M&M Sugar Cookies 

This post is going to be short and sweet, just like me…except that I’m tall, and not sweet.  I have been experimenting with cookie recipes for a while now and I think this sugar cookie recipe wins everything.

  • 1 cup Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup White Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 teaspoons Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2-1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • A bunch of M&M’s

Cream butter and sugars with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer. Add eggs and vanilla. Add flour 1/2 cup at a time, salt, baking soda and baking powder and mix on low until everything is incorporated.

Chill the dough in the refrigerate for 2 hours.  THIS IS IMPORTANT.  If you don’t chill the dough you will have a flat cookie and that is no bueno.

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Scoop out a small amount of dough and roll it into a ball. It should be about the size of a golf ball.

The M&M’s are a must here, and there’s a right way to add them…once you roll the cookie dough into a ball you should manually adhere the M&M’s to said ball.  See below.  Place the cookies on a parchment lined or greased cookie sheet (I was out of parchment).  I only put 9 on a sheet but you could probably squeeze 12.  Bake for about 14 minutes, you should take them out as soon as the edges begin to brown.

These are HEAVEN I tell ya.  I usually use half the dough and then refrigerate the rest for another time, this way we get to enjoy the fresh baked cookie taste twice…and I don’t eat as many because they’re gone instantly.  I also don’t know how to prevent the candy shell from cracking so if you do, help a girl out.

Roasted Potatoes and Peas with Pesto 

God I love pesto.  I. freaking. love. pesto.  I forget how much I love it until I make it and then I wonder why I’m not eating pesto every single day of my life.  The inspiration for this dish came from a collab I did with some awesome foodie bloggers called #easypeasyforspring.  Peas just scream SPRING, and this dish was literally yelling at me to get the jorts out.

This recipe is great for three reasons: It can be served at any temperature, it knocks out your veggie and your starch in one dish, and it’s hella good.  I served it as a side dish for our BBQ salmon the other night and the crowd went wild.  It’s super easy to make too…here’s the recipe.

  • 2 lbs fingerling potatoes (you don’t have to use multi color but it sure is pretty)
  • 1 package of frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (and more for garnish because pine nuts)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, grated
  • 1 lemon

Scrub your potatoes using a fancy overpriced potato scrubber like the one picture here.  Just kidding, this thing sucked at scrubbing potatoes.

Throw the potatoes on a sheet pan with some olive oil and salt, roast at 400°F for 30 minutes.

While the potatoes are roasting you can blanch the peas.  Blanching means you’re going to put them in boiling water for no more than 2 minutes and then transfer them immediately to a bowl of ice water.  This will assure that your peas retain that fresh pea color…

Now it’s time to make the pesto.  You will want to toast your pine nuts because those are the rules.  Just get out a small frying pan and heat the pine nuts on medium low for about 5 minutes while you push them around with a spoon.  As I have said before, this is not the time to go paint your toenails.  They will toast up fast, there’s a fine line between perfectly toasted and absolutely burnt pine nuts.

Combine the parsley, basil, toasted pine nuts, parm, garlic, the juice of half a lemon, and a sprinkle of salt in your food processor.  Turn it on and then drizzle in the olive oil as it spins.  I do not use a ton of olive oil in my pesto because I just don’t.  You can add more if you want.

And PRESTO, it’s PESTO.

Toss your potatoes in the pesto and then add the peas and stir gently until everything is combined.  Garnish with lemon zest, mint leaves, and more toasted pine nuts.

Dear. Lord. In. Heaven.

Yes, it was as good as it looks…and my kids were totally into it too.  Double Whammy!

Happy Spring Everyone!!

Magic Soup

My husband and I are huge vegetable lovers… my kids?  Not so much.  But one day I discovered that when I pureed veggies into a velvety soup, all of the sudden they became HUGE fans.  It was like magic.  I’m not sure why this works but I’m just content knowing that it does.  Here is a list of vegetables that my kids won’t touch on a plate but will devour if unrecognizable in a bowl.

