Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Dip

Two of the most popular things I've ever written about here on the blog were dips- a Warm Taco Dip that has been among the top recipes on RecipeGraze.com for almost a year straight now and a Buffalo Chicken Dip that has been repinned over eight thousand times in less than a year.
I think it's fair to say that you guys like your dips!

With New Year's Eve approaching I thought I'd come up with a new, simple, tasty, delicious, low-carb dip for you guys.

Was that enough adjectives for you?

Anyway, this dip definitely delivers!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Southwestern Egg Rolls

I was totally going to make these for my daughter's Girl Scouts Christmas party the other night.
You know...right before I landed in the hospital and didn't make anything to send with her.  *sigh*

Too bad, because I was really looking forward to making an extra-big batch so that I could freeze a bunch for our family for later.  These guys might just be my favorite appetizer to keep on hand! After assembling the egg rolls I lay them flat on wax paper in the freezer and transfer them to a freezer bag after they have completely frozen.  They're equally as delicious and convenient as bite-size treats made with wonton wrappers.

There is literally nothing I don't like about them!  I mean- what's not to like?

Chicken, black beans, corn, Monterey Jack cheese, jalapeños...yum!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Julia Child's White Sandwich Bread

I know, I know, I've shared some pretty excellent bread recipes with you before- but none like this.

This bread is a game changer.

This bread is amazing

This bread is just ridiculous.

We've talked before about my love of baking and that I generally make bread rather than buying it.

We've talked before about bread that my family has simply fallen in love with, like that Light Oat Bread I wrote about not all that long ago.

This guys is...well, this bread blows those breads out of the water.

It's perfect on every level.
It's soft, but strong.
It's just sweet enough.
It's buttery, light, delicious, yeasty, goodness.

There's just no going back- not after you've tried this stuff.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Iced Eggnog Cutouts and A Hospital Stay

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 
pneumonia and a hospital stay....

Ok, maybe that gift didn't exactly come from my true love, though he has been pretty awesome about sticking by my side and handling things while I've been stuck here attached to tons of wires.

{side note: do you know how hard it is to try to type with an O2 monitor on your left index finger?  It kind of stinks..}

Anyway, here I sit- the girl who NEVER gets sick- waiting on more tests to figure out some weird lab results.  My options are watching more bad TV or getting up the blog I intended to write before my ER trip yesterday- and I choose you guys.

Well, you guys and Iced Eggnog Cutouts.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Three Cheese Tortellini In No Time At All

You know how sometimes you just need to get dinner on the table?

Preferably a good dinner- though I'm sure we all have the occasional  boxed-macaroni-and-a-can-of-veggies nights.

There's really something to be said for a yummy, filling meal that you can have on the table super quickly.

Well, this is totally it!
Bonus points?  My husband AND my daughter both enjoyed it, and the two of them belong to completely different culinary fan clubs.

This month's Allstars partnership was with Barilla, and although they have a ton of recipes that look yummy over on Allrecipes I wanted simple- lol I've been insanely busy making popcorn and keeping up with the kids' holiday activities lately.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Double Fudge Cookies and One Long Night

Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you about a recent evening at my house...

Now, my husband had been out of town for four days.  I love him.  Oh goodness I love him.  I am grateful that his job provides me the opportunity to stay home with the kids even if that means a few times a year he has to travel for work.

That being said, a few days into his trip I  get a little...frustrated.  Jealous of freedom.  Rundown by single parenting, a very active daughter, and a son with autism.

Oh I had such great plans for that night!  I was going to be like...Pinterest Mommy of the Year or something.  You know, all rainbows and unicorns and happy childhood memories.
My daughter came home from her after school activities and immediately showered and got into cozy PJs.  Homemade double fudge cookies were baked.  Homemade chicken noodle soup was consumed.  We had a girly evening styling our hair and painting our nails.  We piled into the car to drive aimlessly and enjoy Christmas lights.  Upon returning I popped delicious popcorn, started the fire in the fireplace, and we all curled up together by the tree to watch Peter Pan live on TV.  Then we headed off to bed with visions of sugar plums dancing through our heads.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Candy Cane Cookies for the Holidays

My grandma did Christmas well.
Each year the tree was decked out with ornaments that she had made herself.  I remember fires in the fireplace and a living room full of family.  I'm sure those times at my grandma's house have taken on that kind of rose-colored quality that can sometimes come over our childhood memories, but that's ok.  They were good times.

