Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Citrus Basil Mojito Popsicles

This year was the first year that I managed a successful indoor herb garden. I don't know if I finally figured out the trick to any successful garden or if this combination just worked out nicely for me.

I purchased self-watering pots. The majority of the herbs came from the plants you can buy in the produce section of Wegman's. I put a 2 inch layer of Perlite on the bottom of each pot, then covered it with Miracle Grow Moisture Control potting soil. Each plant was planted as far down in the pot as possible and I added a thin layer of more Perlite on top of the soil to ensure that no fruit flies took up residence.

I started with my first plant of basil and rosemary back in early April. I am quite proud to say that it is still surviving quite well. I added parsley, chives, thyme and mint to the mix. The only success I did not have was with cilantro because it flowered before I could get to it and then never recovered. Still, I consider this a great success.

If you didn't know, mint grows out of control. It could easily be used as a ground cover should one want a mint scented garden. It's also crack to Gidget who will fall over and roll around on the floor if you're polite enough to break off a leaf for her. (Mint is like catnip to cats)

Anyway, since I purchased my first mint plant at my first garden attempt, three years ago I said I was going to make mojitos. And I tried once and they just turned out terribly. I still have no idea what I've done wrong and have yet to attempt it again.

I saw this recipe as a way to use up the basil and mint growing at a rate that I could not assume and as a nod to my mojito making plans that had failed.

Citrus Basil Mojito Popsicles
Source: Skinny Taste
Servings: 4
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    • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
    • 2 tbsp. sugar or honey 
    • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
    • 1 tbsp. lime juice
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 4 fresh basil leaves
    • 4 fresh mint leaves
    • 1 tbsp. rum (optional)
1. Combine ingredients in a blender until smooth.
2. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours or until solid.

The kick of rum in a popsicle is absolutely awesome. These taste just like summer to me and made just the tiniest of dents in my basil and mint forest.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Breakfast Pizza

I am forever thankful to my coworker for introducing me to the Stalkerville website. While the name is a bit odd and really does nothing to convey (at least to me, perhaps there is an inside joke I'm missing?) that it is a site full of healthy recipes I really do love going through the new submissions and check in at least weekly.

Paleo is still very new to me and I am simply fascinated by all of these people who created recipes before this was even popular. I mean, obviously they had to eat, but I can only imagine it is an awfully daunting task to think of recipes back when there was so little out there to go on.

Anyway, I saw this recipe and was very curious. A pizza crust made of sweet potatoes? Topped with baked eggs and tomatoes and ham? It looked simply beautiful and I was excited to try it out.

Breakfast Pizzas
Source: Hold the Grain
Servings: 12
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for the crust:
    • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled
    • 1/4 cup coconut flour
    • salt and pepper
for the pizza:
    • 1 tbsp. butter (Kerrygold for Paleo)
    • 2 cups baby spinach
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 5 eggs
    • cherry tomatoes, quartered
    • thin deli ham, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 375 and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, shred the sweet potato then combine with the coconut flour, salt and pepper. The mixture should be wet, but able to be molded. Add more flour if necessary.
3. Place a 3 or 4 inch round cookie cutter on the prepared baking sheet. Fill with the sweet potato mixture, using your fingers to press down evenly and to the edges. Lift up the cookie cutter and repeat until sweet potato mixture is used up.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
5. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium high heat and melt the butter Add in the spinach and  garlic, cook until wilted.
6. Whisk together the eggs and add to the pan. (Add more butter beforehand if necessary) Use a spatula to lift up the set part of the eggs to move liquid underneath until scrambled.
7. Assemble the pizza by topping with the spinach-egg mixture than the quartered cherry tomatoes and chopped ham.

I opted not to add cheese to this and found it quite delightful. You could easily add in some shredded cheddar to the eggs if you really wanted cheese in this dish. I could not get over how incredibly good these were. The sweet potato crust is what impressed me the most and I am quite curious to see what other recipes I can use with this base. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Customer Service

We live in a world of instant gratification. Where we want more than what we need and where we expect that anything we want should almost magically appear. I'm as guilty of it as the next person. I become impatient when my phone refuses to connect to social media or when the power goes out. I've come to rely on these things and strongly dislike when my semblance of normalcy is disrupted.

