Category Archives: Baking

Homemade Granola Bars

Awwwww yeah, summer is in full swing now, y’all. I successfully graduated college, *crowd cheers* and now in my search for a big girl job, I find myself at home with a *lot* of spare time. It has worked out well thus far, however, since the Ryan and I just moved into the new house last weekend. Everything is pretty well finished being painted (the rooms that count, anyway), and I have had the opportunity this week to do a crap ton of unpacking. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve run errands, met with people for services (like Verizon and plumbing :P), and generally tried to get stuff done around the house. I even hung a picture frame perfectly level. Ohhhhh yeaaaaah.

Anyway, one of the ways I occupied my time this week was walking around the new neighborhood, and on one of those jaunts, I walked up to the grocery store we’ve got here. I was going up there for chicken and other food items, but I decided to grab a couple things to make these quinoa granola bars I saw on Pinterest. I changed the recipe a bit, but overall, they looked awesome, and since the Ryan doesn’t like quinoa, I figured I could actually have something that was, well, just mine. That didn’t work, as it turns out, because though he doesn’t like quinoa OR coconut, he does like everything else in the bars, and has eaten them anyway. So..yeah. Marriage is sharing, y’all.

I changed the original recipe some to fit what I kept in my house, and my granola bars came out much more soft and squishy than the ones in the original recipe appear to have. I don’t know if it was the changes I made, or because she didn’t mention to refrigerate them (which works and keeps them nice and solid but still yummy and squishy), or if I didn’t cook them long enough, or what. Regardless, they’re delicious! So, let’s get started!

You will need:


  • 1 cup of coconut flakes (the original calls for unsweetened, but I couldn’t find unsweetened so I got what the store had)
  • 1 cup of coarsely chopped walnuts (she calls for cashews in the original recipe, but I didn’t have any – I did have walnuts)
  • 1 cup of slivered almonds
  • 1 cup of dried cranberries (original calls for cherries, but again, I didn’t have any – I had cranberries)
  • 2 cups of oats (she didn’t say whether they were instant or rolled oats, I have instant, so that’s what I used)
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and dried
  • 1/2 cup flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup almond butter (I had peanut butter, so I used that)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • Sea salt for garnish, if desired

Preheat your oven to 350, and line a 9×13 pan with wax paper.


Meanwhile, toast your oats and quinoa until cooked warmed and fragrant. Allow to cool.


After the oats and quinoa are cooled, combine them with your nuts, coconut, flax seed, and fruit.


In a small pan, add maple syrup, coconut oil, peanut butter, and honey.


Warm until melted, then mix together with the nuts and oats mixture until evenly coated.



Bake at 350 for ~25-30 minutes until the edges are toasted and brown. Remove and allow to cool completely.


I had to keep mine in the fridge to keep them solid, I am not sure what I did wrong, or if this is normal? But they’re delicious anyway. Once your bars are cooled and solid, cut them into strips.


As suggested in the original recipe, I decided to dip the bottoms of mine into chocolate. Mmmm.


I stuck them back in the fridge and let them harden. There you have it, delicious granola bars, all homemade and yummy! And healthy! Enjoy!!



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Filed under Baking, Cooking, Food, Uncategorized, Wellness

The easiest Easter cupcakes ever!

Hiya, everybody! ๐Ÿ˜€ It’s Easter weekend!! The bunny is coming, and bringing sugar to small children that will make them bounce even further off the walls than normal! Friends are gathering, people are worshiping, and the flowers are blooming.

Thank goodness it’s finally spring…Cross fingers, anyway. It was 34 with a wind chill of 28 just four days ago here…*sigh* Four more weeks and I will be done with my degree! It’s so close I can taste it! And then I can blog all the time again! ๐Ÿ˜€ And have hobbies! And a life!

Anyway, my friend Dawn is having an Easter dinner tomorrow night, and I have volunteered to make dessert! Only because I found the most adorable recipe on Pinterest and *had* to make it, though! And, of course, I will be cheating a little bit just to make things easier. ๐Ÿ™‚ The cupcakes will resemble teeny weeny egg nests, and I am *SOOOOOO* excited! I hope that people will eat them and enjoy them, and think they’re as cute as I do!

So what are we waiting for, let’s get started!


First, get some cake mix. I grabbed yellow cake because it’s my favorite. ๐Ÿ™‚ Next to carrot cake (but people probably wouldn’t want carrot cake for Easter). Then I cheated and got Easy Frost icing cans in chocolate (to be the brown nest!), and finally, some Robin Eggs.