By all accounts, her candy cane cookies were pretty great.  They are inextricably connected with the holiday season in my mind.  Just as the sight of a jar of Almond Roca will always bring me right back to the jar that was ever-present on the shelf in her (off-limits!) dining room, those cookies always bring me back to Christmas at Grandma's.

I can still close my eyes and remember the taste of my Grandma Martin's beef stew, goulash, or buttery noodles despite all of the years that have passed since I was last able to actually eat them.  Alas, I don't remember what my grandma's candy cane cookies tasted like in that same way.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Only Gift I Need

I don't need anything for Christmas this year.

I really don't.  I can't think of anything that could beat what I've already experienced this holiday season.
My son gets that it's Christmastime.
He got that it was Thanksgiving.
He understood that it was Halloween.

He may not have the slightest clue what any of those things actually mean.
He wouldn't eat his Halloween candy (that makes two years in a row his sister has really lucked out).
He ate a grilled cheese sandwich while we stuffed ourselves with Thanksgiving dinner.
He doesn't know to look forward to Christmas gifts.

Mom's Potato Pancakes

My mom's potato pancakes were one of my favorite breakfasts when I was growing up.  She didn't make them often (I'm sure if she'd had a food processor to speed things up I might have enjoyed them more frequently!) but when she did make them I'd absolutely stuff myself on those golden, crispy little pancakes.
When I got a little older I realized that her "potato pancakes" were also called latkes and are often served during Hanukkah.  Apparently they're often served with sour cream or applesauce, though we always just ate them plain.  My daughter even likes to eat them with ketchup- they are kind of like a hash brown's tasty cousin.  :-)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chicken Stuffed Mushrooms

A few months ago Allrecipes asked me to develop a recipe using Diamond Crystal Salt and I came up with super yummy (and easy) Roasted Asparagus with Sea Salt and Parmesan.  I loved how it turned out- and that my daughter loved it too!

Well, since I helped them out over the summer they asked the other Allstars who created recipes and me to make a recipe from their collection.  There were a lot of yummy recipes on that list- everything from Easy Cashew Sea Salt Toffee to Salted Naan Sticks with Mango Chutney.  The choices definitely ran the gamut, but they all sounded so tasty!

In the end I decided to go with Chicken Stuffed Mushrooms- I was trying to stay at least a little bit on the lower carb end of things... and I'm a sucker for a stuffed mushroom.  :-)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Mastering The Perfect Southern Breakfast Gravy

Once upon a time, 14 years ago, there was a girl in California that had never heard of biscuits and gravy.

In fact, she didn't even know gravy existed in any shade other than brown, and generally only ate it on Thanksgiving over mashed potatoes.

I know, crazy, right?

When I was 18 my best friend and I got our first apartment.  Literally two weeks after my 18th birthday we were out on our own.  It was then that I was first introduced to the idea of biscuits and gravy.

Sometimes she would make them for us on Saturday mornings.  Goodness we felt so grown up back then...we were babies!  But when we would have "the guys" grill for us on our itty bitty balcony, get dressed up and make lasagna and drink Arbor Mist (ugh), or sit around in our pajamas eating a real meal of biscuits and gravy on a Saturday morning we felt SOOOO grown up.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

An Ode to Pimento Cheese

Pimento cheese is one of those things that I don't know that I'd even heard of before moving to the South.  Do they even sell it in California?  I dunno.  Much like sausage balls, it was an amazing part of southern cuisine I missed out on for a large portion of my life.

Anyway, for years my husband has been dumbfounded by the fact that I've never tried it.  I've just never had the desire to try it...it looks funny.  It's orange and goopy looking.
Then came Tupelo Honey Cafe.

Tupelo Honey is a small, popular regional chain of restaurants that originated in Asheville, NC- one of my all-time favorite towns.

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I kicked off our anniversary weekend by having lunch at one of their locations.  Remember when I said I'd gone way off the diet wagon for a couple of weekends? Yeah...this didn't help.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

Ginger cookies are a favorite of mine, whether they're crinkles, gingerbread, or even the kid-friendly mild variety.
I just love that spicy, deep flavor.
Does any cookie really scream Fall more than a ginger cookie?

I think not.

I love to bake for people, I really do, and I seize pretty much any opportunity I can get to do it- especially if it means I get to try out a new recipe while doing it!

Every once in a while there's a request in our church bulletin for cookies for the Kairos prison ministry, and this week I baked up a few dozen cookies to contribute.

