Soft and Colorful Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

We hosted a game night at our house this weekend, and I decided we couldn’t have game night without cookies.  They seemed like the perfect dessert to snack on while playing a game.  I thought about making chocolate chip cookies, but my favorite recipe for those calls for the dough to stay in the refrigerator overnight, and I didn’t plan ahead enough to make them.  That set me to looking for a new recipe to try, and I came across this one that I have had in my files for years but never made.  I really didn’t expect them to turn out that great, because I have had some major cookie flops in the past.  For me they have to be soft, and hold their shape, but at the same time melt in your mouth.  I don’t like cookies that come out flat as a pancake or are hard and crunchy. Happily, these exceeded all my expectations!

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies held their shape incredibly well. I thought they were almost too tall at first, but they flattened out just the right amount as they cooled.  They were also thick and soft and gooey in the middle.  The key is not to over-bake them in order to get soft cookies.  You want to take them out of the oven when they are still a little bit underdone.  Then don’t move them off of the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes.  These cookies are also very chocolaty thanks to the addition of chocolate chips and M&Ms.  By the way, did you know they have Caramel Apple M&Ms now?  I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t grab a bag when I saw them.  I love how festive these colorful candies are, and that you can get them in different  colors (and evidently different flavors now) depending on the season.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

These really were some of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.  It’s a good thing I was making them for game night, as I think I could have eaten the whole batch myself.  Even Jeff who pretty much won’t eat any cookies besides plain chocolate chip, liked them a lot.  I found out he had hidden some away from the night before to eat with his coffee the next morning. I took that as a compliment!  I hope the next time you have game night at your house, or just need some cookies in your life, you will give these a try. Their festive color and chocolaty taste make you feel like you won a prize whether you are playing a game or not!

Colorful Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

  • Servings: 21-24
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c quick oats
  • 3/4 c M&Ms
  • 3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 c white sugar
  • 1 whole egg, slightly beaten
  • 1/2 c butter, slightly softened
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Mix first 9 ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add last 3 ingredients to bowl.  Mix until combined.
  3. Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls.
  4. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes in a 375 degree oven until just starting to turn brown.  For soft cookies, do not over-bake.
  6. Let cool on cookie sheet for about 7 minutes before moving them to a plate.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do

Recipe slightly adapted from Bakerella’s Cowgirl Cookies

 

 

Posted in Cookies, Desserts, Party Recipes, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

I have really been enjoying all the summer fruit, especially the berries that are sweet and ripe and less expensive right now. Most of the time I just eat them by the handful, but these raspberry lemon muffins are another way to take advantage of the season.  There is something about the combination of lemon and raspberries – they just go perfectly together.  The nice thing about these muffins is they call for lemon extract and since lemons aren’t in season, it works out nicely and still gives the muffins a great lemony flavor.  Not to mention, the texture is so moist – they just melt in your mouth!

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

This recipe is super simple, and pretty much amounts to dumping the ingredients into a bowl, mixing briefly, and baking.  If you don’t have access to ripe raspberries, frozen works great as well.  When you don’t have fresh, frozen is nice as the color doesn’t bleed into the muffins.  One small tip, I throw the raspberries and the flour in at the same time, and this seems to keep the raspberries from sinking to the bottom.  Just be careful to fold them in gently, but this works out well as you don’t really want to overmix the flour either.

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

After the muffins have completely cooled, if you don’t need them right away, or if you have some left, place them in a Ziploc-type baggy, and throw them in the freezer.  They keep very well for at least a month and you can enjoy them again later.  This recipe is one of my favorites to serve to company alongside an egg dish.  That way half of your work is done ahead of time, and since I’m not a morning person, that is very good news!