Something I think has changed greatly in the course of only a few decades is customer service. Years ago, great customer service was the norm. Not because these people were paid well to do so, but because we lived in a time where pleasing others, helping others was common. It wasn't this self-absorbed selfish world we currently inhabit.

Somewhere along the way of impatience and technology, customer service has waned. Laziness ensued. Why should anyone work any harder than they absolutely need to? There's no immediate benefit, so why bother?

You used to dial an 800 number and reach a person. Now you reach an automated voice that leads you through a series of prompts that, in most cases, doesn't get you anywhere closer to resolving your issue than before you called.

This laziness, this impatience but mainly this technology has lead us to the life where when a company does something wrong we immediately blast them on social media. Because it's powerful. Because it's more than just calling and complaining. Now people can see just how much this company wronged you! And granted, I'd guilty of this as well.

The sad truth that I have come to realize now is that we spend so much time complaining about things, voicing our frustrations to these companies that we fail to ever acknowledge when they go above and beyond. Which is an irony in and of itself. Twenty, thirty years ago what we think of as excellent customer service was just your standard customer service.

Last week Dunkin Donuts started offering Almond Breeze unsweetened vanilla almond milk in their stores. This is the first time they've offered a dairy free option. As someone trying to complete a Whole 30, this was much appreciated. But do you know what most of their comments on Facebook said? First there was a litany of complaints that they charge you more for almond milk because it's the same price as milk in the store. (Not in the stores I visit however. It's more expensive.) Then the complaining went onto the brand because how dare they choose Almond Breeze over Silk or any other non-dairy company. And I read through these comments, or should I say complaints, one after another of these people bitching and whining and all I could think was really? It can't just be enough that they have finally offered a dairy free option but because it is not the option that you want, it's not good enough. Make your damn coffee at home then! It's not like you already weren't!

Now I didn't just type all of this because I wanted to tell you about people complaining to Dunkin about almond milk. I typed all of this because I wanted to share with you two great customer service experiences I had.

On Wednesday my boss told me that he thought his laptop battery was dying and he needed a new one before he left for China on Saturday morning. I immediately hopped online and started price comparing to find him a battery. And I found that all of the sites had at least 3 day shipping time frames. I needed 2 day. I initially ordered from one company (and in the event of keeping the complaints to myself I shall not reveal it) who said on their website it would be delivered on Friday the 5th. Once the order was placed however, the delivery date changed to Monday the 8th. I tried to resolve this with their most unhelpful customer service employees and eventually just gave up.

Then I found the battery on Quill.com, an office supply site that I've used for many, many years at various jobs I've had. Their website also said delivery on Friday or Monday. I called the customer service line and explained my situation. I was transferred to another portion of their shipping department who was able to determine that the item was in stock in a northern PA warehouse. By paying additional shipping fees for two-day service, they guaranteed that I would have the item on Friday. I first company made no attempts to help me at all but both representatives I spoke with at Quill instantly made it their mission to get me this laptop battery on time. Impressed with the lengths they were willing to go, I immediately hopped on Twitter and told them they made my day.

The other company to provide me with excellent customer service this week was Comcast/Xfinity. Now I'm sure a ton of you have just furrowed your brow in confusion because they are not known for their great customer service skills. Now, I won't lie, I have had my issues with Comcast in the past but I truly believe they have gone great lengths to improve their customer experience.

For weeks Tom has been complaining about our crappy internet speed. If he was playing a game online and I had more than two webpages open, our internet was seriously struggling. Our wifi was pretty crappy and loading apps could take minutes. Looking online, it appeared the only way to get more internet came with a hefty price, one that I was not willing to pay.

I'm cheap. I think I've admitted that on here before, but I can't stand that we pay for all of these channels that we never even watch and there isn't a way to customize your television package to include the channels you would actually like to see.