The guidelines required a sturdy, fairly simple cookie sans icing or frosting.
:-) Good thing I've been eyeing this recipe for Big Soft Ginger Cookies for awhile now...

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Best Cornbread In The World

It wasn't until I moved to the South that I realized what a divisive subject cornbread is.

Here, it is baked in a cast iron skillet.  The crumb of the bread is more coarse than I am used to, it is slightly more dry in texture, and it is far less sweet.

Not to say that there is anything wrong with that!  It's fantastic with soup beans or chili, since that dry crumb really stands up to pretty much any broth.

It's just not what I grew up with.
I've made several varieties of cornbread over the years, but the one recipe I keep returning to is my mother's.

EVERYONE loves it.  It's a little addictive...though it wasn't until I grew up and started making it myself that I realized why.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Super Simple Homemade Tartar Sauce

Growing up, for years and years and years, I had a best friend who lived across the street from me.

When her family first moved to town her grandparents came too- and I loved them.
Her grandparents were awesome.
They introduced me to fried eggs, Bing Crosby, and- being from Ireland- all things Irish.

I spent a lot of time with my friend and her grandparents, and one of the things that sticks out in my memory is that they ate fish on Fridays.

More than 2 decades later I can't see a fish filet without thinking of them.
Weird.  I know.
Anyway, I say all of that to say this- I made fish the other day.  It reminded me of them.

The end.

Ok, not really, I know I'm really tangenting today, apologies!

So back to the fish I made...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chilly Weather and Warm Meals

Around this time every year I suddenly remember that I own a slow cooker- three of them actually.  We had a bit of a yours, mine, and ours situation with kitchen gadgets when my husband and I got married, with neither one of us willing to get rid of our slow cookers. :-)

You would think I'd remember my small army of Crock Pots during the Summer when I don't want to heat up the house, but no, that would just make too much sense, right?

Instead, when the weather turns chilly and the skies go gray the thought of warm, filling meals entices me to drag the slow cooker(s) out of their warm-weather hibernation and put them to good use.

This month I was asked by Allrecipes to make a couple of slow cooker recipes from the Reynolds recipe collection on their site.  Of course I was happy to help!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fajita Stuffed Jalapeños

You may have picked up on this already, but I'm a bit of a fan of food.  And eating.  And excuses to eat.  I'm really a fan of eating food that doesn't make me feel guilty stuffing my face.

My favorite excuse of late?  Football.

That's right.  Football.
Football is an amazing excuse to make delicious, snackable foods.

And I've made a lot of them lately :-)

While they aren't all low carb, there's a certain joy I get in making a yummy snack that we can all enjoy, regardless of dietary preferences.

These Fajita Stuffed Jalapeños fit the bill perfectly- they're delicious and low carb too!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Low Carb Boneless Buffalo Wings

I've written, oh you know, a few posts about game day food over the past couple of years- I've got some pretty awesome recipes in my arsenal.   

Though I'm just as thrilled about a plate of nachos as the next person, they don't exactly fit into the low carb way of eating I try to stick with.

I get that low carb may not be your thing, but if you're in the same boat as me- or even if you're not, honestly, because these are delicious- these are absolutely for you.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Touchdown Chili Gets A Johnsonville Makeover

There are few companies that I trust more than Johnsonville.  That's quite a statement, right?

Not just saying it.  For reals.  It's true.

I've had SO many good experiences with them, both as an Allstar and just a regular consumer.  These guys care.  I really just don't know how else to say it.

They are always quick to do whatever they can to please and care for their customers.  They're just a great company to deal with- did I mention they really make great products too?  Because they do.  Worth every cent to purchase their products rather than store brand.

Needless to say, I was THRILLED to be given the opportunity to work with them again this month through Allrecipes.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Brookies...When A Regular Brownie Just Isn't Enough

I seriously embrace opportunities to cook for others.  Class parties (before everything had to be store-bought and pre-packaged), my husband's co-workers, church events, whatever.

You need food for something?  You've got my attention...and I've got an Allrecipes recipe box and Pinterest board full of contenders I've been meaning to try.

One of the neat things about Girl Scouts is the bridging ceremony they perform each year as the girls get older and move up to the next levels of membership.  After the ceremony there's food.

And really, that's the important part, right?

I jest...sort of.

