Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cranberry Orzo Salad

In the process of cleaning up my Google drive, where I store all of my blog photos and recipes, I came across a folder of pictures and recipes that I had never shared with you. Since I missed a whole week's worth of food to blog while on vacation, it was the perfect time to dip into some of these recipes and finally get around to sharing them with you.

Many moons ago I was searching the grocery store for Chinese Five Spice. This was a few years ago and I went to four stores before I was finally able to find it. It absolutely cracks me up now that I can walk into any grocery store and now it just hangs out on the shelf, right between the dried chives and dill.

Anyway, I bought the spice for a recipe and then never found anything else to do with it. One weekend I had some extra free time in the kitchen and decided that creating a recipe from scratch using the Chinese Five Spice was going to be my goal for the evening. This is what I came up with. Hope you enjoy it!


Cranberry Orzo Salad
Source: Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup orzo
    • 2 cups chicken broth
    • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
    • 2 tbsp. Chinese Five Spice 
    • 2 green onion, diced
    • salt and pepper, to taste 
Directions:
1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the orzo and cook according to package directions. Drain.
2. While orzo is still hot, stir in dried cranberries, Chinese Five Spice and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with green onions.


This pairs really nicely with pork, chicken and turkey. I served it with a glazed chicken breast. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March Whole 30 Menu

So, I'll be honest. My January Whole30 didn't exactly go as planned because I waited to start it until after I did another juice cleanse. I tried again for February, but a unexpectedly more-hectic-than-usual work schedule and a few nights where we needed to go out make that pretty unsuccessful as well.

Which means I should be starting this month down 10 pounds and I have only lost 4. This is not acceptable so regardless of the fact that I may be going away at the end of this month, making this a Whole 26 (why in the world can I never complete a full 30 days!?!) I am going into this on a stronger mission than before.

Wish me luck?

I intended to share this with you before March 1st, but work and a much-needed week long vacation kinda messed up those plans. Regardless, here I am with the Whole30 Menu I plan to follow for this month.

Week One:
Breakfast: prosciutto egg cups
Lunch: turkey roll ups, cucumber-carrot salad
Dinners: catalan-style garlic shrimp and scallops over zoodles with asparagus
orange chicken over cauliflower rice and stir fry veggies
pulled pork, homemade sweet potato fries, coleslaw
beef and vegetable soup
pan-fried gnocchi with bacon and green beans

Week Two:
Breakfast: blueberry chicken meatballs, oven-baked eggs
Lunch: thai pork and zoodle salad
Dinners: bacon wrapped chicken with onion gravy and asparagus
beef a la sichuan over cauliflower rice
pork medallions with mushroom sauce, green beans
shrimp scampi with zoodles
beef bourguinon

Week Three:
Breakfast: breakfast pizza
Lunch: peach balsamic rosemary chicken over cauliflower rice and asparagus
Dinners: kung pao meatballs, cauliflower rice, stir fry veggies
shredded beef ragu
crock pot turkey breast, baked sweet potatoes, roasted kale
oven-baked chicken and potatoes
pulled pork, oven-baked sweet potato fries, cucumber salad

Week Four:
Breakfast: triple berry crisp
Lunch: turkey, butternut squash and kale bites
Dinners: pan-seared gnocchi in butter sauce, roasted vegetables
shepherd's pie with sweet potatoes
potsticker meatballs
twice baked breakfast potatoes
Italian meatball zoodle soup

Weekends were also really hard for the last Whole 30. I didn't have enough snacks hanging around that were Whole 30 approved that just left me wanting to eat things that I couldn't, so here is a list of other recipes/items I have in the freezer/pantry or can easily be made on the weekends when I don't feel like cooking. (I'm thinking about seeing just how many of the above and below recipes I can make and freeze on a non-busy weekend.)

