, pine nuts, and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Southern Living.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

SW Chopped Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

I'm such a sucker for anything with a SW flair. I love me some cilantro, black beans, lime, corn... everything mixed together in this salad brings to mind a taco salad. Minus the fat and calories, and dial up the stuff that's actually good for you, of course. I make several varieties of taco salads, and I'm officially adding this one to the rotation. Not that I have much of a rotation. As the hubby puts it, he never gets bored with food :)

P.S. Add whatever protein you desire to make this a non-vegetarian salad.

So, as you may have guessed, the hubby and I actually wrapped up eating the salads on Tuesday. It took about 7 days to make and photograph the salads, between the nights I served them to working around daylight to capture them on film. Which means last night was our first non-salad night in a week. The hubby walked in the door from work, and was pleasantly surprised with a casserole. We like salads more than the normal person, but we were ready for something hearty. Maybe that's why last night's dinner was sooooo good...

In other news, I've been banned from exercising for 6 days. For that, I'm quite frankly annoyed. Do you remember that cold I had last month? Of course you do, I complained about it for days! Anyhoo, the cold has been long gone for quite some time, but I've been left with chest tightness that's been making me winded during workouts. I finally got in to my doctor yesterday who seems to think I've got some inflammation leftover that I keep exacerbating by working out. She put me on a steroid pack, and told me to sit tight for 6 days while they work their magic. She knew that didn't sit well with me, and when she left the room, she chuckled. She's previously told me she doesn't have very many patients that exercise. Humbug. I told the hubby when I got home that I was extremely grateful we are going out of town this weekend, because I don't think I could have stayed in the house and not exercised for 6 days. Talk about being driven crazy.

I guess I'll just have to catch up on my reading. I'm in the middle of Jodi Picoult's "Harvesting the Heart". It's good, but man, it'll make you a little teary. I've also got some photographs to take. Cookies to bake. Getting the house ready for us to leave for the weekend. Dinner to make.

It's safe to say I won't be sitting around with nothing to do :)

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

Creamy Cilantro Dressing-
1 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup greek yogurt, plain
2 tbsp lime juice
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups corn kernels (I used frozen, thawed)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced


1. To prepare dressing- combine all ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until smooth and completely mixed. Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 4 days. Chill until ready to serve. 
2. To make salad- combine lettuce through green onions in a large salad bowl. Drizzle dressing to taste over salad. Toss to combine. Divide among plates, and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from The Garden Grazer.

Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Apple Walnut Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

I have found my new favorite salad dressing!

Wowsers, I was surprised by how much I liked this salad. Heck, I was surprised by how much I liked the dressing. The dressing really makes this salad, it's a non-negotiable. It must be on the salad, I do so decree. I'm only kidding, but why would you want to skip the dressing? There's about 1-2 tbsp of grated red onion (Yep, I took the onion to my box grater. Worked great!) in the dressing. That little bit of onion lends so much flavor to the whole recipe. Let's just say I'll be experimenting with grated onion for other recipes.

So, "Week of Salads" is going strong over here. Besides the nagging craving for a cheeseburger, I've been doing the "detox and eat lettuce/spinach" all week. I'm feeling good, minus a slight carb-preoccupation.  I'm not against salads with substantial carbs (loooooove me some pasta salad), I guess I just chose salads without this time around. This salad will leave you feeling so light, I'd advise serving this alongside a chicken breast, or even steak. Or, just eat a huge bowl and call it dinner. Your body will thank you for all the wonderful vitamins and nutrients you are about to inhale. Spinach, apple, grapes, celery, walnuts, crumbled gorgonzola... Oh my. The crunchy texture is offset by the creamy gorgonzola. Have I mentioned how much I love gorgonzola? It's one of my favorite cheeses, I could bathe in the stinky stuff.

