Peach & Strawberry Breakfast Braid

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It doesn't happen very often but sometimes I just get bored of eating muffins for breakfast. Its still way too hot to switch to oatmeal and I haven't been in a granola mood lately. Since I eat breakfast at work, this limits my options quite a bit.

I was flipping through my dessert recipes looking for anything that might catch my eye when I came across a Raspberry Breakfast Braid in the August/September issue of Taste of Home. It required only a few ingredients and didn't take very long to make so I figured it was worth a shot.

Except the grocery store was out of raspberries. I didn't think blackberries would go over too well since they have seeds and I wasn't in the mood for blueberries. I'm not a huge fan of cooked strawberries so they were out. Bananas seemed boring. Cherries were too expensive plus required all of that time to pit them. And then my eyes fell on the display of peaches. I knew I risked the braid falling apart since peaches are about 100 times juicier than raspberries but I decided it was worth a shot.

While I was chopping up the peaches, I made the split second decision to add in the extra strawberries I had in the fridge. I figured if they weren't the main ingredient I could probably handle them in their cooked state.



Peach & Strawberry Breakfast Braid
Adapted from: Taste of Home, August/September 2012
Servings: 8
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Ingredients:
    • 3/4 cup fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
    • 1/4 cup fresh strawberries, thinly sliced
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
    • 2 cups Bisquick baking mix
    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
    • 3 oz. cream cheese, chilled and cubed
    • 1/3 cup milk 
    • 1/4 - 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    Glaze:
    • 3 tbsp. (Dominos) powdered sugar
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. milk
    • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

    Directions:
    1. In a small bowl combine the peaches, strawberries and sugar. Toss to coat. Set aside.
    2. Preheat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    3. Pour the Bisquick into a large bowl. Cut in the butter and cream cheese until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the milk until combined.
    4. Lightly flour a surface. Turn out the dough onto the surface and add the flour as necessary until the dough is manageable. Knead 10 times adding flour as necessary.
    5. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and roll out into a rectangle, as close to 18x12 as possible.
    6. Spread the peach/strawberry mixture down the center of the dough. Use a butter knife to cut 1" wide slices on either side of the dough. Bring them to the center in a crossing fashion to create the look of a braid. Bring the top and bottom of the braid up and tuck under the braid flaps to seal.
    7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
    8. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze, adjusting the ingredients to your liking and until it reaches a pourable consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the braid.

    I cut this into slices and portioned it out for my breakfast. Luckily there were a few slices left over that I could try some right away. Uh, wow! That's about all I can say. The natural sweetness of the peaches took over the cooked strawberry flavor and just combined so nicely with the vanilla glaze. I can't wait to eat this for breakfast throughout the week! I plan on making it again and trying it with different fruits. If you used frozen peaches or already had some fresh one sliced up, this would take no time at all in the morning and would be the perfect breakfast for any house guests you may have.

Coleslaw

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For years I refused to try ever try coleslaw just because it is typically made with mayonnaise. If I haven't mentioned it before, I am not a big mayonnaise fan. I can handle mayo in small doses, like mixed into tuna salad or lightly spread on a steak sub sandwich, but those people who eat gobs and gobs of mayo between bread and some lunchmeat just make me cringe.

I also have no preference over mayonnaise vs. Miracle Whip. I know, I know. This is complete blasphemy to some people. Growing up, mayonnaise was what we had in the fridge. For Tom, it was Miracle Whip. Surprisingly we have both mayo and MW in the fridge at the moment. Usually its just a jar of MW since Tom eats it and I only use it when I can't substitute something else in its place in a recipe.

Then one day we went out for lunch to a great seafood place. Their crab cake sandwich comes with fries and coleslaw. I had no intent to ever try the coleslaw but a bit of the tiny container spilled under my fries and I didn't know it until I took a bite. I was momentarily shocked at the flavors which were not a french fry, but since it didn't taste bad, I decided to be adventurous and take a bite sans fry. It was actually really good. So good that I began to steal the little coleslaw containers from Tom when they would come with his sandwich.

And now, three months after moving away from the great seafood place, I was missing their coleslaw, so I decided to make my own.



Coleslaw
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: ~2 cups
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Ingredients:
12 oz. package coleslaw mix
3-4 tbsp. *(Kraft) mayonnaise (or Miracle Whip)
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Combine all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Refrigerate before serving.

It doesn't get much easier than that, does it? I was quite happy with my own version and had it as a side for dinner each night, even if it didn't go along with the main course very well. :-)

*I've signed up for a new program within Foodie Blogroll called Swoop which makes my recipes easier to find on search engines. The cool thing it does for you is if I list a brand name of an ingredient, Swoop will provide a link if there is a coupon currently available for that ingredient. So going forward, you'll see the brand names of some items listed in parentheses. Eventually, I'll go back and update the previous recipes as well.*



Gouda Bacon Cheeseburgers

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I'm probably the least sexist person I know, but while making this burger I immediately thought of it as a 'man's burger'. Its big, hearty, cheesy, covered in bacon, smothered in onions and extremely messy. Which is also how I think most burgers should be, so that's not saying too much for my feminine side, is it?

I figured I'd start off this post describing the burger like that just in case you are one of those people who likes to take dainty bites of a burger and expects it all to stay on the bun. That's not going to happen here. You're going to have bits and pieces falling off the bun, onions running down your fingers and need a serious supply of napkins nearby. So if you're ready to get messy, please keep reading and then make this right away!



Gouda Bacon Cheeseburgers
Slightly Adapted from: Cassie Craves, inspired by Rachael Ray
Servings: 6 burgers
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef
    • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • salt and pepper
    • 4 tbsp. butter
    • 2 onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
    • 3 tbsp. steak sauce
    • 6 slices bacon, cooked
    • 6 slices smoked gouda cheese
    • hamburger buns, toasted
    • lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise

    Directions:
    1. Combine the ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper and form into 6 patties. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onions and brown sugar and cook until lightly caramelized, about 20-25 minutes.
    3. Preheat your grill when the onions have about 10 minutes left of cooking time. Once hot, place the burgers on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, depending on their thickness. Place a slice of cheese on top of each burger and allow to melt.
    4. Once the onions have caramelized, stir in the steak sauce until coated. Remove from the heat.
    5. Spread mayonnaise on both sides of each toasted roll. Place the burger on the bottom of the roll, top with lettuce and tomato, a slice of bacon cut in half and a generous topping of the smothered onions. 

