Monday, September 10, 2012

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup

Summer is pretty much over. 

But you know what?
I am ok with it. 

Actually at this point, I am welcoming fall. I have had some serious soup cravings lately and let me tell you what...this soup won. 

Usually I am the girl that wants it to be 95+ degrees all year round with NO SNOW EVER. 
And I'm sticking with that last part.

BUT since having a kid...and taking care of said kid in a house with only a window air conditioner... I am ok with the heat wave heading on out. 

Also, I was like a billion pounds pregnant last summer when it literally was 95+ degrees every single day... and it wasn't fun. 

And this year was fun, but you can't take a 6-9 month old child to the beach for 8 hours in 95+ degree weather.. No. 

And you can't tell a 6-9 month old baby to go run through the sprinkler when it gets so hot we can't even breath. 

So goodbye summer. 
Hello fall. 

Fall means soup and cute sweaters and scarves and pumpkin and snuggling to get warm and pretty leaves and holidays and last minute attempts to enjoy the outdoors and coffee and hot cocoa and and and... 

And soup. 

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup

1 15oz. can great northern beans or cannellini beans, drained
1 lb ground sausage
1 small onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
3 tbsp olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15oz. can diced tomatoes
6-8 cups chicken broth
1 tsp. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup ditalini pasta
grated parmesan or mozzarella

Brown the sausage in a large pot and remove when done. Remove most of the grease (if any) and add olive oil, carrot, and onion and saute about 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic and saute another minute.

Add tomatoes, 6 cups broth, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper, beans, and sausage and cover. Cook on low for an hour at a simmer. Add pasta and cook uncovered until pasta is tender. At this point you can determine if you want to add more broth. I made 8 cups of broth just in case, but only ended up using 6 cups.

Top with grated cheese before serving. (Parmesan is preferred over mozzarella)

Recipe slightly adapted from: The Italian Dish

I told you this soup won. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chocolate Chunk Oreo Chunk Chocoholic Cookies

Oh hi! Remember that time when I told you I was pregnant? 

Ya. These are pregnant lady cookies. 
Meaning these are "I don't care if it's 10 o'clock at night. I need chocolate cookies now!" cookies. 

And the truth is, I feel like these pictures are kind of crap. 

They just don't do these cookies justice. 
Because everything about these cookies makes a pregnant lady happy. 

So that's a good cookie. 

Chocolate Chunk Oreo Chunk Chocoholic Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup chocolate chunks
10 slightly crushed oreos (the original recipe calls for 20, but I only had 10...add however much you want)

Preheat oven to 350.

Stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. 

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat eggs in one at a time until blended. Add vanilla and beat until mixed. With the mixer on low, slowly add flour mixture until fully combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks and oreos. 

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 9 minutes. They will look slightly undone, but leave them on the sheet for a couple minutes before moving them to cooling racks. Overbaked chocolate cookies are no good. 

Makes 4-5 dozen cookies. 

Recipe slightly adapted from: Confessions of a Cookbook Queen

Also, like I said, it was 10 o'clock at night and I had to make so many adaptions to this recipe that I didn't even know if it would turn I wasn't really planning for pictures. But SO delish they were!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken with Fried Rice

I have had some SERIOUS happy cooking mojo lately.

This is another pinterest recipe gone good.

And other than being a little time consuming, it was SO easy. I'm definitely putting it on my "recipe staples" list.

We've been updating our laundry room this week...

And by updating I mean we poured concrete counter tops, ripped out and patched, mudded, and sanded drywall, painting, etc. etc.... bla bla bla.

And by WE I mean my husband did almost all of that by himself... (I'm pregnant...I have excuses.)

So needless to say I have been NOT cleaning. And NOT doing laundry.

Other than playing with my adorable baby kid all day, I'm starting to get kind of bored.

Solution: Make everything I want from Pinterest.
You should do it too.

But first, make everything from my blog. :)

Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken with Fried Rice

3 chicken breast, cubed
salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup sugar
4 TBS ketchup
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 TBS soy sauce
1large garlic clove, minced or grated

Fried Rice:
2-3 cups cooked brown rice
3 TBS olive oil
1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup soy sauce

For the Chicken:
Preheat oven to 350.

