Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Top 11 of 2011....part 2

Click It Up A Notch

If you read the previous post, then you know I entered to win a seat in the Clickin Moms January workshop Shooting 101!  If you are interested click on the link above and create your own top 11 of '11!!!  

Here are a few that I didn't pick but still love...  Back to food next time!  I promise not to make a habit out of boring you with pics of my kids!  :)





Top 11 of 2011



Click It Up A Notch

I'm interrupting my regularly scheduled foodie post to take part in a fun contest being held by Click it up a Notch, Click.Pray.Love. and Naptime Momtog. Check it out!

My husband was kind enough to buy me a beautiful camera a couple years ago and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning how to use it!  I take WAY too many pictures of my kids.  It would take me weeks to go through each month of 2011!  As I quickly scanned my picture files trying to decide what was "the best,"  I was a little stumped.  I definitely have favorite pictures but they're not necessarily "technically" the best in terms of photography, it's the memory or the moment that makes the picture special. BUT, that's ok because this is not a "photography" contest per say (winners are chosen randomly).  You don't need to be a professional and actually it's best if you're not! (One of the prizes includes a seat in the Clickin Moms workshop:  Shooting 101).  So I encourage others to join in!  What's your top 11 of 2011??  Here's mine...


This picture was taken on a Mid-March bike ride.  The week was unusually warm and a few crocuses began to pop up here and there.  Talia was so excited to pick it. She held onto it for hours.  



I should lie and tell you that we were all decked out and ready to head to a Derby party but we were not at all.  The five of us had a fun little celebration here at home complete with hot browns and mint juleps.  I set up a tripod in the front yard to capture us in our Derby Day best! (Mike's not a fan of his expression but I love it.  He was constantly saying crazy things to try to get the kids to stand, look and smile.)

I love that time of year when the leaves have just begun to fill in and you get an unusually warm evening.  This was taken in early May...

An Earth Day pic...

Planting green beans...
One of my favorite pictures of Riley.  Taken while Strawberry picking...
We go to Florida in the summer every year.  One of my favorite things to do is head down to the beach after dinner.  Lola managed to bring half the beach home with us each night.  

Sweet Talia...



I think the reflections are kind of cool in this pic...
We somehow missed leaf pictures in 2010.  I was happy to get a bunch in 2011....

Tree tagging...


 Narrowing it down to 11 was practically impossible!  Anyone else out there going to enter?  I'd love to see your top 11 of 2011!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PW Olive Cheese Bread Turned Prep Ahead Appetizer!


A few days ago I made Pioneer Woman's olive cheese bread.  I used a section of french bread to make two pieces and threw the rest of the mixture in the fridge.  I decided to use the leftovers to make some prep ahead appetizers for this coming week!  My mom's recipe for English muffin olive pizzas and my mother in law's recipe for baked crab meats came to mind and I created this little app adaptation!

Here is the plan:
1.  Go HERE to make the olive cheese bread filling.
2.  Take 2 packages of English muffins and split them open.
3.  Lay the halves on 2 baking sheets.
4.  Spread a few heaping spoonfuls on each English muffin half.
5.  Place the pans in the freezer for about 20 minutes.  After, remove from the freezer and cut each half into quarters and separate the ready to bake little apps into freezer bags. Place bags in the freezer for later use!  DONE!

To Prepare:
Place desired amount of olive pizza bites on a baking sheet.  Preheat oven to 375.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes.  Broil on high for the last few minutes so they will be brown and bubbly!  Serve!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mom's EASY One Bowl Homemade Fudge


I used to be so much better about making all kinds of fun treats at Christmas time.  I would carefully package my homemade goodies in very festive containers and deliver them to friends, family and neighbors.  I now have three extremely helpful baking assistants that liven things up and severely slow things down during my little holiday bake-a-thons.  The festive containers never make it off the shelf in the basement these days.  Not that I'm complaining!  Nothing makes me happier than to see my girls wearing head to toe flour and eating giant hunks of cookie dough!

Nowadays, I stick to easy recipes like this fudge my mom used to make when I was little.  I love that all of the ingredients can be mixed in one bowl and then microwaved!  I think the whole process takes less than five minutes!  So simple.