Last year I took the bridging ceremony as an opportunity to try out Apple Slab Pie, which totally proved to be a winner.  It's been pinned about a billion times on Pinterest since then and is the fourth most viewed post on my blog of all time.

The bar was set high :-)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Low Carb Mozzarella Sticks...Seriously.

I watched 1 1/2 football games with my husband and step son this afternoon and I think I have another one on the way this evening.

Woo to the hoo.

There are more important things to discuss at the moment.

Low carb mozzarella sticks EXIST.


Without any weird flours, supplements, or ingredients.

No special trips to the store.

3 ingredients.  

Total deliciousness.

One of the most frustrating things when trying to stick to a low carb way of eating is the lack of snacks outside of a relish tray.

Sure, I've always got that awesome Buffalo Chicken Dip with celery stick dippers to fall back on, but sometimes a girl just wants something...decadent.  Cheesy, fried, goodness.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Grandma Martin's Breakfast Muffins

This morning was not a stellar moment for me as a parent.

Mornings sometimes just stink, and not just when you're a kid.

I was tired and didn't really want to get up, so I probably wasn't in the best of moods when I tried to wake my daughter.

She didn't want to wake up either, big surprise, right?

She also didn't have her clothes picked out.
Or know where they were.
Or have an organized closet.
Or dresser.
I was...frustrated.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apparently This Is The Best Sandwich Bread Ever

Yesterday started out uneventfully enough.  I was out of bread.  I searched for a new bread recipe.  I baked bread.

Woohoo, right?

Nothing special.

Anyway, after the bread had cooled to that magic slightly-warm and sliceable state the sound of my electric knife drew my son to the kitchen.  He watched intently as each yeasty slice of bread fell to the side as I cut into the loaf.

When I was done, I handed him a piece.  Well, we know my son can be finicky about food, so I wasn't sure how this warm, soft slice of bread would go over.

I turned my head for a second...when I looked back at him his mouth was stuffed and in each hand was a tiny bit of bread- the only remaining evidence of the slice I had handed him.  He DEVOURED it!  I was impressed.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Today My Son Said "I Love You"

This one isn't food related and that's ok by me- I'm just super excited and have to share!

If I want to hear the word I can write it, because he'll read anything you put in front of him.
If I point to a picture of us he'll say "Mommy" when you ask who is in the picture.

My husband and daughter have had names for quite awhile.  
But he doesn't call ME anything.
I can ask him what my name is till I'm blue in the face and he would just repeat back "What's my name?  Who am I?" and giggle in that adorable way he does.

Last night, though, he was laying in bed next to me as my husband snored.  He flopped his head over on my chest, grinned at me, and said, "Hi Mommy!"

Oh my goodness.  Not only did he call me "Mommy" but he did it spontaneously, using his speech functionally, free of echolalia.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pepperoni Pizza Pull-Apart Bread - The Perfect Game Day Snack

The other day I wrote about our lazy -athon day in front of the TV and the awesome cookies my daughter made and I promised to write about this awesome snack.

Ok, so I've pinned lots of recipes like this on Pinterest over the past few years without following through and trying a single one of them.  When I was trying to come up with some movie-watching snacks that wouldn't require a trip to the store I remembered a delicious, crusty loaf of sourdough bread in my freezer.  A couple of months ago we went on a family trip to Rugby, TN and I brought WAY too much food.  One of the things I ended up bringing back home with me untouched was a yummy loaf of bread that I ended up throwing in a freezer bag and saving for a rainy day.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies

I woke up to a gray day.  The kind that just oozes cozy laziness.  The kind that makes you want to cuddle up on the couch and start some kind of movie marathon.

When I suggested we spend our day having a Doctor Who-athon or a Lord Of The Rings-athon or pretty much any other kind of -athon my family was feeling, it was met with excitement- and one question...

What were we going to eat?
You can't have an -athon without good eats, can you?  :-)

I ended up making a double batch of my new favorite, Zucchini Tots, a loaf of Pepperoni Pizza Pull-Apart Bread (more on that one in my next post!), and these amazing Outrageous Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Ok, I take that back- my 8 year-old made these wonderful cookies!
I love sharing my love of cooking with her.  I love explaining the cooking terms, walking her through the directions, and seeing her excitement at the final result.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Easy Low Carb Pizza Crust That Actually Tastes Like Crust!

First off, let me apologize for not taking better pictures of this one.  The days are already starting to get shorter, dinner was running later than usual, and I was so excited to try this that I really didn't feel like setting up my crazy Winter-time setup for taking pictures of dinner.

