Category Archives: Food

Feeling Crabby Mac N Cheese

Hello, my name is Leah, and I am addicted to pasta and cheese.  I have a love affair with macaroni and cheese. Which is why I die for this recipe. Easy, comfort food for the entire family and still pretty healthy, minus the 20 lbs of cheese…

Ingredients

Pasta (I use quinoa pasta so it’s healthy and filled with protein)
Lots of freshly shredded cheese
Sour cream (about a 1/2 cup)
Crab
Broccoli
2 tbsp butter
Splash of milk

Cook broccoli as you usually do, I steam mine in a small amount of water with the lid on. Get the broccoli out before it gets soft at all – you do not want mushy broc!

Shred the heck out of some cheese. I mean shred and then shred some more. Unless you don’t like cheese, but who doesn’t like cheese? I used cheddar and mozzarella, but pick your faves here or what you have on hand.

Make your pasta and drain it about 2 minutes before it is done, as you are going to bake the entire dish later.

Mix the pasta, cheese, sour cream, butter, splash of milk and a little salt and pepper in a large  bowl. Once it is mixed well enough dump in broccoli and crab meat and then spread out in a baking dish. We sometimes use real crab meat and sometimes for a deal we use faux crab meat, go with what you like or use grilled chicken!

Bake this dish for about 20 minutes or until the cheese mixture gets bubbly. I did a thin layer of parmesan cheese on top to give a sort of “crust” which you could omit or even go heavier on, total preference. Serve immediately but also stores well!

If you want to lighten this meal up, use fat free sour cream and milk and omit butter. The pasta is packed with protein, the broccoli and crab are super healthy, and the cheese is just a bonus. Enjoy and PLEASE let me know what you think!

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For My Valentine: Red Velvet Cake Roll Up

I found a recipe for a red velvet cake roll-up this week and was over-the-moon excited. One, it is red so basically it is a built in Valentine dessert and two, it happens to be my Valentine’s favorite kind of cake. Bonus!

I thought this weekend would be a good test run. So I followed the directions exactly, mixed the dry first.

Mixed the wet ingredients plus the sugar. By the way, how creepy does that food coloring look???

Heated up some cherry soda (per the recipe!) reduced it down and added to the other wet ingredients. Then slowly added the dry until just combined. It seemed awfully soupy, but I went with it.

The cake baked completely lopsided, which still seemed okay. See how the left side is really thick and the right side is next to nothing?!?

Rolled her up in a towel to cool completely and got cracking on the cream cheese filling.

Cream cheese, heavy cream, sugar, and almond extract = amazing. Just add and whip together until fluffy.

Then it was time to unroll the cake, add the filling, and roll back up. Ready??

Yep. This is what I found. Probably because I used gluten free flour which never seems to hold together right. Who knows. So what did we do?

Slathered those puppies in filling and stacked ’em up! Delicious. Ugly to look at, fantastic to eat. Don’t try this at home kids.

Dessert is served. Happy Valentine’s Day love!

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Basil Grilled Shrimp Recipe

For Christmas my husband got me one of the best gifts I have ever gotten: a two-sided stove top grill and griddle. Seriously, I always wanted one after watching Giada grill salmon or bread but probably would have never purchased it. It is fantastic. It does everything!

I made lemon pancakes – my specialty!

I grilled chicken.

Then one day I opened the drawer and saw wooden skewers and thought – grilled shrimp!? So we tried it.

I mixed up some basil (I cheat here and use the tubed kind, simply because it stays longer), lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic to season the shrimp. Soak the skewer before you put it on the shrimp if you think it is at all possible that there might be an open flame (like if you cook these babies outside!) and then push the shrimp on carefully. We use frozen raw shrimp because our grocery store only carries “fresh” shrimp cooked. Oh, and Alton Brown told us as long as they are thawed properly they are just about equal to fresh – love Good Eats!

I brushed the shrimp with the seasoning mixture on both sides and the popped them on the grill.

They need about 2-3 minutes per side, but cook them until they start to get pink. Careful here, too long on the grill and you will eat rubbery shrimpies!

