Category Archives: Recipes

my recipes have moved!

When I first started this blog, I had the intention of sharing all my favorite recipes on it. However, over the years it evolved into more of a place to document my adventures and most memorable journeys. So, I decided to create a separate blog specifically for recipes! I joined forces with my insanely-talented mom (best cheffess in town) and we started Kiwi and Carrot…a food blog for (mostly) healthy recipes made with fresh and natural ingredients!

 

So if you’re bored with your food routine of cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and spaghetti for dinner, we’ve got your back. Head on over to Kiwi and Carrot to check out what we’ve been making and eating!

 

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Happy Mother’s Day with a nutella french toast treat

Ok so your first assignment is to watch this video. It’s a treat you don’t want to miss.

To all those moms out there, Happy Mother’s Day! But to my mom in particular: thanks for being my mom and my best friend.

mom and me 2

We’ve come a long way together….it started 21 years ago with the arrival of the “Michelin Man.” You know you’ve found a dedicated mom when she happily cleans corn out of her baby’s chubby neck rolls…yes, yes, Michelin Man fortunately grew out of that.

Eventually we moved on to playing dolls together, visiting the zoo and riding the bus to no where in particular. Too soon for you I’m sure, you were taking pictures of me and my date, as I went to prom, and then graduated from high school.

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You were so nice to help me move to college….and then last summer you became my wedding planner…you always had a talent for planning parties. You helped make that day an unforgettable highlight of my life.

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So sorry Kag for posting this pic with your droopy eyes. It’s the only one I could find. You’re still beautiful. 🙂

Lurdie Loo, you have turned me into the person I am today. You are why I love to cook, love to dance, love to write. Because you’re the one who encouraged me all these years to keep at it, to never give up. You taught me that I’m a daughter of God who has an important place in this world.

lurdie and me

Even this fuzzy picture doesn’t take away from our matchy-matchy cuteness. Adorbs.

Thanks for everything mom. I love you!

And now, for a special Mother’s Day treat…

Strawberry-and-Nutella-stuffed French toast

the ingredients

egg bath

on the griddle

toppings

from above

Ingredients:

  • 3 pieces of heart-shaped bread (you can use a large heart-shaped cookie cutter, or just carve a heart into the bread with a knife.)
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup milk
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • about 4 large strawberries
  • salted butter
  • 2 T Nutella
  • 2 T whipped cream
  • extra cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Directions:

  1. Cut the bread slices into heart shapes.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon.
  3. Place some butter on a skillet and heat to medium-high heat, allowing the butter to melt.
  4. Lightly dip the bread into the bowl and allow it to soak in the batter.
  5. Place the bread on the skillet and allow to cook until a light brown color. Flip and allow the other side to cook.
  6. Once both sides are cooked, remove bread pieces from the skillet and allow to cool slightly.
  7. Spread half of the Nutella on the first heart-shaped bread and top with sliced strawberries. Spoon some whipped cream onto the strawberries and cover with the second heart-shaped bread.
  8. Spread the rest of the Nutella on the stack, and place the rest of the strawberries into the Nutella.
  9. Place the third heart-shaped bread on top of the stack and top with the rest of the whipped cream. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

*Note: For a smaller version, use only two slices of bread and half of the Nutella and whipped cream.

side view

Zupas’ BBQ Chicken Salad

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This post is in honor of my dear sister Kagnis Marie who’s currently dedicating 18 months of her life spreading the good word in Pennsylvania.

Before she left, she had an obsession with Cafe Zupas. She would go there weekly, sometimes twice a week. If no one could go with her, she’d go on her lone diddly own…but really, I don’t blame her at all. Zupas seems to have done the impossible–provided healthy and delicious food for an affordable price. And let’s talk about that strawberry…delicately dipped in chocolate and included with your meal every time. And that’s not all. They even throw in a squishily soft and freshly-baked slice of bread with your salad. Thumbs up to Zupas.

But here comes the sad part. I live in Logan. Meaning, the nearest Zupas is an hours drive away. Not ok.

So, I decided it was time to get creative. This BBQ chicken salad is a Cafe Zupas copycat, which turned out pretty dang delicious. At least my husband said so.