    Wow! These burgers are really incredible and taste like something you would get at a restaurant. I served these with fries and coleslaw but honestly, the burgers were SO filling, we had a hard time clearing our plates. 

Cucumber and Tomato Salad

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Last Friday I shared the delicious Pot Roast Sliders recipe I made for the recipe swap. After letting Tom pick out the slider recipe, I clicked through the side dishes and salads on Jaida's blog to figure out something to make with them.

This recipe jumped out at me immediately. Its a great summer salad and one I hadn't tried before.



Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Source: Sweet Beginnings, as seen on Tales from a Mad Man 
Servings: 6
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  • Ingredients:
    • 1 large cucumber, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
    • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil 
    • 2 tbsp. fresh mint leaves, chopped
    • 1 tbsp. sugar
    • salt and pepper

    Directions:
    1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes prior to serving.

    I left the skins and seeds on/in the cucumber since I figured it wouldn't make too much of a difference. I ran out of time before making this recipe and chose to just let it marinade while I prepped and made everything else for dinner.

    The vinegar in this reminded me a lot of the Korean Cucumber Salad I make but the mint gave this a really nice fresh and sweeter taste I wasn't expecting. This is a great little summer salad you can whip up fairly quickly and would be perfectly alongside burgers, grilled chicken, roasted pork...just about anything you can imagine.

Peach Lemonade

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August is almost over which means peach season is quickly fading away. While you can still easily find peaches through most of September, its not the best time for them so I usually rush in some last minute peach recipes in the beginning of September and then save the rest for the following year.

No guarantees, but this is currently my final peach recipe for the season and I figured I may as well end it with something pretty and tasty. Before seeing this recipe I honestly never thought of adding peaches to lemonade. I guess just because its not as common as regular lemonade or strawberry lemonade. However, its equally as delicious so I suggest you run out to the store and get the ingredients to make this right away.



Peach Lemonade
Adapted from: Prevention RD, originally seen on Cooking Light 
Servings: 8-10 glasses
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Ingredients:
    • 10 cups water, divided
    • 4 ripe peaches
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (4-6 lemons)
    • 1 lemon, sliced
    • ice

    Directions:
    1. Score a "X" in the bottom of each peach. Place them in a large saucepan and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then remove the peaches and place in an ice-water bath until cool enough to handle. Peel the skins off the peaches and then roughly chop them.
    2. Rinse out the saucepan. Add 4 more cups of water, the sugar and the peaches. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.
    3. Pour the peach mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Discard any large solid pieces and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.
    4. Combine the peach mixture and lemon juice. Add the remaining 2 cups water, adjusting to reach your desired consistency (it should be somewhat thick). Add the lemon slices and adjust with sugar to taste if necessary.
    5. Refrigerate until chilled or serve with ice.

    The original recipe calls for this to be pretty thick but it reminded me too much of a watered-down smoothie so I added more water. I also don't typically drink peach lemonade in a wine glass but it was just too pretty to serve in a regular glass. :-)

Weekly Menu 8/26 - 8/30

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Did you miss me last week? I intended to post the menu before I left for the bingo weekend at the beach but I ran out of time.

I think I mentioned the purpose of the bingo before, right? If not, my aunt decided that when she received her first social security check she would hold a bingo for all of the women in the family and use the check money as the jack pot. This is something my grandmother did as well. For weeks my aunt and I emailed each other back and forth about the menu and finally decided I would be responsible for appetizers.

I made caprese skewers, mini mac and cheese cups and soft pretzel bites. Look the the caprese skewers and mac and cheese cups recipes to come soon! Everything turned out really, really well but the pretzel bites were gobbled up instantly! As for winning, I didn't do too badly at all. I won $70. The big winner of the day was my cousin who won $175.

We also created a new holiday. Well, kind of. See, two of my aunts are snowbirds and head to Florida in October so unless we head down there, we never see them for Thanksgiving or Christmas. I have a few other family members who live on the Eastern Shore and we usually don't see them either. It seems like the beach is where we can all congregate. But since those family members always miss out on my holiday adventures, we decided to have a party in September where everyone comes to me and I cook for them. It was creatively named "Nichole Cooks, Y'all Eat" I even let them choose ingredients that I would feature in the menu. I got quite the variety of ingredients but I think we should be able to pull everything together nicely.

Once it gets closer to the party (September 29th) I'll post the menu and then do a recap.

The menu for this week is mostly things I chose for other weeks but didn't end up making for one reason or another.

Sunday - Red Wine & Garlic Marinated Steaks, Mushroom Risotto and Green Beans

Monday - Corn and Tomato Pizza (for me, Tom will have pepperoni more than likely)

Tuesday - Roasted Pork Tenderloin over Wild Rice and Grilled Nectarines

Wednesday - Emeril's Sloppy Joe's with Garlic-Herb Fries and Stuffed Zucchini 

Thursday - Pineapple Mango Chicken Stir Fry

I'm also making my choice for the Secret Recipe Club and my dessert for the Recipe Swap! Unfortunately the weather channel lied to me and it's not sunny at all this weekend. So instead of going to the pool, I'll be in the kitchen.  

Recipe Swap: Pot Roast Sliders

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For this blogger's choice recipe swap, I decided I wanted no part in choosing the recipe. I wrote down some things that I thought Tom would like and handed it to him, telling him it was completely his choice.

Jaida has pretty similar tastes to Tom and I so knew I whatever he chose would be tasty. I expected him to choose something like the Buffalo Chicken Pizza Puffs or Firecracker Shrimp or Pulled Pork Tacos since they are all right up his alley in tastes and ingredients. But he surprised me and chose the Slow Cooker Pot Roast Sliders. Then I decided I couldn't leave this 100% up to Tom. I also decided to make Jaida's Tomato and Cucumber Salad. A fresh summer salad was just calling to me. Come back on Tuesday to see that recipe!