Fudge

Ingredients:
6 cups of semi sweet chocolate chips (Using semi sweet will result in a dark chocolate flavored fudge.  Use milk chocolate chips or a combo of both if you prefer!)
2 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
1 stick of butter (cut into chunks for easier melting)
a little pad of butter for greasing the pan
(1/2 cup of nuts is optional!)

Directions:
1.  Butter a 9 X 13 baking dish.*
2.  Place all ingredients in a bowl.
3.  Microwave in 20 to 30 second intervals, removing the bowl after each and stirring.  Be very careful not to microwave it for longer than those intervals.  The chocolate can burn very easily.  The whole melting process should take a total of 3-5 minutes depending on how powerful your microwave is.
4.  Pour the melted mixture into the buttered dish, cover and refrigerate until set (about an hour).  Top with sprinkles or other fun edible decorations!!  Slice with a pizza cutter.

*You could also line the pan with foil and then butter the foil.  When the fudge is set, you can turn over the pan and the fudge will come right out.

Enjoy and happy holidays everyone!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

homemade hot chocolate mix


Viewer discretion advised...After reading this post you will be tempted to mix up a batch of this deliciously rich and chocolaty hot cocoa mix.  Your children will slurp down a mug of it and NEVER be able to drink ANY other store bought packet or keurig k-cup on he market EVER again.  I promise. 

This is now our third year making our own hot cocoa mix.  Last year, I linked up the original recipe from Alton Brown on the Food Network.  After a few inquiries, I have decided to repost my adaptation!  We love to give this mix as a gift to friends and teachers.  It looks super festive in a mason jar topped with some holiday fabric.  See the post HERE to view pictures of our cocoa all dressed up!  

It is also absolutely fabulous with a couple splashes of Baileys.  Please try!!!

Prep Ahead Plan:  I quadruple this recipe and store it in giant mason jars.  

Hot Cocoa Mix
adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa 
  • 2 1/2 cups non-dairy creamer 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Directions:

1.  Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and incorporate evenly.
2.  To make cocoa:  Use about 2 tablespoons of mix per 1 cup of hot milk.  Top with marshmallows and whipped cream!!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lasagna Soup...A MUST TRY!!!



I love the smell of a giant pot of soup simmering on the stove on a Sunday afternoon!  I often make a pot of soup on the weekend to have a few days later on a busy weeknight.  Sometimes I get stuck, rotating the same soup recipes from week to week.  It’s easy, familiar and I already know what my critics have to say.  I branched out a couple weeks ago and made this Paula Dean soup and was NOT disappointed!  The taste of lasagna without having to assemble the layers and create lots of dirty dishes.  Genius!!!  Simple, delicious and a hit for sure!  Broiling the cheese on top is a MUST.  

Prep Ahead Plan:  As with most soups, this soup only gets better as it sits in the fridge.  Make over the weekend and have during the week for dinner (and probably a few lunches as it makes a ton). 


Lasagna Soup
adapted from Paula Dean
Ingredients
1 lb ground beef (or ½ lb ground beef and ½ lb Italian sausage)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 ½ cartons (32-ounce) box chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups broken lasagna noodles (about 4-5 noodles)
1 (5-ounce) package grated Parmesan cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese for topping
Directions
1.  Combine beef, onion, bell pepper and garlic in a soup pot. Cook until beef is browned. Drain well.
2.  Stir in brown sugar, broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and seasonings.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.
3.  Add noodles, and simmer until noodles are tender. Stir in Parmesan cheese. 
4.  When ready to serve, preheat broiler. Ladle soup into until cheese is browned and bubbly.  Enjoy!!!! 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Oven Baked Salsa Chicken


Can you tell we eat a lot of Mexican inspired dishes in our house?  Here is a GREAT weeknight recipe I came across on Allrecipes.  I adapted it slightly and served it over rice!  It was a huge hit and it is ridiculously easy!

Prep Ahead Plan:  Prepare recipe in a 9 X 13 baking dish the night before and leave it in the fridge until ready to bake.


