Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rice and Beans

I'm back! I'm back! My computer is all better (I hope!) and I have sooo much to share with you. Here is one of my new favorites...

This was a reader request. She wanted a good rice and beans recipe. I have to be honest here. I have never had rice and beans before, so I had no idea what the flavor profile is, what it's supposed to taste like, or even what kind of beans are usually used. So, I raided the pantry and started dumping stuff in a pot. The end result was pretty tasty, in my opinion, and I ate it for dinner that night, and lunch the next few days until it was gone. Then I made it again a few days later, and again the week after that. I don't generally repeat recipes in the same month, so to make something 3 times in less than 3 weeks, well that's saying something. For me, anyway. I don't know if it was what my reader had in mind, but I hope she likes it!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I haven't left you...

I'm still here, I swear. But some horrible thing has made my poor little computer sick as a dog and until I figure out how to fix it, I'm available only on Facebook (and I'm quite active there, I might add). Please keep in touch there while I work on my technical difficulties. Thanks so much!

~Lisa Marie

Monday, May 6, 2013

Perfect Bacon Every Time

I am a bacon-aholic. I could polish off an entire package by myself in one sitting and not even feel bad about it. When I was 17, I took a small trip into the land of vegetarianism. It lasted exactly one month. My whole family was having a big Sunday morning breakfast, complete with pancakes and eggs and sausage and, you guessed it - bacon. I couldn't take it any more. Bacon brought me back.

Since then, I have spent years slaving over a hot, popping pan, getting burned by bacon grease at every turn. My forearms were covered in mini burns. I started wearing long sleeved shirts to cook my beloved bacon. I ruined several shirts this way - oil spatters are hard to get out! I relinquished the job to Andrew for a while. Until the day I took back the bacon! "I'll use the oven," I said. "It will be perfect," I said. And it was. And we all lived happily ever after.

High Protein Pancakes

I produce string bean children. It doesn't matter how much weight I gain during pregnancy, or how much I feed them after birth, or how many extra calories I pack onto their favorite foods - my offspring seem to be genetically predispositioned to be tall, lanky, all arms and legs and not an ounce of fat anywhere. Don't get me wrong, they're very healthy kids, but a strong breeze could knock them over.

That being said, I'm always looking for ways to get some extra protein in their diets, and that powdered whey stuff you turn into milk shakes... well, we'll save that for the bodybuilders - it freaks me out. I wouldn't drink it myself, and so I'm sure as heck not pumping my kids full of it. THAT being said, I'm super excited whenever I figure out a natural way to add an extra dose of protein to a food I know they are going to love, and that's exactly what we have here for you today! I surprised even myself with how good these are - I hope you like them!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The First Green Smoothie That Didn't Make Me Gag

I know it's not the most attractive title, but it's true. Not only did it NOT send me running for the kitchen sink, I actually enjoyed it. I consider myself a fairly healthy person. I eat at least 4 fruits and vegetables daily, I drink almost a gallon of water, about 80% of my grains are whole, and we rarely eat processed food. I make my own bread twice a week, jam, ice cream, almond milk, and chocolate sauce, among other things.

We have a juicer, but throwing away all the fiber killed me. So we got a NutriBullet. Oh my gosh, I love this thing. Toss in fruits and veggies whole and it completely liquifies everything. Perfect! Now, I'll admit that I dumped a bunch of different green smoothies down the drain before finally conceding and just making all fruit ones. But I was determined to turn it all around and I recently accepted Desiree's 30-Day Love Your Greens Challenge from Unconventional Kitchen.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hospitals and Weddings and Hospitals Again...

I know I've been MIA the last few weeks, but that's because I've been in and out of the hospital three times. They think I may have had a mild heart attack. Well, if they think that's going to stop me, they've got another thing coming!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chocolate Recipe Roundup

I have been having some serious chocolate cravings lately. I absolutely positively can't get enough of the stuff. I even bought chocolate yogurt yesterday. You know it's bad when you're turning your healthy snacks into chocolate treats! Andrew's been having the same issue - he actually found (and bought) a 1 lb. chocolate bar at the grocery store - I wouldn't even go that far! But, just in case you are having the same insatiable cravings we are, I decided to be a sweetie and put my best chocolate recipes all in one place for you. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sesame Shrimp Soba Noodles

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to the Asian Supermarket near our house to look for bento lunch supplies. I didn't find anything I wanted, but I have trouble walking out of a store with nothing. I always feel like the owners are staring me down, calling me names in their heads. 

