Butterbeer Cupcakes

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Butterbeer flavored desserts have been coming out pretty much since they were introduced to readers in the Harry Potter series and especially when Universal Studios completed their Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

While I desperately wanted to try these treats, I had absolutely nothing to compare it to. How would I really know if it tasted like butterbeer or not? This small fact alone kept me from trying butterbeer creations for quite some time.

Well, finally back in April we visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter where one of the first things we did, was purchase some butterbeer. Which is like a sweet combination of cream soda and butterscotch. I highly advise that you try it.

Since I finally had a comparison, I thought it was only fitting that I finally make these cupcakes and even more fitting that I chose Harry's birthday to share them with you.

Also, it is only appropriate to issue a belated birthday to Neville Longbottom, who celebrated his birthday yesterday. (An internet friend informed me that they would both turn 33 this year!)



Butterbeer Cupcakes
Source: Cook Like A Champion
Servings: 18-20
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Ingredients:
Cupcakes:
    • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    • 3 eggs
    • 1 tbsp. butterscotch schnapps
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 1/2 cup cream soda
    • 2 cups flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    Filling/Syrup:
    • 1 scant cup butterscotch chips
    • 3/4 cup heavy cream 
    Frosting:

    • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    • 1/3 cup butterscotch syrup
    • 1 tbsp. butterscotch schnapps
    • 1/8 tsp. salt
    • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    • splash of cream soda, as needed 
Directions:
Cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add in the sugars and beat until combined. Then add in eggs one at a time.
3. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.
4. In a measuring cup, add butterscotch schnapps to buttermilk.
5. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/2 of the buttermilk mixture to the stand mixer. Once combined add in the remaining buttermilk.
6. Then add in the remaining flour mixture with the 1/2 cup of cream soda.
7. Bake cupcakes for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Filling:
1. Meanwhile, combine heavy cream and butterscotch chips in the top bowl of a double boiler. Bring water in the bottom to a gentle simmer and use a wooden spoon to stir the chips until melted.
2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Transfer to a squeeze bottle, reserving 1/3 cup. Set that aside.
3. Once cupcakes have cooled, squeeze a bit of the butterscotch syrup into the center of each cupcake. Don't use more than half of the mixture.
Frosting:
1. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed until light. Add the 1/3 cup of butterscotch syrup you set aside, along with the schnapps and salt.
2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until it reaches your desired consistency. Add in a splash or two of cream soda to thin out the frosting.
3. Transfer frosting to a piping bag and apply to cupcakes as desired. Drizzle with any remaining butterscotch syrup you have.



I thought these were really moist and super-sweet cupcakes, but I found them to be much more butterscotch than butterbeer. The filling was unnecessary for me as the frosting was more than sweet enough for the entire cupcake.



However, I think Harry and Neville would enjoy these quite a bit!

This post is linked at What's Cookin Wednesday, Showcase Your Talent Thursday, and Thursday's Treasures

Skinny Chocolate Muffins

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Skinny and chocolate aren't really two words that I picture going together. You either have skinny, which when in regards to food typically means all the unhealthy things like fats, oils and sweets are removed. And then you have chocolate which has fats, oils and is sweet. However, there is a way to combine the two. And I suggest making this muffin your way to do it.




Skinny Chocolate Muffins 
Source: Crazy for Crust
Servings: 12
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/4 cup chocolate Almond milk
    • 2 cups All Bran cereal
    • 1 egg
    • 3 tbsp. non-fat plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 tbsp. baking powder
    • 1 tbsp. sugar
    • 1/4 tsp. salt 
    • 2 tbsp. mini chocolate chips 
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a muffin-pan with liners and spray with non-stick spray.
2. Combine chocolate almond milk and cereal together. Let soak for 2 minutes, then stir in the egg and Greek yogurt.
3. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Pour the milk mixture into they dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until no lumps of flour remain.
4. Scoop into the prepared muffin pan, filling 3/4 of the way to the top. Sprinkle the tops with the mini chocolate chips.
5. Bake for 14 minutes.
6. Serve warm, or if not eating immediately, transfer to an air-tight container and freeze until ready to eat. (To serve from frozen: microwave for 20-30 seconds or until warm.)

I've had muffins with All Bran cereal in them before and I thought they were pretty tasty, but these definitely blew any other All Bran filled muffin out of the water. The chocolate milk makes these seem so much more decadent and unhealthy than they really are. And by sprinkling the tops with mini chocolate chips, they don't get lost in the muffin. Plus, there is the visual aspect, that if you're eating something sprinkled with chocolate, it must not be healthy. But it is!



This post linked at Tuesday's Table

Blueberry Beer Bread

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Welcome to Sweets Week!

What is Sweets Week? Just something I created since I have an abundance of sweet recipes to share with you. I try not to overload you with sweets each week and try to keep a pretty even amount of savory and sweet recipes, but it would take me forever to share everything with you. Since blueberries are in season right now, I wanted to share this ASAP. Check back later in the week for another blueberry recipe!

We really aren't beer drinking people, but ever so often I'll come home and find there are bottles of beer in the fridge. Tom apparently occasionally likes to have a beer and is incapable of buying them in quantities of less than 12.

In this particular instance, I came home and found Samuel Adams Summer Ale pack. He was drinking one of them, called Porch Rocket, which I tried and really liked. Of course, all of those had already been consumed. I moved around the bottles, passing up something with rye, something Belgium and my eyes landed on Blueberry Hill Lager. I was intrigued. Blueberries in beer?

So I tried it. It smelled like blueberries but didn't taste a damn thing like them. I hate false advertising. Now I needed to figure out what to do with 11.5 ounces of an opened bottle of beer. The idea of "blueberry beer bread" immediately came to me. I searched for recipes and found that no one had made a bread using this particular beer so it became definite that this was what I needed to do.



Blueberry Beer Bread
Adapted from: Baking Bites
Servings: 1 loaf
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Ingredients:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
    • 12 oz. Samuel Adams Blueberry Hill Lager
    • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
    • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
    • 1 packet Sugar in the Raw
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9x5 loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt and sugar. Add the vegetable oil and beer. Stir until the flour is incorporated. The mixture will be lumpy.
3. Gently stir in the fresh and frozen blueberries then spread evenly into a the loaf pan. Sprinkle the sugar packet over the dough.
4. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out the bread onto the rack and let cool completely.

