Monday, August 19, 2013

Cheesy Twice Baked Potatoes with Black Beans & Olives

Have you ever bought a bag of potatoes, but couldn’t think of anything to do with them? Of course not! You can do practically anything with potatoes! Boil em, mash em, stick em in a stew (sorry, I couldn’t resist). They can be initially time consuming, but if you bake them in advance, you can quickly make roasted potatoes, homemade French fries, potato salad, and now these delicious twice baked potatoes. You’re welcome.

I got the idea for these from a cheesy bread recipe my mom used to make when I was a kid. She would scoop out the inside of a long piece of French bread, mix it with cheddar cheese, red onions, olives, and mayonnaise, then put it back in and bake it until bubbly and delicious. It was always the first thing to go at any party, and I thought it would be easy to adapt to twice baked potatoes. I was planning to make them ahead of time for dinner tomorrow, but we ended up eating most of them tonight. I think that means they’re blog worthy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Peppers Stuffed with Couscous & Veggie Sausage

Lately it seems like I’ve had zero energy when I get home. I feel all kinds of motivated on my drive home, thinking about all the cleaning, cooking, and general productiveness I’m going to accomplish; but the second I kick off my shoes and put on my comfy clothes, all of that is pretty much out the lounge-loving, internet-surfing window. But today I found the solution…caffeine! Ha ha

I’ve been excited to make these peppers for a while now, so I took advantage of my sudden burst of energy and decided to finally give it a try. I used flavored couscous and Italian veggie sausages to make it easy, and even used baking time to do the dishes AND a load of laundry. That means I don’t have to be productive for the rest of the week, right?

By the way, I apologize for the bad pictures – I was hungry and impatient!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Thai Inspired Veggie Wrap

Do you ever find yourself in a serious lunch rut? I do on a pretty regular basis. My crazy kicks mixed with my desire to do as little as possible when it comes to prepping for the busy week doesn’t help. Taking a healthy lunch to work is a high priority for me, but I just don’t want to spend too much of my precious free time putting it all together.  So, in an effort to diversify my lunchtime experience while still being able to maximize my time, I’ve been experimenting with adding different flavors to some of my quick and easy favorites to bring a little life back to my boring noon-hour.

That’s exactly what I did with this spin on a typical veggie wrap. By adding some classic Thai flavors, like peanuts, peppers, celery and carrots, I added a lot more flavor and gave my taste buds a break from my usual hummus and feta combo. It was surprisingly good, and I’m actually looking forward to the work week now! (well, kind of…ha ha)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Herbed Flatbread Pizza with Artichoke Hearts and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Yumm - I am so glad I got a picture of this before we devoured it! Dustin actually gave it a 9 out of 10 on his "No B.S." scale (that's what he calls it), which is practically unheard of. Let me tell you a little about Dustin and his little scale. Most of the time when I ask him to rate my meals he takes a bite, churns it around in his mouth thoughtfully, swallows it, and the says astutely "it's a solid 7." Never. Fail. There has been one other occasion where he rated something higher than that, because, as he puts it "if you give everything a 10, then what are you going to give an actual 10? If everything you cook is a 10, then the scale becomes useless and you might as well not measure anything."

I give his reasoning a solid 7.

Anyway, where I was going with that is that if Dustin broke his own rule to give this recipe a 9, not an 8, mind you, but two full numbers above his usual rating, then it must be good!

Here's what you do: Soften the butter in the microwave for a few seconds, then mix in the herbs and spread evenly over the flatbread. Top with parmesan cheese, artichoke hearts, golden cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, and fresh basil; then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.

Done and done!

I didn't measure anything out this time, but you can't really go wrong here. Just don't use too many sun dried tomatoes - they can really overpower a dish.

2 flatbreads (I use the StoneFire brand)
2 Tbs butter
Dried basil, oregano, and garlic powder (a few shakes of each)
Handful of golden cherry tomatoes, sliced into rounds
Marinated artichoke hearts to taste
Sun dried tomatoes to taste
A few leaves of fresh basil, thinly sliced
Shaved Parmesan cheese, about two handfuls
Servings: 2
Pin It
Thanks for reading my blog! Please leave your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or meals you would like to see me cook, in the comments below. Follow, share, and enjoy!

pic name pic name pic name pic name

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Quick Post: Berry Mango Fruit Salad with Lime

Hello and Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there! I hope you are feeling loved and appreciated today. I didn't get to see my mom today (we celebrated yesterday), but I made a fruit salad in her honor. Thanks again for everything that you do, Mom!

This is a super simple fruit salad that goes great with just about anything. I chose to pair it with a strawberry pound cake I had left over from yesterday, and it went perfect together. The cake soaked up all the yummy juices, and the whipped cream paired amazingly with the tartness of the mangoes and zing of lime. It's also just really good on it's own - all you do is toss the fruit together, squeeze the lime over, and sprinkle with a little sugar - done!

Enjoy your day, moms!


1/2 mango cut into chunks
handful of ripe blackberries
4-5 strawberries cut into rounds and spears
1/4-1/2 lime (depending on juiciness)
1/2 tsp sugar

Serving size: 1-2

Pin It
Thanks for reading my blog! Please leave your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or meals you would like to see me cook, in the comments below. Follow, share, and enjoy!

pic name pic name pic name pic name

For My Mother on Mother's Day

To know the kind of mother I have, you first must know a little bit about my childhood. When I was little, I spent most of my summer days outside in the pasture. I would come in with mud on my new dresses, hay in my hair, and, more often than not, cow manure splattered somewhere that was sure to leave a stain. It probably seemed as though I was simply rolling in dirt - which is not far from the truth!