So we walked around for a while, checking out all of the bright packages we couldn't read and looking at bulk bins of things like tiny dried fish. I finally settled on a pack of wonton skins, 2 different sizes of wooden skewers, some cute plates and bowls, and a package of soba noodles. Shortly thereafter, we went to Trader Joe's, where I picked up a bottle of toasted sesame oil. There was a sale on shrimp at the regular grocery store, and suddenly I knew what we were having for dinner on Seafood Friday.

Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Kitchen Bucket List

Over the years, I have definitely grown more comfortable in the kitchen, but there are still a few foods that intimidate me. This year, I plan to tackle them all. Let me know if you see any good recipes for them so I have somewhere to start. Thanks!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Eggplant Parmesan

The first thing my mom taught me how to make was pancakes. The second thing she taught me was breaded chicken. I remember many, many nights standing at the counter and double-dipping chicken breasts into egg and bread crumbs. This turned out to be one of my all-time favorite dinners. As I got older, I learned that the egg and bread crumb combo could be applied to pretty much anything, like pork chops or zucchini, cube steak or eggplant. Now, I'll be honest. I love eggplant but the boys aren't really into it. But if you have boys that are anything like mine, if it's fried, they'll eat it. The first batch usually doesn't even make it to the sauce-and-cheese phase of the meal prep.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Baked Jicama Fries with Creamy Lime Dip

I've heard a lot about jicama (also known as a Mexican potato) but had never tried it, or even seen one. But the last time I was at the grocery store, there was a whole display devoted to the things. I picked one up and inspected its thick waxy peel and tried to smell something, anything, but it wasn't giving up any information. I figured I'd have to buy one if I wanted to see what this curious looking veggie was all about. 

I brought it home, peeled it, and cut it into pieces for everybody to sample. It had a very unique flavor, definitely apple-like, but different. It's kind of like an apple that isn't sweet. Not tart like a Granny Smith, just not sweet. And the texture is like if you crossed an apple with a raw potato, but very crunchy. (Yes, I have eaten raw potatoes, but we'll save that for another time.) I threw them in K's lunch and they were a smashing success. 

After days of eating these as-is, I decided it was time to experiment.  Everyone loves french fries, so I figured I'd play on that. They are great this way, but if you like heat, feel free to toss in a pinch of chili powder.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Homemade Bread Crumbs

As I've mentioned about 327 times, I got a bread machine for my birthday. It is my most favorite thing in the whole kitchen (until the day I finally get a KitchenAid, that is) and I use it all the time. Like two or three times a week to the point where I do not buy bread at the store anymore. It tastes better, it's cheaper, and it only has the few ingredients bread should have. 

But for some odd reason, I was still buying whole wheat bread crumbs. That is, until I turned the canister around a few weeks ago. I'm not sure why I thought the ingredient list would be any less tragic than a loaf of bread with its 35 components, but I did. And then it hit me - I make my own bread, why not make my own bread crumbs? The whole thing is so simple and (my favorite part) it's made from something I was going to throw away. They are fresh and real and tasty and now my only problem is that I'm suddenly trying to coat everything in bread crumbs. This too shall pass.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Everything-but-the-flour Cookies

I am always on the lookout for meal cookies. You know, the ones that don't have added sugar and have lots of healthy ingredients so they can be eaten for breakfast on those mornings when your alarm clock goes on strike and you wake up 3 minutes before the school bus shows up. Or they can tide your kids over when they are starving and dinner isn't quite ready yet. Or they can keep you going on those days when you're so busy you forget to eat. 

So I was super excited when I came across this recipe over at My Whole Food Life. A few tweaks later and we were in cookie heaven. The base of the cookie itself is soft and chewy, with bits of sweetness from the raisins and chocolate chips. Healthy and satisfying, these cookies are a win-win! 


