Ham and Bean Soup

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I do not like ham and bean soup. I don’t like beans in any capacity. I may be a carnivore but I don’t really like ham. We had a few snow days in March, so I made a list of … Continue reading

Chicken Crust Pizza

It’s been a crazy couple of months for this girl. I went right from working full time at my favorite place in the world, to a long term subbing assignment at an inner city school, moved out of my parents into what would be our first apartment, started a new long term assignment at a different school with my own classroom, finished planning a wedding, and got married. Needless to say, I haven’t had too much time to breathe. BUT I have an entire collection of recipes, classroom freebies and adventures, wedding pictures and vendors, that I’ve been stock piling for when I was finally able to join the blogging world again.

Being that I have a special affinity for food, it’s only fitting that my return post be one of my new favorites, and one that Ethan LOVES- chicken crust pizza. This recipe was cooked in a 10in cast iron skillet, to give you an idea of space: ingredient ratio.

What you’ll need:

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breast (ground chicken is fine too)

1 egg

About ½ cup bread crumbs

Tomato sauce of choice (I use canned stuff from my parents garden)

Spices of choice (to add to your sauce- I do onion, garlic, basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes)

PIZZA TOPPINGS! This is my favorite part! I get good mozzarella, pepperoni, and fry up some bacon

Preheat your oven to 375.

  1. In a food processor, ground the chicken with the egg. It will be a fairly mushy consistency. Mix in the bread crumbs by hand or with a spoon. The egg helps keep the chicken from shrinking and the bread crumbs help bind it all together.
  2. Smoosh the chicken into the bottom of a baking dish, or skillet. Make sure it is pretty even. I like to make the edges a bit thicker like a real pizza crust. Put in the oven for at least 20 minutes or until it’s no longer pink.
  3. The sauce can be done a number of ways. I usually start my sauce on the stove well before I’m ready to use it to give the flavors time to meld and develop. You could also just use a jar of Ragu, the choice is really up to you. I do however recommend heating the sauce before using it.
  4. After the chicken crust is done baking, assemble the toppings! This is a great chance to get the kids or your spouse involved. I fried bacon, then sautéed onions in the bacon fat. I added some of the onions to the sauce, and used the rest as a topping on the pizzas. Bacon makes everything better.
  5. Since the chicken is already cooked and the sauce is already warm, you’re really only putting it back in the oven to melt the cheese (clearly the best part). I put it back in the oven at 375 for about 10 minutes to get it started, and kick on the broiler to really finish bubbling the cheese.

EAT! 😀

Shrimp and Chicken Pasta

Home alone. Well, kinda. Does having 4 dogs with you really count as “alone?” Is it kinda like “you’re not drinking alone if your <dog>/<cat> is with you?” Either way, after surviving on Cheerios for the last 3 days {no exaggeration, I eat like a toddler 95% of the time}, it was time for a “big kid meal.”

Ingredients:

1-2 lb shrimp (my bag was a 40-50 count)

Chicken (breasts, legs, what ever. I had some left over legs I chopped up and threw in)

Garlic clove

Butter

Olive oil

Pasta (penne is perfect!)

6 cups water

Tomato sauce (I used a pint mason jar of our homemade stuff)

1/2 cup red wine (optional but oh so yummy)

Salt/Pepper

Basil

Onion

Parmesan Cheese

Oh the best part, all done in ONE pan!!! BOOM!

*THAW AND PEAL YOUR SHRIMP BEFORE YOU START IF NEEDED! DONT FORGET TO DEVEIN! Prep what ever chicken you are using as well!*

  1. In your pan, melt butter with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. While they are heating chop cup your garlic and onion.
  2. Once your butter has melted, on medium/high heat, add in your garlic and onion to sauté. While they are going, cut up your chicken, get your ingredients in order.
  3. Add in your shrimp and chicken to the butter goodness in the pan. Sear for 2-3 minutes.

13672090_10209826670848571_74546087_n4. Add in your tomato sauce, water, pasta, red wine, and sauce seasonings

13652707_10209826670768569_1814399578_n5. Cook at a low boil until the pasta is cooked through.

