Sunday, August 17, 2014

Baked Peach Almond Oatmeal

I am sorry I have been away from blogging for so long, but things have been busy the past month. Too busy. And school hasn't even started yet - yikes! We went on on a wild road trip vacation through Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. Our dog got a horrible ear infection. I had my third blogaversary. I got a promotion at work. And, we started working on our bathroom remodel again. see, I told you I was busy. I wasn't ignoring you, promise! Nevertheless, just because things have been busy doesn't mean I haven't been trying out new recipes. I won't dare tell you how many times I've run the dishwasher today. That just tells you how many dishes I've been using and how much of a mess I have been making in the kitchen.

Last week, someone left a bag of fresh and homegrown peaches in the break room at work. I walked by once and didn't grab any. I wasn't sure if I would have time to use them and wasn't sure what I would make. It took me walking by those things two more times before I grabbed a handful. And then I went back again and again. The last time, I just took the whole bag. I am pretty sure the people in the conference room next to the break room thought I was crazy. The peaches smelled so wonderful and I knew I just had to take them.

To be honest, those peaches sat on my counter at home for a few days before I started smelling them when I walked through the front door. It was at that point that I knew I needed to use them before they started molding. One already was and it was only a matter of time before they all started getting funky. Funky peaches are bad peaches. Luckily, I had enough peaches to make two dishes - peach cobbler, which is a must make, and baked oatmeal. Baked peach almond oatmeal to be exact.

I love baked oatmeal. I don't make it all the time, but there are so many flavor combinations you can do. Even better, you can make it ahead of time and even freeze it for another time. Plus, it lasts for days in the fridge for a quick grab and go breakfast. That is if it even lasts that long. It doesn't around here, that's for sure. I've made several other baked oatmeal varieties before, but nothing with peaches. Nor with almond extract. Some may say I have a mild obsession with almond extract. Or was that amaretto? Okay, I love both. This oatmeal is super simple to throw together and will some become a breakfast favorite with your family. I made mind the night before, but you can make your's as soon as you want it. My only word of advice is that if you make your oatmeal ahead of time, add a splash of milk when you warm it up. It makes the oatmeal a little extra special. When life hands you peaches, make this baked oatmeal!

super yummy ingredients

dry ingredients. can you smell that cinnamon?

wet ingredients

sprinkle the peaches all over the bottom

all  baked and ready to enjoy!

Baked Peach Almond Oatmeal (Two Peas and their Pod)

2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped almonds
2 cups Almond Breeze Vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk (or any milk you like)
1 large egg
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly (or melted and cooled butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups chopped peaches
Peach slices for the top, optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  and spray an 8x8 square baking dish with non-stick spray. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and almonds. In another medium bowl, whisk together the almond milk, egg, coconut oil, vanilla, and almond extract. Arrange the chopped peaches on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Pour the oat mixture evenly over the peaches. Pour the almond milk mixture over the oats. Gently shake the baking dish to make sure the milk covers the oats evenly. If desired, add a few sliced peaches to the top of the oatmeal. 
Bake for 40 minutes, until the top is golden and oatmeal is set. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Peaches make everything better.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Easiest Chicken Enchiladas Ever

I am not kidding when I say these chicken enchiladas are the easiest ever. You can whip these up after a long day of work and not feel the least bit tired or make them ahead and freeze them for another day. I usually double the recipe and make one for now and one for those nights where I am in class until 9pm and the captain can just pull them out of the freezer and make himself a nice homemade meal. Quick. Easy. Delicious. Now that's what I am talking about.

