Lemon-Harissa Sweet and White Potato French Fries

Sweet and White Lemon Harissa French Fries Have you ever let your mind wander to the point in which you’ve scared yourself silly? Like you know that what you’re thinking is highly improbable, yet you’re so spooked, that any and/or all reason has flown out the door? I have. Too many times…

I spent the weekend at the cabin…And while Sophie and I were sitting on the porch one evening, there was a sound coming out of the woods that I just couldn’t recognize. It was kind of eerie sounding, and I just have no idea what it was. Maybe some sort of an owl. Or a possum. I don’t know..I don’t even know what a possum sounds like, but..I’m not going to lie to you…it did enter my mind as a possibility.

Sophie sat there staring into the woods, so I know that she heard it too.

When I texted my friend about it…the name “Sasquatch” was suggested. I did the “lol” text back…but it didn’t take me long to grab Sophie and go inside because it was getting “too chilly outside”…

Truth be told, it wasn’t cold out at all.
I’m just a big chicken.
I was afraid of the noise.
Of Sasquatch.
Sweet and White Lemon Harissa French Fries 3You know..I could even handle Sasquatch, as long as it wasn’t a bear. I’m terrified of bears. I don’t even know why, because I’ve really never met a bear. In my mind though, I have the whole “bear meeting” scenario played out, so I’m quite certain it wouldn’t go very well.

I’ve heard that you’re supposed to punch the bear in the nose to scare him away. I’m not sure I would even remember that if I came face to face with one…

And honestly?
I don’t think I pack a very big punch.

I heard about a man who lives not too far from our cabin, who, for a short time was feeding the bears. Every day, he’d put donuts out for them, and every day the bears would come to feast on those donuts. They became quite greedy…those little bears…and followed the man wherever he went on his property. It got so bad, that he finally had to stop feeding them.

And that, my friends… is a very good reason why you should never throw donuts outside.
Sweet and White Potato French FriesAnyway..getting back to Sasquatch scaring me back into the cabin… It’s really okay. I can always find something to do inside…and safely tucked in my little kitchen, I started slicing potatoes…and it didn’t take long before Sasquatch and the bears were a distant memory.

A mix of sweet potatoes and white potatoes, these french fries are deep fried, tossed in a bowl of harissa infused olive oil, and sprinkled with some fresh thyme leaves and freshly grated parmesan. And if that isn’t enough… a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top just takes these french fries to a level that is worthy of the biggest french fry aficionado. Like me.

I’m not going to sit here and tell you how quick and easy they are, because we all know that if you want to do it right, you have to double fry fries. It takes time. It can be messy. But I am going to sit here and tell you how delicious they are. They’re worth the time, and the clean up. I promise.

Life is good. It’s a “I still don’t know what was making that noise, but now that I’m home and rational again, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Sasquatch…” kind of good.

Sweet and White Lemon Harissa French Fries 2

Sweet and White Harissa Lemon French Fries
Author: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
A mix of sweet potatoes and white potatoes, these french fries are deep fried, tossed in a bowl of harissa infused olive oil, and sprinkled with some fresh thyme leaves and freshly grated parmesan. And if that isn’t enough… a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top just takes these french fries to a level that is worthy of the biggest french fry aficionado.
Ingredients
  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 3 tbsp harissa infused olive oil
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Instructions
  1. Wash and dry the potatoes. Slice into ¼” thick fries. Try to keep them as uniform in thickness as possible, so that they cook in the same amount of time.
  2. Bring the vinegar and water to boil in a medium saucepan or dutch oven. Add one half of the potatoes and boil for exactly four minutes. Remove with a wire spider skimmer and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Let them dry completely, flipping them so that they dry on all sides. Let cool completely. Repeat with the other half of the potatoes.
  3. While the potatoes are cooling, heat the canola oil in a large saucepan (You want the oil to be at least 2” deep, so add more oil if you think you need it). I deep fry them when the oil reaches 350 degrees.
  4. When the oil is ready, add a few potatoes at a time to the pan. Don’t overcrowd them. Deep fry for 3 minutes. Remove with a wire spider skimmer to a baking sheet with a cooling rack placed on top. Repeat with remaining potatoes, and let cool completely on the cooling rack, which by the time you’ve finished the last of the potatoes, the first batch will have already cooled.
  5. At this point the fries will still be white / light orange and soft.
  6. Now to bring a little color and crispiness to the fries….This is where you really need to stand over the pan and watch the french fries cook…Add ½ of the cooled potatoes back to the oil, and let them fry until they’re golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oil with the wire skimmer, and drain them on the baking sheet with the cooling rack. Salt to taste. Keep in warm oven until the remainder of the french fries are cooked.
  7. After the last batch has been deep fried, add the fries to a large bowl. Drizzle with the harissa infused olive oil, and carefully toss until the fries are fully coated. Divide into four servings, and top with parmesan cheese. Sprinkle each serving with thyme leaves. Serve with lemon wedges, and squeeze the lemon juice over the loaded fries right before eating.
  8. Enjoy!

