Coconut Blackberry Tartlets

Juicy, ripe blackberries bursting with tart flavor harmonize perfectly with subtle coconut cream- and in one convenient bite.  All you need is an incredibly good looking man to feed them to you one by one.  And no need to even feel guilty about the situation, these babies are practically healthy*. 

"Tart" shells
  • 4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 egg whites
Coconut filling
  • 1 14oz can coconut milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 48 blackberries
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Gently whip egg whites in a bowl, and add shredded coconut.  Press a spoonful of coconut mixture into each well of a greased mini muffin tin.  
  2. Bake tart shells for 9-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan whisk together 1 cup water, coconut milk, and sugar, and bring to a boil.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the corn starch and 1 cup water.
  5. When the coconut milk is boiling, reduce to a simmer and slowly add in the cornstarch slurry whisking constantly.  Continue stirring over low heat until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
  6. Spoon or pipe the coconut filling into cooled tart shells, and place one blackberry on each tartlet.  Refrigerate for at least a half an hour.

Yields 48 tartlets.

**Absolutely no math involved... but there is no added butter or oil so in dessert world, that means healthy.


Mini Chocolate Coconut Tartlets

Don't you love bite-sized morsels that make you instantly feel classy upon eating?  Nothing like a petite tart loaded with chocolaty coconut goodness to up your country-club-o-meter.  And if the sudden urge to tie a Ralph Lauren sweater around your neck isn't your cup of tea, how about a seemingly gourmet dessert that takes all of 25 minutes to assemble?  I'm sold.

"Tart" shells
  • 4 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 egg whites

Chocolate coconut filling
  • 1 14oz can coconut milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup corn starch
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Gently whip egg whites in a bowl, and add shredded coconut.  Press a spoonful of coconut mixture into each well of a greased mini muffin tin.  
  2. Bake tart shells for 9-12 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan.
  3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan whisk together 1 cup water, coconut milk, and sugar, and bring to a boil.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the corn starch and 1 cup water.
  5. When the coconut milk is boiling, reduce to a simmer and slowly add in the cornstarch slurry whisking constantly.  Continue stirring over low heat until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
  6. In a glass bowl melt the chocolate chips in the microwave in increments of 30 seconds.
  7. Stir the chocolate and coconut mixture together, and spoon or pipe into cooled tart shells.  Refrigerate for at least a half an hour.
  • Whipped cream and grated chocolate add an additional tasty touch
  • Milk can be subbed for the 1st cup of water added
Yields 48 mini tarts



 Everything so wrong and so wonderful about dessert comes together in this tasty creation.  Crispy, delicate layers of phyllo dough, loads of buttery goodness, crunchy aromatic nuts, and then in case you weren't already salivating, a sticky, sweet glaze coating the entire morsel.

Whether you've had baklava, or don't even know how to pronounce it- this is a simple and decadent dessert.  Just whatever you do, plan on giving some away, because it is tasty enough to eat a few squares too many :)

  • 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough
  • 1 pound chopped nuts- I use walnuts
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup honey

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a bowl mix the chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Unroll phyllo dough and cut in half to fit the pan. Cover the phyllo with a dampened cloth to keep from drying out as you work. Place two sheets of dough in pan, brush thoroughly with melted butter. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
  3. Using a sharp knife cut into diamond or square shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
  4. Make sauce while baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey. Simmer for about 20 minutes. 
  • Cool the glaze as much as you can before coating- it keeps the baklava crispier.
  • Serve in cupcake or mini-loaf papers for more convenient eating.
  • Use any mix of nuts you like including almonds, pecans, walnuts, or pistachios. I wouldn't recommend peanuts.  Also dried chopped apricots or golden raisins make a delicious addition to the nut filling.
  • If time permits, roast the nuts in a dry skillet a few minutes before layering the baklava.  Keep a careful eye on them though- nuts burn quickly and you can't salvage a burnt nut.
  • Store loosely or uncovered, storing it airtight causes it to get soggy.

Yields 3 dozen.

Adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baklava/

Festive Green Beans

I have a soapbox I admit I frequently stand upon.  I HATE casserole.  If a recipe has condensed soup, sour cream, or any other slooshy, gushy condensed canned wanna-be food I refuse to eat or cook it.  So, come holiday time when green bean casserole is at every event I get a little queasy.  This fresh, colorful green bean dish is my answer to green bean casserole.
  • 1 lb green beans, ends trimmed
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ~6 strips bacon
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste

  1. In a large dry skillet,  roast walnuts until aromatic.  Set aside in a bowl.
  2. Add bacon to the same skillet and cook until crisp.  Remove bacon strips to a paper towel, and roughly chop.  Over medium heat, add green beans and garlic to bacon grease.  Saute green beans until they reach desired tenderness (if you like your green beans extra tender you may steam them first to ensure they get very done).  Add cranberries, walnuts, bacon, and maple syrup, stirring to coat.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat, and serve.

