Saturday, March 31, 2012

Oatmeal Chocolate Moon Pies

If you feel like a really unhealthy sugar overload of Holy cow I loved them. You would, obviously, have to like oatmeal cookies but totally worth all the calories!

Photo credit to Mel
Oatmeal Chocolate Moon Pies
Makes 14-15 pies
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I left these out for some friends we made them for)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 7-ounce jars marshmallow creme (I only used one jar, just open them as you use them)

Chocolate Drizzle:
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (2 1/2 ounces), chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat to blend. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, soda and salt. Mix. Stir in the oats, pecans and chocolate chips just until combined.

Scoop out about 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls of dough at a time and roll into balls. Place on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Press down on each dough ball until it is about 1/2-inch thick.

Bake the cookies for 9-11 minutes until lightly golden and set around the edges. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Up to an hour before serving, make the chocolate ganache for drizzling by placing the chopped chocolate and honey in a small bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan or in the microwave (watch carefully so it doesn’t scorch or overflow!). Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let the mixture stand for 1-2 minutes before stirring. Whisk or stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside.

Spread 1-2 tablespoons marshmallow creme on the bottom of half of the cookies. Top with the remaining cookies. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce and serve immediately. If the marshmallow creme is put on the cookies too far in advance, the cookies will slide around and the marshmallow creme can get extremely sloppy and gooey. I recommend assembling the cookies no earlier than 10 minutes before consuming. They get gooey quick!

*Note (from Mel): the cookies can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container (yippee!). I recommend assembling the cookies with the marshmallow creme as soon as possible to when you want to serve them as the marshmallow creme tends to get sloppy, extra gooey and leaks out of the cookie sandwiches. If you absolutely need to assemble them earlier (like I did), prepare yourself that they may look messy but will taste absolutely delicious.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Strawberry and Chocolate Nachos

Say what? Yes, you heard correctly...strawberry, chocolate in nachos. Uh, heaven. Yeah, pretty much. These are pretty easy, the "chips" take the longest amount of time, but totally worth it. You can use them as an appetizer, a dessert, anything you want.

Strawberry & Chocolate Nachos
However many your heart desires
Baked cinnamon chips (ps...don't scrimp on the cinnamon sugar)
Diced strawberries tossed with sugar and let sit for 10 minutes
Melted chocolate chips, ganache, or hot fudge
Whipped topping, or whipping cream whipped with sugar

Take those cinnamon chips, pour strawberries, chocolate and whipped topping on top.
Then eat. And stop...if you can.

Recipe Source: Our Best Bites

Coconut Shrimp Curry

I love curry, and have currently been a little more obsessed since we found this awesome Thai place in Springville (Mekong Cafe II, seriously...try it). I also love seafood (sushi is my favorite, but I have been missing that since being pregnant), so I decided to try this. It was so delish. So try it.

Coconut Shrimp Curry
Serves 6-7

For the shrimp marinade:
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
1-2 pounds large or extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined (uncooked...although I did it with cooked and it tasted great, I just didn't put them in until the end)

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 medium red or yellow onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, from about a 1-inch peeled piece of ginger
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can coconut milk, light or regular
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Hot cooked rice for serving, if desired (it is very desired in my household)

For the simple shrimp marinade, toss the shrimp with the salt, pepper, cayenne and lemon juice in a resealable large bag or in a bowl. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat until rippling and hot. Add the onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the pepper, ginger, salt, garlic, coriander, turmeric and curry powder. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture is very fragrant and the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the undrained tomatoes to the pot and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, for about 1 minute. Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. Add the coconut milk, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the shrimp and any accumulated juices (I added the juices and was a little disappointed at how lemon-y it was. It was VERY lemon-y, so if that's what you're going for, add the juices, if not...omit them) from the marinade. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are curled, lightly pink and cooked through, about 2-4 minutes. Stir in the cilantro. Serve over hot, cooked rice, if desired.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Creamy Garlic Alfredo Sauce

Garlic Alfredo Sauce
Photo credit to
Another quick dinner idea from Mel. It was pretty good. I'll admit I don't have any other alfredo sauce to compare it to, but I've made it a couple times and really like it. I even tried to copy Brick Oven's Chicken Artichoke chicken with this garlic sauce and it turned out better than expected.

Creamy Garlic Alfredo Sauce
Makes 2 cups
2 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
4 ounces cream cheese, softened and cut into 6 pieces
1 cup milk
3 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste, if needed

In a medium pot or skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, taking care not to let the garlic burn. Add the cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth. It will look curdled at first, but with constant whisking for 2-3 minutes, it should come together to form a smooth, creamy paste. Add the milk gradually, about 1/4 cup at a time, whisking quickly and constantly until each addition is incorporated fully into the sauce. Stir in the Parmesan cheese, pepper and salt. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is the desired consistency. Cook for 2-3 minutes for a thicker sauce or remove right after the cheese is melted for a thinner sauce. Serve immediately over hot, cooked noodles (or spread on pizza, top, and bake!)