Pot Roast Sliders
Source: Sweet Beginnings, adapted from Six Sisters Stuff
Servings: 20+ sliders
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  • Slider Ingredients:
    • 3 lb. bottom round roast (or roast of your choice)
    • 1 cup salsa verde
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 envelope Italian Dressing Mix
    • 1 envelope Onion Soup Mix
    • 1 envelope Au Jus Mix
    • King's Hawaiian rolls
    • swiss cheese slices
    • Sriracha mayo, see below 

      • Sriracha Mayo:
      • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
      • 2-3 tbsp. Sriracha  

      Directions:
      1. Whisk the water, Italian dressing, onion soup mix and au jus mix together into a bowl. Add the salsa verde.
      2. Place the roast in a crock pot. Pour the mixture over the roast.
      3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-6 hours.
      4. Remove the beef from the crock pot and shred it. Return to the crock pot until ready to use.
      5. Toast the rolls and assemble each slider with Swiss cheese, a healthy spread of Sriracha mayo and a generous portion of the shredded beef.

      Yum! After shredding the beef I made the decision to return it to the crock pot to let it absorb the juices it cooked in. I think this made a huge difference in the flavors. I had to switch up the envelope flavors just to accommodate what I could find in the stores. I opted for a Sriracha mayo instead of the horseradish sauce since Tom isn't a horseradish fan.

      Even with slight changes, this is still an incredibly filling and tasty recipe. We've enjoyed this for lunches every day this week. I have to say, this is definitely the first time ALL of the leftovers are being used!


Grilled Steak with Herb Salsa Verde

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Not too long ago we had a one-day break from the oppressive humidity and immediately took advantage of it by using the grills outside of the apartment. While I do really appreciate how close they are, it really makes me dislike living on the third floor. There's just something about hauling a bag of charcoal, your food, tongs and various other items down three flights of steps and then back up three flights of steps that just makes it less appealing. Or I guess you could say we are definitely working for our dinner.

My herbs have been touch and go this summer. I think part of it is because I'm growing them indoors. Last year I had absolutely no issues with them at all and couldn't believe the amounts they were producing. Now I just have extremely finicky herbs that look great one week and look half dead the next. Its quite annoying to say the least. But this was a particularly good week for them so I decided to use a bunch of them up for this recipe.



Grilled Skirt Steak with Herb Salsa Verde
Source: Bon Appetit
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 lbs. flank or skirt steak, fat trimmed
    • 2 1/2 cups fresh herbs chopped, such as parsley, mint, oregano, basil and sage
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tbsp. olive oil 
    • 1 tbsp. lemon zest
    • salt and pepper

    Directions:
    1. In a small bowl, combine the fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil and lemon zest. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    2. Preheat your grill.
    3. Season the steaks with salt and pepper. Grill for 3 minutes on each side for medium-rare. Remove the steaks from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes.
    4. Slice the steaks against the grain and top with the herb salsa verde. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

    I wasn't sure how this was going to taste, but I really enjoyed the light and fresh flavors of the herbs mixed with the lemon zest. I served this with grilled potatoes and corn on the cob.


Cream of Crab Soup

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There are two soups that you can find in just about any Maryland restaurant. Maryland Crab, a tomato based vegetable soup with crab meat and heavy Old Bay seasoning to make it spicy, and Cream of Crab, a cream/milk based soup with potatoes, celery and crab meat with a much milder flavor and richer texture almost like a chowder or bisque.

For years I would only eat Maryland Crab soup. Something about cream and crab meat together just turned me off completely. I think I was in my early 20's before I finally decided to try cream of crab soup. Its quite tasty, but I should have known that all along. While I still tend to gravitate towards Maryland Crab when given the choice, I do appreciate the richness and flavors of the cream of crab soup. Which is why when I saw it on Laura's blog, I added it to the menu for the following week.

Laura has a Local tag on her blog where she features Maryland-style recipes and where she uses local ingredients. The whole section makes my Maryland-native heart smile to see someone else share the recipes I grew up eating as well. You should check it out!



Cream of Crab Soup
Barely Adapted from. Tide and Thyme 
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. crab meat, shells removed
    • 2 small white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
    • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
    • 1 shallot, minced
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • 2 tbsp. flour
    • 2 cups milk
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • Old Bay seasoning  

    Directions:
    1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 10 minutes or until just softened. Drain and set aside.
    2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the celery and shallot and cook for 5-7 minutes or until soft. Whisk in the flour until combined and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
    3. Add the potatoes, milk and cream and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until the soup thickens. Then add the crab meat and reduce the heat to low.
    4. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes.
    5. Ladle the soup into bowls and season with Old Bay to taste.



    The only change I made from the original recipe was to add potatoes. I've only had cream of crab with them and I just felt like it wouldn't be the same without them. I don't think I got my soup to thicken up as much as it should have, but I served this along with some lightly toasted Italian bread and it was absolutely delicious.

    While I can't just convert to a cream-of-crabber, I can say that this version of cream of crab is delicious and I will definitely make it again.


Quinoa Corn Salad

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It was the end of the week and I realized I didn't have a side dish planned for dinner. A quick look in the fridge informed me that we had about 1 1/2 cups of corn kernels from corn on the cob and a leftover red pepper. I first thought about doing a corn and red pepper rice, but when I opened the pantry I spotted the quinoa first.

I rarely think to cook with quinoa. Mostly because I am completely paranoid those tiny little quinoa pieces will explode from the pot and take over my kitchen. They've done it before... Nevertheless, I decided people are always looking for new quinoa recipes so I might as well provide them with one. :-)



Quinoa Corn Salad
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
    • 1 cup quinoa
    • 1 1/2 cups corn kernels
    • 1 red pepper, diced
    • 2 tbsp. butter
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions:
    1. Combine the chicken broth and quinoa together in a large saucepan and cooking according to quinoa package directions.
    2. Meanwhile melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn and red pepper and cook for 7-8 minutes or until soft. Remove from the heat, but cover to keep warm.
    3. Once the quinoa is cooked, stir in the corn, red pepper, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste.