I'm pretty sure this is the most decisive recipe I've ever made. I thought of blueberry bread, I found a blueberry bread recipe, I immediately went into the kitchen and made said bread. An hour later, I had the bread. It doesn't get better than that.

I found this to be a little bit on the sweet side for what I expected to be a savory bread, so I cut the sugar amount down from 1/2 to 1/4 cup in the recipe above. The beer flavor barely came through with the full amount of sugar, but the second time with 1/4 cup, it was slightly more pronounced. Since we're not fans of the beer, I'm debating on using the last bottle of it in the fridge to make another loaf or finding a new recipe.



What do you think?

This post linked at: Time to Sparkle & Tuesday Talent Show



Weekly Menu 7/28 - 8/2

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I know, I know, it's much later than usual for me to be sharing the menu with you. It's not because I forgot you this week or anything, it's because I wasn't positive what the menu was going to be.

I decided to try my hand out at freezer meals this weekend (which I promptly forgot to photograph) and I've pretty much been in the kitchen non-stop since Saturday morning. Because I wasn't sure if I was going to run out of freezer space, I left the menu pretty flexible for this week.

I didn't end up finalizing it until late this morning. I could have shared it with you then, but we opted to head on over to the county fair. Where I was disappointed to find that the culinary competition foods were not on display. I wanted to check it out and see what my competition would be like if I chose to enter next year.

We grabbed some lunch, wandered through the tents which were not full of crafts. I don't understand what happened to crafts at fairs. Are they really just not that popular anymore? Then we wandered through the animal stalls and got to meet a zebra striped chicken. See:



And then there was this guy. I really just don't even know what to say about him.


He had tufts on his head, mid-section and feet. Kinda like if you pictured a chicken wearing a tutu with a fluffy tiara and legwarmers.

If you don't care about chickens, here's what we eating this week:

Sunday - shrimp bruschetta, homemade pizza rolls, baked mozzarella sticks 

Monday - chicken cheesesteaks and fries

Tuesday - steak with caper sauce, mashed potatoes and green beans

Wednesday - spicy grilled chicken with creamy garlic pasta 

Thursday - chili 

Friday - eggs benedict casserole

I didn't get a chance to make the casserole last week.

For breakfast I'm trying out a cinnamon-sugar coated wrap, stuffed with bananas, strawberries and peanut butter. Lunch will be around round of caprese salad.

For desserts this week, I'm going a bit peach-crazy with crumb bars and ice cream. And then there will be special cupcakes that I'm sharing with you on Wednesday.

If you're curious about my freezer haul, I made the following:

Chicken 

  • herb marinated: olive oil, white wine, parsley, basil, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper
  • mojito marinated: mojito mix, mint leaves, salt and pepper 
  • BBQ marinated: bottled BBQ sauce
  • fajita marinated: paprika, cumin, cayenne, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper
  • honey-sesame: honey, onions, soy sauce, ketchip, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes
  • stuffed: fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers, spinach 

Pork:

  • garlic-herb crusted 
  • mexican pork and sweet potato stew
Beef:
  • teriyaki burgers
  • Old bay burgers
  • chili 
  • pineapple-ginger flank steak
Meatless:
Once I make these, I'll share the recipes with you.

Hope you had a lovely weekend! 

Recipe Swap: Jalapeno-Mustard Havarti Burgers

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This is the first recipe swap we've had since extending the time frame between each swap. At first I thought "wow, that's a lot of time. I hope I don't forget to make the recipe." and then I realized that by having so much extra time, I could do something new, like make my own rolls for this burger.

If you read Wednesday's post, you'll know that the pretzel rolls were very nicely received and I maybe created a monster who wants homemade rolls for all of the burgers we have now.

I had to modify the original recipe because of that same monster though. The original recipe is Horseradish Havarti Burgers. Tom won't get within 3 feet of horseradish, much less eat it. I've tried using tiny quantities but he instantly knows when it is in a recipe.

Skipping the horseradish entirely wasn't an option. Havarti cheese is a creamy mild cheese and I can only assume it was paired with this burger to take away from the heat of the horseradish. No heat = no need for the cheese = not the same burger. So off to Google I went, where I found lots of people saying there is absolutely no substitute for horseradish and if you don't like it, well pooey on you.

Then, way down in the comment section of one of those "ask" q&a websites, there was a comment "jalapeno-mustard works as a spicy substitute but the flavors won't be the same". That was all I needed to know. The following Saturday, while in the condiment aisle of Wegman's, I told Tom about the burger and asked him if jalapeno-mustard would work. He agreed.


Jalapeno-Mustard Havarti Burgers
Source: The Jey of Cooking, slightly adapted from I Was Born to Cook
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. ground beef
    • 1/8 cup bread crumbs or Panko
    • 1/8 cup jalapeno-mustard
    • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce 
    • 8 slices Havarti cheese, divided
    • 4 pretzel rolls
    • lettuce, tomato, red onion slices, ketchup, jalapeno-mustard
Directions:
1. Preheat a grill to high heat.
2. Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, jalapeno-mustard, parsley and Worcestershire sauce together in a bowl. Crumble 4 slices of Havarti cheese and add to the bowl. Form into 4 patties.
3. Grill burgers for 4-5 minutes per side. Top with remaining 4 slices of Havarti cheese until melted.
4. Place burgers on pretzel rolls and top with your choice of condiments.

I did also have to make another change to the recipe. Since jalapeno-mustard is essentially a liquid compared to horseradish, I added bread crumbs and decreased the amount of mustard and Worcestershire.

I added extra jalapeno-mustard to my burger, along with tomato and red onion slices. I thought the cheese paired really nicely with the spice of the burger and overall that it was delicious. Tom also liked the burger, but raved more about the roll than anything else. Maybe I should've let him have a roll on its own first...


Thanks again to Sarah for hosting these recipe swaps!


Summer Tortellini Salad

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I saw this recipe and immediately knew I wanted to make it because it just looked so summery! I've also been on a slow mission to use up the random things we have in our freezer. One of those things was a half-opened package of Buitoni Three Cheese Tortellini.