6. Serve nice and hot with parmesan on top!

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Total prep (including shrimp for me) 30 min. Clean up- 5 minutes, we have a great non-stick pan.

 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

My most favorite Christmas cookie ever is the Chocolate Crinkle cookie. I realized while making them the other night that it’s pretty close to a brownie batter…maybe that’s why I love them so much! They are soft, chewy, chocolatey and classic.

Ingredients:

1/2 vegetable oil

4 eggs

2 cups of flour

4 oz bakers chocolate

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

  1. Melt your bakers chocolate in the microwave
  2. In a mixer combine sugar, vegetable oil and melted chocolate
  3. Very SLOWLY add in your 4 eggs. The chocolate is hot so if you dump them all in at once they’ll scramble!
  4. Sift 2 cups of flour with baking powder and a dash of salt- slowly add to your chocolatey mix. Your batter will be thicker than a cake batter, but not as dry as a regular cookie batter.
  5. Transfer to some plastic wrap to chill in the fridge. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!! 3hrs-over night is best. I left mine in over night.
  6. In a bowl add powdered sugar. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

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  1. Using teaspoons or a small ice cream scooper, scoop small portions of chilled dough, roll and drop into powdered sugar to coat.

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  1. Place on parchmented cookie sheet. Bake for 9-11 minutes. DO NOT OVER BAKE or they will end up crunchy and they are best nice and soft. I bake mine for 9-10 minutes.
  2. Remove from baking sheet and place on cooling rack.

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ENJOY! These guys are best with a giant glass of milk and no care for your waist line. This is a hard cookie to have just 1 of. 🙂

Makes about 5 dozen cookies!

Darling Disney Bridal Shower

Christian college kid problems- everyone gets married. I made it almost 4 and one half whole years before finally being invited to a wedding from school. One of the perks, or downfalls, of being a commuter; depending on how you look at it. This, is a feat, matched by few in the world of CCKs. Not only was I finally invited to a wedding, but I was asked to be IN the wedding! This meant helping to plan a bridal shower. When the bride’s MOH contacted us, she shared that she was thinking of a Disney Princess theme. The bride LOVES Disney. I was asked what I would like to be in charge of: food, decorations, games etc. I couldn’t help myself, I HAD to pick decorations.

Then came the realization- how do I plan a Disney Princess themed bridal shower and NOT make it look like a 5 years olds birthday party. Well. I love Disney. I work at a craft store. Pinterest is my best friend. And I have an inability to not over plan things. It was actually relatively easy to come up with ideas that were more allusions to the theme than “HI I’M A DISNEY PRINCESS PARTY!”

The Bride’s favorite princess is Belle. Her grandmother collects tea cups and tea pots, so this was a no brainer. 11998796_10207471794378131_676422762_n

I used a yellow table-cloth, red tulle, and a tea-pot. I happen to own a copy of “The Story of King Arthur and His Knights,” the book Belle reads to Beast in the movie. I also own 2 sets of Beauty and the Beast figurines from when I was Belle in our school musical. The rose is a tall, skinny, glass hurricane with a single silk rose petal and silk rose, submerged in water; to look like the enchanted rose from Beauty and the Beast.

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I gave each table a theme, and this one was Jasmine. I tried to stick with the more “classic” princesses since they were more well-known. I cut blue tulle into diamonds and layered them into a star. I also had small sticker jewels that I placed around as well. The other bridesmaids/family had the jars that I used in the center.

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Originally I was going to buy a fake white pumpkin and glitter it myself, but I found this super cute silver sequins one. You can’t have a Cinderella table without one! I used a light blue table cloth and light blue tulle. I again used the sticker jewels as well as sticker pearls. I picked up the blue crown at JoAnns. Coincidentally, the shower favors were little plastic “glass slippers” with baggies of mints. I couldn’t have planned that any better with this table.

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I’m not going to lie, I kinda think this might have been my favorite table. The purple table-cloth and green tulle sea shell lend itself to none other than the Little Mermaid. I used a smaller glass bowl and filled it with decorative blue/green stones, sea shells and water. I placed a few around the bowl along with “thingamabobs,” AKA- forks.