All you will need to make these delicious enchiladas are - a cooked rotisserie chicken, your favorite flour tortillas, cheese of your liking (I used pepper jack for more flavor!) and green verde salsa. Of course you don't have to use a rotisserie chicken if you have chicken breasts on hand. Just cook them up in the oven until they are done and shred them up (another good thing to keep on hand in the freezer for quick meals!). Those rotisserie chickens are sold in almost any store (Costco has the best deal!) these days and make for a great grab and go when you need chicken for a recipe. I won't keep boring you with why I love rotisserie chicken. Let's get to enchiladas. If you are using the store bough chicken, pull off all the meat and place into a bowl. If you are using your own cooked chicken, do the same. Then add in shredded cheese and a bit of salsa. Mix up and your filling is ready to go. Now that wasn't hard. Don't forget to put a little bit of salsa in the bottom of the pan you will be using so that the enchiladas don't sick when they bake. Evenly distribute the filling to each of the tortillas, roll up and place in a pan. Then pour the rest of the salsa on top of the enchilada and sprinkle a bit more cheese. Place in the oven and in about 20 minutes, the cheese will be melted and your home will smell like a mexican restaurant. Ole!

these smart and delicious tortillas are seriously the best (and low calorie too!)


don't forget to add the cheese!

pour a bit of salsa in the bottom of the pan to avoid sticking

mix the filling up

roll up in the tortillas

one for now and one for later!

 The Easiest Chicken Enchiladas Ever (Kevin and Amanda)

Make eight (8) enchiladas

1 (16 oz) jar Salsa Verde 2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese 3 cups cooked, chopped or shredded chicken 8 medium (soft taco size) flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon a thin layer of salsa verde into the bottom of the dish.

Combine chicken, 1 cup salsa verde, and 1 cup cheese in a bowl. Spoon about 1/3 cup mixture down the middle of a tortilla. Fold sides over and place seam side down in prepared baking dish. It’s okay if they overlap a bit. Top with remaining salsa and 1 cup shredded cheese. Bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes until bubbly. Serve and enjoy!

These enchiladas can be made with red salsa too!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Blue Cheese and Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes

Twice baked potatoes are something that is always on the menu in our house. In fact, it's my go to potato. That is if I am not making mashed. The best part about a twice baked potato is that not only can you make them a day or two ahead of time, but they freeze really well too. I love having quick and easy things to grab from the freezer to cook after a long day of work and school. Trust me, it makes all the difference when the last thing you want to do is be in the kitchen cooking. Which , I know sounds weird coming from me, but it's true. Sometimes you are just dang tired!

My mom first taught me how to make her original twice baked potato years and years ago - russet potatoes filled with cheddar cheese and chives! Then years later, she made another version with red potatoes filled with parmigiana and roasted garlic. Fancy. Both are so amazingly delicious and guests always think they are always so fancy. Let me tell you, they couldn't be easier to make. Trust me. Now, as much as I love my mom's two versions, I am always looking for new ways to spice up potatoes. The captain is a huge potato lover and will pretty much eat them in any form he can get them. Well, not sweet potatoes. Maybe someday I can change his mind, but for now, I will stick to regular potatoes. I knew the captain loved blue cheese, so I had to somehow incorporate that into the potato. At first, I thought it sounded strange, but I figured I'd seen it on menus before, so how weird could it be, right?

I did quite a bit of searching some of my favorite blogs and finally came across a recipe that even made my mouth water - blue cheese and bacon. Who doesn't love bacon, right? Come on now. So, I headed right to the store to get the few things I needed and then I came to the cheese section - who knew there were so many types of blue cheese. I seriously stood there for 15 minutes debating on which one to get. Then, I saw applewood smoked blue cheese. Intriguing, no? I thought so, so I through it in my cart and headed home with all my ingredients. Of course, you don't have to use applewood smoked. Just use whatever blue cheese you like or what your store has in stock. Some people say the smellier the better, but I say, just use what you like. No matter what you use, I know you will love these potatoes. Not only could you serve them with a simple salad, but you could also pair them with a nice grilled steak or chicken breast (and veggies, of course). How good does that sound? I am willing to bet that these blue cheese and bacon potatoes will soon become on your go-to list. They are that good. Have I steered you wrong yet? I don't think so.


mash that filling

look at all that blue cheese!

stuff the potato skins

top with cheddar cheese and bacon!

are you drooling yet?