Summer Tortellini Salad
Source: Annie's Eats
Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
    • 10 oz. Buitoni cheese tortellini
    • 4 oz.  butter (1/2 a stick)
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 ears corn on the cob
    • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1/2 cup frozen edamame
    • 1/2 cup green beans, cut to 1" sticks
    • 4 tbsp. shaved Parmesan cheese
    • chives, minced
    • salt and pepper 
Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until golden brown. Set aside to let cool.
3. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Slice the corn kernels off the cob. Add the olive oil to the skillet, and once hot, add the corn, edamame and green beans. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until heated through. Add the cherry tomatoes. Cook for 1 minute more.
4. Add the tortellini to the skillet and pour the butter over it. Stir to combine.
5. Plate, garnished with cheese and chives. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

I made some slight adjustments to this recipe, mainly just to use up what vegetables we had left in the freezer. I think it turned out pretty well and it definitely looks summery.



S'Mores Pie

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I've had the ingredients for this pie hanging out in my fridge and pantry for quite some time now. I've wanted to make it, but I find myself shying away from cake and pie recipes most of the time. Mainly because they aren't individual sized and not as easy to send off to work with Tom. When there is a cake or pie in the house, I feel the pressure to eat it before it goes bad.

Which is a very, very bad idea in the case of this pie. I think it makes me a bad blogger to do this, but you really shouldn't make this pie unless you're having or going to a party. No one needs this pie just sitting around and tempting them. It will call to you from the fridge. It will appear in your dreams. It will taunt you while you're on the treadmill.

This pie needs a warning label.

The toasted marshmallows are gooey. The chocolate is rich, sinful, smooth and delicious. The graham
cracker crust holds everything together while still providing its own pop of sweet crumbliness.



S'Mores Pie
Source: Elly Says Opa!
Servings: 10-12
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Ingredients:
    • 10-11 graham crackers
    • 1 stick butter, melted
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • 10 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
    • 2 tbsp. sugar
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 2 eggs
    • 3/4 cup mini marshmallows
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
2. Place graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until crumbs. Stir the butter into the graham cracker crumbs until combined. Then press into a 9" pie pan. Place the pan on the prepared baking sheet.
3. Heat heavy cream and milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until it is simmering around the edges. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted. Stir in the sugar and salt.
4. Lightly beat two eggs and slowly add to the chocolate mixture. Pour the chocolate mixture on top of the graham cracker crust.
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until set.
6. Set the oven to broil. Spread a layer of marshmallows on top of the chocolate filling. Place in the broiler until marshmallows are toasted (20 seconds+, depending on your broiler).
7. Let pie cool slightly then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.



Magical melty things happen if you place a slice of pie in the microwave for 10 seconds before eating. Very magical melty things.

In non-edible news, Itty turned 2 today! While I may be a slightly crazy cat lady, I didn't do anything super crazy like throw her a party. I did however decide to share some Itty pictures.

When we first got her, about 4 months old. 

Last July. Almost 1 year old. She got a lot darker in a year. 

Last week. She no longer poses pretty for pictures. 

One day I'm going to record the fact that she squeaks instead of meows and put her on youtube. There's no reason why she can't be the next Tardar Sauce or Maru.

This post is linked up with What's Cookin Wednesday ,  Showcase Your Talent Thursday, and Thursday's Treasure Link

Pretzel Rolls

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**I realized late last night that while I typed up what we were having for dinner this week, I never actually shared the post. Oops! So I'll just leave it as a surprise to you all.**

When I plan out my menu for the week, I usually put easier recipes, like burgers toward the end of the week because come Wednesday and Thursday, I am significantly losing steam in the dinner making process. This always mean that I just pick up a package of burger buns at the store and go on my merry way. 

Ever since the secret recipe club reveal back in June, where the Pajama Chef made blueberry burgers on pretzel rolls, I've really wanted to try out making my own rolls, especially those of the pretzel variety. 

Pretzel rolls still aren't very common here. Sometimes you can find them in the stores and other times, the employees look at you like you've grown an additional eyeball when you inquire as to where they are. The one place, where you can always get a sandwich on a pretzel roll though is Sheetz and I am forever thankful to them for introducing me to that particular variety of deliciousness. 

Anyway, I had a Sunday with not much to do so I decided it was the perfect time to try out making some pretzel rolls. And I even had two burger recipes planned for the week which we could eat them on! 



Pretzel Rolls
Servings: 12

Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups water water (110 degrees)
    • 1 package active dry yeast
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 4 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. Kosher salt + more for sprinkling
    • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
    • 1/4 cup baking soda
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions:
1. Stir together the water and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Let rest for 5 minutes until foamy. 
2. Then add the sugar, flour and 2 tsp. of Kosher salt and butter. Mix on medium-low speed for 4-5 minutes or until a dough ball forms. 
3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. 
4. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. 
5. After the dough has doubled, punch it down and turn it out on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 pieces. 
6. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, and pinch any seams in toward the center of the ball. Place seam side down on the prepared parchment paper, 1 inch apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for an another 30 minutes or until the dough has doubled again. 
7. Adjust the oven racks to be on the lowest and middle position. Preheat the oven to 425. 
8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add in the baking soda (it will foam up) and reduce the heat to a simmer. 
9. Using a slotted spoon drop 3-4 rolls into the boiling water and poach for 30 seconds. Flip the rolls over and poach for another 30 seconds, then remove, shaking off excess water and return to the prepared baking sheet. 
10. Repeat with remaining dough balls. 
11. Brush the tops of each dough ball with the lightly beaten egg. Use a sharp kitchen knife to cut an "X" into the top of each ball. Then sprinkle with Kosher salt. 
12. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. 



I kind of wish that I had doubled this recipe so we could have rolls to just eat without a burger. These pretzel rolls were SO good. They were perfectly chewy and had just the right amount of salt. 

I unfortunately created a monster though. Tom said that the rolls were delicious and asked that I could please make homemade burger buns as often as humanly possibly now because they don't even begin to compare to what you can get in the store. 

I guess its good for me that he can make bread so I can have him make his own rolls sometimes, right?

**Note: You'll notice from now on there will be some blog posts with a second picture that includes the recipe name. I've dubbed these "Pinterest Pictures" since all of the information is right there for you.**

This post linked with: Time to Sparkle, Tuesday's Table, and Tuesday Talent Show!

