Friday, September 28, 2012

Avocado Chicken Salad

As I have mentioned, I take my lunch to work everyday, and there is no way to heat it.  That means I eat a lot of the same stuff or get desperate creative.  This week I was getting down to the minimum for lunches, basically I ran out of pita pockets (which I have been taking every day lately).  I didn't want to go to the store so I ended up creating this chicken salad and I am glad I did.  I don't know why I didn't think to make chicken salad like this a long time ago.  By the way, there is no mayo in this recipe!  I now have a new lunch idea to add to my collection of cold lunches.  Hope you enjoy this as much as me.  I made this in small batches, but you could easily make it for an appetizer at a group gathering, or lunch with the ladies! 
 I dipped tortilla chips in it, would be good on crackers, pretzels, bread, etc.
 I used half an avocado, diced some and mashed some
Tastes better than it looks, I took this for lunch two days in a row and plan to get more stuff so I can take it again next week!

Simple Avocado Chicken Salad
(4 servings, but you could make it single servings easily)
1can chicken, 13oz
2 avocados (could use 1 if you wanted, I like a lot of avocado)
1/2 cup cottage cheese
2 Tbsp. Salsa
taco seasoning to taste

Mix all ingredients together and serve cold.  Serve on tortilla chips (really good), pretzels, crackers, pitas, bread, or whatever you enjoy.  My friend made this after I told her about it and she said her husband liked it too!
*When I made this for my lunches, I make it fresh each day so the avocado stays good.  Basically I divide the can of chicken into 4 servings.  Cut my avocado in half and store the other wrapped in saran wrap.  Then I just add a scoop of cottage cheese and salsa and seasonings to taste.  This would be a great item to take on a picnic or just a nice snack/meal on the weekends.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pan Pizza

Cliff surprised me the other night with homemade pizza dough.  I had gone to a workout class and couldn't decide what to do for dinner (wanting pizza but not wanting to make the dough), and when I got home, Cliff had already made the dough and it was already in the process of rising!  I was so excited and thankful.  To make it even better, he had used a copy cat pizza hut dough and put the dough in our cast iron skillet, because we have been wanting to try pizza in the cast iron (we obviously like Pizza Huts pan pizza, which has more oil than I realized!).  Anyways, Cliff's pizza dough was a success.

 Cliff got this for dough
Using the dough blade on our food processor
I cut up some grilled veggies we had in our fridge, plus pepperoni

 After the dough rose 30 minutes in the pan, I topped our pizza with all the goodies
Sauce, veggies, peperoni, and cheese
 Oven at 450 for about 12-14 minutes
 A delicious meal

Here is the link for the dough recipe Cliff used.  The only thing he did different was:  split the dough into two balls, and only put 1/4 cup oil in the pan before hand (instead of the 1/2 cup oil suggested, good choice husband!).  If you have a cast iron skillet, you should definitely try this sometime:)  Enjoy


Thursday, September 20, 2012

One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

My bosses Birthday was a week ago and I was so excited because I got to make the cake!  When you are making such a special cake, you want to know your recipe is a good one, so I used the recipe my Mom always used for my Birthday!  This is one of my all-time favorite chocolate cakes, hope you enjoy it as much as we did. 
 Oh man it was so chocolatey and rich-in a good way:)

One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups milk (I used buttermilk, 1 cup milk with 1 Tbsp. vinegar)
2/3 cup oil (used canola)
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2-3 cups chocolate chips (optional but highly recommended)

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease 2 round cake pans or a 12x9 pan (if you are using the two round pans, place parchment in the bottom for easy removal).  In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Add milk, oil, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed just until combined.  Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add egg and beat 2 more minutes.  Pour batter into prepared pans.  Sprinkle with chocolate chips (or if you don't put chocolate chips in the batter, you can put them on the middle layer on frosting).
Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean.  Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Remove cake from pan.  Cool thoroughly on a wire rack. 
Make frosting and frost cake.  I made a two-layer cake and used chocolate chips in the middle layer and on the outside edge. 
**Note:  I also wrapped my cakes in plastic wrap and placed them in the freezer overnight.  Optional but it is supposed to make the cake more moist. 

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
1 stick butter
2/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa (I used 1/3 cup dark cocoa and 1/3 cup normal cocoa)
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Beat room temperature butter with cocoa.  Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency.  Add more milk, if needed.  Add vanilla.  Makes about 2 cups. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lovely Addition to Waffles

I am a huge fan of waffles, pretty much any way you can have them such as with chocolate chips, topped with strawberries and whipped cream, butter and syrup, peanut butter and banana, you name it.  I thought of this over the weekend and made them for breakfast before church.
Drizzled with maple yogurt sauce and topped with raspberries-delish!
 Maple Yogurt Sauce (for waffles or pancakes)
*for 2-3 servings
1/4 cup yogurt (I used full fat greek yogurt)
2 Tbsp. maple yogurt
1/2 ripe banana
sprinkle of cinnamon

Pulse a few times in the blender and serve over warm waffles.  You can top your waffles with butter or peanut butter before the sauce.  I thawed frozen raspberries overnight in the fridge so they were kind of syrupy in a good way!
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:24

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Coconut Date Balls

I have been wanting to make these for a long time because I like Lara Bars (really expensive) and the recipe I found is kind of similar.  Cliff bought me a food processor for my B-day and we have really put it to good use.  This is a great healthy snack and maybe it can substitute for my dessert sometimes!  I am sure you could add your variations to the recipe, next time I am going to add chocolate chips (I was pretty bummed when I realized I forgot to do that this time around-how could I do that?).  Anyways, you have got to try these.  I even did a breakdown of some of the nutritional stats to see if it was the kind of snack that keeps you full!  If you are having them as a snack you would probably want to have 2 or 3 and put a little peanut butter on them for extra staying power.  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

 My favorite way to eat these is with a smear of peanut butter (homemade peanut butter)
 Before I made the coconut date balls, I made homemade peanut butter, so I left about this much in my food processor before I made the date balls because I wanted to peanut butter flavor (plus it saved me from washing my food processor twice)
 These are the dates I used.  I used 14 and cut them like so
 This looks really weird but I wanted to show you what it looked like when I stopped my food processor.  If you wanted a little more texture you could process them less
I did toasted coconut for some and left the others plain, I like both.