Despite my poorly lit photo (yes, the others were so bad that I didn't include them at all!) this is a recipe well worth sharing.

I'm sure you've seen recipes for low carb cauliflower crust pizzas before- I've made them several times, and yep, they can be tasty!  But there is absolutely no mistaking them for pizza crust and they have to be eaten with a fork- at least the versions I've tried.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Zucchini Tots - My New Favorite Side

I thought I was done with writing about zucchini recipes for the year, I really did.
I've gone a little crazy with them, but they've received such great feedback I couldn't help but share this one more.  It's the last, I promise!  I think I promise.  I promise for now at least :-)

We already know that I love dippable veggies, right?
These definitely fall into that category.  They're so much like tator tots in size and consistency, I had a hard time stopping myself from eating the whole batch.  Seriously.

Ingredient-wise they're a lot like the Zucchini Patties I wrote about a couple of months ago, but rather than parmesan and mozzarella they use cheddar and they're baked in a mini muffin tin rather than being pan fried.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

It's Pumpkin Time Again!

It may still be in the low 80's, and I might still be rocking shorts and flip flops, but that doesn't mean that I was any less excited to see mums and pumpkins in front of the grocery store when September 1st rolled around!  

Is it too early to get excited about Fall?
Don't care!

I think that the earlier school starts, the earlier my anticipation of cool, crisp air and the spicy, earthiness of Fall begins.
I admit it: I've been looking at all things apple, pumpkin, burlap, and Fall-colored on Pinterest.

Anyway, the other day my daughter's Girl Scouts leader asked if parents would be willing to bake cupcakes for a VA event for homeless veterans.

No brainer...I bake.  I'm a veteran.  Oh yes...and I had a pumpkin cupcake recipe I wanted to try. :-)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sweet Vanilla Cupcakes For My Kiddos

Feeding my son can be frustrating.
The nuances of what he's ok with eating vs what he will physically cover his face to get away from can be tricky to navigate.

For example, sometimes he will eat orange goldfish crackers.  Sometimes.  However he won't eat the goldfish crackers that come in different colors- he won't even eat the orange crackers if he sees you picking them out of the multi-colored variety.
This lovely pink-topped confection was for my daughter!

He loves french toast sticks because they're dry and crisp on the outside, but won't touch a soft pancake.  Period.

He will eat yogurt with fruit blended in, but not the kind with even the tiniest of fruit pieces in it.

He will eat a peanut butter sandwich, but only if there is literally only enough peanut butter to hold the pieces of bread together- otherwise it is cast aside completely.

You know how some kids are just picky and will eat eventually if they get hungry enough?

Yeah...this isn't like that.  He really won't eat regardless of how hungry he is.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Grilled Dijon Lemon Pepper Salmon

I'll be honest- I had zero desire to cook yesterday.

The day had been lazy and wonderful.
It started with donating blood (woo hoo!  I'm super excited that my little guy is in preschool a couple of mornings a week now so I have time to do things like stop by blood drives again!), some very light house cleaning, and a walk around the neighborhood when Little Man and his sister got home from school.

The sun was shining, it was warm but not overwhelmingly hot and humid, and I was overall just feeling lazy and wonderful.
I simply could not bring myself to ponder dinner or think about spending time in the kitchen.

Lightbulb moment- appeal to the husband's love of grilling and simply break open the freezer.  Side dishes?  Grilled asparagus and some ready-to-serve salad mix.
Delicious.  Simple.  Pretty much zero work- at least for me!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Roasted Asparagus with Sea Salt and Parmesan

My mother absolutely hates asparagus- as in, she has a 60ish year-old story she has related to us countless times about hiding it from her mother behind the drapes when she was a child to avoid eating it.
Needless to say, she didn't cook it for us when we were kids- ever.
In fact, I remember the exact moment when I tried it for the first time...
It was the 4th of July, 1997- I was 15.  I remember this because we ate in front of the TV that year rather than the kitchen so that we could watch the Mars landing.
My mother and sister were visiting my grandma in Wisconsin and my dad and I were celebrating the holiday with close family friends.

Somehow asparagus came up in the conversation and when our host, Sue, heard that I had never even tried it we dropped everything and drove to the store.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dear Churches...We Need You.

