Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Favorite Easy Salad Dressing

Have you ever made your own salad dressing? Don't be afraid, I do all the time. It is super easy and really flavorful. It will keep in the fridge for a couple days, usually I can get at least 2 salads out of a batch.
You will need,
6 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp, red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Put all ingredients into a jar or container with a tight lid. Shake well until all combined.

That is it! Your own salad dressing.
Here is what I put in this salad,
Mixed baby greens
Sliced Cucumber
Chopped Tomato
Toasted Pine Nuts (love them!)
Dried Cranberries
Grated Parmesan Cheese
You go ahead and put whatever floats your boat in it. This dressing tastes good on everything, especially spinach salads loaded with fresh strawberries and goat cheese, maybe a few toasted almonds or pecans! YUM!
So if you have never tried to make your own salad dressing, I challenge you to give it a try! You may never go back to the Kraft stuff again!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies

Well it is Wednesday. It has felt like Thursday for 2 days now which is making for a very long week. Not to worry I have a cure for the mid week blah's! Ricotta Chocolate Chip Cookies!
These are wonderful. Soft and cakey and a little tangy with tons of chocolate chips!
I love ricotta cheese so as soon as I saw this recipe I knew I had to give them a go! I am very glad I did, and you will be too!
What you will need,
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
¼ cup butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups assorted chocolate chips I used ½ cup milk chocolate chips, 1 cup semi sweet!
What to do,
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine ricotta cheese, butter, and both sugars. Mix on medium until blended and light and fluffy. Mix in egg and vanilla until combined. Add the flour, baking soda and baking powder and salt, mixing well to combine. Add in the chocolate chips until just mixed in.
Cover the bowl with plastic and put in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Once the dough is chilled scoop by the heaping tablespoon onto silpat lined baking sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.
Makes about 24 cookies.
If you are having the mid week blah's make up a batch of these. After 4 or 5 you will feel much much better, I promise!
Happy Wednesday people!

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

As soon as I saw this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's website I knew I needed to make it asap! It just looked like my kind of food. Cheesy and noodley! It is really easy and pretty quick to put together, a great weeknight meal. It is very tasty and makes great left overs.
It is definitely going to be a staple dinner around my house now. My in house taste tester LOVED it and so did I!

What you need,
1 lb lean ground beef
1 can (15oz) tomato sauce – just plain old tomato sauce!
½ tsp kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
8 oz egg noodles
½ cup sour cream (I added a little extra about ¼ cup, I like sour cream so I figured it could’t hurt, and it didn’t! YUM!)
1 ¼ cup small curd cottage cheese
¼ - ½ cup of chopped green onion (it can be overpowering so go with your taste)
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brown the ground beef in a large skillet, drain the fat. Add in the tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Stir, then let it simmer while you get the other components ready.
Cook the egg noodles as directed on package, drain and set aside.
In a medium bowl mix the sour cream, cottage cheese, green onion and salt and pepper to taste.
Add in the cooked noodles and stir to coat.
To assemble layer in a baking dish a layer of the noodle mixture then top with half of the meat mixture then the rest of the noodles and and top with the second half of the meat mix. Top with the cheddar cheese and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted.
You should make this tonight for dinner, seriously your family will love it!
So creamy and good, like a lazy lasagna only tangier!
Thanks PW, you rock!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Meatballs and Meatball Subs

I made up a big batch of meatballs this weekend. They are time consuming but once you have all the stuff out and your hands are dirty I figure you may as well make a lot of them.  I love to make a whole bunch at once that way I can freeze them by the dozen or so and use them later as a super quick weeknight meal.
The night I made them I made meatball subs for dinner, so yummy!
Here is what you need,
1 lb. extra lean ground beef
1 lb. ground pork
(I like the combo of the 2 meats adds a really nice flavor and texture, but you could use all beef if you like!)
2 eggs
¾ cup panko or breadcrumbs
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp seasoning salt
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried chives
1 tsp dry mustard powder
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix all ingredients until just incorporated. Don't over mix it makes for tough meatballs. No my hands are not freakishly pink, I just hate touching raw meat. I am a freak that way. Sorry!
Form into balls and place on a tinfoil lined baking sheet sprayed with non stick cooking spray.
Place in oven for 10 – 12 minutes until they are brown on one side, then roll them over and cook another 8-10 minutes until the other side is browned and the meatballs are cooked through.
Remove from pan and place on cooling rack. Once they are cooled I put them back on a clean baking sheet and placed them into my freezer until they were frozen so I could pack them up.

And yes that is Bryers ice cream in my tiny freezer! Butterscotch ripple to be exact! Yum!
Now I have 3 meals worth in the freezer. I can do Spaghetti and meatballs one night, sweet and sour meatballs with veggies and rice and then meatballs in mushroom sauce with egg noodles or mashed potatoes! I love meals I don’t really have to think about.
So when I made these meatballs I simmered some of them in marinara sauce, the good old jarred stuff! Then I stuffed all those meatballs and sauce onto a lovely loaf of bread and tossed on a bunch of grated Havarti cheese and put it under the broiler for a few minutes until it was hot melted and bubbly. I ended up with this...
MMMM! These were so awesome! We ate it all!

It is a good possibility that the rest of those frozen meatballs might end up covered in sauce and cheese too!
Freezer meals are a very good thing!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

5 Things on a Sunday...

1. This is why I love Vancouver in the Spring,
My whole neighbourhood looks like it is covered in Cotton Candy!
It is so beautiful, and it smells amazing!
2. I made another batch of those tasty Peanut Butter Granola Bites, only this time I used dried Bing Cherries and mini Dark Chocolate chips! So so yummy!
3. I broke my favorite spatula today, I am very sad, it served me well. Let's have a moment of silence in honour of the poor thing.

