Sunday, April 26, 2015

{The Best} Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Seriously the fluffiest.
Fluffy Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1 1/2 cups warm water
3/4 tablespoon instant yeast (or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vital wheat gluten (see note)
3-4 cups whole wheat flour, give or take a little (see note)

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl by hand, combine the warm water, yeast, sugar, oil, salt, gluten, and 2 cups of the flour. If you are using active dry yeast instead of instant yeast, let the yeast proof in the warm water and sugar for about 3-5 minutes until it is foamy and bubbly before adding the oil, salt, gluten and flour.
While mixing, gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Judge the dough by how it feels, not necessarily by the exact flour amount called for in the recipe (see a tutorial on working with yeast here). The dough should be soft and smooth but still slightly tacky to the touch.
Knead the dough in the stand mixer or by hand until it is very smooth and elastic, about 7 minutes in a stand mixer or 10-12 minutes by hand. As the dough is kneaded, it will continue to absorb some of the liquid and become less sticky so take care not to overflour at first as the texture will change as it kneads - and you can always add a bit of flour partway through if it seems overly sticky.
If kneading by hand, try using a bit of oil or cooking spray on the counter to help prevent stickiness instead of flour - that way the dough doesn't get overfloured. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until it has doubled, 1-2 hours.
Lightly punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly greased countertop. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form the dough into round balls (a video tip on shaping the dough into rolls here).
Place the rolls on a lightly greased or silpat-lined baking sheet about an inch or two apart. Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let the plastic wrap gently hang over the sides of the pan to fully cover the rolls but not press them down. Let the rolls rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet with Bacon

Do I seriously need to say anything more? I've made it a bunch and it's delightful.
Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet with Bacon
Photo Credit to Allergy Free Alaska
12 ounces of bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces {or 16 ounces...}
Additional bacon fat, lard, ghee, or coconut oil
5 cups diced sweet potatoes (about a 1/2 inch dice)*
4 cups diced zucchini
1 cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 large eggs
Black pepper to taste

In a 12-inch cast iron skillet, cook the bacon pieces over medium-low heat until crisp (cooking the bacon at a lower temperature will render more fat).
Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked bacon from the pan. Set aside. There should be enough rendered bacon fat to coat the entire bottom of the skillet, about 1/8 inch deep. If your bacon didn’t render this much fat (it can vary from brand to brand), add additional bacon fat, lard, ghee, or coconut oil to your skillet until there is 1/8 inch of fat.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F).
Increase heat to medium-high and carefully place the diced sweet potatoes in the hot oil. Cook the sweet potatoes without stirring until the bottom of the cubes start to turn golden brown (this can take several minutes). Stir and cook until the cubes just start to soften.
Increase heat to high and add the zucchini, onion, and bell pepper to the skillet. Cook until the vegetables are just starting to soften.
Stir in bacon pieces. Remove from heat.
Make 6 wells in the potato and veggie mixture; break one egg into each well.
Place skillet in the oven and bake for 9-14 minutes, or until the eggs are set. Serve immediately.

*Note: Cut all veggies the night before to save tons of time in the morning.

Recipe Source: Allergy Free Alaska

Chinese Green Beans with Turkey over Rice

Yummy, but will try in lettuce wraps next time...because why not?
Chinese Green Beans with Ground Turkey over Rice #healthy #dinner
Photo Credit to Weary Chef
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 small bunch green onions sliced thin
2 cloves garlic minced or crushed
1 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce {I used Mae Ploy}
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon crushed ginger
1 pound washed and trimmed green beans or Chinese long beans if available
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

Heat large skillet over high heat. Add sesame oil, and sauté green onions and garlic for about 2 minutes. Stir in ground turkey and sauté 3-5 minutes, until meat is mostly cooked. Crumble meat as much as possible.

Stir in chili garlic sauce, hoisin sauce, and ginger. Add green beans and soy sauce, and stir to coat. Continue cooking over high heat for 7-9 minutes longer, stirring frequently, until beans are slightly tender.

Stir in rice vinegar, and cook one minute longer. Serve over cooked rice.