Hesitantly, I called Comcast last Saturday, expecting that I would be told there was no way to increase our internet speeds without spending more money than I was interested in paying. Instead I was pleasantly surprised. I called, explained that our internet was terrible but that I just simply didn't have any more money to pay for it. The rep put be on hold to see what she could do and came back to tell me I could have the faster internet speed with the same television and telephone service for the same price that I was paying, it just involved a two year contract. This entire encounter took less than 5 minutes. I agreed and then she told me we'd lose our internet connection for a few moments while the new information was set to our router so we could have the faster speed. Less than five minutes later, we could significantly tell the difference.

I tweeted them as well to say I appreciated the service.

These little gestures, sharing the good instead of the bad are simply necessary sometimes. We already live in a world where terrible things happen on a regular basis, it is the absolute least we could do to share something that we appreciate. Something that made us happy. And to let others know.

(I haven't received any compensation or anything from any of these companies by mentioning them in the post. I just wanted to put the information out there.)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Chipotle-Cheddar Turkey Burger with Avocado Cream

When I saw this recipe I was intrigued. Chipotle, cheddar and avocado are key words for me. I really like all three ingredients so combining them together in a burger seemed like a no-brainer for me.

Plus, it's a turkey burger so it's even healthier. And I used the Sargento thin sliced 45 calorie cheese AND no bun. That's like equivalent to eating plain salad, right? ;)

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Burgers with Avocado Cream
Source: Iowa Girl Eats
Servings: 4
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    • 1 lb. lean ground turkey
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • 2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
    • salt and pepper
    • 4 burger buns
    • 4 slices cheddar cheese
    • toppings: lettuce, tomato
    for the avocado cream:
    • 1/2 ripe avocado
    • 1/4 cup sour cream
    • juice of 1/2 a lime
    • salt
1. Preheat a grill to medium high heat.
2. In a large bowl combine ground turkey, garlic, chipotle peppers, shallot, cilantro, salt and pepper. Form into 4 patties.
3. Grill for 3-4 minutes then add cheese and grill 1-2 minutes or more until cheese has melted.
4. Meanwhile, combine the avocado, sour cream and lime juice together in a bowl. Mash until smooth then season to taste with salt.
5. Assemble the burger with desired toppings and a generous heap of the avocado cream.

This is by-far one of my favorite burgers ever and I like me a lot of burgers. The chipotles in the patty gave just enough heat for the avocado cream to cool it down. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Malibu Chicken

One of Tom's favorite meals is Chicken Cordon Bleu. I don't make it very often because there is something about wrapping a chicken breast and baking it that just throws any culinary skills I have out the window because I am convinced it will not cook properly. Which is silly, I have a meat thermometer that even has a "poultry" setting, but it still happens every time.

When I saw this recipe and read the instructions that you grill the chicken first before adding the ham, I knew I needed to make it right away and that Tom would definitely like it.

Malibu Chicken
Source: Creme de la Crumb
Servings: 2
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for the sauce:
    • 3 tbsp. mayo
    • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
    • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
for the chicken: 
    • 2 chicken cutlets or breasts (pounded to 1/2 thick)
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
    • 2 slices thin deli ham 
    • 2 slices Swiss cheese
    • 2 fresh pineapple wedges
    • salt and pepper, to taste
1. Prepare the sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Preheat a grill to high heat.
3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken for 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
4. Remove chicken from the grill and wrap each one with a slice of deli ham. Place a slice of Swiss cheese on top. Return the chicken to the grill until the cheese melts.
5. Plate the chicken and place the pineapple wedges on the grill for 1-2 minutes on each side or until just grilled. (Optional)
6. Drizzle the sauce over the chicken and serve with pineapple.

As expected, he loved this recipe and so did I. The pineapple adds this nice bright flavor to the chicken and the sauce is perfect.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Roasted Tomato Salsa

There was a post the other week on the message board I frequent about making salsa. Of all the recipes I've made, fresh salsa has never been one of them which is kind of surprising since I've always liked it and its not a particularly difficult recipe to make.

Later in the week my mom decided she was definitely having people over for Labor day and asked me what I wanted to bring. With salsa on the brain, I decided I would finally make some of my own.