Malted Milk Cupcakes

Malted Milk Cupcakes

I have a love/hate relationship with malted milk balls. There are times when I will think that I’ll never eat another malted milk ball for the rest of my life…and then the next day crave one so badly, I wonder how I could ever live without them.

I can go years without eating them…and then have to have them in my house for six months straight.

I’m currently in month number two.

While I do love a high quality malted milk ball, my relationship with them insists that I only buy the lowest priced package that a person can buy right in the candy aisle at the local grocery store. I can’t bring myself to pay $20 for a bag of them, especially since there is a chance that my short lived admiration of them could expire at any time.

And since I’m still early on in this present love of them, I thought I should whip up a batch of malted milk cupcakes with a delightful chocolate malted milk frosting before I lost interest.

I should be very clear here. I don’t think I could ever lose interest in these cupcakes.

I mean…they’re a cupcake.
And we all know how I feel about cupcakes.

I would definitely eat these cupcakes any day, any time, regardless of their malted milkedness… The moist cupcake has a faint malted flavor, not overpowering at all, while the chocolate frosting has a definite malted milk ball flavor. And for these? I did actually run to a local chocolatier and bought exactly 36 premium chocolate milk balls for this batch. They’re definitely worth it..

Life is good. It’s a “Malted Milk Heaven… well….at least for a couple more months…” kind of good.

Malted Milk Cupcakes
Author: 
Serves: 36
 
A moist and delicious cupcake that tastes just like a malted milk ball!
Ingredients
Yellow Malted Milk Cupcake
  • ⅔ cup butter
  • 1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 2-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups malted milk powder (I used Carnation, found in the coffee aisle at the supermarket)
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
Chocolate Malted Milk Frosting
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 malted milk powder
  • 2 cups butter, room temperature (Yes. Really.)
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
Instructions
Malted Milk Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Prepare cupcake tins with paper cupcake wrappers.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat on high until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until fully incorporated after each addition. Beat for another minute until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and malted milk powder. With the mixer on low speed, begin adding a few spoonfuls of the flour mixture into the egg mixture alternating with the milk, until all of the flour and milk are fully incorporated. Turn the mixer to high, and let beat for about three minutes.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared cupcake tins, to half full. Bake for 16 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool completely on a cooling rack. Frost with Chocolate Malted Milk Frosting.
Chocolate Malted Milk Frosting
  1. Sift together the powdered sugar and malted milk powder.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the melted chocolate*, vanilla, and salt on medium speed. On low speed, add the powdered sugar mixture a few spoonfuls at a time until fully incorporated, Add the heavy cream, and beat on low for about one minute. Turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides and bottom into the middle of the bowl. Beat on high for about three minutes, and then turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl one more time. Beat on high for three minutes.
  3. *To melt the chocolate: Break into pieces, and place into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and stir. It should continue to melt on its own as you stir. If you think it needs a little longer in the microwave, microwave for 10 to 15 seconds more, remove and stir. It will continue to melt on its own.
  4. Using your favorite decorating tip, pipe the frosting onto each cupcake. I used Atecco #826 for these cupcakes. Top with a malted milk ball.
Notes
Just a quick note about the frosting. This recipe will frost 36 cupcakes with a normal amount of frosting. If you want to go wild and crazy like I did in the photo, you'll want to double the recipe!

 

Pasta Salad for Breakfast

How about pasta salad for breakfastI feel like I’m in a race to buy all of the fruits and vegetables that are in season right now…and cook every last dish possible with them, before that small window of opportunity closes. And the funny thing is… there really isn’t anything in season yet. But yet, here I am…making summer meals as if it’s summer already. I know that I’m rushing it, but summer is so short lived, I feel like I have to hurry up and enjoy it all now, before October comes around with it’s fall harvest.

I think too, that we spend the winter months eating heavy meals…you know…the stick to your ribs meals that we all love. And boy, did they stick to my ribs this year. I gained seven pounds this past winter. Seven pounds. Do you know how hard it is for a “Woman of maturity” (as my doctor called me this week) to lose seven pounds? It’s going to take me at least a month.

