Monday, February 27, 2017

Dinner Party Green Beans

I came up with this recipe when I wanted to take my usual side dish of green beans up a notch - a little more dinner party worthy, if you will. There's nothing wrong with "regular" green beans, but the addition of sweet and spicy almonds and a sprinkling of blue cheese makes these really special. Not too special for a weeknight dinner, but certainly special enough for guests or a fancy party. (If you don't have many fancy parties, don't let that stop you from making these! Make them for a Thursday. Thursdays can be fancy!)

Dinner Party Green Beans

16 oz. package frozen green beans
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a small skillet over low heat, combine the sugar and cayenne pepper and almonds. Cook and stir constantly until the almonds are coated with melted sugar and are toasted. Remove to a plate and let cool.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and the green beans (frozen). Stir until all the green beans are coated with the melted butter. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Transfer beans to a serving platter and sprinkle with blue cheese. Break up the almonds if they are stuck together and sprinkle on the beans. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I like broccoli cheese soup. But I don't like it if it's TOO cheesy. I also don't love it when you can hardly tell there's any broccoli in it, or when the broccoli has been pulverized and it's all just green flakes in yellow soup.

SO, all that to say, that for me, this is the PERFECT broccoli cheese soup. First, it's not YELLOW! The mix of cheddar and Swiss cheeses not only makes for the perfect cheese taste, but it's lovely to look at. And the broccoli is not pureed, it's in big chunks, and is steamed to perfection BEFORE getting added to the soup, not cooked into oblivion in the soup.

All of this adds up to a wonderful, beautiful, delicious soup, chock full of good for you broccoli! Try it today - I hope you love it as much as we do!

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Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 small onion, diced
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 cups milk
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3 cups chopped broccoli

Simmer chicken broth and chopped onion for 15-20 minutes in a covered small saucepan, until onions are soft.

Heat milk in microwave for 1-2 minutes.

In a separate medium-sized stockpot, melt butter then add flour, salt and pepper. Cook together, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, then whisk in warmed milk. Stir and heat together on medium heat until soup starts to thicken, about 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, place chopped broccoli in a medium glass bowl and cover with cling wrap. Microwave for 3 minutes to steam the broccoli.

Add warmed chicken broth to the soup base and continue to stir until well blended. Add cheeses and stir until completely melted. Stir in steamed broccoli. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, February 13, 2017

Almond Crunch Cookies

Oh, these cookies. Brimming with crunch from cereal and sliced almonds, and deliciously sweet from almond bark topping, I can guarantee they won't last long at your house.

While these aren't Valetines-y to say the least (I suppose you could tint the almond bark pink!), any cookie, made with love, is perfect for the holiday. Or any day.

Let's not limit love through cookies to just one day.

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Almond Crunch Cookies

2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups Chex or corn flakes, lightly crushed (or Rice Krispies, uncrushed)
4 oz almond bark
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Using an electric mixer, beat shortening until creamy; gradually add white sugar and brown sugar, beating well. Add eggs and almond extract; beat well. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; stir until blended. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture mixing until just blended. Slightly crush cereal, only to the point there aren't large pieces. Carefully stir in oats and cereal.

Using an ice cream scoop, drop dough on a cookie sheet 2" apart. Bake at 325 for 12 to 14 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes on cookie sheet before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place almond bark in a glass bowl and melt in the microwave using 50% power, in 45 second intervals. Drizzle melted bark on cooled cookies. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Allow cookies to set up on wire racks, or place in the refrigerator for a quicker set up.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Call me PMC

Monday, February 6, 2017

Butternut Squash Curry Soup with Shrimp

You know you've hit a recipe home run when someone eating it says, "this could be served in a restaurant!" That's exactly what my husband said the first time I made this delicious soup. I had to agree. We've made it several times since, and we haven't changed our minds. It is SO good. And what better way to get all those good nutrients from butternut squash than to make a wonderful curry with coconut milk and shrimp!?!

The hardest part about this recipe is cutting up the squash - those buggers are TOUGH! But once that's done, this comes together quickly and easily. And you can rest your weary squash-cutting hands for the 20 minutes that the soup simmers... (Butternut squash is also available already diced, usually frozen. Feel free to take advantage of that option and then this dinner is a BREEZE!)

This can be served over rice noodles or rice, and we loved it either way. There's still plenty of winter left, and this soup is the perfect thing to make when you need a warm up. Or, if you just need to eat. Either way.

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Butternut Squash Curry Soup with Shrimp

2 tsp. canola or coconut oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tsp. red curry paste
2 tsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, about 4-5 cups
4 cups chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
12 ounces large cooked shrimp
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6-8 ounces rice noodles, or rice

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the curry paste, sugar and salt and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.