Alternatives:
dijon pork breakfast skillet
crock pot korean short ribs
caramelized scallops with thai cucumber salad
swedish meatballs
smoothies
tuna fish
gnocchi
steak
spicy basil zoodles
scotch eggs
breadless BLTs
roast beef and apple sandwiches

Another one of the hardest things I encounter during a Whole 30 is the lack of condiments. Sure, you can make your own ketchup, mayo, salad dressing, etc. but I need to make a Whole 30 as convenient for me as possible which simply does not involve making my own condiments. However, there is this awesome company called Tessemae's (which is actually local to me and I had no idea) that sells every condiment you could need, all made with approved ingredients.

Well, not all of their condiments are Whole30 approved but their website tells you the ingredients of each item, so it won't be difficult for you to figure out what you can and cannot order. Currently in my fridge I have the Southwest Ranch Dressing, Mayo, Ketchup, Honey Mustard Sauce and BBQ Sauce.

I will warn you though, the ketchup doesn't taste like your non-Whole30 approved variety of ketchup. To me, it tastes more like a tangy tomato-y BBQ sauce, but when you want to dip your sweet potato fries into something, it more than does the trick. 

Weekly Menu 3/1 - 3/5

Hi strangers! Sorry, I didn't mean to just fall off the face of the earth like I did last week. We spent last week in Florida and while I had intended on getting a bunch of stuff done before we left (a.k.a, blogging, preparing the March Whole 30 menu, etc.) there ending up being too many things on my plate and this simply got bumped.

I'm sorry for bumping you, although it did seem to make something interesting happen again. Not too long ago, I was barely sharing any recipes with you and I somehow ended up on the Suggested Pages list on good old Facebook. I got a ton of new followers overnight, even without sharing any recipes. This went on for a little over a week and I basically sat around in confusion watching the number of likes on my Facebook page increase drastically.

The same thing happened again. Or at least, I assume so because somehow in the last 12 days I have managed to gain an additional 266 likes, finally crossing me over the 500 mark. (I'm nearly to 700 actually) As someone who doesn't use social media for blogging nearly as well as I should, I'm in shock.

Anyway, you'll soon be getting a recap of our adventures in the sunshine state, but let's start off with the menu for this week.



Sunday: Catalan-style garlic shrimp and scallops over zoodles with asparagus

Monday: Paleo orange chicken over cauliflower rice with stir fry veggies 

Tuesday: pulled pork, sweet potato fries, coleslaw

Wednesday: beef and vegetable soup 

Thursday: gnocchi with bacon and green beans 

For breakfast this week, it's prosciutto egg cups because I needed something simple and quick to make after flying back from Florida. Lunch will be turkey roll ups with cucumber-carrot salad

Don't forget to get your weekly menu planner here

Monday, February 16, 2015

What's Baking: Peeta's Cheesy Buns

You know, I really loved the Hunger Games trilogies in book format, but I kinda hate going to see the movies. I already know what is going to happen and the anticipation of seeing unhappy scenes on screen kills me.

I had to really convince myself to go see Catching Fire in the theaters because there were so many scenes I wasn't prepared to see in any format other that the images created in my mind from reading the words.

What does that have to do with What's Baking? Well, the theme of 'baking with bread' was decided back in January (when Mockingjay was still in theaters and Tom and I were finally getting around to going) and I found that I had pinned this recipe forever and ever ago. In tribute to Peeta and the terrible stuff he endures in Mockingjay, I bring you Peeta's Cheesy Buns.