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

I also like to give these to my kids for a quick breakfast.  They can be thawed in the microwave in seconds.  My kids are grown now, but it is always fun to give them something to take home when they stop by unexpectedly. If I keep doing this, maybe they will keep coming back every once in a while! I can just pretend they came by to see my husband and me!:)

Raspberry Lemon Muffins

  • Servings: 18-20
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 c half & half or light cream
  • 1/2 c canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 1 1/2 c fresh or frozen raspberries plus more for garnishing.
  1. Combine the sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
  2. In another small bowl, combine the eggs, half & half or light cream, oil, and lemon extract, and stir until mixed.
  3. Pour egg mixture over sugar mixture and mix well.
  4. Add flour and raspberries, and stir gently until just mixed.
  5. Spoon into 18 greased or paper-lined muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Add a few more raspberries to the top of each one.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 18 minutes.  Watch carefully after 15 minutes to make sure you don’t overbake.  Test with toothpick to see if done.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do

 

 

 

Posted in Breads and Rolls, Breakfast, Company, Recipes, Summer Recipes, Valentine's Day | Tagged , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

Watermelon Mango Salsa

Watermelon Mango Salsa

We just got back from vacation, and I noticed the date (time seems to stop when you’re traveling).  I was just amazed that it is already the last part of August!  How did that happen?  Then, because I like to cook seasonally, I realized there is not that much more summer left for all the summery recipes I want to try.  So many recipes, so little time.  I realize this is a self-imposed deadline because in reality, we can cook anything whenever we want.  But there is something so satisfying about looking forward to a season, especially here in Arizona where what you are cooking is sometimes the only way to tell what season it is.  Thoughts of dishes with apples, caramel, and pumpkin have started creeping into my mind, and I am looking forward to fall.  But, until then, I am going to enjoy a few more summer recipes I have been wanting to try.  Hence, this fruity watermelon mango salsa!

Watermelon Mango Salsa

I have never made or eaten a fruit salsa before and wondered how it would taste.  It is such an interesting combination of ingredients.  The beautiful colors of this salsa are what attracted me to it in the first place.  I figured something so pretty just had to be good.  And I was right!  It is very fresh tasting and a yummy combination of sweet and a tiny bit spicy.  There is a lime dressing you pour over the fruit that is more like a vinaigrette (minus the oil) that gives it additional, yet subtle flavor.  I don’t know how jalapeno, lime, mango, cucumber, watermelon, and onions end up tasting so good together, but they do.  Just be sure to drain the watermelon and mangoes for a little while before adding them to the salsa or your dressing will become diluted.  Also, don’t be afraid to add all the ingredients called for.  I was tempted to leave out the pepper and garlic salt because that just sounded strange to me, but it really does work. And, if you want to try something different, serve this salsa with cinnamon and sugar pita chips.  I loved the combination.

Watermelon Mango Salsa

I would never want to replace my traditional salsa with fruit salsa, but I think it would make a good addition to a summer bar-b-que, along with all the others.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m thinking this would be very good on fish as well.  If you like salsa and you like fruit, give this salsa a try.  But you better hurry, summer is almost over.  I wonder how pumpkin salsa would taste?:)

Watermelon Mango Salsa

Watermelon Mango Salsa

  • Servings: 5-10
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 1/2 tsp. lime zest
  • 1/4 c fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper
  • 3 c seeded and diced watermelon
  • 1 or 2 mangos, peeled and diced or 1 1/2 to 2 c frozen mango chunks, diced and thawed
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • 1 or 2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped plus more for garnish, if desired
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
  • tortilla chips or pita chips, for serving
  1.  Stir together the lime zest, lime juice, sugar, and 3/4 tsp pepper in a bowl.  Set aside.
  2. After dicing the watermelon and mango, place the pieces in a colander to drain while dicing everything else.
  3. When the rest of the ingredients are diced, place all ingredients including the dressing in a large bowl, and gently toss to coat.
  4. Cover and chill the salsa until ready to serve.  Add the garlic salt just before serving and stir.
  5. Serve with tortilla chips or cinnamon and sugar pita chips.
  6. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally found in Food Network Magazine, June 2013

 

 

 

Posted in Cinco de Mayo, Company, Low Fat, Mexican, Party Recipes, Recipes, Salsas, Summer Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Comments