Recipe Source: Weary Chef

Skillet Butternut Squash, Sausage and Penne Pasta

This doesn't have the most flavor of any dish, but it was pretty homey and yummy.
Butternut Squash Skillet Dinner
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
1 large shallot (or 1/4 cup minced yellow or white onion)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
1 pound chicken sausage (if links, remove the casing)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth {I used 6ish}
12 ounces penne pasta
3 cups peeled and diced butternut squash
3 cups coarsely chopped fresh baby spinach
2 large sage leaves, torn into small pieces, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, more or less to taste
1 cup (about 4 ounces) shredded or cubed fontina or mozzarella cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan for serving, if desired

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, combine the shallot, garlic, sausage, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, breaking up the meat into small pieces, and cooking until the sausage is cooked through, 5-7 minutes. Scrape the mixture to a plate and return the skillet back to the heat.
Add the chicken broth and pasta and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and cook for about 8 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking and the pasta clumping together. Stir in the squash and simmer 5-7 minutes longer until the squash and pasta are both tender. As the squash breaks down, it will help bring a creaminess to the sauce and pasta so add more liquid, if necessary, while cooking if the mixture seems dry.
Stir in the spinach and sage and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Add the sausage/shallot mixture back to the skillet and stir in the fontina or mozzarella cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.
Off the heat, cover the skillet with a lid or foil and let the pasta sit for 5-10 minutes. Give it a good stir and serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Sweet Cornbread

Maybe I should try a new cornbread recipe, but this one is amazing. {As is the one Sharrie makes...I need to get that recipe...}
Photo Credit to Mrs Harding Cooks
Sweet Cornbread
1 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup milk
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 Tbs butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately, then whisk together to form a smooth batter. Pour in a greased 9x13 pan, bake for 30-35 minutes until edges are golden brown. Delicious served with honey butter!

Recipe Source: Mrs Harding Cooks

Glazed Kielbasa Pineapple Bites

Perfect New Year's {gluten free!} appetizer. {I also thought thick ham steak chunks would be good in place of the Kielbasa.}
Photo Credit to Jam Hands
Glazed Kielbasa Pineapple Bites
1 (14 oz.) regular Kielbasa, sliced
1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, reserve juice
3 Tbsp. Teriyaki sauce
1 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. pineapple juice (from can)

Preheat oven to 425-f degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place a piece of pineapple on top of a slice of kielbasa and stick a toothpick into them.
In a small bowl combine remaining ingredients. Place kielbasa bites onto the baking sheet and brush glaze over tops and sides of bites.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until hot. Let cool slightly and serve warm.

Recipe Source: Jam Hands

Sweet Potato Crusted Spinach Quiche

Healthy and delicious. I love sweet potatoes!
Photo Credit to Fourteen Forty
Sweet Potato Crusted Spinach Quiche
2 medium sweet potatoes
Olive oil spray
1 bunch spinach
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
4 eggs
1 cup grated fresh mozzarella
Spring herbs (dill, parsley, chives) to taste
1 tablespoon organic white miso {I actually used tahini...this is optional}
1/4 cup white cheddar cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Peel sweet potatoes and slice thinly with a food processor.
Lay potato slices out in pie dish in a crust-like fashion, spray with oil, and bake on 400 degrees fahrenheit for 15 minutes. (After crust has baked, reduce oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit.)
Spray a saute pan with oil and saute sliced onion and crushed garlic clove until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Stir in spinach and saute until wilted and tender, about 4 minutes. Drain spinach over the sink to rid excess liquid.
Blend eggs and mozzarella in a medium bowl. Add herbs, white cheddar cheese, and miso {or tahini or nothing}.
Add spinach/garlic/onion mix to the egg/cheese mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place the combined mixtures in the potato crust. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese on top.
In a 375 degree oven, bake until the quiche is firm and the cheese has browned, about 40 minutes.
Tastes best a little warm.