While I love to create my own recipes, I do watch a LOT of cooking shows for inspiration. I have a notebook full of famous-people-food that I love. Alton, Giada, Sandra Lee, Nadia, and Rachel Ray are some of my favorites. But the other day, I watched Kelsey Nixon make the most amazing sounding Smoky Panzanella with Market Vegetables. I couldn't wait - I went to the store that day to gather the ingredients. 

If you're not familiar with panzanella, it is an Italian bread and tomato salad traditionally made with day-old bread that soaks up this delicious homemade dressing. Kelsey adds cheese and a few other veggies to really take this one over the top. It's such a simple dish but the flavors come together so well and the bread soaks up the dressing and the basil screams summer and, well, I could go on and on about this. It's such an easy and perfect side dish, and it will only get better as summer heats up and tomatoes hit their peak. You should make it. Today. Now. You won't be sorry, I promise.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Garlic Knots

I love garlic knots. You know, those chewy little bits of pizza dough tied up all perfect with garlic and butter in every little nook and cranny. They taste so good, but I hate the price. Around here, the pizza shops charge $3.95 for 4 of them. That's crazy! For some dough that costs them like 2 cents to make with some garlic and butter thrown on top?? No, no no, it's definitely time to make my own.

Friday, March 15, 2013

BBQ Shrimp over Spinach Rice

When I was 13, I went to a barbecue at one of my mom's friend's houses. I'm not really into crowds of people, so I usually pick a spot in the corner and stick to it. This time I hung out with the kid that was manning the grill. Well, he wasn't really a kid at the time; he was 23. I say "kid" now because I am almost 10 years beyond that, but I was 10 years his junior back then - perspective is everything!

Anyway, in addition to the standard burgers, dogs, and chicken, he made barbecue shrimp. I thought this was quite an odd pairing, but he insisted I try it as he taught me how to make them. We ate them straight off the grill and they were so, so good. The sweetness of the shrimp and the smokiness of the barbecue sauce are a surprisingly amazing combination. To this day, it is still one of my favorite shrimp recipes.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kahlua Ice Cream (no ice cream maker needed)

I have always wanted an ice cream maker for as long as I can remember. I browse through kitchen stores quite frequently, but none of the machines ever seemed to scream "Take me home!" until recently. I found it on the clearance shelf for $12. It was tiny and it must have been the most bare-bones model known to man. But it was mine. 

So we brought it home, did all the prerequisite hot soapy water washing, read the instructions three times (I am a fine print freak) and got started on a simple vanilla recipe. About 10 minutes in, we ran out of ice. I'm still not sure how that's even possible since the thing barely makes more than a pint and I had plenty of ice on hand. Thank goodness we only live a few hundred feet from a convenience store or I may have cried. It must have gone through half of a party bag of ice by the time it was finished. It looked good, so we said a quick prayer and tossed it in the freezer to "firm up overnight". I got up early the next morning to sample our hard work. It was terrible. I can't even explain it, it was that bad. It thinned out and changed color and tasted like freezer burnt vanilla milk. 

The bad news? The ice cream maker is now an oversized paperweight.
The good news? I have now devoted my life to creating ice cream that does not require an ice cream maker. 
The best news? This Kahlua ice cream is probably the easiest and absolute best ice cream ever and I cannot wait for you to try it!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tater Tot Casserole

I have a TON of cookbooks. I have ones that are for specific meals, like desserts, pasta, and chicken. I have others that are geared towards cooking methods, like cooking in foil pouches or using slow cookers. I have a few dedicated to TV shows and cooking contest winners. And I have a bunch that cover everything from soup to nuts. But my absolute favorite cookbooks are the ones that only have recipes using 4 or 5 ingredients. This recipe came from one of those, maybe 7 years ago, and it used to be one of the most requested dishes in our house. I haven't made it in a while, but Andrew has been begging for it lately, so I finally gave in. It's quick, it's easy, it's a real family-pleaser, and I'll bet you already have all of the ingredients on hand.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Oatmeal Almond Fruit Bars

I recently went to Trader Joe's for the first time. Among a million other cool things, I picked up a jar of Organic Super Fruit spread. It was hiding in a row of cute little jars on the very bottom shelf under the specialty peanut butters and I just had to have it. We brought it home and tried a tiny bit straight out of the jar to see how it tastes. While it was really, really good, it seemed a little too sophisticated for plain old peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, so it sat on the counter while I waited for my muse. Then I remembered we used to eat a lot of toaster pastries and breakfast fruit bars. I thought this might be just the thing I needed to create a homemade version that was versatile enough for breakfast or dessert. OMGosh - where have these been all my life??

