Easter Goody

April 5, 2012

Look at what my aunt left at our front door! How cute is this candy jar?

She used a screw top jar, dresser knob and a little paint to create this precious vessel. This is such a great gift idea for any holiday!

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Do you have bad feelings about lentils? Well, it’s time to get over them! If cooked properly and dressed up with yummy additions, these small green beans will win your heart. Lentils are full of fiber, iron, vitamins, and protein. I love to incorporate lentils on meatless mondays, and I LOVE this recipe because it is healthy and unique. The vinaigrette is amazing and would be nice drizzled on any salad or meat.

LENTIL, SPINACH, AND FETA SALAD with
SOUR CHERRY VINAIGRETTE

adapted from The Foster’s Market Cookbook

Salad Ingredients:
1 ½ cups dried green lentils, picked through and rinsed
(preferably dark green Du Puy French lentils)
4 cups lightly packed baby spinach, washed and drained
½ red onion, thinly sliced
6 ounces feta cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
¾ cup of sour cherry dressing (recipe included)
salt and pepper to taste

Dressing Ingredients:
1 shallot
½ cup dried cherries or cranberries
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
juice of 2 limes
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup canola oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Preparation:
1. Place the lentils in a saucepan, and add enough water to cover by three inches. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. If you are using regular lentils (not French Du Puy) it might take 20 minutes. Do not overcook! Also, do not add salt to the water. They should be tender but still hold their shape. Drain, rinse and set aside to cool.

2. Prepare the dressing by combining the shallot and dried cherries in a food processor. Pulse until the shallot and cherries are minced. Add the vinegars and lime juice, and process for a few more seconds. With the machine running, slowly add the oils to create an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 6 days before use.
Note: this makes 1 ½ cups but you only need about ¾ cup for the salad. It is awesome on greens or grilled chicken.

3. Combine lentils, onion, feta, and vinaigrette in a large bowl. Gently toss in the spinach. Do not overmix or the spinach will bruise and feta will crumble. It might be best to add spinach just before serving.

Here is a printable copy of the recipe: Lentil, Spinach, and Feta Salad

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Lemon Pasta with Veggies

March 28, 2012

It stresses me out to have fresh veggies spoiling in the fridge. I tend to get excited and buy too much produce for two people. In an attempt to cook up good lookin veggies before they turned bad, I created this wonderful pasta dish. It can be so fun to create dinner without a recipe! It’s almost like Chopped on the Food Network but without the weird foods.

LEMON PASTA WITH VEGGIES

Ingredients:
½ pound angel hair pasta
olive oil
10 small purple potatoes
1 bag of spinach
1 clove garlic
1 bag rainbow carrots
2 lemons
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup chicken stock OR
2 teaspoons Better than Bullion + water
salt and pepper

Preparation:
1. Begin by boiling potatoes in salted water for about 10 minutes or until tender. Boil pasta in salted water according to package directions. Add the carrots to the boiling pasta during the last 5-6 minutes of cooking.

2. Meanwhile, sauté spinach with a little olive oil until just wilted. Remove form the sauté pan and set aside.

3. Heat sauté pan to high. Once the potatoes have cooked, cut in half and cook cut side down in butter or olive oil. Sauté until browned. Remove from pan and set aside with the spinach.

4. Create a sauce in the same pan by adding the juice of 2 lemons, chicken stock and heavy cream. Add water (or pasta water) if needed. Simmer for a few minutes to reduce slightly. Taste for salt and pepper needs. The sauce should be flavorful and will not be too thick.

5. Add drained pasta and carrots, potatoes and spinach into the sauté pan. Toss until the noodles and veggies are coated. Serve warm and enjoy!

Here is a printable copy of the recipe: Lemon Pasta with Veggies.

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Comfort Food

March 7, 2012

This is the perfect recipe to prepare for someone in need of comfort food. Self-crust chicken pot pie is warm, satisfying and hearty. Plus, it is much easier to prepare than most chicken pot pie recipes. Also, I have made it easier to print my recipes! Please find a PDF of the recipe at the bottom of the post. Hope it helps!

SELF CRUST CHICKEN POT PIE
adapted from Cook and Love It More

Ingredients:
3-4 chicken breasts (bone in and skin on is best)
1 (10 ¾ oz) can condensed cream of mushroom
1 bag frozen mixed veggies
1-1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 stick butter
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. Once cooled, debone and cut up into cubes. Place in a 13×9 inch dish. Or place in two smaller dishes and freeze half.

2. Combine soup and broth. Pour over chicken. Add vegetables on top of the soup mixture. Do not stir!

3. Combine melted butter, flour, milk and pepper. Spoon over the chicken mixture. Do not stir. Bake in 400-degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Click below to download a printable copy of the recipe!
Self-Crust Chicken Pot Pie

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Health Freak Week

February 23, 2012

Ever have those weeks when you crave really healthy eating? After feasting on fried chicken, a cheeseburger, mexican and pizza last week, I needed a carrot or something! I use to be a vegetarian and sometimes wish I still ate only meatless meals. I ate SO many more veggies when my meals were not focused on meat. A mostly veggie diet will have to do for now.

The Moosewood Cookbook is a classic vegetarian cookbook from the 1970’s. I really enjoy some of the recipes- especially the “Lentil-Bulgar Salad”. This perfectly balanced protein dish is a bit like Tabouli. I have adapted the recipe slightly, and I encourage you to make your own changes based on your vegetable preferences. With a base of bulgar wheat and lentils, the mix-ins are really up to you!