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Peas
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Fennel
  • Onions
  • Leeks

I am always on the quest for healthy meals that are delicious AND kid approved…pureed soups definitely fit the bill.  The only required vegetable for this recipe is the peas, you can add any combination of the other vegetables listed above and the soup will turn out great, I promise!  I picked out a few to share with you today…

Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 2 hrs 30 minutes

Equipment needed: Immersion  Blender

  • 1 head cauliflower (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 – 16 oz. bag dry split peas
  • 1 onion (coarsely chopped)
  • 1 leek (cleaned and coarsely chopped)
  • 32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 32 oz. water
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, sauté the onion in a drizzle of olive oil. Once the onion begins to soften, add the leak (or any other vegetables you choose) and continue to cook.
  2. Add the liquid, peas, and thyme. Cover loosely with a lid and cook over medium low heat for about 2 hours, stirring the mixture every 20 minutes.
  3. Once the peas have softened completely, add the cauliflower and continue to cook until soft. You can always add more liquid to the soup if needed.
  4. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until all of the clumps are gone.
  5. Season with a tsp of salt and ½ tsp of pepper to start. Add more if desired.

My sous chef, Georgie.  Another tip to get kids to eat healthy, let them help you make the meal!

This is so filling and packed with nutrients, my husband and I get to enjoy a satisfying and healthy meal and the kids are happy too, total win/win.  These soups also refrigerate and freeze very well, I’m always taking leftovers to work.

A tip for enticing kids to try this out is to set up a soup “toppings bar”.  Just put out bowls of homemade croutons, cubed ham, cheese, etc.  They love the idea of customizing their own soup, it gives them some decision making power and let’s face it, everyone loves a good bar!

I hope you try this soup recipe with your family…you just might make some magic happen.

Apple Galette

For the record, I am not an expert dessert maker…and that’s why I love galettes.  A monkey could make a galette.  If you gave a monkey the ingredients to make a galette I really think that monkey would come through for you.  I don’t have a way to test this theory but you get the idea.  Galettes are “rustic” which is just another term for “not fancy”.  There’s no need to crimp edges or create intricate lattice patterns, no pie art skills needed for this one.  You essentially just have to roll out some dough, throw in the filling, haphazardly fold the edges over, and then throw it in the oven…somehow it comes out actually looking pretty freaking good.

Here’s what you need to make your rustic galette…

  • 3 large baking apples (I use Granny Smith) peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar

Now I prefer to use Granny Smith apples because I like the tartness but I do know that golden delicious apples work fine too…and I know that because in the past I’ve sent my husband to the store to get me granny smith’s and he brought home golden delicious.  I’m getting annoyed thinking about it so let’s move on.

The first thing you need to do is combine the apples, lemon juice, vanilla extract, sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

For the dough I make my life super easy by using a store bought pie dough from Immaculate Baking Company.  Their products are the answer to all of your ready-to-bake dough prayers, and they don’t contain any junk which is why I use them.  I buy their products at Whole Foods but I know they are sold at several major grocery chains…and on Amazon of course.

The dough comes frozen but it only takes about 15 minutes to defrost at room temperature.  Once it’s pliable, unroll the dough onto a floured surface and then roll it out a little more until it’s about 10-11 inches in diameter.

Now you need to transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, wrap the dough around the rolling pin for one turn and then use the rolling pin to lift the dough onto the baking sheet or in my case, a pizza pan.

Now you’re going to grab your apple mixture and start placing the apples in a very precise circular pattern in the center of the dough.

And then you’re going to start getting tired of being so precise and your pattern will get a little messy…

And then you will give up on the fancy circular pattern all together and just dump the rest of the apples on top…this is exactly how it’s supposed to play out.

Now you’re going to take the edges of the pie dough and fold them over however you feel like it.

The last thing you need to do is just brush on some egg wash and sprinkle the whole thing with turbinado sugar.  Shove it in the oven at 400°F for 30-40 minutes and this is what comes out.

Not. Too. Shabby.

This really is a pretty light dessert when you think about it, the only fat is coming from the dough…but I recommend adding a mountain of ice cream and caramel sauce to round things out.

Pass the stretchy pants please.

