Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Broccoli Cheese Soup

 We've finally reached 80 degree weather here...and it's nearly November. Not sure I'll really ever get used to the 'seasons' here. However, we will get a little taste of fall/winter next week as we head to Denver. When I visit my mom it is usually a balance of her cooking our favorites and me introducing a few new recipes. If the weather is chilly (which I'm sure it will be), this is a likely contender. Lots of veggies and lots of cheese are always a great pairing.


2 Tbsp. butter
1 chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped carrot * See note below
1 red bell pepper, finely diced
3 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. sea salt (this seemed like a lot, I just eye-balled it)
1/2 Tbps. freshly ground black pepper (again, to taste)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2  baking potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup whole milk
3 cups chopped broccoli (about bite size)
2 cups chopped cauliflower (finely chopped)
1-2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup pepper jack cheese, grated (I omitted and just did a total of 2 cups cheddar)


1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Add onions, carrots, red pepper, and celery and saute over medium heat until tender.  Add garlic and cook 1 or 2 additional minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add  broth and potatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15-20 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour with water, add to soup along with the broccoli and cauliflower.  Simmer until broccoli is tender, another 10-15 minutes.  Add milk and cook until heated through.  If the soup is a bit too thick, add water or broth slowly until desired consistency is reached and bring back to a simmer. Stir in cheese, allow to melt, and serve.

*note- Instead of taking so much time finely dicing, I buzzed the soup with an immersion blender after the potatoes were tender and before I added the flour mixture, broccoli, and cauliflower. This helped to thicken the soup as well.

from My Green Diet

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Peach Pound Cake

Seems kinda funny to be posting this when most of the recipes I see popping up are for chili, apple or pumpkin inspired something etc. Well, fall in Arizona is (unfortunately) quite different as we are still well in the 90s. Sigh. A few weeks ago we got a load of Utah peaches and this was a great way to finish them off.


1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white sugar, plus a bit more for dusting pan
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2- 2.5 cups fresh peaches, pitted and chopped


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Butter a 10 inch tube pan and coat with white sugar.  
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla and almond extract. Reserve 1/4 cup of flour for later, and sift together the remaining flour, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Use the reserved flour to coat the chopped peaches, then fold the floured peaches into the batter. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes (mine baked at about 65) in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy warm or at room temperature, perhaps even with whipped cream and additional fresh peaches.
 slightly adapted from

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sugar Cookie Crust Fruit Pizza

Siena's birthday cake...she only ate the fruit.


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp.vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. almond extract
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt 

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest 

Fresh Fruit
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup kiwi, sliced (omitted this time)
1 cup peaches, sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced 


1. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and mix until just incorporated. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the creamed butter and mix until blended. Remove dough from bowl and press into a greased 10 inch tart pan or pizza pan. 

2. Bake at 325  for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until smooth. Spread evenly on the cooled crust. 
Arrange fresh fruit in desired pattern on top of filling and chill until ready to slice and serve.

slightly adapted from Kelsey's Kitchen

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cherry Crumble

At the end of July, my sister-in-law came for a visit from Washington and brought us fresh blueberries and cherries from her rural farming community. We enjoyed eating them everyday, but despite our best efforts we couldn't quite put the dent in the cherries that we did in the blueberries. It was really just a good excuse to make a quick treat. I mean, I had to, right? We loved this so much we made it again two days after the first go.


6 Tbsp. butter
1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
6 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 heaping cups fresh pitted cherries
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2 Tbsp. butter


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
2. In a large saucepan, melt butter. Remove pan from heat; stir in oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt until a dry, crumbly mixture forms. Press 3/4 of the mixture into the bottom of a greased 9" square pan, making a firm, even layer. 
3. In a bowl, combine cherries with sugar, flour, and almond extract. Layer cherry mixture on top of crumb crust. 
4. In a food processor, plus almonds, oats, and butter. Add to remaining crumb mixture in the saucepan. Sprinkle on top of cherry mixture. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until top is lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature...possibly with ice cream on the side!

adapted from All Recipes

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Massaged Kale Salad

While this salad may sound kinda high maintenance, it is really pretty simple. It has a lot of the usual suspects, but this time they are paired with kale, which was a nice change.


