Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

It's starting to look more and more like spring here in Okinawa. The weather is turning warmer, and when it isn't gloomy or raining and the sun is out, it's a beautiful 70 degrees. I love being able to have my windows open in February! Even if you aren't experiencing spring-like weather where you are, these Lemon Crinkle Cookies will help you get into the spring spirit. They are incredibly light with the perfect amount of citrus flavor and a lovely texture - sort of like a lemon cake cookie. I couldn't believe how easy they were to make. I took them over to a friends' house for dinner and before I knew it they had all disappeared! These cookies won a cookie contest and I can see why! They are the perfect spring cookie. 
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
From LDS Living
Makes a little over 2 dozen cookies
Printable Version
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease light colored baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl or the base of your stand mixer cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, lemon zest, and juice. 
Scrape sides and mix again. Stir in all dry ingredients together slowly until just combined, excluding the powdered sugar. Scrape sides of bowl and mix again briefly. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate or small bowl. Roll a heaping teaspoon of dough into a bowl and roll in powdered sugar. 
Place on baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart and repeat with remaining dough. 
Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte (not melty or shiny). Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes on sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Creamy Meatball Soup

I was inspired to make meatball soup at home after hubby ordered a bowl of it while we were out in town. I had never thought of using meatballs in soup before, but it was so yummy and filling I came right home and googled a meatball soup recipe. This soup sort of tastes like a grown up version of SpaghettiO's, as it combined orzo pasta with diced tomatoes and of course meatballs. It was super easy and made a huge batch! If you are only serving two people, I recommend cutting the recipe in half unless you want lots of leftovers!  
Creamy Meatball Soup
From Delicious Meliscious
Printable Version
Makes 8 single bowl servings 
16 meatballs - baked according to directions
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup fresh basil coarsely chopped
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup raw orzo cooked according to package directions
1 cup half and half
1/2 stick unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
Chopped green onions for garnish, if desired
Combine diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, and garlic in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil and simmer for fifteen minutes. Add basil. With an immersion blender, blend until smooth or desired consistency is reached (I left mine chunky)/ Add butter and half and half and whisk until well blended. Add meatball and orzo. Scoop into individual bowls and serve with Parmesan cheese and chopped green onions. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Meatless Mondays: 15 Minute Avocado Pasta

Please don't call the blogger police. I know it's not Monday. In fact, here in Japan it's Wednesday evening. But I know you'll forgive me for calling this a Meatless Monday meal when you see it and even more when you give it a try. Creamy avocado is the base for this nice thick sauce. It's blended with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and basil. So simple, so fresh, so meatless and yummy. The original recipe calls for gluten free pasta, but I'm not into all that (are you getting ready to call the police again?) so I went with whole wheat pasta instead. Oh and I forgot to highlight that this meal only takes 15 minutes to get on the table and into your belly. What could be better?? 
15 Minute Avocado Pasta
From Oh She Glows
Printable Version
Serves 2
1 medium sized ripe avocado, pitted
1/2 lemon juiced with lemon zest to garnish
2 - 3 garlic cloves depending on how garlicky you like your food
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh basil
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 servings (6 ounces) of your favorite pasta
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Bring several cups of water to a boil and add in your pasta. Cook according to package directions. Meanwhile make the sauce by placing the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil into the base of a food processor. Process until smooth and add in the avocado, basil, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy. 
Drain and rinse pasta and place into a large bowl. Pour on the sauce and toss until throughly combined. 
Garnish with lemon zest, black pepper, and Parmesan cheese. Serve and eat immediately - this dish does not reheat!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

I know I'm a little late on this Valentine's Day dessert, but it's just too incredibly delicious not to share with you. I made these Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies on Valentine's Day to give to a very special group of people who are staying at the Stork's Nest here on our military base. The Stork's Nest provides temporary housing to high risk pregnant patients, parents of infants in the NICU and family members of patients in the ICU at our Naval Hospital.  
I hope they enjoyed these decadent brownies as much as I enjoyed making them. I think they're so good that I'm going to make them again this weekend for my Bunco group. Yes, I play Bunco, no juding! :)  
 How can you not want to just sink your teeth into these little beauties? A layer of red velvet brownies is topped by a layer of cheesecake then swirled together. It doesn't matter what time of year you make these, they are sure to be a hit no matter what!DSC_0793
 Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
From Sweet Pea's Kitchen
Printable Version
For the brownie layer:
1/2 cup butter
2 ounces dark chocolate
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons red food coloring
2/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the cheesecake layer:
8 ounces cream cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 8X8 inch square baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extent up two sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they've baked.) Butter the parchment.
In a small heatproof bowl melt the butter and chocolate together in the microwave at 15 second intervals. 
Stir until combined and very smooth. Set aside a few minutes to cool.
In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric stand mixer whisk together the sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Add the flour and sat and stir just until combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain. Pour brownie mixture into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. 
Prepare the cheesecake layer by beating cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Distribute the cheesecake mixture in about 8 dollops over the brownie batter in the pan. 
Swirl in with a knife.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A toothpick inserted into the mixture should come out clean and the edges will be slightly browned. Let the brownies cool cool completely in the pan, about one hour before lifting out the parchment paper to remove 
the brownies. Cut and serve.  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Peanut Butter Blossoms