Ingredients
1 packet of taco seasoning  OR I used the recipe found HERE!)
1 jar of salsa (16oz)
6 thinly sliced boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar (I like to use the Mexican blend they sell in the store)
Chipotle flavored tabasco (optional)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.
2.  Rub the chicken breasts with the taco seasoning.
3.  Pour a little salsa on the bottom of the pan and spread it around.  Place the chicken in the pan and top with more salsa.  (You can use as much or as little as you want).
4.  Top with a few splashes of tabasco (if using) and then with the cheese.  Bake for 40 minutes or longer for thicker chicken breasts!  Serve over rice!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This Week's Menu


Every once in a while I receive an email asking about menu planning.  Generally people want to know if I have tried any of the menu planning software on the market.  Although I am curious about how they work and have heard great things about programs such as MacGourmet Deluxe and Living Cookbook, I haven't tried them.  Generally I sit down sometime between Thursday night and Saturday morning to make a menu and shopping list for the coming week. Before I decide on the menu, I take into account what I can use that's frozen, sales and coupons, work days and after school activities that don't land us home until six o'clock.  Here's this week's menu complete with links and a shopping list!

Saturday:  Chicken Enchiladas, served with rice, carrots sticks and a salad

Sunday:  Michigan Pot Roast, PW mashed potatoes, green beans

Monday:  Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings, sauteed spinach (I've never made this recipe before, but it gets good reviews.  I'm going to read the reviews and adapt the recipe accordingly!)

Tuesday: Autumn Pork Chops, cous cous, steamed broccoli

Wednesday:  Paula Dean's Lasagna Soup, salad

Thursday:  Oven Baked Shrimp Scampi, roasted zuchini with olive oil and garlic

Friday:  Make Your Own Pizza, salad


Shopping List:
Lots of these items may be in your kitchen cabinets and fridge already.  I wanted to include everything that would be needed for the recipes in case my pantry staples are not yours!

2 packages (10 count)  flour tortillas
(2)8 ounce cream cheese
shredded mexican cheese blend
salsa
rotisserie chicken
brown rice
carrots
lettuce
4 pound chuck roast
onion soup mix
beef broth
corn starch
5 lb bag russet potatoes
green beans
butter
half and half
6 center cut pork chops
brown sugar
4 apples
cooking sherry
cinnamon
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 can biscuit dough
onion
5 boneless chicken breast
spinach
garlic
olive oil
green pepper
1 pound ground beef
2-14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
lasagna noodles
15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 -16 ounce bags mozzarella
2 pounds frozen, raw shrimp
2 shallots
white wine
lemon
parsley
rosemary
crushed red pepper
panko bread crumbs
egg
zucchini
5- 7 inch pizza crust
jar of tomato sauce
lettuce and salad fixings

Friday, October 14, 2011

A different kind of pizza night...


I should preface this post by explaining that providing my family with homemade, all natural and organic food is of utmost importance to me.  However, a weekly shopping trip to Whole Foods where I can easily spend upwards of $600 on groceries to feed our family of five, simply isn't realistic.  I shop farmers markets and store brand organics to save money but fall and winter are seasons where I am looking to save even more.  Quite frankly, back to school clothes, shoes, fleeces, backpacks and more have us spending a ton.  It seems like as soon as we're done with that long list of must-haves, it's time to Christmas shop.  Ugh.

This post is a little different than my other "prep ahead" posts in that I'm sharing more of a food budget strategy than an actual recipe.  In all honesty, I've never been a great sale shopper.  I get a 40% off code for Gap and spend 5 times as much as I normally would because of the "sale." Retailers love people like me.  My lack of money saving abilities is one reason why I'm particularly proud of my most recent pizza night revelation!

For as long as I can remember, Friday night has been pizza night in our house.  Most weeks, we order out.  On average we spend about $35 on two large pizzas.  This adds up to about $1820 a year!  Crazy, right!?  In an effort to save money, we have started "make your own pizza Fridays." The concept of making your own pizza is not new to us, my girls LOVE it and we do it often.  It was only a few weeks ago, that I calculated the savings.  In order to mimic the convenience and simplicity of ordering pizza, I buy pre-made crusts, jarred or canned sauce and store brand cheese totaling  $13.47 per week or $700.44 per year.  That's a savings of $1119.56 per year.  Not bad, right?  If you're looking to save even more, make your own dough!  Chances are if you're ordering pizza it's because you're looking for a quick and easy dinner.  If I do have the time, I use my bread machine and make my own crust using the recipe found in my Oster bread machine book found HERE!!!

Even better than the savings, was the excitement and pride amongst my little girlies as they enjoyed their delicious creations made with their own two hands.   No cheese was picked off, crusts were eaten and plates were EMPTY at the end of the meal.  Impressive for my kids. 