Mix the cake mix according to the package directions. Mine called for 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of vegetable oil (I used canola), and 1 cup of water.

IMG_20140419_154958783Put your cute little cupcake liners in your pan and fill them ~1/2 way with the cake mix. As you see above, I didn’t have a ladle small enough so I used a gravy ladle. Heh. My mom used to use ice cream scoops. Use whatever works.


Bake them for 12-17 minutes, until they are done and a toothpick comes out clean. The mix should make ~24 cupcakes. Cool them for 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. ๐Ÿ™‚


In the middle of making the cupcakes, I decided that the ladle wasn’t working for me. My mom needed to go to the local mall for something, so I offered to drive her and we swung into Bed, Bath & Beyond for this little gem. EASIEST LADLING EVERRRRRRRR! Seriously, I don’t know why I waited so long for this.


When the cupcakes had cooled completely, I went ahead and started with the icing. I’ve never used the canned stuff before, but it turns out to be pretty darn easy! ๐Ÿ™‚ Press down, out it comes. Bonus! It has a star tip on it!


Work the icing around the top of the cupcake like a bird’s nest, and then put two of your whopper Robin Eggs on top. Voila! ๐Ÿ˜€ Easy, quick, cute, affordable, and totally fun for Easter!!


And there you have it! A nice little set of eggs nests, all ready for your Easter! And since I will be taking them somewhere, I bought this AWESOME cupcake transporter, that has its own separate little cupcake tower that you can use by itself, or keep in the carrier! Genius!!

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! Happy Easter!




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No Knead Artisan Bread


Let’s be honest, who *doesn’t* love a good loaf of bread? Who doesn’t love the smell of it as it bakes in the oven? Who doesn’t love the sensuous feeling of warm bread dripping with butter melting on your tongue….

Okay, sorry, I got lost in a fantasy world for a second daydreaming about bread.

In case you can’t tell, that’s the topic of today’s blog! ๐Ÿ™‚ Easy bread, to boot! As most of you know, I have possessed a Lodge enameled cast iron dutch oven since last winter. Best. Purchase. Ever…in case you were wondering. Anyway, I am always on the lookout for things to make in my dutch oven. It is AMAAAZING for braising ribs, I recently tried an Irish beef stew in it (it was so delicious!), often make soups with it, you name it, I use the dutch oven for it. So as you can imagine, when I came across this little beauty on Pinterest, I pinned it right away with the intention of trying it VERY SOON!

And then school started up again, I got bogged down with homework, the usual stuff. The bread idea was placed on the figurative back burner and all but forgotten. But a few days ago, my best friend finally got her first dutch oven! She was so excited! I was so excited! OMG YAY DUTCH OVENS ARE EXCITING! She wanted suggestions for things to cook in her new toy, and while linking her various recipes I remembered: THE BREAD! “Ohhh yeaaaaah,” I thought “I want to make this too!” So I did.

As many of you know, the eastern seaboard has yet again been graced by Father Winter, who is cranky and stubborn and justย doesn’t seem to want to leave this year!!ย Last Wednesday, it snowed…didn’t stick, just snowed and looked menacing, and it took me more than two hours to get to school for a 50 minute class. I was very, very upset. So last night, I decided that I wasn’t going anywhere today if the flakes started falling, and then school closed, so I didn’t have to worry about it anyway. Given that this particular bread requires 12-18 hours of rise time, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make it. Start it yesterday, let it sit overnight, finish it up today, watch the snow, smell the bread, be warm from the oven – perfection!

The only trouble was, I needed more whole wheat flour. UH OH! I went to the store and got some, but not before experiencing the mad house that is Maryland people before a winter storm. For some reason, snow = end of days in this state, and everyone panics and buysย everything from the grocery store the day before. It’s stupid – GUYS, I PROMISE: THE SNOW WILL MELT AND THERE WILL BE NO SHORTAGE OF FOOD. Thankfully, since everyone was at Giant panicking, I was able to get in and out of Target at a relatively good speed. Remember that next time you can’t park at a grocery store the day before snow, folks – Target has a grocery section. They sell flour. ๐Ÿ˜› Nyeh nyeh.

And so the process began:

I don’t have any photos of the ingredients, but know that you will need 6 cups of bread flour, 1/2 tsp of instant or active dry yeast, 2.5 tsp of salt, and 2 & 2/3 cup of cool water. I subbed 3 cups of whole wheat flour for 3 of the cups of bread flour. Mix the dry ingredients together and then add the water.