It didn't take me long to find a recipe that was perfect. I even visited a local farmers market for local tomatoes and the freshest of ingredients.

Roasted Tomato Salsa
Source: Closet Cooking
Yield: about 2 cups
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    • 1 pound Roma tomatoes, halved
    • 3 jalapenos
    • 1 poblano pepper
    • 1 bell pepper
    • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
    • juice of 1 lime 
    • handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. cumin
    • salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the halved tomatoes on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Flip tomatoes over and bake an additional 30 minutes. Remove from the oven transfer to a plate or bowl to let cool.
2. Increase the oven to broil and place the jalapenos, poblano and bell pepper on the foil lined sheet. Broil for 2-3 minutes or each side of the peppers or until charred. Transfer to a bowl and cover.
3. Once cool enough to handle, peel the skins from the tomatoes and roughly chop them. Once the peppers have cooled, peel off the skins and dice, removing the seeds.
4. Combine tomatoes, peppers, garlic, lime, cilantro and cumin together in a bowl. (You can process in a blender or food processor if you want a smoother salsa.) Toss to combine, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
5. Let sit for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.

The jalapenos I got were particularly potent and even without their seeds (or the very few I missed) this was one spicy salsa. But it was so good! I have no idea why I haven't made this before, and for such an easy recipe I should definitely make it again for parties!

My only adjustment to this recipe was to add in the bell pepper, simply because I had one that was going to go bad soon and had no other plans for it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Weekly Menu 9/7 - 9/11

I had truly intended to start out September as the month where I put a larger emphasis on blogging since I had pretty much failed in that aspect for the entire summer. I have a ton of recipes photographed, just waiting to be typed up, which I had planned to do on Monday since it was a holiday and raining.

However, I slept wrong or pulled something and it hurt like hell to extend my right arm forward. Seeing as that is the hand I use on the mouse and considering it hurt to even type and I knew I had a lot of work to do on Tuesday that would involve that arm, I opted not to do any extra typing or mouse using than I actually needed, which meant my blog had to suffer for the first week of the month.

I do plan on trying my hardest to make it up to you though. I have recipes to share and I know I really need to update my recipe list as well since it's been months since I've done so. I guess the silver lining to not blogging as much means it won't be a terribly long task to update that list. :/

I still can't believe we're somehow in September already and summer is over. They're already offering pumpkin coffees. I was in a craft store yesterday that had Christmas decorations out! Could we slow down just a bit? I am in absolutely no hurry to return to any semblance of winter since people keep saying it's going to be worse than last year. Which, is just not imaginable to my brain. I blocked out every threat of winter weather last year until it actually arrived and still barely made it through it without wanting to take a one-way flight to permanently warmer temperatures.

So anyway, onto the menu for this week:

Sunday: bacon wrapped pork with cherry sauce, baked potatoes and asparagus

Monday: chicken salsa verde with stir fry veggies

Tuesday: stuffed flank steak, salad 

Wednesday: bahn mi burgers

Thursday: street tacos

For breakfast this week, another repeat; the sweet potato and turkey hash. For lunch I'm trying a recipe on saw on the Whole 30 Instagram, of grilled chicken sausages with various grilled veggies.

I also made a delicious Paleo friendly dessert for my coworker's birthday last week which I fully intent to repeat this week and blog for you.

Now while I am not at all ready for fall temperatures or the following weather, I was absolutely thrilled to see honeycrisp apples in the stores already. The $4/pound part wasn't so nice, but I sucked it up and bought them anyway because they are my favorite apple and their season is so short, I didn't want to miss any chance I got of eating them! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Secret Recipe Club: Corn Fritters

This is the second month in a row I've received a humorous blog for my Secret Recipe Club assignment. This month I was assigned to Why Am I Not Skinny which, of course, left me pondering that question.

Then I made smores with bacon on them and was quickly reminded of why I am not skinny.

Anyway, I had a fun time going through the blog and looking for something to make. With the abundance of fresh corn we have around these parts in the summer, it didn't take me very long to decide on corn fritters.