Classic Cranberry Sauce

 Nothing like a tart, tangy cranberry sauce to top off all that Thanksgiving goodness.  I grew up with a family who thought those canned cranberries (the kind that you dump out of a can and are still shaped like a can...) were a sufficient compliment to turkey.  After leaving home, and discovering there were bigger and better options for cranberry sauce, I now apologize to all those turkeys I have disgraced with gelatinous cranberry solids. 
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 12 oz fresh cranberries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  1. Sort through cranberries removing any stems or bad berries, set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, dissolve sugar in orange juice over medium heat. Add cranberries and cinnamon sticks.  Cook for about 10 minutes, or until cranberries pop.
  3. Remove from heat, and transfer to a serving dish to cool.  Sauce will set upon cooling.

Yields ~2 1/2 cups.


Caramel Corn

This isn't just any caramel corn, this is the greatest caramel corn you will ever eat.  Crunchy, sweet, buttery, salty, tantalizing caramel corn.  Trust me.  It is life changing.  
  • 48 cups popped popcorn (not that microwave crap)
  • 3 cups salted Spanish peanuts (optional)
  • 2 cups butter or margarine
  • 2 lbs brown sugar
  • ½ cup dark corn syrup
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  1. Divide popped popcorn into two roasting pans.  Then heat oven to 250°F.
  2. In a large saucepan melt butter.  Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, molasses, and salt.   
  3. Bring to a boil over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  (Word of warning- It will bubble and expand)
  4. Pour over popcorn, stirring well to coat evenly.   
  5. Bake at 250°F for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.  Cool completely, break apart, and store in plastic bags.  

Yields 48 cups.


Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

I have a tendency to feed people...  I basically live by myself, and I have a small appetite and prefer to eat healthy food, you see. 

Problem is that unsweetened granola,  cookies with dates hidden in them, and such other creatively sweet satisfying recipes just aren't as pretty or fun to decorate. 

So every now and again I like making pretty baked goods- which also usually feature a stick or two of butter- and end up just giving them away to people.  Hence making Funfetti cupcakes (thank you Betty Crocker) with DECADENT RICH FUDGEY frosting.  My mouth is watering just writing about it. 

  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk) -room temperature is best
  • 1 Tbs corn syrup (optional)

  1. With an electric mixer or stand mixer cream butter, add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla.  
  2. Gradually add milk until desired spreading consistency is reached.  If you want a glossier finish mix in the corn syrup.


Spicy Asian Peanut Noodles

Sometimes I have these inexplicable cravings for Chinese take-out chicken lo mein.  

I don't even like lo mein, and the few times I actually eat it I feel awful afterwards because it is so incredibly greasy, like deep fried bacon greasy...

This quick dish is my solution to lo-main cravings.  While it isn't quite as greasy, and there's no chicken- I save the $6 and future stomach ache.  Win-win situation, no?

  •  1 13oz box whole wheat thin spaghetti, or linguine
  • 5 Tbs soy sauce
  • 5 Tbs honey
  • 2 Tbs peanut butter
  • 2 Tbs sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs Thai Roasted Red Chili Paste
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • Sesame seeds, peanuts, and cilantro to garnish

  1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions, drain, and set aside.  
  2. In the now empty sauce pan, add the soy sauce, honey, peanut butter, sesame oil, and chili paste and whisk until incorporated.  Add the shredded carrot and noodles, then stir. 
  3. Garnish with sesame seeds, crushed peanuts, and/or cilantro.  I toss in a little crushed red pepper at the end because I like it spicier :)

Yields 4-6 servings

Vegan Lentil Taco Filling

I am not a vegan, but sometimes I like to pretend I am and see if I miss meat in things where it seems really necessary... like tacos.  
What is a taco without meat?  A glorified quesadilla?  Basically, only minus the melty, cheesy delicious goodness- so more like a sub par, un-melty, un-glorious quesadilla.  How depressing.  

My mind was changed with this recipe however- I didn't miss the meat.  It has all the flavor you expect in tacos, lends itself very well to keeping a taco together, and is incredibly satisfying.  

You go lentils.  Show that ground beef who's boss.

