4/15/14

Jelly Egg Cookies


Can I say how excited I am to set up an Easter egg hunt for my toddler this year? She wasn't big enough to get the concept last year but this year I am excited to see her run around the yard looking for eggs. Also exciting? Having an excuse to buy Easter candy to fill those eggs, since my "I'm pregnant" excuse expired a few weeks ago. Easter really has some of the best candy, doesn't it?

Jelly eggs don't often stand out in the Easter candy crowd of chocolate mini eggs, creme eggs, chocolate bunnies and malted eggs, but they are classic and deservedly so. I'm one of those crazy people that picks out the black licorice ones to eat first, but all of the colors eventually get eaten if an open bag is near me. One thing I love about this cookie recipe is that it really highlights jelly eggs and their fruity flavor instead of seeming like candy thrown on a cookie as an afterthought. The cookies themselves are chock full of oatmeal and coconut and have a great chewy texture and slightly salty taste. Combine that with the sweet jelly eggs and you have a delicious cookie that is hard to stop from eating. And did I mention how cute they are? And how my daughter went nuts when she saw them because they were both cookie AND candy? Make some of your own and you will make your family's day.


Jelly Egg Cookies

Heat Oven To 350 Published 04/15/2014
Jelly Egg Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut (see Note)
  • ~ 100 assorted small jelly eggs

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350. In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine butter and sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and beat just until incorporated. Stir in oats and coconut.
  3. Roll dough into approximately 1 1/2 tablespoon sized balls to make about 2 1/2 dozen cookies. Place dough balls on cookie sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with the back of a spoon. Press three jelly eggs into the indentation of each cookie and bake 11-12 minutes, or until starting to brown on the edges. Cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.
Note: The coconut used here has to be unsweetened, which I usually buy in the health food section of my grocery store or on Amazon. I've seen it in several forms: long shreds, big flat flakes and tiny shreds. The tiny shreds seem to be the most common. In this recipe I like the big flat flakes because of the texture they add, but any of the shapes would work. If using the tiny shreds I would reduce the amount used to 1 1/4 cups, however. 

Yield: 2-3 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Cook time: 30 mins.
Total time: 40 mins.
Recipe Source: adapted slightly from saramoulton.com

4/11/14

Slow Cooker Tamale Pie


Have you ever seen pictures of cute toddlers cradling their newborn siblings, or giving them sweet kisses on the forehead? Adorable, right? And sooooo not my toddler. My husband and I thought that since Amelia is outgoing and was not much of a mama's girl to begin with that the transition from only child to older sister would go smoothly. 

We were so wrong. 

Once Amelia figured out that this sleepy, poopy creature that takes away some of mom's time was here to stay she unleashed an epic whiny mode the likes of which we had never seen before. The new baby was public enemy #1, and everyone who held her or paid attention to her was dead to Amelia. As you can imagine, it was quite charming. Luckily, as we finish up week 3 of sister-mageddon, things are starting to look up. Clara is awake more which seems to delight Amelia, and Amelia has started asking about her when she is away napping. There were even a couple spontaneous kisses on the forehead the other day that almost made my heart stop. Hopefully things will continue to improve. 

In the midst of the sibling attention wars and round-the-clock feedings, slow cooker meals like this one are lifesavers. Thank heavens for nap time, because it is the only reason we are wearing clean clothes and ever have home cooked meals. This tamale pie is easy to throw together and doesn't taste like your regular crock pot meal. In fact, it is more like a casserole than anything else, but we don't use that word in our house or my husband will not touch it. It isn't the loveliest dinner, but one bite and you'll be a fan. A slightly spicy meat and bean mixture is topped with a cornbread layer and the whole thing bakes in the slow cooker so it is wonderfully tender and the flavors meld. Add some cheese on top (because cheese makes everything good) and you've got an easy dinner that is ready no matter how busy things get at dinner time. 



