Sunday, December 20, 2015

Browned Butter Pecan Pie

In my family, no single person is responsible for all the holiday cooking, regardless of who is hosting the meal.  We are a potluck family, where each family member is assigned a dish or two to bring, so we can focus on just being together.  I had three separate holiday dinners to attend this Christmas, so I was sure I would be asked at least once to bring a dessert.  I had been dying to try out a new pie recipe, since I rarely have a good reason to bake a full-fat, decadent pie. Much to my surprise, everyone instead requested my "Crackaroni & Cheese", so I have found myself making a ton of macaroni and cheese, and alas, no pie.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pasta with Creamy Butternut Sauce

One of my favorite fall dishes is Pasta with Creamy Butternut Sauce.  The sauce tastes rich and decadent, but it is oh-so-healthy. It's also a really easy dish to make vegetarian!  But for my meat-eaters, this dish is excellent with sliced sausage added to it.  Either way, it makes the perfect comfort meal for a cool fall evening.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ultimate Fudge Brownie

The only thing in my culinary life that can match my deep love for chocolate chip cookies is a fudge brownie.  My favorite kind of brownie has a flakey buttery crust on top, but is gooey and fudgy inside.  While I adore my healthy brownie recipes (like my Black Bean Brownies), sometimes I just want a classic delicious brownie!  For the past few months, I've been experimenting with different brownie recipes, and tweaking them to try to create my personal favorite brownie.  If only I put this much work into other endeavors in my life.... Anyways, after much determination and calories, I've finally created a recipe that results in the ideal, ultimate, fudge brownie.  Honestly, this whips up so quickly and easily (with ingredients I always have on hand), that I'll never feel the need to buy a box mix again.  

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Today is the official last day of summer.  Most people are excited about the start of fall, but I have to admit, I'm more of a summer gal.  I love swimming, and the long summer days, and the fresh meals you can make with all the wonderful summer produce.  Summer food pretty much trumps fall food in every way...except breakfast.  As soon as I start waking up to the chill in the morning air, I know it's time to start making my favorite weekday breakfast:  Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Gazpacho with Goat Cheese Salsa

Summer is finally coming to an end, so it's time to hurry up and make your final summer dishes.  Gazpacho is definitely one of those recipes that require in-season produce.  If you tried to make this during the winter, you would end up with a watery flavorless soup.  In the summer this soup is vibrant and fresh and delightful!  It's one of my absolute favorite summer side dishes.  I like to pair it with a BLAT, and it makes for the perfect meal on a hot summer day.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Lactation Cookies

My little sister gave birth to adorable (and hungry) twins a few weeks ago.  She has been exclusively breastfeeding both of them, and her lactation consultant suggested that she try eating lactation cookies to help increase her milk supply.  She asked if I knew how to make the cookies, and if I had tried them.  I had certainly heard of them, and their benefits.  I breastfed both my babies, one for 9 months, the other for 6 months, and I had supply issues that I battled both times the entire duration.  I remember looking at recipes, and then losing motivation to actually bake them.  Babies are exhausting, and when you are breastfeeding, you get short little breaks between feedings that you'd rather use to shower or shove carbs down your throat; not standing in the kitchen baking.  That memory made me insist that my sister not worry about making the cookies; I would make them for her.  So for those of you new breastfeeding mamas; send this recipe to your mom, your sister, or good friend and have them bake them for you.  You go take a nap.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Gnocchi alla Caprese

So you may have noticed that my blog has been quiet for the past few months.  This spring we decided to put our first family home on the market and buy a new home in a neighboring county.  It was a difficult decision as we loved, loved, loved our home.  Fortunately we found a great home to buy, and we ended up closing on both our old house and new house on the same day in the middle of June.  Let me tell you... packing up our entire house with a crawling baby and a moody toddler, a double closing, and moving on a 103 degree was a nightmare!  Needless to say, these past few months have been difficult ones.  We had to make many sacrifices:  we missed out on a fun friends trip, family dinners were replaced by take-out, and we lost our summer garden!  My husband planted it all before we realized we were going to put our house up for sale.  Of course right as everything in the garden started growing, we moved.  So for the first time in many summers, we don't have our summer garden vegetables to enjoy.  Boo!

