Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Praline Brittle

Tis' the season for eating way too many sweets -- and here's another goodie to add to your holiday baking list! This recipe has only a few ingredients (that you usually have on hand in your pantry/refrigerator), it takes just a few minutes to prepare, and it is full of southern sweetness that you just can't resist. Perfect for gifting to neighbors, teachers and friends!

12 whole graham crackers (broken in half to make 24 squares)
1 stick butter
¾ cup light brown sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
¾ cup pecans, broken into smaller pieces

Preheat oven to 350°.

Step One
Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper and lay graham cracker squares on top, keeping them as close together as possible. Side note: I like to purchase the original graham crackers with no added flavor as to not take away from the taste of the praline mixture.

Step Two
Over medium heat, melt butter and sugar until it comes to a boil. Let it cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes (or until it's bubbly and a dark golden brown).

Step Three
Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and salt and pour onto graham crackers. If needed, use a spatula to spread evenly.

Step Four
Bake for 11-13 minutes, depending on how crunchy you would like it (watch it closely to make sure it doesn't burn). Remove from oven, let cool (for at least 20-30 minutes), then break up into squares.

Merry Christmas, y'all! May you stop and savor all the sweetness this season brings. : )


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Chicken Pasta Bake

This pasta bake is one of my all-time favorite dishes! It's also one of my favorite go-tos when I am taking a meal to friends or family (i.e. after a baby arrives, a surgery, etc.). It's so easy to throw together and is just simply delicious. I always get asked for the recipe, so I thought I would share with you all here!

2-3 cups cooked chicken*
½ box rigatoni
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ yellow onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 can basil, garlic & oregano diced tomatoes
1 container chive & onion cream cheese
1 cup frozen spinach, thawed (optional)
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ tsp each of salt & pepper, plus additional for seasoning chicken
Dash of red pepper flakes

Set oven to 375°.

Step One
Cook pasta according to package directions.

Step Two
While pasta is cooking, heat oil (on medium heat) in a small skillet. Saute onion for 3-4 minutes, add in garlic and cook an additional minute. Set aside.

Step Three
Drain pasta, pour into large mixing bowl. Add in onion, tomatoes (undrained), cream cheese, chicken, ½ cup mozzarella, salt, pepper & red pepper flakes. Mix together.

Step Four
Pour into 9x11 baking pan, spread remaining mozzarella & paremsan on top, cover with foil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove foil and cook for an additional 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly. Serve with bread & salad -- enjoy, y'all!

*How I bake my chicken: Set oven to 375 . Place foil on a baking sheet and put chicken on top. Spread a little evoo + salt + pepper + garlic powder (optional) on chicken and roast for 30-40 minutes (depending on size of chicken breasts). For a quicker alternative, use 2-3 cups cut up rotisserie chicken from the store!

Adapted from Southern Living Magazine.



Saturday, October 22, 2016

Savory Meat Sauce

Everyone needs a staple meat sauce in their recipe collection! This is one of my go-tos... serve it up over spaghetti, use for lasagna or even eat by itself (with a side of garlic bread, obvi). It's a crowd-pleaser and the perfect comfort food for the fall weather that has just started here in NC.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb (lean) ground beef
½ lb mild sausage
1 (medium-sized) yellow onion, diced
½ green bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, peeled & grated
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp each: dried oregano, basil, parsley, sugar, salt & pepper
½ tsp each: thyme and red pepper flakes
Note: use fresh herbs if you have them on hand - they will enhance the flavor immensely!
½ cup beef broth
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14.5 oz) can tomato sauce
½ cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Step One
In large dutch oven (or sauce pan) heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Add in beef, sausage, onion, 2 of the (minced) garlic cloves and ½ tsp each salt & pepper. (Cooking the meat with salt in pepper will enhance the flavor later on). Cook until meat is no longer pink.

Step Two
Tilt the pan to drain grease to one side and remove it with large ladle or spoon. Add in remaining garlic, salt and pepper and other spices (except sugar) and saute for another two minutes.

Step Three
Pour in broth, tomatoes, tomato sauce & sugar. Stir and bring to a boil for a couple minutes.

Step Four
Turn heat to medium-low then stir in cheese. Allow sauce to simmer at least 30 minutes (and up to a hour) to bring out the flavor. Add additional seasonings if you prefer.

Enjoy, y'all!