1 bunch kale
3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or sea salt
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup small-diced apple
1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup crumbled Feta cheese


1. Wash the kale and pat it dry. Slice off the stiff stems below the leaves and continue slicing the stem away from the leaf until you have cut a thin v-shape into the kale leaf and removed the tough stem all the way up. Stack the kale leaves two or three at a time, roll them up, and slice the leaves into thin ribbons.
2. Place the kale ribbons in a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and massage it into the kale with your hands for two minutes. You’ll notice the kale start to turn a darker green and the texture of the kale will begin to soften a bit.
3. Toss in the red onions, dried cranberries, apples, and sunflower seeds. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and sugar. Pour over the salad and toss. Sprinkle feta cheese over the top and serve. The salad can be refrigerated for up to a day before serving, in fact, I think it's better after it's had time for all the flavors to really combine.

from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicken Salad with Peaches and Blue Cheese (Feta)

This recipe has been up since I first starting typing up our favorite recipes. A great summer meal that is on frequent rotation in our kitchen. And, since I'm extra lazy these days- I often skip the recommended vinaigrette and use a little bit (because those peaches are so juicy) of my favorite poppy seed dressing.


2 heads romaine lettuce, cut crosswise into 1-inch strips.
1 rotisserie chicken, meat sliced into bite-size pieces
2 peaches, roughly chopped (with or without peel)
3/4 cups (3 oz.) crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup (2 oz.) almonds, roughly chopped

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Arrange lettuce, chicken, peaches, cheese, and almonds on a platter or on individual plates.

2. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad.

This can be customized to what you prefer, or what you happen to have in the refrigerator.
Instead of peaches... sliced pears, halved red grapes
Instead of romaine...spinach, arugula, spring mix
Instead of blue cheese... goat cheese, feta
Instead of almonds... walnuts, pecans

Serves 4-6.

from Real Simple: Meals Made Easy

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Since part of our wedding cake was carrot cake we thought it would be a fun tradition to make some around our anniversary. We spent a lazy Sunday afternoon watching our wedding DVD with Siena and eating too many cupcakes. (They were made with the intention of freezing some...I think we all know that did not happen.)

Yes, this is the exact recipe I have posted for carrot cake...with one key difference. We decided cupcakes are the way to go when it comes to a frosted dessert. We left the cupcakes themselves at room temperature and pulled the frosting out of the fridge as needed to frost (smother?) each individual cupcake. The cake stayed so moist this way and the cooking time was drastically cut down-who wants to wait 50 minutes when a cute cupcake is ready in 18?


3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2-3 cups grated carrots (use larger side of grater)
8 oz. can crushed pineapples
1/2 cup coconut
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

1/3 cup butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan, or two 9-inch round pans.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, applesauce, sugars, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture. Stir in carrots, pineapple, coconut, and fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.

2. Bake standard cupcakes for 18 minutes, extra large cupcakes 24-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

3. To make the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese together until completely blended. Add vanilla and blend. Gradually beat in sugar to desired consistency.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lemon Quinoa Cilantro Chickpea Salad

I'm not sure that I'll really get used to how hot it is here. Last summer was hot, no doubt, but something about this summer is just killing me. It could be the extra weight I'm sporting...also known as a baby... but part of it is probably that it got super hot much earlier than usual. We rarely turn on our oven and often even the grill is unappealing. This light salad was the perfect compliment to fresh cherries and a rotisserie chicken-something we'd probably eat a lot more of if I had the stomach to get the meat off the bones. Thanks goodness for Nick. (And that is not just a pregnancy thing, we'll see if I ever conquer that fear. He is more afraid I'll turn vegetarian.)


1/2 cup dry quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (about 2 cups)
1 c. cherry tomatoes cut in half (I used Roma)
2 avocados diced
2 cups spinach
1 bunch cilantro, about 1 1/2 cups
1/4 cup onion
2 small cloves garlic
For the dressing
1 lemon, zested
juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp. dijon mustard
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. honey
1/2 tsp. cumin
dash of salt and pepper

1. Prepare quinoa by soaking a pot in the veggie broth for about 15 minutes. Over medium high heat, bring the quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium/low and let simmer. Stir every so often, and cook quinoa for about 20-25 minutes just until the liquid absorbs. You don’t want it completely dried out, so when there is just a TINY amount of liquid left in the pot, remove it from heat and put a lid on it. Set it aside, and prepare the rest of the salad.

2. In a food processor, add spinach and cilantro. Process the greens until they are finely diced.

3. Add the greens to a bowl, and set aside. Next, take onion and garlic and finely dice those (easy to do in the food processor), and add to the greens mixture. Add chickpeas and stir until everything is combined and coated. When quinoa is cooled, add it to the chickpea mixture.
4. Prepare the dressing by whisking ingredients together. Pour over salad, and mix until combined. Add in tomatoes and avocado and mix. Set in fridge for about 10-15 minutes before serving so the flavors set.

from The Diva Dish : Adapted from: Ohsheglows

Fontina, Caramelized Onion, and Pancetta Pizza

Is it weird that I requested pizza for Mother's Day? Because I did. Jessie is the pizza queen and has so many great pizza recipes that we love trying. The only thing we changed was cutting down the onion a bit, more of a personal preference than anything. We only did 1 large onion last time, but I think 1-2 would be just right if you're wanting to scale it back a bit. If not, go for the full 3 onions!