Slow Cooker California Tamale Pie

Heat Oven To 350 Published 04/11/2014
Slow Cooker California Tamale Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder (use a mild chili powder here or reduce the amount if you don't want it spicy)
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt
  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1 14 oz can pitted ripe California black olives, drained
  • 1 16 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add ground meat, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until meat has browned. Drain fat and add chili powder, ground cumin and black beans. Stir to combine and put meat mixture in the bottom of a 5-6 quart slow cooker.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, milk, eggs, salt, cumin, corn, olives and tomatoes. Pour mixture over meat mixture in the slow cooker.
  3. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the tamale pie, cover and cook 10 minutes to melt the cheese.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 mins.
Cook time: 04 hrs
Total time: 4 hrs. 10 mins.
Recipe Source: Adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker

4/3/14

Welcome, Clara!

As you might had guessed from my last post, I've taken a couple weeks from posting to welcome this little one to our family:






 We're pretty smitten with her and I'm loving being home with her and Amelia right now. I'll be back next week with some recipes for you!

3/18/14

Mexican Lasagna


Two days. Two. Days. If baby has not made her debut by Thursday, she's scheduled to get a little encouragement in the form of some pitocin. We had an unplanned dry run on Sunday night when we went to the hospital with contractions . . . that stopped as soon as we got to the hospital. I'm not normally the type to overreact, but my doctor has drilled it in my head that due to our long drive to the hospital and this being my second baby I should waste no time getting there. True, better safe than sorry, but you can't help feeling dumb when you are explaining to the nurses that you were having contractions. You swear. 


The only kind of food being made at our house lately is either from a restaurant or super simple. With plenty of leftovers. This fits the second bill, but tastes like it fits the first, too. You can't go wrong with layers of seasoned meat, tortillas and cheese, cooked to gooey perfection in a 9x13 pan. It is relatively quick to make, and is one of those dishes where the leftovers taste as good or better than the original meal. The pepperjack and taco sauce give it a little kick, but not too much for my wimpy tastebuds. Glamorous, it isn't, but in terms of tastiness and ease, it ranks way up there. For busy weeknights or evenings where you just don't feel like doing much work, this is a great option. 


Mexican Lasagna

Heat Oven To 350 Published 03/18/2014
Mexican Lasagna

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds lean ground chicken or turkey
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups taco sauce (medium or mild heat)
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • salt
  • 12-15 corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
  • green onions, sliced

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Brown ground chicken or turkey with chili powder, cumin and chopped onion.
  2. When meat has browned, add taco sauce, black beans and corn. Cook, stirring often, until beans and corn are heated through, about 2 minutes.
  3. Spread remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. Add 1/3 of the meat mixture, then top with 4-5 corn tortillas. (tear the tortillas into half or thirds to make them easier to layer.) Top the tortillas with 1/3 cup of pepperjack cheese and 1/3 of the cheddar cheese.
  4. Top cheese layer with half of remaining meat mixture, another layer of tortillas and cheese. Repeat layers one more time, ending with cheese on top. Cover pan with foil.
  5. Bake lasagna 20 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese has started to brown and lasagna is bubbly. Serve topped with chopped green onions.
Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook time: 25 min
Recipe Source: adapted from Rachael Ray

3/11/14

Cauliflower Couscous


It seems like there is nothing cauliflower can't do. With its mild flavor and versatility in preparation, it is has become a favorite substitute for carby foods like bread, rice, pasta, potatoes . . . you name it, cauliflower has been substituted in it.

Substitutions can either hit the mark or just make you miss the original ingredient, but in the case of this recipe, the cauliflower substitute is every bit as good as the original. Maybe even better. The cauliflower florets are chopped finely in the food processor, giving them a light texture like couscous, and then browned in a skillet until they develop a sweet, nutty flavor. Throw in some classic couscous ingredients, like kalamata olives, garlic, lemon and parsley and you've got a cauliflower dish that is light, fluffy and delicious. And hard to stop eating. I feel like every time I discover a great cauliflower dish I feel like it is my new favorite, and this one is no exception. Whether you want a healthy alternative to regular couscous or just a great-tasting side dish, this recipe deserves a try. 