Season the cubed chicken with salt and pepper. Coat completely with cornstarch and then dip in the eggs. Heat the oil in a skillet and cook the chicken until browned but not COMPLETELY cooked through.

Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Pour the chicken in a greased 9x13 dish and pour the sauce mix evenly over the top of the chicken

Bake for an hour, flipping the chicken every 15 minutes. (This is the relatively time consuming part.)

For the Fried Rice:
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. Saute the peas, carrots, onions, and garlic until softened. Lower the heat to medium, push the vegetable mixture to one side and scramble the egg in the center of the pan. Once the egg is cooked add the rice and soy sauce and mix everything together. Fry until completely heated through. 

This is the first time that I actually made fried rice successfully. And by successfully I mean it tasted like the kind you get at a restaurant. 

Recipe by: Life as a Lofthouse

I paired this with baked egg rolls....YUM-O.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Baked Pork Egg Rolls

I made the most delicious food this week.

Each new recipe I tried not only was a success, but was so good I wanted to make it again and again and again.

That doesn't always happen you know.

Sometimes (or you know, every single night) I spend hours on pinterest pinning and reading all these beautiful and delicious recipes....and then I never make them.

Or I make them and they turn out like crap.
Or I make them, but change all of the ingredients and they turn out delicious!

On that note...

BIGGEST INTERNET RECIPE PET PEEVE EVER: When someone comments on a recipe that it was so gross and they'd never make it again or it was ridiculously hard and impossible even for a genius....BUT THEY DIDN'T FOLLOW ANY OF THE DIRECTIONS!



Ok, listen. You have all the right in the world to use whatever ingredients or technique you so choose...
BUT if someone posts a recipe saying "this is good if you use this and do it this way" really don't have the right to change everything and then give the original recipe a bad review.

This hasn't happened to me.

But every time I read a recipe I read the comments to see what the general feedback is and there's always that one person that's like "Well I changed the first five ingredients...and I didn't cook it as long as you said. I definitely will not recommend this recipe to anyone!"

So please...change all the ingredients if you want (I do it all the time.) Experiment with cooking time. Change it however you want...but know that if it turns out super disgusting, it might not be the ORIGINAL recipes fault.

I'm just saying....

Ok I'll get off my little rant. I started out trying to tell you that I always read pinterest recipes and never try them. And this week all the ones I tried were AMAZING.

Starting with these baked egg rolls.

My husband and I rarely eat any fried food. But I have a thing for asian food, specifically all the asian food that is fried.

So a recipe that is baked (and therefore must be in the "incredibly healthy"category) is worth trying.

Also, unlike Spring Rolls these egg rolls are REALLY easy to make. (I'm not dissing the spring rolls, but those took forever to roll.) It just takes a little water on the corners of the egg roll wrappers and they roll right up. 

The original recipe didn't include any pork, but I wanted the egg rolls to be a bit more filling so I decided to add ground pork.

Super great addition!

I'm usually not a huge fan of egg rolls with just cabbage.
Egg rolls with pork...YES.

Serve with rice and dipping sauce. I made a 50/50 soy/rice vinegar dipping sauce and bought a bottle of sweet chili sauce (my fav!)

Baked Pork Egg Rolls

1 lb ground pork
1 bag cole slaw
1 pkg egg roll wrappers
Kikkoman garlic teriyaki sauce
soy sauce
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375.

Put the coleslaw in a microwave safe bowl with a very small splash of water and microwave for 5 minutes. Drain any extra liquid.

 Brown the ground pork. Season and pour a splash of the garlic teriyaki in right before it's completely cooked (I just poured some in, it was probably a couple tablespoons at most) just so it's slightly flavored but not completely wet.

In a large bowl mix the cooked ground pork, heated coleslaw, garlic, ginger, a little salt and pepper, and a splash of soy sauce. Place a bit of filling in the center of each egg roll wrapper. Keep a small bowl of water next to you and with your finger rub a little water around each corner. Fold three corners in and then roll towards the remaining corner. Make sure the inside of that last corner has water on it so when it wraps around it will stick to the roll.

