Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Grandma Martin's Brownies

My mom makes absolutely amazing brownies.  Like of the "nom nom nom" variety.  

Fudgy, yummy, goodness.

 Did you know brownies are actually better when they've cooled?  I mean, straight out of the oven they're ok...but their magic doesn't fully develop until they've been left to cool a bit.

I had a really hard time with that concept as a kid :-)

Honestly, to this day- given a couple glasses of wine and somewhat lowered level of self control- I could TOTALLY polish off more than a few of those babies.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Remember that ground chicken in my freezer I've been working my way through?  This recipe marks the last of it!  Don't get me wrong, I really do love cooking with ground chicken...I just had soooo much of it!

I love Asian food and I've been looking for some lighter recipes to fit into my husband's new-found desire to shed a few pounds.  I threw this together for dinner last night, and- if I do say so myself- it turned out wonderfully.  Tasty, light, fresh, flavorful...this one would be super-easy to adapt with other veggies you have on hand, or even to turn into some kind of Asian soft taco if you don't feel like sticking with the lettuce wrap concept.  Personally, I like how light and fresh the lettuce wraps are but sometimes nothing beats a hearty tortilla full of goodness :-)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Homemade French Bread

I've mentioned before that I absolutely love baking bread- it's probably one of my favorite things to make.  Sandwich breads, quick breads, artisan breads, rolls, biscuits.

One thing I often leave to the store?  French bread.  There's just something magic about French bread that I've never really attempted to capture at home- until today, that is.

Let me just tell you- I don't know why I waited so long.  It's seriously one of the easiest yeast breads I've ever made in my life!  AND it turned out perfectly- chewy, crusty goodness outside and soft, yeasty goodness inside.  Absolute perfection.  This recipe comes from Jill at The Prairie Homestead, and its wonderful.

Did I mention it only takes 4 ingredients if you don't count the water?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Super Snacks for the Super Bowl: Grilled Bacon Jalapeño Wraps

I love a good jalapeño popper, of pretty much any variety.  They're a little addictive, aren't they?  Or is that just me....?

I've made these before on the grill and they were wonderful, full of that outdoorsy grilled flavor.

But it's January.
And it's cold.
And I wanted these before my husband could get home to do the grilling anyway :-)

So what's a girl to do when she wants grilled jalapeño poppers without the grill?  Pull out my trusty grill pan, of course!  It's not quite the same, but close enough, and certainly comes through in a pinch.

Would these have been better grilled outside?  Yep, no doubt- but don't let that fool you, these are crazy good and so simple to make!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tastes Like Summer: Strawberry Lemonade Cookies

Pinterest is awesome, isn't it?  So many ideas to get the wheels spinning.  I have literally thousands of pins of amazing things I want to make/eat/buy, most of which I'll never get around to.

Then you come across The Pin.

The one you know must be made- and soon.

Strawberry Lemonade Cookies were one of those pins, and I'm so glad I came across them.

I'd heard of cake mix cookies before, and to be honest..well, I can be a bit of a recipe snob.  I take very few shortcuts- cake mixes in general have no place in my pantry.  But these cookies were so PRETTY and delicious sounding!

Half Strawberry, half lemon, drizzled with icing...
Essentially you just make a dough out of the cake mixes rather than batter by using less liquid than the mix calls for.  Roll the lemon and strawberry doughs together, coat in powdered sugar, and bake.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Super Snacks for the Super Bowl: Copycat PCP Pie

I have a very old friend, with whom I lost contact for many years.  We got back in touch a few months ago, only to find that we're both foodies.

:-) I LOVE my foodie friends- people who understand the weird excitement of quality, interesting food.
People who don't waste their tastebuds on bland, generic food.
People who love to cook and EAT.

I love to eat.  
I love to cook.
I love FOOD.

Anyway, my family's recent road trip took me from one side of Arkansas to the other, straight through a town called Benton- this was pretty awesome, since my friend had recently sung the praises of "PCP Pie," a pineapple-coconut-pecan concoction sold by a restaurant named "Ed and Kay's" right off of Interstate 30 in Benton.

