eat! craft! live!

Baking, crafting, mama-ing and taking photos of it all. When I remember.


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strawberries ‘n’ cream smoothie-shake

strawberries 'n' cream

This smoothie. You guys, this smoothie! It’s, uh, not the healthiest smoothie around. (Which is why I called it a “smoothie-shake” – like that?) This resulted from a little leftover cream hiding out in the refrigerator and a lot of leftover strawberries taking up space in the freezer. Though, now that I’ve discovered this smoothie, I wish I had even more strawberries hiding out in the freezer!

We used the delicious local strawberries that we picked over the summer and froze for posterity. I definitely recommend finding the most delicious strawberries you can, because it will make all the difference here. It’s like strawberry shortcake in a blender…minus the shortcake.

63/100: strawberries 'n' cream

strawberries ‘n’ cream smoothie-shake

  • 1 heaping cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • splash vanilla

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend, pour, enjoy!

strawberries 'n' cream


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brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

This dish. Oh, this amazing dish. I’ve mentioned it before, briefly, when I first had it at the Blue Spoon for my birthday last year. I had every intention of re-creating it at home and sharing the recipe with you but then…well…things kinda fell apart.

Shortly after I first made the dish at home, H came down with a nasty stomach virus. M had a gig out of town that weekend and I thought I’d managed to avoid coming down with the bug, but mere hours after he left…I got sick too. All night, all by myself. No sleep. The morning brought me two bright eyed children who had slept soundly all night, one of whom had to be at her very first dance class mid-morning. I’m sure all the fellow dance parents in the waiting room thought I looked horribly hungover.

All this to say – you know how when you get a stomach bug and you can’t manage to eat whatever it was that you ate right before said stomach bug, regardless of whether that food had anything to do with it?

That.

I couldn’t stomach the idea of Brussels sprouts for ages afterward, or rosemary in any form. Bacon I came back around to pretty quickly but it’s been almost a solid year before I could even entertain thoughts of making this delicious dish again. Heartbreaking!

Heartbreaking because it’s so good. It would be like having your favorite birthday cake (well…*) right before coming down with something. A tragedy.

brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

Brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts
  • 4 oz bacon, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Put chopped bacon into a large skillet and fry over medium heat til crisp. Set bacon aside when finished but do not drain bacon grease.

Meanwhile, wash Brussels sprouts and cut ends off. Remove any undesirable leaves and cut into quarters. (If they’re small, halves will do.) Add to pan with bacon grease and cook until tender, adding the garlic near the end.

When the Brussels sprouts are tender, add the cream, mustard, rosemary, salt and pepper. Stir well to combine and let cook for a few minutes until sauce thickens slightly. Finally, stir in bacon. Serve and enjoy!

brussels sprouts with bacon and mustard cream sauce

*I mean, they are Brussels sprouts. Nothing like cake. But you get the picture.


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summer veggie torta

summer vegetable torta

With summer just getting going here, some of these veggies are still not quite ready in our local markets, but I know a lot of you are probably already seeing delicious summer produce! And I’m antsy, so I just get what I need at the grocery store in order to get an early taste of summer. This torta is packed with veggies, literally packed. It’s so packed that every time I make it I have my doubts it will actually fit in the pan. (It does. Barely.)

It’s a delicious mixture of veggies, eggs and cheese, which is pretty much my perfect meal. It makes 8 big slices and the torta is so tall that they’re really quite filling.

My only warning is to start it early because it has to bake for a while. In our household, it’s best left for a weekend evening.

Don’t these guys just scream summer?

zukes

Sometimes I use frozen hashbrowns, sometimes I don’t. It sort of depends on how much filler I want on a given day.

cheese

Have you guys used this stuff? Frozen garlic cubes! It’s so easy and quick. Normally I’m all about the “real” thing, but in the case of garlic, this stuff wins me over. Whenever I cut up real garlic my hands smell like garlic for days afterward, no matter how much hand washing I do. This keeps my hands free of garlic-smell and it’s a super time saver!

garlic

The original recipe called for beating the cream cheese until smooth and incorporating it into the egg mixture. I a) am too lazy to do that and b) really love finding little chunks of delicious creamy cheese in the torta and c) also really love finding slightly crisped little chunks of creamy cheese on the top of the torta. Basically, I just really love little lumps of cheese.

cubed cream cheese

You’ll need a big pan to saute all those delicious vegetables…

sauteing

summer veggie torta
modified from here

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 red peppers (or 1 red, 1 yellow), sliced into 1/4 inch strips OR 1 12 oz jar marinated red peppers, drained well and cut into 1/4 inch wide strips
  • 1 cup frozen hash brown potatoes, optional
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 oz cream cheese, cubed
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 oz. grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350°F and brush or spray bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with oil. Wrap outside of pan with aluminum foil.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, zucchini, fresh peppers (if using) and hash browns (if using). Saute until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes, adding garlic near the end to avoid burning it.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs with half and half. Stir in basil and salt. Drain off as much liquid from the sauteed veggies as possible, then add to egg mixture. Add drained marinated peppers, if using those instead of fresh ones. Stir to combine. Gently fold in cubes of cream cheese.