I mean, seriously…I could lose it in a couple weeks if I really worked hard at it.. but come on… it’s me we’re talking about (shaking my head as I’m typing this). Because you know me. I’m going to be bad. If someone puts cake in front of me…I’m going to eat it. Not out of politeness.. but because it’s cake. And I love cake.

I know.
I’m not sorry.

But.. it’s always so much easier to eat healthier when there is an abundance of healthy fruits and vegetables during late spring and summer. It’s a treat, really. I tend to eat healthier without even realizing I’m eating healthier.
pasta salad for breakfastAnd my beloved Wegmans seems to have a lot of fresh vegetables available right now. I was really excited to see the display of corn, and have been buying a ton of it lately. It hasn’t disappointed yet, filled with great flavor… and I can’t seem to get tired of eating it blackened, which is really simple on the grill, or even on your gas stovetop!

And why not a salad for breakfast? It’s delicious, and packed with all of the energy you need to get your day going! You can most definitely eat your bacon and eggs with no guilt.. at least I do! Honestly, there’s so little bacon in the salad, but it still gives you that “Mmm, bacon” feeling when you do get a piece on your fork.

What might sound crazy to you, but I absolutely love, is the fresh lime drizzled over this salad. Lime over eggs is surprisingly delicious! The addition of black beans, ditalini pasta, corn, tomatoes, creamy avocado, and queso blanco give it a delicious Mexican flair! And the tang from mustard and lime vinaigrette, balances out the slight bitterness of the micro greens…and homemade tortilla chips add the perfect finish to this delightful salad!

Life is good. It’s a “That doctor is lucky he didn’t get a punch in the eye… A woman of maturity…Ha!! …I should have kicked his ass down the street…” kind of good.

Pasta Salad   For   Breakfast

Pasta Salad for Breakfast
Author: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
A delicious salad with eggs and bacon, micro greens, black beans, blackened corn and pasta... finished with a tangy mustard and lime vinaigrette.
Ingredients
The Salad
  • 2 cups cooked ditalini pasta (or your favorite pasta)
  • 2 cups micro greens
  • ½ cup black beans
  • 1 ear of corn, blackened over the grill or stove, kernels cut from the cob
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 3 tbsp minced red onion
  • 1 avocado, cut into ½" cubes
  • 4 oz queso blanco
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, sliced in half
  • Lime wedges for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
Mustard and Lime Vinaigrette
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
Homemade Tortilla Chips
  • 2 large flour tortillas, cut into eighths
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • Salt
Instructions
The Salad
  1. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, micro greens, black beans, corn kernels, bacon, tomato, and red onion. Toss with Mustard and Lime Vinaigrette. Top with queso blanco, avocado, and hard boiled eggs. Add salt and pepper to your desired taste. Serve with warm homemade tortilla chips and lime wedge.
Mustard and Lime Vinaigrette
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, spicy brown mustard, granulated sugar, salt, and black pepper. Continue to whisk until well blended. Chill until ready to use.
Homemade Tortilla Chips
  1. Over medium heat, heat the vegetable oil in a medium frying pan. Add the tortilla wedges a few at a time (don't overcrowd the pan) and cook until golden brown on one side. Flip the wedges, and try until that side is golden brown. Remove from the oil, and drain on a dish lined with paper towel, sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining tortilla wedges. Serve hot.

 

Cream Puffs

You know…sometimes I’m not the most perceptive person in the world. Truth be told, I probably spend most of my days in oblivion… but that’s okay, right?

Don’t they say that ignorance is bliss? Sometimes I really think it is…

I think though, in my subconscious…or unconsciousness…or whatever you want to call it… I DO notice things…but then I tuck them away, and they come back sometimes as my own ideas. Or at least I think they’re my own ideas.

Like these adorable cream puffs. I made them one night last week… cute little vanilla cream filled profiteroles with chocolate ganache and whipped cream…made to look like mini hot fudge sundaes.
Cream PuffsThey’re really cute, aren’t they? I thought I was brilliant. Genius, really.

A couple of days went by, and the cream puffs were all devoured. I had started to think about what I wanted to write for this post, and just as I was drifting off to sleep a few nights ago…. I was jolted awake by one simple thought.

I’ve seen them before.

Yeah. I know I’ve seen them. Well. Shoot. Someone else had made these. Hand slap to the head.

And as soon as that thought hit me, I knew exactly where I had seen them.

I found them online the very next morning (they’re not really the same, but similar…) and I emailed Naomi from Baker’s Royale immediately, telling her of my blunder…. Where I unknowingly (or was it subconscious???) made my cream puffs look like what I planned to be adorable hot fudge sundaes, but in reality, they look like her pretty Banana Split Eclairs.