Blue Cheese and Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes (Gimme Some Oven)

Makes 4-8 Servings

4 medium baking potatoes
1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (or more to taste)
1/4 cup milk or buttermilk
4 Tbsp. butter, cut into chunks
3/4 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
8 pieces bacon cooked crisp and crumbled
grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry potatoes. Prick each potato with a fork (so the steam can escape) and bake for one hour or until potatoes are done. You will know they are done when you can stick a knife in and they are tender. Or, if you are running short on time, prick them with a fork and cook in a microwave until tender.
Remove potatoes and let cool just a bit. Cut an opening on the top and hollow out each potato to make four servings, OR, cut each potato in half to make eight servings. You may want to hold them with a potholder as they will still be hot! Scoop out the insides and place in a bowl. Mash, and add butter, sour cream, blue cheese, milk, salt, pepper, and garlic. Beat with a hand mixer or stir with a wooden spoon until fluffy. Carefully spoon mixture back into potato shells. Place in a baking dish. At this point, you can place in your fridge for cooking later, or freeze for another day.
If baking right away, return to the hot oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove and sprinkle bacon and cheddar cheese over each potato. Bake an additional 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly! If you are baking from the freezer, let the potatoes defrost overnight in the fridge and then cook until warmed through. If cooking straight from the fridge, increase the cooking time to 30 minutes, or until warmed through. You'll know they are ready when the cheese is melted and you can smell them throughout your whole house!

A potato has never tasted so good!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Homemade Nutella Ice Cream

I could have sworn I posted this for you guys almost a year ago, but when I looked through everything, it wasn't there. Strange. Nevertheless, today, I have the best ice cream recipe for you. It takes five minutes to throw together and since it doesn't contain eggs, there is no need to stand over the stove whisking egg yolks. And no chance for curdled ice cream. Now that's just gross. Even though there are no eggs in this ice cream, you'd never know there was no custard base. This ice cream is rich, creamy and so so good. Just ask the captain. He's already eaten half the container. Don't tell him I told you that.

This ice cream came about when I had a huge jar of nutella sitting in my pantry just begging to be used. Of course I could use it in brownies or swirled in banana bread, but it has just been too darn hot to even want to turn on the oven and heat up the whole house. Let me tell you, that is the last thing I want to do after it has been over 100 degrees for several days in a row. Since I had another huge jar of nutella in the pantry (it's one of those things I always have, but never open for fear that I will eat the whole thing with a spoon!), I knew I had to make this again and finally share the recipe with you. All you need for this fabulously easy ice cream is nutella, milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and a bit of salt. That's it. Blend it all together in a blender until smooth and let chill for an hour or two to let everything combine. At this point, you'll be tempted to just drink the mixture through a straw. And no, I did not do that. I wanted to. Trust me.

Once the mixture has been chilled and is ready to go, give it another quick blend to mix it all up again. Then, as per your ice cream makers instructions, poor the chilled mixture into the machine (I have this machine and it's great!). My machine made this ice cream in about 25 minutes or so. Yours may be faster or longer, but just keep an eye on it. If you want to add chocolate chips or anything else, make sure to do so before it gets too hard. I usually add mine when it looks like soft serve ice cream. Then you know it will mix in really well. After the ice cream is made, you can of course eat it straight from the container, but it's best to freeze it so it becomes a bit more solid. This ice cream stays rather soft, but it will firm up a bit after several hours in the freezer.

Just a warning, this ice cream is completely addictive. I kid you not. And you will probably find yourself eating it straight from the container. Don't say I didn't warn you. Also, if you don't like nutella, you can substitute your favorite peanut butter (just not that all natural stuff - the oil makes for a slippery ice cream!). It's just like the filling of a peanut butter cup. So yummy!

there is really cream in that half and half container, don't worry.




add chocolate chips!

Homemade Nutella Ice Cream (slightly adapted from Scoop Adventures)

3/4 cup nutella
1/2 cup  sugar
1 1/3 cups whole milk (don't skimp here and use 1% or 2%, use the real deal)
1 1/3 cups  heavy cream
Pinch of salt and a splash of vanilla extract (about 1-2 teaspoons)

Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food process and process until smooth.  Chill mixture in refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Once ice cream base is thoroughly chilled, pour base into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Pack the ice cream into a plastic container.  Freeze until firm, at least 4 hours. Enjoy!