I spent two weeks looking forward to my stop.  My pie.  My break from my diet.  My splurge :-)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Super Snacks for the Super Bowl: Pigs in a Blanket

This one's for my daughter :-)

As I was jotting down a list of snacks I wanted to cover on the blog my daughter leaned over my shoulder and said, "Mommy, will you please write about pigs in a blanket?  PLEASE??"

Now...pigs in a blanket, in my mind at least, hardly even qualifies as a recipe.

They're delicious.  They're easy.  They're popular.

They're two ingredients.

I scrunched up my nose and said, "um...well...we'll see..." and tried to change the subject, but she wasn't budging.

"Pleeeeeease Mommy, for me?  Pleeease???" 
And then she batted her eyes.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Super Snacks for the Super Bowl: Buffalo Chicken Dip

A few months ago, at a birthday party my daughter attended, I found myself standing around in the host's kitchen making small talk with other mothers.  Not exactly an unusual place to find myself these days :-)

Anyway, this party had quite a spread appetizer-wise, and I was trying my best to ignore everything everyone was eating because- ugh- I'm still on a diet.  It's pretty much become a way of life at this point, so I'm fine adapting recipes and making things low-carb when I cook for my family.  Unfortunately, parties are often not places with tons of low-carb dishes to nosh on and I'm generally limited to the vegetable tray.

At this particular party there was a tray of nondescript dip that I hadn't paid much attention to- until one of the other mom's started raving about it.  I had to ask what it was...

Buffalo chicken dip.
Cream cheese, chicken, hot sauce, cheese...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

I've been on the lookout for new soups as the weather has gotten colder and stumbled across the idea of bacon cheeseburger soup.  

Interesting...enough to pique my attention, at least...

So I searched.  I scoured the internet- Google, Pinterest...looking for the PERFECT cheeseburger soup.  Some were thickened with flour, some had potatoes, all variations on a theme.

I finally settled on a version that wasn't bulked up with a bunch of extra carbs and sounded yummy.  Of course, I can't help but to mess with most recipes...I taste and play with ingredients until I'm happy with it, and this recipe was no exception.  I'm including my version at the bottom, but Laura from Real Mom Kitchen gets the credit for the original version for sure!

This is a fun recipe, certainly not gourmet, but tasty and kid-friendly.  More filling than a Quarter Pounder and more flavorful!

Super Snacks for the Super Bowl: Veggie Squares and Stuffed Jalapeños

A couple of years ago I wouldn't have cared that the Super Bowl is coming soon.

In fact, I probably would have rolled my eyes and found a movie to rent.

I've mentioned before that I've tried to get into football the past few years, and- as my very excited husband warned me would happen- I'm actually enjoying it these days.

So of course I love the Super Bowl...it gives me an opportunity to cook a bunch of fun foods AND spend time with my husband watching football!

I'm probably a little more excited about the cooking part...but baby steps, right?

Anyway, over the next few weeks I'll be sharing some of my favorite game-watching snacks with you- starting with a couple I've made before.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Coffee Cake for One

I've seen mug brownies, mug cakes, mug everything floating around Pinterest lately and I've been tempted to try them for a while.  The idea of a delicious dessert for one made in minutes with almost no clean up is pretty tempting, right?

It's just that I've heard horror stories of hard-as-a-hockey-puck discs hardening in mugs in the microwave and just all around bad reviews.  Those kind of reviews were enough to keep my curiosity at bay- until today that is.

It's COLD here.  Ok, cold FOR here.  I mean, you expect zero and sub-zero temperatures in some parts of the country, but not here.  Generally it's cold in the winter, but more "put on a coat and gloves" cold than "OMG I'm wearing as many layers as possible and I'm still an ice cube" cold!  I woke up to zero degree weather this morning, another day of cancelled school for my daughter, and an appointment my son couldn't miss.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

In the past couple of weeks my family has spent a lot of time on the road.  A 16 hour drive across a few states (and back...), 2 nights in a hotel, some awesome time with family- and LOTS of meals on the road (remember those sandwiches I wrote about?)

I was starting to go through cooking withdrawals- I needed to get back in the kitchen!

So yesterday, as my family settled back into our home and rested, I made soup.

Is there anything more comforting on a cold day than a warm bowl of soup?

I had a hodgepodge of ingredients in the fridge after our trip and didn't want to leave the house to go to the store.  I had pretty much exactly what I needed for this and it came out wonderfully!