Gooey Dark Chocolate Brownie Sundaes

Dark Chocolate Brownies

There are a few basic recipes that I want to be able to make without having to think about it and search for a recipe every time I make them.  Some of those things are a good pancake recipe, chocolate chip cookie recipe, a recipe for bar-b-q pulled pork, beef tacos, coleslaw, and several others. Some of those are already on this blog, and others I am still looking for and experimenting to find the best one. A great brownie recipe is on that list, too.  But to tell you the truth, I have been very lazy about looking for one as Ghiradelli Brownie boxed mix is so good, and so quick to make.  I really do prefer to make things from scratch, though, and in general think they taste so much better, and you know for sure what is in them. However, I have strict requirements for brownies.  They have to be extremely chocolaty in a dark chocolate kind of way, very moist and fudgy rather than cakelike, and contain chocolate chips as well.  This week after analyzing about a zillion brownie recipes and 1 extreme failure that I wouldn’t even feed my dog, if I had a dog,  I think I found the perfect recipe for my chocolaty brownie cravings!

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Did you know homemade brownies are very easy to make, almost as easy as buying a box mix (almost).  You don’t even need to use a mixer, or let the butter come to room temperature, or sift, or anything. Yay!  It starts with melting butter and chocolate together, and then just adding a few more ingredients and stirring.  I decided to pour my batter into mini-cast iron skillets, and make ice cream sundaes out of them. I under-baked them a little so they were gooey and perfect with ice cream and chocolate sauce on top. Ideally you would serve these warm out of the oven, however, I was taking them to my parents’ house for a family dinner, and the timing didn’t work out for that, but they were just as good at room temperature and still soft inside.  If you prefer, though, you can just as easily use an 8×8 or 9×13-inch pan and slice them into individual bars.

Dark Chocolate Brownies

Out of all the recipes I looked at and tried, the one that met all of my requirements was from The Pioneer Woman.  I shouldn’t be surprised.  I love her recipes.  She is the one that made me want to start blogging.  It was so funny, too, while I was making her brownies, her show came on TV, and it was like we were cooking together.  It was a very bonding experience (on my part).  We are so much closer now (she doesn’t know I exist).  And I look forward to when we can bake together again (in my dreams).  Anyway, I am so thankful to her for so many great recipes over the years and especially this one for rich, chocolaty brownies that I know I will be making over and over again for years to come.

Dark Chocolate Brownie Sundaes

  • Servings: 4 mini-skillets or 9-15 bars
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

  • 1 c salted butter (not margarine)
  • 5 oz. unsweetened baking chocolate (recommended: Ghiradelli  or a good quality brand – I ended up using 4 oz. 60% dark chocolate and 1 oz. semi-sweet chocolate because the store didn’t have what I wanted, and it came out great)
  • 1/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder (recommended: Ghiradelli  or a good quality brand)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 whole large eggs
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 3/4 c semi-sweet chocolate chips (recommended:  Ghiradelli or a good quality brand)
  • ice cream
  • store-bought chocolate sauce or chocolate ganache
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the unsweetened chocolate over low heat, stirring until smooth and melted.
  3. Sprinkle in cocoa powder and stir to combine.
  4. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool for about 5 minutes.
  5. Place sugar and vanilla in a medium-size bowl.
  6. Pour chocolate mixture over sugar/vanilla mixture.
  7. One at a time, stir in the eggs.
  8. Gently stir in the flour until halfway incorporated.
  9. Add the chocolate chips, and stir just until combined.
  10. If making mini-skillet sundaes, place one cup of batter into 4 different mini-skillets.  If making bars, pour into an 8×8 or 9×13-inch pan (square pan will result in thicker brownies).  Spread to even out the batter, and place in oven.
  11. For skillet brownies, bake about 20 minutes for slightly underdone, gooey brownies, or another 5 minutes for more done brownies, checking with a toothpick to achieve desired doneness.  For 8×8 or 9×13-inch pan brownies, bake for approximately 30-40 minutes, testing with a toothpick after 30 minutes.  For the best brownies, be careful not to overbake.
  12. For pan brownies, allow to cool before slicing.  For skillet brownies, serve warm with your favorite ice cream and chocolate sauce on top.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do, originally created by The Pioneer Woman

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

 

 

 

 

Posted in Bars, Cabin Recipes, Cast Iron Skillet Recipes, Company, Desserts, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Let’s Taco ‘Bout It! – Review of Joyride Taco House Restaurant

Joyride Taco House

Let’s taco ’bout something – my favorite restaurant of the summer, Joyride Taco House! It really does live up to its name.  Eating there makes me happy!  I love everything about it, the tacos, the salsa, the atmosphere, the decor, and the beautiful patio.

