Thursday, March 5, 2015

Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake

I love easy cake recipes, and this one is it. We've made this several times now, but I kept forgetting to blog about it. You essentially dump all the ingredients into a large bowl, give it a good beating via a mixer, and dump it into your bundt pan. Then voila! Delicious cake with minimal effort. Every single time. We love to pair a warm slice with some vanilla ice cream.


  • 1 box of yellow cake mix
  • 3.4-oz box of instant vanilla pudding
  • 3.4-oz box of instant chocolate pudding
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1-1/4 cups of water
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 10 inch bundt pan
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, puddings, oil, water and eggs. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed if you're using a high-powered mixer (like a KitchenAid mixer). (If you're using a handheld mixer, beat for 2 minutes on medium speed.) Batter will be somewhat thick!
  4. Add in chocolate chips and stir by hand.  
  5. Pour into prepared bundt pan. 
  6. Bake 55-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. Let cake rest on counter in pan 10 minutes.  Then, invert cake onto serving plate to finish cooling.  
  8. Top with powdered sugar.
Source: Adapted from Mix and Match Mama

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Banana Bread

I recently stumbled upon this blog and I bookmarked a ton of her recipes. Knowing I had a few ripe bananas that would be perfect for making banana bread shortly, I used this recipe because a) it was simple and b) I could melt my butter. This was perfect for whipping up a quick and tasty banana bread since I didn't have wait for the butter to come to room temperature.

Usually, I have to alter banana bread recipes since the insides always seem to be undercooked- well, not with this one. I (reluctantly) followed her baking guidelines and it turned out perfect! In fact, I probably could have cooked it for 45 minutes (vs the 50 minutes that I did), and it would have come out fine. Adding this to a great basic banana bread recipe!

  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp  baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas, from 2-3 large bananas
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour (or use this) a 9x5-inch metal loaf pan with cooking spray. (I didn't flour and the bread bottom kind of stuck to the pan- definitely flour!)
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix the melted butter and sugar until blended. 
  4. Add the eggs, mashed bananas, lemon juice and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5. On low speed, stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Do not over mix
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 - 50 minutes. 
  7. Let cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Source: Once Upon A Chef

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Noodle Bake

This was a nice welcome to a long cold week, You essentially brown the ground beef and have it simmer in a tomato sauce. While it simmers, you cook the noodles and add in sour cream and green onions. Then you assemble it by layering it with sour cream noodles, beef sauce, and grated cheese, and bake for 20 minutes. Easy and quick enough to put together on a week night.

It would have been easy to "sneak" in vegetables- if you do, I'd add this while you're browning the beef.

  • 1-1/4 lb ground chuck
  • 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 oz egg noodles (we used 100% whole wheat egg noodles)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1-1/4 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • Large pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (less to taste) (we used 1 bunch of green onions, sliced)
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
  • Crusty French bread, for serving (we omitted)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Brown the ground chuck in a large skillet. 
  3. Drain the fat, and then add the tomato sauce, 1/2 tsp salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir, and then simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Cook the egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  5. In a medium bowl, combine the sour cream and cottage cheese. Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of red pepper flakes. 
  6. Add to the noodles and stir. 
  7. Add the green onions and stir.
  8. To assemble, add half of the noodles to a baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture, and then sprinkle on half the grated Cheddar. Repeat with noodles, meat and then a final layer of cheese. 
  9. Bake until all the cheese is melted, about 20 minutes.
  10. Serve with crusty French bread.

Source: Pioneer Woman

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Slow Cooker Italian Pot Roast with Parmesan Risotto

This recipe is similar to my favorite pot roast (which also includes crushed tomatoes with a hint of thyme and rosemary), so I decided to give this one a go... definitely helped that I had all the ingredients on hand. This one couldn't have been easier- I put everything in my lined crockpot and let it do its job. 9 hours later, the pot roast was warm and smelled crazy good. Darin and I both said this was a keeper.