The shopping list and prices from my local Stop and Shop:

Mama Mary's Traditional 7" Crusts / 3count - (2 packs)  ($4.49 each):   $8.98
26.5 oz can of Hunts Traditional Sauce:  $1
Store Brand Mozzarella (16oz):  $3.49
TOTAL:  $13.47 per week
(Feeds 5-6 People)

****Just follow the baking instructions on the pizza crust package!

Often, you can find coupons for these items in your local paper and HERE!  Last week I found a Ragu coupon online that I could print twice and found the same one in the paper.  After cashing both in, I got the sauce for free!  

I hope you find this post useful!  Happy pizza night!!!



Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Casserole


My quest to find casseroles my family will actually eat continues!  Personally, I love the idea of a casserole.  Having your protein, vegetables, dairy and grain all neatly packaged in one 9 X 13 baking dish simplifies those chaotic hours before dinner needs to be on the table.  I especially like serving casserole type dishes on Mondays.  I feel like it helps me ease into the week.  We tried this recipe from Southern Living last week and it was a huge hit!  I adapted it slightly and prepared it last Sunday night. On Monday night, I took it straight out of the fridge and threw it in the oven.  Definitely give it a try!

Prep Ahead Plan:  Make the casserole up to 2 days ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to bake!

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
meat from one rotisserie chicken, diced
12 flour tortillas
3 cups shredded cheddar and monterey jack blend cheeses

Directions
1.  Saute pepper, onion and garlic in oil until tender (about 5 minutes).
2.  Stir in cumin and flour and cook about 3 minutes.
3.  Add chicken broth and sour cream and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often.
4.  Add in chicken and stir to blend.
5.  Spray a 9 X 13 dish with cooking spray.
6.  Arrange 4 tortillas in the bottom of the pan.  Top with 1/3 chicken mixture and then one cup of cheese.  Repeat tortilla, chicken mixture, cheese layers 2 more times (ending with cheese).
7.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees fro 45 minutes.  Serve with salsa!

****FREEZE IT****
Follow the make ahead directions and freeze the pan after preparing.  When you're ready to bake it, remove it from freezer and bake (covered) for one hour and 15 minutes.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chicken Cordon Bleu with Cream Sauce


It's so easy for me to get stuck in a routine, rotating several different prep ahead recipes from week to week.  Sometimes it's easier to stick to what you know.  My oldest critic called me out on it a few weeks ago and I (although thoroughly annoyed by the sass) decided to branch out.

Chicken cordon bleu!  I can't believe I have never made this before.  So ridiculously easy to throw together with restaurant quality results.  It's a keeper!

Prep Ahead Plan:  I prepared the chicken the night before and refrigerated the baking dish overnight.  The sauce took about 10 minutes to prepare on the stove.  I made it while the chicken cooked but you could easily make it ahead of time and heat it in the microwave.

Chicken Cordon Bleu
(I doubled the recipe and there were no leftovers!!!)
Ingredients
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (thinly sliced)
Salt and pepper
4 slices of deli ham
6 slices of swiss cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
4 small pats of butter

Directions
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2.  Lay the chicken out and pound with a mallet if you find they are not thin enough.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.   Lay one slice of ham and one slice of swiss cheese on each piece of chicken. Roll up and secure with toothpick. Place rolled chicken in baking dish.
3.  Brush each chicken roll with egg and top with 1/2 a slice of swiss cheese.  Roll chicken in bread crumbs.
4.  Put a small pat of butter on top of each chicken roll before baking.  
5.  Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Lemon Cream Sauce
Ingredients
1 can condensed chicken soup (or mushroom soup)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
water for thinning sauce (about 1/2 cup)

Directions:
1.  Place soup, sour cream and lemon in a sauce pan and heat through.  Add enough water until you get the consistency you want for the sauce.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Prep Ahead Pizza Casserole



Two posts in the same week? Crazy!  For some reason, my productivity level rises as my days get increasingly busier.  Why is that?  Summer afternoon cocktails with friends is not the most motivating  activity, I guess.   Oh how I miss those late afternoon pool-side mai-tais.  I will count the days until next summer, until then, let's talk about easy, weeknight, crowd pleasing meals. Or we could just drink mai- tais and call for pizza. Tempting.  