So, 2 more days of salads (not including today, of course!) and then, it's the weekend. I'm excited, because the hubby and I are actually doing something. We're off to Cincinnati for the weekend, to spend some time with his cousin and his wife. The hubby and I were talking, and we haven't been up to visit them in Cincinnati since February 2012. It's time! This means restaurants I've never heard of, shopping I don't have normal access to, and hanging out with some people my own age. Not that I mind hanging out with the older crowd, I definitely don't. But it's nice to let your hair down and act like a kid every now and then. I see carbs in the form of pasta and wine in my future. And Mexican food :)

Welp, sorry to get everyone excited for the weekend when it's only Wednesday. Happy Hump Day!


Poppy seed Dressing (makes 2 cups)-
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp red onion, finely grated
1 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tsp poppy seeds

Salad (serves 2)-
4 cups baby spinach
1 Gala apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red grapes, halved
1/4 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/4 cup gorgonzola crumbles


1. Prepare dressing- Combine sugar through red onion in a food processor. While processor is running, pour olive oil in to emulsify. Once olive oil is mixed in, add poppy seeds. Pulse once or twice. Pour dressing into a storable container, store tightly sealed in the fridge. Dressing will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month, halve the recipe if you don't want extra. Chill dressing until ready to serve.
2. Prepare salad- In a large salad bowl, combine spinach through gorgonzola. Drizzle dressing to taste, toss to combine. Divide salads among plates, and serve immediately.

Dressing recipe adapted from Food.People.Want.
Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Crispy Buffalo Chicken Salad

Let me pose this question- Is there anything that doesn't taste better with buffalo chicken? No, no there's not.

I'm crazy about wings. Seriously. Let me describe a scenario for you- warm, crispy hot wings served alongside creamy, cool blue cheese dressing, crunchy celery sticks, and an ice-cold beer. Don't you just want to be there? I do! Add a football game to aforementioned situation, and you've got yourself a perfect Sunday. Chicken is a pretty common addition to salads, so I decided to take it one step further and "buffalo-ize" the evening's salad.

All I can say is, make this today! The final result was my favorite salad of the week, one I'll be repeating. And ladies, this is a very man-friendly salad. The hubby scarfed his down, and then was kind of looking around for more. Any night I can feed him a salad and call it dinner is a good night. I'll add that changing his diet has helped him tremendously. He started eating better in September, after a high cholesterol reading. He had his cholesterol taken a couple days ago, and much to our relief, it was in the normal range. This was a significant drop. Just a gentle reminder that you can tailor your favorite foods so that you can indulge in them in a healthier way.

What does everyone have on deck for today? The one thing I have on my to-do list that I've been avoiding for the last couple of days is giving the dogs a haircut and bathing them. They hate it. I hate it. Misery all around. However, they are starting to smell like dogs, and that, I hate even more. I plan on going to the gym, just so they think they've gotten off scot-free for the day. Then, I'll ambush them when I get home. Mwhahahahaha.

That was my evil laugh :)

Happy Tuesday friends!

Ingredients (serves 2):

2 tbsp canola oil
1 chicken breast
salt and pepper
1 egg, slightly scrambled
1 cup panko
1 tbsp buffalo sauce
4 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles


1. Prepare dressing according to directions. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
2. Preheat oven to 425º. Heat canola oil in a oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. While oil is heating, prepare chicken. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken into egg, draining of any excess. Dredge chicken through panko, shaking off any excess. When oil is hot, add chicken. Pan-fry on each side 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. When chicken is browned, transfer skillet to the oven. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until chicken is cooked all the way through. Remove skillet from oven, brush buffalo sauce onto each side, and allow chicken to rest while you prepare the salad.
3. In a large bowl, combine romaine, tomatoes, and celery. Add enough dressing to preference, and toss to combine. Divide among 2 plates. Slice chicken, and divide among plates. Sprinkle blue cheese crumbles over each plate, and serve immediately.

Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Monday, February 24, 2014

Mediterranean Falafel Salad

Welcome to "A Week of Salads"!

It's my week to show all of you out there in the cyber world that salads do not have to be bland, colorless, or unsatisfying. I subscribe to the theory that you don't have to be hungry in order to be healthy and/or maintain your weight. I've spent the last 6 months concentrating on eating whole foods, and less on eating processed, commercially prepared food. I've been making my own broths and stocks, salad dressings, sauces (like applesauce and jams), and in general, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. And you know what? I've been feeling good.