Recipe Source: Mels Kitchen Cafe

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps

I came across these on pinterest...thank you pinterest. And thank you people who waste their lives posting awesome recipes! (like me) I've made these a couple of times because they make so much you can freeze leftovers and take them as meals to neighbors with new babies, etc. Or just save them for a quick meal later. Add a fruit/fruit salad and this is a very rounded (?...can't think of the word...pregnant brain) and healthy meal!

The pin originally said these were better than PF Chang's. Although I think these are awesome and I will continue to make them...they do not live up to PF Chang's in my opinion. I make them and freeze the extras. Then when I need to take dinner to a family, I heat these up with some rice and get some lettuce and voila! Yummy dinner quick and easy!

Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Makes 10 cups
2 tablespoon canola oil
3 pounds ground turkey breast
1-1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled (1 tablespoon minced)
3 garlic cloves (1 tablespoon minced)
4 medium carrots
10 green onions (white and green parts);
1 (8 oz) can sliced water chestnuts
1 (8 oz) can bamboo shoots
1 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup dry sherry {I used apple juice}
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Sriracha or other hot chili sauce or paste
Boston Bibb (or any other "stable") lettuce

Optional Ingredients:
Brown rice, cooked
chopped peanuts
Sriracha chili sauce
Asian Peanut sauce (recipe at
Asian Spicy Lime & Ginger Sauce (recipe at
Vegetables may all be minced by hand; however it's easier to use a food processor (FP) if you have one. Process in this order: mince the garlic and ginger together in FP; chop the carrots into 1" chunks and add them to FP and process until minced; remove garlic/ginger/carrots to separate bowl; chop green onions into 2" pieces and add with bamboo shoots and water chestnuts to FP; process until minced.

Add canola oil to skillet {remember you have 3 lbs meat, which means a wok-sized skillet, or an electric skillet} and heat on stove-top on med-high heat. Add turkey, cook until browned with no pink remaining; break apart chunks with spatula as turkey browns. Add minced veggies (garlic, ginger, carrots, onions, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts) and cook 5-10 min., until tender. In separate bowl, whisk together hoisin sauce, soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil, and chili sauce; add to turkey mixture. Stir and cook until heated through, approx. 5 minutes.

For Dinner: Spoon rice and turkey mixture into a lettuce leaf. Add toppings, if desired. Roll the lettuce leaf and eat. {We keep rice/turkey mixture separate to add how much we would like
To Freeze: Add turkey mixture to ziploc freezer bags - 2 cups of turkey mix per quart size bag {Or whatever will fit, I usually get two quart bags full after one dinner}. Flatten the bag, press out as much air as possible, and seal. Put in the freezer on a tray to keep it flat. Once frozen, remove from tray and stack bags in your freezer. May be frozen for several months. Reheats quickly in microwave.
As Appetizer: Use endive instead of lettuce. Fill leaves with turkey mixture and arrange on platter.

Recipe source:

Ravioli with Fresh Tomato Basil Cream Sauce

Do you ever have those nights (especially when you're pregnant) when you haven't planned dinner, even though you've been home and were completely capable to. Then dinner time comes and you whine and moan because you don't want to cook anything so you try to convince the family you should go out to eat, but guilt sets in because of the $20 you just spent on fresh fruits/veggies? So you grudgingly go to the recipe books (because your husband does homework on the one computer you have all...the...time) and flip through them, no, no. Finally, you find one that might work but nothing sounds good by this time so you make it, hoping it will satisfy something in you? Yep...done that a lot. Just happened to find an AWESOME recipe that was quick and easy this time. (No, we didn't waste away, and yes, I lived through the cooking and cleaning afterword...just in case you were wondering).

Ravioli with Fresh Tomato Basil Cream Sauce
Makes 3-4 servings
Photo Credit to me
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic {or minced}
salt and pepper
6 fresh Roma tomatoes
1/4-1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon butter
24 ravioli {we didn't have that much so I also did tortellini}
Grated parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in 12-inch saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and saute until soft and translucent. Stir in garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Roughly chop tomatoes and add to the onions to cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup {or more, I wanted more} cream and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until sauce is reduced by about a third. When sauce is near the consistency you would like, add basil and cook for a couple more minutes. Add butter and stir until blended into sauce.
Meanwhile, prepare ravioli according to package directions. Transfer to a serving bowl and add 1/2-3/4 cup sauce, leaving the rest of the sauce to add to individual portions. Top with grated parmesan.