RECIPE

  • 3 large baking apples (I use Granny Smith) peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the piecrust until it is about 10 inches in diameter. (A standard packaged piecrust is 9 inches, so lightly roll it out to flatten it and make it a bit bigger.) Transfer the crust to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered while you prepare the filling.
3. In a large bowl, toss the sliced apples with the lemon juice and vanilla extract to combine.
4. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar with the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt to combine. Toss the apples with the flour mixture.
5. Take the piecrust out of the refrigerator and pile the apples in the center of the crust, leaving about an inch uncovered around the edge.
6. Fold the edge of the dough up and over the apples at the perimeter to encase the filling.
7. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with the water to combine. Lightly brush the egg wash around the edge of the crust. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar around the edge of the crust.
8. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, about 30 to 40 minutes. Cool 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Fresh Herb Dip

Raise your hand if you are still buying store bought dips…now use that hand to smack your face, kidding!  But seriously, why oh why are we still buying plastic containers of mediocre dip when we can make our own glorious tasting dip at home in about 30 seconds?  I make this for all the raging parties I have throughout the year and everyone LOVES it, like they go nuts for it.  Great veggies deserve great dip and we all deserve to know what’s in our dip too, am I right?  Here is what’s in this dip…

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup neufchatel or cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • Large bunch fresh parsley
  • Lots of fresh dill
  • Green onions
  • Salt/pepper

A couple of things here, you can use reduced fat versions of these ingredients but I advise that you really study the label before you decide that the lighter version is actually better (because most of the time it’s not).  If you go organic this is usually not an issue but just some food for thought.  Also, neufchatel cheese is just a lighter version of cream cheese but it shouldn’t contain anything weird.

For the herbs…I use parsley, dill, and green onion (yea I know that green onions aren’t an herb, whatever).  You can totally play around with this combo, maybe you want to add basil…or perhaps sub in some chives for the green onion, or maybe you’ll add something really cool that I haven’t thought of yet, EVEN BETTER.

You will need a food processor to make this dip come to life, although I suppose you could do it by hand if you’re cool with spending the time to chop a bunch of herbs into teeny tiny pieces.  I am not cool with that.

For the food processor, you just need a super rough chop.

After you’ve thrown in the super roughly chopped herbs, add the rest of the ingredients.

Now pulse…and then do it again, and again, and then some more.

Keep pulsing until you get something that resembles the photo below.  Then taste it and adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

It’s done…and it is FREAKING GOOD.  Serve this at your next party and when everyone asks where you bought it you can nonchalantly say, “Oh, I just whipped it up from scratch.”  People will think you have your whole life together because you made dip from scratch, trust me.

Marinated Shrimp

I don’t even know how to start this blog post, I want to convey the awesomeness of this marinated shrimp but there are no words that exist in the English language worthy of describing it.  This recipe was something that my mom used to make when we were kids, it’s from an old southern cookbook that she (thank GOD) still had.  I remember admiring the dish but I don’t think I ever actually ate it, kids are weird.  I asked her one day if she had remembered making some sort of shrimp thing with olives and capers…she did.  She handed me the cookbook and I made this for the first time on New Year’s Eve 2014.  I don’t think my life really began until the moment I ate that first shrimp, I fell head over heels in love.  We’re still together today and things are going great.

The most difficult thing you will need to do when making this is to not eat the whole thing before you even serve it.  Here’s the recipe.

  • 2 lbs shrimp, cleaned, boiled, and chilled
  • 1 white onion thinly sliced
  • 1 jar pimento stuffed olives, with liquid
  • 4 tbsp capers, with liquid
  • 1 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed

Mix everything together and marinate for 12-24 hours.  Obviously the longer it marinates the better.  One tip I have is to use the Marukan Sweet and Tangy Rice Vinegar, pictured below.  It has some sugar in it and that helps to balance out the tartness of the vinegar.  You can also use a rice vinegar without sugar and then add it in, you can use honey or agave to sweeten it.  I would suggest starting with a tablespoon of your sweetener and then tasting it.  Or just make your life easy and buy this stuff.

 

I am so not a raw onion fan but once these are marinated I CHOW on them, all of the pungency is gone and you won’t even have onion breath, promise!

This is a great make-ahead appetizer and it’s pretty darn healthy…and it will change your life.

Skillet Frittata, because you’re lazy.