Recipe Source: Slightly adapted from Fourteen Forty

Veggie Ham and Egg Cheese Bake

I love hearty veggie breakfasts. This one was great to prep cut everything the night before.
Photo Credit to Skinnytaste
Veggie Ham & Egg Cheese Bake
2 cups shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup sliced scallions
5 oz sliced shiitake mushrooms {or regular}
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
7 oz finely diced lean ham steak
3/4 cup diced tomatoes, seeded
1 cup finely chopped broccoli florets
7 large whole eggs
5 large egg whites
1/4 cup fat free milk
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with oil.
Place 1 cup of cheese into the baking dish.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add scallions, mushrooms and red pepper and saute until vegetables are tender, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook 2 - 3 minutes. Add the ham and broccoli and remove from heat. Spread evenly over the cheese mixture.
In a large bowl combine the eggs, egg whites, milk, salt and pepper and whisk well. Slowly pour over the vegetables in the baking dish and top with remaining cheese.
Bake until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean, 32 to 35 minutes. Let stand 8 to 10 minutes before cutting into 12 pieces.

Recipe Source: Skinnytaste

Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Swirl Bundt Cake

Holy moly deliciousness. Mel has done it again. This time with carrot cake/cheesecake perfection.
Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Swirl Bundt Cake
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Swirl Bundt Cake
Carrot Cake:
1 2/3 cup (8 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3-4 large carrots (12 ounces), ends trimmed and finely shredded (about 2 cups)
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
1 cup oil (see note above)
1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans, optional
Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon sour cream
2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9- or 10-inch bundt cake pan very well, getting in all the nooks and crannies. Lightly dust with flour, tapping out the excess, and set aside.
For the cake batter, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl (you can use the bowl of a stand electric mixer here), with a handheld electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugars together until blended. With the mixer running, drizzle in the oil and mix until thick and creamy.
Add the dry ingredients, carrots and pecans, and mix gently by hand until combined and no streaks of flour remain. Set aside for a few minutes while preparing the cream cheese filling.
For the cream cheese layer, beat together the cream cheese, vanilla, sugar and egg until smooth and well-combined. You can use an electric mixer or I generally use my blender (Blendtec model) for whipping this together.
Pour half of the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Spoon the cream cheese mixture in dollops evenly across the top. Finish with the remaining carrot cake batter. It's ok if you can see the cream cheese layer peeking through - the carrot cake may not cover it all the way.
Bake the cake for 45-60 minutes until the top lightly springs back to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Remove fron the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a serving plate to cool completely.
For the frosting, whip together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until smooth and well-combined (again, I use my blender for this but you can use an electric mixer). Add the heavy cream, sour cream and powdered sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
Once the cake is completely cooled, spread the frosting over the top curve of the bundt cake. If you want to cover the cake entirely, you can double the frosting.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. The cake can be made, frosted and refrigerated up to a day in advance.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Soft Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh baby oh baby. So fetchin good. I made them twice in three days {thanks to Braden}.
Egg-Free Double Chocolate Cookies
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Soft Double Chocolate Chip Cookies
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter, melted and cooled slightly
3/4 (5 1/4 ounces) cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 (2 1/3 ounces) cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (1 cup) chocolate chips, semisweet or bittersweet

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment or silpat liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream together the cream cheese, melted butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla. Add the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda and salt and mix until mostly incorporated with just a few dry streaks remaining. Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined and no dry streaks remain.
Roll the dough into 1 to 1 1/2-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand (just barely press, you don't need to flatten it all the way). Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes until the edges are set but the middles are still soft and gooey. Let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Super easy. Delicious. And in bar no batches of cookies!
Photo Credit to The Baker Upstairs
Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars
12 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
11 ounces caramel bits (or 11 ounces caramel squares, unwrapped)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 325. Prepare a 9 x 13 pan by lining with foil. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars and mix until combined. Add egg and egg yolk and vanilla, and mix until combined. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix until just combined (be careful not to over mix). Gently fold chocolate chips into the dough. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the caramels and heavy cream, and microwave on high power at twenty second intervals, stirring in between, until melted and smooth. Spread half of the cookie mixture in the prepared pan, pushing with your hands to form an even layer. Pour the melted caramel over the top and spread to cover. Sprinkle with sea salt. Top with remaining cookie dough. (I found it easiest to put the cookie dough on a cutting board and smush it with my hands into an even layer about the size of my pan, then transfer it to the baking pan.) Sprinkle the top with more sea salt. Bake 25-30 minutes or until very lightly golden around the edges. Be careful not to over bake! The cookies are best if they are soft and a little gooey. Remove from oven and let cool 10-15 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack. Cool almost to room temperature before slicing.

