Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cucumber Dill Chicken Salad

- 6 oz shredded chicken
-1/2 to 1 c Greek yogurt 
-1 large cucumber, diced
-1/2 c chickpeas
-1.5 TB dill
-2 TB parsley
-dash oregano
-pinch of lemon zest
-salt and pepper to taste
Mix all of these ingredients up and season to your taste. You can also add olives to this or even feta cheese and adapt it as preferred. 

This is something we have been using a lot for snacks, and it is best chilled overnight but can be eaten immediately as well. This involves a lot of healthy ingredients and is packed with healthy ingredients. This makes it in to our meal plans multiple times per month. It is a great summer picnic snack, and one that won't heat up your kitchen. 

Cook the chicken in your crockpot overnight on low for an even easier assembly with essentially no heat required! 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Simple Lego Cake

I got talked in to making a Lego cake for one of my boyfriend's friend's kid's party (yes I just wanted to use a lot of apostrophes) and the theme was Lego.

Let me start off by saying that I thought of 800 ways to make it the most complicated cake in the world.

I considered making Lego men out of marshmallows and rice crispy treats.

I considered making Legos out of cookie bars.

I considered a 3D two tiered shenanigan.

And then I decided that the best Lego cake might just be the ones that mimic a Lego play area itself.  Because that is, in fact, the most recognizable form to a four year old.

So what better to make than one that looks like a Lego play mat.  I can still remember the big Lego table with the green base that was at my pediatrician's office while I was growing up.  Just like all the questionable towers I built waiting for my check-ups, this cake just needed a good base.

I used buttercream icing (2 sticks of butter, 2-4 cups of powdered sugar depending on your stiffness preference, a dash of vanilla, a tablespoon or so of water, as needed, whip on high for at least 5 minutes!).  I also bought candy blocks from the movie theater food aisle at Meijer.  Talk about a life saver.  I used one of the larger blocks upside down to stamp the circle pattern in the green base.

Now I know that technically those dots should stick out, not in, but seriously I did not have any desire to try to make uniform dots.  If you are obsessed with accuracy, by fondant and use a larger writing tip or similar as a cookie cutter for dots.

Anyway, then I used more icing directly on the back of the blocks to cement them down to the cake and to each other.

For the lettering, I used a large round tip for the name and did the white first.  Then I use a normal writing tip to do the yellow name outline and the wording base.  For these, I did the equivalent of two lines wide of icing because I knew I was going to come back and put black on it.  In hindsight, I wish I had gone ahead and used yellow for the piping as well, but overall that did not make that big of a difference.

Plus, it was a relief to have one small bit of icing without a ridiculous amount of color in it...

As could be expected, everyone was really happy with the cake and it was a pretty good success.  I have the most fun helping out on fun cakes like this as opposed to some of the elaborate cakes in life, mostly because we all need a little more whimsy.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Maple Bacon Oatmeal Cookies

For the Cookies
-2 sticks butter, softened
-1 C packed brown sugar
-1/2 C sugar
-2 eggs
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 3/4 C AP flour
-1/4 C real maple syrup
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp cinnamon
-dash of nutmeg
-3 C oats, plus a few tablespoons more as needed for a thicker, firm batter
-about 6 strips of thick bacon, fried just under crispy and cut into small pieces

For the frosting
-1/2 stick butter
-1 C+ powdered sugar
-1/4 C Maple syrup
-dash of water, as needed

Mix the butter and sugars first until they are creamy.  Add in the egg, vanilla, maple syrup, and spices and beat well. Add in your dry ingredients, saving the bacon for last, and mix well.  Fold in the bacon and drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet or one lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool before frosting.

Mix the icing ingredients, adding enough powdered sugar to make it pretty firm like a candy center, or adding just a little water if it gets too hard to mix.  When it is the right consistency, pop it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so and frost on the cookies.  When it cools down it will set pretty firmly.

Devour.  And relish the moment.

These were a big hit at work.  They are sweet but not too sweet.  This is the first time I have included bacon in cookies, and I think these are going to be a pretty consistent make for me.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Chorizo Meatballs, Zucchini Pasta and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

For 24 meatballs:
-1 lb ground beef
-8 oz chorizo
-1 large garlic clove, minced
-1/4 C minced onion
-1 TB basil
-2 tsp oregano
-2 eggs
-36 almonds, ground finely

For the Sauce:
-4 red bell peppers
-1/2 C onion
-1 garlic clove
-2 tsp Worcestershire
-2 tsp balsamic vinegar
-Salt and pepper
-1 TB basil
-2 tsp oregano
-2 tsp rosemary
-2 tsp parsley

-1 zucchini or more as needed, spiraled into noodles

I used my kitchenaid to mix all of my meatball ingredients together.  Next, I formed them in to 24 relatively even-sized balls and placed them on a baking sheet.  I cooked them at 400F for 22 minutes.

Meanwhile, throw all of the sauce ingredients in a food processor and blend until pureed.  Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Spiralize your zucchini.  I am in love with my spiralizer that I bought from Amazon, it is one of the heavy duty ones that sits on your counter.  It takes care of the zucchini in about 30 seconds and there is very little waste or effort on my part.  I could not be happier!

I personally did not cook the noodles this time, instead opting to pour the piping hot sauce over them and let it all steam for a few minutes.  You have the option of cooking the noodles separately by sauteeing them in a pan, or by tossing them in with your sauce and cooking for five to ten minutes if you like.  Since you can eat zucchini raw and since the noodles are so small, I was not too concerned.

Also, this is something we are taking for lunch tomorrow, so the microwave can take care of it for me.

The meatballs, I must say, are delicious!  I have had some issues making good meatballs before but these are really good.  I highly suggest draining them on a paper towel when they come out of the oven, because at the end of the day this recipe is just a hybrid sausage ball.  That means grease.

That is also why I mixed these with a lower fat sirloin.  You could probably use ground turkey in place of the beef if you prefer, I just have had some bad luck with it and opted to stick with what works for me.

Maybe turkeys just hate me.  It's mutual.

Regardless, I am very excited for this meal.  I will be using 3 meatballs for me and 4 for the boyfriend.  You could always make them smaller if you want to have a lot of meatballs in each serving and want them to cook faster.

I am hoping to consistently post on Sundays for my 52 Weeks of Wonderful, as it will be nice to be in a habit.  We will see how that works for me on vacation...

Until next time, happy crafting! Pin It Now!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Snickers Pie and the Start of 52 Weeks of Wonderful

First the Pie, then the story:
-1 C ground roasted unsalted peanuts
-1/4 C cocoa powder
-1/4 C sugar
-2 Eggs

-8 oz heavy whipping cream
-1 pk reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
-1 C powdered sugar
-1/4 C PB2 (the powdered peanut butter)
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/4 C almond milk

-Snickers (I like the mini unwrapped bites)
-Chocolate sauce
-Rough chopped peanuts

Preheat your oven to 350F.  Grease a pie pan and mix all of the crust ingredients together.  Press into the bottom and up the sides, and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Allow it to cool.

Whip the filling ingredients together starting at a low speed to incorporate then whipping on high until a thick creamy custard-type texture is achieved and all of the lumps are out.  After the pie crust is completely cool, add half the filling mix in.  Put a layer of ground peanuts down and drizzle a little caramel over the peanuts.  Top it with the rest of the filling mix.  Drizzle caramel and chocolate over the top and put snickers around the edges.

Chill it for an hour or so, or pop it in the freezer.

I made this for my dad who is retiring.  I think "Happy RePIErment" is a pretty delicious sentiment, and maybe much tastier than a card or flowers.  He loved this pie, although he agreed it must be eaten in small slices as it is very, very rich.

The first year I did this blog, I did something every single day for the 365 Day Craft Challenge.  It was great because it taught me a whole lot about cooking in a very short period of time.  However, I am transitioning from the 365 Day Craft Challenge to something that I am calling 52 Weeks of Wonderful.

Partly, this is because I have a new job and a whole new schedule and I am not always creating new things every single day like I was.  More importantly though, I want to start transitioning into cooking things more elaborate, more delicious, taking things a few steps up.  Because really, some things can be as simple as a salad yet be incredibly delicious.  A salad can change a meal.  A dessert can make a meal.  The main dish can overshadow anything else.

And those are the things I want to get closer to.  Taking what I know, and making the best version of it.  This pie?  This is wonderful.  I would definitely classify this as wonderful.  The filling would be amazing in cupcakes also, by the way.  So that is my next blog and life step, refining.  Fewer posts, but hopefully better end results.

Thanks for sharing in my food journeys!

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