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Showing posts from 2013

Grandmother Paula's Red Velvet Cake

Can you feel it?  The Christmas spirit, that is?? This time of year is magical.  My parents and grandparents made this time of year so special and unforgettable growing up.  From hearing Santa on the roof, to spotting Rudolph's shining red nose in the Christmas Eve sky, to impatiently waiting at the top of the stairs with my little sisters on Christmas morning, waiting until we were given the go-ahead to come scrambling down the stairs to see what goodies Santa had brought. Even as an adult, those memories make this time of year just as special. As I sit here illuminated by the glow of the Christmas tree lights, I'm thankful for the blessings that have come my way.  Among all the holiday shopping, parties, and gift wrapping, it's always fun to bake traditional Christmas goodies.    It just wouldn't be Christmas-time without some homemade sweet treats.   When it comes to traditional holiday desserts, I can't think of any cake more reminiscent of the seas

Tostadas Salsa Verde

  Oh, how I love this dish.  First of all, Brad and I adore Mexican food.  We make it a point to fit it into our schedules at least once a week, if not more.  Secondly, this dish is so easy and flavorful, that I made it three times within the same week.  See, we had extra ingredients on hand after the first night, and I didn't want them to go to waste.  The solution?  Enjoy it multiple times, of course! Making use of a rotisserie chicken makes this meal even easier.  If you can't get your hands on a rotisserie chicken, simply poach some chicken breasts ahead of time and shred the meat.  In fact, that's what the original recipe called for. The tortillas are covered with shredded cheese and then baked to crispy, cheesy perfection.  Then, they are topped with a mixture of tender chicken, salsa verde, fresh cilantro and ground cumin.  This all bakes in the oven until piping hot, and then it's served with a mountain of shredded lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream on top.

Perfectly Sweet Chocolate Chip Muffins

Gracious...I've missed blogging lately.  Every once in a while, life just gets in the way and prevents me from blogging as much as I'd like.  I promise I'll do better...especially with all the holiday deliciousness coming up VERY soon!  (Oh my goodness, is it really almost Thanksgiving!?!) Hopefully, I can make up for it a little bit with these mouth-watering muffins that will make a perfectly sweet treat for your out-of-town guests over the Thanksgiving holiday.  They are great for a sinful treat at breakfast, yet they are an equally perfect mid-afternoon snack. I made these as a post-birthday surprise for my 9 year old niece over the weekend.  She was one happy camper when she woke up to the smell of these babies wafting through the air.  I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate, just so they wouldn't cross the line of being TOO sweet first thing in the morning.  You could also add your favorite nuts to the batter, if you feel like it. N

Delicious Turkey Chili

It's very possible that a hot bowl of chili is among the very best ways to remedy a cold fall evening.  Don't you agree?  My mom-in-law, Carol, makes an out-of-this-world chili, which I've written about HERE .  It's amazing.  I'll forever compare any chili that I have from here on out to hers.   This lightened up version, adapted from Guy Fieri, was actually pretty dadgum delicious.  Ground turkey is a much healthier alternative to the traditional ground beef.  I also used reduced sodium beans, so that I could be more in control of the salt content.   Don't let the long ingredients list scare you away from this one.  All of the elements are common ingredients and are easy to prepare.  It all gets tossed into a large pot and simmered for an hour, which is super easy.   The red & green bell peppers, garlic, red onions and turkey make a fabulous base and are perfectly seasoned with a variety of spices, like chili powder, paprika, and cumin.   Using t

Nutella Cappuccino Ice Cream with Roasted Hazelnuts

I'm pretty sure that this ice cream is served by the bowl-full in heaven.   No, I'm serious. On a recent trip to TN, I came across some farm-fresh milk (You know, the non-homogenized kind with the cream on top).  I had never been lucky enough to try milk that fresh, so I bought it and started dreaming of recipes to use it up.  My first thought - ice cream! I know we're a little past peak ice cream season, but come on...some things are so amazing that they need to be - no, they MUST be - enjoyed all year long.   Anything less would be tragic.  This particular flavor was inspired by our trip to Italy.  We had the most amazing Nutella Cappuccinos while visiting Rome, in a little cafe near the Coliseum.  It was bliss, and I wanted to try and re-create those unforgettable flavors.  After all, nutella and coffee are a match made in heaven. The real stars of this ice cream are the roasted hazelnuts.  It just wouldn't be quite as marvelous without them.  I took