Yes, you read that right. My husband–the candy, cookies, ice cream, Captain Crunch loving husband loved this salad. He actually asked me to make it again, the same week we had it the first time. Maybe it has something to do with the BBQ sauce and ranch that he dumped all over those leafy greens…but either way, a salad’s a salad.

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Zupas’ BBQ Chicken Salad
*serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head of Romaine or red-leaf lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, cut into small pieces
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • handful of tortilla-chip strips
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Ranch Dressing
  • BBQ Sauce

Directions: 

  1. Bring a pot of water or chicken broth to a boil and add the chicken breasts. Cover with a lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove from the water and allow to cool. Cut into bite-sized pieces.
    *note: If you’re in a hurry, you can use pre-cooked or frozen grilled chicken strips.
  2. Chop the lettuce into small pieces, rinse, and pat dry.
  3. In a large bowl, combine corn, beans, diced onions, tomatoes, and chicken. Toss with some ranch dressing and BBQ sauce. Sprinkle with tortilla-chip strips, and enjoy!
    *note: for an even healthier version, opt for a lighter ranch dressing such as Miracle Harvest Creamy Ranch Dressing.

dressing

wholemeal

This salad wouldn’t be a true Zupas copycat if it didn’t include a chocolate-covered strawberry for dessert!

Ingredients:

  • 6 strawberries
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • Some parchment paper

Directions

  1. Melt the chocolate in the microwave for about 1 minute. Stir, and melt for another 30 seconds, or until the chocolate is liquid but not too hot.
  2. Dip the strawberries in the chocolate and place on a plate covered in parchment paper. Place in the fridge or freezer and allow the chocolate to harden before eating.strawberriestopview rawstraw whole_meal_from_above dippedstrawberries

 

zesty pomegranate-pork salad

close upA wonderful thing happened this week at the store. I was walking down the meat aisle and saw a GIANT hunk of meat staring at me from the pork-loin section. It had a bright yellow sticker on it that said: “Sale, half price! SAVE $17.00!” One minute later, that hunk of meat was taking a ride in my grocery cart to the check-out stand. So far, I’ve gotten three meals out of that thing, and I still have half of it in my freezer. Yay for big pork loins on sale!

So. Let’s talk salad. This bad boy combines salty, roasted asparagus with the sweetly scrumptious zing of pomegranate-vinaigrette pork. Its many different flavors combine to make it a unique and delightfully tasty meal. (Or so said my husband…)

And one of the other great things about this salad is the fact that those lengthy instructions of how to marinate the pork with this, that, this, that, this and that, are non-existent! The marinade consists of ONE, yes, UNO ingredients: Hidden Valley Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Aaaah I love easy cooking.

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zesty pomegranate-pork salad

ingredients:

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin
  • salt and pepper
  • Hidden Valley Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing
  • green-leafed lettuce
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 4-5 stalks roasted asparagus, cut into pieces
  • 1 T olive oil
  • walnuts, crumbled feta cheese

*adapted from “YourHomeBasedMom.”

directions:

  1. Rub pork generously with salt and pepper, and marinate in 1 cup of Pomegranate Vinaigrette Dressing overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Cover a roasting pan in tin foil and roast the pork for 25-35 minutes, until the internal temperature is 145 degrees.
  4. While the meat is roasting, wash and cut the lettuce into bite-sized pieces. Crumble your feta and walnuts, and chop the strawberries into small pieces.
  5. Chop asparagus into 1-inch pieces and toss in olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet covered in tin foil.
  6. Once the meat reaches 145 degrees, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes, then slice.
  7. While the meat is resting, roast the asparagus for 5-8 minutes in the oven, until fork-tender but still crisp. (keep oven temp. at 400 degrees.)
  8. Combine lettuce, asparagus and strawberries. Sprinkle with feta cheese and walnuts, and place pork slices on top. Finish by drizzling extra dressing on top.

salad

 

 

5-ingrediant granola bars

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Ok this post is dedicated to my best little bro Mr. Tumnis. Why you ask? Because after all these years of making fun of my “granola” ways, guess who gets to go live in granola-central for TWO years? Mmmm hmmm. Sweet, sweet revenge.