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It’s New Year’s Day!  You’re waking up feeling reborn, refreshed, and ready for a new start.  Just kidding, you’re super hungover and just want to eat your weight in greasy breakfast food.  I’ve got a compromise for you, a simple one pan breakfast that’ll satisfy your stomach without wrecking your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier on day one.  You need a large cast iron skillet for this recipe so if you don’t have one you’ll need to follow this recipe instead (and get a cast iron skillet already!)  This frittata starts with eggs and then the sky’s the limit.  For this recipe, I decided to use a ton of fresh herbs because I had them on hand and turkey sausage because, well, I had that on hand too.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 12 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese of your choice
  • 8 turkey sausage links, cut
  • 1 leek, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Set your broiler on high. Whisk eggs and milk, add the spices and half of the cheese, set aside.

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Sauté the leek and turkey sausage in your cast iron skillet with a good drizzle of olive oil. If you don’t know how to properly clean a leek,  I’ve got a tutorial here.

Turn heat to medium low and add your egg mixture to the skillet. Cook until the edges start to set, shaking the pan occasionally (about ten minutes).

Top with remaining cheese and transfer to your oven. Broil until the top is firm and golden, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with more fresh herbs.

You can add more veggies to this, just sauté them in the pan with the leek and turkey sausage.

You can also make this frittata with ham and kale, like I did here.

image

Or you can make it with mushrooms, tomatoes, and goat cheese like this one.

I hope everyone is enjoying their New Year’s Day with a great breakfast and a strong Bloody Mary.  Happy New Year!

Chicken Salad (the good kind)

Okay, let’s just get this out of the way right now…you can make this with chicken or turkey, it doesn’t matter.  Moving on…I am a chicken salad FANATIC.  I could eat pounds of it in one sitting, for this reason I reserve my chicken salad binges for the homemade stuff.  Store bought or restaurant ordered chicken salad is a huge gamble, and I prefer betting on horses.  Just kidding I don’t do that either.

I don’t know what some people are thinking with their chicken salad recipes, here’s a few versions that I’ve encountered in the past:

Version 1:   1 lb chicken, 63 lbs mayonnaise

Version 2:   1/2 lb chicken, 63 lbs mayonnaise

Version 3:   1 lb chicken, 1 lb mayonnaise, 1 cup of every fruit, vegetable, and nut known to man 

If I had to choose, the last option doesn’t sound horrible but still not ideal.

In this recipe the chicken is the star, just as God intended.  I think I’ve got a pretty good balance of savory, sweet, crunch, and creamy.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 – 1.5 pounds organic chicken breast
  • 1 – 1.5 pound organic chicken thighs
  • 32 oz. organic chicken stock
  • 3 cups red grapes (cut in half)
  • 3 large celery stalks (chopped small)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 – 2 cups mayonnaise (the good stuff)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

You obviously don’t have to buy organic chicken, but I highly recommend it…and that’s all I’ve got to say about that.  My grocery store carries a brand from a local farm that I like AND it’s from Amish country, I don’t know why this is different than regular country but it sounds good.  I use boneless skinless but you don’t have to, bone-in works fine and it’s cheaper.  You can also use all chicken breast meat, I just like the combo of the two.  You can also get up every day at 5:00 AM to workout, I prefer to sleep until the last possible minute.  Lots of choices here.

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I recommend poaching the chicken, it’s easy and the chicken stays nice and moist.  Just get your chicken stock simmering in a large pot and then add the chicken, add water if the stock doesn’t completely cover the chicken.  Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.  Once the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the pot and set it aside to cool before handling it, that shit will be hot.  Pictured below we have the poaching chicken on the left and the resting bitch face chicken on the right.

This is a great time to prep your other ingredients, slice your grapes, cut your celery, yell at your kids, whatever.

Once the chicken has cooled, dice it up.  There’s no rule on the size of the dice, if you want to put this salad on a sandwich I would suggest dicing it to the same size as the grapes.  If you’re going to ugly eat this out of the serving bowl while standing in front of the refrigerator I would go for a bigger dice.

Combine everything in a large bowl and gently stir until the ingredients are distributed evenly (especially the mayo).  You can always add more mayonnaise but taking it away seems like it would be more of a challenge, you would have to suck it off the grapes or something.  Moral of the story, don’t over mayo it.

I like to let it chill in the fridge for a while and then taste it again, it may need more salt depending on your taste (I usually add more salt).  Serve it up on a bed of lettuce, between some thick grainy bread, in a pita, or eat it out of the bowl like a dog, what do I care.

