potato gratin

these are super yummy! i love the taste of the gruyere cheese - it is such a good change up from doing cheddar with potatoes. this recipe is from the martha stewart website.

potato gratin: (makes a large casserole dish)
2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 clove garlic, halved
1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg (I just used the spice)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1 cup)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel potatoes and place them in a bowl of water to prevent discoloring. Rub inside of a rectangular casserole dish with cut sides of garlic. Heat cream, milk, nutmeg, and 1 1/2 tsp. salt in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form around edge. Season with pepper and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, slice potatoes 1/8 inch thick; transfer to a bowl. Pour warm cream mixture over top. Mix well, using your hands to separate and coat potatoes, and transfer to prepared dish. Gently push potatoes down, and pour cream mixture from bowl over top. Sprinkle with Gruyere. Bake until potatoes are fork tender and top is bubbling and brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.


amazing white bread

i give 100% of this credit to this post http://afoodiestaysfit.com/recipes/?recipe_id=6008313 on A Foodie Stays Fit blog. honestly, this is the best bread i've ever made and probably ever tasted. yum!

you can read her recipe and instructions from the link, but i'm posting what i did below...

White Bread: (makes 2 loaves, double for 4)
Add the following to a mixture with a dough hook and mix for 2 minutes.

1 1/2 Tbs. active dry yeast
1/4 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. bread flour
3 c. pretty warm water

Then add and mix four more minutes:
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. oil
1 1/2 Tbs. salt

Then, start to add more bread flour, one cup at a time (I added 5 c.). Mix for five more minutes. The dough should clean the bowl and feel a little stiff. It should not really be sticky.

Turn the dough onto a greased (with Pam) counter and knead for a couple minutes by hand until a ball forms. Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover with greased plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled (about an hour). You'll know it's ready when you poke it and it stays indented. If it springs back, it's not ready.

Form into 2 loaves by cutting in half and rolling each into a rectangle that has the length of your pans. (Mine are 9x5, so my rectangle was 9 inches wide and about 18 inches long.) Roll the rectangles, one at a time, pinching seams together and making sure there is no air. Place in greased pans and cover with the greased plastic wrap and let rise for another 30 minutes or so, until they are barely above the top of the pan.

Bake at 345 (or 350) degrees for about 33 minutes.

cereal treat

i'm not normally a treat person, but for some reason i was craving this today. yum!

Cereal Treat: (makes a large batch)
10 c. corn Chex and rice Chex mixed. (You can substitute Golden Grahams for some)
1 c. shredded and sweetened coconut
1 small package peanuts
M&M Mini's (a large tube or a couple small)

Mix the above ingredients in a large bowl.

1 1/2 sticks butter
1 c. sugar
1 c. light Karo syrup

Melt butter on stove and then add the sugar and Karo syrup. Stir until boiling and then continue stirring and boiling for 2-3 minutes. Pour with a rubber spatula over the cereal mixture and stir around to coat cereal. Spread out in a single layer on wax paper to harden. Roll around every 10 minutes or so until all the way hardened.


roasted tomato basil soup

today was the perfect day to make this. i was searching online for corner bakery's recipe for this soup because it is delicious. i found a few and to my happy surprise, they were all basically identical. that made my life a lot easier. this is seriously so good! i think from now on i am just going to make this and not even buy it anymore. yum!

roasted tomato basil soup: (serves about 6-8)
3 lbs. ripe Roma tomatoes, cut in half, lengthwise
1/4 c. olive oil
1 Tbs. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pepper

2 Tbs. butter
1 white onion, chopped
6 cloves (3 tsp.) garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1-28 oz. can plum tomatoes and juice
2 cups (2 oz.) torn fresh basil leaves
1 tsp. thyme
4 c. chicken stock

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss tomatoes with oil, salt, and pepper. Spread in one layer on baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes. In large pot over medium heat, melt and heat butter and saute onions; add in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until onions begin to brown. Add canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken stock. Add oven-roasted tomatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Puree to a coarse mixture (I use an immersion blender). Salt and pepper to taste.


old fashioned pancakes

old fashioned pancakes: (makes about 12 pancakes)

1 1/2 c. flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. butter, melted
1 egg
1 1/4 c. milk

Butter for pan

Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Whisk in the melted butter, egg, and milk until well combined. Let the batter rest for five minutes.