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bangin' Black Bean Burgers

We LOVE burgers in our house. Beef is definitely our first pick, but I've been working on getting the boys to branch out. They didn't mind the Very Veggie Quinoa and Bean Burgers, and they recently started liking turkey burgers. I figured I'd push my luck a little more and see how far I could get. I snuck a can of black beans into the kitchen and got to work. The smell won Andrew over before he even tasted it (they smell amazing) and the fact that they look very beef-like had K diving in without a word. All in all, they were a total success!

3 Grain Marshmallow Crispy Treats

Crispy treats are one of the greatest inventions ever. Think about it - you take a cereal that no one would ever eat without 3 pounds of sugar sprinkled on top and turn it into something totally edible by mixing it with sugary marshmallows. Suddenly kids everywhere are clamoring for the things. 

It has been my experience that most all natural cereals that are actually good for you don't taste all that great on their own (think fiber twigs). I have also learned that if you bring some buttery marshmallow goodness to the party, everything tastes better - even cereal that resembles tree bark. Even so, I left the fiber twigs at the store and made these with three simple puffed cereals that resembled the originals enough to make any kid happy.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Peanutty Udon Noodles with Veggies

Andrew loves pasta. K is obsessed with peanut butter. I am all about the veggies. This recipe marries all three. The best part? You can customize it any way you want. Switch the veggies up, use regular pasta, try a specialty flavor of peanut butter. Make it your way - don't forget to come back and tell me all about it!

Friday, March 8, 2013

French Toast Sticks

Between sports, music lessons, doctor's appointments, and everything else busy moms need to take care of these days, boxes of processed food and the local drive-thru seem like much easier options when it comes to feeding the family. I know because that is how we used to eat. But if you plan ahead, you can have homemade food ready whenever you need it.

The Best Chicken Salad

Arby's sells amazing chicken salad. You can get it on bread or wrapped up in a tortilla. It has grapes and nuts and a tangy sweetness that keeps you coming back for more. Then Arby's closed. Well, the one near my house closed. The next closest one is almost an hour away. I had to figure out how to duplicate this awesomeness at home, and I finally nailed it. It's a little different, and I think it might actually be better than the original. I could eat this every single day and be a very happy Mama. Let me know what you think.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sweet and Sassy Roasted Veggies

I recently asked my Facebook readers if they had any recipe requests. The first response was from my dear friend Lynda, asking for healthy roasted veggies. Not knowing her favorites, I set out to create a recipe that I felt would work for a variety of vegetables so it could be used year round with whatever was in season. They turned out even better than I thought they would - I hope Lynda agrees.

Avocado Hummus

I am a huge hummus fan. I have recently forsaken all other dips in favor of this Middle Eastern spread. I particularly like the one that has extra minced garlic piled on top in the container. Yes, I said container. I, Foodie Mama, buy my hummus. It's embarrassing to admit, especially since there are so few ingredients involved and only one prep step, but every hummus recipe I have ever tried turned out barely edible. Until this one.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Magic Double Berry Coconut Cobbler

I have been craving something fruity and summery lately. I wasn't sure what exactly I wanted, but I knew I'd know it when I saw it. Then I went to the grocery store and they had the most beautiful blackberries. Now I don't buy blackberries very often because I rarely see them for less than $5 for a tiny 6 oz. container, but they were on sale for two bucks! I got two of them and some strawberries and I knew a cobbler was in our future. To really up the ante on my summer craving, I used coconut oil instead of butter. It added such a nice touch to the sweet berries and the crispy topping. It was the perfect thing to tide me over these last few days of winter.