Note- We made the parmesan risotto, but we both agreed we liked this dish more with a baked potato. However, for a fancier dish, the risotto is the way to go.

For the Italian Pot Roast
  • 2-3# pot roast (trimmed of visible fat)
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato juice (I used (2) 5.5 fl oz cans)
  • 2 Tbsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1 Tbsp dried minced onion flakes
  • 1-1/4 oz package Au Jus mix
  • 1-oz package Italian salad dressing mix (I used the Zesty Italian Salad Dressing mix)
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  1. Add a slow cooker liner to your crockpot. (I always ALWAYS use a liner- makes clean up a breeze!)
  2. Place the roast into your slow cooker.
  3. In a 2-cup measuring cup, add the remaining ingredients and mix well; then pour the liquid over the pot roast, set the temperature to LOW, and cook for 8-12 hours. (I cooked mine for 9 hours.)

Parmesan Risotto
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper

  1. In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and rice. Evenly coat the rice with the oil.
  2. Add the chicken broth, and mix well. Let the mixture come to a boil, then lower the heat and let it maintain a slow boil ("3" setting on my stovetop) until all the broth is absorbed (it took 17 minutes for me). Make sure to occasionally stir so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the saucepan.
  3. Once all the water has been absorbed, add the onion powder and black pepper.

Source: Adapted from Plain Chicken, originally from

Coach's Stack

I had just made Shay's Meatloaf the night before, and I used the leftover meatloaf to create another dish from her blog... the base is a garlicky Texas Toast topped with a slice of meatloaf, which is topped with homemade mashed potatoes.

I had already made the meatloaf the night before, and had leftover baked potatoes (which I quickly mashed with some butter and heavy cream). I love dishes that are versatile, and this was easy and tasty.

  • 1 lb ground beef (used 85% lean, but may use 90% lean next time)
  • 1 cup Saltine cracker crumbs (that's about 12 crackers) (used whole wheat Saltines)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, divided
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup (will cut down to 2/3 cup next time)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (will cut down to 1/4 cup next time)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Mashed potatoes (homemade or store bought)
  • Texas Toast (baked, this is our favorite)
  • French's fried onions (garnish)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix ground beef, cracker crumbs, eggs, onion, salt, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce,  and tomato sauce in a bowl.  
  3. Put in  a greased 9x9 inch baking dish, bake 60 minutes. (Toss in foil-wrapped baked potatoes simultaneously.)
  4. Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and mustard in a bowl.  
  5. Once 40 minutes is up, top casserole with sauce and return to oven for 15 minutes.
  6. To assemble the "stack", place a piece of baked Texas Toast on your plate. Top it with a slice of meatloaf, and then some mashed potatoes on top. Garnish with fried onions.

Source: Mix and Match Mama

Ina Garten's Seafood Gratin

Since coming back from Key West, we decided that for Valentine's Day this year, we would cook a nice meal and relax. It was such a nice treat! We had inclement weather, so staying warm and cozy was the perfect way to enjoy our special day together.

I had made this years ago but didn't blog about it, and Darin has been making (large) hints how he wanted to make it. We picked up all the ingredients from Kroger, and ended up picking up (2) lobster tails from Costco. Since the recipe called for cooked lobster, Darin looked up his #1 resource (youtube for the win), and the lobster was cooked perfectly.

All in all, the ingredients list is long but it didn't take long to make it, and the results were fantastic! Definitely more expensive than our average weekend meal, so it's a great recipe for a special occasion. Since it was just for the 2 of us, we were able to eat for 3 meals total!