Fresh Fruit Popsicles

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Every time that I've looked through my Pinterest boards recently, the picture for these fresh fruit popsicles has taunted me. I'm not one of those people who can ever choose between having ice cream or a popsicle and my favorite type of popsicle are ones that include fresh fruit.

I'm not really a fan of the prices of the fruit fruit popsicles you can purchase at the store though. Did you ever do the math to realize they sometimes want close or over $2 per popsicle? That' awfully expensive for sugar, fruit, more sugar and some preservatives, so once I found a proper set of popsicle makers, I immediately began making my own.



Fresh Fruit Popsicles
Source: Key Ingredients
Servings: 12
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Ingredients:
    • 1 1/2 cups watermelon, chopped
    • 1 cup strawberries, hulled and chopped
    • 2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
    • 1 peach, peeled and chopped
    • 1/8 cup blueberries 
Directions:
1. Puree watermelon and strawberries together in a blender.
2. Divide kiwi, peach and blueberries among the popsicle makers. Pour the watermelon/strawberry mixture on top.
3. Freeze for 6 hours or until firm.



The amount of each fruit that you will need depends on the size of your popsicle makers. The ones I use came in packs of 6 from Ikea last summer. Unfortunately they don't tell you how much they hold or I could have tailored the recipe a bit more.


Sweet Anne Designs - Sweet Sharing Monday

Thin Crust Pizza

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As I mentioned yesterday, the pizza stones that I purchased are uselessly to small for the amount of dough that my usual recipe creates so I have been slowly looking around for a pizza dough recipe that doesn't require you to let it rise for hours and hours because, again, as said yesterday, ain't nobody got time for that! especially on a weeknight.

I found this recipe and realized it would be perfect for the pizza stones as well, because it makes two 10" pizzas. Win!



Thin Crust Pizza
Source: The Kitchn
Servings: 2 10-inch pizzas
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Ingredients:
    • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
    • 1 tsp. rapid rise (instant) yeast
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp. salt 
Directions:
1. Combine the water and yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer and stir to dissolve the yeast.
2. Add the flour and salt to the bowl, affix the dough hook, and mix until you have a shaggy dough.
3. Turn out the dough and any excess flour in the bowl onto a flat surface. Knead until all of the flour is incorporated. If the dough is too tacky to handle, mix in 1 tablespoon of flour at a time until it is manageable.
4. Divide the dough into two pieces and cover. (You can let the dough rise until you need it or until it has doubled in sized. After it rises, you can also refrigerate it for up to three days. I let the dough rise for about 20 minutes while I cleaned up the kitchen, preheated the oven and prepared my toppings)
5. Lightly flour a large sheet of parchment paper. Turn out the dough onto the paper and use your hands to press out the dough until it reaches your desired thickness. If you want a really thin dough, use a rolling pin.
6. Bake dough on pizza stones or baking sheets lightly dusted with cornmeal in a 500 degree oven for 8-10 minutes.

I really, really like this dough. I'm pretty sure this is going to become my first choice when making pizza dough from now on. 

Improv Challenge: Summer Peach and Basil Pizza

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If it is an odd or unusual combination of ingredients on pizza, I immediately want to try it. I spent the majority of my childhood only eating cheese pizza but once I realized that red pizza sauce was optional, pizza re-categorized itself in my mind to be a tasty way of getting bread and other toppings (aka, a sandwich) into my mouth.

Tom is still pretty basic when it comes to his pizza topping choices. We've branched out to some stranger things, like cheeseburger pizza where he picked off the lettuce and tomato, and crab dip pizza, which he said was weird so I know when I want to try an unusual combination of toppings on pizza, that means I get my very own pizza and I have to make a cheese or pepperoni one for him.

I stupidly bought 10" pizza pans which are relatively useless for the pizza dough recipe I use. I'd need to make 4+ pizzas if I wanted the dough to fit properly and well, ain't nobody got time for that! so I figured now was the best time to find a new dough recipe, and a thin crust one was just what I wanted to try.

Anyway, all of this manages to fit in perfectly with this month's Improv Challenge, which was actually a complete accident. I wanted pizza, I went searching on Pinterest and found one with peaches and basil that I thought would be mouthwateringly delicious. A few days later, I received the email from Kristen with the challenge foods - peaches and herbs. It just doesn't work out better than that, does it?

I'll share the thin crust pizza dough recipe tomorrow so don't forget to come back and check that out!



Summer Peach and Basil Pizza
Source: Love and Olive Oil
Servings: 1 10-12 inch pizza
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Ingredients:
    • 1/2 batch thin crust dough 
    • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil
    • 2 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
    • 1 ripe peach, peeled, pitted and thinly sliced
    • 1/4 cup fresh basil, sliced 
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees or as high as it will go. Place baking stones in the oven to preheat as well.
2. Add the balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until simmering. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer until the mixture has reduced by half/.
3. Place the pizza dough on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll out the dough to your desired thickness.
4. Brush the pizza dough with olive oil, then arrange mozzarella and peach slices over the dough.
5. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and the cheese has melted. Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the pizza and then sprinkle with that basil.



I maybe ate the entire 10" pizza myself. In my defense, I had rolled out my dough super thin so it was practically the same as eating a tortilla or flat bread. I could not get over how delicious the peaches were when baked and how nicely they paired with the mozzarella cheese and basil. I didn't notice that the recipe says to drizzle the balsamic reduction over the pizza twice. I did it before baking, which made for a much less pretty presentation, so if you are going for looks as well as taste, I would follow my directions as above to drizzle after the pizza has baked.

I'm pretty sure I'm going to eat this toppings combination for the rest of the summer. 

Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Burgers

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I printed out this recipe the second that I saw it because the flavor combinations are right up my alley. Cheddar, jalapeno and chicken? Yum!

And then I procrastinated on making it for a really long time because I didn't think I could convince Tom to eat a chicken burger. But then there was a sale on ground chicken and I could absolutely not pass up $2.50 for a pound of ground chicken so I decided he was eating these burgers one way or another.

Ironically in the 5 days it took me to get this posted after eating it, EVERYONE is making this burger. No lie, I saw 6 different bloggers share it in the past week. If that isn't a big enough sign to tell you to make this, I don't know what is.