After this, you may find yourself never going back to store bought ice cream again!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Mom's Olive Dip

My mom's olive dip is beyond amazing. I am serious. I've even converted people who don't like olives to love this dip. Honest to goodness! I know that olive dip doesn't sound the most appealing (your probably thinking it's just a bunch of ground up olives, right?), but let me tell you, it's rich, creamy and loaded with olives. It's so good, I am willing to bet that you'd eat it straight from the bowl like I would. I didn't just admit that.

You only need five ingredients and a little bit of patience to make this dip - cream cheese, mayo, green olives and some of the olive juice, pecans and pepper. I didn't say this dip was good for you, but everything in moderation, right? I did say it was super duper ooberly delicious though! When making this dip, you must remember to use green olives. Not black. There is something about the tang of the green olives and the brine that give this dip it's something something. Just trust me on this one, okay? And also, no rushing to eating it once you mix it all up. I know it's tempting, but you need to let it sit at least over night for the nuts to soften up and so all those olive flavors can blend and mellow. 

Keep in mind that this dip easily doubles or triples for a crowd as well. A little goes a long way, but since it's so addicting, you might want to make more than you think is necessary. You can serve this super yummy dip on bread, on crackers, or even use it to make little tea sandwiches. The next time you are asked to bring something to a party or a potluck, bring this olive dip. Your guests will love you for it!

five ingredients!

mayo + cream cheese

look at all those olives!

don't forget the nuts and pepper

this dip only gets better as it sits

Mom's Olive Dip

12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayo
4 tbsp liquid from olives (add more, if needed)
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped green olives
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients and let sit overnight in the fridge to let flavors combine. Enjoy!

Forget the crackers, I could eat this dip with a spoon!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Tunnel of Fugde Cake

Whether it's someones retirement or someones birthday, I always have to make that person something extra special. Something special and extra sweet. When it came time for my dear coworker Stephanie's 50th birthday, I knew I had to come up with something just right for her. Especially since it was her big 5-0. I didn't tell you that though. She may hurt me for saying that. Not really. Well, maybe. You'd never know it though - she doesn't look a day over 21! Seriously. No joke.

I usually lean towards cupcakes or layer cakes when I make someone a special treat, but this time, I wanted to do something different. I just couldn't decide what. Baker problems! To gain some inspiration, I searched through my pantry for assistance, but nothing jumped out at me. Then, I looked through all my baking pans and there it was - my bundt pan. I rarely use that darn thing, and it was time to dust it off. The bundt pan makes such pretty cakes, but it is really underused. At least I don't use it very often. Sad. To be honest, I think the only thing I've ever made with mine is a coffee cake (and that's only because I searched high and low for a reasonably priced angel food cake pan and couldn't find one!).

My problem with bundt cakes is that I don't have many recipes for them. My momma always made a zucchini chocolate cake in the bundt pan, but all other recipes I've seen online or found in cookbooks often call for a boxed mix. I have nothing against box mixes (they make things easier sometimes when you are in a pinch!), but I wanted to get away from that, if all possible. Especially since I have almost ever baking essential in my pantry. I searched high and low and then forwards and backwards before I came across the perfect recipe for dear Stephanie - tunnel of fudge cake! This cake was developed at the famous Pillsbury Bake-Off (oh, how I dream of being there!) and somehow comes out of the oven with this warm and gooey fudge layer in the middle. Hence the name, tunnel of fudge. Not to mention, it's topped off with a fudge icing! I can't explain this cake other than it's incredibly wonderful and something totally unexpected when you cut into it. This cake may not be difficult to make or super fancy, but boy is it so rich and delicious. This chocolaty bunt cake is definitely now on my top favorite chocolate cake list. Bet you didn't know I had one of those lists, did you?

don't mind my recovery powder amongst the ingredients

hot water  + chocolate

adding the eggs and vanilla to the butter and sugar

sift the cocoa to help eliminate lumps!

same with the flour

make sure to spray your pan reallllly good.

of course I had to add sprinkles.

