March was awesome. My birthday was great. Work has been so busy but I also know April is only going to get crazier. The little one is busy, active, and loving the toddler class at daycare. I am not loving that they make glitter crafts almost weekly. What. The. Heck. Who gives toddlers glitter? I thought I had years before that would happen.
I’m glad it feels like spring is coming though we’ve had a random mix of temperatures. I’ve been mixing the “have to eat the last wintery foods” with “bring on lighter and fresher flavors!” I have probably never been so ready for an April getaway we have planned to take the little one to Florida. I’m sad Downton Abby is over but we’ve really gotten into The People V. OJ Simpson show. The last week we’ve been super sick so I think now all of us are on the mend. So-over the runny noses x3.
One of my favorite things I made this whole month was a Nutella Cafe Au Lait that I didn’t really plan on, but was SO fun. I totally have to froth milk at home more often. Try it, 30 seconds of shaking in a jar and 30 seconds in the microwave.
Another fav was, hands down, this caesar asparagus. So good. I’d eat just this and be so happy.
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor My sis stocked me up with some Easter decor for my bday! I don’t even know what April should be.
do something a different way: I’m making sure not to apologize for things I’m asking for. At work I found I often started emails apologizing for things I am following up on because the other person never responded. Have you seen the commercials?
drink more water: I’m doing OK drinking more, I could always improve.
make more interesting side dishes: yes! This Caesar Asparagus was the best side. I tried a fried mashed potato cake that failed miserably.
cook more soups & sauces: I made chimichurri on shrimp for a salad.
watch more movies: we watched The Martian, Zero Dark Thirty, The Big Short, and Steve Jobs.
make working out a higher priority: ehh, not really but now that it is light out later, I’ve fit in a few more walks.
I know. I can admit. I’m caesar dressing obsessed and after making Caesar Brussels Sprouts, I thought it would be really good for roasted asparagus. It was! I jazzed up some creamy caesar dressing and added some hard boiled egg, but you could totally make your own caesar dressing. I loved it and could have had just that for dinner!
1 bunch asparagus
1 egg, hard boiled
1/4 cup creamy caesar
2 tbs grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp anchovy paste
1/2 tsp minced garlic
cracked fresh pepper
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Trim the asparagus then drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper on a baking sheet.
Roast for 15 minutes.
In a jar, add caesar dressing, 1 tbs of parmesan, anchovy paste, garlic, and pepper. Shake well.
Lay the asparagus on a serving plate. Drizzle the dressing over the top, and the remaining Parmesan.
Chop the hard boiled egg and sprinkle over the top.
I loved this. The tiniest bit of anchovy paste makes this dressing so. much. better. Trust me, nobody will know what it is, but that tiny touch is necessary. Plus, it lasts forever in a tiny tube in your fridge. I love the salty, peppery dressing with the just-roasted asparagus and egg. It was such a great side dish and a sign that spring is on the way!
I mixed up these spinach squares last weekend thinking they’d be a good thing to pack for the little one’s lunch. Thennn I also munched it for my quest for savory breakfasts. I also was reminded that my mom makes this as an appetizer…such a multi-functional food! There are so few ingredients and I liked that they weren’t so eggy that it seems like square quiche. The trick making them so good is quality cheese and is that they get baked in a butter bath.
The little one liked it a few times, but seemed to tire of them. That’s a trend for him: a few meals something is good, then he kind of passes on it. If we give it a break, it is all good awhile later. I’ll probably pop some into the freezer.
3 tbs butter
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 package frozen chopped spinach, drained and squeezed well
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
optional: 1 small onion & 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
In a 13×9 baking pan, melt the butter by putting both into the preheating oven.
In a mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer), add in the eggs, cheese, spinach, milk, flour, baking powder, and salt.
Stir well to combine.
Pour into the buttery baking pan.
Bake 30 minutes.
Let cool, slice and enjoy at room temperature or warm!
I used more butter but thought maybe there was a bit too much (gasp!) it pooled a bit one mine so next time I’d use 3 tbs (as suggested above). I love these! My mom’s are a bit thicker and more fluffy…mine seemed a touch dense but I still liked them! Use the good cheese…these have so few ingredients they’re worth it!