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Hi ho! Hi ho! Snow White was too much fun. A blue table-cloth and yellow tulle were my base. I pulled apples from the bride’s back yard and simply glittered them with red glitter. I got an unfinished little bird house for under $1 and painted it to match Snow White’s colors. I had the Doc sitting on a shelf in my room. There was no way to do this table scape without mirrors, so small mirrors were placed around the center as well.

I had been at a bridal shower earlier in the summer and loved the idea of giving guests the opportunity to write notes of well wishes, date ideas, advice, etc for the bride and groom. This table was the first idea I had when planning the shower. 11998437_10207471795178151_886444668_nThis was the well wishes table. It was just a small round table with a blue table-cloth with a lace overlay. I got a 18×18 canvas and painted on “A dream is a wish your heart makes.” I then used a clear glitter paint over the entire thing to add some sparkle and whimsy. Guests wrote down their notes on index cards and placed them in the vase.

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For the gift table, the mother of the bride had bought a picture frame as a gift, we used a blue expo marker to write “gifts,” and covered the table in a white table-cloth. This table didn’t need much more decoration than that- the gifts took care of decorating.

BONUS- I made the punch, and it was SO super easy. I’m sorry, I don’t have a picture to go with it.

Ingredients:

1 bottle Sprite

1 bottle of raspberry lemonade

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1 pint fresh raspberries frozen, or 2 cups frozen raspberries

  1. Chill all ingredients before mixing
  2. Pour sprite/lemonade in a bowl
  3. Add frozen raspberries

That’s it. Super easy. Super yummy. Everyone loved it and thought it had been some super complicated recipe….NOPE!

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls

As the school year is approaching, I am stocking up on desk snacks. I LOVE food, and tend to graze throughout the day instead of solid meals. This doesn’t usually work for teachers, but thankfully I have an awesome schedule that will allow me to do just that throughout my school day. Along with Goldfish, Nutella, chocolate chip muffins, and popcorn, I wanted something with a bit more substance. I’ve made these chocolate peanut butter balls before, but these have the added benefit of whey protein. The particular kind that I use also has added energy- B12, caffeine etc.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups peanut butter

1 cup oats

1/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1/4 honey

1 1/2 10g scoops of protein- I use whey protein and use a flavor that goes with this recipe- vanilla or chocolate

  1. In a bowl, warm peanut butter and honey in the microwave until it is a bit runny so that it will mix easier.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine your protein, oats and mini chocolate chips
  3. Once the peanut butter and honey are warmed, pour into the other ingredients and fold in. If the mixture still seems dry and crumbly, add a bit more warmed peanut butter. It should form a nice ball and hold together well.
  4. Using a 1 inch ice cream scoop, or teaspoons, scoop out the mix onto wax paper.
  5. Allow to set for about an hour. Keep in an air tight container or separate into snack bags for a quick grab.

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This recipe made 34 small protein balls. 3 or 4 is just enough so they will make it a week! It took me less than 20 minutes to make!!!! I am going to keep a bag of these guys in my desk for a great afternoon pick me up! Happy snacking! 

Baked Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

I have a confession. I am a picky eater. If you notice, my recipes tend to contain the same main components. Though I do like fruits, I am not a fan of vegetables or squash like things. This last Thanksgiving, I helped my Aunt make butternut squash. I’m not sure if it was how it was prepared or the squash itself, but I was not a huge fan. For Valentine’s Day, my boyfriend made spaghetti squash. It was good. I liked it. Which, is a big deal. I have a texture thing. I don’t like such things normally. I was hit with inspiration and went shopping today. I was going to make spaghetti squash!