I need you.  WE need you.
You see, you are not only my family- you are my lifeline.  My son has High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder- a mouthful, I know.
He is sweet.  He is funny.  He is borderline brilliant.  He is not yet 3 1/2- yet he can read you his children's Bible, start to finish, unassisted.  He can write "xylophone" and "mother" and "queen" and any other word you throw at him- ambidextrously and in better handwriting than my 8 year-old.
He does not, however, call me "Mommy."  He does not understand potty training and is still in pull ups.  He won't eat the goldfish crackers you offer at snack time, because, well- who knows why.  Because his quirks and sensory sensitivities extend to his eating habits.
I know he shakes your expectations a little- if I wasn't his mother I would probably be a little confused by him as well.  But his hand flaps, excited vocalizations, and food preferences aren't any extra work, really.  To paraphrase Temple Grandin- he is most definitely different, not less.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Toasty Sweet Coconutty Graham Chex Mix® with GOLDEN GRAHAMS!!!

Yesterday I found myself in a minivan loaded with adults headed to Pigeon Forge for lunch and go-karts.
My husband's boss ok'd him taking the supervisors he manages on an out of town team-building off site to Pigeon Forge and I managed to finagle myself an invite.  I tagged along, keeping my nose in a Sunset magazine during the "work half" of their day as they talked about business stuff, then enjoyed myself and my child-free time in the afternoon after their work day was officially adjourned.  Gotta say- definitely better than staying home and cleaning the house!

Anyway, when they found out I was tagging along, the first thing- I'm told- my husband's coworkers asked about was snacks.  I have a bit of a reputation for providing good ones!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Garden's Bounty: Bell Pepper Frittata Cups

In the six years that my husband and I have been together I have made stuffed peppers exactly twice.

The first time was early on in our relationship...well, at least early enough that he dutifully downed his entire pepper, trying not to show his displeasure, before kindly telling me that- while it wasn't my fault- he really didn't like stuffed peppers.  At all.  Of any kind.

They have been on the "do not make under any circumstances" list ever since.

Until about a week ago, that is.
You see, the yellow bell peppers in my garden are finally ripe.  They are HUGE, firm, sweet, lovely, specimens.  
I have approximately 5 million of them that I'm working through at the moment- it's all peppers all the time.  Good thing he likes fajitas!  I said something offhand to my husband along the lines of, "too bad you won't eat stuffed peppers, that would sure help get rid of some of these!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Zucchini Ranch Meatloaf and Bountiful Gardens

So you're still drowning in zucchini, you say?
Still overwhelmed by the sheer volume of ginormous specimens your plant has produced?
Missed out on "Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night"?  Didn't know that was a thing?

Well, judging from the sheer volume of you that have been checking out the zucchini recipes on the blog lately, I'd say there's a good chance you're suffering from whatdoidowithallofthiszucchiniitis- and thankfully I've got you covered!
Just to recap (and help you out with your zucchini issues!) I've written about...

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Leftover Dressing and Pasta Salad

Remember that trip to Rugby, TN I talked about a couple of weeks ago?

Well, I went a little crazy.
We were only there 2 1/2 days and I brought enough food for like a week- and that was just me!  My inlaws brought enough to feed an army too, so we ended up bringing home a LOT of leftovers.

One of those leftovers was a bottle of Italian salad dressing that went completely untouched.  I brought green salad along with us, but forgot dressing.  We stopped and bought a bottle of nondescript Italian dressing at the last bastion of civilization on the way out to Rugby- a Dollar General.

Anyway, long story short, my family doesn't really use Italian dressing, especially of the rather bland variety we had sitting in our fridge.  I didn't want to throw it away, though, so I went looking for recipes in which to use it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Simply Delicious Chopped Ahi Burgers

Asheville, NC is one of my favorite places on Earth.  Tucked away in the mountains, it's a haven for foodies and artists alike.  When my husband and I need to get away from reality for a bit, it's easy to jump in the car, drive an hour over the mountains, and spend the day sipping wine, eating good food, and wandering the countless galleries and stores downtown.

Also, it reminds me of home.  Like really reminds me of home.

It feels very much like downtown San Luis Obispo, CA to me- and I've heard the "it feels like home" comment from other West-coast transplants...

It feels like Portland.
It feels like San Francisco.
It feels like Seattle.

It just has that vibe.  To be honest, my adopted home- though beautiful- is way different than what I will always consider to be my real home, and it's nice to have such familiarity within driving distance.

