Funfetti Cupcakes for Two

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Pickle dip. Ice cream bread. I bet you know what’s coming next, right? I won’t be cooking for two much longer – we’re expecting our first child this summer! We’re over-the-moon excited.

We found out last week that the baby is a boy, so it seemed appropriate to whip up something special to celebrate. I had blue and white sprinkles on hand already so funfetti was the obvious choice. There was lots of kicking going on after eating mine, so I’m sure baby boy liked them too.

I’m planning to continue blogging, although posts may be a little less frequent as we make the transition to a family of three. I’m also planning to share how we’ll stock the freezer pre-baby, keep ourselves fed post-baby and (eventually) how we’ll make our own baby food. I’m excited to continue sharing our cooking journey and hope you’ll be along for the ride!

Funfetti Cupcakes for Two
(from Chocolate and Carrots)
Makes 2 cupcakes

1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. milk
1 egg white
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. sugar
4 Tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.

Beat the canola oil, egg, milk, vanilla extract and sugar together. Add in the flour and baking powder. Fold in the sprinkles, being careful not to over mix. Pour into two prepared muffin liners in a muffin pan.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Let cool and then ice as desired.


Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

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I’ve made a few quinoa dishes before, and I’ve never loved them. They were ok, but nothing I’d make again. I started wondering if all the hype about quinoa was just that – hype – and it really wasn’t as good as everyone was making it out to be. And then I made this and took it all back.

This was delicious. I actually loved the veggies in the hot sauce dressing more than the chicken – I think next time I make it, it’ll be a vegetarian version to take for lunches. And even though this was buffalo, it didn’t seem that hot to me. Even if you’re not into very spicy, I think this is worth trying.

The recipe makes 2-3 large servings, but it reheats like a dream so doubling it is a fantastic idea.

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad
(slightly adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
Serves 2-3

for the salad:
1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
1 T. olive oil
1 c. broccoli florets
3/4 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 c. hot sauce
3/4 c. shredded carrots
1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles, plus more for garnish

for the dressing:
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. hot sauce
1 t. seasoned salt
For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
For the salad, rinse the quinoa well and add to a saucepan with two cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, until all water is absorbed.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the broccoli and cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Remove the broccoli and set aside. Add the chicken and 1/4 cup hot sauce to the pan. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and the hot sauce is absorbed.
In a large bowl, toss together the cooked quinoa, cooked chicken, cooked broccoli, carrots and blue cheese.  Add as much dressing as desired (I used about half) and toss to coat. Top with additional blue cheese before serving.

Steak Sandwiches with Blue Cheese Sauce

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Happy birthday to me! I love having a mid-year birthday – it’s like a mid-year reset button. New Year’s resolutions not going well? You can start over as you turn another year older.  Which is exactly what I’m going to do.

I’ve been on an on-going quest to eat better and cook more from scratch. It’s a process and a challenge – and the last few months I haven’t been doing so well. We’ve been eating out or getting take out more than I would like.

I’m not ready to give up my favorite junk foods, cheesesteak included, but I’m going to make more of an effort to cook them at home so I can better keep track of exactly what I’m eating. This recipe was sort of the test – could I really make something at home that could squash my takeout craving?

Absolutely.

Steak Sandwiches with Blue Cheese Sauce
(from Cook This, Not That!)
Serves 2

2 T. plain Greek yogurt
2 T. mayonnaise
1/4 c. crumbled blue cheese
8 oz. skirt steak or flank steak
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 sandwich rolls
Caramelized onions

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise and blue cheese until well combined.

Season the steak with salt and pepper. Cook on a hot grill for about 8-10 minutes, turning half way. Allow to rest five minutes and then slice into thin strips.

Cut each roll in half lengthwise and spread the blue cheese sauce inside. Divide steak and caramelized onion between rolls.


Pork Chops with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce

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Last year, we planted a small strawberry patch – this year, it’s exploding. I love it. We’re in the height of the season now, it seems, and we’re picking a few handfuls of berries a day.