1 recipe pizza dough
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 oz. pancetta, diced (Italian-style bacon)
3-4 cups onion, sliced (about 1 1/2  large onions)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
extra virgin olive oil, to brush pizza
1 1/2 cups fontina cheese, shredded
fresh thyme and freshly cracked black pepper, to garnish


1. Prepare pizza dough according to recipe directions.

2. While dough is rising, heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and saute for 2 minutes. Add onions, thyme, salt, and white pepper. Cook 25 minutes until onions are soft and golden brown, stirring frequently.

3. Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 F.

4. Lightly brush the prepared pizza crust with olive oil. Top with the onion mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven until the cheese is melted and the crust is puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oven and garnish with thyme and cracked black pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.

Makes 1 large pizza.

from A Hint of Honey : Adapted from Cooking Light

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Heather's Smoked Gouda, Pecan, and Cherry Salad with Green Onion Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

I can still remember when my friend Heather brought this to a pot-luck and how tasty it was. Luckily, Jessie had it on her blog so we enjoyed this a few weekends ago with our chicken burgers. I'd almost forgotten how much I love smoked Gouda, almost.


spring mix + spinach
pecans, whole or chopped
dried sweetened cherries (could sub. dried cranberries)
red onion, thinly sliced
smoked Gouda, grated

Green Onion Poppy Seed Vinaigrette

1 whole green onion, ends removed
2 Tbsp. organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/6 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil ( I used grapeseed oil)
1 tsp. poppy seeds


1. In a blender or food processor, puree onion with sugar, mustard, salt, and red wine vinegar. With the motor running, slowly stream in the olive oil. Add the poppy seeds and pulse to combine.

2. Toss spring mix and spinach and top with pecans, cherries, onion, and cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve.

Makes about 3/4 cup of vinaigrette.

(Recipe courtesy of Heather Sedwick, from A Hint of Honey)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Couscous-Stuffed Peppers with Fresh Basil Sauce

 With red bell peppers 3/$1.00, we've been eating lot and lots of them. We made these on Sunday and they were awesome. It was a combination of sort of unexpected flavors, but we were pleasantly surprised. For Siena, I just gave her some of the filling and she ate it like a champ. Plus, it was a great excuse to use some of our basil that is taking over the garden!


1 cup low-sodium chicken broth 
2 tsp cumin   
3/4 cup whole wheat couscous  
1 cup canned garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained  
1/4 cup dried currants or cranberries 
1 packed cup chopped baby spinach leaves  
1/3-1/2 cup (approx. 4 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling  
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper  
4 bell peppers ( I used red)hot water, as needed (I used chicken broth)


1 packed cup fresh basil leaves  
1/4-1/3 cup (about 4 ounces) creme fraiche ( I used sour cream)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1-2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped  
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus a little zest! (about 1/2 a lemon)
1/4 teaspoon sugar  
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus extra, as needed  
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra, as needed


1. Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare the filling: In a medium saucepan bring the chicken broth and cumin to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan until the couscous is tender and all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 to 6 minutes. Put the couscous in a large bowl and add the beans, currants, spinach, feta and 1/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir until all the ingredients are combined. 

2. Slice the tops off the peppers and remove all the ribs and seeds. If necessary, cut a very thin slice from the base to help the peppers stand up. Stuff the peppers with the filling and drizzle the tops with olive oil. Put the peppers in an 8 by 8-inch square baking dish. Fill the baking dish with 3/4-inch hot water or broth, cover with foil, and bake until the filling is golden and the peppers are cooked through, about 45-55 minutes, removing foil last 15 min or so .

3. While peppers are baking, in a food processor, blender, or with an immersion blender, combine the basil, sour cream, olive oil, water, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.

4. Remove the peppers from the oven and arrange on serving plates. Spoon the sauce around the peppers and serve. 

Serves 4 
*Right now, it was meatless, to make it truly vegetarian swap the chicken broth for vegetable broth

adapted slightly from Giada

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Spicy" Chicken & Black Bean Pasta

We've been enjoying this recipe for a while, but only this past time did Siena gobble it all up! I'm not sure if it is just taste buds maturing a bit, but every time she eats a meal completely unmodified I want to jump for joy. Really, I could go on and on about how happy this makes me- in fact, I'm sure I will as I post other recipes of food she willingly (and knowingly) eats.

 This makes a lot! I halved the original recipe and we still ate it for 2-3 days. The original is a little spicier (hence the name), but I'm wimpy so this ratio of spices seemed to work out pretty well.