We paired our grilled shrimp with boiled and salted red potatoes and veggies – the balance of the basic red potato and the bright, citrusy shrimp is fan-tastic but you could pair with just about anything. Even tossed on a salad would be great!

Appetizer Time!

Phew, it has been a mad rush of holiday events, but I am back! Christmas was fantastic, as usual, and it was a shock this week being back in the real world (and not filling myself up with fudge).

One of my favorite things about holiday parties is being able to bring appetizers to share with friends and family. I love making new things and I especially love seeing people enjoy the foods I made (and laughing on the inside as people enjoy the gluten free items unknowingly – gluten free can be amazing too!). Here is my newest adventure in the appetizer world: Goat Cheese, Cranberry, and Walnut Canapes; perfect for your next party or even a fancy night in!

Goat Cheese, Cranberry, and Walnut Canapes

I am in lust with Whole Living magazine. Phenom. Awesome ideas, inspirational stories, and delicious foods! This recipe is from Whole Living online.

Ingredients

8 oz goat cheese
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
24 slices of a baguette
fresh thyme
salt and pepper
olive oil

Directions

Go crazy and chop up some walnuts. You want them to be big enough to use as toppers, but small enough to fit in one bite. Toss them with the cinnamon, some salt and pepper, and olive oil until coated. Layer on to a baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes at 350° to 375°. I used 375° for about 5 minutes, but I think that lower and slower might be better!

Slice your baguette thin and layer on the same baking sheet once the walnuts are out of the oven. Wipe generously with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Pop these in the oven for about 12 minutes – careful not to burn! Crunchy is good but just a few minutes too long could be disastrous. (See below, I was close to disaster!)

While the baguette is toasting up, mix the cranberries, chopped thyme, goat cheese and a few tablespoons of water in a large bowl until smooth. This recipe called for 1 teaspoon of thyme but I did not think it was enough; use your judgement!

Once the bread is cool spread the goat cheese mixture on each slice and then top with walnuts and thyme. Refrigerate if making ahead or serve immediately. Be sure to taste one (just one!).

Update: For those of you who are gluten free, I used Schar Baguettes and they worked perfectly!

Date Night Recipe

I feel like I have not seen the inside of my house since Thanksgiving. This is not entirely true, but it feels that way. I travel a lot with my job and I am pretty sure we have had “holiday” events every other day since Thanksgiving. Which I love. However, I do miss my house, reality tv and pajamas.

We are now constantly busy with shopping, Christmas concerts, and work -related holiday celebrations, so when we finally didn’t have plans this Monday (woo hoo!) I decided it was time for a date night – in the living room!

I wanted to make it seem fancy and special but had no intention of going out to a restaurant with all the people and noise (I know I sound like I am 80!). So I made a quick menu that was special but so easy, lit some candles and cranked on the music…. Oh and we let the wine flow freely!

Edamame Appetizer

Ingredients

shelled soy beans (edamame)
feta cheese
salt to taste

Directions

I use frozen shelled edamame 100% of the time. There are a lot of reasons to go frozen, but obviously if you can find and want to use fresh go for it! I like to have edamame on hand, so having some in the freezer at all times is ideal. Plus the convenience of simply having to cut the bag open is great AND the nutritional value is supposed to be higher in frozen veggies than fresh in the produce section of the store.

Toss the edamame in boiling water with salt, for about 3-4 minutes. Drain them and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking process. Put in a fancy dish and sprinkle salt and feta cheese on top. The heat from the freshly cooked beans heats up the cheese and softens it, soooo yummy! I like my edamame really salty, but do whatever you prefer here – you don’t need the salt.

Scallops, Spinach Salad, and Balsamic Dressing

Homemade dressing is my favorite; I love being able to make the type of dressing I want right before eating and it tastes better. If you want to make your own dressings always keep the basics on hand: vinegar, oil, lemons (or lemon juice), garlic, and seasonings. I keep balsamic, red wine, white wine, and apple cider vinegar on hand at all times – you can make any dressing combo if you have these items!