Place the egg rolls on a greased baking sheet and spray the tops of the egg rolls with cooking spray.

Bake 15 minutes and then flip the egg rolls. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes.
Let cool a few minutes before serving. Serve with sweet chili sauce or soy.

These were best served fresh, although I had a few left over that I reheated the next day and they tasted fine. The wrapper just wasn't as crispy.

Recipe adapted from: Joyful Abode

Monday, August 27, 2012

Tuna Cakes

I have like 20 other posts that are waiting to be published. But I made this tonight and it was so good I wanted to share it immediately.

We are seriously past grocery day and I was too lazy to go to the store, so I went to one of those websites where you put in all the ingredients you have in your fridge and it gives you recipe possibilities.

Well, needless to say....I have a ton of tuna and thought , "hey if this is gross I'll make tuna sandwiches."

So. Not. Gross.

The base of this recipe is literally tuna, eggs, and breadcrumbs...but that sounds seriously boring.
So I doctored it up a bit.

Please make this...someday when you are searching your cupboards looking for something other than crackers and water.

Try these tuna cakes. They are definitely going on my list of recipe staples.

Tuna Cakes

2 cans tuna
2 eggs
3/4 cup home style stuffing
2 tsp. Dijon style mustard
3 tsp. Teriyaki sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Salt and pepper to taste. Form 4 tuna patties and fry in sesame oil (or any cooking oil, that's just what I had) until golden on both sides.

I served with brown rice and topped with sweet chili sauce. It was a slightly Asian tasting meal. Super tasty served this way.

Recipe inspired by: My Fridge Food

I kind of want to go make these right now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chipotle Mayo

This post is a quickie.

This is one of those recipes that hardly even counts as a recipe.

You can be so bad at cooking that you're basically the anti-cook. BUT even anti-cooks can make a sandwich. I threw a baby shower (actually TWO baby showers) for my sister and my sister-in-law and served up a sandwich bar. It was a hit! I had a bunch of different toppings and different condiments; one obviously being Chipotle Mayo.

So if you are an anti-cook and are incapable of making anything impressive over the stove, make a bunch of sandwiches with homemade dressings. (Or better yet, get all the sandwich stuff and make your guests make their own! You can't mess that up)

It's impressive and it's easy.
I will definitely be making this again if only to have on hand in my refrigerator.

Chipotle Mayo

1 cup mayo (NOT miracle whip)
2 chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1/2 lime, juice

Toss all ingredients in a food processor and puree until desired consistency. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Doesn't get much easier than that!

Recipe from: Food Network, Bobby Flay

Monday, August 13, 2012

Summer Salad

I warned you that summer was here and therefore I am busy.

You haven't seen many blog posts this season, but don't worry. I have about a billion lined up just waiting for text.

This summer has been a mixture of crazy and fun. Let me just cue you in on a few points.

My sister is pregnant.
My sister in law is pregnant.
My OTHER sister in law is pregnant.
I'M PREGNANT! (6 weeks...)

My parents took on a new church in a new area.
They're moving.

We vacationed, put on a conference with 1000 teenagers, updated multiple areas of our house. We went to the beach, traveled, had multiple sets of company.

I planned two elaborate baby showers...and am currently making plans for a wedding I'm in this fall.
AND I HAVE A CHILD UNDER THE AGE OF 1. That right there tops everything.

Those are just a FEW of the major things we took part in this summer, but here's something to know: during all of those previously mentioned fun and crazy things, we ate food! I know... you're surprised.

So I have many recipes, some crappy pictures, and about 20 blog posts waiting to be published. Over the next few weeks I'll share some of the things I made this summer.

Starting with this salad.

I don't even know what to say about this salad other than OOHHH EMMMM GEEEEE!

It is SO good.

I called it a "Summer Salad" because I don't know where the recipe originally came from; therefore, I don't know what it's originally called. Plus I made it this summer...and it has so many delicious things in it that I couldn't call it a chicken salad, or even a berry salad. So it's a summer salad.

If this isn't summery, then I don't know what is.