I feel like my oven is rarely turned on over the summer given all of the grilling that takes place!  These days it has been putting in overtime and I have some great recipes to share.  We had this really simple, kid friendly recipe tonight and we can't stop raving.  No, it's not gourmet food but it was SO GOOD!  Such a great weeknight meal!  Try it!


Prep Ahead Plan:  Prepare recipe the night before and bake it right before the dinner hour!  It freezes well too!!! 


Pizza Casserole


Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked egg noodles
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced pepperoni, quartered
  • 1 1/2 (16 ounce cans) pizza sauce
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese PLUS 1/2 cup for topping
  • dash pepper
  • salt to taste
  • **Crushed red pepper and parmesan for serving if your family likes it!

  • Directions:
  • 1.  Brown meat with onion, pepper and garlic.
  • 2.  Cook noodles according to package directions and drain.  Put back in pot.
  • 3.  Mix meat mixture and remaining ingredients in the egg noodle pot.
  • 4.  Pour into a greased 9 X 13 baking dish.  Cover and refrigerate overnight or bake, uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  
  •  

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Asian Style Pepper Steak


Ready, set, GO!  That's how I feel when our back to school routine starts.  I'm already missing our lazy summer days filled with poolside fun and surprise get-a-ways.  A small part of me likes getting back to a set schedule, I guess. VERY small.

I have taken on a part time job at my daughter's preschool and while I adjust to this addition to our already busy schedule, I decided to try some new set it and forget it slow cooker meals.  I found this asian style pepper steak on Allrecipes and adapted it slightly.  It was picky eater approved and will definitely be making the regular rotation in our house.  I thought I would share it for those of you, who like me, are looking to free up some time during those crazy hours right before dinner!

Prep ahead Plan:  Mix all ingredients in the slow cooker insert the night before and refrigerate.

Slow Cooker Asian Style Pepper Steak
Ingredients
2 pounds beef sirloin strips*
2 teaspoons garlic
1 cube beef bouillon
1/4 cup hot water
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper, cut into strips
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 can (14.5 ounce) stewed tomatoes, with juice
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:
1.  Sprinkle garlic over meat and place in a slow cooker insert that has been sprayed with cooking spray.
2.  Mix bouillon with warm water and add in the cornstarch. Pour over meat.
3.  Add remaining ingredients to pot and cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve over rice.

* To add a layer of flavor, sear beef on both sides in a couple tablespoons of oil.  I didn't do this but it was recommended.  Also, the peppers were very soft after 8 hours of cooking.  If you can, toss the peppers in 2-3 hours before the steak is done instead.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lessons in Hurricanes and Snack Prep...



We’re battening down the hatches over here and mourning the loss of our Country Music Festival tickets for Saturday evening.  We’ve made the responsible decision (boooo) to skip Saturday evenings show and prepare the house for Sunday’s storm. It's unfortunately the right decision given the work that needs to be done including the calming of nerves amongst our little ones!

The storm coverage and adult, hurricane themed, conversations have my kids in a panic.  I have been getting lots of questions about what hurricanes are, how they form, how they’re named and what to expect on Sunday during the storm.  I’m anticipating power outages that will last over an extended period of time and am preparing some foods that do not need refrigeration like granola, granola bars and some honey wheat bread!  We have also stocked up on fruit that can sit in a bowl on our table at room temperature like bananas, apples, oranges, and peaches.  

In addition to food prep, I’m putting together a few hurricane themed books and activities to keep my children from killing each other while (hopefully) lessening their hurricane fears by teaching them what hurricanes are all about.   I’m hoping to calm their fears by explaining that with proper preparation and safety precautions, our family will remain safe and hopefully by making use of the information below, not bored to death!  Good luck and stay safe everyone!



Weather Wiz Kids
This site has a plethora of information on hurricanes including how they form, how they’re names and additional lessons on safety precautions.  You might want to print it out and screen some of the information.  I’m going to steer clear of the super scary information!!!

Hurricane Tracking Chart:
Here is a blank tracking  that allows kids to plot Irene’s track along with the meteorologist on the local news!


Free Weather Coloring Pages For Younger Kids:


 Books for all ages:

Storms and Hurricanes (Usbornne Books)
Kathy Gemmell (Author)


Bruce Degen







Hurricane adventures in reading while the power is out:
For older children-ages 9-12

This is one of my favorite books for older kids!  I used to read this to my 5th graders every year when I was teaching.  Even reluctant readers hung on every word.  If you have a battery operated CD, pick up the audio CD  or download for your MP3 here:

The audio version REALLY adds to the story.  Michael Boatman is a FABULOUS narrator and really captures the intense adventure of this story of survival and friendship!