  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp white wine, divided
  • 3 Tbsp tomato puree
  • 1# raw shrimp (26-30 per lb), peeled and deveined
  • 8-10 oz raw tilapia, cut into 1" chunks
  • 10-16 oz cooked lobster meat, cut into 1" chunks
  • 5 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups thinly-sliced leeks, white and green parts
  • 1 cup peeled, shredded carrots (roughly 3 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  1. Combine claim juice, cream, white wine and tomato puree in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer on medium, and add the shrimp. Let cook 1-2 minutes, then flip over and cook the other side until pink and opaque (it took an additional 2 minutes for us). Remove to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon.
  2. Add the pieces of cod to the stock mixture until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  Remove to the same plate with the shrimp using a slotted spoon.   (Once the shrimp have cooled enough to handle, cut in half if desired and return to the bowl.)  
  3. Add the cooked lobster to the bowl. Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 15-20 minutes.  (Make sure the sauce has thickened or else you'll have running gratin sauce.)
  4. Combine 1 Tbsp of the butter in a small bowl with the flour and mash together with a fork.
  5. Whisk the butter-flour mixture with the salt and pepper into the sauce and continue to simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5-8 minutes.  Set aside. 
  6. In a medium sauté pan, melt 3 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat.  Add the leeks and carrots and cook for about 15 minutes, until softened.  
  7. Add the remaining 3 Tbsp of wine and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Cook for 10 minutes more. Add the cream sauce and cooked vegetables to the bowl with the seafood and toss to blend well.  
  8. Divide the mixture between individual gratin dishes.  If not baking right away, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. When you are ready to bake the gratins, preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Place the filled gratin dishes on a baking sheet.  
  9. Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter in a small bowl.  Add the Panko, parmesan, parsley and garlic to the bowl and toss with a fork to combine.  
  10. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the prepared gratins.  Bake 20 minutes, until the top is browned and bubbling.  Serve hot.

Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Shay's Meatloaf

I still hold big love for my favorite meatloaf, but I don't always have the time to make it- especially on weeknights. I had been eyeing this meatloaf recipe for awhile and whipped up the meatloaf before work so I could pop it into oven when I got home.

It was easy to prep, and unlike my other meatloaf recipe, you bake this in a 9x9 baking dish. Thus, when the meatloaf is cooked, you cut it up... kind of like a casserole. The meatloaf mix is very moist/wet, and it was very tasty! I love a nice ketchup concoction on top of my meatloaf, but felt it was too sweet. I'm putting the original recipe below, but have added my edits in italics next to the ingredient. All in all, it was easy, tasty, and a nice comforting meal to a long week. While the meatloaf baked, I wrapped individual potatoes in foil and tossed it into the oven for some baked potatoes to accompany this dish,

  • 1 lb ground beef (used 85% lean, but may use 90% lean next time)
  • 1 cup Saltine cracker crumbs (that's about 12 crackers) (used whole wheat Saltines)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, divided
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup (will cut down to 2/3 cup next time)
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar (will cut down to 1/4 cup next time)
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • Baked potatoes (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix ground beef, cracker crumbs, eggs, onion, salt, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce,  and tomato sauce in a bowl.  
  3. Put in  a greased 9x9 inch baking dish, bake 60 minutes. (Toss in foil-wrapped baked potatoes simultaneously.)
  4. Meanwhile, combine remaining 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, brown sugar and mustard in a bowl.  
  5. Once 40 minutes is up, top casserole with sauce and return to oven for 15 minutes.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Almond meal pancakes (low carb, dairy free, wheat-free)

We love pancakes but not all the carbs (and bloat) that go along with it. We made these pancakes last weekend, and we've been making them in double batches since!

A double batch yields 20 pancakes, and Darin and I quickly reheat these in the microwave for 1-1.5 minutes, top it off with some blueberries or sliced bananas, and a drizzle of maple syrup. Delicious and filling... and even quick enough for a pre-work breakfast. Since we each eat 2 pancakes daily, it's enough to have for the 5 business days before work... perfect.