However, we can still buy in-season veggies at the local grocery store (Earth Fare!).  Nothing beats an in-season tomato paired with fresh basil, right?  Let me introduce you to the perfect recipe for the season: Gnocchi alla Caprese. This recipe is definitely a summer-only recipe, because it requires in-season produce in order to reach its full delicious potential.   It takes only about 20 minutes to make, and its simplicity really allows the fresh ingredients to shine.  I could seriously eat this meal every day, and so could my kids.  Which is good, because I might be serving it at least once a week for the rest of the summer!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Creamy Sausage & Spinach Pasta

My sweet newborn baby is apparently not a newborn any more...he's a whopping 8 month old.  If you think the first baby grows up fast...well, the second is just a blur!  He's crawling, pulling up, cruising, eating grown-up food; and most importantly, he is sleeping through the night.  However, back 8 months ago, none of us were getting much sleep, and my husband and I were zombies.  When you have just one child, you can theoretically sleep when the baby sleeps.  But when you have two kids?  Well, that clearly just doesn't work. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hot Corn Dip

Memorial Day is coming up in a few weeks.  Like many Americans, my family tree is full of brave people who served our country.  My dad was both Air Force and Army, and both my grandfathers were Navy.  My paternal grandfather, George K. Larsen II, gave his life for our country in World War II.  He volunteered for a last minute mission, and was shot down in the South Pacific.  His body was never found, so he's listed as both MIA and KIA.  As a child, I would fantasize that he had parachuted out of the burning plane, and had swam safely to an island, where he now lived out his days in paradise on the beach.  Now that I'm all grown up, I sadly know that isn't possible, but I take heart in knowing that his sacrifice (along with many, many others) helped protect our country. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mama's Sloppy Joes

In every family, there is a mom-signature dish...the dish that is famous among all your friends.  For example, my best friend Lauren's mom made the BEST hamburgers and the BEST sweet tea.  My mom?  Well, it was her Sloppy Joes.  No one could come close to her sloppy joes. My dear friend Clint once challenged her to a Sloppy Joe cook-off, but he became daunted during the task, and somehow ended up serving up chili to us "judges" without even realizing it. 

Now that I have a family to feed of my own, I obviously begged my mother for the recipe.  I am happy to report that this Sloppy Joe recipe became the first meal that I served to my entire family of four--6 month old baby included--that we all ate and loved.  This is just one of those meals that you eat with a smile!  Thanks, Mama!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Mix-Free Homemade Spinach Dip

Recently, I found myself in as situation where I needed to whip up an appetizer for a party, but didn't have the time (or motivation) to run to the grocery store.  I looked at all the ingredients I had on hand, and I realized that I had everything to make a homemade spinach dip.  Everyone loves spinach dip, but have you ever had it made without the store-bought mix?  It is even better!  Honestly, there is no reason for me to ever use a mix again...making it from scratch was just as easy, and it is so much healthier and tastier!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Broccoli & Egg Casserole

Now that we have two children, our mornings are quite chaotic.  My husband usually gets the toddler ready, and I'm in charge of the baby, which doesn't leave much time for ourselves.  To make things easier, I make a big batch of breakfast for the whole week on Sunday night.  During the Winter, we ate Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal, but now that it is officially Spring, I wanted to find a more season-appropriate meal to start our day.  I've also started to work on losing the baby weight, so I wanted a meal that was nutritious and full of protein.  I came up with a Broccoli & Egg Bake, and it is so delicious!  I use just broccoli in my egg casserole, but you could easily add in ham, or swap out broccoli for asparagus or whatever vegetable you prefer.  It is easily adaptable to your tastes!  After I finish baking it, I wait for it to cool, cut it into 10 servings, and stick it in the fridge.  On weekday mornings, I take out individual servings and microwave it.  It reheats beautifully!  I love that I have such a healthy and easy breakfast at my disposal on hectic mornings.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Buffalo Chicken Bake with Quinoa & Broccoli

During my pregnancy, I had a constant craving for Buffalo Chicken Dip.  I was determined to figure out a way to turn this awesome dip into an awesome entree.   However, since the baby was born, I barely have had time to feed myself, much less create new recipes.  But as the weather gets warmer and the days get a little longer, I'm determined to get back into my regular routine of cooking new, healthy recipes for my family.  And, yes, we could argue over the label of "healthy" when it comes to this recipe...after all, Buffalo Wing Sauce is high in sodium, and there is a copious amount of cheese.  But...BUT!  There is quinoa and tons of broccoli!  And lean chicken!  And a generous serving size is under 500 calories!  Most importantly, it is frigging delicious, and sometimes you just want to eat something frigging delicious.  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sweet Potato Beef Stew

How about one last hearty soup before Winter officially ends?  The weather here in Georgia keeps flip flopping between 80 degree sunny days and 40 degree drizzly evenings.  On one of those recent chilly nights, I felt motivated to put a healthy spin on the traditional Beef Stew.  I made sure to fill the soup with as much veggies as possible, and I swapped out the white potatoes for sweet potatoes.  I think the sweet potatoes added a needed touch of natural sugar to balance out the saltiness of all the other ingredients in the stew.  I don't think I'll ever go back to regular old white potatoes in a beef stew again!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Frosted Sugar Cookies

