Monday, May 8, 2017

Cotton Candy Pop


When my nieces and nephew were up visiting from Texas this past winter, we tried finding things for them to do to keep busy. Since we have been in-between houses in a rental, the kitchen is tiny compared to what I am used to and a really weird layout. Trying to get a meal done with a large quantity of people running around the room gets intense, so this was a perfect way to distract the kids, yet still make them feel like they were being included. Now, you will notice we had orange and blue cotton candy, which of course combine together made a nice shade of brown to which everyone did. I re-made them using just blue raspberry cotton candy for a , let's say, "prettier" version. This is definitely a fun experiment to do with kids!


Ingredients:

Cotton Candy
Sprite (or any clear pop)
Glasses
Straws


This easy recipe involves only two steps. Pour the pop into a glass, and add in cotton candy. When the cotton candy is added it starts fizzing and dissolving, disappearing into the pop and changing the color and taste. Super easy, and fun for kids to combine flavors!

Blueberry Lemon Doughnuts


It is finally Spring! (Well, still only 40-50 degrees here in the U.P. but it is sunny, and I have a sunburn, so it still counts.) Time to bust out one of my favorite "flavors" with pretty much any combination, as long as lemon is involved somewhere. These baked doughnuts pack a lemon punch that of course goes perfectly with blueberries. Every time I think lemon and blueberry, it just screams Springtime to me. And they are baked cake-like doughnuts, so you SORT of feel better eating them....

Ingredients:

1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 c. veggie oil
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 c. buttermilk
2 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. blueberries


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease your doughnut pan(s) with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk the melted butter, oil and sugar together. Add in the eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, buttermilk and whisk again until smooth. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until a thick batter forms. Stir in the blueberries. Spoon the batter into the prepared doughnut pan and bake for 7-8 minutes, until the bottom of the doughnuts are a nice golden brown and the top springs back when you lightly press on it. Repeat until you have no more dough left.

Lemon Glaze:

2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
7-8 Tbs. fresh lemon juice (2 large lemons)


In a small bowl, combine the lemon glaze ingredients together. Line parchment or wax paper underneath cooling racks and dip each side of the doughnut in the glaze mixture. Place on the rack to cool fully and let the icing dry.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake


I love carrot cake, and I usually hate (for the most part) cheesecake. The combination of the carrot cake and cheesecake works well together because usually you see cream cheese with carrot muffins, cream cheese frosting on carrot cake, so why not cheesecake with carrot cake? This was a big hit at Easter, and if you don't have a large quantity of people that you are serving, it freezes really well. Many recipes that combine a cheesecake with a cake often frost the entire thing. In my opinion, everything is so sweet already that I don't think frosting the whole thing would add anything that would otherwise feel like it was missing. If you needed to decorate it for a birthday or special occasion, however, it would always look nice with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting on just the top of the cake, and a decoration piped out.

Cheesecake Ingredients:

2 blocks (116 oz.) cream cheese
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. flour
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream, lite


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 inch springform pan with baking spray with flour, and set aside. In an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs and flour together until smooth. Add in the vanilla and sour cream and stir by hand. Set aside.

Carrot Cake Ingredients:

3/4 c. oil (veggie)
1/3 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
2 large carrots, grated


In an electric mixer, mix together the oil and sugars together until smooth. Add in the eggs and vanilla and stir to incorporate. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients until just combined, and add in the grated carrots.



Spread half of the carrot cake batter in the bottom of the prepared pan. Dollop half of the cheesecake batter on top (do not spread!). Dollop the rest of the carrot cake batter on top of the cheesecake batter. Spread the remaining cheesecake batter on top with a spatula to even the top layer out. Pat down the cheesecake to remove all of the air bubbles.


Bake for 70-75 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the middle slightly springs back when you lightly press down. Let cool in the pan before removing the springform edges and serving. 


Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hummus Roasted Veggies


This recipe for yummy roasted vegetables uses something that is always in our refrigerator, which is hummus. It can be so versatile, using olive hummus, garlic, black bean, roasted red pepper or garlic. The hummus caramelizes on the outside of the vegetables making them slightly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 c. hummus (I used roasted beets and garlic)
Broccoli florets
Baby carrots
Mini bell peppers, cut in half
Onion, sliced in wedges

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Preheat the pan lined with parchment paper for 10 minutes in the oven while it is preheating. In a large bowl, mix the cut vegetables with the hummus. If the hummus is too thick, add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Use your hands for this part. Spread the veggies out on the heated pan and roast for 20 minutes, flipping over half way through.

Lemon Asparagus Orzo


If you want a refreshing take on a pasta dish right in time for spring, then look no further! This lemon asparagus dish mixed with the pasta is amazing! It makes a large portion and feeds a hungry crowd.

Ingredients:

1 lb. asparagus, blanched
4 c. chicken stalk
4 c. water
1 Tbs salt
1/4 tsp. turmeric
3 c. orzo pasta
1/2 c. green onions, whites and stalks, thinly sliced

Dressing:

2 lemons, zested
1/2 c. lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

Place the lemon zest, juice, garlic, salt and pepper into a bowl. Add in the oil and whisk. Set aside. Slice the cooked asparagus into two inch pieces and set aside. Place the chicken stock and water into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the salt and turmeric. Add the orzo and cook on medium-high for 10-12 minutes. Place the orzo in a large bowl and add the asparagus and green onions. Whisk the dressing quickly again and pour into the salad. Mix well. Let sit to room temperature before serving.