When I was slicing the jalapeno for this recipe, the back of my throat started stinging, like I had taken a bit of it. I opted to completely seed the pepper and go light on the amount, which turned out to be a mistake. The jalapeno flavor didn't come through as strongly as I would have liked so I know for next time I can use quite a bit of jalapeno.



Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken  Burgers
Source: What's Gaby Cooking
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 1 lb. ground chicken 
    • 1/3 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 small sweet onion, diced
    • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 tsp. paprika
    • salt and pepper 
    • 4 burger buns
    • lettuce leaves
    • tomato slices
    • sour cream
    • salsa
    • thinly sliced red onion 
Directions:
1. Heat a grill to high heat.
2. Add the ground chicken, cheese, onion, jalapeno, garlic, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper to a bowl.
3. Wearing gloves, gently mix the ingredients together and form into 4 large patties.
4. Place the patties on the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
5. Serve each burger on a bun, topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion, sour cream and salsa.

Other than wanting a stronger jalapeno flavor in the burgers, I thought these were great! Tom liked them as well and neither of us could believe how much more filling a chicken burger is compared to a beef burger. Does anyone know why?



I can't wait to make these again!

Corn Basil Cakes

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When I was a teenager, my mom and I visited some family we have on the eastern shore of Maryland. They live about 30 minutes from the beach in a sleepy little town with quaint houses and a 'downtown' walking distance away.

During that particular visit, the town was having a fair called The Blessing of the Combines. Being from quite a suburban area I remember blinking at my mom multiple times and then saying "they bless their farm equipment!?" To be honest, I still don't quite get the concept, but whatever works for you. 

Anyway, as we wandered around the streets marked off for this fair, we happened to stop at an older ladies stand who was frying up these little corn pancakes. I had never had anything like it before and I can still clearly remember biting into this silver dollar sized pancake and getting a burst of sweet corn flavor. I could have easily stood there and ate these corn pancakes all day, but eventually I was dragged away to look at some lighthouse statue my mother wanted to buy. 

I've never had anything like that corn pancake again. I've looked for it on menus before but never found it, which I think is a damn shame. Everywhere should serve them! It took me quite some time to realize that the closest thing I was going to get to that corn pancake was a fritter.  I resigned to this fact and figured a corn fritter was better than nothing, but then I found this recipe in Eating Well and knew I needed to try it out. 



Corn Basil Cakes
Source: Eating Well
Yield: 10

Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 cup low-fat milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tbsp. canola oil
    • pinch each of salt and pepper 
    • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 2 ears corn, kernels sliced off 
    • 1/2 cup basil, thinly sliced
Directions:
1. Whisk together the flour, milk, eggs, 1 tablespoon of oil, and salt and pepper until smooth. Stir in the corn kernels and the sliced basil. 
2. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Scoop 1/4 cup fulls of the batter into the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly golden. 
3. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to absorb any excess oil. 

I think this is probably the closest I've had to those corn pancakes. That lovely old lady definitely wasn't using whole wheat flour and probably had either a bit of sugar added into her batter, but at least I know I have a really good chance of recreating those pancakes. 

I decided to dip my corn cakes into a Sriracha-ranch mixture, because why not? 

Raspberry Lemonade Bars

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As mentioned over the weekend, nothing makes me happier than piles and fresh fruit. During the summer I never have any issues with meeting my daily requirements of fruit and wish that we had this available year-round.

When I saw these bars, my mouth immediately puckered at the thought of tart raspberries and lemonade mixing together. I can see how to some people that would make you think I wouldn't want to try this, but its actually quite the opposite.



Raspberry Lemonade Bars
Source: Tide and Thyme
Servings: 24
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Ingredients:
Crust:
    • 2 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 cups all purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
Raspberry Lemonade Layer:
    • 3 cups sugar
    • 1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 3 tbsp. lemon zest
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 3 cups frozen raspberries, thawed
    • 6 egg whites
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • powdered sugar, for dusting


Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper.
2. Place butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth, then add in the flour and salt.
3. Lightly flour your hands and press the dough into the prepared baking pan.
4. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
5. While the crust is baking, add the sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt to a large bowl. Whisk to combine.
6. Puree the raspberries in a blender or food processor, then press through a fine sieve to remove all of the seeds.
7. Add the egg whites and eggs to the bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Then add the raspberry puree and lemon juice. Stir until fully combined.
8. Spread evenly on top of the baked crust. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the center does not jiggle.
9. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled (at least 2 hours).
10. Lift chilled bars from the pan using the parchment paper. Slice into 24+ slices and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

I had to make two small adjustments to this recipe, one being to puree the recipes in the blender first because mine had not thawed to the desired consistency to be able to mash them properly by hand. I also had to omit 1/3 cup of lemon juice because well, I underestimated just how many lemons I would need.

I think these turned out quite pretty and they were definitely tart enough, even without the extra lemon juice. I had Tom take these into work and I received rave reviews on them. I'd definitely like to make them again for a party.

This post is linked at: What'd You Do This Weekend , Mix it Up Monday, Melt in Your Mouth Monday and Recipe Sharing Monday

Weekly Menu 7/14-7/19

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I asked Tom last week how much money he thought we were spending each month by me not cooking on Fridays and Saturdays. We determined that it is a pretty significant amount of money. I don't really care about spending the money, but I do care about where it is spent.

We usually order pizza or Chinese or pick up fast food from somewhere. Then at some point during the month, I complain that we never go out to eat. So my plan was that if I started cooking on Fridays, leaving only one day a week where we'd either fend for ourselves with what was currently in the fridge or order out, this left 4 nights per month where the money could be tallied up and we could go out to dinner. It's a win-win situation, right?!

However, I have no interest in cooking on Friday. Usually by Wednesday my steam for preparing dinners each night is dwindled down to nothing and I have to force myself in making dinner on a Thursday night. Even the promise of going out to dinner wouldn't convince me to cook on a Friday because we're either going to the grocery store or I'm getting all of the cleaning done so I decided to institute Crock Pot Fridays.

The first one will be this week. Let's see how long I'm able to keep up with finding Crock Pot dishes and actually making them on Fridays. Maybe posting a list of my favorite restaurants on the fridge will be motivation.

In other unrelated news, isn't this cutting board full of fruit the ultimate picture of summer? I think so, at least.