1/2 lb whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente  (spaghetti & fettuccine work great)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (1 is plenty for our family)*
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1-2 garlic cloves
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper
1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2-4  oz feta cheese, crumbled
2 small Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 c fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

1. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil  over medium heat. Add chicken, chili powder, cumin, and garlic. Saute until chicken is cooked through, but not browned. Remove chicken and set aside.

2 .Return skillet to heat. Add jalapenos, green onions, and red bell pepper; saute 3-4 minutes. Stir in black beans; heat about 3 minutes. Add feta and chicken, and heat thoroughly. Remove from heat and stir in tomatoes. Toss pasta gently with sauce and sprinkle with cilantro.

*I think this could easily be adapted to be vegetarian-just add spices when you saute jalapenos, onions, and pepper. I'd also consider increasing the black beans.

adapted from Lauren Loves Food

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Zucchini Bread/Muffins

 A few weeks ago my mother-in-law went to farmers market deal where you pay $10 and get 60 lbs of veggies. Yes, that's right. She shared a lot with us: tomatoes, green bell peppers, tomatillos, and lots of zucchini. We successfully used all our veggies, and tripled this recipe to use all the zucchini. Our freezer is well stocked with muffins!


1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup applesauce
2 cups grated zucchini
3 tsp. vanilla
3 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups flour ( I used 1 cup whole wheat & 2 cups all-purpose)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts


1. Preheat oven to 325. Butter and flour 2  9x5 or 2 muffin pans.

2. In a medium bowl, combine sugars, eggs, and applesauce. Beat well. Add vanilla and zucchini. In a separate bowl combine cinnamon, flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Add optional chopped nuts.

3. Pour into prepared pans and bake loaves for 1 hour or muffins for 18-23 minutes (mine were done right at 20 min).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

BBQ Chicken Salad with Avocado Vinaigrette

Welp, here we are with a full week in the 100s...and no relief in sight. We're trying to enjoy grilling while we can, and salads are such a good way to keep the kitchen cool. Here is a pretty basic BBQ chicken salad with a twist from a tasty vinaigrette. The funny thing is, we were already planning on having red potatoes on the side and when I found the recipe for the vinaigrette they also had the same side dish. Guess it's a good combo? Not the best picture, but I am finding I am less and less patient once it comes to dinner time :)

BBQ Chicken Salad

 chicken breasts, grilled with favorite barbeque sauce (plus a bit more to add after cutting up)
greens of choice (romaine, spinach, mixed greens, etc)
black beans, drained & rinsed
fresh corn (or frozen corn, thawed)
red onion, to taste
cucumber, diced
tomatoes, diced
cheese of choice
fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Avocado Vinaigrette

1/3 cup olive oil
1/6 cup white wine vinegar
2 scallions
1 Tbsp. peach jam
1/2 medium ripe avocado
Salt and pepper to taste
 *makes enough dressing for 4 servings

To make salad, layer greens with remaining ingredients. Add a bit of dressing and toss. Garnish with cilantro.

dressing adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

White Bean Tomatillo Tacos

This dish was inspired from a need to use a lot of tomatillos and tomatoes.  The Hatch family loves bean burros from a restaurant in Phoenix called Don Jose. There are many Hatch traditions I've come to love... unfortunately Don Jose's isn't exactly my favorite tradition. (I was relieved to find out one of my brothers-in-law isn't a huge fan either!) I do appreciate that it is a family-run place, but not quite my first choice for eating out. When going to Don Jose's most family members order a 'bean burro'- refried beans with cheese in a tortilla. I won't claim this recipe to be close to the beloved Don Jose bean burro, but it got a stamp of approval from Nick and is I'm sure significantly healthier.

Tomatillo Salsa


1 jalapeno
1 1/2 bunches of cilantro, no stems
12-15 fresh tomatillos, about 1 1/2 to 2 inch size, husked and cleaned
juice of 1 lime plus zest
1-2 tsp. of sugar, or other sweetener
1-2 cloves garlic
1/4 of large onion
salt to taste


Boil the jalapeno in water. Cut off stem and add to blender with all other ingredients (I split it in half first and removed the seeds because I'm wimpy.)  Blend until almost smooth. Chill. 

2 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
cumin, to taste
oregano, to taste
coriander, to taste
shredded cheese
cucumbers, diced
tomatoes, diced
fresh spinach, roughly chopped
tomatillo salsa

1. In a medium saucepan, add rinsed beans with a bit of water- about 1/4 of the saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and add cumin, oregano, coriander.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally til beans have thickened and have a texture almost like refried beans.