Summer Salad

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
Mixture of romaine lettuce and spring mix
1 lb strawberries, sliced
1 cup blueberries
2/3 cup blue cheese
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp. olive oil

I personally don't think you can wreck that's why I don't have real quantity measurements for the lettuce. Start with as much lettuce as you think appropriate (I probably did 6 or 7 cups) in a large serving bowl (this is a large salad.) Place the shredded chicken in the center of the lettuce. Spread the berries around the outside of the chicken. Sprinkle the blue cheese over the whole thing. Spread the peanuts in the center and drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over the entire salad. Finish with salt and pepper.

If you are skeptical of the dressing, you could leave it out and serve something else on the side. But know this: every time I've had this or made this people wonder what in the world is in the dressing...and NO ONE has ever said they didn't like it.

Recipe from: I'm not sure, but I wish I had made it up.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

I originally titled this post, "The Perfect Summer Cake."

And quite honestly, it IS the perfect summer cake. I've made it four times already this summer and every single time it tasted perfect.

I've made this cake a few different ways: four full layers (which, by the way, makes the cake literally a foot tall), four half layers, two full layers, and finally (as you can see in this photo) zebra.

I found out the hard way that layering four full layers made the cake look super cool, but it barely even fit in the fridge. It was so tall that cutting a piece took 2 large knives, 4 hands, and a quick plate. 

Looked impressive. 
Ridiculously unpractical.

So, this time I decided to zebra the layers. This particular batter was a little bit thicker than I would have preferred, so the layers didn't spread as evenly or pretty as I would have liked. But the effect was still impressive.

If you've never made a zebra cake before, its SO easy. You just pour 1/3 cup of white batter in the center of the pan; and then 1/3 cup of red batter in the center of the white batter. Keep pouring directly in the center with alternating colors until the pan is filled (per baking directions.)

In between each layer (no matter how many layers you do) spread a generous amount of whipped cream and chopped strawberries. 

The original recipe calls for white cake mix and red velvet cake mix. I've made it that way and it is delicious. But this time I couldn't find red velvet cake mix anywhere. So I substituted with strawberry cake mix. 

Either one you choose tastes amazing.

Even with four layers this cake was incredibly light and refreshing.

AND its made with cake mix! So consider it quick and easy.

Strawberry Shortcake Cake

Box white cake
Box red velvet cake
2 16 oz containers of whipped cream
1 lb strawberries, chopped

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix cake mixes according to directions on box. Lightly grease two 9 inch cake pans. To zebra the layers pour 1/3 cup of white batter in the center of the pan; and then 1/3 cup of red batter in the center of the white batter. Keep pouring directly in the center with alternating colors until both pans are filled (about 2/3 full.)

Bake for 30 minutes or until center is set (use a knife or toothpick to test...if it comes out clean it's done!)

Once both layers are completely cooled, spread whipped cream on top of the bottom layer. Top with strawberries and second layer. Frost the entire cake with remaining whipped cream and top with strawberries.

If you are going to travel with this cake I've found it to be easier to just assemble on site. Whipped cream doesn't hold up as well as frosting in heat or in travel, so keep it in the fridge until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from: I am baker

This really is the perfect summer cake.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Caesar Pasta Salad

Ok this is how I feel about pasta salad: BORING!!

Seriously, it's all the same.
Don't get me wrong. Pasta salad has its place. It's a great summer side dish.

I'm just so over the same pasta salad at every single barbecue.
Pasta. Italian dressing. Pepperoni.

So when I was asked to bring a pasta salad to a summer party, I went searching for something NOT doused in italian dressing.

Ok. So this is doused in caesar dressing. BUT it's delicious. And it's different.

So next time you're asked to one of those "bring a dish to pass" summer gatherings, try this salad instead.

Caesar Pasta Salad

1 16 oz box rotini pasta
1 1/2 cups creamy Caesar salad dressing
1 lemon, zest and juice
4 tbsp fresh parsley
1/2-1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup garlic croutons
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions on box. Drain and rise with cold water.
Combine salad dressing, lemon zest and juice, and parsley. Add pasta and remaining ingredients.
Serve chilled.