Joyride Taco House

This restaurant is one of several restaurants created by the same owners whose philosophy includes taking old buildings in urban areas and turning them into restaurants.  Each is unique in style and full of character as well as good food.  I reviewed another one of their restaurants, Postinos, last year.  Joyride used to be an old Italian restaurant named Aiello’s and long before that was Humpty Dumpty’s Coffee Shop.  It has been updated with a coral, turquoise, and yellow color palate which contributes to its joyful atmosphere.  The decor has a modern, urban feel to it.

Joyride Taco House

One of my favorite elements is the extremely long, bright turquoise booth where there is plenty of seating to people watch and visit if you have to wait for a table.

Joyride Taco House

If you love to sit outside like I do, Joyride has a great patio which is shaded by umbrellas during the day and the building itself blocks the sun in the late afternoon and evenings.

Joyride Taco House

There is also a mist system that allows you to stay on the patio despite the summer heat! Yay!!

Joyride Taco House

A couple of my favorite things about the patio besides the misters, are the large trees and little white lights,

Joyride Taco House

and the fireplace.

Joyride Taco House

Now, let’s taco ’bout the food!  Chips and salsa are a very important part of Mexican food in Arizona, and the house salsa is incredible (see my recipe for Chipotle Salsa for something similar).  You also have a choice of 4 other salsas if you choose.

Joyride Taco House

There are 11 tacos on the menu, and it is my goal to happily work my way through all of them this summer (so many tacos, so little time)!  They have several different fish tacos, a couple of types of chicken ones, a veggie choice, and several beef tacos.  All of them have interesting sauces and condiments on them with names I can’t always pronounce and often times have no idea what they are, but I haven’t found one I don’t like yet.  I have tried the grilled fish taco,

Joyride Taco House

breaded fish taco,

Joyride Taco House

chicken tinga taco,

Joyride Taco House

the standard chicken taco,

Joyride Taco House

and one of the beef tacos so far.  All of them were unique and delicious!  It’s hard to pick a favorite.  Tortilla soup is another option which is so flavorful and full of all kinds of yummy ingredients.  (You can see in the background we inhaled the salsa and pretty much licked the bowl clean.)

Joyride Taco House

If tacos and tortilla soup are not your cup of tea or should I say, your bowl of salsa, a variety of burritos, tortas, enchiladas, and tamales are on the menu.  There are also some great sides –  fresh salads (one of the dressing options is prickly pear vinaigrette which was wonderful),

Joyride Taco House

and Mexican Street Corn,

Joyride Taco House

just to name a couple we enjoyed.  The servers have all been very attentive and friendly as well, and we have had a great time every time we’ve eaten at Joyride.

Jeff Kelley, Vicki and Don Poor

Joyride Taco House

After looking through all these pictures, it sure makes me want to go back again.  By the way, what are you doing for lunch?:)

Joyride Taco House

Joyride Taco House

5202 N. Central Avenue

Phoenix, AZ   85012

602-274-8226

or

302 N. Gilbert Road

Gilbert, AZ   85233

480-632-8226

Hours:

M-Th 11-11

F,S 11-12

Sun. 11-10

Menu:  Joyridetacohouse.com

 

Joyride Taco House

 

 

 

 

Posted in Restaurant Reviews, Things to Do in Arizona | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream Bars

Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream Bars

I have had so much fun experimenting with popsicles lately.  With temperatures rising this week to 115, the thought of turning on my oven to bake, was not appealing.  Popsicles were all I could think about.  I recently ate a coconut popsicle at my parents’ house, and it was so good, I set out to recreate it at home.  Jeff does not do coconut, though, so I made him some vanilla ice cream bars instead.  I am so glad I did, because those were the ones I ended up liking the best.

Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream Bars

Have you ever eaten a chocolate dipped ice cream bar from Costco? I love them and have a hard time resisting buying one whenever I shop there. Happily, that is exactly what these bars tasted like – creamy vanilla ice cream inside, dipped in rich homemade hard shell chocolate outside, and topped with chopped roasted almonds or not depending on what you prefer.

Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream Bars

The chocolate these are dipped in is actually homemade Magic Shell which is basically chocolate that hardens when it comes into contact with something cold like ice cream.  Jeff loves Magic Shell on his ice cream so I’ve been meaning to try making my own for a long time.  Turns out it only contains 2 ingredients, chocolate chips and coconut oil and is super quick to make.  I don’t think I will ever buy it again. If you buy good quality chocolate chips, the taste is very rich and chocolaty, and is the best thing about these ice cream bars.

Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream Bars

They are pretty easy to make as long as you follow the directions exactly.  I had to make them a couple of times before I was able to get the magic shell to stick.  I realized it was because I hadn’t waited long enough for the chocolate to cool off and the popsicles were too melty after removing them from the popsicle molds.  The trick was to place the popsicles back in the freezer overnight so that they were extremely cold when I dipped them, and to make sure the chocolate had cooled for at least an hour.  Using a plate that had been in the freezer to place them on after dipping really helped too. When I tried it again using those techniques, it worked perfectly.  If you are a fan of ice cream bars or Magic Shell, I hope you will give these a try.  They are a real treat on a hot summer day, and are going to be on my summer bucket list from now on!

Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream Bars

Copycat Magic Shell recipe from Gimme Some Oven

Chocolate Dipped Vanilla Ice Cream Bars

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Vanilla Ice Cream (read through the recipe first as there are several steps involved that include freezing overnight):

  • 1 1/2 c heavy cream
  • 1/2 c half and half
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Stir together all ingredients until blended.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds.
  3. Insert sticks.
  4. Freeze overnight.  (Also freeze a couple of plates or cookie sheet to use when you are dipping popsicles in chocolate).
  5. To unmold popsicles, run warm water over the bottom of the mold for about 10-15 seconds.  Take out popsicles and place in a plastic baggy not touching each other, seal it, and freeze overnight or at least until the popsicles are completely frozen again.

For the Chocolate Magic Shell:

  • 1 c good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 T coconut oil (not hard-pressed for less coconut taste)
  1. Place chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwavable dish.
  2. Heat in microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir.
  3. Place back in microwave and heat at 10 second intervals, stirring after each time until chocolate is melted (keep in mind if any water touches chocolate it will freeze up).
  4. After chocolate is melted, set aside to cool for 1 hour before using.
  5. Can be kept at room temperature for up to 1 month.  If it hardens, melt again in microwave at 10 second intervals, and cool for 1 hour before using.

To Dip Popsicles:

  1. When popsicles have been unmolded and refrozen and Chocolate Magic Shell has been made and cooled at least an hour, take out frozen plate or cookie sheet and line with parchment paper.
  2. Pour chocolate into a narrow mug or pitcher tall enough and wide enough for a popsicle to fit in it.
  3. Take out 1 popsicle at a time from freezer, dip in the chocolate, and quickly sprinkle with chopped almonds if desired.  Place on frozen plate and place in freezer, while getting out next popsicle to dip.  Repeat process until all popsicles are dipped, placing each one on frozen plate or cookie sheet in freezer after dipping.
  4. When all are dipped, and the chocolate is hardened, place popsicles in a baggy and seal.  Freeze for at least a couple of hours before serving.
  5. When ready to serve, take out of freezer, and eat immediately.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Company, Desserts, Ice Cream Recipes, Recipes, Summer Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 48 Comments

Homemade Vanilla Almond Granola

Vanilla Almond Granola

Recently a friend of ours gave us a quart of honey that he got from his first attempt at raising honey bees.  It is thick and sweet and delicious, and we were excited that he gave us some.  A quart of honey is a lot, though, so I started pondering what I could use it for.  My first thought was granola as learning how to make my own granola has been a goal of mine for a long time.  In a lot of granola recipes, honey is used as the sweetener so this was perfect.