Cauliflower Couscous

Heat Oven To 350 Published 03/11/2014
Cauliflower Couscous

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Working in two batches, add cauliflower to a food processor and pulse until chopped into very fine pieces, about the size of couscous.
  2. Heat a 12" skillet over medium heat and add olive oil. Stir in onion and garlic and cook and stir 2 minutes.
  3. Add finely chopped cauliflower pieces to skillet and stir to combine. Cook over medium-low heat for 40 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so to prevent burning.
  4. Once cauliflower is golden and developing a nutty flavor, remove skillet from heat and stir in kalamata olives, parsley and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt if needed and serve.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook time: 45 min

Recipe Source: adapted from allrecipes.com

3/4/14

Chicken Enchilada Chili



I might be a smidge competitive. When my husband mentioned a fabulous chicken enchilada chili he ate for lunch when his work had food catered in from a local restaurant, I got jealous. My husband rarely gets excited about soup (he said it had the consistency of soup, though it was called a chili), and rarely does he mention a meal multiple times. In the same night. So I started to grill him all about the ingredients, the flavors, even the color of the soup. Then I started to brainstorm. And research. And try to recreate that darn soup that my husband seemed so in love with. 

Trying to recreate a soup you've never tasted yourself may not sound like the brightest idea, but as I said, I'm a smidge competitive. And luckily my husband didn't mind trying the many versions of a chicken enchilada chili that I put in front of him in the course of the next couple weeks. In the end, this one turned out to be the winner. While my husband says it is thicker and has more chicken and veggies in it than the original, he also says that he might even like it a bit better for it. 

Did you hear that? Better. I win. 

Yep, just a smidge competitive. 

And really, how could I not, with a combination of flavors like this. It's like cheesy chicken enchiladas in a soup form. The enchilada sauce shines through, and there are plenty of chicken chunks and southwestern veggies. The cheese is what makes this recipe, which is unfortunate for my waistline but delicious just the same. It adds a thickness and richness that goes so well with the enchilada flavor. It is a fast soup to make, which is always nice, and the leftovers the next day are just as good or maybe even better. 

Win, win, win.




Chicken Enchilada Chili

Heat Oven To 350 Published 02/17/2014
Enchilada Chicken Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.25 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (10 oz) can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 (10 oz) cans green enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup (4 oz) pepperjack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup (4 oz) cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast pieces
  • salt
  • tortilla chips

Instructions

  1. In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and green pepper and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook and stir an additional 1 minute.
  2. Slowly stir in chicken broth, whisking out any clumps after each broth addition. Stir in black beans, corn, diced tomatoes and enchilada sauces. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in cheeses and chicken breast pieces and cook until cheese has melted and chicken is heated through, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve with crushed tortilla chips on top.
Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook time: 25 min

Recipe Source: adapted from sharealikecooking.blogspot.com

2/27/14

Thursday Thoughts - Feb 27, 2014

Some random thoughts for your Thursday:

1. Just so you know, a toddler has no idea whether they are decorating sugar cookies before Valentine's Day, or if you got a sugar cookie decorating kit on clearance on Feb. 17. She will make a mess and lick the frosting off all the cookies just as if it weren't a few days late. And that is good, because nothing seems to be happening on time at our house lately. 

2. A great idea right before you are about to have a baby is to start refinishing a couple nightstands. My husband and I have done some furniture refinishing in the past and we've always used the real nasty, wear-special-gloves-and-work-outside-with-long-sleeves-for-protection stripper but being pregnant, I decided to use the electric sander route. For the record - nasty stripper is faster and more effective, in my opinion, but after a couple weeks of working sporadically on them, the nightstands are almost done.


 3. Sick-mageddon hit our house this past weekend, the same weekend my husband and I decided to bite the bullet and finish off Amelia's kitchen set that we've been working on the the past couple months. This meant that not only did we have an inconsolable toddler, but we were also were tripping over all the tools, screws, paint rollers, and random wood pieces we had brought in the house Friday night to finish things off. My husband calls this project, "the dumbest thing we've ever done." Needless to say, he's a little tired of working on it at this point. Hopefully I'll have finished pictures of it in the next couple weeks.

 4. Less than 4 weeks to go, and I'm calling it. My jacket has officially made it through the winter. We're into the 40s and 50s now, so it won't be so bad if I stop being able to zip it up at this point. I'm debating writing a letter to Patagonia to tell them to market their coat as maternity coat, too.

 5. The best way I've found to let dough rise is to heat your oven to 200 degrees, turn it off and put the dough in there to rise in the nice, warm environment. Unless, of course, you forget you have dough rising in the oven and accidentally start to bake it while you heat up the oven to make lunch for your toddler. I'm chalking this one up to pregnancy brain.

Have a great week!


 
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