Tunnel of Fudge Cake (Annie's Eats)

To prep the pan:
Coat with nonstick spray

For the cake:
½ cup boiling water
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp. salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
20 tbsp. (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the glaze: 
¾ cup heavy cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ tsp. vanilla extract
 Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Spray bundt pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, pour the boiling water over the chopped chocolate.  Let stand for a minute, then whisk until smooth.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, confectioners’ sugar, and salt.  Combine the eggs and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup and beat lightly.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the granulated sugar, brown sugar, and butter.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed, add in the egg mixture just until combined.  Add the chocolate mixture and mix until incorporated.  Blend in the dry ingredients until just combined.  

Spread the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for about 45 minutes or until the edges of the cake begin to pull away from the pan. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack for 1½ hours before inverting onto a cake platter.  Allow to cool completely, about 2 more hours.

To make the glaze, combine the cream, corn syrup, and chocolate in a small saucepan.  Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until smooth.  Blend in the vanilla.  Set aside for about 30 minutes, until slightly thickened.  Drizzle the glaze over the cake and let set for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

This cake may just become your new favorite chocolate cake!


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Spinach and Turkey Sausage Egg Cups

Although my typical breakfast is a cool and refreshing protein shake, I am always looking for something else quick and easy to grab on the go. Especially at 6am when I am headed out the door to work. Even more so, I want something that tastes yummy and will keep my full for the better part of my morning. I love waffles as much as the next person, but all those carbs don't keep this girl full. At least not for very long. Mmm, syrup.

Last week I was looking to switch up my breakfast shake routine to something else and came across an egg cup recipe that looked rather intriguing. Plus, I already had everything in my fridge, so I couldn't really say no. Now, you might be thinking - what the heck is an egg cup?! An egg cup is like a mini crustless quiche baked right into a muffin tin. They are super easy to make and you can switch them up to include whatever ingredients you want. Plus, they are ready to go from start to finish in under 30 minutes. Now we're talking. These egg cups contain mostly egg whites (with a few whole eggs thrown in too), unsweetened almond milk (but you can use skim or whatever milk you like here), a little bit of cheddar cheese, spinach and turkey breakfast sausage. I got my turkey sausage at Whole Foods in the frozen section (Applegate brand is my favorite!), but you can use whatever kind of turkey sausage you like (if it's fresh, make sure to cook it up beforehand). Of course you can omit the sausage if you are veggie, but you can also use ham, bacon or any other meat you like in place of it. Like I say, this recipe is pretty flexible!

Once you have all your ingredients ready, you mix the egg whites with the whole eggs, milk and chopped spinach. Make sure to use fresh spinach here - none of that frozen stuff. The frozen will make your egg cups super soggy and look like they aren't cooked. That does not make for a happy egg cup. Trust me. Once all the egg mixture is all ready to go, spray your muffin pan with non-stick spray and evenly disperse the cheese and cut up sausage into each cup. Then fill up each cup with the egg mixture, making sure you fill all the cups. The eggs will puff up during the cooking process, but will deflate once you take them out of the oven.

After about 20 minutes in the oven, your house will be smelling like breakfast heaven! To get these bad boys out of the pan, let them cool for about 15-20 minutes and then go around each cup with a knife to loosen them up. They should pop right out, but you may need to give them a little help. These egg cups are perfect to enjoy right out of the oven, or they will keep in your fridge for up to a week and even longer in your freezer. The best part of this cute little breakfast is that each cup is about 70 calories, has 4 grams of fat and 9 grams of protein each. How great is that? Although these egg cups are great for breakfast, they also make a great lunch. Especially with a fresh sweet piece of fruit. Now we're talking!

If you use the egg whites from Costco, one carton = 10 egg whites

evenly distribute the sausage and cheese

don't forget to add the spinach

don't let the cups overflow!

baked and ready to go for the week!

Spinach and Turkey Sausage Egg Cups

10 egg whites
4 whole eggs
1/2 chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
6 breakfast turkey sausage links (I used Applegate), roughly chopped
1/2 unsweetened almond milk (or you can use soy or any other milk)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, place the egg whites and whole eggs into a bowl and mix until combined. Then add the chopped spinach and milk.

Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non stick spray and evenly divide the cheddar cheese and sausage amongst the cups.  Then add the egg mixture to each cup, making sure it's evenly distributed. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until the egg cups are firm. Enjoy!

Eggs don't have to be just for breakfast!