For not the first time yesterday, I found myself wishing I had a KitchenAid mixer. Doesn’t everyone want one of those at some point? Ugh, Iย needed that bread paddle yesterday (though a much cheaper alternative that I am going to look into is a danish dough whisk. It’s $10 to the KitchenAid’s $400). Let it be known, though, that the puny dough hooks and wimpy motor on my hand mixerย actually worked long enough to incorporate the dough. I didn’t have much faith in it to start, but as long as I nursed it along patiently, it did well. I finished up by wetting my hands (the dough was ever so slightly too dry) and getting the rest of the dough ball mixed up. I had to add one extra tablespoon of water to get the right consistency (I find whole wheat to be a “thirstier” flour).


Okay, so maybe it’s not the most glamorous thing in the world, but let’s face it, folks…It’s a ball of dough. YIPPEE. I then covered it with plastic wrap and set it on top of my fridge (it’s the warmest spot in my kitchen and also out of the way of fur balls that think it’s okay to walk on the counter tops).


It is supposed to rise for 12-18 hours….Look at that bad boy go! I was curious, so I peeked while I was making dinner. I couldn’t help myself!


And then I checked again before bed….JUST TO BE SURE THE YEAST WAS WORKING! (We have had yeast in our freezer for ages. By the way, if you’re going to use yeast that you’ve frozen, let it get to room temperature first, okay? Okay. Also, if you’re unsure as to whether it is still active or not, follow this simple instruction guide to tell if your yeast is still viable.)

IMG_20140303_085815936Good morning, snow day! I like what you’ve done with the place.


And here is that beauty this morning. Looks gooooooood. You will know your dough is ready when it’s all bubbly and smells super yeasty. To me it smelled like beer, so I knew it was good to go.


On a well floured surface, and with well floured hands, roll that bad boy out of the bowl and work it into a ball. Flour a piece of parchment paper or a tea towel and put the dough ball seam side down on it. Cover with another towel and let rise for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size. I have a lot of homework to get done today, so in order to make sure I kept the correct schedule for this bread, I anal retentively set an alarm for an hour and 30 minutes.


Why an hour and 30 instead of 2 hours, you ask? Because for the last 30 minutes of the rising process, you’re going to want to place a dutch oven (or any heavy oven proof pot that has a lid) in a cold oven and bring it up to 425 degrees. If you’re not sure whether your dutch oven’s handle can…well…handle 425 degrees, wrap it in aluminum foil. I *think* mine is okay, but…just to be sure, I wrapped it anyway. Because I like my dutch oven and I want it to last for a long time.


Eeyup, I’d say that effectively doubled in size! (After 2 hours)

IMG_20140303_121115090Slide your hand under the parchment paper and flip the dough into the dutch oven. BE CAREFUL, IT’S HOT! DON’T TOUCH THE EDGES!! Now the seam will be up. Put the top back on and stick that bad boy in the oven for 40 minutes. Mmmmmmmm, do you SMELL THAT??? *drool*

IMG_20140303_125204350After the 40 minutes has passed, take the top off and cook for 10 more minutes to make a nice crust. HOT DAMN, LOOK AT THAT! I almost didn’t want to put it back in the oven!

IMG_20140303_130255477ย But I did. And man was it worth it….It’s so beautiful! *tear*

IMG_20140303_130440649It is now going to take every collective ounce of self control and restraint available in this house to let this cool downย all the way before we cut into it. Once the Ryan wanderedย out here and spied it, there might just beย was mutiny (“What? Why do we have to wait? What’s this nonsense? I don’t know what you’re talking about!” *grumbles and walks away pouting*). But I will emphasize again: DO NOT CUT INTO IT UNTIL IT HAS COOLED! Doing so will ruin the bread’s consistency and make it gummy and dense. Nobody wants that, do they? Didn’t think so.


After hours of being pestered by the Ryan, the bread was finally read to cut. BEHOLD THE DELICIOUSNESS. I spread a little honey on mine. Mmmmm, good. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The Ryan hasn’t spoken in a few minutes, so I will interpret that to mean he enjoys it.

Well, what are you waiting for? GO BAKE SOME BREAD!!!

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Chicken Parmesan

Hello there, everyone! ๐Ÿ˜€

It’s Sunday, and it’s supposed to be a lazy day, but alas, it is far from it! Actually, it has been a half lazy day. We’re cleaning our house, but we’re doing it slowly. We’ve got guests coming on Tuesday, and we helped our friends move to a beautiful new house yesterday (omg I want one!), so it has been an active weekend. Needless to say, we’re not in the biggest hurry to clean our own house today. The living room looks good, though, as does the hallway. I’m half cleaning the kitchen in between errands, eating lunch, and surfing the Gardening section of Pinterest.