She’s such a delight, sweet Naomi, and happily told me that I should post them anyway. She doesn’t know it yet, but we’re best friends now. Seriously…stop by Bakers Royale, and you’ll see what I mean.

Thank you, Naomi….for your kind and generous soul… I truly appreciate your understanding and blessing!!

I’m so happy to be posting these today, because I really wanted to share these cream puffs with you. They’re so delicious… and so easy…you can have them made from start to finish in about an hour! The vanilla cream is super easy… and even easier if you use a boxed no cook vanilla pudding mix, combined with some whipped cream. I’ve included the recipe for the vanilla custard cream, but honestly, if you’re short on time, a boxed pudding makes a delicious filling for cream puffs too!

Pate a choux, is also ridiculously simple, and turns out to be a light and airy pastry that is hollow in the middle… perfect to hold that creamy vanilla custard. The custard, and the chocolate ganache topping almost gives this a boston cream flavor… with whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry to give it that festive and happy touch!

If you’ve shied away from making these before… go ahead and make them! You’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how easy they really are to make…and you’ll find yourself making them all the time, because they’ll become the most requested dessert from you. I promise.
cream puffs 1

Cream Puffs
Author: 
Serves: 12
 
Cream puffs made to look like mini hot fudge sundaes make a delightfully delicious dessert!
Ingredients
Cream Filling
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp. granulated sugar (plus one teaspoon sugar for whipped cream)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten in a small bowl
  • 1 - ½ tsp vanilla (1/2 tsp for custard, 1 tsp for whipped cream)
Pate a Choux
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 large eggs
Chocolate Ganache
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate
  • ½ cup heavy cream
Toppings
  • 12 maraschino cherries with stems
  • Sprinkles (Jimmies)
Instructions
Cream Filling
  1. You'll want to make the cream filling first, so that it has time to cool while you're preparing the pate a choux.
  2. The cream filling is made in two parts, custard and whipped cream, that will be folded together.
  3. In a small saucepan, whisk together one cup of the heavy cream, cornstarch, and granulated sugar over medium heat. Let cook, whisking periodically until the cream begins to scald with little bubbles around the edges of the pan. Remove from heat.
  4. Whisk about two tablespoons of cream into the beaten egg, and then slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the pan. whisking constantly until fully incorporated.
  5. Place the pan back to the heat, and continue to stir until thickened, about three to five minutes. Do not boil. If desired, strain the custard through a sieve.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat one last time, and stir in ½ tsp vanilla. Refrigerate until completely cooled.
  7. To make the whipped cream: In a large mixing bowl, add the remaining cup of heavy cream, 1 tsp (or more, depending on your desired sweetness) and 1 tsp vanilla. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. You want the whipped cream to be more solid than fluffy, because you'll be folding one half of it into the custard, and piping the other half onto the top of the cream puffs.
  8. When the custard is completely cooled, carefully fold one half of the whipped cream into the custard until blended. Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
Pate a Choux
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Bring the water, butter, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan.
  4. As soon as the butter is melted, add the flour, and stir quickly until when fully combined, the mixture forms a ball.
  5. Remove from heat, and let cool for about five minutes, and then add eggs one at a time, stirring thoroughly after each addition.
  6. Drop 12 spoonfuls of the dough onto the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the puffs are golden brown and firm. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
  7. Right before serving, slice the top off of each puff, and if necessary, remove any remaining dough from the inside. Fill with your favorite filling, and place the top back on.
Chocolate Ganache
  1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces, and place in a small mixing bowl. Heat the heavy cream over medium heat until small bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of chocolate, and stir until creamy.
To Assemble the Cream Puffs
  1. Slice the tops off of each puff, and set aside. Clean out any remaining dough left in the puff.
  2. Generously fill each puff with the cream filling, and lightly place the puff top back on over the cream.
  3. Pour the chocolate ganache over the top of each cream puff.
  4. Pipe or spoon the remaining whipped cream over the chocolate ganache.
  5. Top with sprinkles and a maraschino cherry.
  6. Enjoy!
Notes
Cream puffs should be eaten the same day you make them. While they'll still be good to eat, they sometimes get soggy by the next day. That's why you want to wait until you're ready to serve them before filling them!

life is good coming up with ideas kind of good

 

Crispy Chocolate Chip Sprinkles Cookies

IMG_0022 (1)I’ve been invited back to the Burlap Kitchen’s Cookie Monday today!