As I have confessed before, I am a Cookie Monster.  I frigging love cookies.  Peanut butter cookies, chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies; I love them all with my whole heart.  During Christmas break, my daughter and I did our annual tradition of baking a ton of cookies and eating about half the cookie dough before they even get in the oven.  This year we did an extra step and frosted the cookies and topped them with sprinkles.  My toddler thought this was literally the greatest thing ever.  I'm not sure what was the best part, decorating the cookies or eating them.  Who am I kidding....the best part will always be eating them. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Chicken & Quinoa Casserole

Seriously, who doesn't love a casserole?  You have your protein, veggies, and grains all whipped up in one dish!  Easy to make, easy to eat, easy to clean up.  It's the lazy cook's trifecta. My newest one dish favorite is this Chicken & Quinoa Casserole.  For this particular go-around, I decided that mushrooms, asparagus, and sun-dried tomatoes would be my vegetables, but this recipe is so adaptable!  Feel free to swap out those veggies for whatever vegetables you're craving, or (keeping with the lazy theme) whatever is in your fridge.   I replace all 3 veggies for just lots of broccoli when I'm making it with my picky toddler in mind.  Report back if you try a different combination that you'd recommend!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Turkey & Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

Yesterday we had our first bout of winter weather for 2015.  Here in Georgia, that means ice and sleet; not exactly fun outdoor weather.  So I decided to fight cabin fever by working on a new recipe:  Shepherd's Pie.  I've been wanting to give Shepherd's Pie a healthy makeover for a long time now, and let me say, I truly like the healthier version so much better!  I swapped out the ground lamb (or ground beef) for lean ground turkey, and switched up the white potatoes for the much more nutritious sweet potatoes.  Not only is this dish more healthful, it is also diet-friendly:  under 450 calories for a very satisfying portion.  However, the best part of this casserole is that my picky eating toddler loves it!  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Mama's Spaghetti Sauce

Growing up, every year on my birthday I would request the same thing:  my Mama's spaghetti for dinner and my Mama Lou's pound cake for dessert.  It is a meal straight from comfort food heaven and just the thought of it makes me feel happy and content....and hungry, very hungry.  When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy a few months ago, my mom asked if there was anything she could do to help me prepare for the baby.  I had only one request:  I wanted her spaghetti sauce recipe so I could make it in bulk and feast on it during those first tough newborn weeks.  It took a lot of effort to get the recipe, because she had never written it down before.  She just kind of threw things in a pot and produced deliciousness.  So she jotted down a general idea of what she did, which involved a lot of "add some water" and "an onion or two" and other vague instructions.  So when I got around to making it, my poor mother was flooded with texts, emails, and phone calls from me asking for more specifics.  But it was worth it: the end result was pretty darn close to my Mama's Spaghetti Sauce.    This sauce takes a lot of time (and probably love), but oh man, is it worth it.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Homemade Hot Cocoa

My little hometown has been hit by unseasonably cold and rainy weather lately.  On one particular dreary day, my family was feeling especially bogged down with cabin fever.  To remedy the situation, I suggested a day full of movies, a roaring fire, popcorn, and hot chocolate.  Needless to say, my 3 year old was especially on board with the idea of hot chocolate.  One problem?  I had ran out of hot chocolate instant packets, and I had no motivation to brave the rain for a grocery run.  So I decided to make some hot cocoa from scratch.  Most recipes call for cow's milk, but I'm currently breastfeeding a baby who may have a dairy sensitivity.  Therefore, I decided to use a carton of unsweetened coconut milk and keep the recipe vegan.  I was so surprised by how easy - and how incredibly rich and delicious -  homemade hot cocoa was!  It was so simple and so tasty that I don't think I'll ever use the packets again.  One batch make about 4 to 6 servings, and if you don't drink it all, it keeps quite well in fridge and is easily reheated.  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mattie's Pumpkin Pie

This recipe is, in my completely biased opinion, the BEST pumpkin pie recipe on earth.  It's an old recipe, created by a family friend named Mattie.  It's her recipe from the 1950s, except it actually involved using real pumpkin, not canned.  I cheated and used canned, but added an extra step to make the canned pumpkin taste more like fresh pumpkin.  Sadly, Mattie passed away many years ago, but her amazing recipes live on in our house.  I wish I could have gotten a better picture to really illustrate how wonderful this pie is, but I had a pie crust mishap (as I often do...crusts aren't my thing).  Regardless of how it looks in photos, I promise you this is the creamiest pumpkin pie you will ever, ever eat.  

Friday, January 2, 2015

Zuppa Toscana

My favorite new recipe find this season is Gimme Some Oven's 7-Ingredient Easy Zuppa Toscana.  It's a creamy Italian soup made with sausage and gnocchi, and it warms up your entire body when you eat it.  It's super simple to make, and takes only about half an hour to whip up.  While this hearty soup definitely tastes like it's an indulgent high calorie meal, it's actually under 450 calories for a huge bowl of it.  So slurp away!