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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dill Goat Cheese Appetizer


Somedays, I have to thank the Man upstairs for some of the things we are blessed with in this world.....here goes....... Dear Lord, Thank you for  goat cheese.  Amen.

Ok I got this recipe from The Pioneer Woman.  It's perfectly simple.  It's so easy.  If you love goat cheese, (like me) you will love this recipe!    
All you need is a roll of goat cheese, fresh dill and something to dip it in or spread it on.  I used my Rosemary Focaccia and wheat thins for my dip/spread tool.


Finely chop up some fresh dill.
And if you hate dill or have some other fresh herb on hand, feel free to use them.  I think basil would be out of this world!
On my list of things to try!


Now simply roll your log of cheese in your fresh herbs....


.... and BAM!  That's it.

  Perfect for a party or simply gloating by yourself with some cheese and wine!


Nom, Nom, Nom.....  Dang I love goat cheese.  So creamy, tangy and absolutely scrumptious!


Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Crazy Cake - Best. Chocolate. Cake. No question.


SO today is my birthday.  Except it really doesn't feel like my birthday because I'm in Utah hanging out in a fifth wheel trailer with.......my dog.  Just me and the k9, yeah it's a crazy party in Salt Lake City!  Not to toot my own horn, but normally on this day, I have coffee dates, lunch plans and of course a birthday dinner with cake.

Whenever I'm asked what kind of cake I want for my birthday, the answer is "Crazy Cake."  My mom has been making this cake as long as I can remember....and for good reason.  IT. IS. THE. BEST.  There is no question that this is the moistest, tastiest, most perfect chocolate cake.  And guess what?  It's the easiest cake you will EVER make.  That's right my friends, it's decadent and easy to make.  How often does that happen with desserts? 



So what am I doing on my birthday?  Well, I bought myself a darling dress, got all done up and baked myself a birthday cake!



OK, here's the cake ingredients, minus the vanilla.  I always seem to forget at least 1 ingredient.


Ok, here's the first step.  This is really complicated.  Are you ready?......Dump all the dry ingredients in a 9x13 cake pan and stir until well combined.  




Next step, again this is SO tough.  Add the wet ingredients; stir well.

Put the pan in a 350* oven for 30 minutes.

Final step. This one is the most difficult.  EAT!



Make sure you put this recipe in a special spot. It's one of those recipes that will be passed down from generation to generation.  


Crazy Cake

3 c. Flour
2 c. Sugar
4-6 TB cocoa powder
dash of salt
2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 c. canola oil
2 c. water
2 tsp. vanilla
2 TB. white vinegar

Place dry ingredients in a 9x13 cake pan and stir.  Add wet ingredient, stir until well combined. Bake @ 350 x 30 minutes.  Check the middle with a toothpick.  Allow to cool.

Variations:
Add chocolate chips, PB chips, mint chips, etc.
Frost with your favorite frosting.
OR just dust with powdered sugar.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bomb Black Bean Burgers

What are you thankful for this holiday season?

I'm thankful for recipes that taste delicious and are also good for you.  I thought I would post a yummy, healthy recipe since we are all going to be over-indulging later this week for Thanksgiving.  I'm also thankful for guilty pleasures such as pie, cheese cake and turkey/cream cheese/cranberry sandwiches.  YUM.  
I can't say what exactly my favorite part of thanksgiving is.  As a kid, pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes were it.  As an adult, I'm more of a sweet potato and appetizer girl.  But I must say, Thanksgiving is wonderful because it's a holiday devoted to eating and being thankful. How cool is that?  I'm always extra Thankful for Thanksgiving because my birthday falls close-by and I usually get a mini vacation to go with it!  Can't beat that.  I'll try to post some gobble-gobble recipes later this week.
As for now, practice some darn self control and eat a black bean burger!  (So you can be a glutton on Thursday.)

You will need: black beans (duh!), panko (or breadcrumbs), red pepper, green onion, egg, garlic, cayenne pepper, cumin, & salt.  Plus, buns if you plan to eat this like a burger.


Rinse those beans really well.  This is really important for a couple reasons.  First, it eliminates a lot of extra salt that we already get too much of.  Second, it helps reduce the "gas-eousness" of your beans...which is always a plus, unless you are one of the people who loves to clear a room.