Add in the squash, broth and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the squash is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Once squash is tender, use an immersion blender to partially puree the soup, if you like. You can also leave in chunks - your preference totally!

Stir in the shrimp and cilantro and add additional salt and/or pepper to taste. Serve immediately over cooked rice noodles or rice.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

Monday, January 30, 2017

Shrimp and Guacamole Bites

The big game is coming up on Sunday and is a great excuse to make lots of snacks. After making these recently for a dinner party appetizer, I can guarantee that these delicious shrimp and guacamole bites will make the list, probably along with apple keilbasa, Greek layered dip, and creamy brussels sprouts dip.

This fun app could not be easier: make guacamole (or use store bought!), spoon it into some tortilla chips, and top with a shrimp that you've covered in delicious spices and warmed up. These are addictive, and rightly so: such a great combination of creamy, spicy, crunchy, shrimpy. Who are you cheering for on Sunday? I really don't care this year, but you can be sure I'll be rooting for the snacks.

Find more ideas at Inspiration Monday, Mix it Up, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, Hearth and Soul, What's Cooking, Wow Me, Wow Us, Full Plate, Recipe Sharing Party, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy, Sugar and Spice, Pin Me, Weekend Potluck.

Shrimp and Guacamole Bites

2 avocados, peeled and pitted
juice from half a lime
1/3 tsp. salt; possibly more to taste
2 Tbsp. finely chopped red onion
1 tsp. minced garlic

Tortilla scoop chips
1/2 pound medium cooked shrimp (about 24-30)
2 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. salt

To make the guacamole: Mash up the avocado in a small bowl. Add in lime juice, onion, garlic and salt. Stir well to combine; taste and add more lime juice or salt to taste.

In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with olive oil. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. Stir well to coat all the shrimp. Transfer the shrimp to a baking sheet and bake at 400 for 2-3 minutes.

While the shrimp cooks, scoop the guacamole into the tortilla chips. Place a warm shrimp on top of each guacamole-filled chip, and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Triple Chocolate Donuts

Homemade donuts are a great way to impress people, especially children. (Or maybe adults? Both at my house were equally impressed.) It's also a fun way to change up breakfast, or breakfast for dinner. I get a lot of cooperation with quiche and egg casserole when donuts are involved. And since these are baked, there's (virtually) no guilt. Go ahead, eat chocolate for breakfast.

We got creative, too - I let the kids decorate these as they wished. I waited to glaze them until everyone was at the table, then handed out freshly glazed donuts and a variety of sprinkles. Sprinkles practically guarantee happiness. Try it!

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Triple Chocolate Donuts

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

For the glaze:
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, melted butter, and vanilla.

Pour the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and gently fold them together. Fold in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into well greased donut rounds, filling each about 2/3 full.

Bake at 325 for 10 to 12 minutes until they spring back to the touch. Let cool on a wire rack.

Make the glaze by placing the glaze ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwaving on 50% power at 45 second intervals until almost melted. Stir until smooth. Dip the donuts into the glaze. Decorate with sprinkles, coconut, or additional chocolate chips, if you like. Makes 12-16 donuts.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Fantastical Sharing of Recipes

Monday, January 16, 2017

Coconut Bundt Cake

It's been awfully cold and blustery here in the North. So when I needed to make a birthday cake recently, I wanted to evoke some sort of tropical paradise. If it's cold here, at least we can pretend to be warm by eating cake that's chock full of coconut!

This cake is so easy - and SO delicious. I got multiple requests for the recipe.

So whether you need to pretend you're in paradise, or not, get the ingredients to make this wonderful cake! I also think this would be wonderful at Easter, decorated with Easter candies in addition to the toasted coconut. Hmmm. I'm looking forward to Easter already!

Find more inspiration at Mix it Up, Inspiration Monday, Create Link Inspire, Clever Chicks, Fabulous, Show and Share, What's Cookin, Wow Me, Wow Us, Hearth and Soul, Full Plate, Foodie Friday, Friday Frenzy.

Coconut Bundt Cake

1 white cake mix
1 small box instant vanilla pudding,
4 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup water
1 tsp. coconut extract
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup toasted coconut

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, pudding, eggs, sour cream, sugar, oil, water and coconut extract and beat for three minutes. Stir in the coconut.Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool completely.

For frosting, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. If necessary, add milk, a teaspoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. Alternatively, add powdered sugar if you need to. Spread the frosting over the top of the cake, then sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Serves 16.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Chef in Training
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