Arizona Honey

Granola is really easy to make.  If I had known that, I would have made it a long time ago.  Basically, for this recipe, you mix the whole oats and sliced almonds together.  Then you heat up the honey and oil until the honey melts, add in the vanilla, pour it over the oat mixture and stir.   After that you spread the mixture out on parchment paper on a cookie sheet, and bake it.  In minutes you have a wholesome, delicious, and quick breakfast or snack with no additives or preservatives.  It also travels well so would be perfect to take on vacation or camping.

Vanilla Almond Granola

I doubled the vanilla in this recipe so it has a lot of vanilla flavor.  My daughter thought I was making cookies when she smelled it in the oven.  This granola is a great combination of crunchy and sticky which makes for a lot of those yummy clumps of grains which are so satisfying.

Vanilla Almond Granola

I have tried a couple different recipes, and this one is my favorite so far.  The fun thing about granola is that it is so customizable to what your family likes.  Once you have the basic recipe down, you can add in whatever extras you enjoy.  Mostly I like it just plain, but a lot of my family likes Craisins, so for this batch, I added those.  (I just pick out the Craisins, and then there is a bigger Craisin to granola ratio for everyone else – I am very selfish thoughtful that way).  You could add dried blueberries, or cherries, or mini-chocolate chips just to name a few.  If I used chocolate chips, I wouldn’t be picking those out, though.  In fact, I think the chocolate chip to granola ratio would go down considerably if I got a hold of it first.  I cannot be trusted around chocolate or ice cream or sweets of any kind.  It is one of my worst traits.  By the way, have you heard of the New Lucky Charms cereal box that has all marshmallows?  Can you still call it cereal if all there is are marshmallows? And, do you think it would be wrong if I added Lucky Charms marshmallows to my granola?  All I know is, I want a box of that “cereal”.

Vanilla Almond Granola

I can’t believe I am talking about Lucky Charms in my healthy granola post.  But that is so me in a nutshell.  Mostly eating healthy, but my desire for sweet treats getting in the way at times.  My favorite way to eat granola is on top of yogurt or  just grab a handful for a quick breakfast when I am in a hurry in the morning.  I am thinking it is better for you than a bowl full of marshmallows.  Good thing I haven’t figured out where to get that cereal yet!:)

Vanilla Almond Granola

  • Servings: 4 cups
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 c rolled oats (not the quick oats)
  • 1 c sliced almonds
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 1/4 c honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  • add-ins such as Craisins, chocolate chips, dried blueberries, etc. (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line an 11×15 jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together oats and almonds.
  4. In a medium saucepan add oil, honey, and a dash of salt.  Heat on medium low until honey is melted, and little bubbles are around the edges, stirring constantly.  When melted and bubbling around edges, take pan off of the heat and stir in vanilla.
  5. Pour liquid mixture over oat mixture and stir until well coated.
  6. Spread evenly onto parchment lined pan.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes, and stir.  Then bake another 5 minutes or until granola is lightly browned.  Watch carefully as it browns quickly.
  8. Let cool until crisp.
  9. Stir in your add-ins (optional).
  10. Store in a sealed container at room temperature.

Recipe from Cook AZ I Do

 

 

 

Posted in Breakfast, Cabin Recipes, Company, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Salmon Patties

Salmon Patties

I am always looking for new ways to fix salmon.  Most of the time Jeff eats whatever I fix without complaining, but anytime dinner involves fish, I can just tell he isn’t too excited about it.  We both want to be healthy, though, so I continue to look for better ways to incorporate fish into our diet that makes it more palatable for us.  Jeff had asked me to try making salmon patties as he remembered liking them as a kid.  These salmon patties were perfect for both of us.  They were so flavorful, moist, and didn’t taste fishy at all.  And, it was a great summer meal because you saute the patties in a skillet and don’t have to use your oven.