Ingredients

scallops (fresh or frozen)
baby spinach leaves
goat cheese
cranberries (dried)

dressing:

balsamic vinegar
olive oil (preferably a good quality oil)
oregano
lemon juice
brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Heat some olive oil in a saute pan for the scallops. Be sure you rinse the scallops with water before use (even if they are frozen) and remove the extra little muscle on the side. When the oil is hot place the scallops in – and be careful! The oil may go nuts and splatter everywhere so step back! You may want to have a splatter screen ready if you own one. Do not move the scallops, you want to let them sear in the oil for about two minutes on each side. Brown and crispy is what you are looking for.

To make the dressing you just eye ball it, I use about three parts oil to one part vinegar. Just a few squeezes of a lemon and a tablespoon of brown sugar will take some of the “tang” out. Sprinkle in your seasonings and taste before serving! Add whatever you think it needs to suite your own taste.

Sprinkle the dried cranberries and goat cheese on the spinach and drizzle the dressing over top. Serve alongside the scallops. Enjoy!

Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal

I don’t like most breakfast foods. I don’t know why, I just never have. I love cereal and pancakes, but omelets, scrambled eggs, and toast? You can have them. So when I found this strawberries and cream oatmeal recipe (from Women’s Health magazine) I knew it was for me: the perfect mix of sweet and hearty, no eggs in sight, and healthy.

I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free oats – delicious. These will be a staple in my house from now on. Oh, and imagine the different creations you can make!

Strawberries and Cream Oatmeal

Ingredients

1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp honey
strawberries
1/4 cup greek yogurt

Directions

Add the water to the oats and microwave for two minutes. Stir and microwave another 30 seconds. Cover and let the mixture hang out for about three minutes. You can do this on the stove but you are on your own – I don’t have the time or patience for that!

Mix in your yogurt, honey, and berries. If you like really sweet oatmeal, add extra honey!

Grab a good book or check out the day’s news and enjoy! I usually have a cup of green tea on the side, this combo is perfect for a cold day.

You will not miss those instant packets with this decadent oatmeal, plus you don’t have the chemicals, preservatives, and yucky stuff (if that is something you worry about for your family). Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

During my Christmas-decorating, kitchen-painting, house-cleaning rampage I got a hankering to cook. Crazy, yes. But once you get in the Suzy Homemaker Mood, you’re stuck. What goes better with holiday decorating than a down-home, chicken classic like chicken and dumplings!

Absolutely one of the easiest things I have ever made and I live for slow cooker recipes; there is no feeling like walking in the house and smelling a delicious, homemade meal.I grabbed this recipe from Betty Crocker and made a few adaptations as I went; I am pretty sure you can’t mess this up.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients

3 chicken breasts
1 – 2 cups frozen veggies of your choice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
pepper
seasoned salt
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch

For dumplings:

1 egg
1/3 cup milk
3/4 cup Bisquick (I used their gluten free mix)
2 tablespoons butter melted

Directions

Toss the chicken, veggies, and stock (with seasonings to taste) in your slow cooker. You can cut up the chicken if you want, but it will be tender and fall apart by the end of the cooking process. Crank up the heat.

Mix the milk and cornstarch together until combined. When the chicken mixture is heated up add the milk and cornstarch mixture, stir to thicken. Pop the lid back on and cook for about 4 hours. You can cook for longer, it will only make it better!

When you are about 30 minutes away from eating mix the dumpling ingredients with a fork until blended. Drop rounded spoonfuls in to the slow cooker (about 8-10 dumplings) and cook for about 30 minutes more.

Serve immediately and piping hot; tastes amazing as left overs too! This recipe makes about 4 – 5 servings depending on how hungry you are.

Corn Bread Muffins

For our Fakesgiving celebration I wanted to make bread to go with our meal, so I found the perfect recipe for corn bread muffins from Real Simple and even prepped the muffin tins. Then there was a turkey mishap. To keep things moving (and to not be baking when our friends arrived), I decided it was best to scrap the muffin idea. That meant corn bread muffins for breakfast the day after!

