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Archive for January, 2011

Greek Nachos

In my latest favorites post the other day, you got a sneak peak at our meal the other night but I knew it needed its own post.

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I mean…it’s not every day we come up with such fun dinner ideas!

Last Monday, I made some whole wheat pitas (using the same recipe I used the last time) and we filled the pitas with hummus and spiced turkey with big salads on the side.

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But as we were sitting at the table eating dinner, I looked over to Nick’s plate and saw just a pile of cut-up pitas, blobs of hummus, and ground turkey. He had already finished his salad and was working on the rest – but I swore it looked like a big plate of nachos, just without the nasty liquid nacho cheese sauce.

So, instead of just reheating the leftovers the next night and having the same exact meal – we turned them into Greek Nachos.

And it was one of our best ideas ever.

 

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For the “nachos”, we layered:

  • cut up whole wheat pitas (we just crisped them up in a pan with some oil, but you could toast them, too)
  • hummus
  • spiced ground turkey
  • romaine
  • tomato
  • red onion
  • kalamata and green olives
  • olive oil and balsamic

 

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I loved eating this dinner – it was so much fun to have "nachos” that tasted completely different than what you would expect.

Plus, we still got in a few servings of veggies and it was a new way to use up leftovers.

 

I wonder how many different variations of nachos we could come up with…Italian? Thai?

The options are endless!

 

If you could make your PERFECT version of nachos, what would it be?

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Saturday morning, we woke up to a light layer of new snow and strong winds. While the snow kept falling and Nick used his snow plow to clear off the driveway, I got working on breakfast.

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I had heard of using leftover cooked brown rice as a “crust” of sorts, but I hadn’t tried it for myself.

After making a casserole earlier in the week, I found myself with 2 cups of cooked brown rice in the fridge, just waiting to be used.

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I had my doubts – rice as a crust? – but it actually worked!

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Brown Rice Crusted Quiche

Crust:

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Filling:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup steamed broccoli
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Mix crust ingredients (rice, egg, cheese) together and press into pie plate.
  3. Bake crust 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden and egg is set.
  4. While crust is baking, whisk together eggs, cheese, milk, and seasonings.
  5. Once crust is ready, place broccoli on top of crust and pour egg mixture over top.
  6. Bake 25-30 minutes or until eggs are set and top is starting to brown.

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And hey! This is my first post in our new kitchen : ) Took long enough, huh?

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With everything that’s been going on with the new house and work and winter weather, it’s been busy!

My blogging schedule has changed – and I don’t mind it – but it’s taking me a while to find a balance again with everything else, too. Our new house is awesome and we love it and just feel so blessed to be in the place that we’re in, but we also have an even longer drive to work every day, which has caused us to make some changes in our schedules.

All in all, things are going well. It’s just taking some time to get used to it all.

While I haven’t been documenting all our meals, I’ve been trying to make sure I get pictures of great new recipes and things that are happening.

And right now, these are some of my favorite things:

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My nephew. Seriously – one of the cutest babies I’ve ever seen. And I’m not just saying that because he’s family! He’s adorable, right?

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Our hallway with the cabinet we got from Nick’s parents. The house is coming together and no longer feels empty.

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These Xpress SmartCups that I won from Janetha!

They’re travel french press cups and they have given us the option for fresh coffee on a few busy mornings lately : )

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So easy to use: put your coffee grounds in the cup, add in your boiling water, put the lid on and let it sit/brew for a few minutes – then take the rod and press into the lid slowly until it clicks in at the bottom.

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And you can’t really see it in this picture, but right in the lid (where you take your sips), there’s a thin layer of mesh that also helps keep any grounds from getting out into your coffee.

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I love these cups! I’m going to be sad when they’re gone.

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But my favorite 2 things?

1. I finally have a KitchenAid! My mom and dad bought this for us as a housewarming present, since we finally have room for a stand mixer in this house. I am so excited about this and have been baking up a storm!

2. Eating dinner at a real table.

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At our old house, our layout was a bit strange and our “dining room table” was more of a catch-all in a room that also served as a “catch-all” so we never ate at our table.

In the new house, we have dinner at our table every night and just catch up on the day. No tv blaring right in our faces OR in the background – just us enjoying our meal. It’s been really nice to have that time together each evening.

 

What about you? What are you loving right now?

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This isn’t just any old almond brittle.

This is almond brittle you make in the microwave.

No lie!

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You don’t need to stand over the stove or watch a candy thermometer or worry about scalding yourself with boiling sugar.

And even better than that? It takes less than 10 minutes to make.

 

Microwave Almond Brittle

Slightly modified from Microwave Peanut Brittle from the Blue Eyed Bakers

1 ½ cups raw almonds
1 cup sugar
½ cup light corn syrup
¼ teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In microwave-proof bowl (I used my large glass Pyrex measuring bowl), combine almonds, sugar, corn syrup and salt, then microwave for about 4-5 minutes, until the mixture is bubbling very vigorously. You can stir midway through cooking if you like.

Take out and stir in butter and vanilla, then put the mixture back in the microwave until it turns light gold color, about 2-3 minutes more. Remove and add baking soda to mixture and stir (the mixture will foam up at this point – that’s good!).

Quickly pour onto the baking sheet. Either tilt baking sheet side to side or take spatula/spoon and spread brittle as thinly as possible, then let stand until cold and hard – about 1-2 hours. Break up and enjoy!

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Our brittle only took about an hour to harden up, and we were so happy that it came out so well!

Crispy and buttery and everything brittle should be. Everyone loved having this treat in their Christmas baskets this year.

I was just sad we didn’t make a batch for ourselves ; )

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Out of all the homemade treats we made this year, Nick and I received the most comments about this one.