Saffron Buns


Before my Aunt Jean passed away, she used to make my dad hot cross saffron buns every year for Easter. I attempted a few times to make them but the recipe I had never worked out. This one works amazing, and passed for my dad with flying colors!

Ingredients:

3/4 c. milk
1 tsp. saffron threads
1 tsp. plus 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 ounce pkg. active dry yeast
3 1/2 c. flour (plus 1/2 c. more if necessary)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. salted butter, softened
1/4 c. sour cream, light
2 eggs (plus 1 beaten for glaze)
1 c. currants


Heat the milk, saffron and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a small saucepan until the milk is steamy. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Let cool to 115 degrees.


Sprinkle the yeast over the saffron milk and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. In an electric mixer, whisk the 3 1/2 cups of flour, remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and salt together. Make a well in the center and add the saffron yeast milk, eggs, butter and sour cream.


Mix until well incorporated. Switch to the dough hook and on low speed, start to knead the dough. Add additional flour now if necessary but the mix should still be slightly sticky. Add in the currants. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit in a warm place for 1-2 hours (I turn the oven on warm before hand, and then turn it off when I put the dough in to sit so that the oven stays warm but isn't continually heating).


Once it has doubled in size, for the dough into balls (2-3 inches diameter). Place onto a pan lined with parchment paper 2 inches apart. Cover the dough with plastic wrap ad let rise again for 30 minutes to an hour.


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the tops and sides of the buns with egg wash. Place in the oven and bake for 10 to 11 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before eating.


Frosting:

Combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 2-3 tablespoons of milk. I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla. Place into a Ziploc bag and snip the corner off. Pipe an "x" on top of each bun and let cool fully before stacking or putting into a container.

Egg Stuffed Avocados


I love, absolutely love avocado. A few years ago, the only thing I would have eaten avocado in is guacamole, or inside of a burrito or taco if a restaurant served it that way. Now I sometimes just eat it with sea salt and cilantro for a snack. An even better way to eat it? With an egg baked in the middle! It then combines two favorites; avocados AND breakfast!

Ingredients:

2 avocado
4 eggs
1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper
Cilantro (optional)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and place a wire rack inside of a pan (I used a cookie sheet). Cut each avocado in half and remove the pits. Scoop out about 1 tablespoon from the inside of each hole where the pit was, and either save for guacamole or another recipe, or enjoy a quick snack while making these... Crack open one egg into a small bowl and carefully pour the egg into an avocado hole. If some of the white spills out, that's okay, that is why the sheet is underneath! Repeat for the remaining eggs, and season with salt and pepper. Top each egg with about 1-2 teaspoons of shredded cheese. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until the egg yolk is the consistency you want, and especially until the whites are no longer runny. Let cool slightly before serving, and topping with cilantro!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs


This sweet and sour slow cooker chicken is amazing, and much better for you than going to a restaurant and getting something from out. It only takes 3 hours in the slow cooker and serves around four people. Test it out next time you have a craving for oriental food!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 lb. bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
1/4 c. cornstarch
1 Tbs. canola oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. honey
2 Tbs. soy sauce, reduced-sodium
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1 pouch Uncle Ben's brown rice
1 pkg. cabbage/kale mix


Place the skinless chicken thighs in a large bag with the cornstarch. Shake the bag making sure all of the chicken is coated. Shake off the excess cornstarch. Heat a large pan with the canola oil. Place the chicken in the pan and brown on each side for 3 minutes on medium-high heat. 


Place the browned chicken in the bottom of a slow cooker. In a medium size bowl, mix the ketchup, honey, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, salt, rice vinegar and the whites of the onion. Pour over the chicken and place the lid on the slow cooker. Cook on high for 3 hours. Remove the thighs and place on a cutting board. Carefully slice open the thighs partially and remove the bone. 


Add the salad and rice to your serving plates. Place 1-2 chicken thighs over the rice. Whisk the sauce left in the slow cooker and drizzle on top of everything. Finish with thin sliced green onions.

Baked Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal


Meal prep always makes life easier. This baked oatmeal recipe is amazing when re-heated throughout the week or eaten cold straight out of the refrigerator. Add some fresh fruit or drizzle some maple syrup on top! The flavors can be endless!

Ingredients:

3 c. oats
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
5 1/2 c. milk, 1 %
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 eggs, beaten
1 c. diced dried cinnamon apples (from Nuts.com)
1 c. mini chocolate chips


Combine the oats, brown sugar, milk, peanut butter and eggs in a large saucepan and stir on medium heat. Stir occasionally for 10-12 minutes until the oats start to thicken.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 pan with non stick cooking spray. Pour the prepared oats into the pan, sprinkle the top with mini chocolate chips, and bake for 20 minutes.


Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Roasted Hasselback Beets with Dill Yogurt Sauce


I joined the "beet" wagon about a year ago. I had never had roasted beets before, only pickled which I absolutely could not stand. These roasted beets are juicy, cut like butter and the tangy yogurt sauce pairs perfectly to cut the sweetness.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 lb.s beets, peeled, cut in half, and sliced every 1/4 inch almost all of the way through
Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 c. plain yogurt
2 Tbs. dill, chopped
2 Tbs. lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with tinfoil. Place the beets flat side down on the foil. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pour 3/4 cup water around the beets inside of the foil. Cover the pan with tinfoil, bake for 20 minutes, add 3/4 c. more water, and continue to bake 20 more minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 20-30 minutes (adding more water if necessary). Remove from the pan and place on your serving tray. In a small bowl, mix the yogurt, dill and lemon juice together. Drizzle the tops of each beet with the yogurt sauce.