Thursday, July 31, 2014

Dirt Cake

Are you looking for a quick fun activity to occupy a rainy summer afternoon?  Try this dirt cake.  We made vanilla as described in the recipe below.  I also only used one 8 ounce carton of cool whip because I misread the recipe and it turned out fine.  Next time, we will try it with chocolate pudding!

Dirt Cake - Click here to link to recipe.  Note:  I only used one 8 oz container of cool whip.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cowboy Caviar

I love recipes like this one because you can really make it into whatever you like.  You can add or take away ingredients that don't suit your tastes or adjust simply based on what you have available.  My sister makes this often for her family.  She sent me her recipe but I have misplaced it.  So, I looked up several similar recipes online for inspiration.

This is a great summertime dish to share with friends!  Enjoy!

If you like this recipe, you may also like Avocado Salsa (EF, DF, GF).

Cowboy Caviar 
Inspired by:  I Wash You Dry

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
2 roma or plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 small purple onion, diced
¼ c cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime 
Garlic salt, to taste
2 avocados, diced

Drain and rinse black beans.  Set aside.  Drain corn.  Mix all ingredients, except avocados until well combined.  Gently fold in avocados.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl

Funny story...  I used to not like peanut butter and chocolate together.  I know...  that makes me a weirdo.  I always liked chocolate and I always liked peanut butter.  I just didn't like them together.  Then when I was pregnant with my second child, I craved peanut butter like crazy!  I wanted it all the time and even wanted it with chocolate.  It was during this pregnancy that I figured out why everyone else in the world loved this crazy combination so much!  Haha.  So, now I am normal like the rest of you.

So, I decided to make my brownies with a peanut butter swirl!  They are so good.  I have made them twice already.  Our non-allergy friends also really like them.  But then who doesn't like peanut butter and chocolate together, right?!

This is my Brownie recipe and I found the ingredients for the peanut butter swirl from Crazy for Crust.  I reprinted both below for easier reference.

Brownies with Peanut Butter Swirl
½ c sugar
½ c brown sugar
½ c vegetable shortening
1 c flour
½ c unsweetened cocoa powder
½ t baking powder
½ t salt
½ c milk
1 t vanilla
½ c semi-sweet chocolate chips

For the peanut butter swirl (Source: Crazy for Crust)
½ c peanut butter
2 T butter, melted
1/3 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Lightly grease the bottom only of an 8x8 or 9x9 baking pan and set aside.  Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, blend shortening and both sugars until combined.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Add flour mixture blending until mixture resembles a course meal.  Slowly add milk and vanilla, blending constantly until smooth.  Batter will be thick.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Spread batter into greased baking pan. 
Mix together peanut butter, melted butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Drop spoonfuls on top of the brownies then swirl with a knife. 

Bake brownies for about 35 minutes or until the top is no longer shiny.  Set pan on a wire rack until the brownies are mostly cool and cut into squares.

Makes 16 2 inch brownies.

Dairy-free notes:  I haven't tried it but I think this recipe could easily be made dairy-free.  If anyone tries it, please let me know how it works out and what substitutes you used for the milk, butter and chocolate chips. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Need cooked chicken for a recipe?

Do you need cooked chicken for a recipe in time for dinner?  I did when I made Pesto Pasta with Roasted Veggies (EF, DF, GF).  This worked great!  It really speed up my dinner cook time.

If you like this recipe, you may also want to try Shredded Chicken {slow-cooker} (EF, DF, GF).

Easy Cooked Chicken

1 – 1 ½ lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
½ c Italian Dressing

Put one package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts in your slow-cooker.  Pour your favorite Italian dressing over the chicken.  I used about 1/2 cup.  Cook on low for about 6 hours or on high for about 3 hours.  I even cooked mine from frozen.  I started cooking them on high for a few hours then switched to low.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pesto Pasta with Roasted Veggies

My sister-in-law made this wonderful dish for us when we were visiting, recently.  A friend had made it for them.  So, I am not sure who to give credit for the original recipe.  But here I did document the qualities and cooking methods that worked for me when I prepared it.  In my next post, I will share an easy way to have cooked chicken ready just in time for to use in this recipe and others.  

When I made this recipe, as pictured below, I used one zucchini, one squash and one pepper.  I think next time, I will use two zucchini and two squash.  I also may try it with grilled chicken and maybe even grilled veggies.  Yum!  I also think this would be great served chilled for a picnic!  So many possibilities...

If you like this recipe, you may like Chicken Pesto Pasta (EF, GF).


Pesto Pasta with Roasted Veggies  

2 lbs chicken, cooked and cubed
1-2 yellow squash, sliced
1-2 zucchini, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced and halved (I used orange)
1-2 T olive oil
½ t seasoned salt 
½ t freshly ground black pepper
1 c pesto (I used Classico Basil Pesto)
1 16 oz box pasta (I used bow tie)
Grated Parmesan Cheese, for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 425o.  Spread veggies in a single layer on rimmed baking sheet(s) covered with foil.  Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Mix to coat.  Cook in preheated oven for 10 minutes.  Stir.  Cook for an additional 10 minutes.  Stir once more.  Then cook for 5 more minutes or until desired tenderness. 

Meanwhile cook pasta according to package instructions.  Once pasta is cooked and drained, stir in pesto until evenly coats pasta.  Toss in chicken and roasted veggies.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese, if using.  Serves 8

Gluten-free notes:  This dish can easily be made gluten-free.  Just replace the pasta with your favorite gluten-free variety.  According to the Heinz website (Heinz owns Classico), Classico Basil Pesto sold in the United States is gluten-free!

Dairy-free notes:  This dish can also easily be made dairy-free.  Just be sure to use a dairy-free pesto and omit the parmesan cheese.  The Classico brand I used, is not dairy-free.