Friday, December 19, 2014

Hawaiian Fruit Salad

I remember several holiday goodies that we always made when I was a kid. Fudge, primarily, as that is what I looked forward to all.year.long. and have now been handed the reins to. But aside from that was this Hawaiian salad.

Hawaiian Fruit Salad

Now, my mom doesn't really use "recipes", and I honestly can't remember exactly what was in it besides the pineapple and mandarin oranges (my favorite!), and sour cream. So, when I saw this recipe, I knew it was close and I adapted it just a bit (taking out a couple of things). The fact that it used Greek yogurt was even better! I mean, come on guys...all that yummy fruit mixed together with some Greek yogurt - who doesn't want to eat that?!? Now, J is not a fan of coconut, so in the future I will leave that out, but it's an extra little sweet kick for those who do like it. 

Hawaiian Salad

This is probably one of the simplest things you can make for a holiday gathering, the kids will love it, and it is damn delicious. 

Today we are most likely sitting on the beach in Cozumel, our last port of call until home. Perhaps we are at Carlos 'n' Charlies. Whatever we're doing, I can assure you we're having a blast and I'll fill you in on all the deets when we return in a couple of days!

Until then...add this to your holiday menu! Or, make it now and try it out!!

Hawaiian Fruit Salad

Ingredients
  • 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 (10-oz) can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 1 (11-oz) can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup grapes, halved
  • 1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut

Preparation
  1. Add apple to a large bowl and toss in lemon juice to keep from browning. Add the pineapple, mandarin oranges, grapes, and coconut and stir to combine. Gently stir in the yogurt to evenly coat all the fruit. 
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving to allow the flavors to meld together. Serve chilled. If you notice some liquid gathering, just stir to reincorporate the juices into the fruit!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Salsa Verde White Chicken Chili

Are you tired of hearing where we currently are on this cruise? If you are somewhere in the bitter cold, I can see how you'd be cursing me. I hope not, because today, we are in Belize!! Yesterday was Honduras, and today, Belize. It's like I'm living a dream life this week, y'all. And to think that in just over 5 months, we'll be traveling just a little farther south to Costa Rica for our honeymoon...le sigh. Life is good. And so is this soup. Chili. Whatever it is. Warm, comforting, and delicious.

Salsa Verde White Chicken Chili 2

The night I made this I actually had tortilla soup planned. And then I realized that I had used up all my tomato sauce making deer chili over the weekend. Oops. And running to the store was not an option. So, I began to think of what else I had in the house. Of course I planned and shopped lightly because I knew we'd be leaving for a week and I wanted minimal, if any, waste. Then I remembered that a couple of weeks back I had this salsa verde white chicken chili on the menu, but I never made it. That meant I should have all the ingredients on-hand! And, it was similar to tortilla soup. By similar I mean it has chicken broth and...chicken. And then of course the toppings I decided to add were mostly the same. And friends let me just tell you - this soup, chili, whatever you want to call it was mighty tasty!! 
Salsa Verde White Chicken Chili

I'm pretty fond of salsa verde, which was the main draw for me to the recipe in the first place, and it did not disappoint. If I had the time or the forethought I would have made my own, but you know what? The bottle of Taco Bell salsa verde I bought worked juuuuust fine :) 

Andplusalso...this is a pretty fast soup/chili to prepare. After the chicken is cooked - which takes maybe 8-10 minutes itself - the soup is done in another 10-15 minutes. And it's amazing. So...while you're sitting there in freezing (or just really cold) temps, whip this up and warm your up your tummy!

Salsa Verde White Chicken Chili

Ingredients
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (enough to yield 4 cups cooked shredded chicken) 
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil OR cooking spray
  • 4 cups (one 32-oz. container) low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (15 oz) cans Great Northern beans, drained
  • 2 cups (one 16-oz jar) salsa verde
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Optional add-ins
  • Avocado, chopped
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Tomatoes, diced
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Cilantro

Preparation
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil or spray with cooking spray. 
  2. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Cook 3-4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove to a bowl and either shred with two forks, or in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment (my preferred method!)
  3. In a large pot, add shredded chicken, chicken broth, beans, salsa verde, cumin and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for at least 10 minutes. 
  4. Serve warm with desired toppings. I listed the ones we used above...it was so good!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Pilaf

As you read this, J and I are somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico, making our way down to Roatan, Honduras. But despite the fact that we'll be basking in warmer weather for the next week, I haven't forgotten that it is, in fact, Christmas time, and that most of the rest of us are preparing for holiday meals next week. And because of that, I had to share with you this amazing side dish, perfect for holiday gatherings.