  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup salsa (I used salsa verde)
  • Optional: Taco seasoning- to taste

  1.  In a large stockpot add lentils, chili powder, cumin, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, diced tomatoes, and vegetable stock.  Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  2. Once lentils are tender, cook uncovered until excess liquid has evaporated. Turn heat to low and stir in salsa, and taco seasoning to taste (I find that with bland salsa more flavor is needed).  With a potato masher, incorporate the salsa into the lentils, and mash until desired consistency.
  3. Serve over taco salad, with tortillas, or alongside Spanish rice. 

Yields 6 servings.


Non-Dairy Clam Chowder

It's been raining the last four days, so I have been seriously craving clam chowder- trouble is dairy has been really upsetting my stomach lately.  Hence this tasty creation!  If I'm gonna go without cream in my clam chowder a little bacon grease is allowed, no?  If that's too much work feel free to sub in margarine, but you'll be missing out on some delicious flavor!

  • 3 Tbs bacon grease
  • 2 Tbs flour
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 2 6 oz cans minced clams
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp parsley
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • green onion

  1. In a large sauce pot heat bacon grease over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, and cook 3-5 minutes or until soft.  Sift in flour, stirring to incorporate.
  2. Add water, almond milk, thyme, parsley, clams and juice, and potatoes, cover and bring to a boil for 25-30 minutes, or until potatoes are fork-tender.
  3. Add corn, and cook another 5 minutes uncovered.
  4. Garnish with green onions, and serve.

Yields 4 servings.

Grilled Zucchini Tacos

So, after seeing a beautiful picture of zucchini tacos on another blog I was inspired to use the idea of grilled zucchini as a taco filling for a speedy dinner.

While they aren't the most photogenic creations, I promise the final result is delicious.

  • 1 large zucchini, sliced thin horizontally
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 packet chicken/vegetable concentrate (or a bouillon cube)
  • salt
  • salsa verde
  • cheese (optional- I like cotija for these)
  • Corn tortillas (# depends on the size of your zucchini, around 8-12 typically)
  1. First, lay your zucchini strips out on paper towel, and salt them- this will draw out the moisture and allow them to get grill marks, not just go soggy.  Pat dry, and set aside.  Heat the grill to medium-high.
  2. In a saucepan combine the  un-drained black beans, tomato, cumin, paprika, chili powder, jalapeño, garlic, and vegetable concentrate.  Cook over medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes, until heated through and the bouillon has broken down- if cooking with bouillon.
  3. Grill your zucchini slices, turning once grill marks have formed.
  4. Assemble your tacos, and enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

 This speedy hummus is wonderful with pita chips, piped onto cucumber slices for a quick appetizer, or used as a spread on sandwiches.  Feel free to mix it up, utilizing different ingredients to flavor such as- sun-dried tomatoes and basil, cilantro, or roasted garlic.
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas (15 oz) drained
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 2 whole roasted red peppers
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of cayenne pepper

  1. In a food processor, add garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, and lemon juice.  Process until smooth, then add roasted red peppers, basil, paprika, and cayenne.  Pulse until desired consistency is achieved.  Transfer to a container and chill until time to serve.  Store in the refrigerator.

Yields ~ 2 cups.


Blackened Chicken with Couscous & Blackbeans

This whole meal comes together in 20 minutes- which is basically why it's blog worthy.  The flavors aren't ground breaking or anything- but 20 minutes folks! And, the chicken isn't really blackened.. obviously, but it has all the same flavors as your typical blackened chicken... hence the name.

  • 1/2 tsp paprika (I like smoked)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  1. In shallow bowl combine everything but the olive oil and chicken.  Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Coat the chicken in the flour-spice mixture, and place in the heated pan.  Cook about 6 minutes per side, until the crust is golden and the juices run clear.
  • 2 cups whole wheat couscous
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  1. In a saucepan bring the vegetable stock to a boil, add the couscous, beans, and corn, then turn off the heat.  Cover and let sit for at least five minutes.  Add Worcestershire sauce, fluff with a fork and serve.
Yields 4 servings.


Carrot Lemon Soup with Ginger

This morning I had a strange craving for avgolemono soup, but I was out of eggs.  Further my poor little food processor hadn't seen much love lately. 

So I devised this quick, refreshing soup recipe.
Only the greatest addition to my kitchen, ever.

  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 large carrots, shredded (~2 cups)
  • 1/4 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • Zest of ~1/2 lemon
  • 1/3 cup rice
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • lemon wedges

  1. In a large pot, over medium heat soften the onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, and cook another 2 minutes.  Add ginger, carrots, rice, lemon zest, and vegetable stock.
  2. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, or until rice is fully cooked.
  3. Transfer contents to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and carefully pulse 3-5 times.  
  4. Return to pot, stir in lemon juice, salt according to taste, and serve with lemon wedges.

