Brownies

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All of the brownie recipes on this blog so far start with a box mix. I like boxed-mix brownies – the soft inside and the shiny crunchy layer on top really do it for me – so I was never in a rush to make them from scratch. When I ran across this recipe, they looked like my beloved box version enough that I decided to give them a shot.

These were really, really good. A bit more work than a box – but totally worth it. If you’re a fan of boxed-mix brownies and looking for a from-scratch substitue, these are a great bet.



Brownies

(from Sweet Anna’s)
Makes one 9×13″ pan

3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2/3 cup butter, melted and divided
1/2 cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/3 cups flour
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 9×13″ pan.

Stir together the cocoa powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup of the melted butter. Stir in the water until the mixture is smooth. Stir in sugar, eggs and remaining butter until well combined. Stir in vanilla and salt until smooth.

Add in flour and chocolate chips and stir until just combined. Transfer brownie batter to the greased pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the edges of the brownies start to pull away from the pan slightly. Cool completely in pan before cutting.


Grilled Pizza

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This is, by far, my favorite summer meal. We’ve been making it for years and it’s something we make over and over during grilling weather – mostly because it’s so easy. This pizza takes almost no prep and cooks in about five minutes.

We generally don’t go in with much of a plan when making them – toppings are whatever we happen to have still in the fridge. Ham and pineapple is a favorite, as is kalamata olive and fresh basil. And we like to make them smaller so we can vary the toppings – and each person can top their own.

It’s meals like this that are keeping us sane with a newborn!

Grilled Pizza
(as seen on Eat at Home)
Serves 2-4

 1 lb. pizza dough
Pizza sauce
Shredded mozzarella
Your favorite pizza toppings

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and spray with nonstick spray.

Roll out dough as desired – we like to make four smaller pizzas because they’re easier to work with, 2 medium or 1 large would work too!

Place the dough onto the grill grates and cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is solid and has grill marks. Flip, add sauce, cheese and toppings and close the lid of the grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and bottom has grill marks.

Transfer to a cutting board and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.

 


Creamy Taco Mac

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This could also be called “DIY Hamburger Helper” – it’s the same idea, but from scratch. There’s nothing super novel here but it’s quick and good and generally a crowd pleaser.

It also freezes well. I cooked this up before Jacob was born and froze half, casserole-style, for afterwards.

Creamy Taco Mac
(from Annie’s Eats)
Serves 6

1 1/4 lbs. ground turkey
8 oz. rotini pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
4 Tbsp. taco seasoning
3 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
Salt and pepper, to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. When you drain it, reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey and onion together until cooked through. Add the garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add in the pasta, cream cheese, sour cream, pasta water and stir until the cheese is melted as all is well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for another 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce and serve.


Introducing Chef Jacob

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We have a new chef in our kitchen – Jacob William was born July 25th!

We’re so loving our new little guy. So far, Jake is an amazingly good baby. He’s making the transition to a family of three relatively easy on us, but we’re still working on getting our new routines down so new posts here may be sporadic.

We are eating, though! Mark has been on paternity leave with us for the last two weeks so we’ve been able to tag-team cook dinner every night. Soon, I’ll be sharing how we stocked our freezer and fed ourselves in the early weeks – and I’m sure there will be a new focus on easy weeknight meals and crockpot dinners going forward. You know, life with a baby and all.

I’d also love to hear your tips for getting dinner on the table with a newborn. What worked for you?

Hope you’ll all be around for our next chapter of cooking adventures!

PS – Thanks to Kristen for the adorable picture of our little chef! It’s fitting, don’t you think?


Cherry Sour Cream Pie

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This strawberry sour cream pie is probably my favorite pie – I make it during strawberry season every year. A few weeks ago when we ended up with a ton of cherries, I decided to try the pie in a cherry version and it was just as good.

It’s a tiny tweak to the recipe but definitely worth sharing!

Cherry Sour Cream Pie
(adapted from this recipe)
Makes 1 Pie

1 prepared pie crust
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1 c. flour
1 1/4 c. sugar, reserve 1 tablespoon
Dash salt
1 c. sour cream (not fat-free)

Preheat oven to 450F degrees.

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add sour cream, blending until creamy. Gently fold in the berries without over-mixing. Pour mixture into pie shell and spread to edges without packing down — there should be spaces throughout the filling. Sprinkle the top with the last 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake the pie for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350F degrees (leave the oven door open a minute to let the temperature drop a little) and bake an additional 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Broil the pie for 2-3 minutes to brown up the top. Allow to cool completely before cutting.


Cheesy Zucchini Bake

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We have zucchini in the garden this year. I feel like shouting it from the rooftops because our zucchini never seems to work out. Having an abundance now is a huge novelty and I’m happily working through some of the recipes I’d saved from previous years.

This side is pretty simple, but it’s a great one to have in your repertoire – easy, fast and delicious.

Cheesy Zucchini Bake
(slightly adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
Serves 2-3 as a side

1 large zucchini, cut into half moon slices
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 cup shredded mixture of provolone and mozzarella, divided
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray.