That and food.  I kind of love food.
I have a laundry list of much-loved Asheville restaurants I've worked through, as well as an ever-growing wish list of places to try on future visits.  One of my favorites is Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chopsticks and Stir Fry

My daughter and I have a tradition.
Every time my husband goes out of town on business, I have to make something we can eat with chopsticks off of the Asian-inspired dishes that generally live their lives unused, tucked away on the top shelf of a little-used cabinet.

It all started one year ago exactly with this recipe for Birds Eye® Teriyaki Chicken I made for Allrecipes for an Allstar assignment and apparently never blogged about.  My husband was out of town- Minnesota?  Utah?  Arizona?  lol he's gone maybe 6 weeks out of the year and I honestly can't remember where he was this time last year- anyway, he was somewhere in this great nation, and my daughter and I ate with chopsticks out of the dishes I never use.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Light Summer Pasta

I've tried to start this post like three times.
Each and every time the only words that have come to me are these-

I.  Am.  Tired.
Like, as in I am physically exhausted.  I'm not sure how to explain the toll having a 55ish lb, 3 1/2 foot tall, autistic little man is taking on my neck and back.  He's sweet.  He's adorable.  He's freaking brilliant.  And he's HEAVY and POWERFUL.  I'm seriously just...ugh.  There is a huge amount of physical exertion that goes into every task, from getting him into position to change his diaper to getting him into his car seat.

My back is toast.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Salmon BLT Stacks and Perfect Summers

I love road trips *almost* as much as I love flying.  Call me crazy- maybe I just have amazing kids- but I actually ENJOY being cooped up in the van with them having adventures.  Even reeeally long drives- remember those trips to Texas we take?  I pack some Roadtrip Sandwiches, start Spotify, and make sure I have plenty of snacks, books, and magazines within reach.  Then we hit the open road!

This year we decided to make an extra trip out to Texas to spend the 4th of July with some of my husband's family (16 hours driving is totally worth the chance to restock my favorite balsamic vinegars, right?) and we also were blessed enough to be invited to spend a weekend in historic, quaint, peaceful, all-around wonderful Rugby, TN to celebrate my Father-in-Law's 69th birthday.

Between trip-taking, popcorn-baking, garden-tending, and memory-making with the kids it has been one busy summer!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Garden's Bounty: Zucchini Patties and Homemade Marinara

I'm relatively new at gardening, in fact this is only my third year planting a garden of my own.  I've really been blessed with beginner's luck and a bountiful garden from the beginning.  I've also learned that just because I can grow something doesn't mean that I should grow it...

My first garden was chock full of different veggies- tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, four types of bell peppers, an accidentally purchased lemon verbena plant, cayenne, jalapeños, poblano peppers, banana peppers, cucumbers, watermelon, honeydew melon, and cantaloupe.

I had a LOT of stuff going on out there- to be honest, more than I needed, especially pepper-wise.

My second garden was was just as large but the variety of plants was pretty pared down- tomatoes, jalapeños, banana peppers, zucchini, and cantaloupe.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Garden's Bounty: Zucchini Scallion Frittata Cups

I have absolutely no idea why I continue, year after year, to plant zucchini in my garden.
I don't really like zucchini.  My family doesn't like zucchini.

Yet- until this year- I continued to plant it.  Makes no sense, right?

Perhaps it's the enjoyment I get out of watching those plants grow to outlandish sizes.  Perhaps it's the fun of seeing the squash (that is what they are, right?) grow- seemingly overnight- to the size of my calf.  Perhaps it's those gorgeous, big, leaves that I love (until they're inevitably attacked by squash bugs sometime over the summer...).

Monday, June 30, 2014

Patriotic Wreath: Probably My Favorite Craft In the History of Ever

The military changes you.
At least it did me.

I don't come from a military family, and I don't suppose we were hugely patriotic- at least no more so than your average American out there.

I played a small role, I was never even deployed.
But I was part of something bigger than me.
I was part of a family.
I was part of America itself and the amazing group of men and women who protect Her.
It changes you.  It just does.

I don't look at flags the same way anymore.  It's not just an object.  It's such a graceful, stunning symbol of our nation.  It honestly makes my heart swell a little when I see the flag flying.  There's something about the red, white, and blue that inspires pride and reminds me what I was a part of.

I found this tutorial on Pinterest a few years ago for making a patriotic wreath and absolutely fell in love.
Like in love.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Amazing Muffin Cups with Zucchini Crust

This time last year I was swamped.
Trying to keep my head above the flood of zucchini my garden was throwing at me.