    For a fairly simple recipe, I was impressed with this. The flavors melded together nicely.  It was super filling and I took the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Peach Streusel Muffins

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Although I almost never eat them plain, peaches are one of my favorite fruits. First I absolutely love the color of a peach with its skin removed. The pale orange gradually darkening into a deep mauve-ish color. Then there is the smell of peaches. It just screams 'SUMMER!' I could easily have my house smell like peaches year-round and be completely content.


It seemed like all through the winter when I would flip through my recipe binder for a muffin to make, I would always end up staring at this recipe and wishing peaches were in season. At the end of July I started thinking about these muffins, patiently watching the calendar until I thought it would be the perfect time to buy the peaches and make this recipe.


Peach Muffins with Streusel Topping
Source: Delish Blog
Servings: 12 large + 24 mini muffins

Ingredients:
    • 4 large peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
    • 1 1/2 cups plain low-fat yogurt
    • 2 eggs
    • 3 tbsp. milk
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tbsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon 
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • Streusel:
    • 1/3 cup flour
    • 1/3 cup brown sugar
    • 2 tbs. butter, chilled and chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped

    Directions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a large muffin tin and a mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray or line with paper or foil liners. 
    2. In a bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs and milk until combined. Set to the side. 
    3. In a large bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt together. Fold the yogurt mixture into the dry mixture until combined. Gently stir in the peaches. 
    4. Prepare the streusel by combining the flour and brown sugar together into a small bowl. Using a fork or your fingers, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in the pecans. 
    5. Scoop the muffin batter into the tins, filling the large ones 3/4 of the way full and the mini ones all of the way. Sprinkle the streusel topping over the muffins and place both tins in the oven. 
    6. Bake the mini muffins for 20 minutes and the large muffins for 25-30 or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. 
    7. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to continue cooling. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. 



    I didn't want the pieces of the peaches to get lost in the muffin so I chopped my peaches fairly large. I think it definitely paid off as almost each bite of the muffins were bursting with peach flavors. The pecans added a great crunch to the muffins and overall the just reminded me of summertime in the south. 

    I ended up taking the mini muffins into work which my coworkers gobbled up instantly while moaning in delight.


Tom's Asian-Inspired Grilled Steaks

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I have always loved steak. Even as a kid I would choose steak over chicken if I had a choice in the matter. Granted, back then I preferred my steak overcooked to the point of chewiness, but nonetheless, I still preferred steak.

Not much has changed in 27 years on this planet. I'll still choose steak over just about any other entree choice. Unless its a broiled crab cake. Then I usually go for the crab cake. So one night the other week I had forgotten to pull out something for dinner and told Tom the quickly defrostable options were chicken or steak. He chose steak. (See, I knew I married him for a reason.) :-p

He also decided that he was going to whip up a marinade for these steaks. Since I'm usually the one tasked with this responsibility, I graciously took advantage of it and just assisted when necessary.


Tom's Asian-Inspired Grilled Steak
Source: A Cookaholic Wife's Husband Creation
Servings: 2
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Ingredients:
    • 2 filets
    • 3 tbsp. steak sauce
    • 3 tbsp. hot sauce
    • 2 tbsp. barbecue sauce
    • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
    • 1 tbsp. Worchestershire sauce
    • 1 tbsp. honey
    • 1 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne

    Directions:
    1. In a container with a lid, combine all of the ingredients except for the steaks together. Reserve 1/4 of the marinade in a separate dish.
    2. Place the steaks in the marinade and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes but up to 2 hours.
    3. Preheat your grill.
    4. Grill steaks for 3-5 minutes per side or until it reaches your desired doneness. Transfer the steaks to a plate to let rest for 5 minutes. Drizzle the remaining marinade over the steaks right before serving.

    I wasn't really sure what to expect from that concoction of ingredients but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the hot sauce and barbecue sauce would dominate the steak but neither did and just provided a salty/spicy/sweet flavor to the steak.

Improv Challenge: Summer Corn, Tomato and Scallop Pasta

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Every time one of my cooking magazines arrives, right away I flip through it looking for recipes that catch my eye. It wasn't this recipe that stopped me though, it was the recipe that was listed on the same page.

Maryland Corn & Crab Cakes 

I immediately made a disgruntled face and skimmed over the crab cake ingredients.

See, I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to Maryland crab cakes and recipes that claim they are as such. A REAL Maryland crab cake has very few ingredients other than crab meat. This one involved corn kernels, bell pepper and ::gasp:: pasteurized crab meat. I rolled my eyes and then decided to check out the scallop recipe.

I read over the ingredients and immediately thought "all this needs is some tomatoes and it will be a true summer recipe" which then lead me to realize that by adding tomatoes I could also use it for my Improv Challenge recipe.

The Improv Challenge was created by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. Each month there are two "assigned" ingredients and the participants can make absolutely anything they want including those ingredients as long as the recipe is new to their blog. Then, the third Thursday of every month, we all post our recipes. For August, our two ingredients were tomatoes and peppers.



Summer Corn, Tomato and Scallop Pasta
Barely Adapted From: Eating Well
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. sea scallops, patted dry
    • 8 oz. whole-wheat fettuccine
    • 3 slices bacon, chopped
    • 2 cups fresh corn kernels
    • 1 red pepper, diced
    • 1 cup heirloom tomatoes, halved
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 cup white wine
    • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
    • 1 tbsp. flour
    • 3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
    • salt and pepper

    Directions:
    1. Place the sea scallops on a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
    2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
    3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently until crispy. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving the fat in the skillet, and place on a paper towel.
    4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the scallops. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until nicely browned. Transfer the scallops to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
    5. Add the corn, bell pepper, tomatoes and garlic to the skillet. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the reserved pasta water and the white wine. Deglaze the pan by scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen up all of the browned bits from the scallops. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until corn and peppers are soft.
    6. Stir in the sour cream and then the flour until the mixture has thickened, about 1 minute more.
    7. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the pasta and bacon pieces. Cook for 1 minute or until warmed through.
    8. Spoon the pasta and vegetables into bowls, top with scallops and a sprinkling of the fresh parsley and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    This should really be renamed 'love in a bowl'. It is absolutely incredible. It screams "summer!" The only thing that could have made this better is if I would have seared the tomatoes along with the scallops, but honestly, I didn't even need the scallops. I'm thrilled that there is a huge bowl of leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.



