Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Tomatillo Ranch Dressing (Costa Vida Copycat)

I have absolutely no idea why I took so long to make this copycat recipe! I'm calling it a Costa Vida copycat, Cafe Rio's rival, because it is less spicy and DEE-LICIOUS.

I honestly ate more sweet pork salads with tomatillo ranch in high school/college than one human should ever consume in a lifetime. And while I could probably do without their salad anytime soon, I will NEVER get sick of this dressing, or dip as I like to call it. ;)

This blender recipe was so easy and much simpler than I thought it would be. I was seriously scared away by the tomatillos. I thought they would be too hard to find and expensive, but they weren't. You can easily find them by the peppers in your grocery store.
This dressing is seriously dangerous and I will probably eat/drink the entire bottle of it myself. It's perfect on a salad, great to smother burritos and the best to dip chicken or really just about anything in. Mmmm, mmm.

Tomatillo Ranch Dressing (Costa Vida Copycat)
Adapted from Oh Sweet Basil
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tomatillo, husked and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro
1 lime, juiced
1 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
1 (1 oz.) package ranch dressing seasoning

1. Place all the ingredients except the mayonnaise in a blender and blend until smooth. Whisk in the mayonnaise and store in the fridge in an airtight jar.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

This my friends is my new favorite cookie. And I'm not even exaggerating. I finally found it. And the funny thing is, it was the most unassuming recipe ever. I never would have thought these would be as good as they are.
These cookies are soft, fluffy, crunchy on the bottom, chocolatey, salty, have the perfect hint of banana and are downright awesome. As in, you really should always double the recipe because you can easily eat them all in one sitting.
And did I tell you how amazing they are fresh out of the oven?? Like the best in all the land. Good enough to make twice in one week even...just saying. ;)

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Slightly Adapted from Cooking Classy
Makes 2 Dozen
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups quick oats
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 + 1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large banana. Be sure to measure.)
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon for 20 seconds, set aside.
3. Mash bananas together with lemon juice. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together banana, butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Mix in egg and vanilla extract.
4. With mixer on low speed, slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined. Fold or mix in chocolate chips.
5. Scoop dough out using a medium cookie scoop (1 1/2-inches) and drop onto Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheets spacing cookies 2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven 12 minutes (they should still be slightly soft). Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Baked Monte Cristo Sliders

For those of you who don't know what in the heck a Monte Cristo sandwich is, neither did I until Disneyland 2010. No I am not a regular at Disneyland or did I know anything about how amazing the food is, I just happened to order the Monte Cristo sandwich at the Cafe Orleans. And yes, it's ridiculously expensive.

Apparently, I thought it was pretty incredible because I rarely remember the food I order. Or maybe it was the fact that I ordered a savory sandwich that was dusted with powdered sugar and served with a side of raspberry preserves as a dip. Anyway, it doesn't really matter because I remember it was delicious.

And when I saw this recipe to make sliders, I knew I had to make them right away. In fact, I've made them twice in a short period of time because I love them so much. I honestly can't wait to serve them at a family party.
And yes, you sprinkle each slider with powdered sugar and dip it into raspberry jam. And yes, it will be one of the best things you've ever eaten. The end.

Baked Monte Cristo Sliders
Adapted from Creme de la Crumb
12 savory or sweet dinner rolls
12 slices of deli ham
12 slices of deli turkey (optional, ham alone works just fine)
12 slices of swiss cheese
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp.) butter, melted
1/2 egg (whisk 1 egg, measure in tablespoons and use half)
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons powdered sugar
raspberry preserves or jam

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2. Slice rolls in half horizontally. Place bottom halves (side by side, touching) in your prepared baking pan. 
3. Distribute ham over the bottom half of the rolls. Next layer the turkey (if using), then swiss cheese. Top with the top halves of the rolls.
4. In a bowl, whisk together melted butter, egg, and dijon mustard. Pour mixture over rolls and use a pastry brush to spread over tops.
5. Cover loosely with greased foil (tent the foil so that it does not touch the tops of the rolls) and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes longer.
6. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve with raspberry preserves or jam.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Strawberry Banana Fudge Muffins

Ohhh man were these muffins good. The original recipe called them Skinny Banana Fudge Muffins, but I made them a little less skinny, but only slightly less, and they were incredible. I also added strawberries since I had some in the fridge and hello chocolate-covered strawberry muffins??
I seriously loved and devoured my first muffin when it was still warm. My toddlers loved them as well. They are fudgy, sweet, flavorful and don't have any butter or oil in the ingredient list.
You can add mini or regular-sized chocolate chips into these and they technically become a healthier dessert. This is a perfect way to satisfy your sweet tooth without all of the calories and fat.
Also, these can easily be made without the strawberries like the original recipe, but again if you love chocolate and strawberries, you are going to die over these!

Strawberry Banana Fudge Muffins
Adapted from Our Best Bites
Makes 12-16 Muffins
3 large, extra ripe bananas
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup plain yogurt or applesauce
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup mini or regular chocolate chips (milk or semisweet)
3/4 cup chopped strawberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a muffin tin (or 2) with 12-16 liners.
2. Smash bananas in a large mixing bowl. Add sugar, egg, yogurt/applesauce and vanilla and combine until well mixed. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix together until fully combined, but don’t overmix.
3. Set aside about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the chocolate chips and add the rest to the batter. Mix in the chopped strawberries and *divide the batter between the cups. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top. 
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached. Don’t overbake. Let cook on rack for 5 minutes and then remove muffins from pan to cooling rack until just warm.

*A muffin-sized scoop works perfectly to equally divide the batter. I have this one and love it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Easy Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Ok so I know this soup may not look like much...just a whole lot of vegetables thrown together, but it is out of this world in the flavor department! My sister-in-law served it at a family party a few months ago and I could not believe how good it was. Even my husband, who loves his meat, thought it was incredible.

This soup is hearty, healthy and tastes amazing. It was so easy to throw together and is absolutely perfect on a cold, winter day. In other words, I really need to make this again ASAP.

Easy Tuscan Vegetable Soup
Serves 4-6
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small sweet potato, diced
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 (14 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 (14 oz.) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juices
1 1/2 cups chopped spinach
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. white sugar
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar

1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, and sweet potato. Sauté for 5 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, thyme and rosemary. Cook 30 seconds.
3. Stir in the broth, beans and tomatoes. Bring the contents to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and add the chopped spinach. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup, leaving some chunks of beans and vegetables for texture.

5. Add the salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve topped with Parmesan and a side of crusty bread.