So, Mr. Tumnis, this one’s for you. Maybe you should make it and then eat your words about my “granola-eating” obsession. Or, just eat the granola bars because they’re that good.

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These granola bars are all-natural, packed with healthy, energy-boosting ingredients, and they make a dang good mid-morning, mid-afternoon, mid-evening, mid-night (you get the picture) snack.

And the best part about these iddly-diddly little munchkins is that they are made with only FIVE ingredients. (Yes–that did deserve a caps and bold.) Plus, they are ingredients that you can actually pronounce! None of that hydrogenated, modified, corn-starchy crap. Thumbs up for that.

not great

five-ingredient granola bars (adapted from minimalist baker.) 

ingredients: *makes 10 bars

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup rolled oats

directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the oats and chopped almonds on a baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until the oats are golden brown and there is a delicious scent coming from your oven…
  2. Soak the dates in some water for about 15 minutes to allow them to get nice and sticky. (If they’re already sticky, skip this step.)
  3. In a food processor, blend the dates until they form a sticky paste and there are no more chunks.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the peanut butter and honey until it forms a smooth consistency.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the almonds, oats and dates. Pour the peanut butter and honey mixture into the bowl and mix very well, until the dates are no longer in a clump, and everything is evenly mixed.
  6. Cover a 8×8 baking dish with a layer of tin foil or parchment paper, and press the granola mixture into the bottom, until it is evenly spread. Cover and freeze for 30 minutes to allow the granola bars to harden.
  7. Cut into bars (should make about 10) and enjoy!

Note: These store well for a few days in an air-tight container, or keep them in the freezer for extra freshness. They thaw quickly!

almonds

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in the pan

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Love ya Mr. T.

 

Mexican quinoa bowl

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As a recently-married, full-time student, there are two things I’m always running out of. Time and money. With my obsession of cooking, I’ve had to learn how to make homemade, healthy and delicious dinners that are quick to make and within our budget…

Most girls my age do that “mental battle” thing at the mall. They find that perfect shirt they really need  want, and spend the next 15 minutes trying to justify why it’s ok to buy it, and why this time, the budget will be forgiving of that adorable new outfit. Yaaa, I do that too, but it’s usually in the produce section of the grocery store…embarrassing. It usually involves that devilishly delicious mango, which given it’s the month of March, costs $2 for ONE. Ugh…

Sooo, I’ve had to learn how to eat on a budget. Buy food in bulk. Plan recipes for the week that have similar ingredients, so I can stretch things a little further.

This Mexican quinoa bowl was the result of my efforts to use similar ingredients for my meals throughout the week. Earlier this week, I made quinoa stuffed acorn squash, and you’ll notice many of the same ingredients from that recipe pop up in today’s quinoa bowl. Mission accomplished! (Well, besides the kind of expensive strawberries we ate with it…the result of my mental battle this week. Eeek.)

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Mexican quinoa bowl

ingredients: *serves 2-3 

  • 1 chicken breast
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt, pepper (plus some for seasoning)
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup black beans
  • 1/3 cup corn
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced in to small pieces
  • 1/2 avocado
  • feta cheese, cilantro, sour cream for topping

directions:

  1. Combine garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, pepper and 1/4 tsp chili powder in a medium bowl. Mix well. Cut the chicken breast into small cubes and add to the bowl, stir it around until it’s all covered in the seasoning.
  2. Heat some oil in a large skillet and add the chicken. Cook it on low heat until it’s white in the middle, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the diced onion and red pepper. Cook on low heat until they are soft.
  4. Add the corn, beans and quinoa, and allow to warm.
  5. Stir in the chicken and the rest of the chili powder. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Garnish with cilantro, avocado slices, feta cheese and sour cream.

on the stove

avacado

realclose

quinoa stuffed acorn squash

acorn

Ok people. Let’s talk about squash. Those big, chunky, vegetables that, let’s be honest, are somewhat unapproachable at the grocery store. They’re sitting there in a heap with all their  other squashy friends and yes, they look beautiful. But not to eat. More like, put on your porch at Halloween and let them just sit there. Doing what they do best…

But every once in awhile, I get enough courage to actually put one of these guys in my grocery cart with the intentions of eating it. I know, so brave.