  • Fresh ginger makes a big difference- what isn't used can be tossed in the freezer in a zip lock bag and used later.

Yields 4 servings


Citrus Buddies

I stumbled upon inspiration for this recipe on Pinterest, only to go buy all of the ingredients and realize that the original idea belongs to Chex... and is on the back of their box.
And I thought I was on to something...  I however, am incompetent at actually following a recipe, so I tweaked it just a little.  And in my humble opinion- I improved it :)

  • 9 cups Chex cereal
  • 1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 4 tsp lemon zest (~3/4 of a large lemon)
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 2 generous cups powdered sugar

EVERYTHING you need (+1 lemon..)
1. In a microwave safe bowl heat the chips, lemon juice, zest, and butter for 1 minute.  Stir well, and heat in 20 second increments, stirring between, until the mixture can be stirred smooth.

2.  Pour the mixture over the cereal in a large bowl, and stir gently until evenly coated.  Then transfer to a gallon storage bag and add powdered sugar.  Seal the bag and shake gently until pieces appear evenly coated- I always add additional sugar because I like mine to be uniformly white.

  • Rice or corn chex will do- or the off-brand chex cereal.
  • Mix it up with lime, orange juice, or whatever you have on hand! 
  • This makes cute gifts- fill a cellophane bag and tie with cute ribbon- to really jazz it up you could coat some with colored vanilla candy coating instead of white- in happy citrus colors like orange, yellow, and green.
Yields 9 cups.


Apricot-Pomegranate Ginger Spice cake with Yogurt Glaze

Longest title ever, for a really quick, deluxe-seeming cake.  
Shh!  It's not!

I cheated and utilized a box mix, because I was completely out of all purpose flour, and a wheat flour cake didn't sound particularly tasty...

Pomegranate Molasses

  • 1 Yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup water*
  • 1/3 cup oil*
  • 3 eggs*
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 /2 cup apricot preserves
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses

  1. Heat oven to 350°F.  In a large bowl make cake mix according to directions, adding cinnamon, powdered ginger, and fresh ginger.  Split between two 9" pans, and bake approximately 32 minutes, or time directed by package directions.
  2. In a lidded container combine yogurt, vanilla, and powdered sugar.  Stir well, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
  3. Mix pomegranate molasses and apricot preserves in a small bowl, set aside.
  4. When cake is finished baking, remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.  Using a long knife, level the top of the cake, by slicing horizontally.  Fill with the fruit mix, and stack the two cakes.  
  5. Starting at the center, pour on and spread out the yogurt glaze, allowing it to drip over the edges.  Drizzle with pomegranate molasses for a final touch :)
  6. Refrigerate, and serve within a few hours- the yogurt quickly penetrates the cake.
  • The **ed ingredients are what was called for on MY cake mix box- use whatever your cake mix calls for.
  • Pomegranate molasses can be found at most international markets, and many supermarkets stock it in the international section.  If you're one of those people that hates buying an ingredient just for ONE recipe, don't fear.  Pomegranate molasses is wonderful on vanilla ice cream, mixed into plain applesauce, or I can personally eat it by the spoonful....
  • Fresh ginger can be stored in the freezer- leave it in root form and simply toss it in a ziplock bag.  When you're ready to use it, peel it with a paring knife and grate away.  (On the contrary if you are using room temperature ginger, peel it with a spoon- just try it!)

Yields 12 servings

Bread Machine Dinner Rolls

 Simple dinner rolls; wonderful with butter and jam, or to go alongside a hearty bowl of soup.

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup dry milk powder
  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 3 Tbs sugar, honey, or agave
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water (~110°F)
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 1 egg white

  1. Add the flour, dry milk, butter, sugar, yeast, and water in the bread machine pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer.  {which usually means: 1) liquids 2) dry ingredients 3) yeast} Select the dough cycle, and start.
  2. Remove the dough from the bread machine pan, and on a floured surface knead the dough a bit and divide into 12 pieces.  Form into rounds, place on a greased cookie sheet and allow to rise covered by a moist cloth for approximately 40 minutes, or until volume has nearly doubled.
  3. Heat the oven to 350°F.  In a small bowl mix the 2 Tbs water and egg white, beating thoroughly.  Brush onto rolls, and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown in the preheated oven.