Health nuts always tout the benefits they receive from eating better, much to the chagrin of the rest of the world. I used to roll my eyes at the thought of not eating frozen meals or HotPockets. But since I've been changing my diet, I have been feeling improved. My weight is easier to maintain, I have more energy, less headaches, sleep has improved, my skin has improved, etc. The benefits are numerous and they are just a fact. You will feel better if you eat carrots instead of potato chips. An apple instead of that HotPocket. No one wants to hear it, but it's simply an indisputable fact. Plus, I've discovered you can pretty much eat as many fruit and vegetables as your heart desires. Counting calories has fallen by the wayside.

There's my soapbox pitch for eating healthy and "A Week of Salads".  I'll climb down now. Back to the matter at hand :)

Falafel is one of those items that's been on my bucket list for awhile, and yet, I'd never tried it. I lived in Portland, OR (home to ANY kind of cuisine you can imagine) for 3 years, and I never climbed out of my box and tried this mediterranean specialty. Well, last week on Pinterest I saw a recipe for falafel and fate was decided. I would finally imbibe.

The results? Pretty favorable! Falafel is basically a seasoned mashup of chickpeas and a few other items which are shaped into a patty, and then pan-fried on the stove. It's an extremely economical dish, full of vitamins and antioxidants, and perfect for a Meatless Monday. You could actually make these patties, and eat them in a pita with tomato, lettuce, and tzatiki sauce. Another Meatless Monday idea perhaps?

Either way, I know "falafel" is a weird word and this recipe might be outside your comfort box. I urge you to shed your food shackles and put something completely foreign on the dinner table. You might even enjoy it :)

Happy Monday friends!

Ingredients (serves 4):

Tzatiki sauce-
1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain
1/2 of a cucumber, shredded
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1 garlic clove, minced

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup red onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp fresh cilantro
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
4 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup canola oil
kosher salt

1 small head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 of cucumber, quartered and sliced
1 cup red onion rings
4 ounces feta, crumbled


1. Prepare tzatiki- combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk briskly to combine. Season to taste. Chill in fridge until ready to serve.
2. Prepare falafel- In a food processor, combine chickpeas through cayenne pepper. Pulse until mixture is combined, but still chunky. Add flour, and pulse. Take mixture into hand. Mixture should be easy to mold, and yet not stick to your hands. If the mixture is still sticky, pulse in up to 4 more tbsp of flour. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, form chickpea mixture into patties and place in the hot oil. Pan fry on each side until golden brown, a total of about 4 minutes. Remove from oil and immediately sprinkle with kosher salt. Place on a paper towel to drain.
3. Prepare salad- In a large bowl, combine lettuce through feta. Pour enough tzatiki on salad to dress to taste, toss to combine. Divide salad among plates, place 2 falafel on each salad. Drizzle more tzatiki on falafels, if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Making Life Delicious

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bakery-Style Mixed Berry Muffins

These muffins are just because.

Because sometimes you don't want a healthy muffin.

Because sometimes you don't want a muffin that tastes like wheat, barley, oats, or quinoa.

Because sometimes you just want a muffin that tastes like it came from Costco.

Am I right? I find it's near impossible to be "good" all the time. I mean, I like treats as much as the next person. And Costco's muffins I'm not advocating making muffins like these all the time, of course, but you should try them at least once. I used all-purpose flour instead of wheat, canola oil instead of applesauce, and a fair amount of sugar. Yes, I didn't lighten this recipe up one bit. Oh, the results!

The results are- I'm going to have to get these muffins out of the house! They are sooooo yummy. I filled the muffin cups right up to the top, so these muffins are tall and oversized. Take care not to over bake the muffins, they are so moist and flavorful if you yank them from the oven as soon a toothpick pulls out clean.