Recipe Source: The Baker Upstairs

Mint Brownie and Oreo Hot Fudge Trifle with Minty Cream Cheese Whipped Cream

Okay, this is super delicious but really rich. So serve it with the right crowd.
Hot Fudge Mint Brownie Oreo Trifle
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Mint Brownie and Oreo Hot Fudge Trifle with Minty Cream Cheese Whipped Cream
9X13 pan of brownies, cut into small cubes (see note - you only will use about 3/4 of the pan of brownies)
Mint Cream Cheese Whipped Cream:
8 ounces cream cheese, light or regular, softened
3 cups heavy whipping cream
1-2 teaspoons mint extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Oreos and Hot Fudge:
25 mint Oreos, coarsely chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup hot fudge sauce, warmed slightly

For the whipped cream, in a large bowl, beat together the softened cream cheese with about 1/2 cup of the whipping cream until the mixture is smooth. Add the mint extract, powdered sugar and the remainder of the whipping cream gradually. Mix on high speed until the cream is whipped and the mixture is very thick and creamy.
In a glass trifle dish (or large glass bowl), place in 1/3 of the brownies then 1/3 of the whipped cream, spreading evenly to the edges. Next sprinkle in a little more than 1/3 of the Oreos (about 10 chopped) and finally drizzle with 1/3 of the hot fudge sauce.
Repeat that same layering process two more times (the only difference is that I only used about 4 chopped Oreos for the very final layer - so the first two layers use about 10 chopped Oreos each).
Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie

Made this for Sharrie's birthday and it was a hit and SO delicious. But you need a seriously deep dish pie plate or get rid of some of the chocolate layer {which is amazingly delicious}.
Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Chocolate Caramel Pecan Pie
Pie Crust:
Single pie crust to fit 9.5- or 10-inch pan
Chocolate Layer:
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
Caramel Pecan Layer:
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
28 caramels, unwrapped (or about 1 1/2 cups homemade caramel)
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the pie crust and gently place it in a 10-inch tart or pie plate (see note above). Trim and flute the edges (see tutorial here). Refrigerate or freeze the crust until very cold. Line the crust with foil and weigh down with pie weights or dry beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and weights and bake for another 10 minutes or so until the crust edges are lightly golden and the bottom is no longer doughy. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F.
For the chocolate layer, in a medium microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and cream for one minute. Stir until melted and combined (microwave for short spurts if more time is needed).
In a large bowl (or in a blender), beat the cream cheese and sugar until smooth and combined. Add the egg and mix until just blended. Scrape in the chocolate mixture and mix until smooth.
Spread the chocolate mixture evenly in the cooled crust.
For the caramel pecan layer, lightly toast the pecans in an even layer on a baking sheet in the preheated oven for just a few minutes until fragrant (watch closely so they don't burn).
In a medium bowl, combine the caramels, cream and butter. Microwave at 1-minute intervals, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until melted and smooth. Watch carefully so the caramels don't overcook (this can happen more easily with store-bought caramels). Let the mixture cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, salt and sugar. Quickly whisk this mixture into the caramel mixture. Stir in the pecans.
Pour the caramel mixture over the chocolate layer. Place the pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet (just in case of any spillovers or splatters) and bake for 45-50 minutes until the center is almost set (it's ok if it jiggles slightly). Cover the edges of the pie crust part way through baking if it is becoming overly browned.
Let the pie cool for a couple of hours. Serve with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired. This pie actuality tastes better the second day, in my opinion, so consider making it ahead. It's also delightful slightly warmed (not hot, just a bit warm so the caramel layer softens).