Ingredients (for a single batch)

  • 1-1/2 cups almond flour (for homemade almond flour, see here)
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, light coconut milk, or milk (we use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil or butter, melted (we use butter)
  • Toppings- Blueberries, sliced banana, pure maple syrup

  1. Preheat saute pan or griddle on medium heat. Lightly grease with cooking spray.
  2. While the pan heats up, mix the dry ingredients (almond flour through baking powder) in a medium bowl. Loosen any clumps.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and oil/melted butter. Mix until eggs are incorporated well.
  4. Add the liquid into the dry mixture, and mix well.
  5. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour the batter into the saute pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until bubbles form and edges are cooked. Flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on until underside is lightly browned. Repeat with remaining batter.
  6. Serve with desired toppings.
Yield: 10 pancakes

Source: Adapted from Wheat Belly Cookbook

How to... make almond flour/almond meal

Homemade almond meal (using whole almonds)

Almond meal is a great alternative (and lower carb) for flour for pancakes. You can buy almond meal/flour at your local grocery store ($$$), Trader Joe's ($$), or you can make it at home if you have a Vitamix (or similar high-powered blender).

Cost analysis of pre-made almond meal/flour
  1. Bob's Red Mill almond meal/flour ($11 for 16-oz bag; $3.66/cup)- I can find these at my local grocery store in the "organic/natural" section. The texture is more like flour (less gritty/mealy), and thus you'll need more to fill 1 cup. Great for making light pastries, like macarons
  2. Trader Joe's almond meal ($5.99 for 16-oz; $2/cup)- More gritty texture and thus less meal is needed to fill 1 cup. Great for pancakes
End result- TJ's is half as much as Bob's Red Mill; good option if you don't have a high-powdered blender to make your own (which is cheaper) 

Cost analysis of homemade almond meal/flour
Disclaimer- Will need high-powered blender like a Vitamix
  1. TJ's raw blanched slivered almonds ($3.99 for 8-oz bag; $2/cup almond meal)
  2. Costco whole almonds ($15.99 for 3# bag- made 14 cups almond meal; $1.14/cup almond meal)
End result: Whole almonds cost half as much as using TJ's slivered almonds. If you're going to take the (very little) time to make homemade almond meal, just buy whole almonds instead

so.. how do you make homemade almond meal/flour?

  • 1 cup whole or slivered almonds
  • High-powered blender (like Vitamix or Blendtec)

  1. Measure 1 cup of almonds.
  2. Add to your blender, and blend on high (speed 10) for 20-30 seconds.

  • Do not use more than 1 cup of almonds- this helps to keep an even texture
  • Do not blend more than 20-30 sec on high- too much time will turn this into almond butter
  • Use this recipe to make these delicious and easy almond meal pancakes (which are dairy free, wheat free, and low carb)

Source: Detoxinista

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa

This was another easy weeknight dish that was easy and flavorful. We especially loved the cilantro lime quinoa!

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • ¼ rounded tsp salt
  • ¼ rounded tsp pepper
  • ¼ rounded tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ rounded tsp onion powder
  • ¼ rounded tsp cumin
  • 1-1/2 tsp olive oil


  • 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • Juice and zest from (1) lime
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped

  • Topping- Guacamole or Avocado cream sauce (recipe below)

  1. Combine all the dry seasonings in a small bowl. Mix them together and then season both sides of each chicken breast.
  2. Add the teaspoon of olive oil to a large pan or skillet. Heat the olive oil for a minute over medium/high heat. Add the chicken breasts to the pan. Cook for seven minutes on each side with the lid on.
  3. Add the chicken stock and quinoa to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on, until all the stock has been absorbed.
  4. After the chicken breasts have cooked all the way through, remove them from the pan and let them rest for seven minutes before slicing them.
  5. Add the warm quinoa to a large bowl. Toss in the lime zest, lime juice, salt and pepper, and chopped cilantro. Mix to combine.
  6. Serve the sliced chicken breast on top of the quinoa. If you find the blackened seasoning too spicy, you can add a quick and easy avocado cream sauce to cool it down (or guacamole- yum!).
Avocado cream sauce:
Just place the flesh from an avocado along with 2 Tbsp of Greek yogurt in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Source: Adapted from Sarcastic Cooking

Paprika Chicken Thighs with Brussels Sprouts

This is, quite possibly, one of my favorite dishes I've made in a long time. The lemon adds a refreshing taste to the smoky paprika, and I loved the brussel sprouts. This dish took longer than what I would normally make on a weeknight, but it was so worth it.... and props that it is also healthy and it's all cooked in 1 dish! We paired this with seasoned black beans and cooked quinoa to round out this delicious meal.

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if large)
  • 4 small shallots, quartered
  • 1 lemon, sliced, ends removed
  • 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp smoked paprika, sweet or hot
  • 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 4 large or 8 small bone-in chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds), skin removed and removed of visible fat (used boneless, skinless chicken thighs)


  1. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 450°F.
  2. Combine Brussels sprouts, shallots and lemon with 2 Tbsp oil and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Add the paprika, thyme leaves, and the remaining 1 Tbsp oil and 1/4 tsp pepper in a small bowl. 
  4. Rub the paste all over chicken. Nestle the chicken into the Brussels sprouts.
  5. Roast on the lower rack until the Brussels sprouts are tender and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken without touching bone registers 165°F, 20 to 25 minutes.

Source: Adapted from Eating Well

Pioneer Woman's Pizza Sauce

I started making my own homemade pizza sauces because I could control the ingredients, it was easy, and it just tasted so much better than what you could buy at the grocery store.

I've always used this version on my blog- it's got a robust flavor, it's healthy, and it's easy! I love the chunks of diced tomatoes, but sometimes, I just want a smooth consistency. I also don't like fennel (at all), so I found this recipe by Pioneer Woman and it was a success. The crushed tomatoes give this the smooth texture I was looking for, and I adapted it to add some crushed red pepper since we like a little heat. This also freezes beautifully, so make a batch and freeze some for later.

  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3-5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely shopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • (3) 15-oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pinch of sugar (I did a few pinches)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 3-4 tsp dried basil (or 8-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped finely)

  1. Add a tablespoon or so of olive oil into a hot pan over medium heat. 
  2. Throw in the garlic and chopped onions and give them a stir. Cook until the onions are soft, 10-15 minutes. 
  3. Add the chicken broth, whisking to deglaze the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid reduces by half (this took 8-10 minutes)
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes and crushed red pepper, and stir to combine. 
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste and pinches of sugar. 
  6. Add the dried oregano and basil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 60 minutes.
  7. If freeze, freeze in 1/2-1 cup plastic containers. Allow it to come to room temperature, and then place them into the freezer.

Source: Adapted from Pioneer Woman

My favorite green smoothie drink

I had been wavering for year whether a Vitamix would be something I would use. I've read countless reviews, and every reviewer adores their Vitamix. This year for Christmas, I was gifted a Vitamix 750 blender. Even when I opened this gift, I was excited but thought it was too big and truly wondered how much I'd use it.

I talked to Darin about returning it, but he convinced me to keep it.... and let me tell you, I am SO HAPPY with it. I especially love this blender for its preset options. Smoothies? Just select the smoothie option- you put all your items in the blender, place the cap on top, and start it. Then you can literally walk away b/c the blender has a sensor that will turn off automatically when it has reached smoothie consistency. Another preset option is their self-clean option- you just add water into the blender, add a few drops of dishwasher detergent, cap it off, and it cleans itself.

I am not a sweet smoothie person- I like more "earthy", less sweet versions. I have tried so many recipes out there- some with Greek yogurt, others with just almond milk, some has fruit, others just had vegetables. I was hesitant to try this one- lettuce and celery? Banana, pear, and lemon?  I also didn't have half the ingredients on the list and I didn't really want to buy the produce if I didn't know I'd like it.... but it's a combination I hadn't tried before so I gave it a shot. It was refreshing, delicious (not celery/lettuce taste), and filling. I absolutely loved it!


  • 1 banana (very unripe)
  • 1 large pear or green apple
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 cup chopped celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 cup very cold water

  1. Add all ingredients into the blender. Blend until desired consistency (or use the smoothie preset option). Enjoy!

Yield: 2 servings

Source: Cella Jane

Just like Wendy's Chili

I love chili, and one of my favorite chilis (ever) is the chili from Wendy's. It's so tasty- even in the summer. There are a ton of "just like Wendy's chili" recipes on the web, and I've tried several times to re-create it to no avail. Pretty disappointing to buy all the ingredients to have it taste nothing like the original.

Darin and I had spent a relaxing and fun weekend downtown see The Tenderloins on tour, and we decided to take advantage of getting a hotel downtown by going out to brunch near the vicinity. We chose Annabel's (terrific brunch place!), and while we waited (for an hour), Darin and I were looking for Wendy's chili wannabe recipes. He chose this one, and what do you know? We both said this is as close to Wendy's chili as we'll ever have! A total winner, and quite possibly our favorite chili to date.

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs ground beef (I used 73% lean ground beef)
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped fine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • (3) 15-oz cans stewed tomatoes
  • 10-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • (2) 8-oz cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • (2) 1.25-oz packages of chili seasoning packets (I used 1 mild and 1 hot)
  • 14-oz can of kidney beans, undrained
  • 14-oz can of pinto beans, undrained (I used spicy chili beans)
  • Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar

  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Press ground beef into the hot oil to form 1 large patty; let the bottom brown for 8-10 minutes. 
  2. Stir and break the ground beef into crumbles and cook until no longer pink (about 5 more minutes).
  3. Stir in celery, onion, and bell pepper into the ground beef and cook until onion is translucent (15-20 minutes). 
  4. While the vegetables cook down, pour the stewed tomatoes into a large bowl. Break apart the large chunks of tomatoes. 
  5. Once the vegetables are softened, add the stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, chili seasoning packets, and beans. 
  6. Add dash of salt and black pepper. Mix all ingredients well.
  7. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce to low and allow it to simmer for 1 hour. (We allowed it to simmer on low "2.5" setting for 2 hours.)
  8. Mix white vinegar into the chili.

Source: Adapted from All Recipes

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Mike's Hanky Panky Dip

Hanky Panky dip is one of my favorite dips at parties, especially when you can keep it warm in a slow cooker.

Every year the week before Christmas, we have an annual Christmas Potluck where my co-workers sign up to bring food for the week. And let me tell you, there is a lot of food brought and eaten that week.

Mike brought his version of Hanky Panky Dip, and it was delicious! He made a large batch (his recipe is below), and I made a smaller version for us for New Year's Eve (my version is below as well). My previous version just uses sausage, but his version uses both ground beef and sausage. I love both, and wanted to share with you his version.
This is Darin, giving his thumbs up

Mike's Hanky Panky Dip
Feeds a large crowd

  • 3 rolls spicy breakfast sausage roll (he uses Bob Evans spicy sausage roll- red package)
  • 2# ground beef
  • (2) 32-oz blocks Velveeta Cheese, cubed
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 3-4 loaves cocktail/party bread (pumpernickel, light rye), toasted
Mike's Hanky Panky Dip (scaled down version)
  • 1 roll Bob Evans spicy breakfast sausage roll (red package)
  • 1# ground beef
  • 1/2 of 32-oz block Velveeta cheese, cubed
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper (healthy dash)
  • Ground red/cayenne pepper (healthy dash)
  • Milk
  • 1-2 loaves cocktail/party bread (pumpernickel, light rye), toasted
  1. Brown the sausage and beef in a large skillet. Drain fat.
  2. Over medium-low heat, add the cubed Velveeta cheese, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper. Allow the cheese to melt slowly. (Do not turn the heat on high; it is horrible scorched!)
  3. Add ground cayenne pepper to taste. 
  4. Add milk to desired consistency- add 1-2 Tbsp at a time and stir.
  5. Serve on toasted party bread, and enjoy!
Source: Co-worker Mike