I’ve made butternut squash before, but I’ve never dared to try one of these bad boys…

squashy

…Until last night. Turns out, they have a purpose besides sitting on my front porch! They actually tasted pretty darn good, and it was a simple and healthy dinner to throw together. That’s what I’m talking about.

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quinoa stuffed acorn squash *serves 2

ingredients: 

  • 1 small acorn squash
  • 1/4 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • cilantro, feta cheese, sour cream (I used plain Greek yogurt) for garnishing

for the chicken: (this can be omitted if you’re going vegetarian-style, but I knew that wouldn’t fly with the hubby, so I threw some chicken in.)

  • 1 small chicken breast, cubed
  • 1/2 T coconut or olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1/2 t onion powder
  • 1/2 t ground paprika

directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the acorn squash down the middle and scoop out all the seeds and goopiness. Place squash cut-side down in a baking pan, cover halfway with water, and put foil over the pan. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes, until soft.
  2. While the squash is baking, cook the quinoa according to the directions. (I recommend cooking it in chicken broth to give it some flavor.)
  3. Combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and ground paprika in a bowl, and mix well. Add the cubed chicken and roll it around until it is all covered in the seasoning.
  4. Heat some oil in a saucepan and cook the chicken on low-medium heat until white in the middle. (Not too long or it will be tough. Usually about 5-7 minutes.) Place the chicken on a plate and leave excess oil in the pan.
  5. Saute the diced onions until soft, about 4 minutes, then add the corn and allow to brown slightly. Add the quinoa, beans, cumin, chili powder, and a dash of salt and pepper. When warm, add the chicken back to the pan and stir.
  6. When the squash is soft, remove from the oven and use a large slotted spoon to remove from the water. Place cut-side up on a plate and fill each squash with the quinoa mixture. Top with sour cream, feta cheese and cilantro.

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quinoa

cropped squash

Mexican stuffed sweet potatoes

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              My sweet, sweet potato. Dinner really doesn’t get much better than this…In my opinion, sweet potatoes on their own are sorta, kinda heavenly. And then you mix in some corn, beans and cream queso and voila! Mexican heaven. The perfect way to celebrate my husband’s heritage…haha. This recipe was inspired by “Pinch of Yum,” which, if you haven’t explored her blog yet, prepare to spend at least 17 1/2 hours today looking through fabulous recipes. She’s quite the cook.
             I also made a variation of this recipe using a normal old russet potato, and topping it with salsa. It was delicious…however if you like sweet potatoes, I would stick with this:
mexican stuffed sweet potatoes
ingredients: *serves 2
  • 1-2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 ounce light cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • bit of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • handful of shredded cheese (I used pepperjack because it’s my husband’s fav.)
directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub olive oil and sea salt on potatoes and stick them with a fork.  Bake for 45-60 minutes.
  2. Place the corn in a skillet and roast over medium-high heat until they begin to brown. Sprinkle some salt and add the black beans. Once they have warmed,  remove from heat and set aside.
  3. Saute the onion in some oil over medium heat until soft and translucent. Set aside.
  4. Remove sweet potatoes from the oven when tender and let cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut the sweet potatoes in half. Scrape the flesh of the sweet potatoes out, leaving the skins intact.
  5. Mix the flesh of the sweet potatoes with the cream cheese, sour cream and salt. Once mixed, stir in the black beans, roasted corn, sauteed onions and cilantro.
  6. Place the filling back into the empty skins, top each one with some cheese, and broil in the oven until the cheese is melted; about 5 min.

potoato copy cropped

homemade sweet potato gnocchi

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Sweet potatoes. Even the name is cute. These irresistible little gnocchis are such a treat for when the leaves are falling and the temperature dropping.

Let’s talk about why sweet potato gnocchi is the best thing since sliced bread:

  1. Who wouldn’t want to eat something that’s a bright orange color and looks like Playdough? hmmm. How about we move on to reason number two?
  2. The smell of fresh sage crisping in melted butter is heavenly.
  3. Anything drenched in balsamic vinegar has to be good.

Now, don’t get nervous by the somewhat complicated-looking list of directions. Making homemade gnocchi is really pretty simple. Plus, it takes you back to the good ol’ days of Kindergarten…rolling Playdough into little pieces and then eating it. oops.

