Monday, September 30, 2013

Lemon Bars

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My best friend recently moved into a new home about 15 minutes from my house. She threw a housewarming party the other weekend, and I offered to bring dessert for the party. I immediately knew I would be making Lemon Bars for her. I made them a few years ago, and she has asked me to make them again ever since. I'm such a terrible friend and hadn't made them again, so I figured this was a perfect opportunity.
And I was right--the whole tray was gone in no time. A lot of guests even said they weren't huge lemon fans, but they were fans of these. The lemon flavor is subtle enough not to overwhelm your taste buds. Plus the buttery crust and powdered sugar topping mellow out any tanginess you might taste. I'll have to stop being so stingy and make these more often--they really are amazing. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe


For the crust:
  • 2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter, softened
For the filling:
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9x13 inch pan and set aside.

For the crust, mix the softened butter into the flour and powdered sugar with your hands (or a pastry blender) until it clings together.  Press the mixture in the bottom of the greased pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden.

For the filling, beat the eggs with a hand mixer for about 5 minutes until frothy. Stir in the sugar and lemon juice.

In another bowl, sift together flour and baking powder.  Stir into the egg mixture. Pour over the baked, warm crust and bake for an additional 25 minutes.  

Cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Source: Tasty Kitchen

Friday, September 27, 2013

Chilled Shrimp Salad with a Lime Dressing (Gluten-Free)

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You'd think it was Lent or something with all the vegetarian meals I've been cooking lately. Sometimes I think it's refreshing to remove the red meat from my diet, though. It gives my body a little kick-start and makes me feel a lot healthier and a little rejuvenated. I recommend trying it out for yourself once in a while.
This simple salad is both refreshing and filling. The shrimp pieces scattered throughout really fill you up, plus the fresh lime juice, red onion, artichoke hearts and tomatoes add some crisp and light flavors. This is an easy weeknight meal or a nice substitute for lunch. You can eat this on a bed of lettuce or with some tortilla chips. Either way it makes a hearty meal. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
  • Lime wedges, for serving (optional)
  • Lettuce, for serving (optional)
  • Tortilla chips, for serving (optional)
Preheat pan to medium heat. Add shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, flipping halfway through, until done. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a small bowl combine the tomato, red onion, lime juice, garlic, and olive oil.

Once shrimp is cool, toss in a medium bowl with tomato mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with lime wedges over a bed of lettuce or with tortilla chips.

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tomato and Artichoke Flatbread

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I've been on an artichoke kick lately. Have you tried the marinated ones they sell? They're addictive. I could eat them straight from the jar. Those and the roasted red peppers. They don't compare to my mom's recipe, but sometimes I just can't help myself.

I used some of the artichokes I managed to salvage to make another meatless dinner. This one won't break the bank and can be ready in less than 10 minutes. I used Light Laughing Cow cheese that are sold in an assortment of flavors. I chose the garlic and herb flavor since it complimented the "pizza" thing I had going on. Top this with fresh spinach, tomatoes and those marinated artichokes...and you have yourself dinner in no time. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 2 large pita breads
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil 
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves 
  • 2 wedges The Laughing Cow light cheese, garlic and herb flavored 
  • 1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped 
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped 
  • 1/2 tsp. Pizza seasoning 
Brush both sides of pita breads lightly with the oil. Place first pita bread on a pan over medium heat. Once the bottom begins to brown, remove from heat.

Flip over to spread browned side with one wedge of cheese. Top with half of the spinach, artichokes, tomato and pizza seasoning. Return to pan and allow the other side to brown and vegetables to heat through, about 2 minutes.

Repeat with remaining pita bread and other half of toppings.

