Wednesday, July 4, 2018

S'mores Pizza

Happy July 4th! Here's a summer dessert your kids will love.

As soon as I took it out of the oven, my boys starting grabbing the gooey marshmallows off the top.

This recipe makes enough for a crowd and would be great at a holiday picnic or pot luck.

Mangia! Mangia!

S'mores Pizza
Inspired by this recipe from Six Sisters' Stuff

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 12 ounce package chocolate chips
4 cups mini marshmallows
1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line a large (13 inch) circular pizza pan or a large rectangular baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat to combine.

Add 1/3 of dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture and blend until combined. Repeat two more times until you incorporate all of the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

*This dough was a bit sticky, so I rolled mine out on top of parchment paper, to make it easier to transfer to the pan.

**There will be a lot of dough. You might want to use less than you have, depending on the size of your pan, or if you prefer a thinner crust.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to fit the pan you are using. Transfer dough to pan. Press into place and press together any pieces that break or fall apart.

Bake for 12 minutes or until just beginning to brown and set in the middle. Remove for oven and set on a work surface. Sprinkle crust with most of the chocolate chips, then top with marshmallows.

Return to oven and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until marshmallows are browned on top. Melt the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and stir until smooth while marshmallows brown.

Drizzle melted chocolate on top of s'mores pizza. Slice and serve warm. Also tastes great at room temperature.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

BLT Pasta Salad

Hey gang, I'm finally able to write a post because:

  • We had no baseball games last night!
  • I actually cooked something for dinner!

Yes, it's been one of those summers. Last week, I grilled a bunch of salmon at 10 am on a Tuesday and made a bowl of Ramen & Boy Choy Salad so that we'd have something to eat after my boys' games.

My husband and I ate the dinner I pre-made. My boys opted for frozen pizza.

This week I made some pasta salad. Genius, I thought. A hearty, cold salad that will be ready when we are! And since my boys eat bacon almost every morning, on a bagel with cream cheese, surely they would like this BLT Pasta Salad, right?

Sam took a big bowl for lunch yesterday, then told me later on that he threw it out and made a sandwich instead. Max hasn't tried it, but Bob and I enjoyed it.

How do you feed your family during these crazy days of summer? Please share!

Mangia! Mangia!

BLT Pasta Salad
Inspired by this recipe from The Kitchen.

1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup mayo
2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
16 bacon slices, cooked crispy and diced
1 pound pasta, cooked to package directions (rotini or ziti) and cooled
3 ounces baby spinach leaves
1 pint curry tomatoes, halved
Salt & pepper to taste

In a small bowl, combine first 5 ingredients and combine with a whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix cooked pasta, bacon, spinach and tomatoes. Pour dressing on top and mix until pasta is coated in dressing.

Serve right away or refrigerate for 1 hour before serving, to let flavors combine.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Yogurt and Cherry Peach Pie

Need to use up some Greek yogurt? Make this pie. It's a fun breakfast treat for summer or a nice dessert.

This recipe is pretty versatile, too. You can make the crust from scratch or use granola from your pantry.

And the topping? Use whatever jam or preserves you have on hand.

I came across this recipe when I made Fudgy Greek Yogurt Brownies the last time I had half a container of yogurt waiting in the fridge.

Mangia! Mangia!

Yogurt and Cherry Peach Pie
Inspired by this recipe from Food & Wine

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups prepared granola, crushed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup warmed cherry-peach preserves (or substitute another flavor like apricot)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet melt the butter in the oil.

Add the crushed granola and stir until coated in the butter-oil mixture and heated through. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and let cool.

Use a flat-bottom glass to press the granola evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Put pie plate in the freezer for about 10 minutes, to completely cool the crust.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth. Pour into chilled pie crust.

Bake the pie for 25 minutes. Filling will be set but a little jiggly in the center. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.

Spread the warmed preserves onto of the pie.

Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Kale, Brussels Sprouts & Cherry Salad

One of my favorite childhood stories about my husband is the time he filled his plate with Brussels sprouts because he thought they were cute, only to be taken aback by their less-than-pleasant taste.

Despite his disappointment, he knew he had to follow his family's rule of "take what you want, but eat what you take." So he "tried to swallow one whole to get them off my plate. And I choked and almost died!"

Instead, he sneakily stuffed the Brussels sprouts into his pants pockets. Later that night, he launched his dirty clothes down the laundry shoot — Brussels sprouts and all. They were only discovered days later when my mother-in-law did the laundry.

While Brussels sprouts may be an acquired taste for some (my husband enjoys them now) my boys are not big fans — yet.

This salad, which is from a Six Sisters Stuff menu plan, is my latest attempt to win them over. Alas, I still have some work to do.

I and my husband, on the other hand, loved this side dish. It has subtle sweet and savory flavors and holds up very well for a few days in the fridge.

Mangia! Mangia!

Kale, Brussels Sprouts & Cherry Salad
Inspired by this recipe from Six Sisters Stuff

1 bunch purple kale, finely chopped
1 pound Brussels sprouts, finely chopped
1 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 green onions, finely diced
1/3 cup grated Parmesan or Asiago cheese

Mix kale, Brussels sprouts, cherries and almonds in a large bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, Dijon mustard, olive oil and salt and pepper until blended and smooth. Stir in green onions.

