Happy April!

Popping in to share a few things I’ve tried recently, and also give an app suggestion.

Cheddar brat meatballs with 3 dipping sauces

I made this for the first time when a few friends came over (always a risk), and was pretty happy with the results. I wasn’t totally wowed by the dipping sauces, but the meatballs were solid. I can also never seem to make cheese-filled meatballs in a way that does not result in 80% of the cheese oozing out onto the pan, but I think that’s a personal problem.

Bacon-wrapped almond-stuffed dates

Also made for said friends. We went to town on these. I would absolutely make these again for a party or to bring to a potluck since they’re still delicious once cooled. Could not be easier, with an added bonus of minimal bacon grease clean-up!

Thai chicken peanut lettuce tacos

This was awesome! I’m not a huge fan of lettuce wraps so I just served this over a salad instead (Mike used tortillas). I would double the sauce next time (and there will be many next times for me!)

Crockpot chicken wild rice soup

I know we’re getting out of hearty soup season, so make it now! This was delicious and made a ton.

Roasted veggie enchilada casserole

This was decent but didn’t totally wow me.

Soft & thick snickerdoodles

I’ve made these 3 or 4 times for various events and they always turn out perfect. They are dangerous!

App suggestion: Paprika recipe manager

This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me in the kitchen. That’s not an exaggeration! I’ve always struggled to figure out the best way to collect new recipes and keep old ones. Pinterest always involved too many steps, and when I pulled up recipes in a browser it often seemed to crash or I would accidentally navigate off the page.

While these apps cost a few dollars per platform, it has been well-worth. I bought it for my phone and iPad, and use the free browser extension on my computer. I can look for recipes on any of my devices, and when I find a recipe I like, I only have to press one button to import it into the app. I can then add as many custom tags as I want to the recipe so that they’re well-organized (e.g., Mexican, chicken, side dishes, etc.)

As an added bonus, I can add these recipes to a grocery list (also within the app), add anything else I need that isn’t recipe specific, and then head to the grocery store with my phone. ¬†When I’m cooking, I open the recipe in the app on my iPad and prop it up on an IKEA stand. After we eat, I can rate the recipe out of 5 stars.

Highly recommend!


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Oh hey 2017

How many comebacks can one girl have? I’ve lost count ūüôā

Some of my Facebook friends have been posting about meals they’ve been making and it’s made me miss this place and the accountability it provides to be more active in the kitchen.

Not making any promises this time around regarding my posting frequency, but I do hope to be around these parts more regularly! And if you’re reading this, know that I would love to hear about what you’re making, too!

Without further ado, here’s what I’ve been making over the first week of 2017:

This was really easy, yummy, and filling. I didn’t toast the sesame seeds and I had to sub some shallot for scallion but I bet it would be even better if you followed those instructions.

Best tofu I have ever had, by far, and very easy to make. I ate a few pieces like chips as I was taking it out of the oven. Amazing as written but next time I’ll play around with some seasoning. I did not flip halfway through and it was fine. I had to use my fingers to peel the pieces off the foil, but that was fairly easy.

I roasted some extra veggies when making the salmon, and then put the veggies and tofu on a bed of spring mix with oil and vinegar for lunches. Awesome.

The “white girl”descriptor comes from me, because the spices are not quite right for this to be chicken tikka, at least with the brand of garam masala I have, but it’s still good.

I’ve made this twice in my blog absence. The first time I made it as written but used only 14.5 oz tomatoes instead of 28 oz as per suggestions in some of the comments. Very glad I did this because it would’ve been way too soupy otherwise.

The second time, I made a few other tweaks in addition to the reduced tomatoes:

–I forgot to buy onions so I skipped that and sprinkled a little onion powder instead.
–I also added some cayenne, turmeric, and red pepper flakes. This gave the dish more depth and heat but it still isn’t a dish that fits its original name.
–I added 1 cup of frozen peas and a drained/rinsed can of chickpeas at the same time as the cream/coconut milk to stretch the meal out a few more servings.

  • Frittata

I love frittatas and quiches because they’re so easy to customize with whatever veggies, cheese, and seasoning you have. I looked at a few recipes and combined a few to come up with my own, which was roughly:

–6 eggs, lightly beaten with about 1/2 cup almond milk
–2 cups frozen peppers and onions, thawed and patted dry
–1.5 cups shredded cheddar (I like cheese!)
–Salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and red pepper flakes to taste

Pour into greased 9″ pie pan and bake at 400 until set- I think it was somewhere around 35-40 mins for me. Add a few slices of avocado on top!