Fiesta Chicken Enchiladas

Andrew makes the most amazing beef enchiladas. He uses corn tortillas and a ton of cheese, and they are so, so good. He knew somebody whose sister had a friend who was from Mexico and she made "authentic food". She was kind enough to share a few of her recipes with him. Because of this, Andrew is the go-to guy around here whenever we want mexican food.

I make tacos. From a packet. That's about where my expertise ends. But I decided to give it a shot and see what I could come up with. Andrew looked at me kind of funny when I told him I was making enchiladas and no, it wasn't his recipe. It only got worse when I started talking about beans and rice and such. But when it was all over, he was hooked and we were fighting over the leftovers. K even cleaned his plate before I was half done, and that's saying something. Move over Andrew, Mama's going south of the border.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Italian Herb Dressing

Bottled salad dressing is expensive! And don't even get me started on the funky things they put in there. This simple dressing is perfect over your favorite lunchtime greens or for marinating meat.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Chocolate Pumpkin Mini Muffins

We love my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, but they are a little too big to fit in K's bento-style lunch box. Besides, him and dairy aren't getting along at the moment so that means the chocolate chips were a no-go. I reworked the recipe to make smaller muffins that skip the chips. They worked out beautifully and he can have them whenever he wants - breakfast, lunch, after school, or as a bedtime snack. The cocoa makes them decadent, the pumpkin makes them moist, and the oats make them a "healthier" option. You (and your kids) are going to love them!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Baked "Fried" Pickles

I am a Southern girl trapped in a Northerner's body. I used to live in North Carolina and I can't wait to move back. I listen to country music. I can rock a southern accent like it's the cool thing to do. I adore sweet tea and chicken fried steak and lots of other cowboy-type fare. Lately, fried pickles have become a popular trend down in the South. While I can't bring the girl to the country, I can certainly bring the country to the girl.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Green Onion Project

I love a good old-fashioned science experiment, don't you?

On several occasions, I have heard that you can re-grow green onions. Supposedly you chop off what you need, place the root end in a cup with some water, put the whole thing on a sunny window sill, and you'll be putting the green onion growers out of business in no time. I have always wondered if this were true, and if it would affect the taste. Join me on a picture journey, updated daily, as we put the idea to the test.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Garlic Bread Spaghetti Calzones

I am very into the new My Plate eating guidelines. You know, the ones that tell you half your plate should be fruits and veggies. It doesn't bother me any because this is how I ate long before it became the cool thing to do. The boys are a little less receptive, but they are catching on quickly.

Almost every meal we eat is planned according to this outline. But every now and then, I am in the mood for an all-out carb-fest. That's how recipes like this one are created. The boys love it because spaghetti is one of their favorite foods. I love it because the garlic bread is the only thing that makes the spaghetti worth eating in the first place. I just ignore the whining the next day when I am serving up double doses of veggies to make up for it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Easy Triscuit Appetizers

A quick and easy, down and dirty, 5-minute snack that is perfect if A) your dinner guests arrive inappropriately early, B) your house becomes an impromptu football watching hub, or C) you're having one of those days where you are so busy you realize you forgot to have lunch and if you don't eat something RIGHT THIS SECOND, you're going to get hangry. And no, that's not a typo. Look it up - you know who you are :-)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cheddar Mushroom Patty Melts

I have a thing for mushrooms. And cheddar cheese. And beef. Do you remember a while back when Wendy's had those burgers that were topped with sauteed mushrooms and warm cheddar sauce? They were the messiest thing ever, with the cheesy sauce oozing out everywhere and you needed about 327 napkins just to get through it. They advertised them for weeks before they finally started selling them. The day they actually launched them, I think I was in line before they even opened. Do you remember? Well, this is kind of like that, only better. My son calls them beef-stuffed grilled cheese and that just about sums it up.

Fake-it-till-you-make-it Thin Mint Wannabes

I'd like to clear the air right now. These are not Girl Scout Thin Mint cookies. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Girl Scout. I am however, a complete and total Thin Mint addict. I remember many many moons ago when you could make a small-ish donation of $2.50 to the cause and get a box of really, really good cookies in return.

