Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Quinoa and Roasted Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Happy Leap Day!

Ready or not, I will be cruising here in 2.5 weeks!  My body is definitely not beach worthy by any means, I am continuing my quest to eat well to maybe shed a couple more pounds before we go.  

I LOVE quinoa.  It is such a great side dish, I have tried it in a few different salads, and have loved it every time.   This particular version is packed with great stuff for you, it will not disappoint :)

Quinoa and Roasted Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

2 cups of cooked Quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
5 ears of corn, husk removed, brush with olive oil and grilled, remove corn with sharp knife (I charred 2 c. frozen corn in a pan)
2 avocados, diced and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent browning
2 cups tomatoes, red and yellow cherry variety or equivalent
1 small red onion, finely diced
¾ cups feta cheese, crumbled
1 ½ cups english cucumber, skin on and chopped small dice
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 TB of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Add to a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.

Cilantro Vinaigrette
6 T. Olive oil
2 T. Sherry vinegar
1 tsp. Garlic powder
2 T. Fresh cilantro, minced
½ tsp. Salt
10 Grinds of fresh ground pepper

Add all of the above ingredients in a small glass jar with a lid. Shake really well. Taste and adjust seasoning as you desire.
When ready to serve salad, add the dressing and gently toss.

Recipe Source:  On My Menu

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

I just got back from a visit to was wonderful.  I miss the mountains dearly.  I am grateful that in a few short months we are moving back West, the gray skies in the Midwest are about enough to drive any sane person cuckoo!  

While I was there, my mom made these bars for a neighbor and I got to try some.  They are great, and the fact they are made with a yellow cake mix makes them easy!  Enjoy :)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

1 (18.25) package plain yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 eggs

1 (12 oz) package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 Tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup coconut (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine cake mix, melted butter, peanut butter, and eggs in a large bowl using a mixer or spoon. Press this into a 9X13 pan reserving 1 1/2 cup of the mixture to crumble on top.

In a small pot, melt chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and coconut.
Spread chocolate mixture over the mixture pressed in the pan and then crumble the 1 1/2 cups of reserved cake mixture on top evenly.
Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into bars.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Asphalt Pie

Think GREEN! 

Valentines Day has only just passed, but it is time to switch gears to the next holiday!  I have been so excited going over potential breakfast/dinner/treat recipes for St. Patty's Day. There are about a zillion ideas in my head, and I've had a hard time narrowing the list down to only a few choices. 

I'd like to share with you a yummy copycat dessert from Wingers.  I remember many nights in high school heading over to the restaurant to share a slice of this yummy stuff with a friend.  It would be perfect to grace your table on St. Patty's Day, and is super simple to put together :)
Asphalt Pie

2 1/4 cups crushed Oreo cookies
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 gallon mint chocolate chip ice cream, softened
hot fudge
caramel sauce
Ready Whip whipped cream

Combine 2 cups of Oreos and the melted butter. Press down onto a 9 inch pie pan. Then add about 1/4 cup of hot fudge. Scoop ice cream onto the crust until pie is completely covered. Put in freezer for about 3-4 hours. Before serving top with reserved Oreos, caramel sauce and whip cream!

Recipe Source: Our Family Treat

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies

I have been DROOLING over many St. Patty's Day treats the past few weeks, and have given into a few of the yummy treats!  These yummy cookies are super easy, and only take 4 ingredients.  They are perfect if you have to take some treats to someone last minute, because they are just THAT fast!  I love the green swirls on top, that's why I'm including them in my St. Patty's Day lineup :)

Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies

1 Devil's Food Cake Mix
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 package of Andes Mints

Mix cake mix, oil, and eggs together. Drop spoonfuls of dough onto baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-9 minutes. Don't cook any longer than that! You don't want them to be overdone!
Take sheet out of oven and while the cookies are still very hot, place an Andes Mint on top of each cookie. In about 5 minutes, the mint will be melted. Take a spoon and smooth out each mint like frosting.