I’m so thrilled to be baking a batch of cookies for Emily… and wanted to make something that was a little more festive for her this time around…. And these Crispy Chocolate Chip Sprinkle Cookies are really an easy, fun, and delicious cookie that will please pretty much everyone!

Thank you, Emily for inviting me back for Cookie Monday! I truly enjoy our friendship…and I hope that you enjoy these cookies!

If you like what you see here, stop by Emily’s blog, Burlap Kitchen, for the recipe!

Spicy BBQ Bacon Corn Burger

 

Spicy BBQ Bacon Corn BurgerI’m not a planner.
I never have been.

And as much as I think that I can change … truth be told… I probably never will.

I have to admit… I have spent more time standing in front of the fridge with the doors wide open wondering what the heck to make for dinner, because I didn’t plan.

Can you call me lax? Possibly. I prefer to think of myself as adventurous. I think that deep down I like the pressure, knowing full well that I have a hungry son who at any moment is going to show his face in the kitchen looking for demanding something to eat.

I can feel the seconds ticking by… my blood pressure is rising…and I break out into a cold sweat.

I can hear him rustling around in his room.
He’s coming…

And then I spot it.
Relief washes over me.
Half-assed plan in place… I know what I’m making.

Burgers.

I grab the pound of ground beef that’s hiding in the back corner of the freezer, just as Michael walks into the kitchen.

Crisis averted…

A pound of ground beef (if you’re of the carnivore sort) should be a staple in every freezer. It will truly be a lifesaver time, and time again. Which brings me around to the fact that a burger is perfect for the “Non-Planner” in me. As long as you have that pound of ground beef, you have a meal in place!

And burgers are so versatile. I bet you could make one a day for the next year, and never have the same one twice with all of the toppings that you probably have right in your pantry!

And… the sloppier, the better for me. There is nothing better than a burger, oozing massive amounts of cheese, and dripping with sauce, and anything else I happen to find in the fridge or cupboard…

Pardon the sauce on my chin…
Spicy BBQ Bacon Corn Burger 2This particular burger started out with a spicy mustard barbecue sauce… and I don’t know why… I had corn and jalapenos in my head to go with that sauce. A little bacon and a thick caramelized slice of onion…on top of a thick sirloin burger oozing with melted jalapeno jack cheese…

…well, it was delicious. One of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever eaten! The sweetness from the corn and onion, worked so well with the smokiness of the bacon , the bite from the jalapenos and the tang from the mustard in the sauce…

…and unlike me…you know…the non-planner…

Fate had this burger planned all along. It was truly meant to be. Which is why I really don’t need to plan… my fate is already planned for me!

Life is good… it’s a “Go ahead and put those onion rings on top of that burger…. You know you want to…” kind of good.

Spicy BBQ Bacon Corn Burger 4

Spicy BBQ Bacon Corn Burger
Author: 
Serves: 2
 
A thick sirloin burger oozing with melted jalapeno jack cheese…. a little bacon, corn, and jalapenos and a thick caramelized slice of onion…topped with a spicy mustard BBQ sauce.... It just doesn't get any better than this...
Ingredients
Spicy Mustard BBQ Sauce
  • ½ cup spicy brown mustard
  • ½ cup your favorite barbecue sauce
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp hot sauce
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
The Burger
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 tbsp. mustard
  • 1 tbsp. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
The Toppings
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • ½ small jalapeno pepper, roasted and minced
  • 4 slices bacon, fried crisp and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 thick slices of onion, rubbed with a bit of olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • ½ cup jalapeno jack cheese, grated
  • 2 rolls (your choice) I used a wheat roll for this burger
  • lettuce and tomato slices
Instructions
Spicy Mustard BBQ Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the brown mustard, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Simmer over low heat until thickened. Serve warm over burger. The barbecue sauce can be kept in a covered jar for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
The Toppings
  1. While the burgers are grilling, prepare the toppings:
  2. Melt the butter in a small sauté pan. Add the corn, jalapeno pepper, cooked bacon, salt, and pepper. Saute until the corn is semi-cooked. Keep warm until burgers are ready to be topped.
The Burger
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the ground sirloin, mustard, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper until just combined.
  2. Divide the beef into two sections and form into to thick patties.
  3. Over a medium flame, grill the patties until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees (foodsafety.gov).
  4. At the same time the burgers are on the grill, place the slices of onion on the grill, and cook until browned on each side. Remove from heat.
  5. Divide the cheese, and place on top of each burger. While the cheese is melting, Cut the two rolls in half, and place cut side down on the grill to toast. When it has melted, remove the burgers from grill, and place on rolls.
  6. Top each with the grilled onion, the corn and bacon mixture, and a good dollop of barbecue sauce. Garnish with lettuce and tomato.
  7. Serve immediately with your favorite onion rings and lots of napkins!.
  8. Enjoy!!