So easy to make – the muffins were finished and the kitchen was spotless in less than 35 minutes. I made this recipe gluten free with all purpose flour and it was fantastic! Corn bread has such a warm feeling, it is perfect for the holidays, but would also be awesome with chilli or soup on a cold day.

Honey Corn Bread Muffins

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter – melted
1 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup of honey

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375° and grease the muffin tin.

Combine all the dry ingredients together in one bowl and the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

Slowly add the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients bowl, stirring as you go.

Once combined, spoon in to muffin tin (makes about 12 muffins). Bake for 30-35 minutes, until top is golden brown and toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy with butter, honey, jam or just by themselves! Best served warm. Excellent for breakfast too!

Chocolate Leaves

Nothing says “It’s Fall!” like leaves, so I thought these chocolate maple leaf candies would be a perfect take-home goody for our friends at Fakesgiving. Who doesn’t love chocolate – especially when it is so pretty! I picked out chocolate melting discs in fall colors and used the idea from Pinterest that I posted about a while back and got to making some candy. A little wine, some good music, and patience is really all you need. Give these little leaves a try, you won’t be sorry!

All you need are melting chocolate discs in any colors you choose, maple flavoring, and candy molds. I used yellow, orange, and brown like these leaves I saw here and followed their directions to make the leaves turn out multi-colored instead of poop brown. Although I did over mix a few times and ended up with maple leaves the color of baby poo. Oh well, they still taste yummy!

Melt your chocolates discs in a double boiler, lightly mixing. I tried to line my colors up next to each other and only mix each color with itself – this worked better than my first attempt at mixing them together where they turned brown (first attempt is below!).

Once the chocolate is melted, mix in the maple flavoring. I was told to only use a drop or two, but I could not taste any maple! So the next couple batches I added a lot more – add until you get the taste you are looking for (yep, you are going to have to sample a few!).

Quickly spoon the chocolate in to the molds (do so carefully, so they don’t mix!). I used the tap method religiously: literally fill with chocolate and tap the mold as many times as you need to on the counter to get the chocolate to settle. I then popped the molds in the fridge for about 30 minutes or so to harden. The chocolate leaves come out of the molds very easily, almost like an ice cube in an ice cube tray (remember those?) just be careful not to break off delicate stems if your mold has them. I lost some stems. I ate them so as not to waste any chocolate. The losses may or may not be intentional :).

I packed these in to a pretty box lined with parchment paper and tied them with a bow. These are so special, both in taste and appearance, that they make excellent gifts. A perfect way to show someone you care.

The finished boxes matched the jars of almonds perfectly and made an awesome little display that worked as decoration for the party! See how to make the almonds here.

Nuts About You!

I love my friends, I really do. They make me laugh like no one does, they support me, they cheer for me, and they allow me to share in their lives with them – I could not ask for better people in my life! This year I decided to show them how much I love them by making them small gifts to take home from our Fakesgiving celebration. Here is the tutorial on the sweet almonds I made, so easy you are going to love them! Be sure to make extra for yourself because they are snacksational!

Cinnamon Sweet Almonds

Ingredients

1 cup of sugar
3 cups of almonds (shelled)
1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon
1/4 cup of water

Ingredients

All you have to do is mix everything together in a sautee pan over medium heat. Don’t stop stirring until the sugar is crystallized! You will know when this happens – if this is the first time you have done something like this you may be unsure like me, but I promise, the minute it happens you will know! The syrupy-mixture stops looking like syrup and turns grainy.

Spread the almonds out on parchment paper to cool and try a few! They cool quickly, the biggest challenge will be not eating them all!

You can make these a few days in advance, just be sure to keep them in an airtight container. I split the almonds up in to 8 ounce jars (from The Container Store) and put the lids on to stop munching on them.

To make the jars look better cut burlap to fit over the lids and then a pretty ribbon to secure the fabric. Add a little tag with a holiday greeting or the receiver’s name and voila! instant stylish gift!

I had the best time making these and I was so happy with the final product. Tasty and cute – perfect for our friends! I will definitely be giving these gifts out again (Christmas is right around the corner!!).