I thought for sure we’d here more about our homemade chocolate covered toffee or the incredible cocoa roasted nuts or even the almond brittle…but nope.

People love oreos. And I guess that means they love oreo bark.

Turns out that it was one of the easiest treats we made this year.

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Oreo Bark

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 10 oreos, crushed or chopped
  1. Lay a sheet of parchment paper down on a sheet pan.
  2. In microwave safe bowl, heat white chocolate chips for 1 minute, stopping to stir after 30 seconds.
  3. Once the chips are melted, spread white chocolate on parchment paper and place sheet pan in the fridge for 10 minutes or until the chocolate is set.
  4. When the white chocolate is hardened/set, heat your semi-sweet chips for 1 minute in another microwave safe bowl, stopping to stir after 30 seconds.
  5. When the semi-sweet chips are melted, smooth it over the white chocolate and sprinkle on the crushed oreos.
  6. Press the cookies into the chocolate.
  7. Place sheet pan back in the fridge until chocolate has set, about 10 minutes.
  8. Break bark into bite size pieces.

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A Merry Christmas

The best part of Christmas this year was the fact that Nick and I were in our new home and we had family visiting. It was a full house – lots of talking, laughing, eating, and drinking coffee in front of the fireplace.

On Christmas Day, some people went sledding on the hill behind our house and we went to a local Inn for Christmas breakfast, which, was a whole new level of fun.

I was actually crying at breakfast, I was laughing so hard. It was great, and I’m so happy we had a good first Christmas in our home. It made the move over the holidays worth every minute.

Especially since we had a tree!

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And even though our Christmas was a little rushed and crazy and full of moving furniture and boxes, Nick and I got some awesome gifts this year that we were very excited about.

Some of my favorites?

First, see that little Christmas tree on the mantle, in front of the mirror? My little sister made those for us. It’s a little tree with buttons for ornaments and a wrapped piece of styrofoam for the base – super cute.

This lamp that my dad made me! It’s an antique coffee pot turned into living room lamp – so neat!

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I also got a cake stand – a real cake stand! You have no idea how excited I am for this. Now I can quit using the ugly old green plastic bowl and matching lid as a stand in. I also got the most amazing housewarming gift from my mom and dad that will help me make cakes, but that’s for another post.

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My older sister got me this fun bottle of wine – from Middle Sister Wines, which is awesome since I’m the middle ; )

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I just love the label! I think she bought it at Target, and I’m excited to try more of their wines.

My new slippers = best things ever. They are fluffy and warm and they look a little like footballs, right? I have them on every day once we get home. And they have a really thick rubber sole so I can wear them to take Maggie out, too.

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My most surprising gift? This necklace from Nick.

One of his parents’ friends (and a friend of ours) makes jewelry, and he had her make me this piece with pearls and a natural sapphire. It is beautiful.

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And I love the clasps she uses!

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And an awesome and unexpected gift from a fellow blogger!

I got the sweetest note from Lauren at Veg:ology, plus some delicious Gingerbread Granola along with the recipe, and these adorable personalized kitchen towels.

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I love the coffee cups and the font – thanks so much Lauren!

We also got a great gift basket from Nick’s parents with red and white wine glasses and a few bottles to try.

And the one I’m using the most already (besides my slippers)? A really cute (and huge!) cooler bag from Nick’s sister and her husband. It’s polka dotted and is big enough to carry both of our lunch stuff. I’ll have to remember to get a picture. I love it already.

All in all, Christmas was over and above what I anticipated. I was just so happy to be in our new house and to know that our Jovenes fundraiser was going well that I didn’t really care what I got, if anything. I think the only things I actually asked for were a few cookbooks and socks – exciting, huh? : ) But we were overwhelmed with our gifts from all of our family.

What about you? Any gifts you received that totally took you by surprise? Ones you’re super excited about?

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Yeah, I’m about 3 weeks late with this post.

I know the holidays are over.

I should be posting my resolutions and goals instead of a cookie recipe, but I can’t help it.

Maybe one goal I have this year is to eat more cookies.

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I’ve been debating whether or not to share this recipe. It’s one I whipped out of nowhere that actually turned out really good.  So good that my husband – who isn’t the biggest fan of mint and chocolate – loved them.

And would you believe I’d never made crinkle cookies before this? I know – I’m way behind on my baking bucket list.

After snatching up a bag of candy cane Hershey’s Kisses, I had dreams of these cookies.

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What I wanted?

Minty striped kisses barely melted into a deep, rich chocolate crinkle cookie. 

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I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. And the cookies were good.

Bonus points for this recipe: No one knew they were whole wheat – I like finding tricky ways to get more whole wheat into my family and friends, and chocolate is one of the best ways to do it.

 

Mint Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa
  • 24 Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses
  1. Mix cocoa and melted butter and let cool slightly.
  2. Mix in 1/2 cup of the flour, brown sugar, sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, and salt until combined.
  3. Beat in the last 1/2 cup of flour.
  4. Cover and chill the dough about 2 hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  6. In small bowl or dish, combine powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp cocoa.
  7. Roll dough into 1” balls, roll in powdered sugar/cocoa mix and place on baking sheet.
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes until cracked and set.
  9. Let cookies sit for about 30 seconds and then place one Hershey’s Candy Cane Kiss on each cookie.
  10. After another 30 seconds – 1 minute, move cookies to a cooling rack/plate/cutting board to cool.

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I love mint + chocolate together, so these were some of the best things I ate this holiday season. You can make them even more minty by adding just a 1/4 tsp peppermint extract to the dough, but even if you’re not a huge fan of mint, these cookies are still a fun recipe to make.

Either way, you’ll be left with very festive cookies – the red and white stripes will set these apart from any other cookie at the table.

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