Whoopie Pies

Whoopie Pies 2

My feathers have been ruffled…

Have you ever gone through a grocery line (My beloved Wegmans excluded, because I love every single girl/guy there), or any kind of shopping line for that matter…only to say “thank you” to the cashier… and have them reply “you’re welcome”?

Really…I do understand that the proper response to a “thank you” is a “you’re welcome”…but I am a firm believer that there is a right time, and a wrong time to say “you’re welcome”.

In a cashier’s line, I think that a “thank you” should beget a “thank you”…

Let’s think about this for a couple minutes.
Who should be thanking whom?

In a perfect world, we’d both thank each other. The cashier would thank me for supporting the store monetarily, while I’d be thanking the cashier for ringing my items up and bagging them for me.

The “you’re welcome” part of the whole conversation would be a mutually silent agreement. An unspoken response. But heartfelt, nonetheless.

But when I get the “you’re welcome”… it throws my whole day. I can’t help but walk away with a touch annoyed…feathers ruffled….

I’m welcome? I am? Well…thank YOU. I’m forever grateful for paying you money. Thank you for letting me support your establishment, to help you stay in business, and keep your job.

Or should I be forever in your debt when I bought the tomato that you put in the bottom of my bag and squished it to smithereens?

No…really.
I’m the customer…
Let ME thank YOU.

And while I’m on my soapbox (or is it off my soapbox?), how hard is it to greet me? A simple “Hello” would be wonderful. And even though it would be nice, you don’t even have to ask me if I found everything I was looking for.

Common Courtesy.
It’s really quite simple…

“Hello!”
“Did you find everything you were looking for?”
“Would you like paper or plastic?”
“Thank you! Have a nice day!!”
“Can I get you a new tomato?”

Maybe I’m wrong.

Or maybe I’m being too harsh. Am I so arrogant in believing that the customer should be thanked? Am I wrong to believe that cashier protocol should include a warm greeting?

Maybe.
But I don’t think so.
Whoopie Pies 5
Regardless of my ruffled feathers and squished tomatoes…these Whoopie Pies were the whole reason for that trip to the store. And to be honest, I’d make that trip over and over again for these decadent little desserts!

It actually took me two tries to get this recipe right…and I had the nicest time while I was making them, because I got to enjoy Jessica’s boyfriend Austin’s company. I think he enjoyed being the taste tester….and I enjoyed the pleasant conversation for the afternoon. He can be my taste tester anytime. Honestly.

The chocolate cookie cake has a dense yet soft texture…and a deep fudge flavor that is the perfect background for the gooey marshmallow filling. It’s a perfect little dessert or treat for any occasion, and everyone will love them!

The beauty of it all? You can have this delicious chocolaty treat ready in about an hour! Quick and easy. And delicious.

Life is good. It’s a “sometimes thankless…but in the end it doesn’t matter if you get a gooey marshmallow whoopie pie out of the whole deal…” kind of good.

Whoopie Pies 3

Whoopie Pies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 20
 
Ingredients
The Cookie Cake
  • 1-1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups Half & Half
  • 2 tsp vanilla
The Marshmallow Filling
  • 1 - 16oz container Marshmallow Fluff
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Instructions
The Cookie Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the shortening, sugar, eggs and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the flour mixture and Half & Half alternately until both are fully incorporated into the batter.
  5. Using a 2" cookie scoop, drop 2" a part on the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
The Marshmallow Filling
  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the Marshmallow Fluff, powdered sugar, shortening, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.
  2. Using a 1-1/2" cookie scoop, scoop the marshmallow filling onto the bottom of one chocolate cookie cake, and top with a matching cookie cake, pressing lightly to push the marshmallow filling just to the edges of the cookie.
  3. Let sit for about ½ hour so that the filling sets up a bit.
  4. These will keep in a covered container for one week (if they even last that long!)

Chicken Parmesan Mini Pizzas

Chicken Parmesan Mini Pizzas 3So, we’re a little over a week past Easter now, and we can honestly say that all of the holidays…I mean the big holidays in which we eat massive amounts of food…are now officially over.

And it is right about this time every year when my body starts telling me that it has reached its limit as far as “intake”…but my pesky little tastebuds are tricking my brain into thinking that I’m still in eat mode. That I’m craving all things that are bad for me.

And I am.
Lord help me, I am.