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Healthy Whole Grain Waffles

Loved these. They were perfectly delicious.
Whole Grain Waffles with Greek Yogurt and Berries from Our Best Bites
Photo Credit to Our Best Bites
Healthy Whole Grain Waffles
1 1/2 cups 100% whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ*
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed meal*
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar or no-calorie sweetener, like Splenda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

*If you choose to omit wheat germ and flaxseed meal, add an additional 4 tablespoons flour (whole wheat or all purpose) instead.

Whisk together flour, wheat germ, flaxseed meal, baking powder, sugar, and salt. In a separate bowl mix together milk, oil, egg, vanilla, and oil and whisk until combined. Add wet ingredients to dry and whisk until just mixed together, (it’s okay to have some lumps) don’t over-mix.

Ladle into an electric waffle iron and cook according to your waffle-maker’s instructions until golden brown. (I use a heaping 1/2 cup batter for my 8″ round waffle iron). Serve warm with desired toppings.

Freezer Instructions: Lay waffles in a single layer on a baking dish in the freezer for a few hours. When frozen, place in a ziplock bag or freezer container. Reheat in toaster. Can also keep cooled waffles in fridge and reheat in toaster.

Recipe Source: Our Best Bites

Saturday, April 25, 2015

{The Best} French Dip Sandwiches

Holy juicy and delicious. And slow cooker? Yes please.
our favorite french dip sandwich recipe
Photo Credit to Oh Sweet Basil
{The Best} French Dip Sandwiches
3 lb tri tip
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 can beef broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Remove and discard the fat from the roast. Place the trimmed roast in a crockpot on low.
In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, beef broth, bay leaf, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and garlic powder. Pour mixture over the roast. Cover, and cook on low heat for 8 hours. Pull the meat out and shred it and then let it cook 1-2 hours more, or until meat is very tender.
Remove meat from broth, reserving the broth. distribute the meat on hoagies and top with swiss cheese. Place under a broiler until the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted. Use reserved broth for dipping!

Note: I mixed the sauce the night before and just poured it over the beef in the morning. Worked great!

Recipe Source: Oh Sweet Basil

Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa & Black Beans

Love this because it was vegetarian and easy and quick.

Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa & Black Beans // One Lovely Life
Photo Credit to One Lovely Life
Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa & Black Beans
4 bell peppers (any color), sliced in half stem-to-tip, seeds removed
1c quinoa, uncooked
½ medium onion, diced
1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 (4oz) can diced green chiles (don't drain)
¼ c cilantro, minced
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
olive oil, if desired
½ c Monterrey Jack, grated*
½ c cheddar cheese, grated*
1 recipe red enchilada sauce (or 1 (28oz) can)

Add quinoa and onion to a large saucepan with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil 5 minutes, cover, turn off heat and let steam 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
In the meantime, microwave pepper halves 2-3 minutes to soften slightly. (Prepared this way, the peppers should come out crisp-tender. If you want them crisper, you can omit this step.)
Pour quinoa/onion mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir in black beans, tomato, green chiles and their juices, cilantro, ¼ tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper. If the mixture seems to dry, drizzle in a bit of olive oil (I didn't need any).
Pour enchilada sauce into a 9x13" baking dish. Divide filling among peppers. Nestle stuffed peppers into the enchilada sauce. Sprinkle with cheeses.
Cover the pan with foil and bake at 375 degrees 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and cook about 5 minutes longer. Serve peppers drizzled with enchilada sauce.

Recipe Source: One Lovely Life

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

Very simple, hearty, yummy soup. Scott loved it.
Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 pounds sirloin tips, flap meat or chuck roast, cubed
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup 1/4-inch sliced carrots, about 3-4 medium carrots peeled
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean and diced
1 cup chopped onion, about 1 medium yellow or white onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2/3 cup pearled barley (not quick-cooking) {I added quick cooking barley at the very end}