I was also very intrigued by the picture, which showed a corn fritter topped with fresh mozzarella and a tomato slice.

Corn Fritters
Source: Why Am I Not Skinny
Servings: 8 fritters
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    • 2 large ears of corn, shucked 
    • 1 heaping cup all purpose flour
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tbsp. fresh chives, chopped (or herb of your choice)
    • salt and pepper 
    • oil, for frying 
for topping:
    • fresh mozzarella slices
    • tomato slices 
    • fresh basil leaves
1. Slice the corn kernels off the cob and into a bowl. (There is a really easy way to do this: Invert a small bowl inside a larger one. Place the cob on top and slide your knife down. The kernels will fall into the larger bowl below. A bundt pan also works amazingly for this.)
2. Combine the corn, flour, egg, baking powder, chives and salt and pepper together. The mixture will be quite sticky. Add additional flour as needed. Form into 8 evenly sized corn patties.
3. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat until shimmering.
4. Gently lower the corn fritter into the oil and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown.
5. Remove with a slotted spoon, shaking off excess oil and place on a paper towel to blot any remaining oil.
6. If desired, top each fritter with a slice of mozzarella, a tomato slice and a basil leaf.

I couldn't get over how pretty the corn fritters looked with their colorful toppings. What shocked me even more is I sat down to eat one and Tom said it looked really good and really pretty. Then he asked if there were more and if I could make him one like that. Confused, I told him there was a tomato slice on it. And basil.

To which he stated it looked good as is and he wanted to try it that way. Hell froze over or we gained another planet or something because he actually ate two of them topped with tomato and mozzarella (no basil, but hey I'll take a victory where I can get it) and asked when I could make them again. I'm still in awe over this! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bacon Jalapeno Pineapple Burgers

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and knew I had to make it right away. Jalapenos, bacon and pineapple are some of my favorite ingredients. Put those three on top of a cheesy burger and you're really making me one happy girl.

I had intended to follow the actual recipe but ended up spacing out and not writing down any of the actual ingredients on the grocery list. So at the store all I knew what I wanted to make, but not what was necessary to do it. So I winged it.

Bacon Jalapeno Pineapple Burgers
Inspired by: How Sweet Eats
Servings: 4
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    • 1 lb. lean ground beef
    • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • salt and pepper 
    • 4 slices bacon, cooked
    • 4 slices white cheddar cheese
    • 4 pineapple rings
    • 2 tbsp. jarred jalapenos
    • 1/2 cup mayo
    • 1/4 cup Sriracha
    • 4 burger buns 
    • optional: lettuce, tomato 
1. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
2. Combine the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Form into 4 patties.
3. Grill the patties for 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked to your desired doneness. Add cheese to burgers and allow to melt.
4. Meanwhile combine mayo and Sriracha together in a bowl and whisk until combined.
5. Remove the burgers from the grill and add the pineapple rings. Grill for 1-2 minutes each.
6. Top the burger with bacon, pineapple and jalapeno slices.

It turned out pretty damn tasty if I do say so myself. The pineapple provides just enough sweetness to even out the heat from the jalapenos and Sriracha-mayo. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cupcakes

Aside from butterbeer and the occasional hard candy that reminds me of my grandfather, I am not a big fan of butterscotch flavored items. Calvin, however loves them, and when we decided to have a going away party for him, I knew that I needed to find a butterscotch dessert to make.

I had recently bought Sally's Baking Addiction and easily got mesmerized at all the pretty colors in the book. (You have too, right?) She has a lot of tasty looking cupcake recipes so I headed on over to her blog to see if she had something that could work.

Of course she did!  She's apparently as much of avid butterscotch lover as Calvin is, so it only made sense to use her recipe.