It’s like a switch turns on the minute I announce that I need to lose weight. All of a sudden, I am craving everything and anything that I didn’t even give thought to, even five minutes before I made that declaration of weight loss need.  Tell me I can’t have it, and I immediately become a major “crave” addict.

I know me so well….and I am better off with moderation. If I want chocolate cake, then I eat a small piece of chocolate cake. If I deny myself chocolate cake, then I eat the whole chocolate cake. That’s just how I roll.

Trick the tastebuds into thinking that they still rule the “intake controls”.
They’re happy, because they don’t know any better.
And that makes me happy, because I’m not at war with my inner cravings..

Craziness, I know.
Chicken Parmesan PizzaBut that’s why I’m loving mini pizzas lately. I love them for so many reasons. First, because I feel satisfied after eating one small pizza. But they’re only about 3” to 3 ½” in diameter, so if I eat one more, I’m not going to go on a huge guilt trip! I love them because I can make them with all different toppings to please everyone. I love them because they’re quick and so easy to make! And finally, I love them because I can have all of the ingredients on hand to make them any time of any day.

Now, I don’t expect you to have chicken meatballs on hand… so these little pizzas would work beautifully with any kind of meatball, really. If you have frozen meatballs, then by all means, use frozen meatballs! But if you’re in the mood for chicken parm like I was, I think you’ll love this version, and won’t mind the few minutes it takes to throw the meatballs together!

Tastebuds cravings…satisfied.
The threat of over indulging…foiled once again.
No promise what tomorrow will bring…
Because that’s just how I roll.

Life is good. It’s a “Sometimes you just have to keep the inner peace…and eat the meatball…” kind of good.

Chicken Parmesan Mini Pizzas 2

Chicken Parmesan Mini Pizzas
Author: 
 
Quick and easy, these mini pizzas will satisfy any craving!
Ingredients
  • 12 balls frozen roll dough
  • 8oz shredded mozzarella
  • Grated Romano cheese
  • Fresh Basil for garnish
The Chicken Meatballs
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 slice bread, moistened with water and moisture squeezed out, and broken into small pieces
  • ½ cup Romano cheese
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • A sprinkle of crushed red pepper (or more, depending on your heat preference)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
The Sauce
  • 1 - 15oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
Instructions
The Chicken Meatballs
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the ground chicken, eggs, 1 tbsp. olive oil, breadcrumbs, pieces of bread, Romano cheese, parsley, onion, garlic, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper.
  3. With your hands, gently mix all of the ingredients until they are just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Roll the mixture into twelve 2" meatballs.
  5. Heat the 2 tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan. Add the meatballs, and brown on all sides.
  6. Bake for ½ hour or until the internal temperature of the meatball reaches 165 degrees (USDA guidelines)
The Sauce
  1. In a small saucepan, sauté the onions and garlic in the 1 tbsp. olive oil until softened and translucent. Add the sauce, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
The pizza crust
  1. Set the dough balls out on a greased baking sheet about 2" apart. Let rise until doubled.
  2. Using your hands, form the dough into a small crust that is about 3" to 3½" in diameter.
  3. Place about 2" apart on the greased baking sheet.
  4. Top with sauce, and sprinkle with Romano cheese. Top each pizza with mozzarella, and one chicken meatball.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese is browned and bubbly.
  6. Serve hot, garnished with chopped basil.

 

Citrus Berries over Mini Dutch Babies

Citrus Berries over Mini Dutch Babies 1

“Spring is when you feel like whistling even with a shoe full of slush…”
~ Doug Larson ~

You know…a month ago, I made the statement to some friends that I believed we would be forever living in the Tundra here in Western New York. I based my theory on the mountainous piles of snow that were pretty much everywhere, but mostly on one that sat kitty corner to the building where I work. I swear that thing was taller than the building it sat next to, and I was quite certain that it would still be there throughout May. With its size, and given the fact that it was made from pure ice, I couldn’t imagine that it was going anywhere anytime soon.

I was in a winter doldrums frame of mind.

This morning, I drove past that pile of snow, and realized that while I wasn’t looking, it had been reduced to a blackened mound that’s about 2 feet tall by five feet wide. Honestly. When did that happen? I don’t even remember the temperature being warm enough to melt that icy mountain of snow.

That Mother Nature… she’s a little jokester, isn’t she?

She brings us right to the brink of frozen insanity…and then gently pulls us back with the kiss of warm air and spring.

And because I’m so wishy-washy…as well as easily swayed (not really)…
I am now in a spring time frame of mind.