2. Cook or warm tortillas. Add beans, sprinkle with cheese and allow to melt. Garnish with cucumbers, tomatoes, and spinach. Add tomatillo salsa and enjoy!

adapted from the Enlightened Homemaker

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Poppy Seed Chicken Pitas, Now and Then

I made this to take for our picnic lunch at our ward activity a few weeks ago. I made this the night before and just kept finding things to add to enhance it. I think the original recipe is tasty (bottom picture), but this version offers a bit more in terms of veggies helping bulk it up without all of the bulk being meat. Nick and I were both going for the leftovers, the pregnant lady won. Thanks, Nicky Poo.


2 chicken breasts
drizzle of olive oil
1 lemon
1/2 tsp. thyme (just add it on as you like!)
kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt-- I used an entire 5.8 oz container
1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1-2 stalk celery, chopped
1-2 red bell peppers, diced
1/4 cup onion, minced (red or white)- to taste
1/2 cup chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts, toasted (I used sliced almonds)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (can use tops of green onions)
2-3 Tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped (optional) OR dried cranberries
torn lettuce or spinach leaves, for serving
whole-wheat Pitas, halved


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Give the chicken a very light drizzle of olive oil. Squeeze half of the lemon over tops of chicken breasts in a baking pan. (To get the most lemon juice, leave at room temperature, heat for a few seconds in microwave and roll around before squeezing.) Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Cover with foil and bake until cooked through and juices run clear (170 degrees). Remove from oven and let cool.

2. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the mayo, yogurt, juice of the other half of lemon, mustard, celery, bell pepper, onion, chives, parsley, poppy seeds, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Add the apricots/cranberries and nuts if desired or save the nuts for sprinkling over top.

3. Shred the chicken, discarding the bones and skin, and toss with the dressing. Stuff a few lettuce leaves and some of the chicken salad into each pita. Sprinkle with nuts.

Makes 6-8 pitas

adapted from Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creamy Spinach & Avocado Pasta

 I can't tell if it's just my pregnant state that makes my love affair with meals even better, or if I'm just on a lucky streak with new recipes lately. Usually there are a few duds between every successful recipe, but I've genuinely loved the past few recipes we've tried. I'd been wanting to try this recipe from Giada (which is essentially the same thing swapping arugula for spinach) but, saw this recipe recently and decided to try it first since we always have an abundance of spinach in our fridge. Truthfully, I was a little nervous because I do not especially like the taste of cooked spinach. I try to sneak in it meals here and there, but I very much prefer it raw. I told Nick that this would either be awesome or disgusting, luckily it was the former. Nick said his only complaint was, "That {I} didn't put more on {his} plate." Siena devoured hers and wanted seconds, even when I told her it was a spinach and avocado sauce. Since we each ate a hefty serving of spinach and I was too lazy, this pasta plus fresh pineapple was dinner. Needless to say, we did not have any left overs. We used basil from our garden and since we have spinach starting to grow as well, hopefully in a few more weeks we can try it again with our own bounty. {P.S. We just got lots of organic whole wheat spaghetti from Costco- it ends up being about $1.00/lb which is a pretty great price since normal Barilla is $1.00-$1.40 around here-the whole wheat varieties significantly more.} I've been waiting to go to the store and get another small Greek yogurt so we can enjoy this again! (It just so happens that the amount of yogurt I used in the Chicken burgers + this recipe = exactly one yogurt cup.)

Creamy Spinach & Avocado Pasta


6-8 ounces of pasta
2 Tbsp. butter (next time I'll try 1 Tbsp.)
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch of salt, more to taste
3-4 big handfuls of spinach (about 8-10 oz)
fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup grated fresh Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, reserving some of the pasta water.

2. While pasta is cooking, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and the spinach to the saucepan (Yes, the pan will be full. Just stuff it all in.) Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Let the mixture cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the spinach is completely wilted. *Add some of the basil at this time, and save a bit for garnish at the end.

3. Add the yogurt, avocado, and 2-3 Tablespoons of reserved pasta water to the spinach mixture. Stir it a bit, then buzz it up with an immersion blender. (If you don't have one, transfer to a food processor or a blender. Blend well, and return sauce to the pot.) Stir in the cheese, and add more pasta water if it seems too thick.