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Week in food: Last month or so??

Well, I disappeared off the face of the earth. I blame it on Sundays. I need chill Sundays to reorient myself and prepare for the week ahead. For the last 6 weeks or so, I’ve had something to do EVERY Sunday. While they were all super fun things that I was happy to attend, the end result is me feeling out of sync and barely cooking or buying any groceries for a month. Whoops.

I didn’t keep very good track of the few new things that I did make, but here’s what I can remember and corresponding reviews:

New recipe (15/52): The Best Burritos (make ahead and freeze)

These were awesome and super cheap. I used brown rice since neither Mike nor I are huge fans of quinoa. I included salsa and ~1 Tbsp of¬†shredded cheese and used flour tortillas instead of whole-grain. I only had about 1.5 cups of¬†pinto beans, and though they would have been better with the full amount they were still good. I also would have put more toppings in if my fridge weren’t empty, but they didn’t really need them. It has been so nice to have a bunch in the freezer to grab whenever, but we’ve actually eaten them so quickly that I probably didn’t even need to freeze them. They re-heat well. Will definitely make again.

New recipe (16/52): Baked pesto parmesan chicken

Not a ton to say about this one– very easy and very good.

New recipe (17/52): Creamy farro with white beans and kale

Farro is my new favorite grain. It’s like oatmeal (which may make these dish sound weird) but in a good way. Pro tip: get the 10-minute farro from Trader Joe’s and this comes together very quickly.

New recipe (18/52): Kale chips

I love when you come across a simple idea, have all the ingredients on hand, and can make it immediately. I usually freeze leftover kale for smoothies, but this was fun to try. Will make again.

New recipe (19/52): Glowing spiced lentil soup

I’ve made a handful of lentil recipes over the past 6 months or so, and none of them have wowed me. The use of coconut milk and unusual combo of spices in this one intrigued me. I decided that if I made this one and still felt “meh” that I would quit lentils. Well, the lentil gods smiled upon me after that proclamation- THIS IS SO GOOD!! It’s also super easy and inexpensive. All you have to chop is an onion and two cloves of garlic. I will probably be making this all summer despite it not being seasonally appropriate to eat that much soup.

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Week in food: 3/13/16

Happy March Madness!! My¬†plan was to frontload some recipes at the beginning of the week because I knew I wouldn’t want to cook later on.¬†However…have you ever had nights where you just don’t feel like eating? This happens to me more often than I think is normal, so I only have one actual dinner recipe to share.

New recipe (13/52): Clementine pound cake

I don’t know how I found this but it immediately intrigued me, and fortunately I had everything on hand to pop it in the oven on my telework day. This tortured me by smelling amazing for a long 70 minutes in the oven and it tasted just as good. LOVE this. I’m usually not an edge/crust person (in brownies, pies, breads, etc.) but the edges had a perfect crunch that complemented the cake. You should definitely try this recipe. It would be perfect for a brunch or tea party.

New recipe (14/52): Slow-cooker and kielbasa and white bean cassoulet

This was a Real Simple magazine find. It couldn’t have been simpler (get it…?) to put together. Pretty solid; I would make this again.


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Week in food: 3/6/16

I haven’t abandoned this blog! Life has just gotten in the way. I traveled for work for about 1.5 weeks, and in between/immediately after I stuck to a few favorite repeats. I’m back at it.

New recipe (10/52): Chana masala

I finally found some decently priced spices at Whole Foods, of all places! I got the cardamom I frequently bypassed at Giant and also picked up some garam masala for various Indian dishes. I felt pretty lame for being super excited about this.

For this recipe, I replaced the serrano with a jalapeno but kept everything else the same. I did scoop a bit at the end, blend with my immersion blender, and mix back in, and this definitely helped thicken things up.

This was pretty good, and given the ease of preparation and inexpensive ingredients (as long as you already have the spices- hint, check the Mexican aisle for cumin seeds) I will probably make it again. It was definitely on the spicier side for me, even with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to cool it down. The spices seemed to come together more overnight and it was easier for me to eat the second day.

New recipe (11/52): Crockpot white bean chicken chili

It seems like every time I put something in the Crockpot on a day I’m in the office I get stuck in a worse-than-usual traffic meltdown that throws off my plans. This dish was no exception. Even more frustrating, I left work on time for once and got home 30 minutes later than I do when I stay much later. Sigh.

Anyway, by the time I did get home I was starving (and in need of a drink), so I didn’t add the flour and milk at the end. It was still fine. When I was making my grocery list for the week I intended to double the beans but I totally forgot. One can was fine but I would still probably do two next time.