Peeta's Cheesy Buns
Source: Yammie's Noshery
Servings: 20 buns
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Ingredients:
    • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
    • 1 packet dry active yeast
    • 2 tbsp. sugar
    • 2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 6 tbsp. butter, divided
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 3 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella cubed
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp. water
    • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar
    • grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
    • dried parsley
Directions:
1. Pour the water and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Sprinkle the yeast on top and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
2. Melt 4 tbsp. of the butter.Then add the garlic powder, melted butter and olive oil.
3. With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour 1/2 to 1 cup at a time. Then add the salt. Increase the speed slightly and allow the dough to come together, allowing the machine to knead it for 10 minutes. 4. Lightly grease a large bowl. Turn out the dough into the bowl, turning over once to coat. Cover with damp paper towels and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 375. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
6. Lightly flour a surface and turn out the the dough. Divide into 20 equal sized portions.
7. Place a cube of the mozzarella cheese in the center of the dough and pull the dough around it to cover it completely, pinching the ends to seal. Place seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
8. Whisk together one egg with the water and brush over the dough. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar and Parmesan over the dough.
9. Bake for 11-15 minutes or until golden brown.
10. Sprinkle with dried parsley and serve warm.



Melty cheese inside of a soft warm bun. How in the world could you possibly go wrong? You can't. So there you have the ultimate comfort food - cheese and bread all warmed and melty together.



Make these. You'll thank me. And don't forget to go check out our host Heather's blog - Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks

Friday, February 13, 2015

Paleo Chocolate Pot de Creme

After making quite a few dessert recipes for Valentine's Day that I couldn't eat, I was more than pleased to find one that I could! This uses very few ingredients and comes together very quickly.

The longest part of the recipe is allowing the mixture to chill in the refrigerator.



Paleo Chocolate Pot de Creme
Source: Primal Palate
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 6 oz, 7% dark chocolate, chopped 
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 
    • 1 cup coconut milk
    • extra chocolate for garnish
    • raspberries or strawberries for garnish 
Directions:
1. Combine the chocolate, eggs and vanilla together in a high-speed blender until smooth.
2. In a medium saucepan, heat the coconut milk over medium high heat until you see steam rising from it. (This is scalding the milk.)
3. Carefully pour the scalded coconut milk into the blender and blend until smooth. (The blender will cause the mixture to thicken up.)
4. Pour the cream mixture into 4 8 oz. souffle dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
5. Garnish with shaved chocolate and fresh berries.



Once again, you'd have no idea that this recipe doesn't call for sugar-laden milk chocolate or calorific heavy cream. If you are still looking for a dessert to make for tomorrow, I highly, highly suggest this one! Even if you aren't following a Paleo lifestyle.



Seriously, Tom ate two and had no idea they were "healthy". 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Heart Shaped Rice Krispie Treats

I've had a box of rice krispie cereal in the pantry for quite some time now. I'm sure I bought them to make some type of rice krispie treat, but luckily that never happened.

Right after my hunt to find Valentine's Day recipes, I was cleaning out the pantry and found the box of cereal. How could I not make rice krispie treats for Valentine' s Day?



Heart-Shaped Rice Krispie Treats
Source: Kellogg's Rice Krispies
Servings: 20
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Ingredients:
    • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
    • 10 oz. bag mini marshmallows
    • 6 cups Rice Krispie Cereal
    • seasonal sprinkles
    • *heart shaped cookie cutter
Directions:
1. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
In a large pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the marshmallows and stir with a silicone spatula until melted.
2. Slowly add in the cereal, about 2 cups at a time and stir until fully combined. Repeat until fully mixed.
3. Spray the spatula with non-stick spray and then transfer the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Use the spatula to press the mixture flat. Sprinkle immediately with seasonal sprinkles.
4. Allow to set for 1 hour before turning out onto a wax papered surface and using the cookie cutter to cut out heart shaped treats. The treats will still be slightly pliable enough if you need to better mold them into heart shapes with your fingers.



Aren't these adorable? They're perfect to have the kids take into school or to bring to your coworkers!


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Chicken Bacon Ranch Tater Tot Casserole

Would you believe me if I told you that 2014 was the first time I ever had a tater tot casserole? I have no idea why my mother never made anything like this, it was easy and included ingredients I would eat.