  • 3 cups all purpose flour can be subbed for whole wheat + cake flour combo.
  • These puppies can be mass produced and frozen- once you have them formed into rolls place them in the freezer on a cookie sheet.  Once fully frozen, put them in a freezer storage bag or tupperware.  When needed, pop them in the about 1 minute (depending on the quantity of rolls) and then allow to rise 40 minutes, brush on egg wash, and bake at 350°F for 15 minutes.
Yields 12 rolls

Microwave Potato Chips (Really.)

This is mind blowing.  Really though.  

My entire life I have had this drastically inaccurate preconception that everything comes out of the microwave soggier than when it went in.  FALSE.

These tasty little chips prove that conclusion terribly wrong.  Not to mention they are absolutely delicious, quick, and lower fat than nearly any chip you can pick up at the grocery.  (Popped chips are are close competition... but I still haven't decided if those have a rightful place in the chip family... let alone the potato family for that sake... those things are strange...)

So here goes, you need:
  • Microwave safe plate
  • cooking spray- I prefer olive oil spray
  • 1 medium russet potato
  • Seasoned salt

  1. Slice your potatoes thin, about 1/8" thick, I use a mandolin so they're uniform
  2. Spray the microwave safe plate liberally with cooking spray, and spread the potatoes in a single layer. 
  3. Spray the potatoes lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with seasoned salt, or you choice of seasoning.
  4. Microwave on full power 3 minutes.
  5. Remove cautiously, the plate will be hot, and flip the potatoes.  Microwave another 2-4 minutes, watching to monitor browness (and because it's really cool).
  6. Allow to cool a couple minutes, and enjoy.  Repeat.

  • Red or yukon gold potatoes can also be used.  I haven't tried sweet potatoes yet, but it's on the to-do list  Sweet potatoes work, they are crunchier and lend to a sturdier chip, but still quite tasty! :)
  • Other seasonings that are tasty: Cracked pepper and salt, ranch seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder & Parmesan cheese (add this only after you flip them so it doesn't get weird and rubbery) etc.  Be creative- they're chips, I don't know if they can taste bad :)

Yields 1 serving.


Oven Baked Potato Fries

 These tasty "french fries" are a wonderful addition to any sandwich, and take very minimal work.

  • 4 medium potatoes, cut to your desired fry size
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (I use chipotle chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

  1.  Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray, and set aside.
  2. In a large ziplock bag add cut potatoes, oil, and spices.  Mix well until fries look evenly coated.
  3. Spread in a single layer on the pan and bake 30-40 minutes, flipping 25 minutes in.

  • You can peel the potatoes, but I don't.
  • For an extra kick feel free to toss in some cayenne pepper.
  • Give the fries SPACE.  If they are too close together they will steam instead of bake, and get soggy.
  • I like mine extra crisp, so I toss them under the broiler for like 3 minutes at the end of the cooking process.

Yields 4 servings.


Shrimp Pad Thai

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cane vinegar (white vinegar will do)*
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate*
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 (12 ounce) package dried rice noodles (thicker ones)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 carrots, juilenned
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 lb 51-60ct shrimp
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Cilantro

  1. For the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, blend sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, water and tamarind concentrate.
  2.  In a seperate bowl soak rice noodles in cold water until soft- about 15 minutes; drain . In a large skillet or wok over medium heat, warm oil and add garlic and eggs; scramble the eggs. Add carrots and bell pepper and stir until well mixed;  add the shrimp, and noodles and stir until cooked.
  3. Stir in Pad Thai sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir in peanuts and paprika.
  4. Serve with lime and bean sprouts on the side.  Garnish with cilantro

  • Fish sauce, tamarind concentrate, and cane vinegar can be found at the Asian grocery.
  • If you don't want to bother with the above ingredients, some substitutions can be made: soy sauce for fish sauce, food processed lime juice and raisins for tamarind concentrate, and regular vinegar + 2 Tbs sugar to replace cane vinegar.
  • Chicken or tofu are also tasty proteins to add.

Yields 8 servings

Chocolate Banana Bran Muffins

These tasty treats are pleasantly healthy- I like to smear on a bit of homemade peanut butter for an excellent breakfast on the go!
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups bran cereal
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (or regular)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs unsweetened applesauce (or oil)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In large mixing bowl, mix together cereal and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes or until cereal is softened.
  3. Stir in eggs and applesauce; beat well. Stir in bananas. Add flour mixture, stirring only until combined. (Mixture will be thick.)
  4. Spoon batter into 12 large muffin tins, coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until browned and firm to the touch.

  • Chocolate chips make a lovely addition
  • Beware of using paper liners, using applesauce instead of oil tends to make the muffin stickier
  • I use my food processor- toss in the bananas, then eggs, and then moistened bran cereal and applesauce.  Then mix that mush with all the dry ingredients.

Yields 12 muffins


Berry Trifle

This dessert is ALWAYS a hit, and it consists of only a few store bought components.  I feel like Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee or something, guh she scares me a little.  She's like PTO mom, meets Martha Stewart, meets Stepford wife.  AND HAVE YOU NOTICED HER KITCHEN CHANGES TO MATCH THE THEME OF EVERY EPISODE?!  It's borderline ridiculous.  Plus I always scoff at her tablescapes...  and clearly I have watched far too much of her on television despite my mild fear of her.  I should probably spend my time doing more productive things, like making trifles. 
Because they're delicious.

oh and don't judge my cheesy smile,  this is the best photo of this dessert I had lying around.

Cilantro-Ranch Dressing

This is my rendition of Cafe Rio's house salad dressing- not a promised copy, but it offers similar flavor.

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonaise
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 envelope hidden valley ranch dip mix
  • 3 tomatillos, washed and quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup salsa verde
  • ~1 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed

Blast everything in a blender.  It will be a bit runny, pop it in the fridge an hour or so and allow flavors to meld and consistency to thicken.

  • You can use all mayo or all sour cream, whatever is on hand
  • Tomatillos are found in the produce section, often by either bell peppers, or ginger/squash/mushrooms.  Wash your tomatillos first, they are sticky.

Yields about 2 cups.

Mexican Sweet Pork

Plan ahead when you're making this, I usually cook the pork almost two days before I need it.  That being said, this recipe is worth the effort- it is a serious crowd-pleaser.  This shredded sweet pork is inspired by Costa Vida & Cafe Rio, I am not making any promises it is an exact copy, but it is certainly delicious :)

I serve this recipe with cilantro lime rice, black beans, pico de gallo, and cilantro-ranch dressing.

  • 5-6 lbs pork (I use "Butt-Shoulder" {don't ask me what a butt-shoulder is...})
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 20 oz Coke
  • 1 12 oz bottle mild salsa
  • 1 20 oz bottle salsa verde
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  1. In a crock pot, place the roast, onion, and garlic. Fill with water to at least half-way, and cook on low for 12 hours.
  2. After cooked, remove from the liquid, strain, and put the roast in the fridge to cool.  Once it has cooled, shred the meat, removing any extra fat or tissue (or other animal goodness...). Shred the meat and put it in the crockpot with the Coke, brown sugar, salsa, and salsa verde.
  3. Cook on low another 2 hours, then serve with taco salads or in burritos.
  • You can cook the roast initially in the oven for 6 hours at 250 instead of using the slow cooker.

Yields at least 20 servings


Turkish Lamb Kebab

  • ~ 1 1/2 lbs lamb leg fillet, cubed
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint, or 1 tsp fresh mint
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for grill
  1.  In a bowl add the olive oil, and zest the lemon into the bowl.  
  2. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, mint, and pepper.
  3. Mix the lamb cubes in and marinate for at least four hours, or overnight.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Put the lamb cubes on bamboo skewers.  Also heat a grill pan and brush with oil, or the grill and place kebabs on until grill marks develop on all sides, and then transfer to oven for about 8 minutes to finish cooking.  
  5. Serve with rice pilaf.
  • Soak bamboo skewers overnight so they don't char when grilled.
  • If you choose to use a grill, you can cook the lamb the whole time on the grill and eliminate the oven step.
Yields 4-6 servings


Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint

This may sound like a strange combination, but it is DIVINE.  Ever since first going to a Anatolia, a Turkish restaurant, nearly two years ago I have been hunting for an accurate-seeming recipe, and I finally encountered one!  So, after many failed attempts to duplicate Anatolia's Red Lentil Soup this recipe finally succeeded!

Turkish Rice Pilaf

  • 3/4 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 cup hot water or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch pepper
  1. Rinse the rice until water runs clear then drain. Then cover the rice with hot water and leave for about 15 minutes, then drain again. 
  2. Melt the butter in a cooking pot. Saute the rice with butter for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Add chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to low and cook until the rice absorbs all the water.
  3. Take the pot off the heat. Open the lid, place a clean kitchen towel across the top of the pot on put the lid back on. Allow the Pilaf to stand for about 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork, then serve.
  • Don't stir the pilaf while it's cooking

Yields 3 servings

Turkish Chicken Kebab

Turkish Lamb Kebab, Chicken Kebab, Pilaf, and Red Lentil Soup
Marinating the chicken in yogurt makes for a wonderfully tender texture, and the traditional Turkish spices are absolutely delicious.  Serve with Turkish Rice Pilaf.

