June 29, 2017

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta with Basil and Feta

Ok you guys...I have the perfect summer recipe for you. I posted how to roast grape tomatoes yesterday just to prepare you for this pasta dish.

Honestly this recipe came to be as more of an experiment/heavily adapting another recipe. Let's just say I'm in LOVE with how it turned out.
It combines the fresh taste of summer tomatoes, basil and feta in a garlicky coated pasta. There are just no words.
All I have to say is that my husband and I absolutely loved this dish and know you will, too. 

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Pasta with Basil and Feta
8 oz. dry spaghetti
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
10 oz. roasted tomatoes (see recipe here)
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
kosher salt and pepper

1. Cook spaghetti in boiling salted water according to directions on package. When pasta is almost finished heat olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and sauté about 1 minute. Remove from heat.
2. Drain pasta and pour into skillet or saucepan. Toss with the olive oil and garlic mixture. Add in tomatoes, feta and basil. Toss gently until combined. Season with salt and pepper.

June 28, 2017

Roasted Grape Tomatoes

I'll be completely honest with you guys, I am not a huge fresh tomato fan. I'm the dork that takes them off of everything, especially sandwiches because I don't love the texture and think they lack flavor...

With the exception of three things: salsa, grape tomatoes and roasted tomatoes.
I absolutely love grape tomatoes because they're bite-sized and usually have good flavor. I will also eat any vegetable that has been roasted and tomatoes come out beautifully when they're roasted.

So the combination of grape tomatoes and a little roasting action in the oven is pure bliss in my book.
These would be perfect on a pizza, in a salad, eaten with some fresh mozzarella and balsamic or my personal favorite with pasta. Particularly some AMAZING pasta that I'm going to share with you tomorrow. It's life-changing you guys. But seriously.

So stay tuned for an incredible summer pasta recipe coming your way!

Roasted Grape Tomatoes
Adapted from Food Network
10 oz. pkg. grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a medium bowl add the grape tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir lightly to combine.
2. In a 9x13-inch glass baking dish, spread the tomatoes into 1 even layer. Roast for 20 minutes and then stir. Return to the oven and cook for 5-10 more minutes until the tomatoes have begun to shrivel and the liquid in the dish has thickened. Serve hot.

June 24, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan Four

Here's another great week's worth of meal plans to help save you time, money and stress over dinner!

Sunday: Burger Gyros and Oven-Baked Steak Fries

Monday: Creamy Coconut Hawaiian Haystacks and rice

Tuesday: Mexican Caesar Salad and cheese quesadillas

Wednesday: One Pan Healthy Chicken and Veggies and brown rice

Thursday: Crispy Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs with Marinara and pasta

Friday: Red Pepper and Feta Pizza

Saturday: Garlicky Greek Spaghetti and parmesan toast

June 23, 2017

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles

It's been so hot in Utah lately that I'm ALL about trying to stay cool. And while we all love good old Otter Pops, sometimes it's nice to have something a little more healthy to cool down with.

I was so impressed with this popsicle recipe. It was so easy to throw together and they tasted great, too!

My biggest tip is to make sure to check the sweetness of the popsicles before you pour it into the molds so you don't have a sour popsicle. You can prevent this by finding ripe, sweet strawberries or by adding a little honey or sugar to the mix.
Nothing like a cool, refreshing treat on a hot summer day that you won't leave you feeling guilty! And if you're looking for great popsicle molds, I love these because of the great size, shape and the reusable handles prevent any popsicle from dripping onto your fingers. They're perfect!

Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
2 cups coarsely chopped ripe strawberries
1/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 12 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
honey or sugar, if needed for sweetness

1. Combine the strawberries, yogurt, lemon juice and vanilla in a blender or food processor.  Puree until smooth. Taste to see if you need to add a sweetener such as honey or sugar.
2. Pour into popsicle molds and insert popsicle sticks. Freeze until solid.

June 21, 2017

Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I'm so excited to share this delicious cookie recipe with you today. If you have never had cookie butter (Biscoff) before, you are definitely missing out! It is "eat by the spoonful" good. I'm not joking about that either.
This was my first time baking with cookie butter and it was a a total success. The cookie butter gave these chocolate chip cookies the perfect amount of cinnamon flavor and soft texture.
I mean look at that gooey center!
Cookie butter can be found right next to the peanut butter at your local grocery store and believe me you won't be able to stop eating it once you open it up.
Something I definitely want to try are cinnamon or white chocolate chips in these cookies. I think they might be even better than the semi-sweet chocolate chips because of the cookie butter's cinnamon flavor.
And there's only one way to find out...by making more of these bad boys!

Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Slightly Adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Biscoff spread (or TJ’s Cookie Butter)
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (cinnamon or white chocolate chips would be great, too)

1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light in color. 2. Beat in egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract on high speed. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. On high speed, beat in the Biscoff spread until completely combined.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. Switch to high speed and beat in the chocolate chips.
4. The cookie dough will be a little sticky. Cover dough tightly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough.
5. Remove cookie dough from the fridge and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. If the cookie dough chilled longer than 3 hours, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Set aside.
7. Using a 1 1/2-inch cookie scoop, form into balls and place on the baking sheets.
8. Bake the cookies for 9-10 minutes. Be sure to rotate the pan once or twice during bake time. The baked cookies will look extremely soft in the centers when you remove them from the oven; they will continue to "set" as they cool. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

June 19, 2017

Pressure Cooker Mashed Potatoes

I feel like I'm slowly getting the hang of using a pressure cooker when it comes to making sides and I have another amazing recipe for you today.