Ingredients:

1 small-medium spaghetti squash

1-2 garlic cloves

Olive Oil

1/2 cup – 1 cup cheese- mozzarella, parmesan, any mix of cheese you would like

8oz tomato sauce

1-2 tablespoons minced onion (or dried onion flakes)

Meat of choice- I used mini salad shrimp, sausage, ground beef/turkey/pork, muscles, again totally up to you

Spices/Herbs- basil, oregano, parsley

Pre-heat oven to 300

1. Slice your spaghetti squash in half- I read AFTER I cut mine to bake it a bit to soften it. It is quite difficult to cut in half. So you can choose to pre-bake yours for about 15 minutes or just hack away like I did. Cut in half and scoop out the pulp, like a pumpkin.

2. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and place on a baking sheet, skin side out, that’s also been drizzled with olive oil.

3. Rip a small piece of foil, place in 1 or 2 garlic cloves and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap up and place on the cookie sheet with the squash- nothing beats roasted garlic!

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4. In a sauce pan on the stove, combine your sauce, meet and spices. Just kinda keep it on low while the squash is baking to let the flavors meld. I used little tiny shrimp so that the flavor was still there but so that I didn’t have huge chunks.

5. At 30-45 minutes, flip the squash flesh side up and test with a fork. You should easily be able to pull the strands away from the rind. If not, continue baking. I left mine flesh side up for another 15 minutes or so.

6. Once the squash is done, scrape out the flesh with a fork into a separate bowl. Add the sauce and half of your cheese and mix until well combined.

7. Replace the mixture back into the hollowed squash skins. Sprinkle with the remainder of the cheese and put back into the oven for another 15 minutes to melt the cheese on top.

8. Serve hot with a hearty slice of bread and butter!

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St. Patricks Day

I know I’m a few days behind, but I’m sure the leprechaunS forgive me. I have always loved St. Patrick’s Day. I am very fortunate to have a family that enjoys history and keeps track of who and where our family came from. I am off-the-boat Irish. My family came over in the late 1800s-early 1900s.

1922459_10203369528264042_1221351795_nWhile I was wandering around Victoria Square in Belfast, Northern Ireland, I came across a picture of the family crest!

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Now that I’ve been to Ireland, my adoration for the holiday has grown…if that’s even possible! You can read all about that trip HERE! St. Patrick’s Day is also a mostly American thing because it is a celebration of where we came from and our heritage…not just a day to drink cheap green beer. Since I was home for the day, I made 2 St. Patty’s day treats.

First, I made a shamrock shake

Ingredients:

2 scoops vanilla ice cream

1 cup of milk

1 teaspoon sugar

Green food coloring

Peppermint Extract

Handful of ice

Throw everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Add food coloring until it is the desired shade. Serve with a cool shamrock straw.

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The second thing I made was green chocolate chip cookies. It’s a relatively basic cookie recipe with…you guessed it…green food coloring.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 stick butter

1/2 cup butter flavored Crisco

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract (optional)

Chocolate chips of your choice- I used dark chocolate

1. Cream butter and crisco, add sugar, vanilla and eggs.

2. Add green food coloring to desired shade. I used about 10 drops.

3. Combine flour, cornstarch, salt and baking powder in a bowl. Slowly add it to the “wet” ingredients.

4. Mix in 1 1/2 cups, or half a bag of chocolate chips. It will look like mint-chocolate-chip ice cream.

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5. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Trust me. Don’t skip this step. Longer is better. But at least an hour.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 350, bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven etc. The cookies will JUST start to turn brown around the edges.IMG_5336

EAT, with a nice big glass of milk!

And now, for some Irish fun facts to make your St. Patricks day a little educational-

-Only 9% of the Irish population are natural redheads.

-A book only needs to sell 3,000 copies to top the Irish bestseller list.

-There have never been snakes in Ireland. St. Patrick did nothing with snakes.

-Gaelic is Ireland’s official language, but English is most commonly spoken

Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting

I did it again! I managed to somehow make great cupcakes without following an actual recipe, for a great cause- my Mama’s birthday! 😀 We’re kind of best friends. ANYWAY. She requested chocolate cupcakes, so I obliged.10690149_10205874357163199_588961454879716748_n

Ingredients Cupcakes:

1 stick of room temperature butter

1/2 granulated sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 cup HOT coffee (if you do not like coffee, this can be substituted by hot water, hot milk….it just has to be a hot liquid)

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (milk is ok too)

1/3 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoon baking POWDER

1 1/2 teaspoon baking SODA

1 3/4 cup flour

1. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and baking powder. In a mixer, cream your butter and sugar. Add in your eggs, heavy whipping cream, vegetable oil and sour cream. It will be smooth and creamy!

