December 31, 2014

Top Ten Most Popular Recipes of 2014

Another year is gone and I can't believe it! It's been another busy and eventful one, but somehow I've managed to keep this blog going.

Here are the top ten most viewed recipes on my blog. There are some definite winners!
10. Banana Bread Waffles: These are such a fun twist on your standard waffle! The flavor is perfect and the waffles are crisp on the outside yet soft on the inside. Such a good recipe!

9. Double Chocolate Brownie Mix Cookies: I'm all about cheater dessert recipes and these brownie cookies are amazing! All the wonderful goodness of a brownie in cookie form! What can be bad about that??

8. Stuffed Honey Ham and Cheese Biscuits: This is one of those quick dinner recipes to keep on file. These biscuits are super easy to put together and full of flavor!

7. Ham and Cheese Puff Pancake: After trying this recipe I have a hard time wanting regular old German Pancakes anymore. These are honestly mouthwatering!

6. Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos: This was probably one my most made recipes in our home this year. I made these several times in just a few weeks. They are that good!

5. Easy Apricot Chicken: This recipe is a classic, but a good one to keep in your recipe box. I love the flavor of the apricot sauce with the chicken and rice. Total comfort food!

4. Banana Bread Granola: This was another recipe I made over and over again. I could not get enough! Especially when berries were in season. You've got to try this!

3. Cinnamon Roll Bread: Now who doesn't love cinnamon rolls? And cinnamon rolls made into bread form?? Beautiful.

2. Soft and Thin Snickerdoodles: I made these snickerdoodles for a baby shower and they were an instant hit! No one could stop eating them. But seriously. They are that good!

And the Most Popular Recipe of 2014 is...
1. Roasted Country-Style Potatoes: These were the most popular by a landslide! And for good reason. They are reminiscent of any skillet potatoes you would order at a restaurant, but baked not fried. So addicting!

December 22, 2014

Creamy Potato-Tomato Soup with Homemade Garlic Croutons

I must really love my tomato based soups because I already have a few on this blog. But this one? This one is different.
This soup not only calls for tomatoes, but a potato AND a sweet potato. And because of that, there is no other soup like it.
And while l liked this soup by itself, I really wanted to add some savory toppings. So I added my favorite homemade croutons and some feta. Because feta can seriously go in anything. And I mean anything.
So if you need a hearty soup to warm you up, be sure to try this out. And don't forget the toppings! Because the toppings are a must.

Creamy Tomato-Potato Soup with Homemade Garlic Croutons
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup cream or half and half
Toppings: feta and croutons

1. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened a bit, 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the broth, water, tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper and sweet potatoes. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Add the russet potatoes and cook 15 minutes more or until all the potatoes are tender.
Mash the potatoes into the soup or blend for a smoother consistency (with a handheld immersion blender or in batches, transfer the soup to a blender, filling it only halfway full with the hot soup).
4. Stir in the cream and season with additional salt and pepper to taste before ladling into bowls. Garnish with homemade croutons and feta.

For the croutons: 
4 slices sandwich bread
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil OR 1 1/2 Tbsp. butter, melted 
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. dried parsley    
kosher salt

1. To make the croutons, preheat the oven to 300˚ F.
2. Cut the bread into 3/4-inch cubes and place in a medium-large bowl. (A pizza cutter makes this really easy.)
3. Combine the olive oil or butter, garlic powder and dried parsley in a small bowl. Stir together to blend well. Pour the mixture over the bread cubes and toss gently until evenly coated.

4. Transfer the bread cubes to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spreading them out into an even layer. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 15 minutes. Check to see if the croutons are golden and crisp. If not, toss lightly and bake up to 15 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool. Transfer to an airtight container until ready to use.

December 19, 2014

Trader Joe's Product Review No. 6

This is a quick review of a few products I picked up when we went to Trader Joe's a couple of weeks ago. Definitely found some winners!

1. Pumpkin Pie Spice and Tumeric: *****
I haven't actually used these yet, but I have a feeling they are perfectly fine because well, they're spices. The reason I give them 5 stars is because they are cheap ($2) and the packaging is adorable. A win/win in my book!