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil until rippling and hot over medium heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add to the skillet in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches), cooking for 1-2 minutes, browning on all sides. Repeat with the remaining meat if needed.
Scoop the meat into the slow cooker, leaving as much oil/liquid behind in the skillet as possible. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the carrots, mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the carrots and mushrooms start to soften. Stir in the tomato paste and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Whisk in the chicken broth and simmer for a minute or so. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker. Add the beef broth, soy sauce and barley. Give the soup a good stir and then cover the slow cooker and cook on low 7-9 hours. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if needed, before serving.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Loaded Broccoli Cheese and Bacon Soup

Anything with bacon is delicious and this is no exception. Loved it.
Broccoli Cheese and Bacon Soup
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Loaded Broccoli Cheese and Bacon Soup
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup peeled and chopped carrots, diced small
1 cup chopped celery, diced small
3 cups peeled and chopped potatoes, diced small
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
4-5 cups broccoli crowns, diced small (about 2 heads of broccoli)
4-6 slices bacon, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
3 cups milk
4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 16 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried mustard

In a large saucepan, combine the chicken broth, carrots, celery, potatoes and onion. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to get tender.
Add the chopped broccoli. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. The pan is going to be very full of vegetables and it might seem like it isn't "soupy" enough since the vegetables overpower the broth but I promise it will all work out when you add the cheese mixture.
In a separate medium saucepan, saute the bacon until golden and crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain the grease and wipe out the saucepan.
Melt the butter (in the same saucepan you cooked the bacon in) over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden, stirring constantly. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook until the mixture is bubbling and is slightly thickened, 5-7 minutes.
Stir in the cheddar cheese one handful at a time, adding another handful after the cheese that has been added has melted. Stir in the salt, pepper and dry mustard.
Slowly stir the cheese sauce into the hot broth and vegetables, whisking to combine well. Stir in the reserved bacon and add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. If you want the soup a bit thinner, stir in a little extra broth or milk a bit at a time until you get the consistency you are looking for.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Beef Enchiladas

Loved these. Very flavorful, super tender, and easy!
Slow Cooker Beef Enchiladas
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Beef Enchiladas
1 (2-3 pound) chuck or sirloin beef roast
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup (8 ounces) salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
10 6- or 7-inch flour or corn tortillas {ish}
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Fresh cilantro (optional)

In a 4- or 5-quart slow cooker, add the beef roast. Whisk together the broth, vinegar, salsa, cumin, chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour over the roast, cover the slow cooker, and cook on low for 8-10 hours until the beef is tender and shreds easily.
Remove the roast from the slow cooker and place in a large bowl or shallow pan (like a 9X13).
Pour the mixture from the slow cooker into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch (or flour) with about 2-3 tablespoons water (a bit more water if using flour). Whisk the slurry into the simmering liquid and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened slightly, 4-5 minutes. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed.
Pour about 1/2 cup sauce in with the beef and toss. Spread another 1/2 cup sauce on the bottom of a 9X13-inch pan. Toss the cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses together.
Fill each tortilla with some of the beef mixture and a sprinkle of cheese. Roll up and place in the pan. I usually try and fit ten enchiladas in a 9X13-inch pan (if the pan is lengthwise, two rows of five).
Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas (you may not need to use all the sauce if you feel like it will drown the enchiladas or you may need to reserve some for an additional pan if you made more enchiladas due to a larger roast, etc.).{I think I'll dump all the sauce on next time.
Top with any remaining cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes until bubbly and hot. Let the enchiladas rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle with fresh cilantro, if desired, and serve.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Simple Skillet Green Beans

Have mercy. These are amazing. Simple, so so delicious, and healthy-ish.
The Best Green Beans
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Simple Skillet Green Beans
1 teaspoon oil or butter
1 pound fresh green beans, ends trimmed
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil or butter over medium heat. Add the green beans and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often, to crisp up the edges of the beans just slightly.
Pour in the broth and bring the beans/broth to a simmer. Cover the skillet and cook anywhere from 6-10 minutes, depending on how tender you like your green beans. Keep an eye on the skillet - if it is simmering too vigorously and the liquid evaporates out, add a bit more as needed.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Grilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken Chopped Salad