Now take your potato smasher and get after those beans.  You could also use a food processor here if you have the luxury of cupboard space to store such items.  Smash or process until they start to get smooth, but still have some nice chunks left.


Add seasonings, minced garlic, and egg.


Make sure your red pepper is chopped nice and fine.  Then add your sliced/chopped green onion.  My favorite way to slice green onion is with kitchen shears, because it goes ALL the way through the green stem each time.  Have you ever chopped a green onion with a knife and it's still all "connected-ish" when you think you're done?  I HATE that.  A little pet-peeve of mine, so I go ahead and use the shears.


Add your panko and stir to combine.


This part is pretty nifty.  Take a measuring cup (I used 1/2c, I think?), and tightly press your bean mixture into the cup.


Then, flip your cup upside down and give it a little shimmy-shake until the bean-stuff falls out. WAH-LA, you have a perfectly shaped black bean burger.  Do this until you've use up all of your bean mixture.


Now place your burger on a grill, grill pan, frying pan, BBQ, broiler.....whatever the heck you want really.  I used the "always classy," George Foreman Grill for my burgers.  Which actually worked quite nice because it smooshed them down a bit and they fit perfectly on the buns.  Cook a few minutes on each side until golden brown and hot throughout.


Build yourself a lovely burger.  I used the whole wheat "sandwich thins" for buns to eliminate a huge hamburger bun, topped with a little cheese, avocado and BAM!  It was stellar.  Greg loved it too.


I added a little spinach at the last minute to my burger, had roasted fingerling potatoes and my ever popular carrot slaw. on the side.
What an eye-appealing and lip-smackin' good meal.  And it was super healthy to boot!  I love it when those two things happen with the same meal!


The next day, the burgers were awesome for leftovers.  I topped it with salsa and sour cream.  Such a far cry from your usual lunch sandwich.  Ugh, I hate sandwiches for lunch....but we won't go there.  That's a whole other topic.


Cheers.

BOMB BLACK BEAN BURGERS
 1/2 cup panko
1 (15 oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large egg
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped
Directions:
Place rinsed beans in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or a fork until mostly smooth.  Add the eggs, cumin, salt and cayenne.  Stir to combine.  Add bell pepper & green onion to the bowl with the mashed beans.  Stir together until evenly combined.
Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions, about ½ cup each.  Lightly pack into 1-inch thick patties, using a measuring cup (see pictures above!)  At this point the patties could be refrigerated and made later.  Heat up whatever mode of cooking you are going to use (grill, oven, broiler, George Foreman)  and oil lightly.  Cook until well browned on both sides.  Serve as a burger, or not.  Whatever's clever!

Ooey. Gooey.... Everything Bars

Do you ever just feel like baking something?  And when that feeling comes, there's NOTHING that's going to stop you from doing it?  Then you end up "testing" too much batter, dough, etc and don't even eat any of the finished product.  That's what happens to me.  I get the baking itch, gorge on batter and feel too sick to eat anything else.  But it's worth every spoon full and belly ache :)
This is why I try not to bake very often, I have no self control.  My best trick to keep from eating the dough is to brush my teeth immediately before baking or chewing gum.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't!  Sometimes it just turns chocolate into chocolate mint!  
Anyways, I got the baking itch a few weeks ago and wanted to make something different that used up a bunch of stuff in the pantry.  So I decided on a gooey cookie bar with a little-bit of everything in it.

Here is the cast of naughty characters:

Flour, graham crackers, sugar, brown sugar, butter, peanut butter, vanilla, eggs, marshmallows, baking soda, salt, chocolate chips.


Start by making your crust layer.  Crush your graham crackers. I used a ziploc bag and my the heel of my hand to pound away and create graham cracker crumbs.  Of course, if you were extra lazy, you could always just used pre-made graham cracker crumbs....but I like bigger, chunkier crumbs.
(Oh, look at that pretty yellow diamond ring!!! )


Now pour your crumbs in a big bowl, add sugar and melted butter. Stir to combine.

Pour the crust into a sprayed 9x13 baking dish.  Firmly press the crust into your dish, like so!  Bake crust for about 7 minutes and allow to cool.


OK, next step.  The "guts" of the cookie bar.  There's a little bit of everything in this layer.  Pretty much everything delicious that exists in the baking world.