2. Masala Simmer Sauce: ****
You know I'm a fan of other Trader Joe's simmer sauces and I can't believe I hadn't tried this one before. I recently made some Chicken Tikka Masala from scratch so I knew I liked the flavor. Turns out, this sauce is great and makes for an easy throw it together meal!

3. Balsamic Glaze: *****
This was recommended by another blogger and I'm so glad I bought it. Not too expensive and it has the perfect consistency. I've tried to make a balsamic reduction myself and all it really did was stink up my house! This was PERFECT on our favorite Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pizza. I can't wait to try it on our Caprese Garlic Bread!

4. Dark Chocolate Covered Peppermint Joe Joe's: *******
I could honestly give these an infinite amount of stars! They are ridiculous and I guess their only downfall is that they are $4 a box. But are they worth it? I'd say yes! They are rich, sweet and have the perfect mint/chocolate ratio. Oh man these would make a great stocking stuffer or gift! Be sure to get them while they're in season!

December 17, 2014

Artichoke Dip Hummus

I've teamed up with ALOHA to share a healthy and tasty dish you'll want to bring to your next holiday party! ALOHA's mission is to help you feel healthier and happier by providing simple, high-quality products and inspiring content. They have an amazing recipe page with loads of healthy and delicious food. Be sure to check it out!
Now on to the dish...I think we all have the same thought process whenever we're asked to bring an appetizer to a party. Should I bring the same dish l always do or switch it up this time? In my opinion, there are so many amazing dishes to try so why not try as many as you possibly can?
This hummus is a healthy take on the oh so delicious creamy artichoke dip you usually see at every holiday party. And while I love the usual dip, I love this healthier take that still incorporates artichokes because we all know how hard it can be to not overeat during the holidays.

This hummus has such an addicting flavor and I couldn't help but go back for more after each bite!
And the best part is, you can bring a variety of "dippers" for your friends or family to try. From carrots to pita chips to crackers to broccoli. They would all taste amazing with this hummus!

Artichoke Dip Hummus
Adapted from AllRecipes
Serves: 6
1 1/2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and peeled (reserve juice)
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. water
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 (7.5 oz.) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1. Place garlic, basil and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse several times to mince basil leaves.
2. Add chickpeas, olive oil, water, salt, and cumin in the food processor and process until the hummus is smooth. If hummus is too thick, process 1 Tbsp. reserved liquid from chickpeas at a time into the mixture. Add artichoke hearts to the hummus and process until smooth.
3. Serve with carrots, tortilla chips, pita chips, crackers, etc.

*This recipe can easily be doubled to serve a larger crowd.

December 9, 2014

Hot Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies

These Hot Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies are part of an online cookie exchange Patience Brewster is hosting! Patience Brewster is an artist who designs a unique line of handmade Christmas ornaments, holiday gifts and everyday decor. Be sure to check out her site!

Now who doesn't love a big old mug of hot chocolate?? Especially during the holidays. I know I do and have already had my fair share this holiday season.
There's just something about a warm, creamy, chocolately drink, with a handful of floating marshmallows, that gives me pure comfort.
And what's better than a hot chocolate drink? Hot chocolate in cookie form. And while these cookies don't actually have any hot chocolate mix, (I'm still dying to try ones that do), they sure taste like it.
Better yet, they're easy as pie with only 5 ingredients and are perfectly moist, dense and delicious.
Be careful not to eat four like I did right out of the oven. Or do, because then they technically are HOT Chocolate Cookies. ;) ;) And one of the most decadent cookies you will ever try.

Hot Chocolate Cake Mix Cookies
Yields: 24 Cookies
1 (18.9 oz.) Devil's Food cake mix (I prefer Pilsbury)
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup Mallow Bits
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips (Ghirardelli or Guitard are amazing)

1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. In a large bowl, combine cake mix, oil and eggs; stir with spoon until thoroughly moistened. (Use hands if needed; dough will be very thick.) Stir in Mallow Bits and chocolate chips until combined.
3. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls or use a cookie scoop; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With bottom of glass dipped in flour, flatten to 1/4-inch thickness.
4. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are firm. Be careful not to burn. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.