This was super yummy. I love the marinade, but I might put less cabbage and more romaine {especially for Scott}.
Grilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken Chopped Salad | Cooking Classy
Photo Credit to Cooking Classy
Grilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken Chopped Salad
Dressing and Marinade
1/4 c low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp finely minced ginger
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (I used regular un-toasted since it's all I had)
1 tsp Sriracha (I didn't even notice it, so if you like heat add a little more)
1/2 tsp salt, then more to taste as desired
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green onions, green and white parts
2 (9 oz) boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 lb napa cabbage, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise {or Romaine lettuce}
1 1/2 - 2 cups matchstick carrots, or 2 medium carrots cut into matchsticks
2/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
3 chopped green onions, green and white parts
1 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp black sesame seeds (or an additional 1 tsp white, toasted)

For the marinade:
In a mixing bowl (or 2-cup liquid measuring cup), whisk together soy sauce, ginger, canola oil, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha and 1/2 tsp salt (adding more salt to taste as desired, original recipe calls for 1 tsp salt, I added 3/4 tsp and I still thought that was too much, especially for a healthy salad). Add chicken breasts to a large resealable bag and add 3 Tbsp of the marinade mixture, reserving remaining. Seal bag and rub marinade over chicken, then transfer chicken to refrigerator and let rest at least 30 minutes, or up to 1 day.
For the dressing:
Add red wine vinegar and 1/4 cup chopped green onions to marinade mixture and whisk to blend. Set aside (chill in refrigerator if marinating chicken longer than 1 hour).
For the salad:
Heat a grill or grill pan over stove top over medium-high heat. Brush grill lightly with canola or vegetable oil, then place marinated chicken on grill and cook, about 4 minutes per side, or until chicken has cooked through (it should register to 165 degrees in center of chicken when tested with a meat thermometer). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. Then, cut chicken crosswise into strips about 1/4-inch thick.

In a large bowl toss together cabbage, chicken, carrots, almonds, 3 chopped green onions, and cilantro with enough dressing to coat salad. Sprinkle top with sesame seeds and serve.

Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

Strawberry Cream Puff Cake

Oh man, the orange in this cake was so delicious. I loved it!
Strawberry Cream Puff Cake
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Strawberry Cream Puff Cake
Cream Puff Base:
5 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup flour
3 eggs
Cream Cheese Mixture:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon fresh orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1-1.5 clam shell strawberries {mixed with sugar and let sit}

For the cream puff layer, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring the butter, water and sugar to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour all at once and stir quickly until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the mixture until smooth. Let cool for 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until the mixture is shiny with a satiny sheen. Don’t overbeat. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan (or in a pinch, you could use a 9-inch circle cake pan). Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture on the bottom and one inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and prick pastry with a toothpick 10-12 times. Return to the oven and bake 5-10 minutes more until golden brown but not overbaked (you can insert a toothpick into the center and if it comes out with sticky dough, it still needs longer in the oven). Cool completely.
For the cream cheese mixture, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar (if you want to ensure there are no lumps, sift the powdered sugar into the cream cheese) and beat with the cream cheese until mixture is smooth and light. Add the remaining ingredients and beat until stiff peaks form. Spread onto the cooled cream puff shell.
Top with strawberries, or you can use a 16-ounce bag of frozen strawberries that have been thawed. Mix the thawed strawberries and juice with 1-2 teaspoons sugar and bring to a simmer in a saucepan. Cook until slightly thickened. Cool completely and use as topping for the cake.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Oreo-Crusted White Chocolate Mousse Torte

This is super rich {but it's white chocolate so it's amazing!} I made this with Bret and Laurel and even though it has quite a few calories...totally worth it.
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Oreo-Crusted White Chocolate Mousse Torte
For the crust and garnish:
Butter for preparing the pan
24 Oreo cookies, roughly broken in thirds
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup (4 ounces) heavy cream
For the filling:
10 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups (16 ounces) heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