Brown Sugar Butterscotch Cupcakes
Servings: 12

for the brown sugar cupcakes:
    • 1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt 
    • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1 egg, at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
    • 1/4 cup yogurt (I used plain Greek)
    • 1 tbsp. vanilla 
for the butterscotch sauce:
    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 3/4 cup brown sugar
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1/2 tsp. salt 
for the vanilla frosting:
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/4 cup heavy cream
    • 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla 
    • 1/4 tsp. salt 

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a cupcake pan with paper or foil liners. 
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl. 
3. Melt the stick of butter in a medium bowl, then whisk in the brown sugar until no lumps remain. Whisk in the egg, milk, yogurt and vanilla until combined. 
4. Slowly mix into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. The batter will be thick. Divide evenly into the prepared cupcake pan.
5. Bake for 20 minutes then allow to cook completely before adding the butterscotch sauce. 
6. While the cupcakes are cooling, prepare the butterscotch sauce by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and cream and allow the mixture to bubble and thicken for 5 minutes. Do not stir. 
7. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt. Allow to cool until you can transfer it into a squeeze bottle or pastry bag with a small tip. 
8. Once the butterscotch sauce and cupcakes have cooled, fill the cupcakes with the butterscotch. Press gently into the top of the cupcake and squeeze lightly until the butterscotch flows through the cupcake. Repeat with remaining cupcakes. 
9. Prepare the frosting by beating the butter on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment for 3 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Add the powdered sugar, cream and vanilla and beat until fully combined. 
10. Add more cream if the frosting is too thick. Add more powdered sugar if it is too thin. If the frosting is too sweet add 1/4 tsp. salt and increase from there until it reaches your desired tastes. 
11. Transfer the frosting to a piping bag affixed with a tip and pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes. Drizzle some of the remaining butterscotch sauce on top of the cupcakes. 

These can be made a day in advance. I waited until a few hours before the party to drizzle the additional butterscotch on top but otherwise they held up just fine. 

They were a bit too sweet for my tastes, but everyone else who is a butterscotch fan really enjoyed them! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

White Cheddar and Dijon Baked Eggs

I doubt you're going to believe me, but I don't really like eggs. I like them hard-boiled around Easter but I won't voluntarily make them throughout the year. I like deviled eggs, but I prefer for my aunt to make them since I just don't have the patience. And even then, I only want them at holidays.

Dippy eggs are okay on occasion, but since I don't eat bread anymore, they're kind of pointless. A fried egg with a slightly wet center is okay sometimes. Scrambled eggs are a no-go, always.

However, baked eggs; they are a completely different story. For some reason they just taste different to me and I like them so much better. My favorite breakfast is the prosciutto egg cups. Now that I've cut back on grain and carbs and all that good stuff, there aren't a lot of filling breakfast options out there that don't include eggs.

I was starting to get bored of the prosciutto egg cups, and while I do love them, I had ate them for something like 4 weeks in a row and needed a bit of a change. I was browsing through my Pinterest to see if there were any recipes I could adapt to a more Paleo variety and I found these.

White Cheddar and Dijon Baked Eggs
Source: Averie Cooks
Servings: 4
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    • cooking spray
    • 8 large eggs 
    • 1 small roma tomato, diced
    • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
    • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray 4 small ramekins (4 oz. is good) with cooking spray.
2. Crack two eggs into each ramekin. Divide the diced tomato between the ramekins.
3. Mix the cheese and mustard together in a small bowl with a fork. Divide the mixture between the ramekins.
4. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until eggs reach your desired cooking level. On average, 15 minutes is a runny yolk, 16-17 minutes is soft boiled and 18-19 minutes is hard boiled.
5. Remove from the oven and garnish with parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*To serve later: spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and bake the eggs in there. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Let cool, then refrigerate. To reheat: microwave for 1 minute. Depending on your oven and microwave you'll either have a soft-boiled or hard-boiled egg.*

I don't like my eggs to be too runny so I went with 16 minutes for the ones I made in ramekins. For the ones I made in a muffin pan to take to work each morning, I baked those for 14 minutes. They were still runny then, but after microwaving them they reached the soft-boiled variety. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Weekly Menu 8/24 - 8/28

So hey, I never posted a menu last week. It somehow completely slipped my mind (I'm gonna blame it on the vanilla bean and bacon smores) until like Thursday and figured by that point you wouldn't really care what I had to eat.