Preheat pan over medium heat. Butter the pan. Pour about 1/4 c. batter onto pan for each pancake. Cook a couple minutes, until bubbles appear at the top. Flip and cook another minute or two.


homemade soft pretzels

so, i got a kitchenaid for christmas (thank you, justin!) and ever since then i have been trying new bread/roll/baking recipes. i have never loved baking, but now that i can just throw it in the mixer and turn it on, i'm loving it. these are absolutely perfect soft pretzels and they really don't take that long to make. 
Homemade Soft Pretzels
Recipe by Alton Brown, variations by Our Best Bites
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast (I used rapid rise yeast)
22 oz all-purpose flour, about 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
optional: additional melted butter and cinnamon-sugar
optional: powdered sugar, milk, melted butter for dipping
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour (tip: don’t add all the flour at once, just in case you don’t need it all.  Reserve a small amount and add as needed for a soft dough) and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, scrape the bowl clean and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.
Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. If you’re making pretzel “bites” put in as many as will fit without crowding.  Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula (a metal spider works great). Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with pretzel salt or kosher salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Cinnamon Sugar Version: Prepare as directed but don’t sprinkle with salt before baking.  Immediately after removing pretzels from oven, brush with melted butter and toss in a bowl of cinnamon-sugar.
Cinnamon Sugar Dippers:  Instead of shaping pretzels into the traditional shape, roll dough into ropes and cut into 1-2 inch pieces.  Continue preparing as recipe instructs, brushing with butter immediately after removing from oven and tossing in cinnamon sugar.  Create a dipping glaze by mixing about a cup of powdered sugar with 2-3 tablespoons melted butter and then add milk as needed, whisking until smooth.  Serve warm.


best cinnamon rolls ever.

you know the pioneer woman? i love her, but i don't use her recipes very often, although this one is from her. the icing i got from somewhere else.

i am reading a book right now and it talks about how the maid is making cinnamon rolls and i just had a craving for them. the only treat i ever make is chocolate chip cookies, so this was going out on a huge limb for me. anyway, these are absolutely perfect in every way and i don't think i will ever try a different recipe. p.s. i halved this and it worked wonderfully.

cinnamon rolls : makes about 40-50 rolls
(adapted from pioneer woman)

1 quart whole milk
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. sugar

2 pkgs. active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
8 c. + 1 c. flour
1 heaping tsp. baking powder
1 scant tsp. baking soda
1 heaping Tbs. salt

1 1/2 - 2 c. melted butter, separated (I think I only used 1 stick per batch?)
1 c. + 1 c. sugar
Generous sprinkling of cinnamon

Heat the milk, oil, and sugar in a larger pot over medium heat to just below a boil. Pour into a mixing bowl and set aside and cool to warm (about 40 min.).

Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit on the milk for a minute or two.

Add the 8 cups of flour and stir until just combined. Then, cover and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour to let rise.

Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining cup of flour. Stir thoroughly to combine (use a dough hook on a mixer if you have one). [You can use dough right away or keep refrigerated for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. The dough is a little easier to work with if it's been chilled for a little bit.]

To assemble rolls, remove half the dough. On a lightly greased or flowered surface, roll the dough into a large (30x10) rectangle. The dough should be rolled very thin. Pour (3/4 - 1 c. minus a little - the rest you can pour into the bottom of half of the baking dishes) melted butter over the dough and spread evenly around. Sprinkle cinnamon to coat and then 1 c. sugar.

Beginning at the end further from you, roll the rectangle (making a long log) as tight as you can toward you. Work slow and don't worry if the filling oozes. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and then let it sit, seam side down.

Make 1/2 inch - 1 inch slices and place in buttered baking pans (I used the disposable square and could fit 9 in each), being careful not to overcrowd. Preheat oven to 375. Cover rolls and let rise for additional 20 minutes plus.