We’ve been eating them for breakfast and throughout the day, but they were starting to pile up just a little so I went searching for a way to incorporate them into dinner, too. These pork chops were perfect – so good, super easy after a long day of work and they used up that day’s strawberry bounty!

 

Pork Chops with Strawberry Balsamic Sauce
(from Taste.com)
Serves 2

1 1/2 c. strawberries, chopped
2 T. good-quality balsamic vinegar
1 t. sugar
1 T. olive oil
2 pork chops
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 T. chicken stock

Toss the strawberries, balsamic vinegar and sugar together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and then add to pan. Cook through, about 10 minutes. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and then add strawberry mixture to the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low until heated through. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Top pork with strawberry balsamic sauce and serve.


Cheddar & Apple Breakfast Panini

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I have a bit of a cookbook-buying problem. Especially when it comes to library sales. A few weeks ago, when at a library sale I picked up a 2005 Weight Watchers Five Ingredient 15 Minute Cookbook. We were in the middle of a few really busy weeks so the quick and easy plug totally got me.

I really like the sandwich section of this book. There are a whole bunch on the to-make list. This is a riff on one that was in the book. I wasn’t sure how cheddar on cinnamon raisin bread, but it’s fantastic. These were a great, quick breakfast. I sliced up the rest of the apple each day to eat along with to round out the meal.

Cheddar & Apple Breakfast Panini
(adapted from Weight Watchers Five Ingredients 15 Minute Cookbook 2005)
Serves 1

2 slices cinnamon raisin bread
2 slices cheddar cheese
1/4 granny smith apple, thinly sliced
Cooking spray

Spray one side of each piece of bread with cooking spray. Place one slice of cheese on each non-sprayed side of bread.  Add apple slices on top of cheese. Sandwich together and toast in a panini press until the outside crust is golden.

Slice and serve immediately.


Chicken Diablo

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I wasn’t always a fan of spicy dishes. You’d never know it now – they make regular appearances on our weekly menu, but there was a time when I’d avoid them at all costs. I’m now making up for lost time.

When I started browsing Kylee Cooks for the latest Blogger’s Choice Swap, this caught my eye immediately. It looked spicy and creamy and just, well, really good. It totally delivered, too. I really loved the spicy diablo sauce over it. I’m planning to use the leftover as a dip for crunchy chicken nuggets.

Chicken Diablo
(from Kylee Cooks)
Serves 2

1/4 c. Frank’s hot pepper sauce
1/2  c. sour cream
1/4 c. ketchup
1/8 c. honey
1/2 t. sweet paprika
1/2 t. ground cumin
2 chicken breasts, pounded out thinly
1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 c. sliced scallions
1 c. cooked brown rice, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the hot sauce, sour cream, ketchup and honey. Stir in paprika and cumin until well combined. Pour half of the sauce into another bowl and add chicken – turn to coat. Refrigerate and let marinate at least two hours, or overnight. Refrigerate remaining sauce in a separate container.

When ready to cook, heat oil in a frying pan until shimmering. Add garlic to the pan and cook for 30 seconds. Add the marinated chicken the pan and cook for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through, turning halfway.

In a small saucepan, heat the sauce from the separate container until just simmering.

Serve the chicken over rice, topped with warmed sauce.

You can check out what other bloggers made for the swap below. As always, thanks to Sarah for hosting!



Sweet & Spicy Green Beans

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I’ve been on a sides kick lately (have you noticed?) so when I was assigned Nichole’s blog for the latest blogger’s choice swap, I immediatedly went to see what kind of sides she had blogged.

Green beans are a favorite around here, so I knew these would be a big hit. We also always have the ingredients on hand so I’m sure this is a side that will make it into our regular rotation.

Sweet & Spicy Green Beans
(adapted from Cookaholic Wife)
Serves 2 as a side

1/2 lb. fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1 T. olive oil
1 t. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 t. chile garlic sauce
1 tsp. honey
Pinch of sesame seeds, toasted

In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add green beans and cook until slightly browned and soft. Stir in soy sauce, chile garlic sauce and honey, tossing to coat.