Cream your butters (softened butter and peanut butter) with your sugars (granulated and brown).  Add eggs and vanilla; AND just beat it!


Now comes the addition of dry ingredients: Flour, salt, baking soda and combine with a wooden spoon.


Next comes the naughtiest ingredients: Marshmallows and chocolate chips.  I didn't have mini marshmallows, so I just chopped up the big ones and it worked just fine.


Pour all that goodness on top of the crust and press into an even, layer.


Sprinkle some more marshmallows on top and pop it in the oven!


Finished product

Serve it warm, serve it cold, put chocolate syrup on top, or don't.  Anyway you do it, it's naughty, it's killer, you'll feel guilty.  But OH-SO worth it :)  Come on, it's not like we eat this stuff everyday, right?!?


  • FOR THE CRUST:
  • 1-½ cup Graham Crackers (crushed)
  • ⅓ cups Butter, Melted
  • ¼ cups Sugar
  • FOR THE TOP LAYER:
  • ½ cups Butter, Softened
  • ½ cups Peanut butter.
  • ¾ cups Sugar
  • ¾ cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 2-¼ cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 packageChocolate Chips
  • 1-¼ cup Mini Marshmallows + more for topping


Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press into the bottom of a greased 13×9 in pan. Bake for 7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
For the top layer, cream butter, peanut butter, sugar and brown sugar together. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, salt and baking soda. By hand, mix in the chocolate chips and marshmallows.
Spread over the graham cracker crust. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove and allow to cool slightly before cutting. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Life on the Road, Minus the Trailer

If you haven't guessed by my new blog design, I'm bored.  We are NOT living luxurious trailer life at the moment.  We are living a low-class, motel scum lifestyle instead..... in Vernal, Utah AKA BFE.
But I'm not really complaining about the town (it's actually homey & nice) or the hotel (I've been in much worse), I'm complaining about not having my beloved 5th wheel trailer.  In the short time I've been residing in my "home-on-wheels," I've come to adore it.  Sure, I have my complaints, (water pressure, toilet sucks!, frozen walls/floor, broken furnace, propane leak, creepy trailer trash neighbors and possibly a mouse...haha) but for the most part it's home and I love it.  I miss cooking in my little kitchen.  Yesterday I made pot-roast in a crockpot in the hotel room, haha.  Not too exciting.  Since the cooking department is currently out of order, I'll share a Travel-Tale.

Once upon a time.... in a land far away.... ;)  Just kidding, here goes.

We are in Northeast Utah in the land of red buttes, jagged canyons and dinosaurs.  Yep, you heard me right, dinosaurs.  This lovely area harbors the most dinosaur fossils in the world, and today I went to the Dinosaurland Museum.  It was pretty cool: full big, prehistoric fossils of creatures that used to roam right here.  It makes you realize how much this world has changed over time.  It's quite fascinating!  Plus the museum was brand-spankin new.  Just opened Fall 2011 :)



Anyways, as I'm strolling through the museum alone, I get a little freaked out.  There are all these creepy noises, creatures are looking at me, there are bones everywhere and the lights are really dim.



 So I hot-stepped it outta there on the dime!  After I left, I felt like an idiot.  I mean, children go there all the time and I'm such a wuss that I have to leave the dinosaur museum.  But, in my defense, I was alone and there wasn't another soul in the museum, just me and T-rex.  I was alone with the critter bones, just feeling the hair crawl on my neck.  AH!

I wish the dinosaurs in the museum looked like this friendly lady.  Or maybe Yoshi from Super Nintendo!


Wow, good thing I don't watch scary movies, I'd never sleep.
Sweet Dreams ~D

Friday, November 11, 2011

Split Pea Soup

Oh how cozy is spending a cold, stormy day with your beloved dog while delicious soup is simmering away?  How cute is this picture below?  I don't know what I would do without my dog.  She always listens, never judges and always wants to hang out with me.  I love her to pieces.  If you've never been in love with a pet, you should really go adopt one today!  They make life easier during hard times and more enjoyable during celebration.  I love my lab :)



But this post isn't about animals, it's about soup.  It's that time of year again and soup should really be on the menu at least once a week.  It really doesn't get much simpler than this recipe.  If you've never tried split pea soup as an adult, give it a second try.  It's amaaaa-zing!