4. I got this in the mail the other day. My sister sent it to me, she got it when she was in Maui on her Anniversary holiday!
How freakin cute is this thing! I love it! Thanks Kate!
5. I drank 2 of these caramel lattes today and ate more of these cookies than I care to share with you.
I hope you all had a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

6 Week Bran Muffins

I love a good Bran Muffin. My mom used to make these when we were kids. I love them warm out of the oven with a slice of Velveeta cheese, yep that’s right, Velveeta! It is so good.
This recipe is unique because you make up the batter then you can keep it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 6 weeks. Then you can pull it out on a Saturday morning and make 6 or so fresh warm muffins for breakfast! YUM!
I usually half the recipe because my fridge is as tiny as my oven. My plan was to do that today but for some reason I had an issue dividing 2 cups in half and screwed it up! Yep, screwed it up. So I ended up having to do a whole batch. I am telling you that unless you have a bowl the size of a bathtub I suggest you do half!
Look at what happened to me,
I had to divide the batter into 2 bowls before I added the dry ingredients.... awesome.
It worked out fine but what a mess!
You will need:
4 cups bran flakes cereal
2 cups all bran cereal
2 cups boiling water
1 cup butter
1 ½ cup white sugar
1 ½ cup brown sugar
4 eggs
4 cups buttermilk
¼ cup molasses
5 cups flour
2 tbsp baking soda
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with non stick spray.
Boil the water and pour over the 6 cups of cereal, let it stand for 10 minutes until soft.
In a VERY large bowl cream the butter and sugars together. Add in the eggs 1 at a time until each is incorporated. Add in the buttermilk and molasses. Stir in the wet cereal mixture.
Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the raisins.
Store in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks in the fridge.
When you are ready to bake up a batch, fill the greased muffin tins ¾ way full and bake for 20-25 minutes
There is nothing nicer than waking up on a Saturday morning and baking a couple of nice warm muffins for breakfast! They are moist tasty, not to mention healthy!
Try a batch this weekend you will be impressed!
Have a great weekend everybody!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Peanut Butter Granola Bites

I was looking for a quick little snack the other night and came across this recipe.
It sounded perfect. Peanut Butter, oats, rice krispies, dried fruit! yum!
These little bites are so good you are going to want to double the batch, I promise you will eat them all in no time. I ate all mine now I need to make some more!

What you need,

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp butter
1 cup rice krispies
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup dried fruit, I used dried cranberries but raisins or chopped dried apricots would be super tasty... kinda thinking some dried cherries and some dark chocolate chips would be amazing!

Melt the butter, peanut butter and honey in a small saucepan over medium heat until just melted together. Pour over the cereal, oats and dried fruit. stir to coat.
Drop by the teaspoon into little mini cupcake liners on a sheet pan, you should get about 25. Put them in the fridge to harden up a bit.

You can store them in an airtight container for up to a week but seriously these wont' last the day!

A perfect snack! OK gotta go make another batch now...


adapted from Martha Stewart Everyday Food

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tzatziki Sauce

Yesterday I posted Greek Chicken Pitas. I just noticed that I managed to leave a "z" out of Tzatziki in yesterday's post... stupid spell check. Forgive me!  Here is the Tzatziki recipe.
Super easy and way better than anything I have gotten from the store!
You need,
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 English cucumber
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp fresh dill, minced
½ tsp kosher salt to taste
To start peel the cucumber, scoop the seeds out with a spoon.
Grate the cucumber and place in a strainer with ½ tsp salt. Let the cucumber drain like this on the counter for an  hour or 2! You will be surprised at how much liquid comes out.
Squeeze the rest of the juice out and place cucumber into a bowl add in the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and dill. Taste it, use a spoon, not your finger like I did... oops!  Add more salt if needed. Depends on your taste.
Stash in the fridge for at least 2 hours to let the flavors meld!
I think I will go slather a bunch of this on a pita right now and eat as an appetizer!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Greek Chicken Pita and Roasted Potatoes

Now that it is getting nicer outside I have really been craving barbecued food. So I thought I would whip up some Greek Chicken kabobs then stuff the chicken in a pita with some homemade Tatziki sauce and some fresh veggies! Very summery! I also made a side of roasted Greek style potatoes.
For the Chicken Marinade you will need,
First pour the ¼ cup olive oil into a zip lock bag,
Next squeeze in the lemon juice, from 1 whole lemon,
Add in 2 cloves garlic, minced
Toss in 1 tsp oregano and 1 tsp thyme
Add in 1 tsp kosher salt
And last but not least ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper.
Cube up your chicken breasts and toss them in the bag. Massage the marinade into the chicken to coat well. Toss the bag in the fridge. You only want to marinade the chicken for 20 minutes or so, the fresh lemon juice will start to cook the chicken so 20 minutes is lots of time to infuse the flavor!
I used 2 chicken breast and there was lots of marinade. So you could probably do up to 4 breasts with this amount of marinade.
Thread the chicken onto skewers,
Place on BBQ for 8-10 minutes until browned and cooked through.
For the roasted potatoes,
I just cut up a couple of small red potatoes, drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled on a good amount of this Club House Greek seasoning. It is super good. So flavorful and perfect for potatoes!
Try it!
Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes, stir around a bit and bake another 10 or so minutes until the potatoes are brown and fork tender.
You can put whatever you like in your Greek Chicken Pita, I used lettuce, chopped up tomato and cucumber, some crumbled feta, a little diced red onion and of course my home made tatziki sauce. They were delish!
I will post the Tatziki sauce recipe tomorrow!