Meringue Cookies

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Some ice cream recipes, like the s'mores one leaves you with A LOT of egg whites. I had no idea what to do with EIGHT egg whites. I first thought of an omelet, but it was the middle of the afternoon and I wasn't hungry for an omelet and those are kind of something best eaten right away. So I went off to my trusty friend, Google, and searched "what to do with egg whites". I probably went through 50 or so random recipes before the idea of meringue cookies stood out to me.

I was immediately intrigued. A cookie made of essentially nothing but egg whites? How could that work? Since it was a blah Sunday afternoon and I couldn't go to the pool I figured there was nothing better to do than try out this recipe.



Meringue Cookies
Source: EatingWell.com
Servings: 60 cookies
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Ingredients:
    • 3 egg whites, at room temperature
    • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

    Directions:
    1. Preheat the oven to 200. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a #1 Wilton tip (or other large tip) in a disposable pastry bag. Set everything aside.
    2. Combine the egg whites and the cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
    3. Slowly add in the sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time until all of the sugar has been incorporated into the egg whites and continue beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.
    4. Add the vanilla and eat until combined. If the mixture is very warm, refrigerate for 10-20 minutes or until just slightly chilled.
    5. Pipe the egg white mixture into the disposable pastry bag. Pipe 1" rounds onto the prepared parchment paper.
    6. Bake the cookies for 1 1/2 hours or until the cookies are dry and hard. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.



    Well aren't these fancy little bites of melt-in-your-mouth light-as-air sugaryness! I had no idea what to expect from these cookies but I was more than pleased with the way they turned out. I can't wait to make these around the holidays and either add some food coloring to have festively colored ones or dip the tips in chocolate or maybe sprinkle the tops of them with some crushed peppermint candies before baking.

    As long as you have a stand mixer and some patience, I'm fairly certain even the most inexperienced baker could pull off these cookies.

Mexican Burgers

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A few weeks ago my coworker texted me and said "I don't know what kind they are, but want some hot peppers?" He shares a garden with his neighbor and they both can just take whatever they want from it. The neighbor apparently hadn't picked any of the peppers she planted yet and they were growing out of control.

So the next morning I was rewarded with about a dozen peppers. My first mission was to figure out what they were, so like any internet-using person, I googled "types of peppers" but I couldn't find anything. They kind of resembled a cubanelle pepper but they were too long and skinny. I knew they had some heat to them since I could smell it even through their skins. Finally I resorted to taking a picture and asking my cooking board ladies.

And I found that they were peppers at all. Instead they were Anaheim chiles. Which would explain why they didn't show up when I searched for "types of peppers", huh? :-) My second mission was to figure out what in the world to do with them. Since I learned they had similar heat to a jalapeno and I needed a jalapeno for a burger recipe I was whipping up, I figured they'd be a great substitution.



Mexican Burgers
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 6 burgers
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/4 lbs. lean ground beef
    • 3 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
    • 1 Anaheim chile, seeded and diced
    • 1/4 - 1/2 cup bread crumbs
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
    • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
    • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
    • 6 tsp. jarred queso
    • 6 tsp. salsa
    • 6 burger buns

    Directions:
    1. Preheat grill or grill-pan to high heat.
    2. In a medium-sized bowl combine the ground beef, queso fresco, chile, bread crumbs, garlic powder and cayenne pepper together. Form into 6 evenly sized patties and place in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
    3. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red and green pepper and the onion and cook for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Set aside, but keep warm.
    4. Cook the burgers on the grill for 6-7 minutes or until they reach your desired doneness. Lightly grill the burger buns.
    5. Assemble the burger onto the bun, topped with the cooked peppers, and a teaspoon each of the jarred queso and salsa. 

    All I can say is sometimes I even shock myself. I had no idea how these burgers were going to turn out. I only had a very vague idea in my head of how to make them (mostly a burger with queso on it because I've been on a queso kick lately) but everything just fell into place. I think the spiciness on these burgers comes out just right and they're the kind of messy burger where napkins are required. Which is my kind of burger!

Recipe Swap: Shrimp Po Boy Sandwiches

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Sometimes I wonder if there is a recipe god of coincidence. I've had some shrimp in the freezer for a while now and every recipe I plan to make with them just hadn't happened. I went searching through my binders to find something and found a recipe for Shrimp Po' Boys. Never having them before I figured I'd add them into the next week's menu.

Then I received my email for the Recipe Swap. The category is Too Hot To Cook and is all about recipes that don't involve your oven. Its been can't-breath humid around here and even though we have central air, we're on the third floor so I do try to limit my oven usage as much as possible in the summer. So the coincidence part is that I was assigned Shrimp Po' Boys. This isn't the first time its happened so I'm sure it will again. I just find it awfully amusing.

I wouldn't think of Shrimp Po' Boys as a recipe to make in a "too hot" challenge since most recipes call for them to be fried, but in this recipe you grill them. So you could even say this is the healthier version! Never one to pass up the chance to use my new Cuisinart Griddler, I made these right away.



Shrimp Po' Boy Sandwiches
Slightly Adapted from: Simple Gourmet Cooking with Dawn, adapted from Annie's Eats
Servings: 4 sandwiches
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Ingredients:
      Remoulade Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. mayo
  • 2 tbsp. spicy brown mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. pickle juice
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
Sandwiches:
  • 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning (or Creole, or Old Bay)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3/4 cup shredded lettuce
  • 8 tomato slices
  • 4 Italian or French rolls

    Directions:
    1. Combine all of the ingredients for the remoulade sauce together in a small bowl and mix until combined. Refrigerate until ready to use.
    2. Preheat the grill. Toss the olive oil, Cajun seasoning and shrimp together in a large bowl until the shrimp are coated.
    3. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until the shrimp are opaque. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
    4. Slice each roll in half and place cut side down on the grill until lightly toasted. Spread a generous heap of the remoulade sauce on both sides of the bread. Layer with lettuce, two tomato slices and a handful of shrimp. Top with the remaining roll half. Repeat with remaining rolls.