Source: SK Original

Monday, September 23, 2013

Meatless Mexican Pizza

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For this month's Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned Desiree's blog, Steak and Potatoes Kinda Gurl. Her blog started off as a way for her to keep track of restaurants she reviewed, and then she slowly started added her own recipes to her blog. And I'm glad she did--her recipes are right up my alley and I love her pictures. You should check her out!
I decided to go with a meatless option this month since I recently created a new "Vegetarian" label on my site. This was requested a while ago, and I finally got around to sorting all my recipes that fit the criteria. And when I say this pizza doesn't even need the ground beef--I mean it. The refried beans act as the sauce and I love the cool contrast of all the fresh vegetables. The crisp romaine has to be my favorite part, although the lime-marinated grilled corn and avocado are right up there. This is a pizza that both meat and non-meat lovers will enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 (10-12 inch) ready-made thin pizza crust
  • 1 (15 oz.) can fat-free refried beans
  • 1 cup Mexican cheese, shredded
  • 1 corn on the cob
  • 1/2 red onion, diced and divided
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice 
  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, shredded
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet and roll out pizza crust. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, grill corn until charred and cooked. Using a knife, cut off grilled corn kernels into a bowl.

Spread refried beans evenly onto partially baked crust, leaving 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle with cheese and half of the diced red onions. Place in oven for an additional 6-10 minutes, or until crust is golden.

Meanwhile, gently stir avocado with 1 tbsp. lime juice. Toss corn with remaining 1 tbsp. lime juice.

Top cooked pizza with romaine, tomato, avocado, remaining diced onions, and corn mixture.

Source: Adapted from Steak and Potatoes Kinda Gurl

Friday, September 20, 2013

Triple Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

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I had one of those nights again. It was 8:30pm and boredom struck. Nothing was on TV, it was too late to go out and do anything with Chris, and it was too early to head to bed. The only logical solution was to bake something. Obviously.
Even though I've been living on my own for 10 years now (eek!), I still find that my mom and dad buy me groceries or household items every once in a while. And I love it. My mom found miniature boxes of cookie and cake mixes, so she bought me a couple to try out. I decided to use the Devil's Food Cake mix when my boredom hit, but decided to make a cookie using it instead of a cake. The result was a super chocolately cookie with a cake-like texture. These were quick and easy to make, and by the time they were done it was finally a reasonable time for me to head to bed. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1 (12 oz.) mini box Devil's Food Cake mix
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside.

Mix cake mix, vegetable oil, eggs and Nutella in a medium bowl. Fold in chocolate chips.

Scoop 1 1/2 tbsp. of the mixture on the baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until tops are set.

Allow to rest on baking sheet for one minute, then remove to a rack to let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Source: SK Original

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Baked Apple Chips

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Since my due date is during prime apple picking season, I'm going to miss doing it at the local orchard this year. (But I did get to go peach picking!!) It's a family tradition that we all go every year, so I'm sort of bummed that I won't get to participate. I guess the reason why I can't go is somewhat of a good one, though :) Plus, it didn't stop me from trying out some fun fall apple recipes!

I'm always looking for new ways to use the apples we pick, and this recipe is definitely a winner. I'll have to remember it for when we go next year. Apple chips are a healthy and flavorful snack to munch on in place of processed snacks from the grocery store. They are delicious plain, but you can also eat them alongside ice-cream for a little crunch. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 3 medium sized apples
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
Pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Core the apples and slice as thin as possible (use a mandolin, if possible).

Combine the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of each apple. Place in a single layer on the prepared baking sheets.
Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Flip the apples and continue baking for an additional 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Serve them alongside ice-cream or munch on them by themselves.

Source: SK Original

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pulled Pork Quesadillas

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We always have a ton of pulled pork leftover after I make my homemade Slow Cooker version, so I usually freeze the leftovers for a rainy day. These leftovers come in handy when we want a last-minute meal or don't feel like running to the grocery store for dinner ingredients. Also, with a baby on the way it makes life a little easier to have some frozen meals ready for when life gets hectic. I plan on making a lot of these types of freezer-meals so I can defrost them and be on my way after he's here and I'm sleep deprived. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 4 large tortillas
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 cup BBQ Pulled Pork, homemade or store bought
  • 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • BBQ sauce, for serving (optional)
  • Light sour cream, for serving (optional)

Heat up pulled pork so warm. Set aside.