One of the things I like most about this dish is that it is also full of vegetables.  It gives the patties great texture and flavor not to mention even more healthy ingredients for your body.  They are sauteed in oil, but using olive oil made me feel a little better about that.  So overall, I made these in order to make us more healthy, but I would make them again, just because we both liked them so much.  That makes for a doubly great recipe, and one that I know I will be making over and over again.

Salmon Patties

There is quite a bit of chopping involved and a cooling period for the patties before frying them so just make sure you start early enough.  You could even chop the vegetables and bake the salmon earlier in the day, and finish the dish right before dinner.  I tried making up the patties the day before, and then sauteing them the next day, and they came out great.  However you do it, I highly recommend this recipe for getting omega-3’s into your diet and keeping your family happy!

Salmon Patties

Salmon Patties

  • Servings: 10
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 lb. fresh salmon
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 c small-diced red onion
  • 1 1/2 c small-diced celery
  • 1/2 c small-diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 c small-diced yellow bell pepper
  • 1/4 c minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 Tbsp. capers, drained
  • 1/4 tsp. hot sauce (recommended:  Tabasco)
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. crab boil seasoning (recommended:  Old Bay)
  • 3 slices stale bread, crusts removed or 1 c seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 c good mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place the salmon on a sheet pan, skin side down.  Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until just cooked.  Remove from the oven and cover tightly with aluminum foil.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes and refrigerate until cold.
  3. Meanwhile, place 2 Tbsp. of the butter, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, the onion, celery, red and yellow bell peppers, capers, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, crab boil seasoning, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a large saute pan over medium-low heat.  Cook until vegetables are soft, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.  Turn off heat.   Add parsley and stir into the vegetables.  Cool to room temperature.
  4. Break the bread slices in pieces and process the bread in a food processor fitted with a steel blade or measure out store-bought bread crumbs.
  5. You should end up with 1 c bread crumbs either way.  Place the bread crumbs on a sheet pan and toast in the oven for a few minutes until lightly browned, tossing occasionally.  Watch carefully as they burn quickly.
  6. Flake the chilled salmon into a large bowl.  Add the toasted bread crumbs, mayonnaise, mustard, and eggs.
  7. Add the vegetable mixture and mix well.
  8. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Shape into 10 (2 1/2 to 3 ounce patties) approximately 3/4 inches thick.
  9. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. olive oil on medium low heat.  In batches, add salmon patties, and fry 2 1/2 to 4 minutes per side until browned.  Drain on paper towels, and keep warm in 250 degree oven until ready to serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe slightly adapted by Cook AZ I Do, originally from Ina Garten at Food Network.com

 

 

 

Posted in Fish Recipes, Main Dish, Recipes, Summer Recipes, Weeknight Meals | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

Old Fashioned Baked Beans for the Holidays

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

When I started to have Easter at my house every year, I wanted to serve baked beans with the traditional ham.  I set out on a mission to find baked beans like I remembered from my childhood.  Beans that are flavored with bacon, thick with brown sugar that has caramelized from long, slow baking, and that have that perfect balance between the sweetness of the sugar and the tanginess of the ketchup and mustard. It took several batches of beans, and a few disappointing recipes until I settled on this one.  It is a little bit sweet, and gooey, and bacony, and thick, and I just love it!  The canned beans just don’t compare to making your own baked beans at home.

It is super simple, too.  The hardest part is frying up the bacon, and chopping the onion, but once that is done, you just throw everything together. Having a good baked beans recipe really comes in handy.  There are so many holidays where they make the perfect side dish, just like the 4th of July coming up. And they are a great accompaniment any time you want to bar-b-q.  You can also make them earlier in the day if you want, and keep them in the refrigerator until time to bake them.

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays.  I think because even though we live in a big city, on that day, everyone comes out of their houses, finds the nearest fireworks, and sets up their lawn chairs next to each other.  Strangers talk to each other while their children run around and play on the grass nearby.  It feels like we live in a small town just for a little while.  And, even though there will always be disagreements over how our government should do things, during the fireworks, everyone is smiling and happy and seems  focused on being thankful for the freedoms and blessings they enjoy, proud of their country that has provided them,  just for a few minutes.  Seems like a pretty great holiday if it can accomplish all that in such a short amount of time.