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Pilaf

I actually made this for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit! Not only is a "different" side dish from the traditional green bean casserole or broccoli rice casserole, it's freaking delicious. And full of fall ingredients/flavors. Now, I know it's technically going to be winter, but these are still amazing flavors for the holiday season. Trust me. Turkey and/or ham,  paired with this side dish = perfection. Now, if you choose an alternative cuisine for Christmas (Mexican food, perhaps??), then just save this little beaut for next year at Thanksgiving. But for those who love the double dose of turkey, trust me when I say...you want this side dish on your table. Oh, and the dressing you pour over it?? OmgAh-mazing!! For serious. 

Butternut & Cranberry Pilaf

We'll be indulging in enchiladas and tamales for Christmas, otherwise I would absolutely be making this again. It will, however, become a must-make every Thanksgiving from here to eternity, you can belie'e dat!

Butternut Squash and Cranberry Pilaf
As seen on A Communal Table

Ingredients
  • 1 cup wild rice mix
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (or stock)
  • 1½ cups butternut squash, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
Citrus dressing
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cardamon
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large bowl, toss the squash with a little olive oil (a couple of tablespoons should be plenty to lightly coat all the squash), season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Pour the squash onto the prepared baking sheet and cook for about 25 minutes, until softened and lightly caramelized. 
  3. Meanwhile, combine the broth and rice in a large pot. Cook according to the package instructions, which should take about 25-30 minutes, until the broth is absorbed and the rice is soft. 
  4. To make the citrus dressing, combine the spices, juices, honey and ginger. Whisk to combine. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking until the oil is thoroughly incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a large bowl (or your rice pot if it's big enough), combine the rice, butternut squash, and cranberries. Add the cooked rice, butternut squash, onions and dried cranberries. Pour in ¼ cup of the citrus dressing and stir to coat. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired, and add more dressing! Always, more dressing!!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sammich Saturday: Steak Sliders with Chimichurri Sauce

You guys. It's finally Saturday. This week has just dragged on and on and on. You know, the way weeks tend to drag when you are really looking forward to something on the weekend? Well, tomorrow, J and I leave on a 7 day cruise and I am so, so ready!! This will be our first "official" vacation, aside from the quick trip we took to Colorado back in 2013. I'm still baffled at how long it's been since I've been on a real vacation, being the little travel bug that I am. But, such is life, right??

Our cruise goes to Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel, and our friends are getting married the second day of the cruise, too!! J has never been on one before, so I'm excited for him to experience it. I've been on one, yeeeeeears ago with bestie T, and we had a blast. That was only 5 days, so I'm interested to see how 7 days on the big boat go. Cozumel was one of the stops on my first cruise, but Honduras and Belize are new destinations and I'm super stoked to visit these new places. And try the food there, of course.

It's been awhile - ok, a long while - since we had a Sammich Saturday post, so I thought that is what I would give you before I leave. And it's a good'un, too!! Who knew all the ways you could use chimichurri??? That's some good stuff, y'all. Gooooood stuff, indeed.

Steak Sammich with Chimichurri Sauce

And of course it doesn't hurt that it's piled on top of some delicious steak, with tangy dijon mustard, and squished between some little slider buns! I love sliders, anyway, but I just had a feeling that these were going to turn out mighty fine. And I was right! The flavors all melded so well together and made each bite juuuust right. Try it. You'll see. And then I'll come home to all sorts of fabulous comments and messages about how delightful these sliders are. Right? I knew it. 

So, Bon Voyage, my friends. I'll see you back here in 7 days!! Well, maybe I'll leave a few  posts for you while I'm gone...you'll just have to come back and see!!