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2. Pre-heat your oven to 350. Slowly add in the sifted dry ingredients and coffee alternately. You will get a nice light and fluffy batter.

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3. I used a large ice cream scoop to fill my liners, but about a 1/4 of a cup is perfect.

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4. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean. For my oven, these guys were perfect after 18. Remove to a cooling rack and let COMPLETELY cool BEFORE icing!

Ingredients Buttercream

2 sticks room temperature butter

1 1lb bag of powdered sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon on vanilla extract (almond, peppermint or orange could be good here as well)

Milk (heavy whipping cream or flavored creamer can also be used)

Food dye (optional)

1. In a mixer with the whip attachment, cream the butter until it starts getting nice and fluffy.

2. Slowly begin adding the powdered sugar on the LOWEST SETTING or you will have sugar flying everywhere. It will start to stiffen up. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, slowly add milk a splash at a time. DO NOT add the whole 1/4 cup at one shot or you will have gooze. Add in food dye to desired color.

*The thing about buttercream is that it is not an exact science. You may need to go back and forth adding little bits of milk and powdered sugar until you get the amount of frosting that you are looking for and the consistency that you need.*

3. I like my frosting nice and whipped/fluffy so I let mine go for a few minutes once the powdered sugar is incorporated.

TO FROST- I wish I would have taken more/better pictures. I saw this method a few weeks ago, and I can’t even remember where, but it is brilliant.

Tear off a good sized piece of surran wrap and place it on the counter. Dump the majority of your frosting on the wrap. Wrap the frosting and twist the ends like a Tootsie Roll. Feed one of the twisted ends through your piping tip. I used a simple round. Get a medium zip-lock bag and snip the corner just enough that the piping tip sticks out. Feed the tip and the twisted surran wrap through the sniped hole of the bag. It’s going to look something like this.

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Cut off the twisted tail of surran wrap, make sure the bag is zipped shut, and you can now pipe your frosting relatively mess free without fear of frosting coming out of the top and getting everywhere!

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Baked Chicken Legs and Marinade

We are hard-core grillers, and by “we” I mean my mom. She loves to grill and does it just about anytime of year. Well, it’s been just a wee bit cold up here in Pennsylvania and she’s given up until it gets a bit better. But we had chicken legs, and I love chicken legs. We normally reserve them for grilling, but I needed something to break up the monotony of winter dinners. So I decided I was going to bake my chicken legs.

Ingredients:

Chicken legs

1/2 cup EVOO

1/2 onion

2 lemons

1/4 orange juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

3 garlic cloves

1/2 teaspoon Rosemary

1/2 teaspoon Thyme

1/2 tablespoon brown sugar

Salt/Pepper

1. In a large container combine: the juice of 2 lemons, olive oil, chopped onion, orange juice, Worcestershire sauce, 3 minced garlic cloves, rosemary, thyme, brown sugar, salt and pepper. With a fork, mix everything together to distribute the ingredients.

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2. Place your thawed (or mostly thawed) chicken legs into the container, put the lid on and shake around to distribute the marinade over the legs. Let marinade for at least 3 hours, or over night. I would re-shake every so often to redistribute the goods.

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3. Pre-heat your oven to 350. Place your chicken legs and marinade into a large baking dish, skin side up, and cover with foil. Place in the oven while it is still pre-heating. Bake for at least an hour and a half, or until the meat reaches 160 degrees using a meat thermometer. For the last half hour, remove the foil to crisp the skins.

4. Optional, remove foil and turn on your broiler. Everyone likes that awesome crunch skin and this is the best way to get it when you’re not grilling. Broil until the skins are turning golden brown and crunchy!

5. Remove from the oven, and let rest. Serve with sides and enjoy! We had rice and a veggie! 🙂

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