4. If your pasta is still hot, simply toss the pasta and sauce together in a large serving bowl. If it's not, then combine the pasta and sauce in one of the pots (preferably the larger one) and cook over medium low until everything is hot. Add salt and pepper, to taste and serve with the remaining basil as well as a sprinkle of grated cheese.

from Perry's Plate

Monday, April 23, 2012

Spring Salad with Versatile Vinaigrette

   We had a similar version of this at our Easter dinner and I just had to get the dressing recipe from Nick's cousin (in-law). It's a great base and really versatile, which is a good thing since as the weather warms my cravings turn to all things fruit and salad (and maybe some ice cream in there as well...). I've used this dressing all week and switched out some ingredients in the salad. I would put sesame sticks in every salad if it were up to me (and I hadn't run out already). If you haven't tried them, you really must. I scooped a small bag in bulk at Sprouts and was sad I didn't get more-you can get a decent sized bag at Trader Joe's, I just need to do some price comparing first or just continue to get small scoops so I don't eat them all at once.

Spring Salad

greens of choice, I had romaine and spring mix on hand
avocado, diced
strawberries, sliced
cucumbers, diced
red onion, diced
little sprinkling of feta
sesame sticks

Versatile Vinaigrette

1/2 cup. oil (I used grape seed oil)
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar or raspberry vinegar
1/2 t. salt
2 Tbsp. all-fruit raspberry jam

Mix all together until well blended.
Other suggestions: peach jam, switching it up with different flavored vinegars (the Easter salad was make with a pomegranate vinegar)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chocolate Coconut Squares

  These are a tasty treat that are perfect for me right now: only one saucepan, no oven required, ingredients in my pantry, easy for little hands to help, and something we'll all love to nibble on. The original recipe calls them 'granola bars,' but they tasted far too much like a dessert to have that label. Granola implies (though is rarely true) healthy, and these are not exactly a health food. That being said, at least in these 'granola bars' you can pronounce and identify every ingredient. Despite the peanut butter, these have a predominately chocolate and coconut taste. I cut them into smaller pieces so they were easy to enjoy a little bit at a time-especially for little hands.


2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1/4-1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup natural, smooth peanut butter
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/4-1/3 cup chocolate chips


1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine coconut oil, honey, and peanut butter. Stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat.

2. Stir in oats until well mixed. Add coconut and chocolate chips. Pour into a foil-lined 8x8 pan. Refrigerate until cooled. Once cooled, turn pan over onto a cutting board and cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator.

adapted from  The Marathon Mom

Monday, April 16, 2012

Chicken Burgers with Garlic & Rosemary


A few months ago we got a sweet deal and went from no television stations to more than I can count. From February til the end of the year we get free cable (plus movie channels)- oh yes, and a DVR. (It's part of a trial for a new cable package or something. ) It has been heavenly. I don't consider myself to be a big TV watcher, but there are a few channels/shows I like. Unfortunately, the time I watch TV is after I've put Siena to bed and read for a while = late = makes me want to eat everything. Nick has even asked me not to watch too close to bed because it makes him starving too! (So I guess it's not just a pregnancy thing.) I saw this a while ago and was excited to try it out. It was super easy and flavorful, I think it will be on rotation a lot this summer!


3 Tbsp. olive oil mayo
3 Tbsp. low-fat plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp. freshly chopped rosemary
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 lb ground chicken breast (could try turkey as well)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
whole wheat buns


1. In a small bowl combine mayo, yogurt, rosemary, and garlic. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl add ground chicken, salt, pepper, and mayo-yogurt mixture (optional:reserve a tiny bit of mixture to use later on buns). Gently combine ingredients and form patties (I formed 5 from 1.2 lbs). Mixture will be wet- place patties on a wax-paper lined baking sheet and put in freezer or refrigerator to help set.

3. On a preheated and sprayed grill, place chicken burgers over medium heat. Cook on each side for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to rest for a few minutes. Serve on a whole wheat bun with some arugula.

adapted from Giada

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Pesto alla Genovese with Gnocchi, Mozzarella, and Tomatoes

Ready for a super vague recipe? Don't worry, it's also super easy and incredibly adaptable. We have been on a pesto kick lately. We love pasta and eat it quite frequently, but we hadn't done pesto in a long time. Pesto can be pretty easy to make, but it is also quite affordable to buy a pre-made sauce. I'm sure Trader Joe's has something fantastic, but we opt for the bottle from Costco which is only like $8 and will last you a while (unless you stay on a pesto kick, like we have). Even my 1/4-Italian husband who is very picky about his Italian food approves of this brand. While you can definitely pair any traditional pasta with pesto- this one has a little something extra to it and looks so fancy with gnocchi. We used cherry tomatoes from our little garden, so naturally, it seemed extra delicious. The tomatoes get so sweet when they're hit with a little heat- " è buono," for sure.


tomatoes of choice- cherry or grape (halved), or Roma (in bite-sized pieces)
mozzarella, cubed


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large sauce pan, bring salted water to a boil. Cook gnocchi until they float- remove with slotted spoon.

2. While gnocchi is cooking, prep 8 x 8 (or any sized) dish by rubbing a bit of pesto  on the bottom and on the sides. Add tomatoes and mozzarella cubes. As gnocchi are done, add them to the prepared dish. Add spoonfuls of pesto and gently toss the gnocchi with the tomato and cheese, until all have a light covering of pesto.

3. Place dish in the oven and cook only until the mozzarella begins to brown and the tomatoes are juicy.

{Confession: I actually broiled this dish the first go around- but then found out apparently you're not supposed to broil Pyrex. Luckily, nothing happened (and maybe it's okay b/c it was broiling for such a short time period). So, if you have a dish that can withstand broiling, that is faster-but watch it carefully.}

Monday, April 9, 2012

Multi-Grain Waffles

These are my new favorite waffles. The oatmeal makes them so, so soft and fluffy. I was eating them straight out of the waffle iron (carefully, of course). I didn't add wheat germ as it isn't something I normally have in my pantry, but I do think it would add a nice nutty flavor. I actually don't think I've had wheat germ since I was younger and I used to put it on ice cream- is that normal? I also think buttermilk would be great, but again- not something I normally have in stock. I tried the substitute of regular milk plus cream of tartar and it seemed to work well. I am all about using what I have on hand!

 I paired this with a blueberry sauce similar to this one- but scaled down with less sugar and thinned out a bit more.


2 cups buttermilk, or 2 cups milk + 3 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup all-purpose four
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ, or cornmeal (I had neither, so I added another 1/4 cup whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. canola oil (I used applesauce)
2 tsp. vanilla extract


1. Mix buttermilk (milk) and oats in a medium bowl; let stand for 15 minutes.

2. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ (or cornmeal), baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.

3. Stir eggs, sugar, applesauce and vanilla into the oat mixture. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients; mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened.

4. Preheat a waffle iron and coat a waffle iron with cooking spray. Spoon in enough batter to cover three-fourths of the surface (about 2/3 cup for an 8-by-8-inch waffle iron). Cook until waffles are crisp and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

*The original recipe states that it can also be used for pancakes.

adapted from Eating Well

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nutella Gelato

Alright, technically this isn't gelato... but it was originally going to be. I was going to follow this recipe but the extra work and inclusion of eggs (although cooked into a custard) in pregnancy convinced me to go an easier route. I feel okay still calling it gelato because of the consistency and because, like good gelato, a little goes a long way. Really, one scoop of this should provide a satisfactory sugar fix. I was so, so tempted to add a few spoonfuls of peanut butter as it was churning in the ice cream maker, but since it was technically a Valentine's Day treat for Nick I restrained. (He likes peanut butter, but certainly not as much as me.)


1 cup Nutella
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 1/3 cup cream
2 tsp. vanilla extract


Mix Nutella and sugar until combined. Add milk and mix til sugar mixture is dissolved. Stir in cream and vanilla and chill for several hours. When chilled, follow directions on ice cream maker until desired consistency is reached (about 20 min). Store in air tight container in freezer.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Black Bean Soup

Nick is working nights this month. Yep, we're back to an incredibly crappy schedule. Sometimes the 15 minutes that we have together isn't worth trying to cram down an early dinner, so Siena and I have been flying solo most nights. I made this the other night when all I wanted was to order pizza or drive to Chipotle- but Siena was already in bed and I couldn't justify the cost at the time. Besides loving black beans, I love this recipe because it is right up my alley: ingredients I almost always have on hand, easy to adjust quantity, and no measuring. I ate it just as it was, but I think you could pair it with lots of things if you prefer it as a side rather than the main dish.


olive oil
1-2 red bell pepper, chopped
medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans black beans (reserve 1/2-3/4 of one can), mostly drained
1/2 can diced tomatoes in juice
1/2-1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. coriander
fresh cilantro, to taste


1. In a saucepan or pot, over medium heat, add olive oil and saute bell pepper, onions, and garlic until tender (about 5-6 min).

2. Add beans (reserving 1/2-3/4 of one can), diced tomatoes (in some juice) a bit of chicken broth-I splashed some in, but start on the lower end knowing you can always add more.

3. Add cumin, chili powder, oregano, coriander (I approximated above, because I like to just shake 'em in). Bring to boil, reduce heat to low/medium low and simmer uncovered til carrots are tender. Add fresh cilantro (1-2 Tbsp. chopped)

4. Using an immersion blender, or a traditional blender, blend the beans to desired consistency. Add chicken broth as needed to get desired consistency. Add reserved black beans and return to stove to heat through.

5. Garnish with fresh lime juice, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, dollop of sour cream, and/or fresh cilantro.