Coat the interior of a 9-inch springform pan with butter. Place a circle of parchment in the bottom and butter it as well (I omitted this step and it didn’t stick).
Place the bowl of an electric mixer and wire whip attachment or the beaters in the freezer to chill.
To make the crust, place the broken cookies in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until medium-size crumbs are formed. They won’t be uniform but don’t process long enough to make mush- just to grind the cookies into uneven crumbs. Leave the crumbs in the food processor. Place the semisweet chocolate in a medium metal bowl. Pour the 1/2 cup heavy cream into a small saucepan; set over medium heat and bring the cream to a very gentle simmer. Pour it over the chocolate and stir until the mixture is smooth. Add two-thirds of the cookie crumbs; reserve the remaining crumbs. Stir the crumbs to coat them with the chocolate. Spoon and scrape the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Press the chocolate-coated crumbs evenly over the bottom all the way to the edge of the pan, but not up the sides. Set aside.
To prepare the filling, place the white chocolate and 2/3 cup of the heavy cream in a metal bowl placed over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally as the chocolate melts. When the mixture is smooth, remove it from over the water and set aside to cool.
In a chilled bowl using the chilled beaters, whip the remaining 1 1/3 cups of heavy cream and the vanilla until soft peaks form.
Pour 3 tablespoons of water into a small saucepan and sprinkle the gelatin over it. When the gelatin has softened, place the saucepan over very low heat and stir the mixture just until the gelatin has dissolved and liquefied. Immediately scrape the gelatin mixture into the white chocolate mixture, and fold gently until well combined. Fold the white chocolate-gelatin mixture into the whipped cream until the mixture is uniform. Scrape the filling into the prepared crust.
Refrigerate the torte until the gelatin has set, at least 4 hours or overnight (I refrigerated mine overnight). To serve, loosen the edges of the torte from the sides of the pan with a small knife. Remove the sides of the pan and run a wide metal spatula between the bottom of the torte and the parchment liner, then lift the torte onto a flat serving plate. Just before serving, sprinkle the torte with the reserved cookie crumbs.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Andes Mint Brownies

So I haven't actually made the brownie part of this recipe, but I'm sure it's amazing. I just threw some Andes "chips" in a brownie mix and it was divine.
Andes Mint Brownies
Photo Credit to Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Andes Mint Brownies
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 package Andes mints {or 1/2-3/4 bag of Andes "chips"}

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9X13-inch pan with foil and lightly grease with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa and salt. Set aside.
Unwrap all the mints and coarsely chop. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Remove from the heat and add the sugar, stirring well to combine. Whisk in the vanilla and then the eggs. Blend well.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well. Gently stir in the chopped Andes mints. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 32-35 minutes, until the brownies are set in the middle but not overbaked. Let cool completely, slice into squares and serve.

Recipe Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Sandwiches

These were delicious and so much more healthy than any other chicken salad sandwiches I've ever made. I made them for Lilian's 3rd birthday at the park and it was perfect. The recipe was just a template, I changed a lot about it. Except for the ingredients you see...
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Sandwich - From the plump grapes to the sweet cranberries, this lightened up sandwich won't even taste healthy!
Photo Credit to Damn Delicious
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Sandwiches
1 pound cooked chicken breast, shredded {I used a whole roasted chicken, so good}
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup diced apple
2/3 cup grapes, halved
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds {or cashews, or peanuts...}
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or more, to taste {I used red wine vinegar}
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 rolls ciabatta bread, toasted, for serving {I used whatever bread I had, white rolls, wheat bread...}

In a large bowl, combine chicken, red onion, apple, grapes, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, In another bowl, whisk the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper, to taste. Combine the dry stuff and chicken mixture and fold gently.
Serve sandwiches on bread with chicken mixture.

Recipe Source: Damn Delicious

Moist White Cake

I made this for my mother to take to a young women function, and it only got rave reviews!!
The Perfect Homemade White Cake
Photo Credit to I am Baker
Moist White Cake
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract {or1 1/2, I don't really measure}
1 1/4 c. milk
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Mix shortening, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and milk. Then mix flour, baking powder and salt in another bowl. Then add dry ingredients to other mixture. Pour into a well-greased 9 x 12 pan.
Bake at 350°F for 30-35 minutes.

Recipe Source: