Friday, July 29, 2016

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

A few weeks back the husband took the kids to his folks' house for the weekend (thanks, honey!), and I hosted a little reunion for my college girlfriends here in Seattle.

We talked until too late at night and then slept in. We were tourists at Pike Place Market and took in the sights of Seattle on a sunny summer day. We went to the beach and did some shopping. We missed our kids and our husbands, but at the same time we reveled in our girls-only time. And we ate. Oh, man, did we eat.

One of the meals we cooked included Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad. Maybe it was the company or the fact that I didn't spend the entire dinner chopping food into small pieces for the baby, but I couldn't stop thinking about this salad.

With a hearty helping of parsley and lemon, this salad reminded me of tabbouleh. But instead of bulgur wheat, I used quinoa for a gluten-free, protein-packed dish. The colorful veggies make it refreshing and healthy.

Whether it's for a girls' weekend, a barbecue, or just dinner with the family, Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad is perfect for your summer menu!

Let's get cooking!

P.S. If you have dietary restrictions, this recipe is low FODMAP in addition to being gluten free!

Gluten-Free Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

2 cups water or broth
1 cup quinoa
Salt and pepper
Juice of 1 1/2 - 2 lemons*, divided
1 bunch parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 English cucumber, quartered and sliced 1/4" thick
1 bell pepper, chopped into 1/2" pieces
11 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Combine water or broth and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. (If you're using water, I recommend adding a hearty pinch of salt to help season the quinoa while it cooks.) Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through. Allow the quinoa to sit, covered, for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. Pour juice of half a lemon over warm quinoa and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set cooked quinoa aside to cool while you prep the veggies.

Combine parsley, cucumber, bell pepper, and tomatoes in a large bowl. Stir in juice of 1 lemon and olive oil. Stir in cooked quinoa. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you want a little more zip, add a bit more lemon juice. Serve at room temperature or store in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

*Sometimes after the salad sits in the fridge for a while, it dries out a little bit. If this happens, stir in juice from another 1/2 a lemon and a drizzle of olive oil.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Cinnamon Cheesecake Squares

A few weeks ago I shared a recipe for Cheesecake Squares that I made for my husband to take to work on his birthday.

During that same baking session I also made Cinnamon Cheesecake Squares for variety.

These dessert goodies are very easy to put together and so delicious. (I ate them for breakfast!) They got some good reviews from the husband's office, too: "The cinnamon bar was scrumptious, but thanks to you, I will have to do extra burpees in kickboxing today (it was worth it!)."

I can't really take credit for the recipe, though. That honor goes to the folks at While I didn't change much from the original instructions, I encourage you to check it out for the step-by-step photos found here.

I'm thinking of trying these again with some fruit (maybe strawberries) added into the cream cheese filling. What do you think?

Mangia! Mangia!

Cinnamon Cheesecake Squares
Inspired by this Sopapilla Bars recipe from

2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
2 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use cooking spray to lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch baking dish or pan.

Open and unroll 1 can of dough. Stretch to cover bottom of pan. Pinch together dough at perforations to close any gaps.

Place cream cheese and sugar in a bowl and beat until smooth. Add vanilla and beat again to incorporate. Evenly spread cream cheese over dough, using a rubber or wooden spatula.

Unroll second can of dough and place on top of cream cheese layer. Stretch to fit, then pinch together to close up any openings at the seams.

Pour melted butter evenly over the top of the dough. In a small bowl, mix together remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup sugar mixture on top of the melted butter. Use more as desired (using the full amount seemed like too much to me.)

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until center is set. The top should be a darker brown and appear to be somewhat crunchy. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes.

Refrigerate about 1 hour before cutting. Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Andouille Sausage Skillet Macaroni

I recently made a Slow Cooker Low Country Boil and had leftover andouille sausage. Here's what I did with it — make Andouille Sausage Skillet Macaroni.

Disclosure: I Googled "andouille sausage recipes" and this one — One Pot Andouille Sausage Skillet Pasta — is the first that came up. (Congrats, Damn Delicious, your SEO worked!)You will see this recipe calls for 12.8 ounces of sausage. I had just 8 ounces of leftover sausage, but I had a little more ground beef than needed to make Easy Crockpot Mexican Lasagna, so I improvised and used some of that.

Verdict: The hubs liked it a lot. Penny and I liked it and Penny even took it in her Thermos for two day camp lunches. Lucy didn't like it; there's always one.


Andouille Sausage Skillet Macaroni

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1 (12.8-ounce) package of smoked andouille sausage — or if you are short on sausage, supplement with some ground beef
2 cups chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup milk
8 ounces elbow pasta, uncooked
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese — or cheddar/pepper jack, or whatever cheese you choose

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, meat(s) and cook, stirring frequently until sausage is lightly brown and ground beef is cooked through — about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, milk and pasta; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through — about 14 minutes.

Remove from heat and top with cheese. Cover until cheese has melted — about 2 minutes.

Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Farmer's Market Vegetable Saute

Each week I pick up a basket overflowing with fresh vegetables from a stand at our farmer's market.  The veggies taste so much fresher than what I usually buy at the grocery store that we often eat them raw.

When I cook them, I like to keep it simple, to allow the flavor of the veggies to shine through.

A simple saute is a pretty way to accomplish this. This dish is a perfect side to grilled meats. Make it a main dish with a sprinkle of cheese and a crusty loaf of bread.

Mangia! Mangia!

Farmer's Market Vegetable Saute
Inspired by the Garden Spot Vegetable Farm in Princeville, IL

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and then thinly sliced (you can substitute 1 or 2 shallots or 2-3 leeks)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 to 4 ears of corn, kernels removed
1 pound green beans, ends removed and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 or 3 small red peppers, thinly sliced
5 or 6 small red potatoes
3 tablespoons fresh herbs (such as cilantro or Italian parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste

Microwave potatoes until soft, about 5 or 6 minutes. Let cool, then cut into quarters.

Using a sharp knife, cut corn kernels from the cob, set aside. See my easy trick for completing this task here.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and stir until onion starts to become translucent. Lower heat to medium-low and continue to cook until onion caramelizes and turns golden brown. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add corn, green beans and peppers and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables just begin to soften. Add potatoes and 2 tablespoons herbs and salt and pepper. Cook another 2 or 3 minutes.

Remove from heat. Place vegetables in serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining herbs and salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Slow Cooker Low Country Boil

Since graduating from college in ... well, never mind ... I have spent most of my life in the South. My Southern culinary credentials are approaching legit. I can make cornbread, collards, deviled eggs — and now the low country boil.

I've seen my mother-in-law make this a few times and I have to say I prefer hers, because her shrimp always came straight from the ocean (she recently moved back to Kansas after about two decades in Kure Beach, NC) and she cooked the shrimp in shell, head on. Tasty.

Still, this slow cooker version was really great and way easy. America's Test Kitchen is wrong, however, in saying the shrimp need to cook for 20 minutes. And I never say ATK is wrong. I thought the shrimp were approaching overdone at 5 minutes.


Slow Cooker Low Country Boil
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen Healthy Slow Cooker Revolution

8 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 1/2  pounds small red potatoes, cut in half
1 (8-ounce) bottle clam juice
3 ears corn, husks and silk removed and cut in half
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 pounds, extra large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, deveined and tails removed

Microwave sausage, celery, tomato paste, Old Bay and pepper flakes in bowl, stirring occasionally, until celery is softened -- about 5 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker and stir in 4 cups water, potatoes, clam juice, corn and bay leaves.  Cover and cook until potatoes are tender -- about 6 to 7 hours on low or 4 to 5 hours on high.

Stir shrimp into slow cooker, cover and cook on high until opaque throughout -- about 5 minutes. Strain shrimp boil, discard bay leaves and serve.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Coconut Crunch Granola

I've made a bunch of granola recipes. There's Autumn Spice Granola with the warmth of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Low-Fat Granola when you're on a health kick and No-Stir Granola when you're feeling lazy. Tropical Almond Granola is perfect when you're ready for a Hawaiian vacation but you're firmly rooted on the mainland.

But this Coconut Crunch Granola, you guys? This one is my new fav.

It's extra rich with layers of coconut flavor from unsweetened coconut and coconut oil. And somehow the vanilla extract makes everything taste more coconut-y. Oats, almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and ground flax keep you full until lunchtime. And maple syrup lends a subtle sweetness that will make even your pickiest eaters happy.

Next time you're looking to mix up your breakfast routine or add a new snack to the mix, give Coconut Crunch Granola a try!

Let's get cooking!

Coconut Crunch Granola

5 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup (I'm talking pure maple syrup here, not pancake syrup.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl combine oats, coconut, almonds, chia seeds, flax, and hemp seeds. In a separate small bowl combine coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until everything is evenly coated.

Pour the granola onto two very large rimmed baking sheets. (Two half sheet pans would work well.) Bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring thoroughly a couple times, until granola is fragrant and toasted to a golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature. Granola keeps well in a sealed container for a couple weeks.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cheesecake Squares

Ah, cheesecake. I love to eat the creamy dessert but I've never made one myself – until now.

My brother wears the cheesecake crown in my family. He makes a traditional Italian ricotta cheesecake every year for Christmas that used to be the only version of this delicacy I would eat. (Note to self: Ask Greg to do a guest blog in December!)

Now enter my husband, who also loves cheesecake. When we were planning our reception, he was pretty psyched when he discovered that cheesecake was a filling choice for the wedding cake.

My DH celebrated a milestone birthday in June. At his office, the birthday person brings treats for everyone. My guy usually brings dozens of bagels, but when he asked if I would make something, I decided it was time to try my hand at cheesecake.

I opted for cheesecake squares because they are portable and easy to eat. This recipe whips up quickly and will definitely satisfy your cheesecake cravings.

Mangia! Mangia!

Cheesecake Squares

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter

4 bars cream cheese, softened or at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Note: If you want less cheesecake, cut the recipe in half and use an 8 x 8 baking dish.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. Coat lightly with non-stick cooking spray.

To make the crust, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Mixture should resemble a crumbly paste. Pour into baking dish and spread out so that it covers the entire dish. Press the mixture down, using your fingers, the back of a spoon or a flat spatula. Set aside.

To make the filling, place all of the cream cheese in a bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add sour cream and sugar and beat until everything is well combined.

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat again to incorporate flavoring.

Spoon cream cheese mixture on top of crust. Spread out evenly and smooth the top with a flat spatula.

Bake for 40 minutes to 1 hour or until edges start the brown and the middle is no longer jiggly. Turn off oven and prop open the oven door. Let cheesecake cool in oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Remove from oven and place pan on a wire rack. Let cool completely.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

To cut into bars, grab edges of foil and lift cheesecake from pan. Place on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into squares. Wipe knife dry after each slice.

Top with fresh berries, if desired.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Husband's Grilled Chicken

Let me brag on my man for a minute. Not only is he an all-around swell guy, he's also a grill master. Armed with his trusty Weber, he can barbecue the best burgers, steaks, and pork chops I've tasted. My current favorite of his culinary masterpieces: Grilled Chicken.

When most people think of grilled chicken, they picture a boneless, skinless chicken breast that is charred beyond recognition. It's dry, bland, and all-around terrible. But the husband has solved the problem of grilled chicken.