Sunday - Spicy Turkey Burgers with Grilled Pineapple and Pepperjack Cheese, Fries, Corn on the Cob 

Monday - Veggie Potstickers 

Tuesday - Coconut Shrimp, Fries 

Wednesday - Chicken Cordon Blue Pasta

Thursday - Tacos

Friday - Crock Pot Honey Sesame Chicken over Rice 

I'm making Skinny Chocolate Muffins for breakfast this week and I thought I'd indulge a bit and have Turkey Clubs for lunch.

Weeks ago I said I was making cherry danishes, before I realized they are actually called Overnight Cherry Danishes and it was too late to do so. Pat me on the back, I actually started these on Saturday!! And some delicious fresh fruit popsicles, hence the picture above, are also on the menu. S'mores brownies are another possibility but it depends on how I feel tomorrow.

Oh and unrelated to cooking, I'm trying out making laundry detergent. If it goes well, are you interested in me sharing the recipe since it isn't food? 

The Salad Bar: Macaroni Salad

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My new thing is finding blogging groups. I like having a theme and a designated day to post something. It gives me a challenge and holds me food-responsible for something.

Last month I joined The Salad Bar Blogging Group, which is a Facebook group for bloggers who have a themed salad recipe. The theme last month was fruit and I was sad I didn't get a chance to participate so I made an extra effort to participate in this one.

Anyway, the theme for this month is Potluck salads. I immediately knew that I wanted to make macaroni salad. My mom makes it all of the time and usually adds in shrimp, but I opted to skip that since its warm out and mayo and shrimp in a salad during warm temps is just asking for trouble.



Macaroni Salad
Source: Food Network
Servings: 6
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Ingredients:
    • 2 cups macaroni noodles
    • 3 stalks celery, diced
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 3 tbsp. sour cream
    • 1 1/2 tbsp. cider vinegar
    • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. dry mustard
    • salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook macaroni noodles according to package directions.
2. Drain and rinse. Set aside until slightly cooled.
3. Meanwhile, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cider vinegar, sugar and dry mustard together in a small bowl.
4. Once macaroni is slightly cooled, stir in celery and mayonnaise mixture until all of the macaroni is covered. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
5. Transfer to a lidded bowl and refrigerate until chilled or up to 3 days.

The Food Network recipe calls for onion and parsley in the recipe which I opted to omit. My mom never puts onion in her macaroni salad and I just can't picture it in there. I had initially planned to keep the parsley in the salad, but my parsley plant was looking a little sparse after some frequent uses recently so I decided to just skip it.



The best thing about this salad is how far in advance you can prepare it. The flavors only get stronger over time so there's nothing wrong with making this on a Thursday to serve to your Saturday party guests. 

Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers

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A while ago I bought some blue cheese for a recipe, and as usual, did use all of it. I seem to do this quite frequently and then I have a fridge full of half used ingredients just waiting to expire on me. So for the past couple of weeks, I've made a very concerted effort to find recipes using up what is in the fridge.

Since I've actually done it so far, with nothing expiring on me first, I'm quite proud of myself.

I'm not sure that without blue cheese currently in the fridge, this is a recipe I would have made. As from the souffle version, Tom still isn't a big blue cheese fan, although he does like Gorgonzola. Strange, right? But since it was there, I figured it was worth a shot to see what he thought of it.



Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers
Source: Pink Parsley
Servings: 4
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Ingredients:
    • 2 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
    • 1 tbsp. shallot, minced
    • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1 1/2 lbs. ground beef 
    • salt and pepper
    • burger buns
    • lettuce, tomato
    • blue cheese dressing (optional)
Directions:
1. Preheat a grill to high heat. Line a baking sheet with foil.
2. Combine cream cheese through garlic in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper.
3. Place the ground beef in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Form into 8 equally sized patties.
4. Divide the cream cheese mixture into 4 parts and place in the center of 4 patties. Top those patties with the remaining 4 patties and make sure to pinch the edges shut so the cheese won't come through the burger.
5. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes.
6. Place chilled burgers on the grill and cook for 5-7 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
7. Spread optional blue cheese dressing on both sides of the burger buns, top with lettuce, tomato and the burger.

I was surprised to find the blue cheese flavor was kind of mild in these burgers and I'm really not sure why. I definitely tasted the burst of cheese in the center, but I guess I was expecting the more pungent flavors of blue cheese when eaten alone.

Either way, I can never turn down a good burger and found that just a tiny bit of blue cheese dressing on the bun enhanced the flavor just enough. 

Easy Philly Cheesesteak Calzones

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I've been trying to slowly clear out some of the less common things in the freezer. One night Tom saw a recipe that called for a hash brown broken up on top of a cheesesteak. When we bought the ingredients, the store didn't have the typical  pack of the Steak-Ums and only had the jumbo pack. So I've had quite a few Steak-Ums hanging around in the freezer.

I had no idea what to do with them (because I didn't think to ask Tom to make that sandwich again so I could blog it) and then I somehow stumbled upon this recipe. This is one of those recipes I immediately knew Tom would like. He is a huge fan of combining things like this together.



Easy Philly Cheesesteak Calzone
Source: Host the Toast Blog
Servings: 6
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Ingredients:
    • 1 tbsp.olive oil 
    • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
    • 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
    • 8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • salt and pepper
    • 6-8 Steak-Ums packs
    • 3 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, crumbled
    • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
    • 2 tubes refrigerated pizza crust
    • pizza sauce or Sriracha ketchup for dipping*
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, pepper and mushrooms. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Transfer to a colander lined with a paper towel to absorb excess grease.
4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the meat to the skillet, breaking it up and stirring frequently until it is cooked through. Drain the grease. Turn off the heat.
5. Stir in the cheeses until melted. Stir the vegetable mixture into the meat mixture until combined.
6. Roll out each pizza dough into a rectangle on a lightly greased baking sheet. Spread the meat/veggie mixture lengthwise down the center of the pizza dough. Repeat with the other pizza dough.
7. Cut slits into the sides of the dough and wrap up, crossing over each other until the calzone is formed and fully sealed. Spray the tops of the calzones lightly with non-stick spray and bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
8. Let rest for 2 minutes before cutting and serving.

* Sriracha ketchup is 2 parts ketchup to 1 part Sriracha.