Saturday, August 13, 2011

Giada's Pesto for the Freezer...

Talia caring for the baby herbs back in May...

Four cups of fresh basil washed and ready to go...

I love making use of fresh herbs in the summer time!  Several varieties grow in abundance on a plant stand on our back deck.  I clip them as much as possible, tossing them in pastas, salads and marinades.  I feel so guilty as I watch them wilt away, as the colder nights set in until the first frost forces me to toss whatever remains in the compost bin.  Every year I tell myself I will learn how to dry them or freeze them, but it just never happens! 

I wish I could say that this year will be different and I’m learning how to properly dry herbs or working hard to stock our freezer with the lush, overgrown, twelve varieties I planted, but I’m not!  However, I have decided to trim our four basil plants down in order to make and freeze pesto for the winter!  It's a start.  

This recipe from Giada de Laurentiis is so simple and flavorful!  I serve it over pasta and chicken and have frozen a bunch for us to enjoy throughout the winter! 

Prep Ahead Plan:  Make the pesto recipe as written, divide in half and freeze it in individual containers.



Simple Basil Pesto
Ingredients
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (I couldn’t find the toasted variety so I heated a skillet, tossed in the nuts and mixed them around until they were brown on all sides)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup – 1 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan

Directions
1. Combine garlic, basil, toasted pine nuts and salt and pepper in a food processor or blender. Pulse until finely chopped.
2. With the blender or food processor still running, add in olive oil until desired            consistence is reached.
3. Stir in Parmesan cheese.  Serve or freeze!


Toasted pine nuts....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Summer Picnics....


Mid-August has crept right up on us this year!  We have been enjoying every second of the summer months and despite my my urge to order backpacks, buy fleeces and stock up on back to school supplies as the fall months quickly approach, I refuse to do so.  Sitting poolside, applying sunscreen, taking bike rides and playing with friends all day, are hard habits to break.

We're soaking up every last second of that warm summer sunshine by taking advantage of some great local picnic spots! In my opinion, breezy evenings at the beach during those twilight hours are the best part of the day! We love packing a picnic and enjoying our dinner on a blanket, watching sailboats, collecting sea glass and climbing on empty lifeguard chairs.  This barbecue chicken recipe is one of our favorite prep ahead packable dinners! Enjoy!

Prep Ahead Plan:  Prepare the chicken the night before and leave it in the fridge until ready to bake.  I use a foil pan to save on clean up time! A couple hours before heading to your picnic, bake it and pack it up while it's still warm.  We also enjoy this chicken cold, right out of the fridge!

Oven Baked Barbecue Chicken
Ingredients:
2-3 pounds chicken pieces (legs and drumsticks work well)
garlic powder
onion powder
black pepper
18 oz bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce or use the homemade recipe found here.

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange chicken pieces in a foil pan.
2.  Sprinkle with garlic, onion powder, and pepper.  Be sure to season all sides AND underneath the skin.
3.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
4.  Remove pan from oven and brush with barbecue sauce.  Again, be sure to get all around each piece and under the skin.  Continue to bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
5.  For crispy skin, broil on high for the last few minutes until the skin is browned up to your liking!  Enjoy!!!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Bruschetta Salad...a no recipe, recipe


Forgive the iphone pic..eeek!!!!

Finally! I'm back! I have no good reason for my blogging hiatus unless you consider lazy summer days a worthy excuse! Many of my summer menu items are no recipe kind of dishes. I haven't shared any until now but decided these kind of recipes are what everyone needs this time of year!

Bruschetta salad is one of our favorites to have as a summer lunch, light dinner, or as a hearty appetizer. In season tomatoes combined with fresh basil and mozzarella define the flavors of summer in my mind. Add as much or ad little of each ingredient as you like. You really can't mess this fish up. Enjoy!

Bruschetta Salad
Ingredients:
tomatoes, cut up (I like to use grape or in season heirlooms!)
basil
fresh mozzarella, cut up
red onion, diced
fresh basil, torn
salt
pepper
olive oil

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Chill for an hour or longer. Serve with crusty French bread slices or alone as a salad. Yum!!