This cheese ball has been awaiting the blog debut for. a. year. I made this last year for Easter and thought it was just so adorable. It takes 10 minutes to mix together and 5 minutes to look cute. Voila! Serve with some wheat thins and some carrots for the best of both worlds! I don’t make too many super theme-y foods for aesthetics but this one tastes so food as proof it isn’t just about looks! This carrot shaped cheeseball goes with your Easter brunchy foods, your Easter lunch spread, or an Easter dinner.
8oz package cream cheese (softened at room temperature)
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 tbs Parmesan cheese
1 tbs garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 cup orange cheddar, chopped
1/2 bunch parsley
1 cup green onion, chopped
crackers (strong enough for cheese dipping)
With a hand or stand mixer, mix together cream cheese, sundried tomatoes, Parmesan, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and rosemary.
Add in green onion (I originally had less sundried tomato and thought it needed more). Then mix well.
Refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.
Before serving, form into a carrot shape on a plate. Press cheddar around the outside and wipe away any from the plate.
Position the parsley under the top.
Serve with carrots and crackers. Enjoy!
This was so good and just so darn cute. I loved how easy it was to mix quickly, let the flavors combine, and then just a quick assembly before eating. Choose the crackers appropriately…ritz will crumble under the pressure.
There are some easy alternatives depending on what cheese ball flavors you fancy…caramelized onions & roasted red peppers; bacon and ranch mix; basil and garlic; jalepeno; or whatver combos you love. Go forth! Make a cutesy cheese ball!
Sometimes I just need taco night with the good chips AND the good guacamole! For some reason this week has been a doozy already. I’m just too pooped to whole-heartedly share a post I had planned on. Stay tuned! I’ve been munching for bfast, the little one eats it for lunch, but mom makes it as an appetizer. I’m postponing in exchange for this evening’s stroll with the little one and the pup followed by tacos wrapped up with this week’s OJ Trial episode.
Isn’t this print adorable? So fun!
These sweet potato patties were served at work for lunch and I knew I had to recreate at home. They can easily be a veggies burger, or bake them up as little patties or balls and nobody will even cringe thinking they’re eating a veggie burger! haha just kidding. Well, maybe kidding. If you’re comparing these buggers to a burger, they will definitely not seem the same. If you’re into sweet/smokey flavors then these will be a hit. The chef at work used this recipe from Minimalist Baker. I tweaked mine slightly for a bit more of a southwestern twist.
I mixed up a big batch and Mr. J and I ate them in ball form over salad, the little one munched his in pieces. I formed a few into patties and froze them for another time. I baked them all and just turned a few times for a crisp exterior. Yum.
based on Minimalist Baker’s recipe
2 sweet potatoes
1-1 1/2 cups brown rice
1 can black beans
3/4 cup corn
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
drizzle with sour cream/salsa/liquid smoke as dressing
Boil/bake/microwave sweet potatoes until fully cooked.
Cook the rice.
Rinse the beans. Add half into a bowl and mash with the back of the spoon. Then add in the other half of the beans and the rice goes in.
Preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Add the cooked sweet potatoes and corn, then cilantro, paprika, cumin, finally chili powder. Mix well (I used my stand mixer but a spoon would be fine too). Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of liquid smoke and mix again.
Form into patties, burgers, or balls. Then bake on a sprayed baking sheet for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
I love the smokey flavors from the paprika, cumin, and liquid smoke. The corn and cilantro seem quite fitting here without quite being a taco salad. I kept the same flavors going with a little smokey dressing of sour cream, salsa, and liquid smoke. and tossed together some greens, tomato, and avocado.
These are good on their own or on salad, or I’d totally warm in the toaster oven and then pop a patty into a pita pocket. I’m glad to have a few more stashed in the freezer. Coming up with lunches for the babe that can be eaten cold and to keep some variety takes some thought. The babe liked them and had his just alongside some chopped tomatoes & avocado. I appreciated how filling they were and I threw a bag of instant brown rice in the boiling water with the sweet potatoes. Boom. 2 foods, one pot.
Early last weekend when I was the first one up, I felt like messing around with my normal black coffee. I considered a doughnut excursion, though the little one dozed until 9 and I wasn’t going to interrupt that! After a quick google to sort through how to steam milk without some fancy contraption. I went with this shake-milk-in-a-jar method.
8 oz coffee
2 tbs nutella
3-4 oz milk (suggested lower fat milk)
Brew hot coffee.
Add the hot coffee to a small pot over medium heat. Add nutella to the coffee.