I opted for the Sriracha ketchup dipping sauce and Tom went for standard pizza sauce. I really, really liked this recipe. It calls for provolone cheese which I somehow forgot to pick up at the store. Usually we have a million different types of cheese in the fridge, but for some reason we had absolutely nothing left but the fresh mozzarella and the bit of cheddar. It worked out, but I wouldn't mind trying these again with the provolone.

Bang Bang Shrimp

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For quite some time I'd heard people raving about the Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill but since I had no idea where a Bonefish Grill was, I wasn't overly eager to check out this recipe. (Ironically, the day I am typing this up, we drove past a Bonefish location.)

Then the grocery store had shrimp on sale so I picked some up and set out to find a different recipe to make with them. This happened to appear in my search and I decided it was finally time to give in and see what all of the fuss was about with these shrimp. 



Bang Bang Shrimp
Source: Skinny Taste
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

    • 5 tbsp. light mayonnaise
    • 3 tbsp. Thai Sweet Chili sauce
    • 1 tsp. Sriracha
    • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 2 tsp. cornstarch 
    • 1 tsp. canola oil 

Directions:
1. Combine mayonnaise, chili sauce and Sriracha together into a bowl until well mixed. 
2. Pat the shrimp dry and then toss in a large bowl with cornstarch until they are lightly coated. 
3. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over high heat. 
4. Add the shrimp and cook, tossing frequently for 2-3 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. 
5. Remove shrimp from skillet and toss in the prepared sauce. 

I...don't get it. The reviews on this recipe praise it to high heaven so it must be the correct measurements, but my shrimp were swimming in the sauce that tasted like mayo with a teensy bit of flavor. I think the recipe definitely has potential though and I wouldn't mind trying it with half the mayonnaise and increasing the heat quite a bit. 

Sweet Corn Risotto

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One of my favorite things about summer is eating corn on the cob. I could easily eat it once or even twice a week from June to August, but apparently some people in the house would get bored of that. So I have to find ways to incorporate it into other side dishes. Apparently, corn on the cob = boring but corn on the cob mixed into other dishes = not boring. I don't get it either.



Sweet Corn Risotto
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 6

Ingredients:
    • 3 ears corn on the cob, shucked 
    • 4 cups fat-free low-sodium chicken stock 
    • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 cup arborio rice
    • 1/3 cup white wine
    • 1 tbsp. butter
    • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Slice the kernels off each cob of corn into a large bowl. Set aside. 
2. Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan over low heat. 
3. Add the olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes or until slightly softened. 
4. Stir in the arborio rice with a wooden spoon and cook until the rice becomes translucent. 
5. Pour in the white wine, stirring frequently until absorbed. 
6. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add in 1 cup of chicken stock. Stir until the rice has fully absorbed the stock then repeat with another cup of stock. 
7. Continue stirring and adding in the stock as necessary until the rice is soften. Stir in the corn kernels and butter until the butter has fully melted. 
8. Serve, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. 

Yum! We haven't had risotto in a long time and this was a really nice way to lighten it up with the freshness and sweetness of the corn. 

SRC: Patriotic Fruit Pie

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Despite all of the warnings, I waited until almost the last minute to make my dish for the Secret Recipe Club this month. Since our posting date for group A fell right after the 4th of July and I knew my mom was going to have a pool party on the 6th, it only seemed fitting to choose a patriotic dessert and bring it to the party.

Which meant if it didn't go well, I had approximately 1.5 days to find and make a new recipe. Typically this would scare me quite a bit, but I'd made something similar to this recipe before and I was fairly confident that we weren't going to have any issues. Famous last words, right?

For July I was assigned to Ilona's Kitchen. There are quite a few tasty things on there and I kept getting sidetracked by posts like Snickerdoodle Pie or Salted Caramel Brownies. But I immediately knew going into it, I wanted to see if Ilona had any recipes I could use for the 4th. Then I found this pie.



Patriotic Fruit Pie
Source: Ilona's Kitchen 
Servings: 8
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Ingredients:
           Sugar Cookie Crust:
    • 1 package sugar cookie mix 
    • 1 tsp. orange zest
    • 1 tsp. vanilla 
    • 2 3/4 cup flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 1 tsp. salt 
    Cream Cheese Filling:
    • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1 tbsp. orange juice
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    Fruits:
    • 1 banana, thinly sliced
    • strawberries, thinly sliced
    • blueberries
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9" round cake pan.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, the sugar cookie mix (and required ingredients) with the orange zest and vanilla. Beat until a soft dough forms.
3. Meanwhile, combine flour, baking soda and salt together in a bowl.
4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the stand mixer. Mix until a soft dough forms.
5. Press the cookie mixture into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden.
6. Let cool completely.
7. Meanwhile, add cream cheese, sugar, orange juice and vanilla extract to a large bowl. Use an electric mixer to beat until light and fluffy. Chill until ready to use.
8. Once the cookie crust has cooled, spread the cream cheese filling on top.
9. Arrange the fruit on top of the cream cheese filling. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


So pretty! I did have to use some prepackaged sugar cookie mix for this as I apparently have overlooked that we are completely out of flour. I don't think it made any difference on the overall taste of the pie since it was scarfed down pretty quickly.

Weekly Menu 7/7-7/11

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This is the second week where I've found many of my dinner inspirations from Pinterest. I figured I spent probably close to 15 hours pinning all of my old recipes from Reader, that the absolute least I could do was finally go through and make some of them.

My usual method of recipe choosing for the week includes sitting down with a large 3 ring binder where I have used dividers to section off the recipes. Basically, Pinterest before Pinterest existed. The plus to Pinterest is I can just choose the recipes immediately on visual appeal. The downside is I need to click through to get to the recipe before being able to write down the ingredients.

One thing that isn't from Pinterest is my Recipe Swap meal, which I also thought I should mention, now happens on a monthly basis instead of bi-weekly. Since I have the patience of a small child, I'm still making my recipe right away.

Sunday - Recipe Swap Meal with Fries

Monday - Summer Veggie Tortellini Salad

Tuesday - Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Corn Fritters and Stuffed Peppadew Peppers

Wednesday - Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork Tacos with Broccoli Slaw 

Thursday - Summer Peach and Balsamic Pizza (me) and Pepperoni Pizza (Tom)

For breakfast this week I finally decided to use up the 6-pack of vanilla-flavored breakfast shakes before they expire in August. I'm not really a fan of supplementing meals with drinks, but it was coming in handy when I started work at 7 am and didn't have the stomach or the time to even think of eating that early.