KITCHEN SINK SALAD
adapted from The New Moosewood Cookbook

You Will Need:
1 cup dry lentils (+ 2 cups water)
1 cup bulgar wheat (+ 1 cup boiling water)

1/4 cup olive oil (may add a little more)
1/4 cup lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs white wine vinegar (optional)

handful fresh mint, chopped
handful fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1 red pepper, diced
1 orange pepper, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
1/2 cup- 1 cup feta cheese
1 hothouse cucumber, peeled,seeded, and diced

Other mix-ins from original recipe:
Nicoise olives
tomatoes
toasted walnuts
fresh dill

1. Place the lentils in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring just to the boiling point. Turn the heat way down, partially cover, and allow to simmer without agitation for 20-25 minutes. Lentils should be tender but not mushy. Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.

2. While the lentils are cooking, place bulgar in a small bowl. Add boiling water, cover with a plate, and let stand 10-15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, start chopping those veggies! Combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and vinegar. Add everything to the lentils and toss gently. *If you choose to add tomato and walnuts, do so just before serving.

This healthy salad will last for days in your fridge and it is the perfect lunch or snack.

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EZ Cornbread

February 19, 2012

It baffles me that I haven’t featured this cornbread yet. My mom’s EZ Cornbread is a must-bake sort of recipe during soup season. It’s EZ and delicious. For those of you that like dry, crumbly, skillet-cooked varieties of cornbread, this isn’t for you. EZ Cornbread is soft and moist… almost souffle-like.

EZ CORNBREAD

You Will Need:
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
3 eggs, whipped
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 small can cream corn
8 ounces sour cream

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a square baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden.

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Minestra Maritata

February 15, 2012

Italian wedding soup seemed like the appropriate meal to serve at my friend Clary’s engagement supper. We have loved this soup all winter so it was about time I shared it with others. After a quick google search, I learned that the original Italian wedding soup is an American mistranslation for minestra maritata or “married soup”. And by “married” the Italians mean that the greens and meatballs go well together. I agree! The best part of this soup is that you can choose any green and any kind of meatball you like. Kale is my favorite but spinach is fab too. A special shout out goes to Ruthie for taking a long afternoon nap so I could prepare for the celebration.

ITALIAN WEDDING SOUP
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken sausage (pork sausage also works), casings removed
* you can adjust these proportions a little. ex. 1 lb chicken and 1/4 lb sausage
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs (Panko bread crumbs also work)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan)
3 tablespoons milk
1 extra large egg
kosher salt and ground pepper

For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, minced
4 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
10 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta (stars, little pinwheels, macaroni…)
1/4 cup dill, minced
12 ounces (or more) spinach or kale

To make the meatballs, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Combine gently with a wooden spoon. Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using clean hands, form small 1-1 1/4 inch meatballs. Place the meatballs on the pan. You should have about forty (they don’t have to be perfectly round). Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside until the soup is ready for them. Also know that these meatballs freeze well!

For the soup, heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a dutch oven. Add onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened (5-6 minutes). Stir occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine to veggies and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the pasta to the simmering broth. Cook for 6-8 minutes until pasta is tender. Add dill and meatballs and simmer for a minute. Stir in greens just before serving. Simmer for 1 minute or until wilted. Taste for salt and pepper needs. Ladle into bowls and top with extra Pecorino or Parmesan.

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52 Reasons I Love You

February 12, 2012

If you peruse DIY blogs often then you’ve seen this awesome idea everywhere. Hopefully you will have enough time to throw this fun and loving craft together for your valentine. First, come up with 52 reasons why you love someone. You probably have all the other supplies at your house. I gave this to Justin today as an early anniversary/valentines gift. A valiversary gift.

52 REASONS I LOVE YOU

You Will Need:
deck of cards
sandpaper or sanding pad
twine, ribbon, or metal rings
hole punch
white labels
markers

To give the cards a distressed look, use the sandpaper to take off some of the color and sheen. This is time consuming but gives the cards a cool look. Use one of the extra cards (found in a new deck) as a template to punch the other holes. I wrote my reasons on white labels and cut them to size. The adhesive on the labels made attaching the 52 reasons to the cards easy, but you could always use paper and glue. Then get creative with the rest- cover, back, and tie.

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Decadent Date Food

February 10, 2012

This recipe is long over-due to appear on the blog. It is WAY too good to keep to myself. The rich pasta dish is such a hit with the men, and I promise your Valentine will love it. Because it is so rich I would suggest serving with something green like asparagus. Or it would be awesome to add asparagus right to the dish!

LEMON CHICKEN PASTA
from my mom

You Will Need:
1 lemon
¼ cup flour
1 tsp season salt
1-½ lbs chicken tenderloins
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
8 oz. penne or rigatoni pasta
2 Tablespoons capers
2 teaspoons chicken base
½ cup white wine
¼ cup heavy whipping

Place four and salt in a large zip lock bag. Cut chicken into bite size pieces and add to bag. Shake well. Wash Hands. Heat butter, olive oil and garlic in a sauté pan. Add chicken and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Cook pasta as directed. Stir capers and chicken base in to chicken and cook additional 2 minutes. Squeeze lemon juice into chicken. Stir in wine and cream. Reduce heat to low and cook 3-4 minutes.
Drain pasta and stir into chicken mixture.

Check back this weekend for the perfect Valentines DIY project.

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Irish Wedding Blessing

February 6, 2012

The Irish have a way with words. That cheery accent and those funny phrases make english sound special. Father Frank of Christ the King Church in Atlanta recited this wedding blessing (in his Irish accent) at our wedding almost two years ago. I have since passed the blessing along to my friends for weddings and anniversaries. Since February is the month of love (and our 2 year anniversary) it is a good time to share the blessing with you!

Please message me if you would like a copy of text.

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