    You may want to have bibs and napkins ready for this messy but awesomely delicious sandwich. This really was just incredible. I don't even want to try one where the shrimp are fried. I served this with Old Bay oven roasted fries and some homemade coleslaw. I really don't think there could have been a much better combination of tastiness on a plate.

Liebster Award, Take 2

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Well, now don't I feel special. This will be the second time I've received the Liebster blogging award! The first one was back in November of 2011 and was awarded to me by Jaida of Sweet Beginnings.

This one came today and was awarded to me by Karen of Baking in a Tornado. Thanks Karen! Your blog is hilarious, by the way.

And now I found out that the Liebster Award has changed. No longer do you just get to send this off to 5 other bloggers with less than 200 followers, now there are questions and answers involved! Since I didn't know anything about this, I'm just going to tell you what Karen told me.

The Rules:
1. I answer 11 questions that Karen has chosen.
2. I ask 11 more questions.
3. I pass this along to 11 more bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4. Rinse and repeat.

Alrighty then. Here are the questions Karen has chosen for me:
1.  How many total blog entries have you posted? 
Uh, a lot. Blogger is telling me 539 with 9 scheduled.  
2.  Do you have a favorite entry that you’ve posted?

I end up with a favorite entry like monthly. It changes by season or just what my new cravings are.
3.  Do you work at promoting your blog?
Yes, but not well. I made a Facebook page and Twitter for my blog and I try to remember to update there. I tried to be a Foodbuzz Publisher but they are ignoring me.
4.  Have you ever had writer’s block?  If so, what did you do?
Of course I have! I find it most effective to go back to the kitchen, make something else and then try again. Or sleep. That usually solves writers block as well.
5. What’s the greatest impact blogging has had on you?
Ooohh the deep questions begin! Umm, I'm not really sure. Can I share the time I was most shocked/surprised instead? Months ago Tom and I went to this place called Celebrity Kitchens where its basically a cooking demonstration and you are the live audience and get to eat the food. Unprompted from them, I gave them a great review on my blog because well, thats right up my alley of cool stuff.



A few months later I get a facebook message from Celebrity Kitchens thanking me for my review, saying they thought my blog was really cool and that when I attend another demonstration, they'll pass out my blog site to the other guests.
6. Who has been the most help to you in your blogging?
My guinea pig husband.
7. What’s your favorite leisure activity (besides blogging)?
Reading. Preferably while sitting on the beach or by a pool.
8.  What’s your favorite time of year and why?
Summer. It includes all of my favorite things. Warm weather. Sunshine. Sunbathing. Trips to the beach. Flip flops. Iced coffee.  
9.  If someone rings your doorbell and you’re in the middle of getting down a thought for you blog, do you answer the door or keep on writing?

I never answer the door. Or the phone. I blame it on the fact that I have to do it at work so why should I have to do it at home too?
10.  Boxers or briefs?  Sorry, don’t answer that, just wanted to see if you’re still paying attention!
Why are boxer-briefs never an option? Just curious.
11. Has blogging become an addiction?  Do you think we all need an intervention?
Define addiction...ha ha. I'd say its still a hobby I thoroughly enjoy. Mostly because when I needed to take a break during college-class hell, I missed it greatly. 


And now for my 11 questions:
1. You're in a huge kitchen supply store surrounded by absolutely everything you could ever need. But you can only buy ONE thing. What do you pick? 
2. What is the most unusual thing you've ever made? Link? 
3. If you're not blogging, what can we find you doing? 
4. Have you noticed that having a food blog really tends to mess with your waistline? 
5. You're in a completely stocked kitchen with a sous chef and people to clean up after you. What do you make?
6. What is your favorite holiday? 
7. Coke or Pepsi?
8. How did you come up with the name for your blog?
9. Do you have any pets? 
10. What movie do you know all of the lines to?
11. What's a food your city/town/state is famous for?

Now I'm off to find 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers. Wish me luck. 


That was much harder than I imagined. I'm going to send each of the lovely bloggers above a message letting them know they've received the Liebster award. 

And Psst: Karen, linking back to you just means that we mention you and provide a link to your blog in our posts. :-)

Weekly Menu 8/12 - 8/16

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I can't believe that next weekend I'll be back at the beach again. This summer sure did fly by. Kids are going to be starting school in a few weeks! But, about the beach...

Earlier in the summer my aunt told me about a party she wanted to have. Apparently when my grandmother received her first social security check, she held a bingo for all of the women in the family and the prize money came from her check. My aunt said she wanted to do this as well and we decided on August 18th.

Of course the first thing I wanted to discuss was the menu. My aunt knew she wanted to do foods that could easily be served while everyone was still playing bingo so she decided to do sloppy joes in the crock pot. My other aunt said she would make deviled eggs and someone else volunteered for potato salad. Since August 18th is my other aunt's birthday...I'm confusing the hell out of you, aren't I? There are just too many aunts being referred to, aren't there? Okay for simplicities sake, Aunt P is having the bingo. August 18th is Aunt J's birthday. Does that help?

Anyway, we figured since it was a birthday, cupcakes were in order for dessert. Aunt P said she'd whip up some other small simple desserts as well. Which left me with appetizers. I immediately knew that I wanted to make soft pretzel bites since I still have some dough in the freezer. The idea of mac and cheese bites also came to me and I figured I could bake them in a cupcake tin. Since the menu has a lot of starchy and heavy foods I also wanted to do something lighter so I figured a caprese salad would work well. Now I just need to decide on if I want to bring anything from here or just pick it up in the stores down there. Decisions, decisions.