After doing the military diet, I found that I feel much more full if I only graze on things for lunch. This week is cheese, crackers and grapes. 

Happy 4th of July: Caramel S'mores Ice Cream (No Ice Cream Maker Required)

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HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!

I'd really like to be one of those bloggers who posts tons of recipes before a holiday and can even have a recipe roundup before the actual holiday so her readers have tons of cool things to bring to their holiday festivities. 

However, as there have been no food roundups of the holiday variety on this blog, we can easily assume that I suck at this. Like horribly. I guess because I barely keep track of what day it is currently, I have no ability for plan for these things in the future. But I want to. Badly! 

So, you think you could maybe remind me in, oh let's say April, that I should probably get started on 4th of July recipes? It'd be much appreciated. 

Even though I don't have a roundup of cute and fun holiday recipes to share with you, I do have one recipe that is pretty All-American. When you think of All-American foods, what do you think of? 

My mind immediately goes to burgers, apple pie and s'mores. I share enough burgers with you and I've shared my favorite apple pie recipe, so this one is all about the s'mores! And this doesn't even require an ice cream maker. Score! 

I decided s'mores ice cream wasn't good enough on its own and added in the caramel as well. Why not, right?



Caramel S'Mores Ice Cream - No Ice Cream Maker Required 
Servings: 6 cups 

Ingredients:
    • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
    • 14 oz. can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
    • 1 cup mini marshmallows
    • 3/4 cup graham crackers, broken 
    • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
    • 2 tbsp. caramel sauce
Directions:
1. Add heavy whipping cream to the bowl of your stand mixer fixed with the beater attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. 
2. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Use a rubber spatula to fold the sweetened condensed milk into the heavy whipping cream. 
3. Once combined, gently stir in the marshmallows, graham crackers, mini chocolate chips and caramel sauce. 
4. Transfer to a container with a lid and freeze for at least 6 hours. 

The most amazing thing about this ice cream (besides the fact that it's caramel AND s'mores) is that it doesn't freeze like other homemade ice creams. It somehow manages to have the perfect texture and consistency of actual ice cream and can still be scooped without running the scooper under hot water for like an hour. 

The downside to this ice cream? It's really kinda sweet. I probably should have reduced the amount of sweetened condensed milk (you could easily get away with 1/2 a can) since I was adding in all kinds of other sugary goodness. 

The original recipe can be found on the Eagle Brand website, which also states that you can use half and half or light cream if you use an ice cream maker. I'm tempted to check it out with light cream and no ice cream maker. Because I'm a ice cream rebel. 



Not really. 

Mojito Chicken Tacos

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If I'm going out to drink, I typically order wine unless I see mojitos on the menu. Mojitos are hands down my favorite alcoholic drink, even if I still can't master making them at home. A plain mojito is just fine with me, but I'll never complain if you add in some berries or other delicious ingredients.

When I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. Mainly because it would convince me to purchase the mojito mixers and I figure, if I can't make a real mojito at home, I can at least purchase the mixer, some decent white rum and add in fresh mint and pretend I really made it all by myself.



Mojito Chicken Tacos
Source: Kitchen Trial and Error
Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients:
Marinade:
    • juice of 1 orange
    • juice of 1 lime
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1/2 cup mojito mix
    • 1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
    • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
    • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

    Sauce:

    • 1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
    • 1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
    • juice of 1 lime 
    • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
    • 1 tsp. puree from pepper in adobo sauce

    Toppings:

    • onion, sliced
    • lettuce, shredded
    • tomato, diced
    • shredded taco cheese
    • tortillas or hard shell tacos 
Directions:
1. Combine ingredients for marinade in a large zip-top bag. Add the chicken breast, toss to coat and refrigerate for at least 2 hours but up to overnight.
2. Add the sauce ingredients to a small bowl, whisk until combined and then refrigerate until ready to use.
3. Heat a grill to high heat.
4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and slice into 1" strips. Discard marinade.
5. Add chicken pieces and onion to the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side or until cooked through.
6. Assemble the taco with the grilled chicken and onions on the bottom, followed by the lettuce, tomato and cheese. Top with a dollop of the sauce.

These were mouthwateringly delicious. The marinade only came through slightly on the chicken, but the sauce was to die for and the grilled onions really added a nice touch to these tacos. If you are looking for a stronger mojito flavor, you might as well use some of your extra mix and whip yourself up a drink!  

Cheesy Beef Sandwiches

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When I was a teenager, a friend of mine introduced me to Arby's. She loved the beef and cheddar sandwich and since I wasn't even mildly adventurous back then, I decided to order exactly what she did. I immediately grew to love the beef and cheddar sandwich until a few years ago after eating at a new Arby's location and then feeling sick for the next 24 hours.

I just can't bring myself to eat there again. I'm not sure if this will be a lifetime ban or not. But that hasn't stopped me from wanting a beef and cheddar sandwich again. So I set out to re-create one on my own. I figured I could easily make them like the ham and cheese sliders, just in full-sized form. 



Cheesy Beef Sandwich
Source: A Cookaholic Wife Creation
Servings: 8 

Ingredients:
    • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
    • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 tsp. poppy seeds
    • 8 onion burger buns
    • 2 lbs. deli london broil or roast beef
    • 8 tbsp. Cheese Whiz or jarred cheese sauce, divided 
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Line a baking sheet with foil. 
2. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and poppy seeds. 
3. Spread the mayo mixture on both sides of each burger bun. 
4. Assemble each sandwich with a layer of london broil, a tablespoon of Cheese Whiz and another layer of london broil. 
5. Place the sandwiches on the prepared baking sheet and tent with another piece of foil. Bake for 5-10 minutes or until just heated through. 

The burger buns weren't onion-y enough to really re-create the same flavor as the beef and cheddar sandwich from Arby's, but these were still absolutely delicious. Tom asked me if next time I could just heat the london broil because the bottoms of the buns got slightly toasted which didn't allow for the cheese to melt in. 

I had a leftover one microwaved the next day and it was equally as delicious. 

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