As to be expected, I have watched the price creep up little by little over the years. But I still got excited the other day when I saw the group of smiling, uniformed girls hanging out at my local grocery store pushing their lovely treats on innocent passersby. As I walked towards them, I was trying to decide how many boxes I was going to get. And then the girl on the end said, "Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies? They're only $4 a box." Only $4 a box? Only?? Don't get me wrong, I understand inflation and all that, but that's ridiculous. No way, it wasn't happening. There had to be another way.

Now, I'm going to level with you. Are these Thin Mints? No. Do they taste exactly like the ones in the beloved green box? No. Will you read the ingredients and make a batch of 5 cookies just to test it out because there is no way they will sufficiently satisfy your craving? Yes. And then you will make the full batch. Twice. In less than 24 hours. True story.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Best Beef Stew

When the weather turns cold, I love soul-warming dishes like chili, pasta fagioli, and red lentil soup. But at the end of the day, nothing beats a really good beef stew. With February winding down and visions of spring gardens dancing in my head, I thought this would be a perfect recipe to share. With a few special ingredients, this stew has such a deep, flavorful sauce. Potatoes, carrots, and peas never had it so good. What's that? You don't see peas in the picture above? That's because I received a special request to leave them out. Again. (I think Andrew thinks he might die if he actually eats one.) If you have your own picky eaters to deal with, dish theirs out first, then add the peas to the pot.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Make Your Own Oat Milk

In case you're new here, I eat a LOT of oatmeal. And I'm not shy with the liquids when I make it either. Most people like a little milk with their oatmeal; I like a little oatmeal with my milk. Hot or cold, quick or old-fashioned, I thoroughly drown the poor stuff. I tend to make it with less liquid so it's really thick, then I cover it with milk, just like regular cereal, and break the bigger chunks up. It really is odd.

Then, one day while I was making my sixth batch of almond milk in 5 days, I started wondering what else I could make milk out of. Then it hit me - I could make oat milk. It would be like oatmeal on top of my oatmeal! What more could an addict like me want??

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Confetti Burritos

Tortillas are such a perfect little thing. They come in all different sizes, made of all types of grains, and you can stuff absolutely anything inside them and have a fun, portable meal for the whole family. Most kids will eat anything that's wrapped up taco or burrito-style (hint, hint). Whether you are making peanut butter banana roll-ups for breakfast, turkey and hummus wraps for lunch, or chicken enchiladas for dinner, tortillas are the answer to every time-crunched mom. Try these super-stuffed burritos out on your picky eaters - they just may surprise you. Mine sure did!

Tortilla Pizza

When I was a kid, we had take out once a week. It was usually on Friday and we usually got pizza. This sounds great in theory, but there were six of us and we all wanted different things. Pizza is expensive, and obviously my parents weren't going to buy six different pizzas, so we usually ended up with plain or some various meat-topped pie. Today, pizza isn't any cheaper and I simply can't justify dropping 12 bucks on a glorified version of cheesy bread. These tortilla pizzas are so quick and easy, each one can be made to suit everyone's favorites (kids love this!), and they offer built-in portion control for those of us who lose all willpower before the delivery driver has even finished counting his tip. Score!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chinese Chicken & Broccoli

Andrew loves chinese food. Sweet and sour chicken, barbecue spare ribs, pork fried rice, and egg rolls are some of his favorites. I personally can't live without crispy cheese wontons and crab rangoon (look for these soon - they are on my 2013 cooking bucket list). Anyway, he's been craving chinese food almost daily these past few weeks and our favorite take-out place is a little on the pricey side. A quick freezer raid turned up some chicken and broccoli and suddenly dinner was born. I believe his exact words were "This is the best chinese food I have ever had." While we were stuffing our faces, we decided that the only thing that could make this dish even better would be to throw some cashews in it next time. Try it both ways and let me know which one you prefer.