It doesn’t matter that it’s chilly and still snows once in a while, because now I know it’s all short lived. We’ll be drinking in that warm sunshine, and enjoying blue skies very, very soon.
Mini Dutch Babies 4And you know that when you feel all sunshiny and happy, you feel like eating all sunshiny and happy, too. These light and fluffy little Dutch Babies have a hint of orange in them, and topped with the citrus berries, it’s honestly sunshine on your plate!

I think what I love the most about them, is that they’re such a quick and easy meal. From start to finish, it takes no more than 30 minutes to prepare, bake, and top with your favorite toppings! You can make them as simple or as elaborate to your heart’s desire. As delicious as they are with all of those sweet berries, they’re just as delicious with a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkling of powdered sugar…and they’re just as delicious savory, just eliminate the orange or lemon zest, and add your favorite savory toppings such as bacon, cheese, and asparagus. The options are endless!

They’re simple. They can be rustic or sophisticated. And they’re definitely delicious!

Life is good. It’s a “Hal Borland once said that ‘No winter lasts forever. No spring skips its turn.’ Thank goodness for that.” kind of good.

Mini Dutch Babies 2

Citrus Berries over Mini Dutch Babies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
These light and fluffy little Dutch Babies have a hint of orange in them, and topped with citrus berries! A simple meal from start to finish in less than 30 minutes!
Ingredients
Mini Dutch Babies
  • ½ cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp. orange juice
  • 1 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
Citrus Berries
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • ½ cup fresh blackberries
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp sugar
Instructions
Mini Dutch Babies
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Combine the milk, eggs, flour, salt, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, and melted butter in a mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed until completely blended.
  3. Grease four 5 inch cast iron skillets. Pour ½ cup batter into each skillet.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed and golden.
  5. Serve immediately with citrus berries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.
Citrus Berries
  1. Mix the raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, orange juice, orange zest and sugar in a small bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes. Serve over baked dutch babies.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Ceci

Sweet and Spicy Roasted CeciI jumped on the roasted chickpea bandwagon a little over a year ago. Now, don’t get me wrong… I was on that wagon, but I wasn’t sure I was going to stay on it.

I had been reading all of these exciting posts from different bloggers on these wondrous snacks, and how deliciously addicting they are…and I’m going to be honest here… I was mighty disappointed the first time I tried them. Seriously, what was all the hype about? I found them to be dry and not overly flavorful.

But yet, I kept eating them.

I made my way through a few different recipes that I found online, each one equally disappointing.

And I kept eating them.

I settled on a combination of brown sugar, pepper, salt, and cayenne because well, I like sweet and spicy things. They were okay. Nothing to brag about. I started to wonder if I was doing something wrong. What was the hype all about?

And I kept eating them.
Sweet and Salty Roasted Ceci 2I found myself buying a couple cans of chickpeas every time I went grocery shopping. I found myself roasting them with the combination of brown sugar, pepper, salt, and cayenne. And I found myself setting the bowl of them on the island in the kitchen. Eh, they were just okay.

And I kept eating them.

Finally, one Saturday I went to the cupboard to grab a couple cans of chickpeas, only to find out that there were none. A huge disappointment set in. What would I snack on all day? Nothing else sounded good. I wanted my ceci.

I think that’s when I turned the corner…and realized that these darn things quietly grew on me when I wasn’t looking…

Well. What do you know…
I love them.
I really, really… love them.

They’re crunchy. They’re nutty. They’re sweet and salty and spicy all at the same time.

If you’re one of those people who are like me, and think you don’t like them…

Well. You do.
You really, really…do.

Life is good. It’s a “Sometimes things just sneak up on you for the good of all mankind…” kind of good.

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Ceci 2

Sweet and Salty Roasted Ceci
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 cups
 
They’re crunchy. They’re nutty. They’re sweet and salty and spicy all at the same time....A delicious snack to have hanging around in your kitchen for the day..
Ingredients
  • 2 - 15.5 oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans, ceci)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Drain the two cans chickpeas, and spread out on a paper towel lined baking sheet. Let sit for about a half hour, periodically tossing them around to dry them. Pick out any skins that might have come loose.
  2. Once the chickpeas are dry, dump them from the paper towels, onto the baking sheet.
  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Drizzle the olive oil over the chickpeas.
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne over the chickpeas.
  6. Using your hands, gently toss the chickpeas around until they are fully coated with the sugar/oil mixture.
  7. Place in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and gently toss the chickpeas around flipping them. Place back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
  9. Truth be told, I start eating them right out of the oven! They do get crispier as they cool.
  10. Enjoy!