Recipe Source: Six SIsters Stuff

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Avocado Chicken Parmesan

I love a good twist on a traditional meal.  I love a good twist on a lasagna, pizza, spaghetti, sandwiches, etc.  Here is a twist I found on the traditional chicken parmesan.  It is wonderful.  I love avocados, and this variation combines some yummy creamy avocados with the rest of your favorite ingredients.  Enjoy :)

Avocado Chicken Parmesan

2 Chicken Breast Fillets, halved lengthways
1/2 Cup Plain Flour
2 Tablespoons Fresh Milk
2 Eggs
1 1/2 Cups Dried Breadcrumbs
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil/Cooking Spray
1/2 Cup Tomato Pasta Sauce
Avocado, Sliced
1/2 Cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese
Salad Green, to serve
Place chicken breast in a clear plastic bag (alternatively between 2 sheets plastic wrap), using a rolling pin or meat mallet pound until 0.5cm thick.

2. Place flour and breadcrumbs on two separate plate and lightly whisk milk and egg together in a shallow bowl.

3. Coat 1 piece of chicken breast in flour (shaking off excess), dip in egg mixture then coat in breadcrumbs using your fingertips pressing on to secure.

4. Place on prepared baking tray lay with foil or baking paper, repeat the same process with the remaining chicken breast with flour, egg and etc.

5. Lightly spray or brush the prepared chicken with oil, bake for 8 minutes (turning after 4 minutes to have evenly colours on the breadcrumbs) in preheated 200 degree Celsius fan-forced oven.

6. Remove from oven and spread each chicken breast with 1 heaped tablespoon of pasta sauce. Arrange avocado slices over sauce and sprinkle with decent amount of mozzarella cheese.

7. Return to oven and bake for another 5 - 7 minutes or until golden and chicken is cooked through.

8. Serve with either garden salad or use it as a main topping on cooked pasta.

Recipe Source:  Cuisine Paradise

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies

I had to share one of our Valentines treats that we made last week! These cookies are extremely easy to make, and are moist and flavorful. Not to mention that homemade cream cheese frosting is probably the best stuff ever :)

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 box red velvet cake mix
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Half a batch of cream cheese frosting *see below

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In an electric mixing bowl, combine cake mix, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until a dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips.

Roll into 24 balls and bake for 8 minutes.

Spread the bottom half of a cookie with cream cheese frosting. Top with another cookie. You’ll have a total of 12 cookie sandwiches.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce package cream cheese
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-3 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla. Add powdered sugar gradually, until frosting reaches spreading consistency and desired sweetness. If not using immediately, refrigerate.

Recipe Source: Cassie Craves

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cranberry Orange Scones

I love a good breakfast!  I think making a homemade breakfast in a great way to bring families together.  Don't get me wrong, I only make a homemade breakfast about once a week (getting out of bed before 9 o'clock is still painful for me :)  

Fresh scones are wonderful, and I'm not sure why I haven't attempted making any until now!  They are wonderful and topped with a bit of homemade jam, they just can't be beat.

Cranberry Orange Scones

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
3 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more if necessary

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest.
With a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in dried cranberries.

Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add buttermilk, and stir until just combined; do not overmix. Use a little more buttermilk if dough is too dry to work with.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface; shape into an 8-inch round. Transfer to baking sheet. Cut circle into 8 wedges; space them 1/2 inch apart (to prevent sticking, dust knife with flour). Bake until golden, 18 to 20 minutes.

Recipe Source:  Martha Stewart

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Basic Breakfast Potatoes

Sometimes a good hearty breakfast on a Sunday morning just hits the spot!  These yummy spuds are great along all your breakfast favorites...pancakes, eggs benedict, french toast, or even in a breakfast burrito :)  

Basic Breakfast Potatoes
4 whole (to 5) Large Red Potatoes
1 whole Onion
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Or Canola Oil
1 Tablespoon Bacon Fat
Salt And Pepper, to taste
Red And Green Bell Peppers, Diced (optional)

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover entirely with water. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender. When they are ready, place the potatoes on a cutting board and dice them into 1-inch pieces.

Next cut up an onion into a large, rough dice.