Sunday - Summer Corn & Scallop Pasta

Monday - Teriyaki Pork with Pineapple Rice

Tuesday - Parsley Shrimp Pasta

Wednesday - Sesame Chicken and Noodles 

Thursday - Corn and Tomato Pizza 

I'm not really doing any baking this weekend, just a fruit breakfast braid for my breakfast this week and maybe some candy since I rarely ever make any.  

Peach Raspberry Pie

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As much as I hate to rush summer along, I am always impatient for August to come along so peaches are in season, plentiful and super cheap. Since May or so I've marked the peach recipes in my to-make binder so I could easily find them come August.

Ironically this recipe wasn't one that I had saved forever but came to me while wandering through the produce section of the grocery store and finding a huge pile of ripe peaches on sale next to containers of raspberries, also on sale. I had an extra refrigerated pie crust hanging out in the fridge since I made Minny's Chocolate Pie and the idea of an peach raspberry pie came to me. I wanted to show off the fruit in its delicious ripe glory so I opted for an open-face or topless pie. Topless pie sounds a bit naughty, so we'll go with open faced, yes?



Peach Raspberry Pie
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 1 pie
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Ingredients:
    • 1/3 cup water
    • 2 tbsp. cornstarch
    • prepared pie crust
    • 5 ripe but firm peaches, peeled and sliced
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • juice from 1 lemon
    • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries
    • mint leaves, for garnish 

Directions:
1.  Bake the empty prepared pie crust according to package directions. Let cool on a wire rack.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch into a slurry. Set aside.
3. Heat a medium sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peaches, sugar and lemon juice.
4. Stir the slurry into the peaches until combined. Bring to a boil, stirring until the mixture has thickened.
5. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, stir in the raspberries until coated, then pour the mixture into the prepared crust. Garnish the pie with mint leaves.
6. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 6 hours. Serve cold.



Oh sweet sugary fruity heaven was this pie delicious! The raspberries provided such a nice bite of tartness against the sweetness of the peaches and sugar. I won't lie, I had a really hard time not eating this pie for breakfast. :)

Margherita Pizza

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I am sad to admit that I only had fresh mozzarella cheese for the first time last year. Yes, I spent 26 years of my life eating the shredded mozzarella cheese you get in a bag. I can also admit it was quite some time before I realized that the shredded cheese you get in a bag was actually different from fresh mozzarella. :-/ (Hey Blogger, you should really get emoticons, I need an embarrassed face here)

After purchasing and realizing just how delicious (and so much better) fresh mozzarella cheese is, we've been buying it quite frequently. I can't remember which recipe I bought it for initially, but the store only had the larger 6 oz. variety of mozzarella. I only needed two or three ounces for my recipe so I knew I needed to figure out something else to do with the mozzarella before it went bad. And then I came across roma tomatoes on sale in the store.

My brain immediately went to the incredibly awesomely delectable white pizza I had from our local Italian place and the idea to make a margherita pizza was born. Unfortunately it took another week or so before I was actually able to make this pizza due to a disappearing pizza pan and having pizza for lunch one day at work.



Margherita Pizza
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 1 12 inch pizza
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Ingredients:
    • 2 tbsp. butter, melted
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
    • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
    • 1 roma tomato, thinly sliced
    • 2 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    • 10-12 fresh basil leaves
    • salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 450. Sprinkle a light dusting of cornmeal on your pizza pan/stone.
2. Roll out the pizza dough into a circle. Brush with the melted butter and then sprinkle the garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper on the dough. Bake for 8-10 minutes or barely browned.
3. Remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese over the dough. Arrange the tomato slices, mozzarella rounds and basil leaves on top. Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper. Return to the oven for 8-10 minutes more or until the cheese has melted and the pizza is crispy.

Oh my. What in the world was I thinking all of those years when I refused to eat pizza with fresh tomatoes on it? The smell of this cooking is just absolutely wonderful. The butter and garlic combined are just heavenly enough on their own, but add in the sweet smell of roasting tomatoes and fresh basil and your nose should just sing with happiness.

As much as I love trying out different pizza combinations I really think I'm going to have a hard time not making this pizza each time instead.

Fried Sweet Corn with Basil Butter

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As silly as it sounds, I would have never thought to fry corn. Since steamed, boiled, and grilled are the more common preparations, I tend to gravitate toward those. But when I saw this recipe as part of the July Improv Challenge, I knew I needed to try out frying up some corn.

This recipe was so incredible I don't even want to waste any more of your time with random words. Lets just get right to the super short and sweet recipe!



Fried Sweet Corn with Basil Butter
Source: This Chick Cooks
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
3 cups corn kernels (about 4 ears)
4 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnishing
salt and pepper
fresh chives, for garnish

Directions:
1. In a large skillet melt the butter over medium heat. Add the corn, garlic and basil leaves and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or until the corn is lightly browned and making popping noises.
2. Transfer to a dish, season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh chopped basil and chives.

If you are making this recipe for a crowd, don't hesitate to double, triple or even quadruple it. The corn was so sweet in this recipe it was like candy to me and I could have easily kept the entire 4 person servings to myself.

Chicken Caesar Pitas

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Do you bring your lunch to work? I try to bring mine each day so I don't end up spending a ton of money I could otherwise save, but I usually end up in a lunch rut. Sure there are a ton of different salads I could make, but I get bored of those easily. A few days of sandwiches and I feel the same way. Soup when its 100 degrees out just isn't appealing to me.

Well, sometimes it is. It just depends on who is currently winning the thermostat war at work. I work with all men who are always hot and constantly trying to turn down the temperature. However, I sit directly under an a/c vent and I pay the bill so at least once throughout the day I get up and adjust the temperature back to 74 degrees from 70 or 72, whatever the men have decided is what they want. One day I'm just going to buy one of those cases with a lock so no one can change it but me.

Anyway, while I don't always want something warm to eat there are definitely days where I need to take the chill off in the office and don't mind heating up my lunch. This recipe is perfect for those occasions. And its so quick to make that you can whip up a batch of it over the weekend to take throughout the week.