There's a few options for the meat part:
1)  If you'd like to have vegetarian split pea soup, feel free to leave out the bacon and maybe up the spices a bit.
2)  If you happen to have a left over ham hock from Thanksgiving or something, simply simmer that puppy in the soup until the meat is falling off the bone.  The bone adds great flavor to the stock.
3)  If you want the meat, but don't have a ham hock, use 4-5 slices of bacon!  Everything is better with bacon!

Besides the meat (or no meat), you will need:
2 cups of Split Peas
A small onion
A few stalks of celery
A few carrots
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt to taste (you will need little, if any salt if you use a ham hock)


This is SUCH an easy recipe, I love it.  So chop those veggies up...


Add 2 cups split peas, veggies, salt & pepper to your crockpot.  Add in 7 cups of hot water and turn your crock pot on high.
I always add hot, boiling water to crockpot recipes because it speeds up the process a bit.
(If you are using a ham hock, throw everything in the pot and remove the hock after a few hours.  Allow it to cool, strip the meat off, and add it back to soup.)


If you aren't using a ham hock, fry your bacon.  Doesn't it feel indulgent just to fry bacon?


This is the naughty part!  If you want the extra savory flavor from the bacon, pour a couple tablespoons of pan drippings into the soup.  Notice how I didn't call it "grease"?  Hopefully that makes you feel better about adding it! :)


Chop up the bacon and add to the pot. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low 6-8 hours.  It should transform into a thick and luscious soup that will knock your socks off.  How can something so simple be so amazing?  Enjoy.


If you happen to have leftovers, this soup gets extremely thick upon cooling.  Here's a tip for warming this soup up:  Add some water to thick soup, and reheat (nuke or stovetop).  Give a good stir and it's better on day 2!


I had to post this picture twice because it is so priceless.
Cheers.
D

Friday, November 4, 2011

Carrot Slaw: My new favorite side-dish!

I saw a recipe like this one on the Today Show yesterday morning, so I put my own magic touch to it and made it for dinner last night with Black Bean Burgers (recipe coming soon).  I'm not that into your usual Cole Slaw, I think it's a bit boring, soupy and nasty.  This recipe is like Cole Slaw's fun cousin.  It has WAY less fat, and more flavor piz-azz than normal coleslaw.  And Guess What?!  It's actually good on the second day.  Normally, cole slaw or any salad really, is slimy and icky on the second day.  Well I'm here to tell you that this one just got better with time, and it's pretty too.  This could be your next big hit at a potluck or BBQ.

Here's your ingredients:


 Minus the curry, that was a mistake! I changed my mind, a girl reserves the right to do that at anytime!  Oh and I also decided to add red pepper and green onion.



Start by toasting your nuts . . . in a dry frying pan over medium heat.



 Just shake them around for a few minutes until they are golden.  This really brings on extra flavor.
Be careful not to burn . . . I've seen it happen a million times, it happens fast, and it's not pretty.  Now pour the nuts on a  plate and allow to cool completely.


Ok, moving on to the dressing.  It's SO simple, yet tastes quite complex and fancy when it all comes together.  Combine balsamic vinegar, sesame oil and fresh squeezed lime juice.
*Side note, if you have never used sesame oil it's quite strong, so stick to the 1/2 tsp.  If you don't have it in your pantry, it is a MUST-have.  So much flavor, it's unreal!


Coarsely grate some big carrots.  Mine were homegrown from last summer!


Roughly chop your cilantro and green onion.  Add red pepper (optional if your not a spice fanatic like me), craisins, & cooled almonds. So pretty, love the colors in this salad.



Add the dressing and toss well to combine.  Sprinkle a little sea salt on top.  Wah, Lah!


 Isn't it gorgeous?  Plus, you can actually eat it on day-two for leftovers in your lunch.



Eat your veggies!
D



Carrot Slaw
For dressing

  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • juice from 1/2 of lime 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Whisk together in small bowl.
  • For Salad
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1 cups cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds, dry-roasted in frying pan until golden brown on medium heat (approx. 5 to 6 minutes)
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 tsp or less crushed red pepper (optional depending on you preference)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • pepper to taste
Dry-toast the almonds in a small frying pan over med-high heat until golden.  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.  Combine all ingredients, except sea salt, in large bowl.  Drizzle dressing over the top and toss to combine. Sprinkle sea salt and pepper on top to finish.