Cows were curious, and so was I. I poked at frogs with sticks by day and fell asleep to their songs at night. Trees were for climbing, thinking, and making plans. Hay bails, to the expert eye, could be morphed easily into castles, forts, tunnels, kitchens, storefronts, dangerous cliffs, murky forests, and any number of make believe environments floating around in my still unbridled imagination.  

In the winter I valued  my milking boots and umbrella above all else; they allowed me to wade through and languish in mucky puddles, soaking in that weird, cool, squishy feeling around my ankles. They also made me feel far superior to the other second-graders who wore mere tennis shoes, and could explore not the perilous depths of those expansive bodies of water the way I could.

With all this adventure and excitement during the day, I heeded little mind to the goings on in our little farmhouse until I heard my Mother calling us in for dinner, and realized I was suddenly and ravenously hungry. I would race inside to delightful smells, my Mother's warm, familiar smile, and remindful directions to wash the dirt off my hands and change my clothes - dinner would be ready in 15 minutes. Oh how those 15 minutes crept by - bubbling pots teasing and twisting my stomach.

How lucky I was. I realize now that my childhood was an amazing gift. While I was blissfully exploring, pretending, and adventuring, my Mother was working, taking care of ailing grandparents, mending our torn clothes, planning activities for my sister and me, taking care of the housework, running the errands, and still making sure that a home-cooked meal would be on our table when our adventures were done. We never knew how much she did or that she must have been tired; and when we came inside she rarely turned down games, story-telling, or book-reading.

All of this leads me to a question: how did you do it, Mom? How did you do...everything? To this day you are the warmest, silliest, most capable, and most kind-hearted person I know.  You showed us how to make the most out of what we are given, and how to love with our whole hearts. You encouraged us to be creative, and to always try a little harder. You're also the best damn cook I know, and some of my fondest memories are of us sharing meals, and later sharing recipes.

The simple truth is that I wouldn't be who I am without you, and I am so grateful.

Thank you, Mom, and happy Mother's Day! 

Pin It
Thanks for reading my blog! Please leave your thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or meals you would like to see me cook, in the comments below. Follow, share, and enjoy!

pic name pic name pic name pic name

Monday, April 22, 2013

Perfect Pasta Salad

Right now I’m on a serious pasta salad kick. I love it. I eat it for lunch every day…then I come home and have it again for dinner. Every day, you say? Yes (well, mostly for the last week anyway). Why, might you ask? Because it’s delicious! Also because it’s super-duper easy to make, and it’s ideal for leftovers (you don’t even have to heat it up, for goodness’ sake!). Are you crazy, you might think? That is yet to be determined, BUT, in my defense, this is a much better kick than the strawberry cake kick I was on a few weeks ago, or the McDonald’s dipped cone kick before that, or the hummus and spicy pretzel kick before that – none of those were doing me any favors. I’m also on a grape kick, and a carrot/cucumber kick at the moment, but I don’t have any recipes for those. You may or may not have come to a conclusion about my sanity at this point, so I will move on.

This recipe is pretty simple – the only thing you have to cook is the pasta! (are you on board with me yet?) I use a mix of fresh veggies and some favorite preserved items, like kalamata olives and marinated artichoke hearts. The thing I love is that it’s really adaptable for your taste preferences; and there’s nothing better than coming home and NOT having to cook dinner because it’s already waiting in the fridge.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash

This recipe started as most of them do, with meanderings in the grocery store. As usual, I was in the produce section picking out my week's larder, sorting through yams and gathering up potatoes, when my eyes wandered to the plump little acorn squashes nearby. I was intrigued by their shape, so without thinking much about what I would do with it, I nestled one in my basket and continued with my shopping.

A few days later when I realized that I actually had to cook the thing, I started looking for recipes online. I started out thinking I would make a savory dish, possibly stuffing it with rice and fresh herbs, but I started seeing all kinds of recipes that called for butter and sugar instead - it didn't take me long to jump on that train and pull out of the station! And, despite my husband's skepticism once it came out of the oven, it was delicious! I can't wait to make this one again.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Baked Asparagus with Sea Salt and Lime

If you're anything like me, then you probably have some fall back side dishes that don't really taste that great but never get an upgrade because they're quick and easy and comfortable. Asparagus has been one of those side dishes for me - I always prepared it in one of two ways: steamed, or baked with lemon slices...adventurous, I know.

As you may have guessed, I recently upgraded my lowly side dish and wanted to share. Purely by improvisation I used lime juice instead of lemon slices one night when I forgot to pick up lemons at the store (see, being forgetful can have its good points!). And bingo-bango: I had a yummy new side dish! Honestly, I really can't believe what a big difference this small change made.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sweet & Spicy Grilled Cheese on Sliced Pugliese

The other day I was in the grocery store, wrestling to make my way through the hordes of holiday shoppers picking up their last minute Christmas dinner items (I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who waits until the last minute - high five, guys!), and I noticed these really wonderful looking, golden pineapples. 

This triggered a memory of a recipe I had seen recently for a baked, rice stuffed pineapple dish, and I immediately thought wouldn't that be the perfect side dish to bring for Christmas dinner?! I had visions of presenting this perfectly prepared dish, oohs and awws abounding as I placed it directly in the center of the table (ha!), so into the basket it went along with all my good intentions...then in a bag...then on the counter where it took up residence - long past the holiday festivities. My good ole friends Lazy and TV convinced me that it was too much trouble! (Perhaps it's time to make some new friends in the new year?)

Anyway! There was a point to this story, which was that I needed to do something with this miserable pineapple that I bought before it turned to mush on my kitchen counter. So it got demoted from Christmas side dish extraordinaire, to a sweet and spicy grilled cheese! Sorry pineapple!