Monday, April 30, 2012

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Muffins

Happy Monday!  Have you missed me??  So sorry for the serious sketchiness around here lately.  My evenings are getting busier and busier, and I'm still working on hammering out some type of schedule that will allow me to still blog every day.  Thank you for your patience :)

Today's posts features peanut butter oatmeal muffins.  I recently created a recipe for some other oatmeal muffins that used honey, but peanut butter is one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures and I love adding it to just about anything I can get my hands on.  Including muffins.

This recipe is from the ever so lovely Paula Deen, yall.  While these muffins aren't super sweet, they are definitely filling and I found that they made a perfect breakfast option I could grab on the way out the door on busy mornings.  And because peanut butter is packed with protein I tell myself that they're healthy and filling too.  No harm in that, right?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Links

Happy Friday!  Can you believe the weekend is here again already?  For me, the weeks have flown by lately, which is always a good thing.  

Today brings yet another weekly addition of Friday Links.  And I guess you could call this Friday Links:  Desserts Edition because every single link below has sugar in it in some form or fashion.  

Make sure and click on each link below to check out the original recipe along with other fabulous photos.  Check these awesome bloggers out and leave them some love!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spaghetti Squash with Basil and Parmesan

Spaghetti squash is one of those foods that always sounded so terribly awful to me.  That is, until I tried it.  I have always loved veggies, but for some reason  I put spaghetti squash in the same mental category as butternut squash.  Make sure and read about my endeavor with butternut squash  here too.

The first time I tried spaghetti squash was this past year during my birthday dinner.  I order some scallops and they came served over a bed of spaghetti squash.  Needless to say, I saw the light and have never looked back when it comes to this delicious orange/yellow dish!

Spaghetti squash could certainly be served as a side dish in its own right, but it's usually paired with something else.  For this night's dinner I served some fresh salmon over a bed of it.  It also pairs well with scallops.

MMMM Yummy goodness!

My version below is a very basic one that can be paired with a variety of other ingredients.  Add some tomatoes or olives and feta in place of the parmesan if you're looking for a slightly different flavor.

In closing, I'd like to point out that I had a TERRIBLE time getting my squash sliced open.  Maybe I just got a stubborn one, but be aware that you might need a really sharp knife and some serious elbow grease :)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wednesday Wailings....and Some Coveted Items

Confession:  The blog has gotten me slightly overwhelmed.  I absolutely love posting every day, but sometimes life gets in the way and then the post becomes a chore rather than something I enjoy.

I know the posts may seem short, but through and through they usually taken me about an hour. And this isn't including the cooking time for whatever I feature.  By the time I upload my photos, edit them, type up my text, include the recipe and a link to a printable version, and then go through the description of the recipe steps, I'm usually upwards of 60 minutes.  And some evenings that's just not doable.  I wish it were, but it's not.

Hopefully I can figure out a pattern of sorts that will work (maybe 3 times a week on the same days), but the most important thing to me is being consistent.  I want for someone who follows this blog to be able to count on reliable posts around the same time on certain days.  I'm still working on nailing down a schedule that will work for me, but until then just hang in there :)  Bear with me please!

So today, instead of the balsamic pork chops I had planned on featuring, I am going to share some favorite coveted items I'm salivating over currently......

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tuesday's Tips, Tricks and Tid-Bits ~ What to Store Where in Your Fridge

Last week I did a post on what to NOT store in your fridge.  I even surprised myself at some of the things I found doing research for that post.  Who knew potatoes shouldn't be store in the fridge??

This week I'd like to focus on what to store where in your fridge.  What should go in the door of your fridge?  What should go in the top or the bottom of the fridge?   Keep reading for a few tips that will keep all your goods fresh as long as possible.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Herbed-Baked Eggs

I guess the first thing I need to do is apologize for being so sketchy last week.  I normally do a post every week day, but I last week I only did three.  I was sick on Monday, and then had a gala on Thursday and neglected my Friday post.  Forgive me!!  It usually takes me over an hour to put together these posts, and some days it's just too much to juggle.  But today marks a new day and a new back on track I go!

Today's post features Ina Garten's baked egg cups.  I love eggs and don't really discriminate against any variety of them (scrambled, over easy, in an omelette, etc).   My only gripe is that they can be a bit hard to do if you are whipping up any other part of the meal.  You've got your pancakes going, bacon in the frying pan, and then you've got your eggs you're trying to watch too.  It's just too much sometimes, which can result in me shying away from them.