Boy am I glad I didn't plant four zucchini plants this year!  What was I thinking last year??

Anyway, even if you were smart enough to only plant one, you're most likely a little overwhelmed yourself right about now- those can be some CRAZY prolific plants.

There are only so many ways you can fix zucchini before you're just done, you know?

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to work Johnsonville again.  We were asked to make their popular recipe for Amazing Muffin Cups.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chicken Fajitas and A Silly Husband

Diets can be frustrating.
I've really found my groove with this low carb thing over the past couple of years, but I still have my moments where I would give ANYTHING for like, oh, I don't know, say maybe...an entire loaf of Hawaiian bread ravenously torn off in hunks until every last crumb has disappeared?  A whole box of cereal?  So much sushi that by the time I'm done I think my stomach will explode?

Yeah...carbs and I have issues...lol it's best for me to just stay away, and for the most part my body is happy and my mind is content.

My husband...well, he's been attempting low carb living for awhile now.  He's having a rough time of it.
Aaaand I get it.
It is SO frustrating when you're hungry, or you want to snack, and everything you want feels like it's off limits.
Bring on a big attack of hangriness!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Spicy Peanut Sauce and Yummy Broccoli Slaw

I've been stuck on broccoli slaw lately- I love that it has a crispness that works well in slaws and a hardiness that stands up to cooking as well.  I've used it in everything from Broccoli and Ramen Noodle Salad to No-Noodle Pad Thai lately- it's safe to say it's having a moment in my kitchen that I don't see ending soon.
I had a couple of bags of it in my fridge that needed to be used before heading out of town to visit family and I turned to Pinterest for some ideas, stumbling across this recipe for Thai Broccoli Slaw Salad from Lindsay at Perfecting the Pairing.

Super easy, just a package of broccoli slaw, honey roasted peanuts, and peanut sauce tossed together.

I got excited about this, not only because I could use up my broccoli slaw but because one of my favorite recipe creations in the history of ever is for my- rather boringly named- Surprising and Spicy Peanut Sauce.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Amazing Avocados

It's hard to believe, but my husband refuses to eat an avocado unless there is guacamole involved.
Now, don't get me wrong- I LOVE guacamole!

But it has so many other possibilities...
I talked before about avocado chicken salad, avocado drizzled with balsamic, and that refreshing salad with avocado and slow roasted tomato.

Well, this afternoon I found myself staring at 3 avocados sitting on my counter that were just perfectly ripe and I had no idea what in the world I was going to do with them.  

What is one to do with THREE avocados and no one to help eat them?  They're so creamy and delicious but they're also rich and I certainly couldn't see myself sitting down and polishing them all of by myself before they got too ripe.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Easy Family-Friendly Pasta Dinners

It seems like it's been forever since I've had a fun brand experience from Allrecipes to share with you (actually, I just went digging through posts, it's been since our last Johnsonville partnership in April!).  Last month our assignment was to help flesh out the Allrecipes Mexico site with photos of their recipes, but we came back strong this month with several fun brands.  This month, I got Barilla and was asked to make a couple of recipes from their collection on Allrecipes.com.
Click the picture to find the recipe at Allrecipes.com! 

I chose two that seemed fairly family-friendly because I have a pretty picky little 8 year-old to feed.

I went with Spaghetti with Broccoli Florets and Traditional Sauce and Elbows Mac and Cheese with Tuscan Herb Sauce.  They were both popular with my daughter, which is pretty impressive to say the least.

The sight of broccoli on a plate of spaghetti was enough to elicit an eyebrow raise and a "you think she's going to eat THAT??" from my husband the other night.
Surprise!  Not only did she eat it, she raved about it.
She ate every last bite and asked for more.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tastes Like Summer: Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad

I seriously can't believe I haven't written about this one before- it was one of the first recipes I had published over at Allrecipes.com!

Forgive the pic- it's an old one!
It's delicious, and- like several of the reviewers have mentioned- it's super easy to adapt to what you have on hand, as the vinaigrette does a lot of the work flavor-wise in this light recipe.

People who have posted reviews of my salad have done all kinds of things- boiled the corn instead of grilling, added all kinds of extra produce from avocado to zucchini, used cannelilni beans instead of black...it's SO easy to adapt!  And delicious- did I mention delicious?

Personally, I love to serve this with freshly grilled foods, it's a great potluck dish or quick and light side for BBQ.  It's also great with Mexican!