Repeat the whole butter, cinnamon, sugar, roll, cut, etc. with the other half of the dough. Cover and let rise while baking the other half. Remove covering and bake rolls for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don't allow them to become overly brown.

While they are baking, make the icing.
2 Tbs. butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla
4-8 Tbs. milk or cream
4 c. powdered sugar

In a mixing bowl, mix ingredients and add powdered sugar until it is a thicker consistency. Spread over warm rolls as soon as they come out of the oven and allow the frosting to melt. YUM!


the classic wheat pancake

1 1/2 c. wheat flour
3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 c. milk
1 egg
3 Tbs. melted butter

mix dry ingredients and then add the rest and mix. heat skillet to medium heat. pour about 1/4 c. batter on the skillet for each pancake. as soon as there are holes in the batter, flip and cook on the other side. top with butter, syrup, or whatever.


salsa chicken burritos

salsa chicken burritos: (serves 6)
2 chicken breasts
1 med. jar salsa
1/2 packet chicken taco seasoning
1 can corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained

rice, cooked
cheddar cheese

cilantro and red onion, diced (optional)
sour cream

mix the salsa, taco seasoning, corn, and beans. put chicken in crockpot and pour the salsa mixture over the top. cook on low for 6 hours. serve on rice in a tortilla and and top with garnishes before rolling into a burrito.


apple cinnamon steel cut oats

this is so good. justin, brooks, and i all had a bowl this morning and there is still enough for each of us to have a bowl tomorrow too. we added milk on top. this was perfectly sweet for me, but justin added some brown sugar on his.

costco has a big bag of bob's red mill steel cut oats that is very inexpensive. that's what i use.

apple cinnamon steel cut oats: (serves 5-6)
2 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1 1/2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. steel cut oats
3 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. butter, cut into 5-6 pieces
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt

spray crockpot with cooking spray. mix all the ingredients, pour into crockpot and set on low. let cook about 7 hours, through the night and in the morning you will have a delicious and hearty breakfast. :)

you can add whatever you want on top.


pecan crusted salmon

easy and delicious. this came together from start (frozen salmon in the freezer - thank you again to costco) to finish in about 25-30 minutes. p.s. i have somewhat been cooking lately, but, sadly, nothing good enough to make again or post.

pecan crusted salmon: (serves 3 or so - double for more)
2 (6-8 oz.) salmon fillets
1 c. milk
1/2 c. finely chopped pecans
1/4 c. flour
2 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. sald
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt (Lawry's)
1/2 tsp. pepper

put salmon and milk in a ziploc bag for about 10 minutes. combine all the dry ingredients in a shallow dish. take out salmon and discard milk and bag. coat the salmon in the dry mixture. brown both sides of fish in a skillet on med. - high heat. bake on a greased dish at 400 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.

THIS IS THE 100th POST! :)


kalua pork

wow! this was amazing. i have been looking for a pork recipe just like this for a while and now have discovered the best and most versatile pork ever. and.... only 3 ingredients. oh yeah.

justin says in a dramatic voice from across the room, "straight from the islands... better than a hawaiin pig roast. yes - the best pork i've ever tasted."

:) we are funny, i know.

kalua pork: (serves 6+)
3 lb. pork roast
1 Tbs. coarse sea salt (if using fine salt, use 1/2 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. liquid smoke (by the bbq sauce at grocery store)

put pork in crockpot. pierce with a knife all over. sprinkle salt and rub everywhere on meat. drizzle with liquid smoke. cook on low for 8+ hours (some people cook it for more like 16 hours on low). remove pork from crockpot and shred with two forks. remove fat drippings and most of the liquid from the crockpot. put pork back in and cook for another hour or so.

i ate this in tortillas with cheese and avocado. but i feel like you could just do rice {or coconut rice would be good}, or in little sandwiches or whatever you feel. like i said, it's so versatile. justin and his brother, darin just had a big plate of meat and nothing else and were completely satisfied.

