Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sweet & Savory Summer Spinach Salad

I wouldn't necessarily consider this a "recipe" ... but this salad was so scrumptious I just had to share with y'all. An easy summer weeknight meal that is loaded with healthy fruits and veggies...and a little savory chicken and sweet pecans to take it to the next level of tastiness!

Ingredients (this is based on a meal for two...or three if you consider Baby Henry)
fresh spinach leaves (I used about 4-5 handfuls)
2 chicken breasts
¾ cup garlic & herb bread crumbs
½ tablespoons butter, melted
6 large strawberries, sliced
½ cup fresh blueberries
¼ red onion, sliced
½ cup sweet glazed pecans
Balsamic vinaigrette (bottled or homemade...whatever you prefer)

Heat oven to 375°. Dip chicken in melted butter and coat in breadcrumbs. I prefer this brand:

Place chicken on baking sheet. Cook for about 30-35 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and juices are clear (I always cut into the largest part of the breast to make sure it's cooked through). 

While chicken is cooling, plate your salad. Load up the spinach and layer the strawberries, blueberries and onions. If you have feta cheese on hand it adds a very nice touch to the salad...I will be ready to eat 'soft cheeses' again once Henry gets here! :)

Slice chicken and add to salad. Sprinkle pecans all around! I prefer these:

Use desired amount of dressing and enjoy. A delightful summer treat that brings together a savory flavor with the seasoned breadcrumbs and a sweet touch with the fruit and pecans. Yum in this pregnant gal's tum!


Mini Mushroom, Spinach & Bacon Quiches

Mushrooms, spinach and bacon...oh my! Here's a yummy & easy breakfast recipe that can be reheated and taken on the go for work (if you have any leftover)!

6-8 strips of bacon
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup scallions, sliced
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 eggs
2 egg whites
1 cup milk (I used 1%)
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 325°. Coat a non-stick muffin tin with cooking spray.

Cook your bacon how you like it! Mine goes into a cold cast-iron skillet and that is then heated to medium-low. I cook the bacon about 7-8 minutes then flip and cook 4-5 minutes more until it's a golden brown color. 

Remove and drain on paper towels. When cool, break into small pieces.

After removing grease from skillet (or leave in if you are feeling crazy - just omit the oil) heat oil on medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add spinach into the pan and continue cooking 5-7 minutes or until mushrooms are golden brown and spinach has cooked down.

Combine bacon, mushrooms, spinach, scallions and cheese in a bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk eggs, egg whites, milk, salt & pepper...and a dash of red pepper flakes for good measure and an extra kick. 

Divide the egg mixture evenly among the muffin cups. Spoon about a tablespoon of the bacon mixture into each cup.

Bake until the tops just being to brown, about 25-30 minutes. When done, let cool on wire rack for 5-7 minutes. Place rack on top of pan and flip it over to let quiches out onto rack. Turn upright and let cool completely.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Grilled BBQ Shrimp & Creamy Pepper Jack Grits

I am a fan of anything shrimp and anything grits... and served together, life is you can also see here. This past Sunday Funday the Hubs wanted to use his grill so I conjured up a new recipe for us try out (with a little inspiration from Southern Living). Verdict = delicious success!

Ingredients for BBQ Shrimp
1 lb large shrimp
3 tablespoons butter
¼ cup ketchup
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
½ teaspoon rosemary
½ teaspoon thyme
4-5 wooden skewers
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste
Dash of red pepper flakes (not pictured above)
1 cup Stone ground grits, cooked according to package directions
2 tablespoons butter
3 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
salt & pepper to taste

Peel and devein shrimp; rinse and drain off water.
Place about 5 shrimp on each skewer (Tip: if using wooden skewers as pictured above, soak in water for about 20-30; this will keep them from burning and falling off on the grill).

Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper and sugar on both sides. Set shrimp in the refrigerator until ready to cook.

Now, go tell your Hubs to turn on the grill... and then get your grits a cookin' since they take about 20 minutes! If possible use the GOOD stuff not the instant (the flavor is SO much better, trust me). See below example that I purchased from my favorite  spot - Southern Season  - in Chapel Hill, NC, while there on a recent visit.
Following the directions I got 4 cups of water boiling then slowly stirred in 1 cup of grits. Lowered to medium-low heat and stirred pretty frequently until they become thick and creamy (about 15-20 minutes). 

While cooking grits, assemble your BBQ sauce.
Melt butter; stir in the next 6 ingredients, including a dash of red pepper flakes (if desired). 

Pass off to the Hubs, along with the shrimp, and let him do his thang on the grill! Scott basted both sides of the shrimp before putting them on, and again while cooking; which ended up taking about 2 minutes per side. 