Happy Friday everyone! Did anyone else have completely weird weather yesterday? We've been under a deep freeze in our little NE corner of Kentucky, for almost the entire last month. Until yesterday. I took the boys out at 8 am, when it was 38º, wearing the whole shebang, of course. This entailed mud boots, leg warmers, pants, shirt, hoodie, coat, gloves, and hat. The next time we went out was 1 pm. The Weather Channel said it was 70º, but who can believe that when it has been in the single digits for a month? I stepped out into the garage in leggings, a long sleeved t-shirt, and FLIP-FLOPS. It was freezing in the garage. Harump, I grumbled to myself at the Weather Channel. Until I made it through the garage to outside, and felt... spring. It was warm. Balmy, I'd say. It felt weird. You'd think you'd enjoy a day like yesterday, but the atmosphere felt incredibly unstable all day. And sure enough,  we had resounding thunderstorms most of the night. 

Now, the local news is telling us to expect SNOW next week. This weather is making me crazy.

I hope everyone has a great weekend! And make these muffins, you won't regret it :)

Ingredients (makes 12 oversize standard muffins):

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk, at room temp
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups frozen raspberries and blueberries


1. Preheat oven to 425º. Spray a standard muffin pan with cooking spray, set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour through salt. Give it a quick whisk to blend.
3. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until smooth and no lumps remain. Add milk through vanilla, whisk to combine.
4. Fold dry ingredients into wet. Do not over mix. You only want to fold the ingredients together until they are just combined. Vigorous mixing will result in tough muffins. 
5. Very carefully, fold berries into batter. Spoon batter into muffin pan, filling cups to the top. Bake in preheated oven at 425º for 5 minutes, then lower temperature in oven to 375º. Bake for another 11-15 minutes at 375º, or just until a toothpick comes out clean (mine went exactly 12 minutes after I turned the temperature down, however I do have a convection oven).
6. Remove muffins from oven. Cool in muffin pan 20 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Serve immediately or allow to cool completely before storage.

Recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Poached Pears with Cinnamon Vanilla Syrup

I believe this is the first pear recipe I've ever shared on the blog.

To be honest, I don't eat pears that often. I didn't care for them when I was a child, and hadn't bothered to getting around to trying them again. However, as I was perusing the produce aisle this week at the grocery store, I couldn't help but notice how many lovely pears were on sale. Turns out, pears are in season right now. I'm guessing most everyone already knew that :)

So I picked a couple up. And have been pleasantly surprised since then. I ate a few raw (so yummy), and then figured I'd use the rest for a recipe. I almost made a pear jam to serve with cheese and crackers, but vetoed it at the last second. Why? Because I got the idea for poached pears, something I've been meaning to try for some time now. I've made apples in this fashion before, and loved them. They taste like apple pie filling. I mean, it's hard to go wrong when you are cooking fruit in cinnamon vanilla syrup.

One of the best parts of this extremely simple dessert is how fragrant the house becomes when you are cooking them. I had left the pears on the stove to simmer while I took the dogs out, unaware of what I'd be returning to when I came back in the house. It smelled heavenly, like a bakery. Cinnamon. Sugar. Vanilla. Oh my. I can see why people get Scentsy's that make their house smell like a bake shop.

I'm now realizing I've posted 2 desserts on a week when I was going to blog all about salads. LOL. I guess that's just the way the cookie (or pear) crumbles :)

Ingredients (serves 5):

2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped and pod
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp lemon juice
5 pears, peeled and rinsed


1. In a small pot, combine water through lemon juice.
2. Place pears in liquid. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until pears are easily pierced by a fork. Spoon liquid over pears occasionally as they simmer.
3. When pears are done, remove them from pan. Turn heat up on pot and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce mixture until it equals about 1 cup. This took an additional 5-7 minutes after the pears were done. Remove from heat, discard vanilla bean pod and cinnamon stick.
4. Place a pears on serving plates, spoon syrup over pears. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Table For 2... Or More 
Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chickpea Minestrone

Another day of this polar-vortex winter, another cozy bowl of soup :)

Yes, it's still cold here. Right now. However, it is supposed to be 55º today. Hopefully that melts the remainder of the snow on the ground and our lane. I'm officially done with the snow. As per normal, the weather looks to be cray-cray this week. The local news has been touting severe thunderstorm risk on Thursday, which is supposed to be 60º. Craziness, I tell you. While this week is going to be warm, last week was cold, cold, COLD.  In other words, soup weather.