Pour mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with grated cheddar cheese. Bake for 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 hours or until top is puffy and golden brown and the center no longer jiggles when shaken. (This takes slightly longer in my sad little oven. Be patient.) Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes in pan, then run a sharp knife around edges to loosen. Gently remove pan sides. Serve warm, room temperature, or cold. (It is easier to slice the torta the longer it cools.)

summer vegetable torta


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breakfast!

20140514-131603.jpg

I’m doing another Whole 30 (14 days in!) and it’s going great so far. I’ve lost weight; I feel great; I’m sleeping better, despite continual wakeups by oft-sick children… I love the food I get to eat. (This does not, of course, mean that I haven’t been craving a caramel fudge brownie sundae for days…)

Whole 30 compliant breakfasts are the easiest part for me. Perhaps just because I love breakfast in general. Perhaps because I’ve always tended to favor savory, egg-based dishes over sweet, bread-y, cake-y things. (Don’t get me wrong – I love pancakes and cinnamon rolls as much as the next person but I rarely choose them over other options.) Perhaps it’s because when I’m cooking breakfast it’s just for me. I don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone else so I can make whatever I want.

I thought I’d share one of my quick, delicious breakfast options that I make frequently! It’s easy, delicious and keeps me going all morning. There are probably a million versions of it out there, but this is mine.

sweet potato hash with eggs
serves 1

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (the smaller you dice it, the quicker it will cook – think reeeeally small)
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 2 eggs

Snip the bacon with some kitchen shears into bite size pieces into a medium frying pan, preferably one with a lid. Over medium high heat, cook the bacon until it starts to render some fat but is not yet crispy. Add sweet potatoes and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender. Add green onions and stir for 30 seconds or so. Make two wells in the sweet potato mixture and crack your eggs into them. Cook, covered, until the eggs are done to your liking. Transfer to a plate and try not to burn your mouth. Enjoy!

A note about bacon and Whole 30 – I admit, I do not go out of my way to find strictly Whole 30 compliant bacon. I don’t care that much. I’ve also made this dish with coconut oil instead of bacon fat and added some smoked paprika. Still tasty!


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loaded potato and chicken casserole

loaded potato chicken casserole

This casserole is easy and delicious. And it involves bacon! What more could you want? I based it on this recipe, but since we have little ones who don’t like their food “too ‘picy” we changed it up a bit, switching out the hot sauce for barbecue sauce and throwing in some sweet potatoes. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s totally customizable. Add sweet potatoes…or not! Peel the potatoes…or not! More bacon! Less bacon! More cheese! Less cheese! (Wait, less cheese? Is that something people do?)

Along those lines, a note about the oil and spices. They aren’t strictly necessary. The oil does keep the potatoes from drying out during roasting, but I’ve had luck with just using straight barbecue sauce, though they do tend to burn faster. And the optional garlic salt and smoked paprika, while tasty, are totally optional.

And, a note on cooking – I oven bake my bacon while I’m prepping the potatoes for roasting. This is super easy and effectively makes use of the preheating. If you don’t want to do this, just pan fry, microwave, or however you usually cook your bacon.

loaded potato chicken casserole

loaded potato and chicken casserole
adapted from Cook Lisa Cook

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 8-10 medium potatoes, sweet potatoes, or a combination, cubed (I do half and half)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (less if desired)
  • optional, but tasty – garlic salt, smoked paprika
  • 1/2-3/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 4 oz. grated cheese – cheddar, monterey jack or a blend
  • 8 oz. bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 500°. Mix together 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, oil & spices (if using) in a large bowl and add cubed potatoes. Stir to coat evenly. Spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and add potatoes, leaving behind as much sauce as you can. Bake for 45-60 minutes, stirring a few times, until potatoes are cooked through. I used 4 medium white potatoes and 4 small sweet potatoes and this is how full my pan was:

loaded potato chicken casserole

While the potatoes are cooking, add the cubed chicken to the bowl with the remaining barbecue sauce, adding more if needed. Let marinate until potatoes are done. Once the potatoes are cooked through, remove from oven and turn temperature down to 400°. Top the potatoes with the raw chicken, then top with remaining ingredients – crumbled bacon, green onions and grated cheese. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve and enjoy! Try not to burn your mouth.