read more about where this originates from here... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalua


chicken lettuce wraps

This recipe is like the Pei Wei/PF Chang's rip-off that is floating around the internet. I have actually had and made this recipe for a few years now. I made them tonight and it totally hit the spot. The only thing that is tricky is chopping some stuff, but once you have it all prepped, it comes together so quickly.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps:
About 2 Tbs. oil 
2 chicken breasts, cooked
1 c. water chestnuts
2/3 c. mushrooms
2 Tbs. minced garlic
1/4 onion
7-8 iceberg lettuce leaves, washed and dried
Plum sauce (You can just buy this at any store)

Stir-fry sauce:
3 Tbs. soy sauce 
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar (can use any vinegar)

Cook chicken. Chop very finely (or mince) water chetnuts, mushrooms, and onion. Heat oil in skillet to high heat and add those three ingredients. While those are sauteing, cut chicken into desired bite size pieces. Add to the pan along with garlic. Mix the stir-fry sauce and then add to the pan and saute for a few minutes until flavors mix completely and liquid is soaked up. Serve in lettuce leaves and top with Plum Sauce (you can buy this at any grocery store).


coconut chicken

this was really good! next time i think i'll serve it with coconut rice with red beans (if you've ever had rumbi rice, it's like that). this time i made it with the apricot sauce, but apparently justin doesn't like apricots, so next time i'll just buy some sweet and sour sauce to serve it with. he loved the actual coconut chicken, though. ;)

coconut chicken: (serves 4)
4 small chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
1 c. sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. butter, melted

preheat oven to 400 degrees. grease an oven safe dish. lightly beat the egg in a shallow bowl; set aside. mix the coconut, flour, salts, and pepper in another shallow bowl. dip each chicken breast into egg and then coat with the dry mixture. place in dish. evenly drizzle the breasts with the melted butter and then bake for 30-40 minutes, until chicken is done.

apricot sauce:
1/4 c. apricot preserves
2 Tbs. dijon mustard

mix together and chill until ready to serve.


crispy chicken wraps

these are very hearty and filling. i just made them for the first time and they are delicious - we both enjoyed them. :)

crispy chicken wraps: (makes 5-6 wraps, serves 3-4 adults)
1 large chicken breast, cooked and chopped
1/3 c. mayonnaise
1/3 c. sour cream
3 green onions, sliced
1/4 c. cilantro, chopped
hot sauce (we love cholula)
1 - 2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
6 tortillas

mix mayonnaise, sour cream, green onions, cilantro and hot sauce in a bowl. stir in the chicken and half the cheese. lay out the tortillas and put a dollop of chicken mixture in the center of each and spread long-ways. sprinkle cheese over top and roll into a wrap (burrito type thing). put in greased dish and brush with oil. bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until golden and crispy.


blue cheese (mimi's) chicken quesadillas

um.... justin and i are devastated that mimi's cafe doesn't make these anymore. justin is sad because he loves them, but i am sad because it's the only thing he ordered there and it's the only way i could get him to go there with me. anyway, i decided that i just needed to recreate this and they did not disappoint.

blue cheese (mimi's) chicken quesadillas: (makes 4 whole quesadillas)
8 (10") flour tortillas
1 large chicken breast, cooked and chopped
1/2 package bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 c. cheddar/monterey jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles
3 green onions, chopped
blue cheese dressing for dipping

cook chicken, bacon, and tortillas if you get the uncooked kind (only way to go if you ask me). chop green onions, chicken, and bacon. on four tortillas, spread a fourth of each ingredient on each. layer chicken, bacon, green onions, and both cheeses. top with another tortilla. microwave for 1 minute each, the brown in a pan until crispy.


ranch and herb crusted chicken

easy. fast. and i'm not ashamed at all. it is a very good dinner.

ranch and herb crusted chicken: (serves 2)
1/2 shake and bake packet (ranch and herb flavored)
2 chicken breasts (or 1 large)
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c. crushed corn flakes or bread crumbs
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, shredded

cut chicken breasts into long strips. dip the chicken into the egg and then put in a bag with shake and bake, corn flakes/bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese. bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. serve with a starch and veggie.