Recipe source: Home Cooking the Costco Way

Friday, March 30, 2012

Smothered Pork Chops

I never thought this day would come. My mother-in-law is an amazing cook/baker/person. From the beginning of my marriage, I secretly want to be just as good as she is, although I knew it would take some time. Well...that day came last week when I made these. Quote from Scott "These are the best pork chops I've EVER had." That means better than any that his mom has made. No offense to his mom at all, only big compliments for being so hard to equal! So...thank you Mel for making me feel a little equal to my awesome mother-in-law.
Photo Credit to ... obviously

Smothered Pork Chops
Makes 6-12 pork chops
5 slices bacon, chopped
6 bone-in pork loin chops, about 3/4-inch thick {I did 6, but would do more next time because there was a TON of gravy leftover that I didn't know what to do with}
Salt and Pepper
2 yellow onions, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch thick half moons
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a large skillet over medium heat, fry bacon until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels, leaving the drippings in the pan. If you have more than 2 tablespoons drippings, drain the excess. If you don’t have quite that much, supplement with canola oil. When the bacon is cool, transfer to a small bag or tupperware and refrigerate until later.

Heat the skillet with the drippings over medium or medium-high heat until rippling and hot. Meanwhile, pat pork chops dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook pork chops until they are golden brown on each side, about 2 minutes per side, cooking them in batches in the skillet if your skillet isn’t big enough to hold all six at a time in a single layer. When golden on each side, transfer the chops to the slow cooker and repeat with remaining pork.
Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of fat from the skillet; add onions, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 cup water to empty skillet. Using a wooden spoon, scrape browned bits from bottom of the pan and cook over medium-high heat until onions are soft, about 4-6 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour onion mixture over chops in the slow cooker. Add broth, soy sauce and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar to skillet, bring to a boil and add bay leaves. Pour mixture over onions in slow cooker.

Cover slow cooker and cook on low until pork is tender, about 8 hours (or cook on high for 4 hours).

When ready to serve, carefully transfer chops to serving platter with a large spoon and tent with foil. Discard bay leaves and pour liquid through a mesh strainer into a saucepan, reserving the solids. Transfer solids to a food processor or blender with 1 cup liquid and blend until smooth. Stir the blended mixture back into remaining liquid in the saucepan. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and remaining 2 tablespoons water together in a small bowl and stir into sauce. (I ended up doing a couple more tablespoons of cornstarch because I like my gravy thick) Cook over medium heat until thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, season with salt and pepper, pour over chops and sprinkle with reserved bacon and parsley. Serve.

I served with mashed potatoes...delicious and a wonderful "homecooked" meal.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Oatmeal Pancake Mix

This recipe has been on my "to make" list for a long long time. It comes from a lot of my "I want to make" recipes do come from. I think I've said how amazing I think she is, but here it is again. This is a recipe that makes a whole bunch of mix that you can save in the fridge/freezer for...ever. I can't tell you how it is after a while...but made the same day, the pancakes are DELICIOUS. Probably my favorite pancake mix I've found so far.

Photo credit to me
 Oatmeal Pancake Mix
Makes 10 cups of dry mix
3 1/2 cups rolled oats
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour*
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
*or just use 5 cups whole wheat instead of 3 and 2)

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixer with a paddle. If desired, grind the oats in a blender or food processor before adding to the other dry ingredients for a smoother mix (which I did and LOVED the texture). With mixer on slow speed, drizzle the vegetable oil into the bowl slowly while the mixer is running. When all the oil has been added, stop the mixer and squeeze a clump of mix in your hand. If it stays together, it is just right. If it is still crumbly, add another tablespoon of oil at a time until the consistency is correct (I’ve never had to add additional oil). Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks at room temperature or indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.

To make the pancakes: whisk together 1 cup of mix, 1 cup buttermilk (a combination of half plain yogurt and half milk will also work), and 1 egg. The mixture may seem thin at first but the oats will soak up the milk as it stands while the griddle preheats. Heat a griddle and drop the batter onto it. When the edges look dry and bubbles come to the surface and don’t break, turn the pancake over to finish cooking on the second side. 

As a sidenote, buttermilk can be frozen indefinitely for future batches of pancakes, so it’s worth keeping it around!
Photo credit to me
Another sidenote: I added some frozen raspberries to the top, then added the hot syrup and I almost went to heaven.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

*Update 7/11/12: Scott decided he doesn't love these. Every time I make a batch from the frozen batter mix, there are "chunks" of baking soda or salt or something. Maybe I made it wrong...or he's really picky(which I highly doubt). I still love them...just an FYI.

German Pancakes

I feel like these are a classic...but maybe someone hasn't tried them. They're eggy, a little salty, and delicious with syrup. I doubled the recipe to fit a 9x13 pan. So, you can cut the recipe in half and put it in an 8x8 or 9x9 pan.

German Pancakes
9x13 pan-about 6 servings
4 tablespoon margarine
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
6 eggs
dash of salt

Place 9x13 pan with margarine in oven, then preheat to 450. Meanwhile, mix the rest of the ingredients into a batter. Once butter is melted, pour batter into pan and bake for 15 minutes. 

Recipe Source: a combination of Sharrie Webster and Susan Warren