I really liked this soup! It has just the right amount of spice. Just enough so you could feel a little heat, but not hot enough to hurt. In truth, I like any chunky soup that's mostly vegetables. Pasta doesn't hurt either. I used chicken broth to make my soup, but you could make this vegetarian by subbing vegetable broth. You could even make it vegan by omitting the cheese topping. The hubby isn't fond of chickpeas, so I was a little nervous to serve this to him. It turns out I didn't have to be nervous, he loved it. The soup is a good coverup for the taste of the chickpeas, making this a good soup if you have any chickpea-haters in your household.

Well, I'm off. I've got another busy day on hand. Gym, eye appointment, hard boiling eggs and making lunch burritos for the hubby, making dinner (SW Chopped Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing), clipping coupons from the weekend, and maybe squeezing in some reading time. I've got library books that need to go back in 2 days that I haven't finished. Eek! Looks like I'll be checking them out again :)

Happy Tuesday friends!

Ingredients (serves 6):

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth to make vegetarian)
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
4 oz. short pasta
1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (10 oz) package of fresh spinach
Garnish: fresh grated parmesan cheese (optional)


1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When warm, add onion through garlic. Sauté 5-7 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add garlic to pan, sauté 1 minute.
2. Add tomatoes through crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. While soup is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, set aside, and keep warm.
4. Add chickpeas and spinach to pot. Heat for 1 minute, or until spinach wilts. Ladle soup into bowls, and top with cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Kitchen Daily

Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Monday, February 17, 2014

Frozen Banana Ice Cream

First of all, yes, it was supposed to be "Week of Salads" on the blog. I've decided to postpone that until next week. This week is looking pretty hectic, and as many of you know, I blog around my photography. You know, only the hours between 11 am and 1 pm. If I can't be home during my window, I've learned to not even bother taking pictures. You'll never be able to edit them to make them look like they were taken in natural light. Yes, it took me a year to figure that out. I like to make the same mistake a bunch of times, just to make sure :)

The whole idea of a "Week of Salads" was that it would be the perfect detox after the indulgence of Valentine's Day. And indulge I did! I ate enough chocolate to kill a Mastiff. This week however, I'm concentrating on eating healthy and working hard in the gym. Eating healthy is absolutely no fun without some sort of treat however, and boy do I have one for you today! And by the way, I'm almost ashamed to call this a recipe. Almost.

Did you know if you puree a frozen banana, the banana takes on the texture of a custardy, soft-serve ice cream? I sure as heck didn't. I do now though! I can't believe you only need bananas to make it, it really does taste like ice cream. Deserts don't get easier, or healthier, than this. And once you've pureed your bananas, you can add all sorts of flavorings to the banana. I swirled Nutella through mine. You could mix in peanut butter, chocolate chips, almond butter, jam, berries, candy... Ok, you could veer into some unhealthy territory there, but hey, it's better than adding candy to real ice cream. One more tip before I go- I used to use overripe bananas exclusively for banana bread. I've since found a new use. Freeze the bananas individually, then toss them in a freezer bag when frozen. Use a frozen banana for a smoothie, or wait until you get a bunch, and then make ice cream!

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I've got a case of the Monday's that better be gone tomorrow :)


Frozen bananas! (I found 10 made a nice loaf-pan amount of ice cream)
Add-in's (optional): Nutella, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chips, just about any topping and/or addition you can think of.


1. Slice frozen bananas into large chunks, transfer to a food processor. Pulse until bananas make a smooth, creamy, pureed mixture.
2. If using a nut butter, or jam, add topping to the food processor and pulse a couple of times to disperse it. If using chocolate chips or candy, fold into ice cream with spatula.
3. Spread mixture evenly into a loaf pan, and freeze until solid (mine took about 3 hours). Scoop and serve.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Chewy Valentine's M&M Cookies

Happy Valentine's Day!