Pour dressing over greens and stir to combine. Sprinkle with cheese and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fudgy Greek Yogurt Brownies

When we have a large container of plain Greek yogurt sitting in the fridge, I usually put it in smoothies for my kids to use it up.

Recently I started looking around for other ways to use Greek yogurt. Thankfully, Bon Appetit has compiled a round-up of easy dessert recipes with yogurt.

I haven't made brownies from scratch in a while, so that's what I decided to try. These are dense, chocolatey and well worth the little bit of effort the recipe requires. Bonus: Your kids will tell you they love you when you present them as an after-school snack.

Need more brownie inspiration? Try our Double Peanut Butter Cup Brownies or Mo's ROLO-ver and Die Good Brownies.

Mangia! Mangia!

Fudgy Greek Yogurt Brownies
Inspired by a recipe from Bon Appetit

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet, dark or milk chocolate chips, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plain Greek yogurt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9x9x2-inch metal baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

Set a saucepan of water to simmer on the stove. Combine butter and 1/2 cup chocolate chips in a medium stainless steel bowl. Place the bowl on top of the saucepan and stir the butter and chocolate until melted and smooth.

Remove bowl from heat. Whisk in sugar, cocoa, vanilla and yogurt until smooth.

Add wet ingredients to the bowl of flour and fold in until incorporated. Add remaining chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of browning comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.

Let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Ham, Asparagus & Gruyere Quiche

This is my all-time favorite quiche recipe. I've been using it ever since we moved to Peoria. I discovered it one Easter while looking for recipes for left-over ham.

It reminded me of the quiche Lorraine my mom made a few times when I was in elementary school and studying different cultures. I was reporting on France and had to bring a dish from that country.

In many ways, this meal also reminds me of an Italian "pizza rustica" that my family makes for Easter. It is filled with sausage, prosciutto, eggs and mozzarella cheese.

This quiche has a rich flavor from Gruyere cheese but a light, airy texture. I was craving it recently so I bought a small spiral sliced ham and some asparagus. You can use store-bought refrigerated pie crusts or make your own from scratch. Both work equally well, but be sure to pre-bake the crust so that it doesn't get soggy.

Mangia! Mangia!

Ham, Asparagus & Gruyere Quiche
Inspired by this recipe from Simply Recipes.

1 pie crust
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
10 ounces asparagus spears, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups (about 8 ounces) Gruyere cheese, grated and divided
1/2 pound ham, diced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 large eggs
Fresh ground pepper

Roll out pie dough and fit into a 10-inch pie plate. Press down into bottom. Chill in freezer while oven preheats to 350 degrees.

Line pie crust with parchment paper and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool for 5 minutes and then remove weights and parchment. Poke bottom of crust all over with a fork and return to oven for 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

Transfer pie plate to a wire rack to cool while you make the quiche filling. Raise oven temperature for 375 degrees.

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until shallots are translucent but not brown. Add asparagus and cook and stir for another 10 minutes, or until asparagus begin to brown.

Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Sprinkle 1 cup of the cheese into bottom of pie pan. Spread asparagus and shallot mixture on top of the cheese. Sprinkle ham evenly over the vegetables. Top with the remaining 1 cup cheese.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, cream and eggs. Season with ground pepper. Slowly pour egg mixture into pie plate, evenly covering the cheese.

Place quiche into oven. Position a baking sheet on the rack below the quiche to catch any drippings. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until quiche is set in center and lightly browned on top. Cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap and refrigerate. This tastes delicious served warm or cold.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

One Bowl Banana Chip Muffins

If you like to bake with your kiddos as much as I do, you know how nice it can be to use a recipe that only needs one bowl and a wooden mixing spoon.

My boys and I came up with this recipe to satisfy their craving for a "good snack" (i.e., something with chocolate in it) after school and to meet my goal of giving them something healthier than store-bought granola bars.

These muffins use apple sauce instead of oil or butter. After a few positive in-home tests, I decided to see what the middle school students we work with through the Junior League of Peoria's Kids in the Kitchen program thought of these treats.

The goal of Kids in the Kitchen is to empower kids to make healthy meals and snacks on their own, like these sweet potatoes topped with black bean and tomato salad. So a bowl and a spoon was as complicated as we wanted to get with our foray into baking.

As you guys know, I love to bake with bananas and I knew the pre-teens in our cooking group liked banana bread. This recipe was a hit with them. You can read more about it and see photos here.

The muffins are moist and flavorful and they freeze well.

Mangia! Mangia!

One Bowl Banana Chip Muffins

2 medium ripe bananas
1 cup apple sauce
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with liners or coat with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mash the banana with a fork. Add applesauce, vanilla, cinnamon and egg. Mix until smooth.

Add sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Add chocolate chips and mix well to incorporate.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring up, scoop mixture into muffin cups.

Bake for 15 minutes or until muffins rise and are golden brown on top. You also can test for doneness by using a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin. It should come out clean.

Remove muffins from oven and let cool 15 minutes before eating.