Note: I tossed extra caesar dressing on it right before I served, because no one likes a dry pasta salad. ;)

Recipe slightly adapted from: Sandra Lee

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Peanut Butter Crispies

I don't even know if Peanut Butter Crispies is really the right name for this. 

I mean, they are peanut-butter-ey. 
And they are crispy. 

But there aren't any "Krispies" as per usual in a "Krispy Treat."

But we're not being literal with this dessert. 

Literal would be titled "Peanut Butter Marshmallow Honey Bunches of Oats and Frosted Flakes drizzled with Peanut Butter and Fudge Treats."

And we both know THATS not going to happen. 
So, Peanut Butter Crispies it is. 

Anywho, one day I was like "Hey husband, why aren't there any delicious treats in this house?!" And he was all, "I don't know? How come you never make any delicious treats for us to eat right now?" 

Doesn't really make sense. 

Okay, what really happened was I was like, "I'm hungry and want snacks now!" And then I went and made a full pan of all the sweet stuff I could muster up. 

True story? Husband ate almost the entire pan himself. 

(Snack thief)

Peanut Butter Crispies

3 cups Honey Bunches of Oats cereal
2 cups Frosted Flakes cereal
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 7oz container marshmallow fluff
2 tbsp (each) melted peanut butter and fudge for drizzling (optional)

Heat 1/2 cup peanut butter and container of marshmallow fluff in a pan over medium heat until completely melted and combined. 

Mix the cereal and PB/marshmallow mixture and press into a lightly greased 9x9 brownie pan. Drizzle with peanut butter and fudge and let chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes. 

Instant gratification people. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Banana Bread

There's something about starting a blog that requires you to write in it sometimes. 

Oh yea. 

It's that you are required to write in it sometimes. 
I guess I got confused. 

But really I just got busy. Once summer rolls around stuff happens, people travel, amazing and wonderful things take place. And I find myself avoiding the computer. I live in Michigan, so you have to understand that we get approximately three months (and three months only) where the weather reaches temperatures ABOVE 40. It's amazing. 

So I hope you will understand when I show up late for the blog party. Or whatever. 


All of that being said, I have still been cooking and baking. (And eating.) 

Check out this banana bread! 

Banana bread is not a very "summery" treat. I know. I get it.

BUT I had overripe bananas in my freezer and a late night craving. So bear with me. 

I hope you know about overripe bananas. But hey, if you don't it's okay. I'll tell you. 

When your bananas get brown and gross looking...toss them in the freezer. Then when you are laying on the couch at 11 o'clock at night and suddenly need banana bread slathered in homemade cinnamon honey butter, you'll be prepared. 

Toss the frozen bananas in a warm water bath for 5 or so minutes and when they thaw you can squeeze the banana goo out of the peels for perfect banana bread. 

(I know...banana goo is not the most appetizing description...especially when my job is to make this appetizing. But I'm just calling it like it is.)

So I've made this recipe like 400 times and every single time my husband has eaten it without complaint. No problems. 

He's usually really easy to please like that. As long as the rice is fully cooked and I haven't over garlickified something (although he's warming up to my strong obsession with too much garlic) he's usually pretty happy.

But this time he took one bite and said, "this has walnuts in it?!?!" like I had taken his least favorite food and stuffed it in his favorite food just to be mean. 

Note to self: apparently my husband doesn't like walnuts in his bread. My bad.

Anywho, it turns out that was the only problem with this banana bread. The optional addition of walnuts. 

So make this banana bread. 
Nuts or not.
Summer or not.

Just make it. 

Banana Bread

10 tbsp plus 1 tsp butter
3 mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Lightly grease a bread pan with 1 tsp of the butter. Puree the bananas, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in a food processor. Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fixed with a whisk attachment. Add the remaining 10 tbsp of butter and mix on medium-low speed until blended, about 30 seconds. Add the banana mixture in 3 batches, scraping the sides of the bowl and mixing on medium speed between each addition. Fold in the nuts.

Pour into the loaf pan. Bake until lightly browned and bread bounces back to the touch, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before turning out onto wire rack to cool completely. 

Recipe slightly adapted from:

But seriously, add the walnuts.