This has been a fun and productive weekend. Friday night we went to pick up Gidget's cat food and then went to dinner at the restaurant next to it, Taco Love Grill. Which is like the absolute best tacos you will ever have. I also tried some authentic Mexican corn and damn if that wasn't good as well. And the best part, I didn't even realize they had a Twitter, I just tagged them in case and they re-tweeted me!

If you haven't noticed, I get rather excited when people re-tweet me.

In case you are curious, here are the pics of the Mexican corn and the tacos I had. You can choose from like 10 different meats. I went with the chicken, marinated pork and steak. The marinated pork is by far the most delicious thing you will ever taste.

In other, very attractive news, all of the guys from Once Upon A Time have participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. I'd suggest going to Youtube and Instagram to see all their videos. Jennifer Morrison and Lana Parilla have also done it. Emilie de Ravin and Georgina Haig have been nominated (as of Saturday).

So now that I've sufficiently distracted you with tacos and Mexican corn, here's what I'm making for the week.

Sunday: bacon cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries

Monday: cherry balsamic pork, baked sweet potato, garlic-rosemary roasted mushrooms 

Tuesday: pan-seared chicken breast, mashed sweet potatoes and green beans 

Wednesday: thai curry shrimp

Thursday: turkey picatta, baked sweet potatoes and cucumber salad

Breakfast will be the ever popular prosciutto egg cups and for lunch I'm having orange-balsamic pork tenderloin, mashed sweet potatoes and bacon and vinegar kale.

I haven't come upon a sudden obsession with sweet potatoes, it's just that I'm doing another Whole 30 this month. Well, it's going to be a weird Whole 30 because I refuse not to have crab cakes on my anniversary (9.17) and I wasn't able to start this early enough to end it before then. So I'll have a whole 20+ with a day off then complete the rest.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Improv Challenge: Vanilla Bean and Bacon S'mores

As you know, I've been slacking lately in the blogging department. I haven't felt like there is anywhere near enough time in the day, even on the weekends, to get anything accomplished around here.

As you also probably have noticed, I don't create a ton of my own recipes. This is for two reasons. 1. I usually think of a great ingredient pairing then forget about it by the time menu planning/grocery list writing comes around. Or 2. I end up finding almost the exact same thing on the internet already. And I know everyone has their own version of apple pie or beef stew but sometimes I just feel like what is the point in sharing another version.

I debated on not participating in this Improv Challenge because I couldn't think of a single recipe involving bacon and beans that wasn't so obvious. But I also occasionally go through spurts of "go big or go home", meaning my brain will continue to challenge itself until it finds something worthy. Hence, this recipe.

My thought process was as follows: bacon and beans. Baked beans are waaay to obvious. Beans. Black beans? Navy beans? Kidney beans? I don't really like beans... Green beans! Green beans and bacon...too overdone. Beans. Jelly beans? Vanilla bean! Vanilla bean caramels topped with bacon! ...Do you really think you temperamental stove is going to allow to caramel? Vanilla bean ice cream with candied bacon? ... Vanilla bean marshmallows with bacon. Noooooo. Vanilla bean and bacon s'mores! That's it! I'm a genius! It's going to be delicious!

My husband raised his eyebrows at me when I told him of the combination but I assured him it was going to be delicious, he just needed to wait and see.

So, here we are. That is how this recipe came about and why I shared the vanilla bean marshmallows with you yesterday.

Vanilla Bean and Bacon S'mores
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Marshmallows from Annie's Eats
Servings: 4
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    • 2 graham crackers, broken in half 
    • 1 Hershey's candy bar, broken into 4 pieces
    • 4 vanilla bean marshmallows
    • 3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1. Preheat the oven to broil.
2. Place the chocolate bars on top of each graham cracker and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until just softened.
3. Place the marshmallows on top of the chocolate bars and return under the broiler for 1-2 minutes more or until marshmallows are just browned.
4. Sprinkle the top of marshmallow with the crumbled bacon.