When I bought a package of Dove Chocolate Heart candies I intended to give them to my hubby for him to put in his candy jar in his office. But then I saw a better use for them - as Valentine's Day Cookies. Aren't they so much cuter than the traditional Hershey Kiss Peanut Butter Blossoms? Make a batch for your Valentine! 
Valentine Peanut Butter Blossoms
From Sweet Saturday
Printable Version
Heart Shaped Chocolates (I used Dove Milk Chocolate) 
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter 
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
4 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar in a small bowl 
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove wrappers from chocolates. Beat shortening and peanut butter in a large bowl. Add both sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla and beat well. Stir together flour baking soda and salt; gradually beat into mixture. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll in sugar before placing on ungreased cooking sheet. 
Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate heart in the center of each cookie. Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. *Note you may want to place them in the freezer because I had a batch melt completely!*

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chicken Suiza Melts

Here's a recipe for one of the easiest week night meals I have made in a while. In less than 20 minutes you will have a very yummy melt in your mouth sandwich. I jumped on this recipe from my friend Siggy's blog when I saw it incorporated salsa verde. I just loooooove salsa verde. The mingling of the salsa, onions, and sour cream make this a tangy, juicy meal. If you don't like using rotisserie chicken I think using shredded boiled or baked chicken breast would work just as well, it might not be as juicy though!
Chicken Suiza Melts
From Siggy Spice
Makes 6 sandwiches
Printable Version
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 cups tomatilla salsa or salsa verde
1/2 cup sour cream
1 rotisserie chicken, skin discarded and meat shredded
6 sandwich rolls, split
6 slices Monterey Jack cheese (I also used provolone and it was yummy)
Preheat the broiler. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and honey, then add in the salsa and heat through. 
Mix in the sour cream. Add the chicken and mix to coat. 
Place the buns on a cookie sheet. Pile the chicken mixture on the bottoms of the rolls. Top the chicken with a slice of cheese.  
Place in the oven and broil to melt, about 4 minutes. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Peanut Butter Waffles

Last weekend I made these peanut butter waffles on a lazy Sunday morning. I added creamy peanut butter to Belgian waffle batter. It was an excellent choice. The peanut butter flavor comes through in every bite and creates a beautiful golden brown color. These waffles are super quick and hubby declared them his favorite waffles to date. 
Peanut Butter Waffles
Modified from Better Homes and Garden Cookbook
Makes 16 4-inch waffles
Printable Version
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs 
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup cooking oil or butter, melted
6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; set aside. In another medium bowl beat eggs slightly; stir in milk, oil, peanut butter, and vanilla. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir until just moistened (batter should be slightly lumpy).
Pour 1 1/4 cups of batter onto grids of a preheated lightly greased waffle iron. Close the lid quickly and bake according to manufacturer's directions. 
Use a fork to life waffle off iron. Serve warm with butter and syrup. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower

There's a new way to eat cauliflower in our house and it's going to be hard to find another recipe that beats it! The flavor of mashed potatoes with the texture of cauliflower, this dish is creamy, comforting, and super easy to make. Instead of having all the carbs of mashed potatoes, you get to up your veggie intake. It's so good that between the two of us, hubby and I ate an entire head of cauliflower. Make this delicious healthy side as soon as possible!!
Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
Serves 4
1 head chopped cauliflower
2 tablespoons light cream cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon milk
2 cloves garlic
Splash of chicken broth
1 teaspoon chives (I didn't have these)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the cauliflower in a large pot of water until tender. 
Drain well. Add in the cream cheese, sour cream, milk, garlic, and chicken broth and process until smooth in a food processor. 
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with chives.


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