Stir well while allowing nutella to melt.
Add milk into the jar (not more than half full).
Shake for about a minute. The milk should double in size.
Microwave in the jar for about 30-seconds.
Pour the coffee into a mug. Gently pour the milk over the coffee, spoon any remaining froth out of the jar onto the coffee.
I loved this. It was seriously nutella flavored. My ratio of nutella to coffee is definitely hefty but I was serious about this drink being a treat. I normally drink my coffee black.
I love the idea of a raw sauce to top meat and fish. Mine was grilled shrimp and Mr. J had steak tips. The arugula salad had avocado, cucumbers, and tomatoes. I’ll have to keep the idea of chimichurri around the next time I have handfuls of fresh herbs leftover from something!
1 cup flat parsley
1/2 cup cilantro
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic, minced
pinch crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 olive oil
2 cups arugula
1 cup mixed greens
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 cucumber, chopped
Preheat the grill.
In a blender or food processor, combine the parsley, cilantro, red wine vinegar, crushed red pepper, cumin, salt, pepper, and stream in the olive oil. Taste and add in more oil/vinegar as needed. Keep at room temperature until ready to serve.
Grill the steak/shrimp.
Toss together the arugula, avocado, tomato, and cucumber.
Toss with some salad dressing. Add the grilled steak/shrimp and spoon some chimichurri sauce over the top.
I liked the fresh-herby flavor of the chimichurri. I found it a strong so I made sure there was some on each shrimp, but I wasn’t trying to dress the salad with it. I used some creamy caesar dressing for the salad. I thought a more fatty-peppery dressing was good to contrast the chimichurri sauce.
Today is my birthday!!! Yay! In my own honor, here are 5 of my current food favs.
1) I’m all about the pressure cooker at the moment. Hands down, my fav kitchen appliance. (sorry coffee maker, you’ll always have a place in my heart). Goodbye slow cooker!
2) Birthday freebies & bday wishes! So far, I’ve received bday wishes with gifts of free burritos, free sundae, $5 off, or clothes discounts! Always include your bday on store info (or if your bday falls around major gift giving time maybe choose a random one when you’d need to treat yourself)!
3) Mr. J making really awesome dinners. He’s been perfecting the frittata the last two weeks. Both have been awesome, in my opinion. The babe loves them too.
4) Bottled sangria. I got this sangria as a hostess gift and we LOVED it. I found a tasty white one at Whole Foods and just purchased one from Trader Joe’s…that one is up next!
5) This salsa. Winner winner, taco dinner! It is much closer to pico de gallo than anything else I’ve found. I was on a quest trying lots of different salsas and this one wins.
See ya after the famous chocolate ring of coconut fudge cake with the fam this weekend!
Pressure cooker success, again! Jump on board the pressure-cooker train, or really, just cook the chicken as you wish, this sauce was so good. I served it over polenta but rice, pasta, or couscous would be good too. Polenta cooks for about 5 minutes, so that’s definitely a selling point for that one.
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbs Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tbs minced garlic
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Marsala wine
2 tbs butter
1 cup instant polenta
3 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup milk or cream
1/2 grated Parmesan
~5 basil leaves
Roast the tomatoes in a 400-degree oven with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until they blister and pop.
Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder on each side. Sear the chicken on both sides in the pressure cooker or in a skillet. Then either add to the pressure cooker with 1/2 cup of the chicken broth, high pressure for 10 minutes, or roast in the oven at 375-degrees for 30 minutes.
In a medium pot, bring 1 cup of the chicken broth to a boil. Add in garlic, Marsala wine, and butter and return to a boil for about 5 minutes.
Chop the zucchini and roasted tomatoes. Stir well and cook for another 5 minutes, covered. Then reduce heat until ready to serve.
For the polenta, add polenta to the water & milk and stir while cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add in Parmesan and stir well.
Serve with a base of polenta, then chicken, then veggie sauce and sprinkle with basil.
I was really happy with this dinner feeling a bit different, very flavorful, and pretty quick! Polenta is such a great break from pasta or grains. I love the parmesan in there for some salt and flavor. The sauce was soooo flavorful. I liked that the zucchini was lightly cooked. I used some leftover roasted tomatoes that I used, but roasting them would be easy while prepping everything else. I think the marsala cooking wine and broth really kept it from being like marinara.