Steak Sliders with Chimichurri Sauce
As seen on Hip Foodie Mom

Ingredients

For the steak
  • 1½ – 2 lbs beef steak (whatever you prefer, I used sirloin)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or more, if you prefer)
For the chimichurri sauce
  • 2 cups firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, thick stems removed
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • ¾ cup good quality olive oil + more if needed
  • 4 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
For the sliders
  • Whole wheat slider buns, toasted
  • Spring mix greens
  • Dijon or stone ground mustard 

Preparation
  1. Season your steak with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cover or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour. 
  2. Meanwhile, combine the parsley, cilantro, garlic, and oregano in a food processor. Process until the garlic is minced well. Place in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining chimichurri ingredients (olive oil - red pepper flakes.) Pour over the parsley mixture and mix well. Taste and adjust any seasonings as needed.
  4. Preheat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat, spray with cooking spray or rub with olive oil. 
  5. Remove steak from the refrigerator and cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until your desired level of doneness is reached. At least a little pink in the middle will yield the best flavor/texture. 
  6. Remove to a cutting board and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing, against the grain, into 1/4-inch slices.
  7. Toast your sliders buns, spread dijon mustard on the bottom buns, top with steak slices, a generous heap of chimichurri,salad greens, and the top buns. 
  8. Serve with sweet potato fries or your favorite side.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

What?!? Two dessert posts in one week?!?! It's about time, right?

Well, my friends...it is that time of year. The time when my baking mitts, double oven, and KitchenAid mixer are working overtime. And this year, on top of all my "usual" Christmas goodies, I decided to try out some new cookies. I wanted to use cinnamon chips, and I thought that adding them to oatmeal raisin cookies would be a good place to start. I looked around online to see if such a recipe still existed and didn't really find one. So I decided to just find a good ol' oatmeal raisin recipe and then add the chips to it.

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chip Cookies

Here I thought I was quite clever, coming up with this "new" idea...and then one of the girls on my cooking board posted a recipe for this exact kind of cookie earlier this week. Not the same recipe, but the same concept. Not as clever as I thought. Drat. But nonetheless, this is one amazing cookie. It's soft, a little chewy, and chock full of flavor. The cinnamon chips add just a leetle bit extra oomph to an already delicious cookie. J was quite fond of these as well. He said he could decided if these or the pumpkin white chocolate chip were his favorite. Remember folks, he's not a sweets kind of guy...and he has been loving all these cookies lately. That, my friends, is a big compliment. 

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chip

So basically...you need to make these cookies. Like, yesterday! I'd venture to say that they will become a favorite. 

Oatmeal Raisin Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Slightly adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

Ingredients
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups oats (old fashion or quick are both fine)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup cinnamon chips

Preparation
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer) cream the softened butter and sugars together on medium speed, until smooth. Add the egg and mix on high until combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl if needed. Add the vanilla and molasses and mix on high until combined.
  2. In another bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt . Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low until combined. 
  3. Add in the oats and raisins and mix on low speed until just combined. Stir in the cinnamon chips. The dough will be thick, yet very sticky. Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill and firm up for 30-60 minutes. 
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with foil, parchment paper, or silicone baking mats.
  5. Using a medium cookie scoop or tablespoon, roll balls of dough, about 1-1/2 inches, and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Bake for 10 minutes until lightly browned on the sides. Remove from the oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. (The cookies will seem under-cooked when you pull them out of the oven - they are supposed to! They will continue cooking and firm up some while they are on the cookie sheet.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

What's Baking: Mini Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze

You guys. This past weekend I think I did more baking then I have in many months, combined! And it was fan-freaking-tastic. I love to bake. And I love to share what I bake with people around me. This particular baking extravaganza had several purposes...1) I needed to make cookies for the cookie exchange I signed up for on my cooking board, 2) I needed to bake my goodies for this month's What's Baking, and 3) my Little from Big Brothers Big Sisters likes to bake and I was bringing her to my house on Saturday to do just that! She and I baked two delicious  kinds of cookies - that I will share with you very soon - and I made two more goodies on Sunday.

Today, I share with you my What's Baking contribution. Our host for December is Catherine from Pursuing Domestic Godess-ness, and the theme selected for this round was Gingerbread.

Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Let me just tell you, folks, as a person who doesn't really eat or love gingerbread (gasp! I know!), there are a LOT of gingerbread recipes out there!! I looked, I found, I pinned...and then I called in my gingerbread lovers to help me choose one. This, was the one. A few years back I made some ginger cookies with lemon glaze and they were a big hit, so they co-workers insisted on these muffins this time 'round.  