10 Ways to Salvage Stale Bread

Just because it's stale doesn't mean it's trash. Whether it's the dry ends of sandwich bread that nobody wants or half a loaf of Italian bread leftover from last night's dinner, there are plenty of things to do with stale bread. Don't just feed it to the birds - cook something with it! White, wheat, rye, whatever - you'll never look at old bread the same.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Ranch Dip and Dressing

I never have fresh herbs on hand. It usually goes something like this... I read recipe after recipe and see show after show highlighting food I would love to create in my kitchen, but it seems like they all require fresh herbs. So I put them on the grocery list, I buy them, I bring them home, and then... nothing. I can't remember what in the world I wanted them for and they languish in the fridge until they die. Just this afternoon, I threw away some rosemary that had turned black. And three seconds later I remembered that I never did make that Rosemary Focaccia I had been craving.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hint of Strawberry Scones

When I lived in Utah, there was this awesome little restaurant called Sconecutters. They served everything from sandwiches to fried shrimp platters, but they were most known for their scones. It was kind of like a west coast version of Dunkin Donuts, serving combo meals like two scones and a coffee. They were open 24/7, they had a drive-thru window, and I simply couldn't get enough of them. What's a scone, you might ask? Well, if you've never had one before, they are this crazy cross between a biscuit and a sugar cookie. Not too sweet, dense but flaky at the same time, and completely addictive.

Chicken Caesar Salad Bites

I come from a large family. I have three sisters and we all have our significant others. Add our parents and kids and we are a hungry bunch. To make sure no one person is responsible for feeding everybody, we tend to do our get-togethers potluck style. We all make and bring one or two things and ta-da! Instant buffet. Appetizers, main dishes, sides, and desserts - we've got it all covered. It works out pretty well. Last time we had a party, I wanted to make something different and this is what I came up with. They looked quite impressive on the plate, and everyone loved them.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Fresh Hamburger Buns

I got a bread machine for my birthday a few months ago. I figured I'd pull it out once or twice a month and make some bread. Boy, was I wrong. I use this thing at least twice a week. White bread, wheat bread, half-and-half bread, breadsticks, rolls, buns, Italian loaves; I make it all. We actually stopped buying bread from the store over a month ago.

There is just something so amazing about taking some flour and water and yeast and turning it into bread. If you don't have one, I highly suggest you try to get your hands on one. And when you do, come right back here and make these hamburger buns.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Make Your Own Soy Milk

If you or someone in your family is lactose intolerant or otherwise allergic to regular milk, you know how expensive the alternatives can be. I'm not too crazy about all the weird additives they throw in there either. I figured there had to be a better way, and there is. Did you know you can make it yourself? It takes just a few simple (real) ingredients and it tastes way better than anything you can get in the store. Come on, I'll show you how.

2-Ingredient Banana Ice Cream (no ice cream maker required!)

Come here, I want to tell you a secret. Closer... closer... that's close enough. Ready?

I hate bananas. I know, I know, you're so used to me telling you how much I love everything, but I really hate bananas. Totally despise the things. Really, really can't stand them. At all. I like banana flavored stuff - banana milkshakes, banana taffy, banana bread, banana pudding. But I absolutely, positively do not like plain bananas in their natural state. 

Whew. I feel better.

Now that we got that out of the way, I LOVE this. The baby loves this. Soon, you will love this.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Apple and Pear Crisp

There is usually a ton of fruit in our house - fresh, frozen, and canned. If nothing else, we always have lots of fresh apples and pears on hand. I even had to get a second fruit basket just for them. Because we eat so much of them, I am always trying to come up with special ways to use them up. An alternative to a labor-intensive pie, I love this crisp. It comes together quickly, it's not overly sweet, and it tastes just as good right out of the oven as it does cold the next morning.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Homemade Chocolates

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, not that I really need an excuse to bring out the chocolates. I remember when I was pregnant with my second baby, I had gestational diabetes and couldn't have treats. A week before my due date, and a few days before Valentine's Day, we were walking through the mall and I spotted a HUGE heart filled with chocolates. No lie, this thing was over 2 feet wide.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Make Your Own Almond Milk (and Almond Meal)

I don't know where you live, but around here, almond milk is $4 for a HALF gallon ($3 if you catch it on sale). That's insane. They must be charging for all of the additives, because I can turn a 2-pound $8 bag of almonds into 6 quarts and it only takes 2 ingredients. Even if you don't do it on a regular basis, I think everyone should try it at least once. Bonus - you get a bunch of almond meal as a by-product of the process. That stuff is $8 per bag here. I couldn't love this anymore right now!
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