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or less according to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed with salt 
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses*
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ~1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (approx 2 large breasts)

  1.  In a container with a lid, combine yogurt, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, pomegranate molasses, and olive oil.  Mix well and add the chicken, ensuring to coat thoroughly.  Marinate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  2. Preheat your BBQ or a grill pan on the stove.  Thread the chicken cubes onto 4-6 skewers, then grill 7-8 minutes, or until juices run clear.
  • Pomegranate molasses can be found at many groceries in the international isle, usually near Lebanese or Mediterranean ingredients.  Specialty international markets often have it also.  If it is unavailable lemon juice can be added in place- it provides a similar acidity.
Yields 2-4 servings


Italian Penne with Veggies

This is a super simple recipe, but always a crowd pleaser.  It is best topped with some kind of sauce- I love it with pesto, but a simple marinara from a jar is tasty as well.

  • 1 lb penne (I use whole wheat)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium yellow squash, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomaotes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning 
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • Olive oil
  1. In a large pot boil water and cook penne according to package instructions for al dente pasta. When finished drain, drizzle with olive oil and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking- in a deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, and saute garlic.  Add carrots and cook about two minutes.  Then add the zucchini, squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes.  Add Italian seasoning, and a few Tbs of water and cover.  Allow vegetables to steam for about 3 minutes, then remove lid and cook until fork tender.  Zest the lemon, and add juice.
  3. Add pasta into the skillet and stir, to reheat pasta, and incorporate vegetables and accumulated liquid with the pasta.
  4. Serve topped with pesto, grated parmesan cheese, or marinara sauce.

  • Basically any shape of pasta that will hold sauce will do- rotini, shells, whatever you have on hand.
  • When cooking pasta- DO NOT rinse it under water to cool.  Rinsing gets rid of the wonderful starches that allow pasta to bind with sauce- so simply let the water drain in a colander.  

Yields 6 servings

Almond Pesto

 This pesto is simple, and far better than any store-bought pesto.  It is great on bruschetta, over pasta, or mixed with some sour cream or cream to make a creamy pesto sauce.  Not to mention the almonds lend a wonderful flavor and are far cheaper than pine nuts.

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Place almonds on a cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
  2. In a food processor, combine toasted almonds, garlic, basil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Process, streaming in olive oil until a coarse paste is formed. 

  • Basically any nut (except peanuts) can be subbed for the almonds- walnuts, pecans, and pine nuts are all a very safe bet, so use whatever you have on hand!
  • The Parmesan cheese can be omitted to make the pesto vegan.
  • To increase volume, the recipe can be doubled and sub out some of the basil with spinach.

Yields approximately 1 1/3 cup

30 Minute Italian Bread Sticks

 These speedy bread sticks make a delicious accompaniment to any Italian dish, or a tasty appetizer dipped in marinara sauce.  I love that they don't take any time to rise!

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tbs raw agave syrup (can be subbed with white sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ~1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the following order: 

    • Liquids: water, oil, agave
    • Dry ingredients: flour, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, milk powder, salt
    • Yeast
  1. Select Dough cycle; press Start. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). When dough cycle is complete, remove dough to a lightly oiled surface. Divide dough up into 18 pieces. Roll each piece on an oiled board, from center of piece to the outside edges to form bread sticks. Place bread sticks at least 1 inch apart on the prepared pans.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool. 

  • Feel free to mix up the seasonings- ie. omit the Italian and toss in some crushed black pepper to pair with chili

Yields 18 bread sticks


Chicken Quinoa Chili

  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken, in 3/4" cubes
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (6-8 oz) diced green chiles
  • 3 cans beans (your choice, I use white beans, pinto beans, and black beans)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add diced onions and cook until tender.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and any selection of the aforementioned spices, and toss in the hot pot.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until juices run clear.
  2. Add the chicken stock, green chiles, diced tomatoes, beans, chili powder, paprika, cumin, chipotle chili powder, white pepper, and cayenne pepper, and stir well.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.  Add the corn, carrots, and quinoa and allow to simmer for 20 minutes more.