The other night, when the Polar Vortex was still visiting us, I made the Ryan and I chicken parmesan, but lightened up, SkinnyTaste style! I love Skinny Taste! I wish I could just jump through the computer screen and eat all the food she posts! And I love her alternative and low calorie spins on traditional foods! Since it was about 7 degrees outside, a 450 degree oven didn’t actually sound all that bad! Plus, it gave me a chance to use my new rack for the oven! Win/Win, right?

Anyway, let’s get started!

IMG_20140108_184105059ย First, let’s get started with ingredients. The SkinnyTaste Recipeย called for seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs. I didn’t have that, though, so I used Panko bread crumbs that I crushed up to be a bit smaller, and then added some Italian Seasoning to the plate. It’s lazy seasoned bread crumbs, yay! And a special thanks to my friend Emily, who always sends me Penzey’s Spices for Christmas/Birthday/Wedding, whatever. I *love* them. They smell good, they taste amazing, and they are excellent quality! Anyway, I used their Italian Seasoning and it was sooooooo good.

IMG_20140108_184708963ย My chicken breasts were a bit fat on one side and I was worried about them cooking unevenly, so I put a sheet of wax paper over them and went to town with my meat tenderizer (the flat side not the pointy side) to get them evenly thick.

IMG_20140108_185300646ย I melted two tbls of butter and used a kitchen brush to paint the butter on each side of the chicken. I then dipped the chicken in the bread crumbs. I totally forgot to put the parmesan cheese in the bread crumb mixture, so I just sprinkled some on top. I lined a cookie sheet with foil and then put the chicken breasts on my baking rack. I then stuck them in my 450 degree oven for 20 minutes.

IMG_20140108_191824165While the chicken was cooking, I put some of the marinara sauce in a small pot to be warmed, and started some noodles. Gina’s recipe calls for linguine, but I had some leftover whole wheat “egg” noodles from some soup I made a couple weeks ago, and decided to use those instead. I got a pot of water boiling for those and then put them in.


I also grated some mozzarella cheese, which is super un-fun since it’s a soft cheese. A trick I learned thanks to the masterful internet is to freeze the cheese a bit before you grate it to make it easier. Thank you, internet!

IMG_20140108_192219172After 20 minutes, I flipped the chicken and spooned one tablespoon of marinara sauce over each breast, and then topped with mozzarella cheese. I put them back in the oven for an additional 5 minutes.

IMG_20140108_193002113ย Et voila! I drained my noodles and plated them up with the marinara that I’d warmed in my pot, placed the chicken over the noodles, and topped with some freshly chopped parsley.

Easy, quick, warm, delicious! The Ryan was amazing and surprised me with Episode 2 of the new season of Sherlock, which he had DVR’d without me knowing! AHHHHHH BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH! *Swoon* Let’s be honest: Smaug (bonus points since John Watson is also Bilbo Baggins! :D), Khan, AND Sherlock Holmes? Oh yeah, baby. He’s the celebrity crush that will never be fulfilled. And that’s okay! ๐Ÿ˜€

sherlock-benedict-cumberbatchย  ย Well, I guess I’d better go finish cleaning…….or something………*sigh* Have a great day!


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Holy Yum Chicken (And Happy New Year!)

The title speaks for itself. It’s not my recipe, though. Chances are if you’re on Pinterest, you’ve seen this gem floating around being pinned hither and yon. It’s totally worth pinning. Fifty times. Yeah, I said fifty times. I wish I could make it fifty times a week, but then we’d probably get tired of it, and that would be a shame. Also there aren’t really that many meal opportunities in a week, so…:(

The Ryan and I decided to stay in and have a quiet evening tonight. Our friends are off with their families, other groups of friends, whatever. We weren’t invited anywhere, and that is fine with us. With all the things going on recently, it’s nice to just be able to lay on our couch and do nothing. This evening has consisted of watching Star Trek: Voyager and Stargate: Atlantis. Yeah, SG-1 is better, but Netflix got rid of it. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ CURSE YOU, NETFLIX! Though we got Atlantis on Amazon Prime, so. Meh. Oh, and now a documentary called Secrets of the Sun about how the sun is going to destroy life as we know it by smacking us with a solar flare and killing our electronics (the Ryan always finds the good documentaries). Science!!

Anyway, since it’s a “special occasion,” (though to be fair, 2013 was kind of badass. I got engaged to and then married the Ryan, I met Mommy and Daddy S’s baby Cambria when she was just brand new and a day old and have watched her grow alongside them, I made some amazing new friends, got closer to existing friends, took one more step toward my degree, and got to sit on a tropical beach paradise in Jamaica for a week. I mean, come on! That’s awesome!) I decided to make this recipe. I tried it a while back when we first moved here, and the Ryan liked it so much he actually put it as his favorite food (out of all the things I’ve ever made him! Lol!) on the questionnaire game we did for my bridal shower. Clearly, he digs it. And I don’t blame him, I love it too. It’s called “Holy Yum Chicken,” and oh man, does the title totally do it justice. But enough of me raving about it, you should make it yourself. And here’s how:


I was a little bit tired, and had mixed the ingredients before I decided, hey, I should blog this! It has been a looooooong day. Actually it has been a long week, y’all. Santa was good and all, but I’m tired! Anyway, for the sauce you’ll need 1/2 cup dijon mustard (Emeril’s is my favorite: I can actually read all of the ingredients on the label, and I think it tastes better. Especially in this recipe. No, Emeril isn’t paying me to say that. But wouldn’t it be badass if he did? Hellooooo, money! But I digress). You will also need 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup.ย REAL. MAPLE. SYRUP. Not Log Cabin (as much as I love it) or sugar free nonsense, the real deal. And then 1-2 tbls of rice vinegar. I like to use 2 tbls because I find one leaves the sauce a bit too sweet for my liking. But it’s up to your taste. I like the tang. Add that deliciousness to a bowl and whisk it till it’s nice and smooth and ya can’t whisk no more!


The original recipe calls for 1.5-2 lbs** boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I made the super fabulous mistake of only thawing out one chicken thigh that was folded in on itself and looked like two. WHOOPS! I frantically ran out to the grocery store to get more (as my oven was heating to a whopping 450 degrees, yep, you read that right), and elbowed my way through the New Years Eve crowd to find: bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. Well, crap. But that’s all there was that was organic, so I bought it and just dealt with it. I cut off all the skin and fat, and voila (having the bone there didn’t make a difference that we could tell anyway).


Line an 8×8 pan with a double layer of tin foil (trust me, do it. Two layers), and stick your beautiful chicken thighs on in there. Salt and pepper each side, and then pour your mix right in. Move them around to get them nice and coated with the sauce on both sides. Mmmmm, look at that. Stuff those bad boys in the oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, I cut up some potatoes and tossed them in olive oil, seasoned salt, garlic powder, pepper, and a dash of paprika and stuck them in my new (YAY WEDDING STUFF!!!) Le Creuset 9×9 bake pan. ๐Ÿ˜€ Lined with foil, of course, but I love that thing! Best. Cleanup. Ever. Anyway, I baked those for 30 minutes (so 10 minutes after the chicken went in – it’s real easy to prep when you’re lazy and chop them with the skin on :D).


Mmmmm, out of the oven. Look at those bad boys. While it bakes, you will be drooling, it smells soooooooooo amazing. Let them sit for about 5 minutes, and then remove them to a plate and cover (or don’t, because you know, 450 degrees is frickin’ hot!). Return the pan to the stove, and add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1-2 tablespoons water (this is the only part of the recipe I diverge from, because adding cornstarch directly to the leftover sauce has only ever left me with lumpy grossness, and you’re not really supposed to do that anyway), and whisk to incorporate until the sauce thickens. I’m too lazy for all that, so I just whisk it in and then turn the heat up a smidgen and let it come to a slight boil to thicken (don’t worry about safety, the sauce boils for a long time at 450 in the oven), and then whisk it more and remove it from the heat.


Pour your sauce over your chicken, and voila! Dinner. ๐Ÿ˜€ And it’s soooooooooooooooooo good!!!! ย Holy Yum!!! Go make it NOW!

**Normally, I only make 2 thighs and I halve the recipe, but today since I had to go to the store, I ended up making the whole thing. And now the Ryan and I have lunch for tomorrow! ๐Ÿ˜€




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Thanksgiving! And stuff.

Well ‘ello there, all! ๐Ÿ™‚ Long time no write!

Things have been totally crazy! I always say that, right? Well, it’s true. The good news: I’m freaking married now! WOOOOOOO! *celebratory dance*

It was a beautiful day, the Ryan looked stunningly handsome, and even with the little blips, the wedding was more perfect and magical than I ever could have imagined.


In the course of the last couple weeks, we ran around like headless chickens wrapping things up at work and at school, and then off we went to Jamaica for a week! True story, I cannot recommend Sandals, Negril highly enough! They made our honeymoon completely romantic and completely awesome! Besides, whoย wouldn’t like endless rum (Jamaican rum! YUM) filled drinks and food whenever you want it while snorkeling or jamming on a party catamaran out on the ocean? Duh. Sandals, Negril. Go there. Get a butler room. You won’t be sorry you did.


And now we’re back. It’s Thanksgiving week! YIKES! I’ve spent my day today making brownies (as requested by my aunt, whose house we’re going to before heading over to a friend’s) and preparing my “grown up” apple cider for tomorrow. And by preparing, I mean putting the crock pot and Caramel Vodka next to the front door. The cider is still in the fridge. Because it should be. Also, today I learned that you can use coconut oil in place of butter in baking batters! But be careful, the melting/solid threshold on coconut oil is only 76F, which makes it kind of unwieldy when you add things at or below room temperature (depending on the temperature of your room, that is. Ours is around 70, so…yeaaah). Fear not, however, I sampled a brownie and they’re just as good and smooshy as if I were to have made them with butter. TAKE THAT, FATTY BUTTER!

Tomorrow I plan on making a variant of a recipe I saw on Pinterest for Apple Cider with Vodka in it. I went and bought myself some Smirnoff Caramel Vodka and some Apple Cider from the Amish. The Ryan and I got a new programmable crock pot as a wedding gift, which I will be taking to our friend’s Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow evening. One gallon cider, half a bottle of vodka, put the thing on “Keep Warm” and get my friend to light up the fire pit while we set up the telescope (yeah, we have one of those too. It’s fun being married to an engineer) to see if Comet Ison blows up in the sun or not. It should be a nice evening tomorrow! And even if Ison blows up, we will have cider with booze in it. So it’s a win either way. Plus, turkey coma.


(How did I get the same cider as in that picture on the original recipe, you ask? Turns out that Philadelphia isn’t that far from Maryland and the Amish bring it down with them to the market. Ohhhhhh yeah. ^_~)

Anyway, I’ll let you know how it turns out.

In other news, our honeymoon was a bit of an overindulgence and we put on a few *cough* pounds while we were in Jamaica. I mean, drinking fruity cocktails all day and eating fried red snapper and all sorts of other goodies (and desserts) will do that. I don’t regret it, even if my belly does. VIVA LA HONEYMOON! But that, plus the holidays, means that we’re in that tough spot of watching what we eat while not starving ourselves through the numerous gatherings we’ll be attending (especially since I bought a case of 18 Holiday cookie cutters, and I want to make Christmas cookies, damnit!). So if the rest of you are curious, I managed to find this resource for Thanksgiving/Christmas food lightened up. Because Skinny Taste is the I will definitely be turning to some of these recipes to bring to our group Christmas dinner.

That’s about it for now! I’ve got to run and start reading a book for a review I need to write this weekend. And ย I have a presentation due Tuesday. Gotta work Friday (and work out my purchasing finger with internet Black Friday sales)… never ends! Oh! And the ballet on Saturday! The Joffrey Ballet is back in DC performing the Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center! It’s a yearly tradition, so I’m excited!! Let’s hope my dress clothes fit after that awesome honeymoon. ๐Ÿ˜‰


Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!!


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7 Freezer Meals for New Parents! (Part 1)

Yaaaaaaaaay!!! In one week, Baby S is coming!!! The Ryan and I can’t wait to meet her (and neither can her parents)!! Daddy S is so excited, he is posting a countdown on his Facebook every day. Like the true friend I am, I posted the Final Countdown by Europe on his page. Because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t?

Go Go 80s Hair Music!! ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyway, since this is the first baby for both Mommy and Daddy S, a few friends of mine and myself are rotating freezer meals for them. I am off this week – field school ended last week and my first class of Summer Session II is tonight, so I took the week off before going back to work to get things done and acclimate to the new class routine. In the mean time, I volunteered to be the first rotation of food for the new parents since I have some time! We figured hey, the last thing Mommy and Daddy S are going to be thinking about is dinner, right? So why not help out?

I spent the day yesterday compiling a list of recipes to make and scouting out Sam’s Club and the local Wallyworld and supermarkets for the best deals. I came up with 7 or so recipes to make for Mommy and Daddy S that should last them 2-3 meals each. ๐Ÿ™‚ That should hold them over for a while, and the yield *should* be hopefully 21-25 meals or so, depending on how big of portions they take and whether they eat them for lunch too. ๐Ÿ˜›

The menu is as follows:

Baked Penne with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Chicken

MawMaw’s Spaghetti

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken and Artichoke Pasta Bake

Turkey Burgers (my own recipe that I made up, you’ll see it below).

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken and Beef Enchiladas, in both Red and Green Sauces (again, no actual recipes for these, just using the canned sauces and some extra oomph of my own to taste).


Since Sam’s Club has no form of actual payment that I can use (why don’t they take Visa? Soooooo dumb!) and I refuse to get a Master Card or Discover card specifically to shop there, I had to wait until the Ryan came home before I could buy things there. While I waited, I headed over to Walmart because they have the best prices on canned goods and they were having a sale on cheese. After I left there, I went to shoppers because they have the best deal on produce and noodles. Yeah, it’s kind of sad how I know those things..<_<


Not a bad haul, though, yeah? That is all the non-meat product I needed for this recipe list. Yeah, I write notes to my Pookie on the whiteboard, don’t judge me. =P


While I was waiting for the Ryan to get home, I cooked the noodles I would need for the penne and rotini pasta dishes. Then I put them in a Seal-A-Meal bag and stuck them in the fridge to cool down and dry out.


After our trip to Sam’s Club, the Ryan and I came home pretty darn happy. We picked up these trays, meat, and flour tortillas (2 bags of 10 for $3.93, just fyi). In case anyone cares, you can get 30 of those trays with the lids for less than $12 at Sam’s. Given that they’re like…$5 for 2 trays at the grocery store and most don’t come with lids, I feel like this is a really good thing to know.


We hit a special at Sam’s Club on chicken tenders, 6 lbs for $9, yes please! I brought them home and cooked them in the crock pot overnight in some chicken broth, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and this morning I got up and the chicken was basically pull apart shreddable. ๐Ÿ™‚


I didn’t know until yesterday, but apparently the packs of turkey at Sam’s Club are 5 lbs not 2.5 as I had anticipated, so now I have a bunch of extra for the Ryan and I and will be making us patties for turkey burgers and reserving some for chili as well. ๐Ÿ˜€ The ground beef was from Giant cuz they had the best price (and I had to run down there for milk once I got home and realized the penne recipe called for 6 cups and my measly half pint of milk just wouldn’t do).


I had the ingredients on hand for spaghetti sauce, and since I didn’t need meat, I also made this while the Ryan was at work. Funny story, I bought what I thought was red wine for the sauce. Turns out it was red wine VINEGAR. Can you say ruined? Yeah, this was my second attempt. >.< Derp! But that’s done and in the freezer.

The first recipe I made this morning was the Penne with Chicken and Sun Dried Tomatoes.


I didn’t take many pictures while prepping, as you can see, I was still working on my coffee and was tired. Since I had the penne and chicken on hand already, I added them to one of the trays and mixed them together after seasoning them with salt and pepper.


There you go, a prep shot. After reading some of the reviews on the site for this particular recipe, I decided to add some extra seasonings and saute the mushrooms before adding them to the sauce. I made sure I had everything standing by for the sauce. ๐Ÿ™‚ Look at those burners go!


Here is the finished product of the sauce: per the reviews, I added salt and pepper, some paprika, a little dash of cayenne, some basil, parsley, and vermouth. And a small handful more of cheese. Because everyone loves cheese. I also used the entire jar of sun dried tomatoes. I tasted the sauce and it was good. I might have to make this for myself and the Ryan sometime after we’re off our wedding diets. ๐Ÿ™‚


I added the sauce to the waiting dish and stirred it together….


Added just a little more cheese on top…


And wrote the directions….and yes, I do have to remind them to set the timer. They’re not too good at that without a baby. xD Meal two (I’m counting the spaghetti as 1): complete!

I then moved on to the Turkey and Artichoke pasta bake since I had those noodles standing by as well. This dish took considerably less time to make as everything was already standing by. PS – Time goes by much faster if you’re dancing around your kitchen singing to iTunes. Just a thought.


Does anyone else think of the final scene of Cruel Intentions whenever this comes on? As Reese Witherspoon’s character drives off in Ryan Philippe’s convertible after he died…*cry* Gahd, that movie!!


I got out one of the 2.5 lb packages of ground turkey and split it exactly in half (thanks to my handy dandy food scale). I dumped the rotini into a big mixing bowl and browned the turkey in a skillet, with a plate full of paper towels waiting for it to drain. Yes, I also made corn on the cob for lunch. Who doesn’t love it in summer? (Besides the Ryan :()


Meanwhile, I added the other half of the turkey to a bowl with one egg, some panko bread crumbs (let’s face it, they’re the best kind of crumb), worcestershire sauce, Lawry’s seasoned salt, pepper, paprika, and onion flakes. I mixed them all together for patties. No, I have no idea how much I put in there. I eyeball it…=\


I weighed each patty to be 4 oz and then formed them.