Smoked Chicken Salad

I love a good, tasty salad, and pretty much any salad that incorporates roasted walnuts, pecans or almonds is at the top of my list.   This one caught my eye while scanning the pages of my latest Food Network Magazine.  While glancing at the ingredients list, I noticed something that I had never cooked with before - hearts of palm.  I had heard of this unfamiliar ingredient before but never used it.  I was intrigued, so I dog-eared the page. Fast forward about a week, and this salad graced our dinner table.  If you're a fan of salad dressings made with greek yogurt, then you'll love this.  It's such a healthy alternative to others.  The blue cheese knocks the dressing down a few notches on the healthy scale, but it adds a great creaminess and flavor to the dressing, which complements the roasted walnuts wonderfully. To be honest, Brad was not a huge fan of this salad, for two reasons:   #1:  He doesn't really like greek yogurt #2:  He wasn't crazy about th

Rosemary Chicken with Corn Quinoa

  Can I just start out by saying how much I loved this meal?  It's such a flavor-packed combination that's filled with healthy goodness like red quinoa, corn and kale.  But, this isn't one of those puny, healthy meals that leaves you hungry.  No sir...This is one of those dinners that will make you realize that eating healthy can be delicious! Plus, it's such a pretty meal, that you'll want to dig right in.  The chicken is super simple to make.  Chicken breasts are flavored with fresh rosemary, salt & pepper, and then sauteed until done.  Next, the quinoa is flavored with onions, garlic, fresh basil, mint and lemon juice. Mmm. My mouth is seriously watering right now. Be sure and use fresh rosemary, basil and mint if possible.  Fresh herbs make a big difference with this recipe.   Bon Appetit, my friends! Rosemary Chicken with Corn Quinoa Adapted from:  Southern Living magazine September 2013 Ingredients: 4 skinless, boneles

Baked Gnocchi with Chicken

Here in Birmingham, AL, the leaves are JUST starting to change color, and there's been a wonderful nip in the air at night.  Last evening while out and about with the hubs, I wished I had a light coat for the first time all season.  Autumn is upon us, which is undoubtedly my favorite time of the year.   This recipe for Baked Gnocchi with Chicken is absolutely perfect for these cooler nights.  It is a hearty dish that will warm your tummy and leave you happy.  The word "comforting" comes to mind when trying to describe this dinner. I've been slightly obsessed with gnocchi lately.  I don't know what it is.  I've been purchasing store-bought gnocchi, but I'd love to learn to make it from scratch.  Oh, one of these days!  There's no better time than the present, I reckon.  I need to add that to my culinary "To-Do" list.  Who has a homemade gnocchi recipe they'd be willing to share? I loved this dish because it's packed with sau

Strawberry Cake with Chocolate Frosting

As of yesterday, I am officially the big 3-0.   I know, right?!?  YUCK.  As it turns out though, 30 isn't so bad.  In fact, I'm pretty excited to see what the next year has in store.  If my thirties are anything like my twenties, I can only be happy.  After all, I've always been a glass half-full kind of girl.  :) To celebrate, my sweet Brad baked me the most delicious, mouth-watering cake.  It was a strawberry cake with dark chocolate frosting.  So, if you're a fan of chocolate-covered strawberries, then friends ,this is YOUR cake!  I've been obsessed with THIS STRAWBERRY CAKE from the first time I baked it.  I've made it countless times since, and friends and family always request it.  I got to thinking - Wouldn't it be heavenly smothered in chocolate frosting instead?  The answer?  A resounding YES!  Brad used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa for the frosting, because we are big fans of darker chocolate.  However, you can use regular unswe

Bake a Difference for Pediatric Cancer: Mega Chocolate Reese's Cookies

Anytime that blogging can be used for a good cause, I'm all in.  September happens to be Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and the folks at OXO are gearing up for their annual program benefiting Cookies for Kids' Cancer . Cookies for Kids' Cancer is a wonderful program which makes it possible to easily get involved in fundraising to find a cure for pediatric cancer.  It's a program that I've thought about getting involved with for quite some time now, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to participate with my blog. You see, OXO will donate $100.00 to the organization for each blog post dedicated to this campaign in September!  Also, be on the lookout for OXO products with the following sticker attached:  OXO sent a variety of cookie tools to help with all the cookie baking! For every stickered item sold, OXO will donate $0.25 in support of pediatric cancer research, as part of its $100,000.00 pledge! For my cookie post, I chose a recipe

Caramel Apple Blondie Pie

When was the last time you saw a food photo and practically had to pick your tongue off the floor and recover from the deliciousness before you?  When I received the latest issue of Southern Living recently, a similar event unfolded.  There I was, drooling over a pie with caramelized apple wedges, ooey gooey caramel sauce, and buttery, flaky layers.  It had all the makings of autumn in a pie dish. I admit - Maybe its because I'm craving all the pumpkiny, apple-filled goodness that is the fall season.  I've had just about enough of the humid, sweltering days of a southern summer.  I'm going to welcome fall with open arms and not look back (or maybe look back a few times as I miss the juicy tomatoes and bursting-with-goodness berries that fill the summer farmers' market stalls!) This pie was everything I dreamed it would be - Toasted pecans are sprinkled throughout the blondie batter, and the caramelized apple wedges have just the ri