Lightly spread one side of each tortilla with vegetable oil. Place one tortilla, oil side down, in a skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle on half of the cheese mixture and half of the pulled pork. Top with another tortilla, oil side up.
Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes or until lightly brown and cheese begins to melt. Flip quesadilla by placing a dish on top, flipping it onto the plate, and then sliding it back into the skillet. Cook the other side of the quesadilla for an additional 2-3 minutes or until cheese is completely melted. Note: You can cover the skillet with a lid in order to speed up the melting process.
Repeat with remaining two tortillas, pulled pork and cheese.
Serve immediately with sour cream and BBQ sauce.
Source: SK Original

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fresh Peach Crumb Bars

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We've all had the typical peach cobbler, peach crisp and I'm sure some variation of a peach pie. I favor desserts in the form of bars so I decided to switch it up from the conventional and try something new. I love the crumb topping of these bars and how easy they are to whip together. All the ingredients were already in my pantry, so it took no time to throw them together.  
I'm sure these could be adapted to many types of fruit as well. I had leftover peaches on hand, so it worked out perfectly for me. But I bet it would also be great with blueberries or strawberries as well. These are best served the day you make them or maybe a day after, but eventually the juices from the peaches make the crust softer than you would prefer. The crust is buttery and slightly crispy, and the fruit layer adds just the right amount of sweetness. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 16 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 cups peeled, chopped peaches (about 5 peaches)
  • 5 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. lemon juice, divided
  • Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, flour and salt. Mix in 1 tsp. lemon juice. Cut in the butter and egg with a pastry blender until the largest chunks are about pea-sized. The mixture should be crumbly without much loose flour. Spread about half of the dough mixture in an even layer over the bottom of the prepared pan and press down firmly to form the bottom crust.

In another bowl, stir together the remaining sugar, cornstarch, 1 tbsp. lemon juice and nutmeg. Gently mix in the peaches* with a rubber spatula until combined. Sprinkle the fruit mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble the remaining dough over the top of the peaches.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until the top is slightly golden brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares and serving.
*Note: Because my peaches were overly ripe, they were floating in a bowl of juice. I used a slotted spoon to transfer the fruit to the baking dish, discarding most of the excess juice, to prevent the crust from getting soggy.

Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sloppy Joe Tater Tot Casserole

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I know my husband like the back of my hand, and that includes knowing what his favorite comfort foods are. Since his busy season at work is underway, I like to surprise him once in a while with his favorite indulgences. And if that includes taking my own spin on it, then so be it.
Sloppy Joes (the store-bought, canned kind) are one of his favorite things. Tater tots are also high up on his list, so when I saw a casserole that included both items I knew he would love it. Sneaking some vegetables into this casserole doesn't hurt either, and makes it a great option for kids, too. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1.25 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1/2 (15.2 oz.) can corn, drained
  • 1 (15 oz.) can Manwich Original Sloppy Joe Sauce
  • 2 oz. 1/3 less-fat cream cheese
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
  • 16 oz. seasoned tater tots
  • Scallions, chopped, for sprinkling on top as desired
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef with the peppers and onions until the meat is cooked through. Drain the fat and return to the heat. Stir in the corn, Manwich, and cream cheese. Cook over low heat until the cream cheese is melted.

Pour the sloppy joe mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Top with half of the grated cheese.

Arrange the tater tots in a single layer over the top of the cheese. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chopped chives if desired. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Buns in my Oven

Monday, September 9, 2013

Chris' Marinated Grilled Steak

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The summer is slowly coming to an end, but we are still trying to get as much use out of our grill as we possibly can. Chris likes experimenting with different marinades for the meat and vegetables he cooks, and they never disappoint. 
His latest concoction included soy sauce, lemon juice, garlic juice. A different marinade than I'm used to, but it was amazing. The steak turned out moist and packed with flavor, and I couldn't resist dipping my steak into the extra juices that flowed out on the platter. Enjoy these last few days of summer while you can!