Toss the cut zucchini with the basil, green onion, herbs, parmesan and half of the shredded cheese until evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to baking dish. Bake for 2-25 minutes.

Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over the top and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the cheese is nicely melted.


Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders

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Surprise! It’s a chicken recipe! This is the first chicken recipe I’ve blogged since getting pregnant that doesn’t involve bite-sized pieces.

For most of the pregnancy, I couldn’t handle chicken cooked at home unless it was bite-sized. So weird. But, the last month or so of being pregnant, I could finally tolerate chicken strips and breasts again – so I made them in force. Funny enough, even though I made these as strips, they would have been excellent bite-sized, too.

The sauce is spicy-but-sweet and even though these are baked, they taste just as good as a fried boneless wing. They tasted like something we’d order when out for bar munchies. I’m planning to make them again when football watching season is in full swing!

Honey Chipotle Chicken Tenders
(adapted from Creme de la Crumb)
Serves 4

For the chicken strips:
1 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1-2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs

For the sauce:
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. chipotle adobo sauce
1 Tbsp. hot sauce
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1/3 cup cold water + 2 Tbsp. corn starch

Ranch dressing, for dipping

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and pepper until well combined. Whisk in the eggs and enough water to make the consistency a thick batter.

Dip the chicken into the flour mixture and then into the panko, coating well in each, and place on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400F degrees for 20 minutes, flipping halfway.

While the chicken cooks, make the sauce: combine all ingredients except the cold water/cornstarch in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Whisk together the water and cornstarch and add to saucepan. Stir until the sauce thickens. Reduce heat to low until ready to use.

After the chicken is done, dip strips into the sauce. Serve with ranch dressing for dipping.


Grilled London Broil with Chimichurri

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We have a lot of parsley in the garden. A lot. This was the first recipe I ran across that used up a chunk of it – and london broil was on sale! – so it went on the menu. Grilled steak is a summertime favorite so this was a nice way to shake up our normal routine without being too different.

We’re also currently over-run with basil and dill – any suggestions on ways to use them up?

Grilled London Broil with Chimichurri
(from Cooking Light)
Serves 2

1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano leaves
1 tsp. sherry vinegar
Pinch of crushed red pepper
1 clove garlic
1 green onion, chopped
1/2 lb. london broil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

In a food processor, combine the parsley, oil, oregano, vinegar, red pepper, garlic and green onion. Process until finely shopped. Rub 1 Tbsp. of the parsley mixture over the steak and let stand for fifteen minutes.

Sprinkle steak with salt and pepper and grill over medium heat, covered, 4 minutes per side or until it is cooked to your liking. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

Serve with remaining parsley mixture.


Grilled Honey Mustard and Dill Potato Salad

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Yes, another grilled recipe. I hope you’re not sick of them yet! I’m loving grilled-up sides right now. It’s so nice to have all the cooking done outside and not be heating up the house.

Mark’s not usually a fan of potato salad, but he liked this warm version – probably because it doesn’t really feel like potato salad. Perfectly cooked potatoes tossed with a honey mustard and dill dressing? Not traditional, but very, very yummy. This one is definitely in the “make again soon” file.

Grilled Honey and Dill Mustard Potato Salad
(from Chris Loves Julia)
Serves 6

2 lbs. fingerling potatoes, quartered
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
Salt, pepper and olive oil

1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 sprigs fresh dill, roughly chopped

Boil the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes and then drain. When cooled slightly and dry, toss with olive oil and salt and pepper. Add to a grill basket and cook, stirring every five minutes, for about fifteen minutes or until browned slightly.

Add the browned potatoes to a medium bowl and toss with chopped red onion. Let sit for 2-3 minutes.

Whisk together remaining ingredients to make the dressing. Add to potatoes and toss to coat. Serve immediately.


Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas

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Generally, this is how meal planning goes around here: On Thursday we get the grocery ads for the next week and I sit down and pick meals based on what we have on hand already and what’s going to be on sale. I email the list off to Mark and he either approves it, vetoes things or reminds me of plans I’ve forgotten that would throw off dinner. It’s a good system.

And then there are weeks when things just get busy and fall through the cracks. I realized as we were standing in the grocery store shopping for the week that I’d never bounced the week’s dinners off him – and he was really skeptical of this meal. Luckily, once dinner was on the table, he liked it. We served it along with onion rings and fresh cut-up veggies.

Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas
(from Parade)
Serves 2

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium zucchini
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Hot sauce, to taste
2 cups shredded cabbage
Juice of 1/2 line
2 rolls

Whisk together the garlic, oregano, paprika, oil, salt and pepper until well combined. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and pound out the chicken to 1/2″ thick. Place zucchini and chicken on separate plates and rub each with the marinade evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and hot sauce to taste.  Remove half of the mayonnaise mixture to a small bowl and set aside. To the medium bowl, add the cabbage and lime juice and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grill chicken and zucchini over medium heat for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender, flipping halfway. Slice the chicken against the grain.

Serve the chicken and zucchini on rolls topped with mayonnaise spread and slaw.