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

  • Servings: 10
  • Time: 2 hrs
  • Print

Old Fashioned Baked Beans

  • 3 lbs. canned pork and beans (drain most of the juice)
  • 3 Tbsp. prepared mustard
  • 3/4 c ketchup
  • 1 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c molasses
  • 5 ounces cooked, crumbled bacon (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • 3 Tbsp. onion, diced
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Coat inside of a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. In a large bowl, place pork and beans (drained), chopped onion, and cooked, crumbled bacon.  Stir gently to combine.
  4. In a separate, medium-size bowl, stir together, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, and liquid smoke.
  5. Pour ketchup mixture into bean mixture and stir gently to combine.
  6. Pour bean mixture into prepared casserole dish.
  7. Cover with foil, and bake 1 hour 30 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

Recipe from http://cookazido.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

Posted in 4th of July Recipes, Easter, Father's Day Recipes, Memorial Day Recipes, Recipes, Side Dishes, Summer Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Rocky Road Fudge Brownies

Rocky Road Fudge Brownies

I’ve made these 3 times in the last 2 weeks.  I’ve eaten them 3 times in the last 2 weeks.  I am on a diet.  I found out something very important.  Brownies are not good for a diet.  Just thought I’d share that piece of information in case you were wondering.  If you are on a diet, by all means, do not make these brownies.  They are TOO hard to resist.  They are moist, melty, gooey, chocolaty, and overall wonderful.  One of my favorite brownie recipes ever!

It is weird that I like these brownies.  I really don’t understand it.  You know how everyone likes smores everything right now?  I didn’t jump on that bandwagon because I don’t care for marshmallows.  And these have a layer of marshmallows underneath the chocolate fudge frosting.  But I love them!  Don’t ask me to explain myself.  I don’t understand me either.  All I can think of is that I probably would like anything with chocolate fudge frosting on top of it.  It is the same with my daughter.  She doesn’t like marshmallows either and she likes these brownies.  I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, or the marshmallow doesn’t fall far from the bag or something like that.

Rocky Road Fudge Brownies

All of this is to say, if you do like marshmallows, and you do like fudge frosting, think how much you will like these brownies!  And if you are like my daughter and me, you will still like these brownies.  The marshmallows get sprinkled over the brownies while they are still warm, and the frosting gets poured over the marshmallows while the frosting is warm, and what you end up with is a wonderful creamy substance that just melts in your mouth, that ruins your diet, and makes you very happy.  Rocky Road Fudge Brownies would be great to take to a 4th of July celebration, camping, or on vacation this summer.  And we all know that calories don’t count when you’re on vacation.  Perfect time to make these!

Rocky Road Fudge Brownies

  • Servings: 15-20
  • Time: 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 (9×13 size) brownie mix (I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge) or your favorite brownie recipe
  • ingredients to make brownie mix (eggs, oil, water)
  • 3 c chopped pecans (optional)
  • 3 c miniature marshmallows
  • 2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1/2 c butter (1 stick)
  • 1 box (16 oz.) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare brownie mix according to package directions.  Stir in pecans if using.
  3. Spoon batter into a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan.
  4. Bake for 18 to 21 minutes, depending on the mix you use.  Make sure to check it after 18 minutes with a toothpick, and don’t over-bake.
  5. Remove from oven, and sprinkle miniature marshmallows over hot brownies.  Set aside.
  6. While brownies are cooling, start making frosting by combining chocolate, milk, and butter in a heavy saucepan. Cook over low heat until chocolate and butter melt, stirring often.  Remove from heat.
  7. Pour powdered sugar into a mixing bowl.  Add vanilla and melted chocolate mixture.  Beat at low-speed until smooth.
  8. Spread over brownies, being careful not to dislodge marshmallows.
  9. Cool in pan on a wire rack.
  10. When cool, cover, and put in refrigerator until ready to serve.
  11. Cut brownies in squares.  Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Recipe from Cookazido

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 4th of July Recipes, Bars, Cabin Recipes, Company, Desserts, Party Recipes, Recipes, Summer Recipes | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments