Tuesday, May 31, 2011


 Hi! Tuesday starting the week... nice, huh?! Did you have a relaxing weekend? We did...  not much. Friday Aaron & I relaxed at home and did some asparagus hunting! Have you ever? It's soooo much fun! We love it! And, we didn't do too shabby.

Sorry, I don't know why that picture got turned upside down, and I don't know how to flip it. :) 

What's here to eat this week? Well, we made enchiladas. 

I started by cooking some ground beef and onion in a skillet, seasoning it with taco seasoning.  When it was done I threw in a little salsa, maybe 1/2 cup. 

Then you want to assemble the enchiladas. Tortilla, ground beef, and cheese!

Then roll them up and place in a greased pan. 

Then top it with a can of enchilada sauce. 


I like cheese. Then I baked it, covered, at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. 

Then top it with some sour cream and cilantro.

Oh yes! Look at that fresh cilantro! I grew that! :) Woo hoo! 

Beautiful, huh?! I have 4 pots of herbs... cilantro, parsley, rosemary, and dill. I'm quite proud! 

Ok, enjoy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Why, hello again! So nice of you to return! You must be hungry! 

One question I get a lot about food is "how do you try new things?" or "how do you know you will like it?"  

Well, I browse a lot of recipes. Online, cookbooks, magazines... you name it. It's my hobby. :) The main things I look for in a recipe are-- 

     1. Have I heard of all the ingredients?
     2. Do I like all of the ingredients? 
     3. Are the ingredients readily available at home/store?


Let's start by looking at this recipe, courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats.

8oz bow tie pasta- well, that's easy. Who doesn't like pasta?
1 Tablespoon butter- butter? duh.
salt & pepper- you get the idea
2 small shallots, chopped- now, here you might start to have some hesitation. Shallots? Well, allow me. They're like a flavor packed small onion. Readily available, yes, in most grocery stores. My home? No. So I substituted a little onion instead.
2 cups chicken tenders, cut into small chunks- chicken.
2 eggs- love eggs
1 1/4 cups skim milk- got milk?
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning- yep
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, divided- yes, love me some Parmesan
1-8oz package Colby Jack cheese- Hmm? Any hesitation here? Colby Jack is a pretty basic cheese, available everywhere. But again, wasn't in my house. So I subbed cheddar cheese. We turned out fine. :)
1-14oz can quartered artichokes, drained and roughly chopped- oooo now here's the big one. Artichokes? Do I like those? Hmm... put your thinking cap on. Have you ever had them? I can think of eating spinach & artichoke dip ... and I like 'em in there. So here's where I expand my horizons. Good in a dip, let's try it in a casserole!!
1-10pz package chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and wrung out with a dish towel- Spinach is good.
1 slice whole wheat bread- readily available in my home, but you could easily sub white bread.
1/2 teaspoon paprika- kind of a "nothing" spice. No real flavor unless you use large quantities, then it gets spicy.
1 Tablespoon butter, melted

So, do you get it? Just go through the ingredients one by one. Evaluate them and go from there! Yay! Now you can expand your horizons too!

Ok, now let's get to the recipe! THIS WAS DELICIOUS! Like out of this world! The left overs were even tastier I thought!  

Start by boiling water and cooking your pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium-medium high heat and cook shallots/onions & chicken until cooked.

In a large bowl whisk together eggs, milk, Italian seasoning & 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese. Stir in colby jack cheese, spinach, and artichokes. Aaron & I both said when we were done eating it that the artichokes needed to be "weeded" better. :) Artichokes have tough areas to them that are un-chewable, and unfortunately I did not cut all of them out. So make sure you do!!

Then combine everything together and spread into a greased casserole dish. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate overnight if wanted. Otherwise bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. 

While cooking, combine remaining 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, bread slice and paprika in a food processor. Pulse until fine bread crumbs. Stir in melted butter. Top casserole and bake another 5 minutes.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thanks Sioux City Journal!

Hi guys! I'm just popping in today to say "thanks!" to Sioux City Journal! I got 2nd place in a recipe contest!! Cool, huh?!

Totally cool to me, who was not expecting it at all! Aaron & I pick up the mail on our way home from work at 11:30pm. I got this letter in the mail...

I was like, hmm??? What's that?

Then I opened it and it was money!!

I was like, what the heck for?!

And then I saw..... this!!!

I was all excited and like "SWEET!" What recipe did I submit?? I remember submitting them, but it was like ages ago!! 

I won 2nd place for Brown Sugar Banana Bread. You can find it here

And what was 1st place, you ask? Something odd. I really want one of you to make it and report back to me. Because in my mind this 1st place recipe just doesn't jive. 

I am sorry that I haven't posted the recipe on here before, and I have no pictures of it to share! I did post a low fat banana bread... but that wasn't award winning! :) haha. 

Anyways... off to work!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It's a Pancake Kinda Morning!

Pancakes today! Yay! 

Yep, woke up and the sky was gray... I said "pancakes!!"

You've never made pancakes from scratch?

Why not??? 

Too hard? Too much work? Boxed is easier?

Come on, my friends. You can make cookies from scratch, right? Then you can make pancakes from scratch too.

Simply combine 2 cups whole wheat flour, 2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt. Then in a separate bowl whisk together 2 cups buttermilk, 2 eggs, 2 Tbsp melted butter, 2 Tbsp honey. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix just until combined. It will be lumpy.

Then heat a skillet or griddle over medium-low heat & make 'em!

You want to flip them when they get to this point... with little bubbles on the edges and top.

And then....

Perfect, fluffy pancakes! 

You wanna know a secret? I forgot the salt and eggs... and they still turned out!! :) Whoops!

Even Suzie wanted some! Look at those pouty eyes. 

We don't always spoil her, just sometimes. :)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

White Chocolate Cupcakes & Turtle Cheesecake Truffles

Ok, this post is loaded with goodies! So, don't miss anything!

First, what have we been up to? Well, we're tending that big ol' garden! Remember that big patch of dirt? There's life!

There is actually toooooo much life. Check out all that grass in there! We expanded the garden this year, so when it was tilled, lots of that grass got under the top soil, and now it's popping out! :) Yay! Not. The front part of the garden is supposed to be sweet corn, but it's having a hard time coming up amidst the grass. There's some little "corny guys" (we like to call 'em that), but not as many as I planted! :) 

Ahh, my beans. They're always so nice to me. They grow without a hesitation. Check out the rows... nice, huh? I just pulled weeds/grass. 

Peas! They're doing ok... the ends of the rows are plentiful, but there's gaps in the middle... oh well, they have time. And if not, we'll have enough. 

Tomatoes!! They're doing ok. I had to replace a few after a freeze awhile back, but now they're lookin' good. And the cages? Thank heavens for Bomgaars in Sioux City. They had these fairly large, heavy duty cages that I grabbed quickly! Hopefully they hold up and don't topple over as they grow. 

I enjoyed the "easiness" of pulling weeds with wet soil, but there were entirely too many of these earthworms! Eww!

Ok, are you hungry yet? Let's get to the good stuff!!

What?! Suzie's the good stuff! Look at her! Awww. She is dying for me to take her off the leash in this picture, hence she's sitting so pretty. :)

White Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Icing
From Fake Ginger
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven to 325F. Line muffin pans with 18 cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped white chocolate by heating it in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Stir well with a fork between each interval and cook only until the chocolate is smooth when stirred.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by melted white chocolate and vanilla extract. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding in some of the milk and some of the flour mixture, ending with a final addition of flour. Mix until just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 325F for 20-23 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 ounce white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons heavy cream
3 – 4 cups powdered sugar

Using a stand mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add white chocolate, vanilla extract, and heavy cream and mix until combined. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it reaches desired consistency. If you want to pipe it, make sure it’s stiff enough to stand up on it’s own.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup strawberries, mashed by hand or with food processor
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3 – 4 cups powdered sugar

Using a stand mixer, combine cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add mashed strawberries and vanilla and mix until combined. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it reaches piping consistency.

Yes, I did pile on the frosting. I put both on! :) As God said, "It was good". Haha.

 Ok, these guys are amazing! Simple to make, but delicious!

Turtle Cheesecake Truffles

1 package Philadelphia Cream Cheese 1/3 Less Fat
1 package (8 ounces) baking chocolate squares, semi-sweet (or candy melts)
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup chopped pecans, finely chopped
1/4 cup caramel sauce (or melted caramel squares)

1. Combine the cream cheese with the graham cracker crumbs. Use a melon baller to scoop up 1 1/4" sized balls to a wax-paper lined baking sheet. Repeat until you've scooped up all of the cream cheese. You should have about 15 balls. Freeze for 10-15 minutes.

2. While the cheesecake balls are freezing, melt the chocolate according to package directions.

3. Using 1 or 2 forks, dip each cheesecake ball into the melted chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip away between the tines. Place the chocolate covered balls back on the wax paper on the baking sheet. Repeat for all cheesecake balls.

4. Top each truffle with pecans. Drizzle caramel over each truffle. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving (up to overnight).

 You're gonna make one of these, right? The cupcakes and truffles are so yummy, you just have to. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Beef with Snow Peas

Happy Wednesday!! Another lovely day in Iowa! The last  days have been absolutely perfect! Upper 60s with lots of sunshine! We've been taking long walks with Suzie... who loves us right now b/c of all the walks! And we've been fixing up the garden, which is doing pretty well! 

My recipe today is astounding! It is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, who I love! She has some of the best, easiest recipes every day! And she actually got the recipe from Pioneer Woman Cooks, who is also amazing! :) So you're in for a treat! You can click here to see her step-by-step instructions for the recipe. 

1 lb flank steak, or any other steak works too
1 bag snow peas
3 Tbsp peanut oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup beef broth
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp ground ginger
4 green onions, chopped
Rice for serving

1. Whisk together soy sauce, water, broth, brown sugar, corn starch and ginger. Set aside.

2. Slice steak into thin, bite size strips. Add steak to marinade.

3. Trim ends off of the snow peas. 

4. Heat 2 Tbsp peanut oil in a large skillet/wok over medium-high to high heat. When hot add peas and stir-fry for 1 minute, being careful not to burn!! Remove from skillet.

5. Add remaining 1 Tbsp oil and add in steak, reserving marinade. Stir-fry for 1 minute, again be very careful not to burn! Add marinade, peas and green onions. Reduce heat and cook for a couple minutes, until sauce is thickened and steak is cooked. 

6. Serve over rice.

I can't wait for fresh peas from the garden to make this recipe! Mmm Mmm!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Dinner

Happy Sunday to you all! A day of rest, hallelujah! Aaron & I both had off this weekend, so we had a great 2 days of family busy-ness... but it was a great "rest" from work! 

Oh yes, and Sunday dinner was at my house!! Remember? Those decadent and beautiful cupcakes??? We had more! This was our plate....

Cheesy Ranch Chicken, which you can find HERE
New Potato Casserole
Broccoli & Apple Salad
Chocolate Coca-Cola Cupcakes, which you can find HERE

Let's start with the salad. This was kind of a last minute dish, because the day before dinner I started to think that maybe chicken and potatoes wasn't quite enough. So I found the recipe at myrecipes.com. You can view the recipe by clicking that link, or see below.

Looks pretty plain and simple... but it's got some kick to it! It's very refreshing and tasty! 

1 head broccoli, cut into florets
1 1/4 cups chopped apple
6 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
1 Tbsp canola oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Whisk together vinegar, sugar, mustard, oil, s & p. Combine all ingredients. If you clicked on the link above you will see they have onion in the mix too... I just opted for no onion. 

Ok..... NEXT! Potatoes!

  • 3  pounds  small red new potatoes, quartered
  • 2  teaspoons  salt
  • 1  bag  (9 ounces) baby spinach leaves
  •   Sauce:
  • 3  tablespoons  unsalted butter
  • 1    bunch scallions or spring onions, trimmed and chopped
  • 3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 2  cups  milk, warmed
  • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  white or black pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon  cayenne
  • pinch  ground nutmeg
  • 1/2  pound  Swiss cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1  tablespoon  plain breadcrumbs
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Place potatoes and salt in large saucepan. Add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; simmer 8 minutes. Just before draining, add spinach. Drain.
2. Sauce: In small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add scallions; cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Sprinkle flour over scallions and whisk to blend. In 2 additions, whisk in warm milk until smooth. Add salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat. Whisk in 1 cup of the cheese.
3. Coat 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Layer half the potatoes and spinach in dish; spoon half the sauce over. Sprinkle with half the remaining cheese. Top with remaining potatoes and sauce. Sprinkle with reserved cheese.
4. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Top with breadcrumbs. Bake 10 minutes more until browned. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes. 

And, just because I want to.... Here's more cupcakes!!!


Friday, May 13, 2011

Chocolate Coca-Cola Cupcakes!

Ok, NW Iowa is back to cold temperatures! It's up and down lately! Kinda annoying! Perfect day to bake though!!

Hold on to your panties, this recipe is going to blow you away! These cupcakes are the most moist, chocolatey, delicious thing I have tasted in a while. And they are such a cinch too! I made cupcakes, but the recipe I found was actually for a 9x13 cake. So you can make it even easier if you make it in there!

Drum roll please!!!!!!  *#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#*#

Look at that cute thing!! Actually it makes me almost want to barf because I've been sneaking cupcake after cupcake after finger full of the Coca-Cola frosting for the past few hours!! :) So I'm kind of sugar overloaded... I could use some salt now. Haha.

Chocolate Coca-Cola Cake
1 cup butter
1/3 cup cocoa
1 cup Coca-Cola
2 cups flour
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
  • Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat.
  • Combine flour, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl; stir in butter mixture. Add eggs, and stir until blended. Stir in buttermilk, vanilla, and marshmallows.
  • Pour into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking pan. Bake at 350ยบ for 25 to 30 minutes or until a pick inserted in center comes out clean. 

Chocolate Coca-Cola Icing
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup Coca-Cola
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans, optional (I did not opt for these)
Heat butter, cocoa, & Coke in saucepan over medium heat until butter melted. Add the rest of the ingredients and pour over cake. 

 Mom, Dad, Tessa, and Whitney... those are for you on Sunday!!!! Anyone else who wishes to come to Sunday dinner at my house... $100/plate. We're having chocolate. :)