Patience is not my strong suit, so I immediately dove into this taking a huge bite. Which is how I ended up with marshmallow and chocolate running down my fingers and all over my lips as I hovered over the sink, laughing at the mess I was making while this incredible flavor combination danced among my tastebuds. Fair warning, you're gonna need a wet napkin after this.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows

I'd love to tell you why I made these marshmallows but then it would ruin tomorrow's recipe. Let's just say it's insane. Delicious. But insane.

And it will all make sense tomorrow morning at 9 am when I share Thursday's recipe with you.

But, if you're just in the market for some homemade marshmallows, I highly recommend this recipe. Marshmallows are much easier to make than you would expect. You just need a candy thermometer and some patience.

Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
Source: Annie's Eats
Servings: 3-4 dozen
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    • 1/2 cup cold water
    • 1 1/2 packets unflavored gelatin
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
    • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise 
    • pinch of kosher salt
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 
    • 1/8 cup powdered sugar
    • 1/8 cup cornstarch 
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment affixed, add 1/4 cup of cold water. Sprinkle the gelatin on top. Set aside.
2. Using the tip of your knife to scoop out the vanilla bean.
2. Combine the remaining water along with the sugar, light corn syrup, vanilla bean and salt together in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer reaches 240 degrees or the soft-ball stage. Remove from the heat immediately.
3. Start your stand mixer on low speed and slowly pour the vanilla mixture from the saucepan in. Increase to high and mix for 12-15 minutes or until the mixture is lukewarm and very thick. Stir in the vanilla at the last minute.
4. Spray a 9x13 baking dish and a spatula with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the powdered sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl. Dust the baking dish with the mixture.
5. Spoon the marshmallow mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle another layer of the powdered sugar mixture on top. Allow to sit for 4 hours but up to overnight.
6. Turn out the marshmallows onto a cutting board and cut into shapes or squares. Roll the sides in the remaining powdered sugar mixture to stop them from sticking together. Store all leftovers in an airtight container.

Just so you know, homemade marshmallows are about a thousand times better than their store-bought counter part. These will last quite a while in an airtight container, so I really think you should make them ASAP.

Especially after you see tomorrow's recipe! I'm so excited to share it with you! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cookbook Review: Prevention RD's Almond Butter Swirl Brownies

Last year I asked for Prevention RD's Everyday Healthy Cooking cookbook for Christmas. Santa brought it, and after we were all stuffed with too many tasty treats, my aunt was lying on the floor, flipping through the cookbook.

She stopped on quite a few recipes and remarked about how good they looked. Then she asked what made me choose this particular cookbook. "I know her. Well, I internet-know her. The cooking message board I'm on, she's on there." My aunt was impressed. 

So when Nicole asked on the board if anyone was interested in reviewing her new book, Prevention RD's Cooking and Baking with Almond Flour, I immediately said yes. Almond flour and coconut flour are now staples in my pantry after the Whole 30 experience. Of course I wanted more recipes to make using almond flour! And of course I wanted to review a recipe! 

I opted for these brownies because I also had a jar of almond butter hanging out in my pantry from the Whole 30. 

Almond Butter Swirl Brownies
Servings: 16

    • 5 oz. 80% cacao chocolate, broken into pieces
    • 1/2 cup coconut oil
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 5 eggs
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 3/4 cup almond flour
    • 1/3 cup almond butter
1. Preheat the oven to 375. 
2. Add chocolate and coconut oil to a saucepan and melt over medium heat until smooth. Once smooth, stir in the honey and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. 
3. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time until fully combined, then whisk in the salt and almond flour. The mixture will be thick. 
4. Spray a 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray (or grease with butter) and pour the brownie batter in. Smooth out with a spatula and then drop spoonfuls of the almond butter on top. Use the tip of a knife to swirl the almond butter into the batter. 
5. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool before slicing. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Yum! Healthy brownies! These are dense and rich and I probably skimped on the almond butter and shouldn't have. I definitely don't need these lying around the house so I'm going to take these into work. 

I was impressed that Tom wanted to try them. He said the only difference he could taste is they were a bit drier than a non-gluten free brownie, but it wasn't anything that couldn't be cured with a glass of milk.