Finish up your grits by adding in the butta', cheese, salt & pepper. Plate it up really purdy and enjoy! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Summer Pasta Caprese

I am so excited it's grilling season! One of my favorites times of the year. With every good burger, grilled chicken breast or shrimp kabob you always need a tasty partner. This side dish is a winner!

Recipe adapted from the Food Network, courtesy of The Bidens. Although I may not agree with their political views, I will politely adapt their recipe and share with y'all (because it's pretty dang good).


⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
⅓ fresh lemon juice
¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
1 carton cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 pound penne pasta (I used whole grain)
12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes 
½ cup fresh basil, chopped

Whisk olive oil, lemon juice, onion, garlic and sugar in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Add the tomatoes and gently toss. Let sit for 20 minutes. 

While tomatoes are marinating, cook past to package directions. Pour into colander and run under cold water; drain.

Add pasta and mozzarella to bowl and mix with tomatoes. Stir in basil and season with more salt & pepper, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Enjoy! Make sure and save some for lunch tomorrow; I find it to be even tastier the next day! Thanks Joe for the inspiration...of a good side dish that is :)


Jammin' Thumbprints

Happy Mother's Day, y'all! I continue to be thankful for our little bundle of joy on the way...but am trying to fully indulge in the lazy, peaceful Sundays I have left :) 

Sometimes during those lazy days you have a hankering for a slightly crunchy, sweet bite. These super cute, super easy and super tasty treats were my bribery to get off the couch! Wish my Mom was here in OH to indulge in one, two or three of these with me! 

2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
1½ sticks butter (unsalted), softened
⅔ cup sugar
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
blackberry & strawberry jam (or any jam of your choosing)

Preheat oven to 350°

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl. With a mixer, beat the butter, sugars and vanilla in a separate bowl until fluffy. Pour dry ingredients into the bowl and mix until combined; knead hand by dough for a minute or two to make sure it comes together. 

Roll dough mixture into small balls and place on baking sheet (about ½ inch apart). With your thumb, make a small indention into each ball and fill with a little jam.

Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until edges are a golden brown. Let cool 2-3 minutes on baking sheets then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from the Food Network magazine.



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Buttery Banana Pudding

Two words: Banana. Pudding. Do you get as excited about it as I do?! Hands down one of my all-time favorite desserts (rivaling pecan pie and lemon bars). I love trying out new ways to make this dessert... but I have to say this version is still my favorite. The butter cookies are a yummy alternative to the traditional vanilla wafers.

What You Will Need:
1 cup heavy whipping cream*
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 bags Pepperidge Farm Chessmen Cookies
5-6 bananas, sliced thin
1 small box French vanilla instant pudding
2 cups milk
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

Step One
Pour heavy cream into a stand mixer (or you can use a handheld mixer if you prefer). Beat on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Add in powdered sugar + vanilla and continue beating on medium-high speed until until it is the consistency of whip cream (about 2-3 minutes maybe). Pour into a separate bowl so you can reuse the stand mixer for step three.

Step Two
While whip cream is finishing up, line the bottom of a 13 x 9 glass dish with 1 bag of cookies, then layer bananas on top. Set aside.

Step Three
Using the stand mixer (I skip cleaning it since you combine everything in a minute anyway), combine the softened cream cheese + sweetened condensed milk, Mix on on medium speed until blended. Fold in whip cream.

Step Four
In a separate mixing bowl, blend milk + pudding mixture with a whisk or handheld mixture until it sets, about two minutes. Fold into cream cheese/whip cream mixture until well blended.

Step Five
Pour the mixture over the cookies and bananas. Crumble the remaining cookies on top. Refrigerate until ready to serve -- I suggest letting it set for at least two hours for better consistency.

*You can substitute in one small container of cool whip if you want to eliminate a step, but if you have the time use the homemade whipping cream -- you won't be disappointed!

Enjoy, y'all! xo


Recipe adapted from Paula Deen.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Good Ol' Chili

Sorry y'all. I am so behind on my blogging! Life has been busy...and I honestly have not being doing my desired share of cooking these days. Nausea and aversions to certain smells haven't really allowed for me to expand upon my culinary adventures.

That's right. You guessed it. Scott and I are expecting! Almost at the 13 week mark...and through the first hoping I am over the sickness blues. With that said you may see some random dishes coming through here because it's all dependent upon what I am craving that day!

It's still cold in Ohio so chili remains on my menu. This is a classic recipe that would be good any way you serve it - frito chili pie style like above, with crackers, on a hot dog (it is almost baseball season), or just by itself. Indulge yourself in one of man's favorite foods:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 lbs lean ground beef
2-3 small white onions, chopped
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can kidney beans, drained
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes & green chilies
1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth (I substituted an additional beef bouillon cube with a cup of water)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons oregano
1 cube beef bouillon
1 teaspoon cumin
shredded cheddar cheese, avocado & tomatoes (optional)

In a large skillet, over medium heat, warm oil and add beef, onion, salt and pepper. Cook until beef is browned. Drain fat..