But at least this time around things taste a lot better than Playdough…

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sweet potato gnocchi with brown butter and sage 

ingredients

for the gnocchi:

  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 pound Russet potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose or white whole wheat flour

for the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • about a dozen fresh sage leaves
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • parmesan cheese for garnish

directions

for the gnocchi:

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Scrub all that dirt off the potatoes and rub with them olive oil and kosher salt; poke some holes with a fork because no one loves to clean up a potato explosion.
  3. Place them in the oven and roast until tender; about 45-60 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and cut in half (careful they will be HOT)
  5. Scoop out the insides, mash them up real good, then stir in the cheese, egg, honey and salt. Mix in the flour, about 1/2 cup at a time, until soft dough forms. You’ve added flour when you touch the back of the dough and it is damp but not sticking to your hand.
    *note: at this point, the dough will look like playdough and tasted about like it too. Don’t worry. Trust me on this one, the end result is divine.
  6. Place the dough onto a floured surface in the shape of a square and divide into about 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 1/2 inch thick, and cut each rope into 1/2 inch pieces.
  7. In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Working in batches, simmer the gnocchi until tender, about five min. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to a plate or baking sheet and repeat until all the gnocchi are cooked.
    *note: I was cooking for four people and I only cooked half of the gnocchi. The rest is sitting in Ziploc bags in my freezer…the gnocchi can be frozen for up to one month.
  8. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and drain the rest.

for the sauce: *note: this is enough sauce for half of the gnocchi.

  1. In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Don’t let it burn! Once it’s starting to foam, add the sage and cook until crispy. Remove the sage and put on a plate.
  2. Add the sliced shallot and allow to soften, stirring often. Again, don’t let this burn! As soon as the butter becomes brown and the shallots are soft, remove from the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar.
  3. Add the gnocchi and 1/4 cup of pasta water, and return to the heat. Cook and stir until coated in the sauce.
  4. Add ground pepper, salt, crisp sage and parmesan cheese for garnish.

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*note: this recipe was adapted from Aida Mollenkamp.

butternut squash pasta sauce

cropped pasta

Things I love about fall: scarves, boots and butternut squash. Oh ya, and there’s the incredibly-gorgeous-everywhere-you-look thing too.

Fall happens to be my favorite season of the year. Not only is it gorgeous and the perfect temperature, (unless you live in Logan like me and it goes from 95 degrees to below freezing in a matter of two days…) there’s delicious food.

A.K.A. butternut squash.

I’ll admit, I used to be terrified of this stuff. It was all good and friendly when I bought it from the store, all wrapped up in packaging, pre-cubed and cooked to perfection. But when you start handing me human-baby-sized gourds complete with prickly stems the size of my arm, well…that’s when I start to panic.

But, the other day I got brave. Adorned with a very  sharp knife, (the Dora bandaid on my finger is proof…) I sliced that thing up like it was no one’s business.

And this was the delicious, fall-infused result:

butternut squash pasta sauce

ingredients:
  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary or sage
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peel on
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • Pasta (I used penne)
  • Toppings: parmesan cheese, chopped walnuts, fresh sage (minced)

directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees . Cut the ends off of the squash and peel it with a vegetable peeler. Cut it in half down the middle and carve out the seeds and goopy stuff with a spoon.
  2. Cut the squash into small cubes and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Place the cubes on a baking sheet covered in tin-foil and scatter the garlic around squash. (Keep the peel on!) Place in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, or until squash is very tender. Remove the skin from the garlic and discard.
  4. Transfer the squash and garlic to a food processor and puree until smooth. Add the cream and 1-2 cups of warm water. Continue to mix until very smooth and creamy.
  5. Season with salt and pour over cooked pasta. Top with toppings of your choice. (Although I would highly recommend fresh sage, parmesan cheese and walnuts for a crunch…)

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cropped mix IMG_7650 herb crop best crop pasta

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To go with the pasta, I made a spinach salad with fresh pears, feta cheese and walnuts with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It really did compliment the pasta pretty well. Like two peas in a pod. Or two delicious fall-ish foods in my belly…

Now, go for a hike and see some leaves.