He starts with bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces. Using bone-in chicken adds extra flavor. The skin helps protect the chicken, and its rendered fat bastes the chicken as it cooks. Then he adds a flavorful spice rub to give the mild meat extra pizzazz. Seasoning the chicken the night before really allows the flavor to sink in. He grills the meat over high heat to crisp up the skin, then moves it to low heat to finish cooking without drying out.

Put the husband's Grilled Chicken on your menu for this weekend. Let us know how you like it, and post your pics to our Facebook page or share them on Instagram with the hashtag #HDHH. We can't wait to see what you've been up to!

Let's get cooking grilling!

The Husband's Grilled Chicken

Bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces - We use breasts, legs, and thighs.
BBQ Spice Rub (see recipe below)

Use your fingers to gently lift the skin away from the chicken while still leaving it attached. Generously sprinkle BBQ Spice Rub in the pockets you create under the skin as well as on top of the skin. Cover chicken with plastic wrap and allow it to sit in the fridge overnight if possible. This helps the flavor sink into the meat. (If you forgot to plan ahead, oh well! Just proceed to the grill!)

Pull chicken out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.

Meanwhile, preheat charcoal grill to medium hot with a double-banked fire. (That means you make a pile of charcoal on both sides of your grill, but leave the middle empty.)

Place chicken skin side-down over the hot part of the grill. (The sides with the coals.) This crisps up the skin. Cook chicken about 6 minutes, until the skin is browned.

Flip chicken and continue cooking over direct heat to crisp up the other side for 5-6 minutes longer. Then move chicken (still skin-side up) to the middle, cooler section of the grill. (If your grill has a thermometer, make sure the temperature is around 375-400 degrees.) Finish cooking the chicken over indirect heat until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 5-6 minutes longer.

Remove chicken to a plate, tent with foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

BBQ Spice Rub
1/4 cup chili powder (I use Penzey's Chili 9000.)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Store covered at room temperature until you're ready to use it. This recipe makes quite a bit of  seasoning, so you might not use it all at once. You can store any extra BBQ Rub in a sealed container at room temperature for a few weeks.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Power Peach Smoothie

My kids love smoothies, especially my oldest son Max. I like sneaking different healthy ingredients into these breakfast shakes, to see how much more fiber or nutrition I can pack in before they notice something different.

Enter quick oats. Yes, oatmeal in a smoothie is so, so good!

We had a few packets of no sugar added plain instant oatmeal in the pantry and a bowl full of overripe peaches in the fruit bowl.

Could I make a smoothie that stuck in my boys' bellies a bit longer than usual? Yes! And so can you.

The great thing about the oatmeal is that it adds a milkshake-like consistency to these breakfast drinks. This is a big plus for Max (and me, too!) We don't like an icy smoothie.

We've tried these with nectarines as well as strawberries, and they were just as yummy.

Mangia! Mangia!

Power Peach Smoothie
This recipe serves 2 adults and 2 children.

1 1/2 frozen bananas (peeled before freezing)
1 1/2 cups almond milk
3 packets sugar free instant oatmeal (or 1 scant cup quick oats)
6 ripe peaches, pealed and chopped
1 single serving cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
1 or 2 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
*Note: Be sure to adjust the amounts of any of the above ingredients to suit your own tastes.

Place bananas, almond milk and oatmeal into blender container. Let sit for about 5 minutes to soften up the oatmeal.

Add peaches, yogurt, vanilla, honey or maple syrup and 1/4 water. Blend until smooth. If smoothie is too think, add another 1/4 water. Blend again and pour into glasses.

After you serve this to your kiddos a few times, try letting them in on the "secret" ingredient. My oldest didn't care about the oatmeal, saying all the smoothie needed was a little more sugar.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Skip and Go Naked on Independence Day

As I write this post, I'm about to head to my home state -- Ohio -- to spend the Fourth of July with my family. There's a chance we will celebrate with our favorite summer drink, the Skip and Go Naked -- talk about Independence (Day)! The Skippy is the perfect way to beat the heat. No fancy ingredients required. Check it out.