Once the sauce has heated through, transfer beans to a serving bowl and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

You can check out what the other bloggers in the swap chose to make below. Thanks, Sarah, for hosting!




Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Tart

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I can’t believe there was a point in my life when I thought hummus was gross. It’s only within the last year I’ve started eating and it’s since become a staple in our house. I’m especially fond of using it in meatless meals.

This simple tart was a great, filling dinner but it would also be a great appetizer.

Roasted Vegetable and Hummus Tart
(adapted from eCurry)
Serves 2 as a main dish

1 zucchini, coin sliced
1/2 medium red onion, thickly sliced
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
1 sheet of puff pastry
1/2 c. roasted garlic hummus
2 T. feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Toss zucchini, onion and cherry tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Roast for 30 minutes, tossing halfway through. Set aside in a covered bowl to keep warm.

On a lined baking sheet, bake the puff pastry for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and spread with hummus. Top with vegetables and sprinkle feta over the top. Return to oven for 2-3 minutes.

Let stand for 2 minutes before slicing.


Greek Chicken

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Last month, Mark and I were fortunate enough to spend a few weeks in Italy and France. It was my first time in Europe and everything was a bit overwhelming. We made it most of the trip without any significant langauge hurdles or misunderstandings. Until we stopped at a motorway stop on our way to Nice.

There was a great hot buffet lunch at said stop. I don’t speak any Italian, so I’d been surviving by pointing and smiling. One of the dishes had olives and peas and potatoes and looked great. I pointed to it, and the man working scooped me up a big helping and sent me on my way. When I went to chow down, I was horrified to realize that they weren’t actually potatoes – they were baby squids! I don’t eat seafood, so it was a complete bust for me. I was disappointed – I’d really wanted those olives!

As I was prepping the olives for this last week, I couldn’t help but think about the olive dish mishap. I threw a few extra in, to make up for the ones I didn’t eat in Italy!

Greek Chicken
(Slightly adapted from Savoring the Thyme)
Serves 2

1/4 c. all-purpose flour
Pinch of oregano
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of salt
2 4-oz. chicken breasts
2 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 c. grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 c. kalamata olives, halved
1/4 c. crumbled feta
3 c. baby spinach

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat.

Mix the flour, oregano, salt and pepper together. Dredge chicken and add to heated skillet. Cook for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, or until cooked through.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside, covered to keep warm. Lower the heat and add the remaining oil to the skillet. Add garlic and stir for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add tomatoes and olives and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tomatoes start to mush.

Add baby spinach to a plate. Top with chicken, tomato-olive mixture and feta.


Caramel Apple Pork Chops

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Last fall, I made an awesome pork and apple hot pot. It was a bit of prep, and then cooked for quite a while. So good, but it took way to long to make on a weeknight. I’ve tried a few faster pork and apple dishes since then, but they’ve always fallen short.

Until this one. This dish balances the pork and apples well – and even though it’s called “caramel apple”, the apples aren’t overly sweet. I also loved the addition of the nuts.

We’re planning to go apple picking this weekend, so I’m sure this dish will be making a repeat appearance with orchard-fresh apples!

Caramel Apple Pork Chops
(from All Recipes)
Serves 2

2 thick-cut pork chops
1/2 t. vegetable oil
1 T. brown sugar
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. nutmeg
1 T. unsalted butter
1 granny smith apple, peeled and cut into chunks
1 T. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to warm and place an empty baking dish in the oven.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the pork chops with oil and add to the hot pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes, turning halfway, or until cooked through. Transfer to the baking dish in the oven to keep warm.

Combine brown sugar, salt, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Melt butter in the skillet and then stir in the brown sugar mixture until well combined. Stir in the apples. Cover and cook until apples are just tender.

Using a slotted spoon, move the apples to the baking dish in the oven to keep warm. Continue cooking the sauce, uncovered, until thickened.

When ready to plate, top the pork chops with the cooked apples, sauce and sprinkle with pecans.