In a large skillet heat oil and bacon fat over medium-low heat. Put the onions in the skillet and sauté until they start to turn brown. (You can also use red and green bell peppers diced up. If you do, throw them in at this point).

Next, throw in the diced potatoes. Stir well and then slightly press/pack then. Now you will cook them without stirring for several minutes. You want the pan to be hot enough to crisp the potatoes but not hot enough to char them. (Optional step: sprinkle a bit of flour over potatoes as they cook). Cook for several minutes and then flip them with a spatula. Salt and Pepper them as they cook. Cook until desired brownness.

Recipe Source:  The Pioneer Woman

Friday, February 10, 2012

Creole Spiced Chicken or Salmon with Southwest StyleCorn and Avocado Relish

My hubby does cook.  When he does cook, he cooks amazing things.  I like it when he cooks, getting a break every now and again is awesome.  This yummy recipe would be great to make for your Valentine, it is easy and looks super impressive!  Not to mention that it is good for you, which always is a plus :)

Creole Spiced Salmon (or Chicken) with Southwest Style Corn and Avocado Relish

  • 2 large ears fresh yellow corn, peeled and silk removed
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1-2 Hass avocados, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (use as much or as little as you like)
  • 6 tablespoons finely chopped red onions
  • 1/4 cub chopped fresh cilantro (again, to your liking)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets with the skin (or substitute boneless, skinless chicken breasts)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning
  • Grilled Asparagus with Garlic, recipe follows
Place corn on grill with medium-high heat.  Grill until kernels begin to caramelize, turning every few minutes. When cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the ear and place in a medium bowl. To the corn, add the bell pepperavocados, onions, cilantro, jalapeno, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and set aside.
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.
Lightly brush the fillets with the olive oil and season each on the flesh side liberally with Creole seasoning. Add to the grill, skin side down, and cook until the skin is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and cook until the salmon is opaque and medium-rare, about 4 minutes, depending upon the thickness of the fillets.

To serve, lay the asparagus fillets down the center of 4 large plates and place the fillets on the asparagus. Spoon the relish over the fish and serve immediately.

Grilled Asparagus with Garlic:
  • 1 pound large asparagus, woody ends trimmed*
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic

Preheat the grill to medium.
In a shallow baking dish, toss the asparagus with the oil to coat well. Add the salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly.

Place the asparagus on the grill in a single layer, and cook, turning, until marked and tender, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with the lemon juice and garlic and toss well. Cover with aluminum foil and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 4 servings

*NOTE: Large asparagus can be placed directly on the grill; smaller ones may fall through during cooking. If cooking thin asparagus, use a grill basket.
Recipe Source:  adapted from Emeril Lagasse via Food Network

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Spicy Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

I really am trying to eat better these last few meals have been a lot better, its the darn sweets that have been getting me!  So to continue my quest, I whipped up some of these yummy lettuce wraps for the Superbowl as a healthier option to the traditional greasy fatty food usually accompanied by the big game.  

These are truly phenomenal, and you don't have to feel guilty about going back for seconds :)  

Spicy Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger root, peeled and grated
1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken (or turkey)
4 tablespoons soy sauce 
2 tablespoons Sriracha
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 small can water chestnuts, chopped (used carrots this time) 
1/3 cup chopped peanuts 
1 head butter lettuce (or iceburg)

Heat oil in a large non-stick frying pan, add onion and saute about 2 minutes, then add garlic and ginger root and saute another minute. Add ground chicken (turkey) to frying pan and break apart, then add soy sauce and Sriracha. Cook until the chicken (turkey) is brown and crumbling apart, and the sauce is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes.

While chicken (turkey) cooks, wash and chop cilantro. Remove the core end from lettuce and separate leaves. Chop peanuts and put in small bowl to serve at the table. When turkey is done, add chopped water chestnuts and chopped cilantro and cook 1-2 minutes more. 