Add all remaining ingredients, except for optional items, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 

Reduce heat to low and cook for an additional hour. Stir and serve with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped avocado and sliced grape tomatoes. Yum in my pregnant tum. If you prefer chicken over beef, I've also got an alternative recipe here!


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Antipasto Kabobs

If you are anything like me, you get sucked into Pinterest... All. The. Time. Fun recipe ideas, craft inspirations and items that make you wish you made a million buckaroos so you could afford the "dream home" you have been pinning about! :)

Although they take a little time to construct, these kabobs are super delicious and impressive! They might add a little flair to your Superbowl gathering tomorrow :) Thank you Hungry Housewife  for this fun and tasty idea!

1 (9-oz) package 3 cheese tortellini, cooked to package directions
1 can large pitted black olives
1 (5-oz) jar green olives
2 (12-oz) containers marinated mozzarella balls (found near specialty cheeses)
30 slices of salami, cut in half
60 slices of pepperoni
1 cup Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing (homemade or store bought)
30 skewers, cut in half

Place cooked (and cooled) tortellini in gallon freezer bag. Pour salad dressing over top and lightly shake; marinate in refrigerator for 2-3 hours.

Drain the pasta. Place one of each item onto skewer. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead, just cover tightly with saran wrap and place in refrigerator.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Fried Pickles

Who doesn't love fried pickle chips?! If you have not tried them before you are missing out... trust me. These are is a perfect tailgating or half-time treat during college football,  the Super Bowl or just about anytime you need a delicious crunchy fix. You will want to eat them all, so make sure to double or triple if you are feeding a crowd!

Ingredients for Pickles
1 egg
½ cup milk
¾ cup cornstarch, divided
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon each paprika, salt, pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
About 3 dozen dill pickle slices
Canola oil

Ingredients for Fry's Dippin' Sauce
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon horseradish
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 dash cayenne pepper

First, assemble Dippin' Sauce and refrigerate until ready to eat. 

With a whisk, beat egg and milk in small mixing bowl. Place 1/4 cup cornstarch in another shallow dish. In a third dish, mix 1/2 cup cornstarch & cornmeal with the rest of the ingredients above.

Dip cold pickle slices in the plain cornstarch, then the egg wash then the cornmeal mixture. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in cast-iron skillet on medium-high heat. Fry until golden brown; about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels and serve with Dippin' Sauce (or ranch if that's your preference).

Fried Pickle recipe adapted from the Food Network Magazine.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Classic Southern Sides

Southern Mac & Cheese

Some days you just need a plate full of southern comfort. Today was one of those days at the Fry house. Hence the delightful dish pictured above! Filling enough to eat as the main entree and versatile enough to serve as a side with just about anything. Thank you Southern Living magazine for the inspiration!

4 slices bacon (preferably hickory smoked), diced
1 bunch scallions, sliced
½ (16-oz) package cavatappi pasti
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
½ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Dash of red pepper flakes
1 cup aged Cheddar cheese, freshly grated
1 egg yolk
1 cup Gruyere cheese, freshly grated
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375°. Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 7-9 minutes. Toss scallions into pan and saute for 1-2 minutes; remove bacon and scallions and drain on paper towels. Leave one tablespoon drippings in pan.

Cook pasta according to package, about 10 minutes. Drain.

Melt butter in skillet with bacon drippings, over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 3 minutes or until thickened. Whisk in dry mustard, next 3 ingredients and 1/2 cup Cheddar cheese, stirring until cheese is melted.

In large mixing bowl, stir together pasta, cheese sauce, half of the cooked bacon and scallions and egg yolk. Stir in the remaining grated cheeses. Spoon mixture into buttered 8-inch cast-iron skillet, and sprinkle with remaining bacon and scallions. Drizzle with cream; sprinkle with breadcrumbs.

Bake at 375° for 35-40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Southern-Style Collard Greens

Another staple in the south! This post is dedicated to my good friend Jenny P who looooooves herself some Collard Greens...she has been telling me the blog was lacking a recipe for the Greens! They actually are pretty tasty, y'all. You should give 'em a try. 

4 slices bacon (preferably hickory-smoked), diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (32-oz) container chicken broth
1 ½ pound fresh collard greens, washed and trimmed
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Dash of red pepper flakes

Cook bacon in a large stockpot over medium-high heat, about 7-9 minutes or until crisp. Add onion and saute 8 minutes; add garlic and saute 1 minute. Stir in broth and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 hours on medium-low (or to desired tenderness), stirring occasionally. 

Both recipes adapted from Southern Living magazine. Enjoy!