I don't know about you, but Valentine's Day has to be my least favorite holiday in the world. As a child who was somewhat different from most of my peers, Valentine's Day really served as a reminder that I was a little weird. Other girls in my classes would end up traipsing home with a folder stuffed full of Valentine's, while I returned home with a few. Does anyone else think kids should have to bring Valentine's for their whole class? I think this might be the policy in most classrooms these days, but not so in my day.

I didn't develop a deep and abiding love for Valentine's Day later in life either. I hated Valentine's Day all through high school, college, and the early days of my career. It never failed that everyone else seemed to get flowers and chocolates when I never did. It's not fun feeling left out, and that has always seemed to be the purpose of the day. Look at the flowers I received. Look at that giant teddy bear someone bought me. Look how much someone loves me. Don't get me wrong, this post is not meant to be one long complaint. I just think there are better ways of showing your partner you love them. As an adult, I feel somewhat indifferent towards the holiday. I have a Valentine, I just choose not to lord that over the rest of the world. Especially towards people that may be feeling a touch left out. I also firmly believe in treating your partner well every day of the year, not just on a day when corporate America tells you to.

I may dislike the holiday, but there's nothing wrong with Valentine's treats! Anyone, regardless of romantic status, can whip up some cupcakes or cookies. In fact, I recommend it. Relationships may be temporary, but chocolate is forever. Right?? Absolutely.

Rest assured friends, this holiday is only one day. Everyone will go back to yelling and talking smack about their partners tomorrow :) Joking!


3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups Valentine M&M's


1. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugars. Whisk until no lumps remain. Mix in egg and egg yolk. Mix in vanilla.
2. Add flour through salt to the bowl. Whisk to combine. The dough will be very soft. Mix in M&M's with a spatula. Chill dough in fridge for 1 hour (this is a must).
3. Preheat oven to 350º. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place dough on countertop, allow to come to room temperature for 10 minutes.
4. Using a 2 tbsp cookie scoop 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.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Easy Raspberry Jam

Occasionally, the craving for raspberry strikes in the dead of winter. In the dead of endless winter snowstorms even. Thank goodness for frozen raspberries is all I have to say. 

Add jam to the list of items I won't be purchasing anymore, along with salsa, applesauce, chicken broth, pizza dough, etc. It's so easy. I'm serious! Raspberries (and blackberries) lend their own pectin to the jam by form of their seeds, meaning there are only 3 ingredients in this jam. It took me 10 minutes to make, and it stays good for up to a month in the fridge. You could even take this to the next level, and can it. This recipe provided 2 small mason jars worth of jam. One jar will be consumed, uh, probably immediately, but I froze the second jar.  

Let me tell you how crazy my raspberry addiction is. It's pretty bad. I usually test to see if the jam is ready by putting a dab on a small dish, and then place the dish in the freezer. If the mixture gels after 1-2 minutes, the jam is ready. When I pulled my dish from the freezer to check it, it was indeed done. The jam also looked pretty good on the plate. So I licked it up. That's right, plate to face. I lapped it up. It's too good to waste even one drop. I might need help.

Tomorrow will be all about Valentines Day cookies! I made M&M Valentines Cookies yesterday, and they turned out amaze-balls. I'm glad I took pics of them right after they came out of the oven, because the hubby consumed quite a few upon returning home from work. He's a cookie monster :) As for today-

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all!


24 oz frozen raspberries, defrosted
3 cups sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice


1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a rolling boil. Place a candy thermometer in the mixture. Cook until jam is 221º. Place a spoonful on a small plate, place in the freezer for 1-2 minutes. If mixture gels, the jam is ready. If not, cook 2-3 more minutes. 
2. Allow jam to cool completely before storage. Jam can be canned or frozen. Stays good in the fridge for up to 1 month in an airtight container. 

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Spicy Shrimp and Pepper Pasta

Ugh, I'm not having a good Tuesday.