Since my cookie sheet has taken a walk to some mysterious place, I lined one of the tray tops with parchment paper and popped the patties into the freezer for an hour to firm up.


While the patties were in the freezer firming up, I added one can of regular diced tomatoes (not drained), one can of fire roasted tomatoes (also not drained), two jars of artichoke hearts (drained) and that whole jar of pesto to the sauce. Let me tell you what – the pesto smelled really good, so I grabbed a piece of herb & garlic focaccia that the Ryan picked up from the bakery and spooned a little of it onto the bread….O.M.G.!! I thought I had died and gone to heaven. No, for real. The pesto was kind of pricy, but I didn’t want to give my friends shitty pesto (really? who wants to eat shitty pesto?), so I paid for it. Worth every penny. And randomly found at Walmart, go figure! It was so good I honestly think that if I have time I might drive back over there to get a jar so we can warm the foccacia and dip the pesto tonight. /drool. It was soooo delicious.


I mixed everything together in the big bowl along with a serious helping of Italian seasoning and about a teaspoon of extra salt to bring out the flavors (I tasted as I went), and poured it all into the dish.


I mixed a small portion of provolone/mozzarella cheese into the noodles/turkey mixture and then sprinkled a generous helping on top. And voila! Meal #3 all done.


I guessed on these instructions. Mommy S is really good with cooking, so I am hoping that these instructions are either good, or she monitors the food and adjusts as necessary. The website I got the recipe from didn’t really have freezer instructions. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


And she may cry but her tears will dry when I hand her the keys to a shiny new Australiaaaaaaaaaaaa *sing* Don’t judge, I’m a Whedonverse fangirl. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion! *swoon*

Moving on! To chicken pot pie.


It starts with 2 frozen pie crusts. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, this recipe makes 2 separate pies, yay!


Meanwhile, I got some mixed veggies boiling in lower sodium chicken broth. It should be noted that every recipe where possible, I reduced sodium for Mommy S. ๐Ÿ™‚


Layered in the veg when they were done and strained. ๐Ÿ˜€


And then poured in the sauce. The recipe calls for just plain sauce, but that’s boring. So I seasoned with some salt, pepper, paprika and herbs du provence. I am so sad, I am out of garlic powder. It’s a travesty. True story.


I used pre-made Pillsbury pie crusts…not the frozen ones, the ones you’ll find in the refrigerator section of your grocery store. Meanwhile, all of the leftovers I trimmed off both pies are in a plastic bag and I’ll figure out what to do with them later. Maybe some sort of cinnamon sugar stick or something for the Ryan. Idk. I did make two pies, as you saw, but I kept one for myself. ๐Ÿ™‚ Gotta feed the Ryan and I also, and my class starts at 6!


Ta da! ๐Ÿ˜€ Chicken pot pie. I sprayed the pie crust with some Pam and wrapped with Saran wrap before wrapping with tin foil, hopefully to keep the crust from drying out in the freezer and from sticking to the wrap…that way it didn’t peel onto the foil and get grody and ruin the pie!


All this cooking spins my head right round right round, baby! I’m telling you…iTunes makes the world better. Sadly, though, my playlist cycled. I had to turn on something else at that point, lol. There’s only so much Deadmau5 repeats one can take…unless it’s Ghosts N Stuff. I could listen to that on repeat all day.


Finally! The burgers are ready! I prepped a freezer bag, sprayed them down with Pam to keep them from sticking to the wrap…and then got the brilliant idea to wrap them in parchment paper AND saran wrap. Derp!


And this is why everyone needs a Seal A Meal machine. I’m telling you. Do it. You won’t regret it for a second.


And that is where I stopped for the day. They didn’t want more than 3-4 trays, and I’m out of room! But, there are two giant pasta dishes, turkey burgers, a chicken pot pie, and two containers of spaghetti sauce in there for them. ๐Ÿ™‚ All in all, I’d say successful! I will make more (and blog more) on Friday so I can take them the remaining dishes I don’t have room for in the freezer (already been cooked things can live in the fridge overnight).


I weighed the remaining chicken, bagged it in a freezer bag and put it in the freezer as well. I’ll be cooking the ground beef and mixing up all of the spices for their enchilada filling and also making myself and the Ryan some turkey burger patties later this evening…but for now, to the store for garlic powder and pesto! And then class!……*grumble*

Stay tuned for Part 2!


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