Printable Recipe

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 (1 1/2 inch thick) NY strip steaks
Combine the first 8 ingredients in a small bowl. Pour into a large ziplock bag and add steaks. Let out all the air and seal well. Massage the steaks to work in the marinade. Allow to sit for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat grill to medium heat. Grill for 4 minutes per side for medium rare or 5-6 minutes for medium (longer if you prefer your steak more well-done).

Remove from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Source: Chris

Friday, September 6, 2013

Chicken Gyros

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One of my favorite on-the-go restaurants is a nearby Greek restaurant called Plaka Grill. They have the most amazing gyros and fries. The only thing that holds me back from going is that their wait is usually long since they are so popular, and whenever I go I always tend to order a side of large fries and baklava. Exactly NOT what my growing pregnant body needs right now.
These homemade chicken gyros are a satisfying replacement for my beloved Plaka gyro, and it pleasantly exceeded my expectations. The chicken is super healthy and moist since it is marinated for at least an hour and then cooked in a tiny amount of vegetable oil, plus the tzatziki sauce is one of the best I've ever had. It's made with Greek yogurt, so the calorie content is much lower than what you would order at a restaurant. Plus it adds a little tang that makes it out of this world. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe 

Tzatziki sauce:
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 regular cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • Extra virgin olive oil
For the chicken:
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tbsp.)
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 heaping tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
To assemble:
  • Pita bread
  • Fresh tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • Red onion, sliced thin
To prepare the chicken, combine the garlic, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl. Whisk together until mixed well. Add the chicken pieces to the bowl and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Meanwhile, chop the cucumber into small pieces. Wrap in a towel a squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Mix together the yogurt, chopped cucumber, garlic, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and lemon juice. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Add 1 tbsp. vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook until done, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes. 

Heat pitas. Top with chicken, tzatziki sauce, diced tomatoes and sliced onions. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Peach Sorbet

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I go apple picking with my family every year, and since my due date is towards the end of September this year (which is when we normally go) we decided to bump it up to the end of August instead. No apples were available since we went so early, but we got a delicious assortment of peaches, tomatoes and potatoes instead. I thought it was a nice change of pace.
I wanted to make something refreshing with my load of peaches, so I opted to use my new KitchenAid Ice Cream maker and make some sorbet. The result was a perfectly icy mixture with a blend of sweet and tart flavors. This is a great palate cleanser after a hearty summer meal. Enjoy!

Printable Recipe

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 cups ripe peaches, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Add the peaches to a blender. Once the syrup is cool, add the syrup and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

Freeze the purée using an ice cream maker. This usually takes about 12-15 minutes, but use the manufacturer’s directions. In the meantime, place a container in the freezer to chill. Once sorbet is done, scoop into chilled container and freeze until solid.

Source: SK Original

Monday, September 2, 2013

Grilled Vegetables with Lemon-Garlic Butter

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Happy Labor Day! I've got a great last minute side dish you can throw on the grill to wow your guests. Chris is a master on the grill, and therefore I love nights when he says he's going to surprise me with dinner. Most of the time that includes some sort of new grilled concoction, and I especially love when he finds a new way to grill my favorite vegetables.
We love grilled vegetables, but this last time he spruced them up by spreading homemade lemon-garlic butter over top. I was obsessed with the fresh butter flavor paired with the smoky flavor of the grill. I took the leftovers for lunch, and they were just as good the next day. Enjoy!
Printable Recipe

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium squash
  • 2 ears of corn, husked
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. garlic, minced
Wash the eggplant, zucchini and squash. Cut off the ends and then cut into 1/4" pieces.

Microwave the butter for 30 seconds, or until melted. Add the lemon juice and garlic and mix to combine.

Preheat the grill to medium-low heat. Brush the eggplant, zucchini, squash and corn with the butter mixture. Place the vegetables directly on the grill.

Turn the eggplant, zucchini and squash after 4-5 minutes and continue to cook on the other side for 4-5 additional minutes. For the corn, turn the cob every 3-4 minutes to get a good char on each side. Enjoy!

Source: Chris