Chicken Caesar Pitas
Source: Taste of Home, Healthy Cooking
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips
    • 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. fresh basil, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. fresh mint, chopped
    • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
    • 1/4 tsp. paprika
    • 2 cups romaine lettuce, torn
    • 1 cup rice, cooked
    • 1/2 cup reduced-fat Caesar dressing
    • 4 whole wheat pitas

Directions:
1. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium. Season the chicken with the oregano, basil, mint, onion powder and paprika.
2. Add the chicken to the skillet and cook for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through.
3. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the cooked rice and Caesar dressing.
4. Slice each pita in half. Stuff both sides with romaine lettuce and top with the chicken/rice mixture.

Usually I'm not a fan of combining rice with another carb but it really works with these pitas. They are so filling that I was stuffed after eating it and didn't need the baby carrots or cherries I brought along for lunch as well that day.  

SRC: Chocolate Biscotti

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The first time I had biscotti was not long after Tom and I were dating. We were at his parents house and his mom picked it up somewhere. I wasn't expecting to like it since it just looked like an overcooked and hard sugar cookie but I was pleasantly surprised with the flavor and mild sweetness.

For the Secret Recipe Club I hadn't planned on making biscotti though. I'm on a bit of a coconut kick lately so when I found the Chewy Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies I chose them right away. But once the dough was formed, I took one look at it and knew right away it would behave like my snicker-doodle cookies do. Which means no matter if I refrigerate the dough, bake it for less time, flatten the cookies or non flatten the cookies, I end up with a sheet pan sized cookie, not individual cookies. I ended up trying it anyway and that's exactly what I ended up with. But since they were so good I've decided I'm going to make them again, probably in bar form and share them with you soon.

Back to the drawing board. Or really, back to The Cookin' Chemist's recipe index to choose another recipe. And that's when the biscotti recipe jumped out at me. I drink coffee every morning while at work. Why in the world wouldn't I make some biscotti to go along with it?



Chocolate Biscotti
Slightly Adapted from: The Cookin' Chemist, adapted from Giada De Laurentiis 
Servings: approximately 30 biscotti
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Ingredients:
    • 3 eggs, at room temperature
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
    • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325. Line a large baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
2. Combine the eggs and sugar together in the bowl of your stand mixer. Beat for 3 minutes; until pale yellow and fluffy.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Then slowly add the flour mixture to the stand mixer and beat until combined. Let stand for 5 minutes.
4. Use a rubber spatula sprayed with non-stick cooking spray to scoop the dough into two equal sized logs on the prepared baking sheet. Wet your hands and mold the dough into log shapes. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.
5. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Slice the logs into 1/2" long strips. Place the strips back onto the baking sheet and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer again to the wire rack and let cool to room temperature.
6. Melt the chocolate and dip one end of the biscotti into the chocolate, using a wooden spoon or pastry brush to cover the biscotti evenly and shake off excess chocolate. Place the biscotti on a baking sheet covered with wax paper.
7. Refrigerate until the chocolate is firm, at least 30 minutes. Transfer to an airtight container to keep for 4 days or wrap in foil, place in a reseable bag and freeze for up to three weeks.  

The original recipe includes the zest or an orange and a lemon, but I'm a bit of a chocolate purist in the sense that unless its a strawberry, don't put fruit near my chocolate. I could not get over how easy these are to make. For some reason I assumed that biscotti was difficult and labor intensive. Not in the least!

But now, on top of the muffins I have for breakfast this week, I also have 30 slices of biscotti. I think my coworkers are going to get some treats.


Weekly Menu 8/4 - 8/9

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I learned something this week. Do not leave your cats with your husband for three days. No, not because he did anything wrong or couldn't take care of them, but because cats are vindictive little buggers with bigger memories than I anticipated.

So yesterday was my first "full" day home with the usual routine since going on vacation last week. The cats made sure to remind me that I shouldn't do it again. See first, I was shocked to find that I woke up at 8:30 am. Gidget usually wakes me up to feed here between 5 and 6 in the morning so 8:30 is my equivalent to sleeping until noon. No, Gidget wasn't just being polite and letting me sleep in. Instead she somehow managed to get locked in our bedroom closet last night and no one noticed until I got up this morning. She was rather unimpressed when I opened the door. I'm pretty sure she scratched on it for quite some time, but considering Tom has to sleep with the fan on tornado speed, you can't hear a damn thing, like a cat scratching because she was locked in the closet. 

So after letting her out and apologizing, I went to my usual cleaning routine which was promptly interrupted by Itty knocking multiple toys in succession under the fridge. I think she thought she was bowling. Or maybe playing skee ball. They proceeded to spend the next 3 hours tripping me, squeaking/meowing, standing directly in my way and just being general nuisances. However, if I went to pet them or play with them, both ran away. And yet I have plans for another weekend away in just two weeks.

As for my vacation, it was awesome. Short, but awesome. We spent as much time as possible on the beach, did WAY too much shopping at the outlets, stayed up too late and woke up too early. I also managed a new personal feat. I drank an entire bottle of wine with dinner one night and managed to wake up feeling perfectly fine. Since I rarely remember to drink, this was quite the accomplishment. In other news, I picked out my new tattoo. Its going to be cooking related. Now I just need to pick another weekend to spend at the beach (preferably towards the end of the summer) and schedule the appointment.

Saturday - Prosciutto Panini's

Sunday - Cream of Crab Soup 

Monday - Recipe Swap meal with Old Bay Fries and Cole Slaw

Tuesday - Thai Style Ground Turkey with Chiles and Basil 

Wednesday - Gouda Bacon Cheeseburgers with Garlic-Parmesan Fries

Thursday - Chicken Enchiladas

Last Sunday was my uncle's birthday. Since he and my aunt let us inhabit their house for 3.5 days, the least we could do was cook dinner one night. Back for my aunt's birthday in June I compiled some of my favorite recipes and turned them into a cookbook for her. They choose a recipe from there and the plating turned out so nicely I think I'll need to update the recipe with a new photo soon. 

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