I'm dog-less today. The pups are off at the vet, having their teeth cleaned. While I'm sure they aren't having fun there, I'm definitely bummed. I hate days without my dogs. There is an empty heating pad on the couch next to me, with the Blue Monkey perched and lonely sitting atop it. The Blue Monkey also misses his friend. The dogs will be home in a couple of hours, but in the meantime I'll keep glancing at their toy box full of goods, wishing Gizmo was here to give me the stare-down for a tug of war. 

I think I'll also comfort myself with some pasta. Give me shrimp and pasta (together, please!) and I'll be your best friend for life. Seriously. 

This dish has just the right amount of spice. Even the hubby agreed. He's not the biggest pasta person (I seriously don't understand you non-pasta lovers out there), so I was shocked when he went back for seconds. And then proceeded to tell me how much he liked it. I'll take it! The sauce is pretty basic, as I was not wanting to veer into marinara territory, so don't omit any ingredients and I highly recommend not skipping the basil and the cheese. 

One last thing before I go- I did manage to finish watching "12 Years A Slave". Wow. Let me put this out here- I hated every single second I spent watching that movie. It made me brutally sad of what humanity is capable of. That being said, it's a great movie with a great message. The horrors in history are not for the faint of heart. I know I'm faint of heart, the rewatch-ability of this movie is a big, fat zero for me. That's ok, another Best Picture nominee down. We only have "Nebraska", "Dallas Buyers Club", and "Philomenia" left. Getting er' done!

Happy Tuesday friends!

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 (15 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
10 oz dried fettuccine
1 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
garnish- Romano cheese shavings (optional)


1. Heat olive oil in a large, wide-sided pan over medium-high heat. When warm, add peppers and onion to pan. Sauté 5-7 minutes, or until peppers and onion begin to soften. Add garlic to pan, sauté 30 seconds or until fragrant.
2. Add diced tomatoes through crushed red pepper to the pan. Bring sauce to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Simmer 10-20 minutes while you cook the pasta.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions. When pasta has 3-4 minutes to cook, add shrimp to the tomato sauce. When pasta is cooked, drain, and add to the tomato sauce. Toss to combine.
4. Shrimp should be cooked at this point. If they are not, continue to toss pasta over heat for another couple of minutes or until shrimp are pink and opaque. Sprinkle basil over pasta. Season to taste with salt. Divide pasta among plates and top with Romano cheese shavings. Serve immediately.

Linked to: Weekend Potluck

Sunday, February 9, 2014

For The Birds

Female cardinal at the feeder.

Nerdy confession time-

I really like bird-watching.

I mean,  I really, really like bird watching. They fascinate me. I could spend an afternoon in a chair by my French doors leading to the backyard, camera in hand, endlessly watching them fly from one tree to another. The hubby and I have acquired 2 bird feeders (and 1 one squirrel feeder that's now a woodpecker feeder) thus far, and I think it's just the beginning. I'm so excited to get some birdhouses in the spring to try and attract some nesting families. 

Are you snickering at me yet? Probably, but that's ok. I'm ok with my avian love. On that note, yes, I've taken lots of pictures of those flying, feathered creatures in my backyard. In the snow no less!

This is my squirrel feeder that now appears to be a woodpecker feeder. This is the female woodpecker at her claimed meal spot. She loves banging away on it.

This is Woody, the male woodpecker.. He's never far from the house, you can always here him when you go outside. He's the loudest woodpecker I've ever known.

A fat little bluejay.

The female woodpecker likes the other feeders as well.

The female cardinal guarding the feeder from what appears to be a finch (or chickadee? Don't know on that one).

Male cardinal by the re-claimed squirrel feeder.

I just love male cardinals.

Nuthatch at the feeder.

I found the female woodpecker's hiding spot!

She's a crafty one :)
I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! We've still got inches of snow on the ground (although not nearly as much my loved ones in Oregon who have received 13 inches of snow in the last couple of days!), which I'm not loving. Our private lane is packed hard with ice, making it hard to get out of the house. The roads are clear if we can get off our private lane, which takes some effort. There's also a chance of more snow in the forecast. I bet you can guess what we're doing today... That's right! Hunkering down and watching movies!

Are we the most exciting couple ever or what?

Happy Sunday friends!