If you are fortunate enough to have leftovers, this reheats really well. It may need a little broth added the next day.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


When we were in Italy we tried these amazing risotto balls called arancini. They are are native to Sicily, so Nick hadn't tried them before this trip. We made these as a big indulgence- the first fried food I've ever made- but they were so good I'm sure we'll justify making them again. Most of the ones in Sicily are the size of an orange or so -arancina means "little orange," but ours were quite a bit smaller to make them easier to prepare. Since they are larger, they can fill more inside and typically have ragu or tomato sauce, cheese , and maybe peas. Next time I'd love to try a butternut squash risotto with Gruyere cheese tucked inside.


vegetable oil, for frying (slight wince)
2 large eggs, beaten
2 cups day-old risotto
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups dried Italian-style bread crumbs, I used flavored Panko
2 ounces mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (or a bit smaller)
optional: favorite ragu


1. Pour enough oil in a heavy, large saucepan to reach depth of 2-3 inches. Heat the oil over medium heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. {I didn't have a way to measure the temp and it was fine.}

2. Stir eggs, risotto, Parmesan, and 1/2 cup of bread crumbs in a large bowl to combine. Place
remaining breadcrumbs in a medium bowl.

3. Using about 2 tablespoons of the risotto mixture for each, form the risotto mixture into 1 3/4-inch-diameter balls. Insert 1 cube of mozzarella into the center of each ball. Roll the balls in the bread crumbs to coat.

4. Working in batches, add the rice balls to the hot oil and cook until brown and heated through, turning them as necessary, about 2-4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the rice balls to paper towels to drain. Season with salt. Let rest 2 minutes. Serve hot.

*If using optional ragu- place a spoonful of ragu when you add mozzarella to inside of risotto ball.

adapted from Giada

Creamy Parmesan Risotto

I should've taken a picture of this while it was nice and hot...this is actually the remnant two days later which was half of the reason I wanted to make risotto--to use some of the leftovers for arancini. This is certainly tasty on it's own (paired with salad and possibly a little something else), but it is a very tasty treat in arancini form as well!

5 cups hot good quality chicken broth       
¼ cup butter (I will use less next time, but I'm not a huge butter fan)
1 large onion                    
1-2 tbsp. chopped fresh garlic
1 ½ cups Arborio rice              
3 Tbsp. butter (again, I'll use less)
1 ¼ grated Parmesan cheese 

2-3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley
salt and black pepper, to taste


1. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a saucepan; reduce the heat, to low and cover the saucepan to keep hot.

2.In another heavy-bottomed saucepan melt 1/4 cup butter over medium-low heat, add in onion and saute until very tender but not brown (about 8-10 minutes).Add in garlic and stir for about 2 minutes.Increase heat slightly and add in the rice; stir for 1 minute.

3. Slowly add in 1-1/2 cups hot broth with a ladle; boil gently, stirring until the broth is absorbed. Add in another 1 cup broth, and stir until absorbed .Add in 1/2 cup broth at a time allowing the broth to absorb before adding in another 1/2 cup (do this until you have used up all of the broth) stirring frequently until the rice is tender and creamy (this should take between 25-30 minutes).

4.Stir in 3 tablespoons butter and 1-1/4 cup (or less) grated Parmesan cheese; mix to combine.Season with salt and pepper.

5. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with chopped parsley.


Stacked Roasted Veggie Enchiladas

I was a little hesitant to try this, but having seen this recipe (or very similar) over and over I figured there must be something good about it! It was a great meatless dinner, even Nick approved and was pleasantly surprised. Honestly, we made this so long ago I can't remember if I changed much from the original recipe- I'm pretty sure I used a little less red sauce and only 1/2 a jalapeno since I didn't want too much spice for a 2-year-old.


1 large red pepper, chopped, seeds removed
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow squash, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups red enchilada sauce
9-10 small corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place red pepper, zucchini, yellow squash, and onion on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until vegetables are coated. Season with salt and pepper. Roast vegetables for 30-40 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove vegetables from oven and let cool to room temperature. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

2. Grease an 8x8 square baking pan and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine roasted vegetables, black beans, cumin, chili powder, garlic, jalapeño, and cilantro. Stir and season with salt and pepper.

3. Spread 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the baking pan. Add a layer of tortillas, to completely cover the bottom of the pan. You might have to cut the tortillas to make them fit. Top with 1/3 of the vegetable/bean mixture and 1/3 of the cheese. Make a second layer of tortilla, enchilada sauce, vegetables/beans, and cheese. Top with with a layer of tortillas, enchilada sauce, vegetables/beans, and cheese. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover the pan.

4. Bake enchiladas for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the enchiladas are bubbling. Remove enchiladas from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm.

from twopeasandtheirpod