Coconut Date Balls
1 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup dried coconut, plus a little extra for rolling
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
12-14 pitted dates, chopped
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp. orange juice or zest of one orange (I used orange juice because we had it on hand)
1/4 cup water (may or may not use all of it)

Place oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, dates, and peanut butter in your food processor.  Turn on and as the ingredients start to break down and come together add your vanilla and orange juice.  Gradually add water until it all starts to stick together.  Mine started for form a ball and it probably only took 2 minutes.  The pictures should help.  Roll into balls and then roll in toasted coconut (you could also roll in oats, crushed pretzels, cocoa powder, you name it).  You might try it with more peanut butter or mini chocolate chips too!  Have fun with it!
Makes 17 balls and here are the stats for 1 ball:  
Approx Calories:  93  Fiber: 1.6   Protein: 2.5  Sugar: 5 (this is mostly natural found in dates, but a little came from the sweetened coconut, you could use unsweetened if you want)
*Adapted slightly from Daily Garnish

Monday, September 10, 2012


Here is a little bit of our time with Cliff's parents!  They came to visit us for Labor Day weekend and we have a fun, relaxing time.  By the way, I started reading The Hunger Games and got totally hooked, so I read a lot while they were here!!  Cliff and me watched the movie this weekend, it was weird because so much is different.  I like the books more, but also appreciate the movie.  Back to the family!
 Brent found an awesome hiking stick before we hit the trail
 What a fun family:)
 I really like these bushes
 Okay we ordered nachos and asked them to sub waffle fries for chips...I know GENIOUS!
 I have been craving a lot of pancakes lately
 So good
 Big Monday morning breakfast, this is what you do when you have the day off from work.
 I made taco salad one night.
 Chicken, black beans, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce!
 Have also been eating a lot of watermelon
 Mom this is how I cut it
 Great for lunches
Guess that about wraps it up.  Hope everyone is having a good day.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Steak Steak Steak

I don't know about you but when we cook steak we usually have leftovers.  Don't get me wrong, we enjoy the steak but usually it comes in a pack of 3 or 4.  I am always thinking up new ways to eat the leftovers.  Today was one of my favorites.  Steak, egg, potato and cheese scramble with skillet biscuits.
 I wanted it again for dinner honestly
 The key is to chop your leftover steak really small, I used my food processor and pulsed it until it looked like this.  I warmed it a little, then added my eggs (6 so we could have leftovers).  When the eggs were set I added my cooked potatoes and cheese.
 With my leftover homemade biscuits.  I skilleted them and topped with apricot jelly!  YUM
Okay you are going to think we eat steak a lot...but actually I just have not posted at all lately.  We have had steak a couple times in the past few weeks (because family has been in town).  Another way I used the leftovers was for Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches.
 Saute bell peppers and onion in a skillet over medium high heat.  As they get tender add thinly sliced leftover steak.
 Serve on a bun with provolone cheese.  I also made my oven zucchini fries.
 So yummy!
This is what it looks like when we have steak right off the grill.  I love these oven fries.  I just sliced my potatoes lengthwise, tossed in oil, and baked at 425 for about 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Hope you like the ideas, sorry I haven't posted much lately.  I have been so busy.  I plan to post at least once a week, maybe more!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Homemade Biscuits

For our wedding one of my Mom's good friends, Judy made me a cookbook with her favorite recipes in it.  It was one of my favorite gifts because I love to cook.  She is a country girl, so I trust her recipes to be tasty and hearty!  Today I tried her biscuit recipe and believe it is the recipe I will use from now on.  Hope you like them as much as we did.
 Yummy!  I used a little wheat flour and I really liked the texture.
 This is what it should look like after you cut in the shortening

 After you add buttermilk and stir it should look like this.  At this point you can knead it 5-10 times until it comes together in a soft ball of dough
 Lightly flour a surface and roll out the dough
 Looks like this and you are ready to cut!

 I used a cup and dipped the rim in flour before hand
 We had eggs and bacon with ours

Butter and apricot jelly and you are all set.

Judy's Biscuits (I followed her recipe, but this is the recipe cut in half and it makes 8 biscuits)
2 1/2 cups flour (I used 1/2 cup wheat flour but know they won't rise as high if you do that)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. quick rising yeast plus 1/4 cup warm water to dissolve the yeast in)
1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk mixed with 1 Tbsp vinegar)
1/2 cup shortening

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Mix dry ingredients.  Cut in shortening (I like to use a pastry cutter).  It should look like little pea sized clumps of shortening mixed with the dry stuff.  Stir in buttermilk and yeast mixture.  Stir until just combined, nou may need to add more flour at this point.  You just want it to come together in a soft dough.  Knead 5-10 times and form a ball.  Flatten it out until it is about 1/2 inch thick and cut your biscuits.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes (on parchment for easy removal).

Enjoy.  I know there are not a lot of tips/details, but you can find easy tips and how-to's online.  I watched a video a while back to learn how to handle biscuit dough, you do not want to over-work it! 

P.S. These are really good reheated on a skillet with a little butter.  If you want a sweet treat add biscoff to them:)