• Classic Deli Macaroni Salad

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    I pretty much love all pasta salads, and this one is so very good.  It definitely tastes like it came from the deli.  It’s great for summer as a side for sandwiches or grilling out.

    Recipe from Center Cut Cook.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
    • 1.5 c. mayo
    • 3 TBSP sour cream
    • 3 TBSP cider vinegar
    • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
    • 2 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
    • 1.5 c. finely chopped celery
    • 1 red bell pepper, diced
    • 1/4 c. finely chopped parsley or cilantro

    Directions:

    1. Cook pasta according to package directions; then drain and rinse under cold water until the pasta has cooled. Drain well.
    2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine mayo, sour cream, cider vinegar, yellow mustard, sugar, salt, and black pepper.
    3. Combine the macaroni with the dressing; then stir in finely chopped celery, diced red bell pepper and finely chopped parsley or cilantro.
    4. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

    Classic Deli Macaroni Salad:

    5star

     

  • Mini Orange Monkey Rolls

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    I introduced Ellie to orange rolls this week when we had a mother daughter lunch day, and just like me she is hooked.  Orange rolls are like cinnamon rolls, but instead of the cinnamon there is the delicious sweet orange flavor.

    When I came across this recipe I just knew it would be delicious and it was.  They were inhaled.

    Recipe from The Recipe Critic.

    Ingredients:

    Mini Orange Monkey Rolls:

    • 12 frozen yeast dinner rolls (not the bake and serve in 5-10 minutes kind)
    • 1 c. sugar
    • zest of one orange
    • 1/2 c. butter
    • 1/2 tsp. (I actually used 1 tsp.) Karo syrup
    Sweet Orange Glaze (can omit, if desired):
    • 1 c. powdered sugar
    • zest of one orange
    • 1 TBSP butter, melted
    • 2 TBSP orange juice
    • 1 tsp. vanilla

    Directions:

    1. Take out 12 frozen dinner rolls and allow them to thaw but still be cold.  Cut each roll with a pizza cutter into about 4-6 smaller pieces each.
    2. Mix the 1 c. of sugar and orange zest into a small bowl and set aside.
    3. Preheat oven to 350*.
    4. Melt the 1/2 c. butter and mix with karo syrup.
    5. Spray a muffin pan with cooking spray and set aside.
    6. Dip each small piece of the butter and roll in the sugar/orange zest mixture.  (There will be quite a bit of butter and some sugar/orange zest mixture left over.) Put about 4-6 pieces into the muffin tin and fill them about 1/2 way with the small frozen dinner roll pieces.  Let them double in size, about a couple of hours.
    7. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
    8. Let the rolls cool slightly and then use a knife to loosen them up. Remove each roll and place them upside down on a cooling rack as the bottoms will be sticky.
    9. When ready to serve, make the sweet orange glaze: mix the powdered sugar, orange zest, 1 TBSP butter, 2 TBSP orange juice, and 1 tsp. vanilla together.  Drizzle over the tops of each of the orange rolls. (If you don’t want the glaze you can omit).
    Mini Orange Monkey Rolls:
    5star

     

  • Chicken Carnitas Tacos

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    My new favorite chicken tacos!!!!!!!!! These tacos have a slight kick, so if you don’t like spice reduce the chili powder.

    I prefer to cook boneless chicken in a crockpot on HIGH for 2 hours, but you can always lengthen the cooking time and cook on low (the usual cooking time conversion is when you cook on low you double the high cooking time, so in this case it would be low for 4 hours).  The original recipe call for cooking on low for 6-8 hours.

    Recipe adapted from Closet Cooking.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts
    • 3/4 c. orange juice (~2 oranges)
    • 1/4 c. lime juice (~2 limes)
    • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 TBSP chili powder
    • 1 tsp. cumin
    • 1 tsp. oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 1/2 cup cilantro, torn
    • Toppings: Salsa, tomatoes, sour cream, cheese, etc.
    • Limes, cut into wedges

    Directions:

    1. Place the chicken in the crockpot.
    2. In a bowl mix the orange juice, lime juice, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper together and then pour over chicken.
    3. Cook on HIGH for 2 hours or until tender.
    4. Remove chicken from crockpot and shred. Reserve the juices.
    5. Spread the chicken out in a single layer on a baking sheet and add 1/4 c. of juices and broil until it starts getting crispy, about 5 minutes. Mix in another 1/4 c. of the juices, mix everything up and broil for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and mix in another 1/4 c. of the juices.
    6. Assemble the tacos on the tortillas with the chicken carnitas along with the  cilantro salsa and whatever toppings you like and serve with the lime wedges.

    Chicken Carnitas Tacos:

    5star

     

  • Almond Joy Granola

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    Steve eats granola on his yogurt every morning for breakfast.  I usually just buy granola (because really, why bother making your own?), but then I came across this recipe and I knew I had to try it out.

    I am a convert and will now be making homemade granola!

    If you like Almond Joys, you will love this granola!!!  It is so good, and surprisingly easy to make.

    Recipe adapted from A Spicy Perspective.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c. rolled oats
    • 1 ½ c. sliced almonds
    • 1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
    • ¼ c. brown sugar
    • ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 1/3 c. honey + additional to drizzle
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 ¼ c. (more or less to your liking) large unsweetened (you can use sweetened if you want) coconut flakes
    • ¾ c. mini chocolate chips

    Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the oats, almonds, cocoa powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, honey, vanilla, and sweetened coconut in a bowl.  Line a 9×13 jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
    2. Spread the granola out into a thin even layer. Bake for 10 minutes. Mix with a spatula, drizzle additional honey; then spread the granola out again and bake another 10 minutes. (If you don’t mix the sweetened coconut in step 1; then sprinkle the coconut over the top of the granola and bake another 3-5 minutes to toast (if you use sweetened coconut and didn’t mix in step 1 it will take longer to toast). Watch the coconut – it burns very quickly!
    3. Once the coconut is toasted, remove the granola from the oven and mix. Cool completely; then mix in the mini chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

    Almond Joy Granola:

    5star

  • Mexican Quinoa Salad

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    Don’t be scared of quinoa if you’ve never had it.  Quinoa is very healthy for you and has lots of fiber and protein, and it’s actually very tasty.  There are a couple of varieties: red and white.  I personally prefer the red just because it visually looks more appealing and looks more gourmet.  The red quinoa is harder to find and is generally more expensive than the white, but use what you like.

    This salad is very flavorful and makes for an excellent side dish.  It’s also great for a picnic or potluck because it doesn’t need to be kept cold.

    Recipe adapted from Jeanette’s Healthy Living.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 c. uncooked quinoa (whatever color you prefer)
    • 2 c. water
    • 2 tsp. olive oil
    • 3 c. corn
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 1/2 c. cooked black beans
    • 1 c. cojita or feta cheese, crumbled
    • 3 TBSP fresh cilantro, minced
    • 3 TBSP scallions, minced
    • 2 limes, juiced
    • 1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
    • a few dashes of cayenne pepper (can omit)
    • 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
    • sea salt, to taste
    • fresh ground pepper, to taste

    Directions:

    1. Rinse and drain quinoa thoroughly in cold water before cooking.  Place quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
    2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet. Saute corn and garlic until corn has some brown spots (that’s the caramelization that makes the corn even sweeter). Transfer to a large bowl and toss in the quinoa and the rest of the ingredients. Season to your liking with additional chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.

    Mexican Quinoa Salad:

    5star

  • Blueberry Granola Bars

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    I had never tried making granola bars before, because they seemed like so much work.  But this recipe caught my attention for 2 reasons: (1) blueberries and (2) Greek yogurt/frosting.  How could it not be good?

    They aren’t hard to make but they do take a lot of time..as in they aren’t ready to devour for 48ish hours AFTER you start making them, but it’s definitely worth the time.  And you will devour them!

    Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 c. rolled oats
    • 1 1/2 c. Rice Krispies (if your nut butter is not too thick, you may want to increase the amount of Krispies to 2 cups)
    • 1/4 c. shredded unsweetened coconut
    • 1/4 c. whole roasted almonds, roughly chopped (or any nuts really)
    • 1 TBSP chia seeds (can omit)
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/2 c.  almond butter (or any nut butter you like)
    • 1/2 c. honey
    • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla (or maple extract, almond extract, or coconut extract)
    • 3/4 c. dried blueberries (you can use dried cranberries too)
    Greek Yogurt Frosting:
    • 2 TBSP water
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (or whatever used above)
    • 1 tsp. powdered gelatin
    • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
    • 2 TBSP honey
    • pinch of salt
    • 4 c. powdered sugar
    Directions:
    1. Line an 9×13 Pyrex pan with wax or parchment paper.
    2. In a large bowl combine the oats, rice krispies, coconut, almonds, chia seeds and salt. Mix together.
    3. In a small microwave safe bowl combine the almond butter and honey. Microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute or until the mixture is hot and pourable. Add the vanilla (or whatever extract you’re using) and mix again.
    4. Add the honey mixture to the dry oat mixture and mix until everything is moist and combined. Gently stir in the blueberries. Press the mixture into the prepared pan and then using the back of a measuring cup press the mixture into the pan until it is tightly packed. Cover and place in the freezer for 2 hours. Cut into 16 or so bars and return to the freezer.
    5. Make the Greek yogurt coating. Combine the water and vanilla (or whatever extract you’re using) in a small bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin over top and whisk with a fork until the gelatin is evenly distributed. Set aside for about 5 minutes or until needed. It will set into a thick paste.
    6. In another small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, honey, and salt. Microwave on 15 second bursts, stirring in between each burst, until the yogurt is liquidy and very warm to the touch. Don’t let it start to boil or the yogurt will curdle. I microwaved mine for 30 seconds total.
    7. Whisk the gelatin into the warm yogurt mixture. Whisk until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Scrape the yogurt mixture into a medium mixing bowl. Pour the powdered sugar on top. Use a mixer or whisk until the yogurt and powdered sugar combine into a thick, but pourable, coating.
    8. Line a baking sheet with wax paper. Working with one bar at a time, dip the bottom of the bar into the yogurt and allow any excess to drip off. Flip the bars over so the yogurt coated side faces up and place on the prepared baking sheet. They will be very sticky. Repeat with the remaining bars. Let the bars sit, uncovered, overnight until they are dry to the touch.  Cover the remaining yogurt coating with plastic wrap until ready to use again.
    9. Once the bars are completely dry, flip them over so the yogurt coated side is now facing down. Spread the remaining frosting with a knife over the bars (or heat the frosting in the microwave until softer and dip the granola bars like you did before—you may want to heat it in the microwave even if you just use a knife to spread the frosting.  Allow the bars to sit overnight so they are completely dry to the touch.
    10. Once the bars are completely dry, store in an airtight container at room temperature.

    Blueberry Granola Bars:

    5star

  • Best Ever Pot Roast

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    Nothing says comfort food like pot roast, and this is the BEST pot roast I’ve ever made!  It was so good.  Even the kiddo who never likes her food to touch devoured this meal and asked for seconds.  Score!  And it was made in the crockpot.  Double score!  Definitely company worthy.  Triple score!  Need I say more?!?!?

    Recipe adapted from Joyously Domestic.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 TBSP steak seasoning (such as a blend of peppercorns, garlic, paprika, parsley and salt)
    • 1/2  TBSP kosher salt
    • 2 TBSP Italian Seasoning
    • 1 chuck roast (about 3 lbs)
    • Olive oil
    • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
    • 2 lbs. potatoes, cut into large chunks
    • 1 onion, peeled and cut into large chunks
    • 2 stalks celery, cut into large chunks (optional)
    • 1 c. beef broth
    • 1/4 c. corn starch (give or take)

    Directions:

    1. Combine steak seasoning through Italian Seasoning in a small bowl.  Set aside.
    2. Coat both sides of meat with olive oil.  Sprinkle on a third of the seasoning mix onto each side.
    3. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and sear both sides of the meat; then transfer roast to crockpot.
    4. Place the vegetables in a large bowl.  Drizzle on a little olive oil to coat vegetables.  Sprinkle on the remaining seasoning mix.  Add the vegetables to the same skillet that was used to sear the meat. Sauté for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
    5. Transfer the vegetables to the top of the roast in the slow cooker.
    6. Combine beef broth and cornstarch in a bowl and then pour mixture over meat and vegetables. Cover with lid.
    7. Cook on LOW for 9 hours or HIGH for 6 hours.

    Best Ever Pot Roast:

    5star

  • Brown Butter Snickerdoodles

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    If you love snickerdoodles, you will LOVE these brown butter snickerdoodles!!!  Yes, they are that good, and I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a better snickerdoodle.  Warning: these cookies will be requested by everyone and will be devoured quickly! :)

    Recipe from Ambitious Kitchen.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 1/2 c. AP flour
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
    • 1 c. unsalted butter, sliced
    • 1 1/4 c. brown sugar
    • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 egg yolk
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp. plain Greek yogurt
    • Rolling cookies:
    • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
    • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon

    Instructions:

    1. In a medium bowl, Whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
    2. To brown the butter, heat a thick-bottomed skillet on medium heat. Add the sliced butter, whisking frequently. Continue to cook the butter until melted. The butter will start to foam and browned specks will begin to form at the bottom of the pan. The butter should have a nutty aroma. Watch the butter carefully because it can go from brown to burnt quickly. Remove butter from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
    3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the brown butter and sugars. Mix until blended and smooth. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt and mix until combined. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
    4. Form the dough in a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. You can chill the dough overnight.
    5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Measure about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into balls.
    6. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place dough balls on a large baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Make sure the cookies are about 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the cookie tops with sea salt.
    7. Bake the cookies 8-10 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. The centers will still be soft. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes, or until set. Transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.

    Brown Butter Snickerdoodles:

    5star

  • Baked Honey Chicken

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    OMG this baked honey chicken is sooooo good!!!!!!!  Like serve to company good.  Like tastes better than takeout good.  Everyone loves it!

    Serve with hot rice or with Fried Rice.

    Recipe from The Recipe Critic.

    Ingredients:

    • 4 chicken breasts, cut up
    • 1 c. cornstarch
    • 3 eggs
    • salt and pepper
    • ¼ c. oil
    • Sauce:
    • ¾ c. honey
    • ¾ c. soy sauce
    • ½ c. ketchup
    • ½ c. brown sugar
    • ½ c. rice wine vinegar
    • 1 tsp. sesame oil
    • 1 tsp. minced garlic
    • 1 TBSP cornstarch

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 325*. Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.
    2. In 2 separate bowls, place cornstarch and slightly beaten eggs. Dip chicken into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.
    3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned. Place the chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.
    4. In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and cornstarch. Pour over chicken and bake for 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
    5. I stirred the chicken every 15 minutes so that it coated them in the sauce.

    Baked Honey Chicken:

    5star

  • Ellie’s Lasagna

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    Steve and I both love lasagna and baked ziti.  Sadly, our children are less than thrilled with either option, so I never make it.  We were at a team dinner (pot luck style) and Ellie said she “loved Coach Anita’s curly lasagna.”  Ellie proclaiming that she “loves” anything pasta is a miracle, so as soon as I got home I emailed Coach Anita for her recipe.

    We discovered that both kids love spiral pasta, and they don’t like baked pasta if it’s too cheesy.  Score!

    Ellie ate it up the first night, but the leftovers went  untouched. Sigh. At least she ate it the first night.

    Ingredients:

    • 16 oz. spiral pasta
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 8 oz. – 16 oz sausage (depending on how much meat you like)
    • 45 oz. jar of pasta sauce
    • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
    • 8 oz. ricotta
    • 8 oz. shredded mozzarella

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 350*
    2. Cook pasta (under cook it because it will continue cooking in the oven).
    3. Saute the onion, then add the garlic; then add the sausage and cook through.
    4. Add 1/2 of the jar of sauce to the skillet with the sausage and add the Italian seasoning, and stir to combine; then add the pasta and mix to combine.
    5. In a 9/13 baking dish, add 1/2 of the remaining sauce to the bottom of the dish; then add the pasta mixture to the baking dish; dollop spoonfuls of ricotta into pockets throughout the casserole; then top with the remaining sauce.
    6. Cover with foil (if you like crunchy top noodles don’t cover) and bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly. At the end of cooking add the mozzarella cheese and return the dish to the oven but turn the oven off and let the cheese melt.

    Ellie’s Lasagna:

    5star