I'm so excited about this mashed potato recipe because it worked PERFECTLY. I swear my mashed potatoes are always lumpy, but these weren't and they tasted so good. I also loved using red potatoes with the skins still on. They had such a better texture than russet potatoes.

So if you want to impress your family or friends, you need to make these ASAP. So easy and they're pure comfort food.

Pressure Cooker Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from The Baker Upstairs
3 lbs. red or yukon potatoes, washed and cut into fourths
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup half and half
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Place the rack in the bottom of the pressure cooker. Add the potatoes to the pot and pour the chicken broth over the top.
2. Place the lid on the pressure cooker and set to high pressure for 8 minutes. Quick release the pressure and drain the potatoes, preserving the liquid.
3. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or hand-mixer. Add the butter, half and half, salt and pepper. Mix until combined. Add cooking liquid as needed to reach the desired consistency of potatoes. (I've had the most luck getting creamy potatoes by using all of the leftover liquid.) Serve warm.

June 16, 2017

Chocolately Churro Chex Mix

I've been meaning to make churro Chex mix forever now and finally got my hands on some cinnamon chips, which can be hard to do. I found some Hershey's Cinnamon Chips at my local grocery store, but I know they're sold at specialty kitchen stores as well.

Anyway, back to the good stuff...this Chex mix is unreal. I added chocolate chips mostly because I didn't have enough cinnamon chips leftover and it just worked so I'm sticking to it.

Cinnamon and chocolate may sound like a weird combination, but I'm telling you, they're made for each other.
The cinnamon and chocolate chips are melted together to coat the cereal and then dusted with a yummy cinnamon-sugar mixture. I mean how can you say no to that?
Another awesome thing is this Chex mix is gluten-free and can easily be doubled if you need to take it to a large gathering. Trust me on this one, it will be the hit of the party.

Chocolatey Churro Chex Mix
5 cups rice Chex cereal
1 cup Hershey’s cinnamon chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1. In a large microwavable bowl, microwave the cinnamon and chocolate chips in 30 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted. Pour in Chex cereal a cup at a time until completely coated.
2. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, granulated sugar and cinnamon. Pour onto cereal mixture and toss to coat.
3. Pour cereal mixture onto wax paper or a cookie sheet and let cool before serving.

June 7, 2017

Healthy Spiced Applesauce Muffins

I am a homemade muffin fiend and it's the one thing I can sneak healthy ingredients into that my kids will always eat. Unless they can see those said healthy ingredients and then it's game over.

Anyway, these were a total favorite in our house and they are the softest, fluffiest, tastiest muffins ever. We were big fans.
I was so impressed with the texture of these and how they turned out. They were especially good warm and eaten within the first couple of days, but I don't know how they would last much longer than that.
I mean, how could you not devour these??

Healthy Spiced Applesauce Muffins
Makes 12-14 muffins
1 and 1/2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup applesauce sweetened or unsweetened
1 large egg
1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray cavities of a muffin tin and lightly flour or use silicone liners. (These muffins will stick to paper liners.) Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, add in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Mix until combined.
3. In another bowl, mix together the applesauce, large egg, Greek yogurt, canola oil, vanilla extract and brown sugar. Mix until well combined.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients until JUST combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. 
5. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
6. Remove and allow to cool for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the tin.

*Store leftover muffins in an airtight container in the fridge. Let come to room temperature before eating. Muffins best enjoyed within 3 days.

June 5, 2017

Mexican Fiesta Bowls

I love a good hearty meal with all the fixins and this is definitely one of those meals! It starts with a scoop of brown rice, some chili, tortilla chips, cheese, TOASTED COCONUT, cilantro and lime. The toasted coconut may sound weird at first, but I love its sweet addition to this dish.

If you need to feed a crowd, or simply feed your family, this is a great meal that everyone will love. It's so easy to make, too!

Mexican Fiesta Bowls
Adapted from Bev Cooks
Serves 4
1 lb. ground beef
2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
salt and pepper
tortilla chips, crushed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup toasted coconut flakes
lime juice

1. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chili, garlic and onion powders. Set aside.
2. In a large saucepan, brown the beef. Once there’s no more pink, mix in the spices. Season with salt and pepper. Push some of the beef to the edge of the pan and add the tomato paste. Press the paste into the bottom of the pan so the flavors release then mix it all together.
3. Stir in the beans, vinegar and brown sugar. Stir together, reduce heat to medium low and simmer (partially covered) for 30 minutes. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.
4. To serve, place a scoop of brown rice in a bowl, a scoop of chili, tortilla chips, cheese, coconut flakes, cilantro and lime juice.

June 1, 2017

Pressure Cooker Brown Rice

I have another staple pressure cooker recipe for you today! While I'm new to the world of brown rice, (hello white rice lover), I can definitely see why people enjoy it. I'm trying to make healthier dinners and brown rice is a great grain to add to our diet.

I think the main reason I never really made brown rice before is because I never knew a great way to prepare it.

Enter the pressure cooker.
You basically drop the ingredients into the pressure cooker pot, set it and forget it.

This is a no-fuss recipe that results in perfect brown rice every time! And stay tuned for a delicious upcoming brown rice dinner idea. :)

Pressure Cooker Brown Rice
Adapted from Pressure Cook Recipes
2 cups brown rice, rinsed and drained well
2 cups water
pinch of kosher salt

1. Place brown rice, water and salt into pressure cooker. Close lid and cook on high pressure for 15 minutes. When done, do a 5 minute quick pressure release. Once all of the pressure is released, open the lid carefully.
2. Fluff with a fork before serving.