Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Herb Pasta and Meatballs (one pot!)



Incredible flavor made in just 1 pot - pasta included! Meatballs are browned and then nestled in a creamy herb based sauce and cooked alongside egg noodles. This recipe is quick, easy, and perfect for busy weeknights!

Spring usually means longer days spent outside - whether it's yardwork, ball practice, or just enjoying the sun. I always find that I hibernate in the winter evenings but am anxious to get out of the house when it's so beautiful outside! Charlotte in the spring is especially lovely so I've been reaching for quick and easy weeknight meals. Who wants to stay inside and cook or do dishes? This recipe is perfect!

You quickly mix together Boursin cheese and ground beef to create small meatballs. Brown the meatballs in your pan, remove, then make the creamy herb sauce. Once it's going, you add the quick cooking egg noodles and browned meatballs back in the pan to finish cooking. Add a little more Boursin and some chives and you've got dinner!

Boursin cheese is a soft cheese - often flavored - found in your specialty cheese section of the grocery store. I used garlic and herb but you could switch it up. 


Herb Pasta & Meatballs
1 pound lean ground beef
1 package garlic and herb Boursin cheese
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
8 ounces egg noodles
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives

Combine beef, 5 tablespoons Boursin cheese, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl and gently combine. Form mixture into 1 inch meatballs. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook meatballs until well browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer meatballs to plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan.

Add the onion to the reserved fat and cook until browned, about 6-8 minutes. Sprinkle in flour and stir, cooking until golden, about 1 minute. Add the broth, noodles, and wine and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to med-low, and cook, stirring often, until pasta begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add meatballs and simmer, covered, until meatballs are cooked through and noodles are al dente, about 4 minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the  remaining Boursin cheese and chives. Season with salt and pepper.

Source: adapted from Cooks Country Magazine

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Charred Eggplant with Chermoula



Quick charred eggplant slices are topped with a complex, bright, and flavorful sauce. The perfect side dish for your spring grilling, or paired with your favorite kebab recipe!

I don't use eggplant much, and for that reason, I'm not overly comfortable with it. I wasn't even sure this recipe would be a winner, though I knew the sauce sounded right up our alley.

Thankfully, the eggplant was easy to cook and tasted amazing with the sauce! The char on the eggplant gives great flavor and the sauce takes it over the top. It's bright, fresh, and perfect for spring. Chermoula is a traditionally Moroccan marinade or sauce typically comprised of fresh herbs, spices, and oil.Though chermoula sounds super fancy, it's embarrassingly easy to make thanks to your food processor. You can even whip it up a day or two ahead of time if that makes your meal prep even easier!



Charred Eggplant with Chermoula
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 cup cilantro
1 cup flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
cooking spray
2 medium eggplants, trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices

Add the cumin, coriander, rind, salt, paprika, red pepper, garlic, cilantro, parsley, and lemon juice to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. With the processor on low, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and process until just blended.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add a layer of eggplant slices to the pan and cook 3-5 minutes per side, or until tender and slightly charred. Remove to a platter and repeat the process with the remaining slices.

Drizzle the prepared sauce over the eggplant and serve.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light April 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Wingstop Copycat Lemon Pepper Boneless Wings



You can easily make lemon pepper boneless wings that taste just like the ones you love at Wingstop! Crispy, buttery, and loaded with lemon pepper, these zesty boneless wings will disappear before you know it!

Wingstop is our favorite wing spot, though they have been hard to find here in North Carolina! While all their flavors are tasty, the lemon pepper is out of this world good! Instead of driving nearly 30 minutes away to get our lemon pepper fix, I decided to try and recreate it at home!

Boneless wings are easier to make than you'd think. You're essentially making chicken nuggets and then coating them in a sauce. I like to double coat my chicken and then let it rest in the fridge to really help that breading stick throughout the frying process. It works like a charm - I didn't lose the coating on any of my pieces! Once they are browned, you're ready to simply toss them in a buttery lemon pepper sauce before serving.

They are crispy, juicy, and bursting with lemon pepper flavor. This will be your family's favorite meal of the week!


Wingstop Copycat Lemon Pepper Boneless Wings
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
2 eggs
1 tablespoon milk
Flour (I use several cups)
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt and pepper
10 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons lemon pepper seasoning

In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. In a separate shallow bowl, add a few cups flour and lots of salt and pepper.

Using tongs, coat each chicken piece in the egg first, followed by flour, and again in egg, and a second coat of flour. Place all the battered chicken on a plate and place in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Once ready to fry, add 2 inches of oil to a deep pan like a Dutch oven and heat to 350 degrees. Add the chicken and fry in batches for 5-6 minutes, or until well browned on all sides. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

In a large bowl, melt 10 tablespoons butter in the microwave at 20 second increments or until melted. Whisk in the lemon pepper seasoning. Add the chicken and toss gently to coat all the pieces.

Serve hot.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Chili-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin



Slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and incredibly delicious! This easy recipe results in unbelievably moist and tender pork which can be cooked either inside or outside on the grill.

Pork tenderloin is probably one of my favorite cuts of meat, thanks to it's moist flavor and lean meat. While easy to prepare, I tend to get in a rut and reach for the same ol' recipes. Pork tenderloin is perfect on it's own, without being buried under sauces or other ingredients. Unlike chicken, it needs just a good crust of flavor to make it shine. Which makes it perfect for an easy weeknight meal!

This rub needs no time to marinade and uses staple pantry items. Depending on the weather, you can either toss it on the grill or make it in house. It was a particularly rainy evening when I made it so I did it in the house and it was perfect!

Serve it alongside two of your favorite veggies and dinner is made!


Chili-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 lb)
vegetable oil

In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except for the pork and oil. Place a cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 450. 

Rub the pork with about 1 teaspoon oil and then rub and press the spices to all sides of the pork. 

Once the oven is preheated, carefully remove the hot skillet and drizzle in some oil. Add the pork and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Flip the pork and reduce heat to 400; cook an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 155F.

Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.

***IF GRILLING: Preheat your gas or charcoal grill. Once the pork is well coated with the spice mixture, place the pork on the grill. Cover and let cook over medium-heat for 17-20 minutes, turning several times, or until the internal temperature reads 155F. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Source: adapted from Betty Crocker

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie (1 pan - no bowls!)


This cookie will change your {baking} life! A gooey, chocolately, warm cookie is prepared and baked in the same skillet! You know what that means? No bowls, no mixer, no mess - yes!

I love baked goods... and I like the idea of baking until I get to the pile of dishes spread all over my kitchen. And can we talk about the flour that gets everywhere? All that sifting and stirring... mixing and resting... it just begs for me to stop by Costco and grab something sweet there instead. If you love that part of baking, you'll be sad making this cookie. But for those like me, that really just enjoy the eating part of baking, this will change your life.

You literally mix the ingredients right in the pan, press it down, and bake. 20 minutes later, you're noshing on hot, gooey chocolate chip cookie. You can mix in other kinds of chips, nuts, sprinkles, whatever floats your boat. My husband drowns his in ice cream while I like to eat it in it's purest form. Regardless of your method, you won't regret trying it.

I blogged this recipe nearly 5 years ago (!!!) and, while I've made it dozens of times since, neglected to give it a better pic and more love (typically because my husband is already slicing it up before I can grab the camera!). Regardless of what I throw in, it's consistently good.


Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1.5 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. While it's preheating, add the butter to an 8 inch cast iron skillet and place it in the oven. Watch carefully and remove once the butter has just melted; leave oven on.

To the melted butter, add both sugars and vanilla and stir until well combined. Let rest for 5 minutes, or until the pan is warm but not very hot.

Crack the egg into the butter/sugar mixture and use a fork to whisk until well combine. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt to the pan; carefully mix together until it starts to become a thick dough. Add the chocolate chips and continue stirring to combine. 

Using a spatula, press the dough into the bottom of the pan, making sure it's even.

Bake in preheat oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are browned and set and the center is soft. Allow to cool slightly before slicing into wedges. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Beef with Broccoli



An easy version of a favorite Chinese take-out dish! Tender beef is marinated then quickly cooked along with fresh broccoli. Restaurant quality... at home!

I love love love Chinese food! I tend to rotate between several different dishes but, if I trust the restaurant's meat quality, beef with broccoli is one of my top choices. Have you ever ordered beef at a restaurant and gotten chewy, cheap cuts of meat instead? Yeah, that's why I love making things at home!

Beef with broccoli is super simple to make. This recipe uses a quick marinade to ensure your beef is fork tender and quick cooking helps the broccoli from being overcooked and limp. The sauce? Flavorful, not runny, and enough in the pan for you to smother your rice in.

I'm not the only one scooping out sauce to drizzle all over my rice, am I?

Put down the take-out menu and whip this up instead!


Beef with Broccoli
For the marinade:
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1.5 lbs flank steak, cut into thin strips against the grain

For the rest of the dish:
1 cup low sodium soy sauce 
4 tablespoons brown sugar
8 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sherry
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 lb broccoli florets

In a small bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients. Place the sliced steak into a gallon size ziplock and pour the marinade ingredients over top. Seal, toss gently, and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour. 

When ready to cook, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, flour, and sherry. Set aside.

In a large wok or pan, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over high heat until shimmering. Add the broccoli and saute for 3 minutes, stirring often. Transfer to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium-high and carefully add the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the marinated steak and half of the prepared sauce. Saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink. Add the broccoli and remaining sauce and saute another minute.

Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Rainy Day Gal

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Crispy Shrimp Tacos (Encamaronadas)



Melted cheese, chopped shrimp, and salsa are folded into a corn tortilla and fried until crispy. These tacos are quick to make (just 15 minutes!), done in just 1 pan, and will disappear before you know it!

Tacos are sorta a big deal in Texas. You can buy them just about anywhere - though the best are usually found at a taco stands set up in parking lots. Don't worry - it's not as shady as it sounds. And while I've found a few solid taco options, I do miss some of the variety found in Texas.

Thankfully, I found a great recipe to make at home! These tacos are heads above most of the restaurant tacos I've ordered. The crispy shell you achieve through frying automatically makes them fantastic but the stuffing is also amazing! I took a Rick Bayless recipe (he's the best!) and streamlined it a bit to make it more weeknight friendly. Honestly, these don't even need to be for dinner - they would be amazing at a Super Bowl party or the like. I refuse to admit how many we plowed through the night I made them. They are addictive!

Don't be discouraged if you don't master the taco flip the first time. I tore my first tortilla and lost my stuffing but thanks to the cheese holding it all together, it still fried up okay and tasted great - it just wasn't pretty. The key is to not over-stuff them or you'll lose half the shrimp in your pan.

Shrimp cooks up super fast so have everything ready to go - you should be able to make this in 15 minutes, start to finish. You could dunk them in sour cream or guacamole if you feel so inclined but they certainly don't need it!


Crispy Shrimp Tacos
8-10 corn tortillas
3/4 cup store-bought refrigerated salsa
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
vegetable oil, for frying

In a deep skillet over medium heat, add a swirl of oil. Once hot, add the salsa. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the diced shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are just about cooked through (they will finish cooking in the taco). Transfer the shrimp/salsa mixture to a bowl and wipe out the skillet.

Add a heavy film of oil to the skillet and heat to medium-high. Once hot, place a tortilla in the oil and cook a few seconds. Using tongs, gently flip and then add a couple tablespoons cheese and, using a slotted spoon, about 1 tablespoon shrimp/salsa filling. Using tongs, carefully fold half the tortilla over to make a taco. Gently press flat. Cook until both sides are crispy, about 2-3 minutes a side. Remove to a paper towel lined plate.

Source: adapted from Rick Bayless

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Maggiano's Copycat Rigatoni "D"



Balsamic mushrooms, chicken, caramelized onions, and rigatoni all tossed in a Marsala cream sauce. This copycat recipe is easy to make at home! There is no wonder why it's one of Maggiano's most popular dishes!

I hope that you and yours had a lovely Easter. You may have noticed the blog was dark all Holy Week; it's a super busy time at work for me and my blog got pushed to the back burner. Spring has sprung and the longer daylight hours have me tricked into thinking I can get a lot more done in a day :) I have some great recipes coming your way!

Maggiano's may be a chain restaurant but it's one of our favorites! I especially love their on the house classic pastas. Perhaps one of the most popular dishes they serve is Rigatoni "D" - the "D" is for it's creator, David DiGregorio. The Marsala cream sauce is the star in this dish but don't discount those balsamic mushrooms! You may find yourself eating them straight off the baking sheet :)


Rigatoni "D"
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb rigatoni pasta
2 cups cold chicken broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup white wine
3/4 cup sweet Marsala wine
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
Grated Parmesan, if desired
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450. On a baking sheet, toss together the balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, onion, and garlic until well combined. Spread into an even layer and bake for 15 minutes or until all liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
 
Cook the rigatoni according to package directions. Drain well and set aside.

In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the cornstarch and cold chicken broth. Set aside.

In a large deep skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high.Add the sliced chicken to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until lightly golden in color. Add the white wine and cook until evaporated. Add the Marsala wine and cook until reduced by half. Add the reserved chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Add the heavy cream, salt, pepper, and reserved mushrooms, onion, and garlic. Bring to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken. 

Add the drained pasta and cook another 2 minutes, carefully combining the sauce with the pasta. 

Top with chopped basil and grated Parmesan, if desired.

Source: adapted from Recipelink and Maggiano's
David DiGregorio
David DiGregorio

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mexican Lasagna



A twist on a classic lasagna! Seasoned ground turkey, beans, corn, and cheese are layered between tortillas and served up like a classic lasagna. This easy dinner is on the table in just 30 minutes!

My husband is all about anything Mexican or TexMex so I'm always on the hunt for new ways to serve up some of the same ingredients :) I came across this (relatively old) recipe on Food Network and, after reading all the rave reviews, had to give it a shot. I wasn't expecting to like it!

Well, needless to say, it was a huge hit! Yes, the ingredients are some of the same ones I use in other favorite dishes but the lasagna format was new - and made it so easy to portion control and serve! It also makes a healthy portion in just 30 minutes - meaning you may even get two meals out of it. It's not fancy food but it's tasty, easy, and not straight from a to-go container. I call that a winner!

To save on calories (I had to justify all that cheese somehow!), I used ground turkey but you can sub in ground beef or ground chicken. Just make sure it's lean or drain it very well before adding the taco sauce.

Psst - taco sauce is not the same as salsa! You'll find it near the salsa or in the international food aisle. Typically it comes in mild and hot and either will work.


Mexican Lasagna
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground turkey (lean)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 cup diced onion
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (8-ounce) jar taco sauce (either mild or hot, your preference)
1 cup frozen corn kernels
12 corn tortillas
3 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 425 and lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish. Set it aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once shimmering, add the ground turkey, chili powder, cumin, and diced onion. Stir, breaking up the meat, until browned and evenly seasoned. Add the taco sauce and stir to combine. Add the black beans and corn and heat through, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Spread 4 corn tortillas in the bottom of the prepared baking dish, overlapping if needed. Spoon a layer of meat/bean mixture on top followed by about 3/4 cup cheese. Repeat twice more, resulting in 3 layers, with cheese finishing on top. Sprinkle any remaining cheese on top. 

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly. Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Rachael Ray

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Spicy Sausage, Spinach, and Mushroom Gnocchi



This 15 minute meal is not only easy to get on the table, it's also delicious! Bonus? It uses one of my favorite foods - gnocchi!

I rarely have an issue finding time to cook (ie, eat!) but I do struggle with getting recipes on the blog. I combed through my files over the weekend and I have a ton waiting to get posted! Since it's quickly becoming spring here - and many other places - I knew I had to hurry and get my cold weather dishes out there before it's too late!

There is something comforting about a big bowl of gnocchi, so this dish lends itself perfectly for a cooler day. That certainly doesn't mean it's too heavy for a warm day - it's not - but it doesn't scream spring like lots of other dishes. It was such a hit at our house (and done in 15 minutes!!) that I had to get it out there for you to enjoy.

Gnocchi can be made at home but in order to pull off a 15 minute meal, store-bought is necessary (and still delicious!). I usually find it near the dried pasta at the grocery store. You can also choose any sausage you love, really, as long as it crumbles. I used Italian for this!


Spicy Sausage, Spinach, and Mushroom Gnocchi
1 (16-ounce) package potato gnocchi
3/4 lb spicy ground sausage
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
1 (10 ounce) box chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
salt and pepper, to taste
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the sausage, breaking it into smaller pieces. Once most of the sausage is browned, add the onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the drained spinach and gnocchi to the skillet and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Top each serving with grated Parmesan and serve hot.

Source: Table for Two

Monday, March 7, 2016

White Chili with Avocado Cream



Diced chicken, ground pork, corn, beans, a punch of lime, and a big dollop of avocado cream make this one flavorful white chili! Perfect for chilly late winter nights!

Ah, chili. A source of argument and competition among both regions and friends. I love a good old fashioned chili cook-off just so I can taste the numerous takes on a basic dish. Not to mention the playful bantering and competition! In Texas, a true chili does not contain beans and is typically pretty darn spicy. In Cincinnati, of course, it's a tad sweet (man, I love Cincinnati chili and spaghetti)! Most chili's, it seems, are tomato based in some way. While tasty, they sure seem heavy - though they are perfect for brutal winter nights!

A white chili, in my opinion, is a tad lighter. I can easily nosh on white chili into the spring months. The flavors tend to be a bit brighter - especially in this version! The avocado cream, lime juice, and white corn make this nearly a spring dish.

I'm not gonna lie - this chili isn't a quick weeknight meal. I will promise you that it's worth it and not near as complicated as it seems. It'd be a great Sunday night meal - and you'll have leftovers for lunch the next day!


White Chili with Avocado Cream
1 serrano chili
1 jalapeno pepper
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
4 cups unsalted chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons flour
1 chipotle in adobo sauce (just 1 pepper - not the whole can)
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed, drained, and divided

8 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground oregano
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1 lb ground pork
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
2 lbs boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
16 ounce bag frozen white corn
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons lime juice
1 medium avocado
1/3 cup sour cream
Olive oil
Cooking spray
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat broiler to high.

Place the serrano, jalapeno, and onion halves on a foil lined baking sheet. Coat the vegetables with cooking spray and place the baking sheet in the oven. Broil for 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides. Remove from oven and wrap the serrano and jalapeno in foil; let stand 5 minutes. Peel the peppers then halve them, discarding the stems and seeds. 

Place the peppers, onion, 1/2 cup stock, flour, chipotle pepper, and 1 can cannellini beans in a food processor. Process until smooth.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add a couple tablespoons olive oil to the pan and swirl to coat. Add the garlic and saute 30 seconds. Add the cumin, oregano, and coriander; saute 30 seconds. Add the ground pork and cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add the pureed onion mixture and remaining 3.5 cups stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and cold water until smooth; gradually pour into pot. Add the diced chicken and cook 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining can of cannellini beans, frozen corn, and chickpeas; cook 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low then stir in half-and-half, cilantro, and 1/2 cup lime juice; cook 3 minutes. Add salt to taste.

In a small bowl, mash the avocado. Stir in sour cream, remaining 2 teaspoons lime juice, and salt to taste.

Top each serving with avocado cream.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf



Incredibly moist and bursting with lemon flavor, this easy lemon loaf is whipped up in just 1 bowl!

Cliche as it may be, I'm a Starbucks addict. I'm one of those people who know the staff and they always start my order when they see me walk in. I'm not a $7 drink person; I'm an iced coffee addict and theirs is pretty reasonably priced. Their food, however, is pretty overpriced so I rarely order it. My husband does not do coffee (or really, any drink that Starbucks offers) but he loves their lemon loaf! Occasionally, if he's with me on one of my iced coffee runs, he asks for a slice to go.

Their lemon loaf really is fantastic, but it's pricey! I can make this entire loaf for probably half of a single slice at Starbucks. The ingredient list has nothing weird, you don't need to use every mixing bowl in your cabinet (just 1!), and you don't even need a hand mixer. That's my kind of baking!

The verdict was two thumbs up in this house. It's moist and really loaded with lemon flavor! I think it may even be better than Starbucks... but don't tell my favorite baristas!

Do make sure your extract isn't old (ie: not alcohol-y); I actually had to replace mine before making this recipe because mine was more alcohol than lemon in flavor. The glaze can be thickened to your liking. I like mine thin, drizzly, and really soaked into the loaf so I sliced my cake and then drizzled the glaze so each layer really absorbs the lemon flavor.  

Don't make this right before going to bed. You might find yourself eating a few slices alone in a dark kitchen. Not that that happened to me.


Starbucks Copycat Lemon Loaf
For the loaf:
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2.5 tablespoons lemon extract, or to taste
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice, or as needed for consistency

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with floured cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and yogurt or sour cream. Whisk vigorously until smooth and well combined. Drizzle in the oil and continue whisking until combined. Add the lemon zest and lemon extract; whisk to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir to combine but don't overmix. It's okay if there are some lumps present.

Transfer the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake for 40 minutes. Carefully pull the pan out and loosely drape a sheet of foil over top to help prevent over browning. Place back in the oven and cook another 10-12 minutes or until the top is domed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before glazing.

To make the glaze, in a small bowl add the confectioners' sugar and slowly drizzle in the lemon juice, whisking as you go. Add juice until it's your desired consistency.

Drizzle the glaze over the loaf before serving. As noted above, I like slicing mine before drizzling so that glaze gets in between the slices.

Store airtight at room temp.

Source: Recipe slightly adapted from Averie Cooks

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Teriyaki Pork Chops and Pineapple Rice (one pot)



Teriyaki marinated and glazed lean pork chops are browned then nestled in pineapple rice. This delicious Asian twist is done in just one pot and in record time!

So, did y'all watch Fuller House this weekend? When I think of my childhood, Full House was always playing a starring role! My dad used to complain when we sat down to watch it because it was so cheesy but we kids loved it! I was super excited to see the Netflix reboot and just hoped it would live up to hype. I'm sure the critics hate it but it was cheesy, nostalgic, and I loved every second.

Yup, I finished the entire thing on Friday. The benefit of having Fridays off!

Sometimes I start binging on a show and the last thing I want to do is get off the couch to make dinner. Like that segway into this recipe? Ha!

But seriously, weeknight friendly one pot dishes are the most used in this house - either due to my bingewatching or just a long workday. Some one pot recipes end up being bland but not this one! The homemade teriyaki sauce and pineapple juice make it both sweet and savory and using lean pork chops (as opposed to the ever present chicken breasts) is a great change!

Note: Wondering why I have more than 4 pieces of pork pictured? I trimmed my chops into small pieces, which meant adding them to the rice later as they cooked faster. 


Teriyaki Pork Chops & Pineapple Rice
4 boneless pork chops
1.5 cups long grain white rice
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple
olive oil

For the teriyaki sauce:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cornstarch

In a small bowl, whisk together the teriyaki sauce ingredients. Pour 1/3 cup of the sauce + 1 tablespoon olive oil to a freezer bag. Add the pork, refrigerate, and let marinate for at least an hour (up to 8 hours). Place the remaining teriyaki sauce in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to cook, strain the pineapple, separating the juice and the crushed pineapple. Pour the juice in a measuring cup and add water until there is 3.5 cups liquid total. Set that and the crushed pineapple aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, turn the heat to medium and add the refrigerated teriyaki sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer and stir constantly until the sauce is slightly thickened. Remove back to the original bowl and set aside.

With a paper towel, quickly wipe out the skillet and then heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Using tongs, pull each piece of pork from the marinade and let excess drip back into the bag. Add the pork to the skillet and cook around 3 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned. It will not be cooked through all the way. Remove to a plate.

Wipe out skillet again and add 1 tablespoon olive oil and reserved pineapple/water mix. Bring to a simmer and stir in reserved crushed pineapple and rice. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook for 12 minutes. Stir rice and nestle browned pork chops on top. Brush each piece of pork with the reserved teriyaki sauce. Cover and continue to cook for an additional 8-12 minutes, or until the rice and pork is cooked through.

Brush pork with additional teriyaki sauce and season rice with salt and pepper before serving.

Source: adapted from Carlsbad Cravings

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ham and Spinach Oven Risotto



Love risotto but hate babysitting a pot? This baked risotto is for you! Mostly hands off cooking can still result in the creamy texture we all love. This version uses ham, spinach, and lots of cheese to make it an easy, one dish meal!

I call this recipe my "oh crud" recipe. When I realize I forgot to thaw the chicken for dinner, I know I can toss this dish together in minutes using stuff I find on hand. Don't you love having those recipes in your back pocket? I originally was passed this recipe from a friend and it's one of our favorites! It's creamy, cheesy, and loaded with deliciousness.

The thing is, the ham and spinach can easily be swapped for other stuff. So could the cheese! I've used shredded rotisserie chicken, crumbled bacon, blanched asparagus, and a host of other things I find shoved in my fridge. It all comes out beautifully! That's what makes this recipe so amazing - it's versatile! Ham, spinach, and mozzarella happen to be our favorite combination but you could try any variety of things.


Ham & Spinach Oven Risotto
2 tbsp butter
2.5 cups chicken broth
1 cup Arborio rice 
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups cooked ham, diced (I love using leftover honeybaked ham!)
8 oz shredded mozzarella
2 cups baby spinach

Preheat oven to 400. 

Place the butter in a 9x13 pan and bake 5 minutes or until melted. Remove from oven and stir in broth, rice, garlic, and salt. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 35 minutes.

Remove from oven, fluff with fork, and stir in diced ham, mozzarella, and spinach. Return to oven for 5-10 minutes to warm through.

Serve hot.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Lemony Spinach and Artichoke Baked Ziti



If you like spinach & artichoke dip, you'll love it transformed into pasta! Cheesy, creamy, and with 2 green veggies, it totally counts as health food :)

I'm back with yet another pasta dish! I just can't get enough of them - which is probably why I'm no skinny minnie. In this house, we're all about 1 dish meals. Saves on dishes, saves on time, and it's easy to eat sitting in front of the TV. Pasta typically fits the bill, unfortunately (or fortunately for my taste buds!).This was delicious, slightly sinful, and easy enough for a weeknight!

My cast-iron skillet was once again my go-to pan. Using an oven safe skillet will make this recipe super simple and cut down on the dishes. If you don't already own a cast iron pan (or 3), you should. They are cheap, easy to clean, and are a breeze to cook with. I'm up to 8 now and my old Calphalon pans have slowly been pushed to the back of the cabinet. Cast iron is not just for campfires!


Lemony Spinach & Artichoke Baked Ziti
1 lb rigatoni
1 (5 oz) bag baby spinach
For the filling:
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 lb frozen artichoke hearts
¼ cup dry white wine
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp kosher salt
black pepper, to taste
For the sauce:
4 tbsp butter
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
½ cup ricotta
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
black pepper, to taste

Heat oven to 350. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the rigatoni according to package directions, adding the baby spinach to the pot in the last minute of cooking. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, for the filling, melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed oven safe skillet (like cast iron) over medium heat and cook until it turns amber. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil, followed by the onion, and cook until the onion starts to caramelize, about 7 minutes. Add the artichoke hearts and cook until they are warmed through and softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add the wine and simmer until it evaporates.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the artichoke mixture to the bowl of a food processor. Add the grated cheese, egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper to the food processor bowl and pulse until combined, but still coarse. Set aside.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the milk, a little bit at a time, until it is all added and has reached a batterlike consistency. Bring to a simmer and let it thicken, whisking constantly. Whisk in the ricotta, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Season to taste with more lemon juice and/or salt.

In the oven safe skillet you used for the filling, gently mix together the drained pasta and spinach, artichoke filling, and sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes. 

Source: adapted from Eats Well With Others


See Aimee Cook

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