Cabbage Soup Memories


Every time I eat cabbage soup I think of my Grandma Nelson, I remember her making if for me all the time and I loved it.  I finally asked my mom if she remembered Grandma’s cabbage soup and she sort of laughed before telling me that the reason why my grandma was always making me cabbage soup was because she was always eating cabbage soup.  And the reason why she was always eating cabbage soup was because of Weight Watchers.  My grandma was a big fan of Weight Watchers and the cabbage soup was zero points.  I have no clue about the Weight Watchers point system but I’ll assume that zero is a good thing in the world of dieting.  Anyway, regardless of points the soup was always SO good…and salty.  I don’t think sodium was part of the point equation back then.  I started making my own version a few years ago and my family loves it.  This recipe has lean ground turkey and white beans but the base gets along with just about anything (green beans, zucchini, corn, potatoes…I could go on for ten minutes…carrots, celery, fennel…okay I’m done).  Here’s my recipe but feel free to experiment with what you like.

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 head cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 14 oz can white beans
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Sauté the onion with olive oil in a stock pot, add the turkey and cook until browned, add the cabbage, tomatoes, stock, beans, and thyme. Cover and cook on medium low for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can make this vegan by omitting the turkey and using veggie stock instead of chicken.

Seriously people. You can’t screw this up…I feel like I say that about a lot of my recipes but this one is truly a no-brainer.

So obviously this soup is a winner in terms of calories and overall wholesomeness, but my kids are notorious for demanding a cheese and bread element at every meal (can you blame them?).  Homemade croutons and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese fits like a glove.

This soup gives me all the feels without all the fat, it’s so satisfying and healthy…which is great because I have about a hundred cookies to eat and 17 bottles of wine to drink before the holidays are over.

Cheers!!!

Peanut Butter Blossoms

The Christmas season doesn’t officially begin in my house until the first batch of peanut butter blossoms is being devoured.  Confession:  I am not completely obsessed with peanut butter like some people I know (husband, kids, dog) but I am completely obsessed with making these cookies, and I’ve mastered this recipe.  If there’s a peanut butter blossom cookie making contest that you’re aware of please send me all the details, because I’m in…but only if there’s a giant cash prize, I really don’t have time to be entering cookie baking contests just for the bragging rights.

Moving on…so I mentioned that my husband LOVES peanut butter, I know how much he appreciates it when I make these cookies for him and I just want to make him happy.  It has nothing to do with the fact that he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on his body and I secretly want him to gain a few pounds so that I can feel better about myself.  Seriously, he has the physique of a 21 year old and it’s complete bullshit, he barely exercises while I’m out running miles in the freezing ass cold and I’m just over it.

Moving on again…these are great cookies to make with kids because the recipe is pretty simple and there’s a few “fun” steps along the way (what kid doesn’t want to roll peanut butter dough balls in sugar?).  Here’s your list of ingredients…

  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c. natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Hershey’s kisses

IMPORTANT TIP, use natural peanut butter only!  None of that Jiffy shit.

For tools, I use a hand mixer but you can also use a standing mixer or a spoon I guess.

Cream together butter, peanut butter and sugars in a large bowl. Add vanilla and then beat in the egg.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir into batter.  The batter might look a little crumbly but that’s okay, form it into a giant ball and wrap in plastic.  Put the batter in refrigerator for at least 1 hour, this will make it easier to form the balls.

Roll into 1-2 inch balls and coat in white sugar, this is the part that the kids might enjoy.  Pour some sugar in a bowl, and then drop the balls in the sugar and roll around until the entire surface is coated.

Put the balls on baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  It will look like you made doughnut holes but you didn’t.

Bake in a preheated 375 °F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies have a good crackle on them, don’t even think about taking them out until you see that crackle!!

Remove cookies and place a Hershey’s Kiss in the center of each cookie, pressing down gently (another kid friendly task if your kid understands the word “gently”).  Move cookies from sheet to rack for cooling.

This recipe should make about two dozen cookies, you can also save some of the dough in the fridge for up to 5 days.  I made a dozen and they were gone immediately, I’m going to use dark chocolate kisses for the next dozen and hope that they make my husband fatter.  I’ll report back.