The verdict on this one: pretty solid, but not something I would immediately reach to make again.

New recipe (12/52): Pineapple mango coconut smoothie

I really like the Bai drinks and buy them way too often at work. On one of the unseasonably warm mornings this week (this weather has given me life!!!) I decided I wanted to make a smoothie, and after Googling around I found this site and adapted the “blogger’s favorite” smoothie (scroll down on the site).

I used kale instead of spinach (and used closer to 1/2 cup than 1 cup) and 1/2 cup of pineapple and 1/2 cup of mango instead of 1 cup of pineapple. This is probably the best smoothie I’ve ever made at home. Delicious.

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Belated Week in food: 2/7/16

Looks like I forgot to press “submit” on this one!

New recipe (9/52): Black bean ragout with salsa chicken

This is another recipe from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. Unlike the tacos from last week, I wasn’t very impressed this time around.¬†I did make two small¬†adjustments to the recipe:

  • The only dried chiles the grocery store had were ghost peppers, and as someone who can’t even handle a ton of jalapeno I was not about to do that. Instead, I used two chiles in adobo sauce, which I thought would give the beans flavor, albeit a different one from a dried chile.
  • Stupidly, I started this after coming home from work, assuming it would be done in 3 hours. It was not even close. Instead of staying up till 2am for it to finish, I switched it to low and left it overnight.
  • I only have a 4-quart Crockpot. After some debating I decided to keep the recipe as is but adjust the water. I put in as much water as I could fit, which was way less than 2 liters.

The verdict: I think the chile swap and change in cook time worked fine. The beans weren’t super flavorful, but I don’t think the dried chile would have solved the problem.¬†The biggest problem was that the beans were super soupy. I tried using my immersion blender to thicken it a bit, but it didn’t help. I ended up having to discard a lot of the liquid.

These were fine- we ate them with salsa chicken, as well as the pickled onion, cumin sour cream, and avocado called for in the recipe- but I think I would have been just as happy with heating a can of black beans on the stove with some spices.

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Week in food: 1/31/16

This week was a good one! Trying to keep the momentum going into next week before my schedule gets thrown off by some work travel.

New recipe (6/52): Spaghetti squash, black beans, and queso fresco tacos

This recipe is from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, which I discovered at the library last week. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the recipe is all over the Internet under various other names and authors, but that kinda sucks for the original. And I guess I’m not helping by linking to one of those…*shrugs*

These couldn’t be easier to make (the microwave is your friend) and taste delicious. Mike and I scarfed down a ridiculous amount. Next time I would go out of my way to get fresh cilantro, which I normally wouldn’t do, but it was fine with dried. Splurging on fancy cheese was also worth it.

New recipe (7/52): Chicken stir fry with broccoli, peppers, onion, and Mojo Stir-Fry Sauce over brown rice

“Eating Well” magazine had an article about different stir-fry combinations, and it made me realize it had never even occurred to me to make my own.¬†I have a love-hate relationship with stir-fry.¬†Long story short, this was my attempt to recapture¬†the magic of make-your-own University of Maryland dining hall stir-fry that gave me life on Mondays and Wednesdays my sophomore year of college.

The frying of the chicken/veggies and making of the rice is pretty self-explanatory. Here is the recipe for the sauce:

Mojo stir-fry sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro (I used a little less than 1 tbsp dried)
1 tbsp EVOO
2 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp oregano

This was pretty good and goes really quickly once everything is chopped. Mike and I both like a lot of sauce so we would probably double the sauce recipe if we were to make it again. I’d probably be more inclined to try a different combo, though.

New recipe (8/52): Italian breaded pork chops with rice/veggie blend

I’m not very experienced in the world of pork chops. I was mildly concerned I would give us food poisoning by not cooking it through (no thermometer here), but we’re still alive. Breadcrumbs make everything taste delicious, so this was a win.

The ingredient list is a bit off from the recipe I used in the magazine. I had plenty of leftover egg and breadcrumbs when using less than is called for here. I suggest scaling down to 2 eggs, 2 tbsp milk, 1 cup breadcrumbs, and 1/3 cup parmesan. You could do even less of the breadcrumb mixture and be fine.

I subbed 1 tsp basil for the parsley and added 1 tsp garlic powder instead of using cloves of garlic. I don’t have a cast iron skillet (yet- it’s on my wishlist), so after browning them on both sides I put them on a foil-lined cookie sheet for about 10-15 minutes.

Have a happy Super Bowl Sunday!

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