When I saw Ashley share this recipe on the cooking board, my first thought was, "That. That is going to be my last non Whole 30 meal that I eat." Why? Because it includes three of the most wonderful things you can pair together; chicken, bacon and ranch. It's kind of like eggs, bacon and toast. Or fruit, sugar and whipped cream. You just can't ever go wrong with that combination of items. (Well, you probably can, but I'm not going to find out.)


I emailed Tom the recipe and asked him if he would eat it. (He's not a fan of ranch, the weird man.) He said yes so I scribbled down all of the ingredients on a post-it note and stuck it in my wallet to remind me when making the grocery list.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Tater Tot Casserole
Source: Cheese Curd in Paradise
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts, cooked and shredded 
    • 1 1/2 cans cream of chicken soup 
    • 1 packet ranch dressing mix 
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled 
    • 1 1/2 cups shredded/grated cheddar cheese
    • 32 oz. bag tater tots 
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
2. Stir together the cream of chicken soup, ranch dressing packet and sour cream until combined in a large bowl, then stir in the shredded chicken.
3. Spread the mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with a layer of the cheddar cheese. Add a layer of the crumbled bacon on top of that and then layer the tater tots on top.
4. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until hot and bubbly, then place in the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the tops of the tater tots are crispy.

Ashley has a recipe for homemade cream of chicken soup that I would have made if I had the extra time. I opted to use two cans of the soup, and as you can see from the picture, its oozing over the top a bit, which is why I listed 1 1/2 cans above. I couldn't pass up having extra crispy tater tots so I popped this in the broiler for just a minute or two to get them a little more golden.


I only had a general idea of what this dish was going to taste like and it more than met my expectations. It's hearty, warm and comforting food at its best.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Secret Recipe Club: Cranberry Beef Sliders

Way, way back in 2011 I joined the Secret Recipe Club on only it's second month of existence. When the club broke into 4 groups to handle the enormous response to bloggers wanting to be a part of it, I was assigned to Group A where I happily remained for over 3 years. Before the holidays a request went out seeing if anyone wanted to switch groups. After 3+ years I decided it was finally time to take the plunge and try out a new group.

I was switched to Group B and this is my first time ever posting with them. Hi Group B!

This month I was assigned to Miz Helen's Country Cottage. After retiring from being a cookbook author, a business owner and a Bible teacher, she and her husband retired to a small cottage and rescued Max, a Bichon Frise poodle mix. She has a ton of recipes on her blog, ranging from cakes and candies to beef and poultry. She even has a section for canning foods, which I need to go back and check out in depth soon.

It took me a while to finally decide on a recipe from her extensive collection. I could not get the cranberry beef sliders out of my head so I figured it meant they were the recipe I needed to make and share with you.



Cranberry Beef Sliders
Source: Miz Helen's Country Cottage
Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients:
    • 2 tsp. salt
    • 2 tsp. pepper
    • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
    • 3 lb. chuck roast
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
    • 4 large onions, sliced 
    • 2 cups whole cranberry sauce
    • 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
    • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
    • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 2 cups beef broth 
    • 6-8 slider buns
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Combine the salt, pepper and red pepper flakes together into a rub and coat the roast.
3. Add the olive oil to a Dutch Oven over medium high heat. Add the roast and brown on all sides.
4. Place the onions, garlic, cranberry sauce and herbs around the roast. Pour the beef broth around the roast as well.
5. Place the lid on the Dutch Oven and put the in preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes then reduce the heat to 325 and bake for 2 hours.
6. Allow the meat to rest before slicing.
7. Create sliders by topping slices of beef and the onions on top of slider buns.



We both really like the flavor of this roast, but the cut of beef I bought was really tough. I didn't have time to make this recipe against using another cut in time for the reveal, but I definitely plan to make it again in the future.

This is easily adaptable to a Paleo recipe as well, using homemade cranberry sauce made with honey or natural fruit juices instead of sugar and Paleo approved beef broth!