Tuesday, September 13, 2016

White Bean Taco Chili

We are a chili-loving family (evidence can be found here  and here). This taco version was another winner and will definitely be going into the menu rotation this fall and winter! It's hearty, pretty healthy (can't not include a little cheese and a few chips), can be made vegetarian (if you substitute veggie broth for the chicken broth), has minimal ingredients AND your crock pot does (almost) all of the work for you. What's not to love??!

1 can cannellini beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes (you can use regular - these just add a little more flavor)
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp each: cumin powder, salt, pepper
A few dashes of cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes (if your family likes extra heat)
2-2 ½ cups chicken broth (can substitute vegetable broth if desired)

Step One
Drain and rinse beans in a large colander. Also drain any excess water off of thawed corn. Pour into slow cooker.

Step Two
Add remaining ingredients into slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cook on low 8 hours (preferable) or 4 if you need it faster.

Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, tortilla chips & any other toppings you enjoy (avocado, tomatoes, green onion, etc.). A perfectly easy family dish for the fall. Enjoy, y'all!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Football Food Favorites

Y'all. A new season is approaching... although fall may not be in the air just yet, college FOOTBALL starts this weekend. We live for this time of year! Mr. SFB and I met while attending the University of Arkansas and we love our Razorbacks through and through. I also love any excuse to host people and to love on them by serving yummy food and drinks.

I've rounded up my favorite football party snacks below so with a couple easy clicks you can get to brainstorming about what you want to make this weekend!

For crunchy & tangy: Fried Pickles (< fan favorite)
For dip lovers: Southwest Cheesecake, 7-Layer or Corn & Black Bean Dip (< lighter option)
For classic football food: Chili (beef) or Chili (chicken) (< don't forget the tortilla chips)
For BBQ fans: Pulled Pork (< best served with the spicy slaw)

Whatever you decided to make or whichever team you root for, may you enjoy this glorious weekend! Cheers!


Friday, August 19, 2016

BLT Pasta Salad

I am a sucker for anything with bacon in it (or pasta for that matter) and I LOVE a good BLT, so the combination of these two things makes perfect sense to me. : )  The sauce is light and has a little zing to it with the addition of BBQ sauce (trust me on this ingredient - it will not disappoint).

This recipe serves 4-6 people so double up if you are feeding a bigger crowd!

8oz farfalle (bowtie) pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 green onions, sliced
4 roma tomataoes, chopped
4-5 slices bacon, cooked and broken into pieces
¼ head (or about 2 cups worth) of iceberg lettuce, washed & chopped
¼ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp BBQ sauce
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp salt & black pepper
1/8 tsp ground red pepper (optional)

Step One
While pasta is cooking, clean and chop your veggies and set aside.

Step Two
Whisk together mayo, BBQ sauce, vinegar and spices and set aside.

Step Three
Mix all ingredients (except lettuce & bacon) together in a large mixing bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Tip: make sure your pasta is cooled off before mixing with other ingredients - sometimes I throw a few ice cubes in the colander to quicken the process.

Fold in the lettuce and bacon a few minutes before serving so they don't get too soggy. Enjoy, y'all!


Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Banana-Zucchini Bread

I love baking fresh, sweet breads (as evidenced here, here and here)... and I am SO excited to share that I think we have finally found our favorite go-to, make once a week, butter-free, less than a cup of sugar, toddler-approved recipe. I don't know why it took me so long to start including zucchini as a main ingredient in breads, but I will never, ever look back! Let me know if y'all love this bread as much as we do. : )

1 medium zucchini
2 large (ripe) bananas
1 large egg
¼ cup coconut oil (liquid state; canola or vegetable oil can be substituted)
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt (optional)

Set oven to 350°  and grease a loaf pan.

Step One
Wash zucchini and coarsely grate on a box shredder (this part sounds tedious, but it will seriously take 2 minutes or less). Squeeze out liquid with a paper towel. Then mash bananas in a small Ziploc bag (this will make for an easy transfer later on). Set both aside.

Step Two
In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk together next 5 ingredients (eggs-vanilla), then add in flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and fold to combine ( >> no need to dirty up extra bowls or your mixer).

Step Three
Fold in zucchini and bananas; make sure batter is mixed pretty evenly (i.e. no big clumps of flour or sugar). Pour into prepared loaf pan and smooth the top with a spatula.

Bake for about 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. NOTE: at around the 30 minute mark you can place a piece of foil on top of the bread to keep it from browning too much.

Allow bread to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before turning onto a wire rack, leaving there for at least 30 minutes before slicing (if you'd like it to stay in one piece ; ) ).

Enjoy, y'all!