But these based egg cups give you a chance to put your focus on something else.  I will say that it's tricky to get them cooked just right.  The first time I took them out of the oven I realized that maybe using the broiler wasn't the best idea and decided to go with a straight baking method next time.  For me, the broiler cooked the eggs too much on top and left the bottom of them completely raw.  No good.

The herbs below are just what Ina had listed, but use whatever you have on hand that you're fond of.  I would also suggest making toast on the side for dipping.  These eggs have cooked whites, but running yolks and the toast is a nice vehicle for getting them scooped up :)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cornmeal Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are one of those things that I unfortunately did not try until I was a full grown adult.  And by full grown adult I mean I didn't try them until I was 25.  Yikes!  I know, I know.  For a Southerner that's basically a cardinal sin.

But when I tried them if was as if I'd finally seen the light.  I've had several versions of fried green tomatoes:  some with relish, some with goat cheese, some with a spicy sauce on top.  While I love all of these twists, I'm pretty partial to a nice helping of good ole plain fried green tomatoes.  They're so delicious in and of themselves that I don't really need anything paired with them in order for me to enjoy them.

My version below is made with cornmeal instead of flour.  I find that it gives the tomatoes a nicer crunch.  I also like a lot of pepper in mine to give them a bit of a kick.

Check out those big chunks of black pepper :)  mmmmm

And who knows, I might experiment and feature different versions of this dish with some relish or cheese, but for right now these will do just fine :)

Serve these up as a nice side dish or as an appetizer.  Easy and tasty!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chicken Pizza Pockets

You may remember that not too long ago I posted a recipe for some scrumptious whole wheat pizza crust.  If you don't, you can check it out here.

That same crust is the foundation for today's post.  Same dough, just in a slightly different form.  This time around I made pizza pockets.  These little guys are kind of like calzones I guess, which is basically a pizza folded over on top of itself.  

One thing I like best about these lovely pockets is that all the ingredients inside them really meld together as they bake and you end up with all this gooey goodness oozing all over the place when you bite into them.  Another thing I like is that they are incredibly versatile.  Just like a pizza, they're pretty hard to mess up.  You can add any sauce, cheese, spices, meat and veggies that you like.

The only thing I would caution you with is making sure not to add so many fillings that you can't seal the pockets.  A lot of times it looks like you don't have much piled there, and then when you try to fold the pocket everything spills out all over the place.

This also makes a great meal for kids and gets them involved in the cooking process.  Give each one their own pre-rolled circle of dough and let them fill it themselves...with a close watchful eye nearby :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday's Tips, Tricks and Tid-Bits ~ What NOT to Store in Your Fridge

I'm sorry for being MIA yesterday, but I woke up with a gnarly migraine and ended up in bed all day.  Not fun.  At all.  I try to post something every day, but yesterday it just wasn't going to happen.  I'm sure you missed me dearly and had no idea how you were going to make it through your day without a CCK post :)

But the good news is that there are four more weekdays left for me to post before this weekend.  And today brings some (probably surprising) info on which foods you DON'T want to store in your fridge.  I was actually very shocked when I began researching this topic and have certainly made some changes in my storage habits since.

The majority of the time, if an item is perishable, it will go in the fridge.  Milk?  In the fridge.  Chopped pineapple?  In the fridge.  Strawberries?  Yes, you guessed it: in the fridge.

The cold temperature setting in a fridge can keep bacteria from forming and will also slow down the ripening process for many fruits, thus making them keep for longer periods of time.

But certain foods actually do better if you don't refrigerate them.  Below is a list of such foods with a short explanation...
Note the tomatoes in the fridge...which should *not* be there!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Honey Pecan Waffles

Sunday is probably my favorite day of the week.  This is for several reasons.....I get to sleep in a bit before waking up to make a nice breakfast for the hubby before we go to church....sometimes I come home and take a quick cat-nap and read a book in the afternoon....and Trey and I usually go take a long walk at some point in the afternoon.  I just love the ease of the day and all of the leisurely activities it brings.

So back to the breakfast part I mentioned.  I would love to be able to say that I fix a nice hearty breakfast during the week, but the reality is that just doesn't happen.  I already get up at 6:30 and I really don't ever feel like setting the clock thirty minutes earlier just so I can make a nice omelette.   I know that sounds awful, but I'd rather have the extra sleep.

But Sunday is a different story.  Trey used to go to the 8:30 service at our church before we got married, but I've talked him into attending the 11:00 one :)  One big plus is that I have plenty of time to get up and fix a decent meal before we go to church.  And this past Sunday that turned out to be waffles.

One of my favorite things about waffles is how easy to it to mix things up.  You can throw in some fruit, honey, oats, nuts, etc without fear of really messing anything up.

This version is made with whole wheat flour, honey and pecans.  The flavors meld together perfectly (in my humble opinion) and the waffles have the perfect amount of crunch.


PS I apologize for the lack of pictures.  I took a lot more, but a lot of them turned out fuzzy :(

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Banana and Honey Oat Muffins

I have been hunting for a recipe for that perfect breakfast muffin, which in my humble opinion means that it's not too sweet but still has good flavor.  Often something sweet first thing in the morning can leave me craving nothing but loads of sugar for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately (or fortunately...whichever way you look at it) most of the muffins you buy at the grocery store or at a bakery are loaded with sugar.  You're basically eating cake without icing.  Not that that would be a bad thing, but not when the goal is the get a nice healthy kick start to your day.

The recipe below is a (somewhat) healthier option I came up with.  This recipe swaps wheat flour in for white flour, uses honey instead of processed granulated sugar, and adds bananas and oats.

The hubby and I can never eat a full batch (12) of these before they go bad, so I always stick a bunch in the freezer and then pull one out at night for the next morning's breakfast.

My favorite way to eat these it to top them with a little dab (okay a nice dab) of peanut butter and stick them in the toaster for a minute or two....heaven!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Crock Pot Country Green Beans

I just love green beans, don't you?  To me they just have "southern" written all over them.  I guess that's because I associate them with my grandmother and great grandmother who always fixed them.

I grew up in a house next to my great grandmother who had quite an impressive garden.  She grew everything from okra to squash to zucchini to tomatoes (including green beans).  She passed away when I was really young, but I still remember running over to her house to see what she had picked from the garden and had brought back to her house in her wheel barrow.

My grandmother also always brings an amazing dish of green beans to every family get together.  I remember sitting on a stool at her house trimming them from time to time when she would get some fresh beans from her neighbor.

Look how fresh those little guys look!

So I guess I should say that to me green beans bring back fond memories of family.  Maybe they do for you too.

Either way you'll love this dish!  This is so easy to throw together and the flavor is fantastic!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday's Tips, Tricks and Tid-Bits ~ Buying Organic

If you read my post this past Friday, you had a chance to get a glimpse into my thoughts regarding supporting your local produce industry.  Today's topic is somewhat similar in nature, in that it involves the decisions we make about which organic foods give you the biggest bang for you buck.

In an ideal world we would all have limitless budgets to purchase fresh, organic produce.

*Let me interject here and just say that in an ideal world I would also have a nicely styled and adorable hen house in my backyard with a hen (named Miss Prissy from Fog Horn Leg Horn) that would lay me fresh eggs every morning.  I'm still working on Trey with this one....

Okay, back to my point.  Ideally this would be possible.  But let's get real: organic food is expensive.  And a lot of times I find that it goes bad even faster than non-organic food because it doesn't have things like the wax that coats most apples.  Yum!

Because of this, each year the Environmental Working Group publishes a list of the foods containing the highest levels of pesticide residues, and also those foods containing the lowest levels.  This way you can make an informed decision about which foods you want to purchase in either category (organic or non-organic).

Disclaimer:  I did not come up with the phrases "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen".  These embarrassingly witty terms were coined by the EWG.


The Dirty Dozen
*Listed in Order of "Dirtiest" to "Least Dirty, but Still Dirty"
Sweet Bell Peppers
Kale/Collard Greens (it was a tie)

The Clean Fifteen
Sweet Corn
Sweet Peas
Water Melon
Sweet Potatoes

One thing I'd also like to add to this is the fact that you can consider whether you are going to eat the skin of a particular fruit or vegetable.  i.e. If you are baking a potato and won't eat the skin, it isn't quite as important to buy organic.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fanned and Roasted Red Potatoes

Doesn't the name of these just sound fun?  Fanned and roasted.  Delicious.  And the actual end result doesn't disappoint in the least.

I love baked potatoes, but one thing that always irks me is the amount of time it takes to cook them.  That and you can't really season them until you slice them open after baking them.

Just a tiny bit of crispy on the edges

But these potatoes cook much faster because the heat can get in between the slices, and you also get a chance to season them all the way through before sticking them in the oven.  The spices I listed below are just what I had on hand, but it's pretty darn hard to mess these up so branch out and try some other seasoning options.  You can also add cheddar cheese too, which would tie in another flavor.