Mini Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze

While they taste pretty good, there are a few changes I would make for a future batch. They're pretty dense, so I would likely reduce the amount of flour to 2 or 2 1/2 cups. And I would definitely make the glaze a little thicker (I made this adjustment below.) All-in-all, though they were quite delicious and the gingerbread loving co-workers gave them a big thumbs up.



Mini Gingerbread Muffins with Lemon Glaze

Ingredients
  • 3 cups all purpose flour (or white-whole wheat flour)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup molasses 
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
For the Lemon Glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar (or more)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1-2 Tbsp milk

Preparation
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray 24 cup mini-muffin tin (or 2 12-cup tins) with non-stick spray or line with muffin liners.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. 
  3. In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the molasses and butter on high, in 30 second increments, until butter is melted. Stir until thoroughly mixed together. Set aside. 
  4. In a second bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, egg, yogurt, and milk. Pour into the butter-molasses mixture and whisk until everything is incorporated. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until just combined. Do not over-mix. Batter will be very thick and lumpy.
  5. Fill each tin cup to the top with the batter and bake for 5 minutes. With the muffins still in the oven, lower the temperature  to 375 degrees F and bake for an additional 13-15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 
  6. Carefully remove the muffins to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before glazing. 
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the lemon glaze by mixing all of the ingredients together into a medium bowl. Add more powdered sugar if you'd like it thicker and more cream if you'd like it thinner. The easiest way to glaze them is to pick them up and dip the top of the muffin straight into the glaze. Then return to your cooling rack, or onto a plate, etc. Some of the glaze is likely to drip down the sides and off the muffins, so put them somewhere that this will be ok, and easy for you to clean up!
  8. Eat right away or store in an air-tight container for a few days. 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken Nachos

Happy Friday, all!! I don't know about you, but Friday is the one night of the week when I just want to go home after work and veg out. Well, maybe not the one night I want to, but the one night I am usually able to. And for me, this means I don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I want something quick that I can throw together. And what is quicker than nachos?!?!

Chipotle Chicken Nachos 2

Full disclosure, though, these aren't super quick if you make them all in one day...slow cooker part and all. However, if you throw the chicken in there in the morning, or even the night before, then that's left is throwing all the goodies on top of chips and chowin' down!! 

I decided to use the idea from these Chipotle Beef Quesadillas, to make the chicken and it worked out fabulously! Those quesadillas are a household favorite of ours, so I figured we couldn't go wrong. 
I mixed up some guac, then piled on the cheese, shredded chicken, plops of guac and homemade salsa on top of some Central Market Veggie and Seed Blend Tortilla Chips and it.was.dinner! And it. was. GOOD. I wish I had made more, in reality. But alas there was none leftover. 

Looking at the pictures now makes me reeeeealllly hungry. And I just had lunch an hour ago. Dagnabit!

Chipotle Chicken Nachos

Next time I should make margaritas to go with them. Yesssssss. 

In the mean time, you should get this going in your crock-pot over the weekend. For realz. 

Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken Nachos

Ingredients
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4-6 Tbsp adobo sauce (I use the crushed chipotles in adobo sauce, you can also use a combo of chipotles in adobo, diced with some extra sauce, if you prefer)
  • 4 scallions, diced
  • 1 cup of cilantro, divided
  • juice of one lime
  • 3 Tbsp salsa
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Tortilla chips of choice
  • 2 cups Mexi-blend shredded cheese 
Preparation
  1. Place your chicken in the crock pot and top with chipotles and adobo sauce, scallions, 1/2 cup of the cilantro, lime juice, salsa and a good pinch of coarse salt and pepper. 
  2. Cook on high heat for 2-3 hours, or low heat for 4-5 hours. Flip it every hour or so, if you are able. 
  3. Meanwhile, make your guacamole. Place your avocados in a medium bowl and mash until there are no big lumps. Add lime juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as you like (more lime juice and garlic powder never hurts!) Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  4. When the  chicken is done, you can either stick a fork in there and shred the meat, or remove to a stand mixer and shred with the paddle attachment (my preferred method).
  5. Spread the chips out on your plate(s), top with shredded cheese, shredded chicken, spoonfuls of the guac and salsa, and extra cilantro, if you like. 
That's IT! How much easier could it get?? If you want the cheese melted before you put it on you can put the plate of chips/cheese in the micro for 15 seconds, but the heat of the chicken will most likely melt it for you :)
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