To serve: place chicken mixture on lettuce leaf, sprinkle with peanuts, and fold the leaf closed to make it easy to grab and eat.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Country Style Bacon and Corn Quiche

This winter surprises me everyday.  I can't get over the fact that I have been going out on walks with my 1 and 3 year old in the middle of January/February.  I have loved seeing the sun a lot more than in years past instead of straight gray skies for months on end.  And I have loved being able to take many of my pictures outside, which I love (for some reason, natural sunlight always just makes everything look better!)

I think quiches are such a fun food.  I have tried making 4 or 5 different ones now, and I love that they are so simple, yet impressive.  You can basically dump any ingredients you have on hand in and it will come out fabulous.  The corn was an interesting change to the normal recipes  I have had in the past.  And can you go wrong with bacon!  

You can be a cheater, like me, and buy a pre-made crust.  I'm sure if you made the crust as instructed, you would not be disappointed, though :)

Country Style Bacon and Corn Quiche


  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup fine-grind whole grain cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening (preferably with no trans fats), diced
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons Nonstick vegetable oil spray


  • 1/2 pound bacon, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui)
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 12-ounce package frozen corn kernels (2 1/2 cups), thawed, patted dry
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 1/2 cups (packed) coarsely grated Gruyère cheese (about 6 ounces)(Swiss cheese can be substituted here)

For Crust

  • Whisk first 3 ingredients in large bowl. Using back of fork, cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 3 tablespoons ice water. Toss until dough comes together in moist clumps, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Shape dough into disk. Wrap; chill at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish with nonstick spray. Place large piece of parchment paper on work surface. Place dough in center; cover with second sheet of parchment. Roll out dough to 12-inch round. Peel off top parchment. Using bottom parchment as aid, turn dough over into prepared pie dish. Carefully peel off remaining parchment. Fit crust into dish, sealing any tears. Fold excess dough under and crimp edges, forming highstanding rim. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

For filling

  • Cook bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but 1 1/2 tablespoons drippings. Add onion and pepper to skillet. Sauté until almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add corn; sauté until very tender, about 3 minutes longer.
  • Whisk next 6 ingredients in large bowl to blend. Mix in green onions, then corn mixture. Sprinkle bacon, then cheese over bottom of crust. Pour in egg mixture.
  • Bake pie until filling is golden and just set in center, about 55 minutes. Let pie cool at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour. Serve slightly warm.

Recipe Source:  Bon Appetit

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yummy Guacamole

Say hello to the best guac I have ever made!  What would the Superbowl be without a bowl of guacamole?!  It just wouldn't be the same.

I took advantage of the Superbowl sales this week and got a bunch of avocados at a decent price and whipped up some of this divine green dip.  I loved the addition of the jalapenos and the hot sauce, it definitely made it for me.  Not to mention it is chock full of cilantro, my favorite ingredient on the planet :)

Yummy Guacamole

3 avocados
Red onion, chopped (about 1/4 c.)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (or to taste)
1 large ripe garden tomato (or 2 smaller tomatoes), diced
juice of 1 lime
4-5 shakes green Tabasco sauce
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh cracked pepper, to taste

Pit avocados and mash in a bowl. If you like your guac kind of chunky, coarsely chop with the side of a fork instead of using the fork to mash it straight down. Carefully stir in remaining ingredients until well mixed. 

Recipe Source: Favorite Family Recipes

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ranch Greek Dip

Mmm...Superbowl food!  I love all the yummy dips and other appetizers that are around for football parties!  This one may be a little more figure friendly than some, but is still packed full of flavor.  The crisp vegetables are awesome in this, and it would be great with pita chips as well :)

Ranch Greek Dip

8 ounces lowfat sour cream
8 ounces plain Greek yogurt

1/3 cup seeded diced roma tomato
1/3 cup seeded diced cucumber
3 sliced green onions
1/2 cup crumbled feta
juice of one lemon
packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dip mix

In a large mixing bowl combine: sour cream, Greek yogurt, tomato, cucumber, green onions, feta, lemon, and Ranch dip mix. Stir well to evenly combine the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the flavors combine. FYI, the flavor of this dip is best if you let it chill out in the fridge overnight. 

Recipe Source: The Weekend Gourmet