Vegan Naan Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour, plus a few tbsp for workspace 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  1. Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. Add salt and flour. Mix thoroughly. Knead dough on a floured workspace about 20 times and form into a tight ball. Put dough in a well oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel.
  3. Put in a warm place to rise for 30-45 minutes. Dough won't rise much, but it doesn't need to.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured workspace. Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll out with a rolling pin to about 1/8" thick.
  5. Grill naan pieces on a grill or electric griddle. In a pinch, a frying pan sprayed with some nonstick cooking spray will work.  A George Foreman grill also works, no need to even flip. Grill for 1-2 minutes on each side. 
  • Sub in any type of flour, I used half wheat and the result was great!

Yields 8 pieces

Quick Mini Biscuits

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use almond milk)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • ~1/2 tsp your choice of seasoning: cracked pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, fennel, rosemary, etc 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease the cups of two mini muffin tins.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, milk, and butter.  Stir in seasoning. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until nicely puffed and browned.

  • I use wheat flour, but good ol' all purpose flour will definitely do the job.
  • I have found that I can bake them at 400F for 7-9 minutes and they turn out fine too if you're in a hurry- just keep an eye on them.
  • In place of butter you can use mayonnaise for a kick (I despise mayonnaise though...).
  • If you have self-rising flour, just use a cup of that and omit the baking powder and soda.

Yields 16 mini biscuits


Pear Berry Crumble

  • 2 pears
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ground walnuts or pecans
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs butter or margarine, melted

  1. Heat the oven to 400F.
  2. Cut the pears into thin slices, and in a bowl mix with sugar, lemon juice, raspberries, blueberries, and a pinch of cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl add nuts, oats, brown sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon.  With a fork mix melted butter with ingredients until a coarse meal forms.
  4. Fill 4 ramekins with fruit mixture, and top with crumble mixture.  Bake 12-15 minutes, or until fruit is soft and the top is toasty.  Serve with whipped cream or Cool Whip. 

  • Apples can be subbed for pears, or a mix can be used, whatever is on hand.

Yields 4 servings

Vegan Chocolate Puddin'

Hear me out, I know tofu in pudding sounds AWFUL, but it really isn't!  It lends to a really rich silky texture, and a very happy calorie count- about 120 calories a serving.  Not too shabby for fulfilling that chocolate fix.

Toss the following in a blender:

  • 12 oz of soft silken tofu*
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (I subbed part agave syrup)
  • 5 Tbs unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 Tbs almond milk (soy works also)

And select one of the following flavor additions:
  • 1 banana, in pieces
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract + some orange zest
Blend on high until smooth and delicious looking, distribute in serving vessels, and refrigerate for an hour to allow flavors to meld.

  • BUY ORGANIC TOFU.  Yes, I have a few soap boxes, and a general aversion to non-organic soy products is one of them.  Eating soy in excess can have devastating side effects in-and-of itself, but I am okay with organic soy in small moderation.  Non-organic tofu is like 99.99% genetically modified, and riddled with pesticides (soy plants are one of the most pesticide-laden crops)  And I'll shut up now.
  • You can make just plain chocolate, but the "soy-y" flavor can be more distinguished without the additional flavor component.

Yields 4 servings.

Crispy Coconut Chicken Tenders

These tantalizing little tenders are a budget-friendly solution to craving coconut shrimp, and offer a down right delicious option when you want more than the typical chicken tender.

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, or tenders
  • 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice*
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat your oven to 300F.
  2. On a cookie sheet, spread the shredded coconut in a thin, even layer, and toast in the 300F oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring every 5.  Pay close attention because coconut burns quickly.
  3. Once toasted, toss the coconut in a food processor and pulse until coconut is similar in consistency to bread crumbs.  Set aside.
  4. Turn the oven up to 400F.
  5. Cut your chicken into desired size, I like mine in small tenders.  Then season chicken with salt, pepper, Chinese 5 spice, and paprika.
  6. Create your breading station, in one bowl beat the two eggs.  In another bowl mix panko breadcrumbs and toasted coconut.
  7. Then, utilizing one hand for eggs, and the other dry hand for breadcrumbs, coat each chicken tender in egg, then breadcrumb mixture.  Press mixture on and ensure even coating.  Set coated tenders aside on a cookie sheet.
  8. Once all tenders are coated, heat canola oil in a large skillet on medium high, and cook tenders 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Transfer partially-cooked tenders to a cookie sheet, and finish in the oven with an additional 10 minutes.
  9. These tenders are delicious served with my mango ginger dipping sauce, or peanut sauce.

  • I find that the loose breading in the skillet gets burnt and nasty quick, so I clean the skillet out with a paper towel between batches and use new oil.
  • Chinese 5 spice can be found at your local grocery- either in the Asian section or the spice aisle.  I have found it to be much cheaper in the Asian section than the spice section.

Yields 4-6 servings


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