Friday, February 6, 2015

Fontina, Mushroom and Prosciutto Macaroni

Before starting the Whole30 I knew I wanted one last comforting dish. It's almost funny to me in a way that I chose a mac and cheese dish, since as a kid I never really cared for it.

That's probably because I never was nor have I ever been a fan of the blue box variety. But once I learned how easy it is to make macaroni and cheese from scratch, my feelings on the cheese coated pasta dish changed. Adding mushrooms and prosciutto and using fontina cheese was a no brainer.


Fontina, Mushroom, Prosciutto Macaroni
Source: Pink Parsley
Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients:
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil
    • 12 oz. mushrooms, sliced
    • 4 oz. prosciutto, chopped
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 tbsp. fresh basil
    • 1 tbsp. fresh parsley
    • 1 tsp. thyme
    • 1 tsp. rosemary
    • 1 lb. pasta shapes
    for the breadcrumb topping:
    • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
    • 1 cup breadcrumbs
    • 2 tbsp. Parmesan, shredded
    • salt and pepper
    for the bechamel sauce:
    • 6 tbsp. butter
    • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup chicken broth
    • 2 1/2 cups milk
    • 1/3 cup marsala wine
    • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
    • 2 cups Fontina, shredded
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Heat the olive oil a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes. Add the prosciutto and cook until crispy, 1-2 minutes. Then add in the garlic, basil, parsley, thyme and rosemary. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain and set aside.
4. In a small bowl, combine melted butter and breadcrumbs. Spread out evenly over a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Set aside until cooled, then toss with the Parmesan, salt and pepper.
5. Wipe out the skillet used to cook the mushroom mixture and melt the butter to start the Bechamel sauce. Add the flour and whisk for about 3 minutes, or until flour is combined and not lumpy. Slowly pour in the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, while whisking until it is fully incorporated before adding more. Then add the marsala wine, nutmeg, salt and pepper and stir until combined.
6. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and Fontina until melted.
7. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
8. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and stir until combined. Stir in the mushroom mixture then pour into the prepared baking dish.
9. Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.


This would be as a cheesy and delicious as it looks. Just in case you weren't sure.



Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Red Velvet Truffles

I'm trying really hard to be proactive this year, especially when it comes to blogging so when it was nearing the end of January and I was looking around on Pinterest, a few Valentine's Day recipes caught my eye. It was immediately decided that I was going to make multiple recipes before Valentine's day and share them with you.



If you're familiar with my track record of sharing holiday recipes after the actual holiday, you should know how impressive this is for me.

This truffle recipes is also really easy to make so if you're looking for something you can easily pull together for the holiday, I would highly suggest taking a look at these.



Red Velvet Truffles
Source: various Pinterest images 
Servings: 36 truffles 
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Ingredients:
    • 1 box red velvet cake mix 
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 8 oz. white almond bark
    • assorted festive sprinkles 
Directions:
1. Prepare cake according to package directions. Bake in a 9x13 baking dish and let cool. 
2. Add the cream cheese to the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attached affixed and beat for 1 minute or until smooth. 
3. Crumble up the cooled cake and add to the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat on low speed until all of the cream cheese is incorporated into the cake. 
4. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Scoop out tablespoon sized balls of the mixture and roll into a ball. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with all of the cake mixture. 
5. Refrigerate for 1 hour. 
6. Place the white almond bark in a microwave safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time until it's melted and smooth. 
7. Use two forks to drop the chilled ball into the chocolate and turn to coat. Allow any excess chocolate coating to drip off, then place back onto the wax lined baking sheet. Top with various festive sprinkles. 
8. If not serving immediately, return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure the almond bark has cooled before transferring the truffles into a container. Truffles can be placed on top of each other if there is a wax lining between each layer of truffles. 


I had Tom take these into work and he said that his coworkers pretty much inhaled them within a few hours. I think that says more than enough about these tasty little treats, huh?