buffalo blue chicken bites

so i saw this idea floating around on pinterest and decided that since buffalo blue pizza from rock creek is our absolute favorite, i would turn it into little mini bites. i cannot tell you how delicious these are and really hope that the two people who even look at this blog make them and tell me how much they love them.

buffalo blue chicken bites: (makes 6-8 bites)
6 - 8 rhodes rolls, thawed
2 small chicken breasts, cooked and diced
6 oz. Frank's Red Hot Wings - Buffalo sauce
1/4 - 1/2 c. blue cheese crumbles
1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 - 2 small tomatoes, diced
blue cheese dressing, for dipping

thaw and flatten rolls. mix chicken with buffalo sauce, both cheeses and spoon mixture onto one side of each roll. fold over and pinch edges to make a calzone type thing. brush with oil. bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes (until cheese is melted and rolls are golden). top with green onions and tomatoes and dip in blue cheese dressing.


malibu chicken

oh....... my goodness! this was the best dinner we have had in a while. a five star recipe for sure! i got it from this family favorite recipes website http://www.favfamilyrecipes.com/ and adapted it just a tiny bit.

it came together quickly and was so delicious - i actually ate way more than i normally do at dinnertime.

malibu chicken: (serves 4-5)
3 egg yolks
2 cloves garlic, minced**
4 chicken breasts
6 Tbs. butter
1 c. Panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 c. Parmesan cheese
1 Tbs. dried parsley (i used dried Italian seasoning)
1 Tbs. garlic powder (i used garlic salt, like i always do)
1/2 Tbs. salt (i omitted this)
1 Tbs. pepper
4 slices black forest ham (i got this from costco)
4 sliced Swiss cheese

creole mustard sauce:
4 Tbs. dijon mustard
3 Tbs. mayonnaise
1 tsp. yellow mustard
1 tsp. honey

mix the creole mustard sauce ingredients together and chill in the fridge.

in a small bowl, beat egg yolks with minced garlic. place that in a large ziploc bag and put the chicken breasts in it. squeeze out all the air and seal tightly. refrigerate for a few hours or overnight, if possible.

preheat oven to 400 degrees. melt butter and pour into bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. mix together the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. dip marinated chicken in crumb mixture and coat well. place chicken in baking dish, and drizzle the remaining egg mixture over the top of chicken. bake for 15 minutes on each side or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. top each breast with a slice of ham and then Swiss cheese. cook for 5 or so minutes longer until cheese is melted. remove from oven and serve with creole mustard sauce. (i also served this with roasted red potatoes.)

** i used to use garlic and mince it fresh myself, but that is just one more thing i always have to buy and prepare. so.... at this stage in my life i just buy minced garlic in the little jar and scoop it out. 1/2 tsp.  = 1 clove. so so much easier and convenient and it still tastes great.


easy steak/chicken

like i said before, once a week, i take out a piece or two of frozen meat, season it, and grill it. serve it with rice/quinoa/any grain and a veggie and walah! dinner.

i buy steak and chicken whenever it is on sale somewhere (love harmons meat) cut it into serving size portions and freeze it in individual freezer bags right after i buy it. it makes my grilling night so much easier. also, when i buy more and want to get rid of whatever i have frozen left, i make a crockpot meal out of the frozen meats.

anyway, justin and i discovered this amazing seasoning and we use it for steak, but there is also one for chicken. they are both mccormick grill mates. the steak one is called, "montreal steak seasoning." the chicken one is "montreal chicken seasoning." i'm sure everyone knows about these, but the reason i love them so much is that they are made for easily grilling meat. there is the perfect proportion of seasoning and you don't have to use like 100 different seasonings because it's all in there.


grilled steak/chicken: (serves however much you want)
steak/chicken, thawed
mccormick montreal steak/chicken seasoning
garlic salt

thaw, rinse, and dry meat with paper towel. season with mccormick and garlic salt. grill until done. serve with a starch and vegetables.