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coconut cream pie “laraballs”

coconut cream pie "laraballs"

Back when I was doing my Whole 30, I stumbled into a delicious "dessert" – whole dates with unsweetened coconut. I'd just put a bit of coconut in a bowl, add some dates and…that's it! It was simple, delicious, and while not exactly healthy, it wasn't that bad for you. (That's still a lot of sugar, yo, and the powers-that-be would probably frown on me having any sort of "dessert" at all. But anyway…)

coconut cream pie "laraballs"

A few days after that, I discovered Larabars. I know, where have I been? Well, to be quite truthful, Larabars are a little out of my normal price range. But, I had a coupon and they are almost all made with Whole 30 compliant ingredients, so I bought a few to take with us on a road trip to Connecticut in case we needed a quick snack in the car. One of the flavors I grabbed was the coconut cream pie flavor and oh my heavens, it was delicious. Very reminiscent of my dates-with-coconut dessert and I knew I needed to figure out how to make it.

coconut cream pie "laraballs"

Turns out if you Google "homemade larabars" there are a LOT of options out there… Mine isn't groundbreaking in any way, I'm just sharing because I can! The ingredients are simple – dates, unsweetened coconut, almonds, cashews and coconut oil. I formed mine into balls, just because that seemed the easiest. This recipe consistently makes 17 slightly-bigger-than-a-tablespoon balls for me.

coconut cream pie laraballs

  • 1/2 c. raw almonds
  • 1/2 c. raw cashews
  • 1 c. pitted dates (I used 11-12)
  • 1 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
  • about 2 teaspoons extra virgin coconut oil, slightly melted (Normally I used refined coconut oil for cooking but in this case you do actually want the extra coconut flavor.)

Grind up the almonds and cashews in a food processor until they are crumbly, but not super fine. Set aside in a small bowl. Pulse the dates a few times, then add the coconut and nuts and pulse to combine. Drizzle in the coconut oil and combine. (Feel free to add more coconut oil, if desired.) The mixture will be crumbly but should stick together when formed into balls. I use my tablespoon measure to scoop out lumps of the mixture and form it into a ball. I keep them stored in a glass container with a lid, in the fridge. They will firm up upon cooling.


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mom’s spinach lasagna

Oh, this lasagna.

This lasagna is easy, tasty, inexpensive. It is easily doubled and I often make two at once – one to eat immediately and one to stash in the freezer for some future lazy day. It's my go-to dish to bring to cold-weather potlucks, new parents, anyone who needs a little food-pick-me-up. It freezes well and reheats beautifully. I've been meaning to blog this recipe for ages but somehow hadn't gotten around to it…I was reminded to when I made it for a friend (and also our freezer) and also gave the recipe to another friend to make ahead for her freezer to prep for a new baby. I got the recipe from my mother, which is why I consider it my mother's spinach lasagna. But, she got from someone else, who likely clipped it from a magazine some 20-odd years ago or more. (Basically, I have no idea where this recipe originated.) And…apologies, but I have no photo of the finished product. Use your imagination, it looks much like any other lasagna.

mom's spinach lasagna

  • 1 15 oz. container of ricotta
  • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella
  • 1 egg
  • 1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 32 oz. pasta sauce
  • 9 lasagna noodles
  • just under 1 cup water

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, spinach, salt, oregano, and half the mozzarella.

In a 13×9 baking dish, layer 1/4 of the sauce, followed by 3 lasagna noodles and half of the ricotta mixture. Repeat. Top with 1/4 of the sauce, 3 more lasagna noodles, the remaining sauce and finally the remaining shredded mozzarella. (Got that? From the bottom – sauce, noodles, ricotta, sauce, noodles, ricotta, sauce, noodles, sauce, mozzarella.)

Finally, pour the water carefully around the edge of the pan. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 1 1/4 hours or until bubbly.

lasagnaMixing the ricotta mixture.

lasagnaI used cheap sauce. Feel free to get fancy!

lasagnaSauce, with noodles on top.

lasagnaNow with ricotta!

lasagnaThe final layer of mozzarella.

lasagnaNow pour water around the edges…

lasagna…and you end up with weird, watery tomato-ness at the edges. It's OK. It'll all soak in and be delicious. I promise.


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healthy morning muffins

healthy morning

In stark contrast to the last muffin recipe I posted, these muffins are actually packed with healthy stuff, along with being plain ol’ delicious. This is another of my favorite recipes to have on hand in the freezer. I find that if I bake a batch of muffins, eat one, then put the rest in the freezer for a later date, there’s a lot less of a chance that I’ll impulse-snack them all into my belly before the day is over…

healthy morning

Packed with carrot-y goodness, these muffins look a bit sketchy when being mixed up. I’m just warning you…it looks a little like a carrot salad. But! I promise they’ll bake up into delicious, moist muffins that have more than just carrot going on.

healthy morning

healthy morning muffins
adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe

  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 medium carrots, grated
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400°. Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or use liners. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt until there are no lumps. Stir in oats and raisins. Add oil, egg, milk, carrots, applesauce and vanilla and stir until blended.

Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

healthy morning


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banana chocolate chip muffins

banana chocolate chip muffins

These muffins are perfect – soft and fluffy and full of chocolate chips. They are really more like little cakes than muffins, but there’s fruit in there (bananas!) so they’ve got to be healthy, right?

Right?

Well, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but these aren’t exactly the healthiest of muffins. Which means that they taste amazing. I wouldn’t eat a bunch every day, but they are a delicious treat to have around. I keep mine in the freezer, which keeps the impulse snacking to a minimum.

banana chocolate chip muffins

I always thought I didn’t like the classic banana-chocolate combo, but I think it’s because I’d always had banana bread with lots of spices and chocolate chips, all crammed in together. Then one day someone made me a mini loaf of banana bread that had chocolate chips but no spices. It was heavenly.

banana chocolate chip muffins

Now I know that what I really don’t like is the combination of bananas, chocolate chips, and stuff like cinnamon. (Don’t get me wrong – I love cinnamon! Just not here…)

So I took this recipe from the King Arthur cookbook, tweaked it to my liking, and voila! A simple, delicious banana chocolate chip muffin. So go ahead and gather up those black bananas just waiting to be used…

banana chocolate chip muffins

banana chocolate chip muffins
adapted from the King Arther Baker’s Companion

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 medium sized ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a medium bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Scrape down and add egg, banana and milk. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine dry ingredients with wet, being careful not to overmix. Add chocolate chips and stir to combine. (I add the chocolate chips before the dry ingredients are fully incorporated to make sure I don’t overmix the batter.)

Lightly grease 12 muffin cups, or use paper liners. Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups – the batter is fairly stiff.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until a tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool for 10 minutes and take them out of the pan to finish cooling.

These are delicious fresh, straight from the oven, but they also keep quite well! My frozen ones last a good while and still taste as delicious as the moment they went in. Enjoy!

banana chocolate chip muffins


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cashew tamari dressing

salad

Just over two months ago, I hinted that I'd be blogging this recipe for my favorite salad dressing. (I was pretty obvious.) Favorite salad dressing, you say? Salad dressings aren't usually the kind of thing people tend to talk about with the same reverence as, say, a good brownie recipe or anything involving cheese. (Or is that just my group of friends?)

Until they've tasted this dressing.

It's that good.

I seriously love this stuff. I went on and on about it in my previous post, but I'll just reiterate here how amazingly delicious this stuff is. You know how when you bake a cake or cookies or brownies you maybe lick all the batter or dough off the spoons and bowls even though you know you shouldn't because of the raw eggs and stuff? I do the same with this dressing. I'm not even kidding.

(As a side note, when I was a little kid I always thought you weren't supposed to eat the raw batter because of the baking soda. I thought it was something like how your stomach is acidic, so don't eat raw baking soda…like how vinegar and baking soda react? I thought you'd have a volcano in your tummy. Yeah. Kid logic!)

Anyway…dressing! I was first introduced to a version of this dressing at Mother's in Austin. I tried the house dressing on a whim, I hadn't actually heard anything about it, and it was delicious! It may have been the first restaurant salad I had ever completely devoured. This is the only salad dressing I have ever craved. I tried to find a way to buy it when I moved away, but alas, none was found. I googled and googled but had trouble finding anything I could definitively identify as that dressing. So I gave up on it for a while. Another google search after many months finally resulted in finding that there are actually a few different semi-well-known "cashew tamari" dressings. But oh how different they were! I found a few recipes that sounded like what I wanted and ended up with this one.

Give it a try. You won't regret it!

Our humble ingredients…

humble ingredients

cashew tamari dressing
adapted from somewhere though I can't at this point remember where

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup unsalted cashews
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons tamari

Combine all ingredients in a blender or in a cup for an immersion blender. Blend until emulsified but don't make cashew butter out of it! It will only take a few seconds. There should still be bits of cashew visible. Drizzle over salad. Enjoy.

You can adjust the amount of tamari to change the level of saltiness. I like things pretty salty. You may need less! Another note on salt – do not use salted cashews. Not unless you REALLY LIKE SALT.

Mmm…tamari…

tamari!

Note: I have an immersion blender that came with a cup that has measurements on it – makes measuring out the oil and cashews super easy! Just add the 1/4 cup oil first, then dump cashews in until the liquid rises to 1/2 cup.

oil & cashews

Our humble ingredients…combined but not blended…

not yet blended...

See the bits? You may like your bits larger! I wouldn't go any smaller or you'll have cashew butter. Though if that's how you like it…

cashew bits

Yum.