The Genius of Others

Lately, I’ve cooked up some things that I (humbly) think have been very yummy. Daniel always asks, “Are you gonna blog this?”

I reply, “No, they’re not my recipes.”

After about five of these conversations, I realized I should share these recipes with y’all and show you where to find them. That way, you get to enjoy their deliciousness, and their creators get some internet traffic. That’s a win-win in my book.

1. Mexican Chipolte Chocolate Bites, Better Homes and Gardens, http://www.bhg.com/recipe/cookies/mexican-chipotle-chocolate-bites/

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Alright, I have some confessions to make about this one. First of all, I didn’t add chipolte. That was just too weird for me. Regardless, everyone said they had great flavor, probably due to the cinnamon and nutmeg. Secondly, the homemade filling was a huge f-a-i-l for me. Like a zero, not like an 69.5-beg-your-professor-for-a-D. Thankfully, I had a can of frosting (gasp! storebought!) in my pantry.

All in all, these are cookies with icing in the middle. Amen.

2. Caprese Sticks, use real butter, http://userealbutter.com/2011/06/06/caprese-sticks-recipe

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“Ooooh, girl, you fancy!”

At least, that’s what people will think when you serve these.

Great flavor, great presentation, and easy. What more could you want?

3. Jerk Chicken and Slaw, Better Homes and Gardens, http://www.bhg.com/recipe/chicken/jerk-chicken-and-slaw/

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Okay, wow. My photo looks dreadful compared to the BHG example photo, but I don’t have a photography/food staging staff.

This meal was scrumptious. The chicken had a kick of spice, and the slaw was, in Daniel’s words, “refreshing”. Yes, my guy’s guy, burger and beer husband, referred to a pineapple slaw as refreshing. Victory is mine.

4. Mini Cheese Balls in Phyllo Shells, A Spicy Perspective, http://www.aspicyperspective.com/2012/12/mini-cheese-balls-recipe.html

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I love this recipe because it is something different. I like when people ask, “What is that?” because it means that dish is unique…or weird. Your choice.

In summary, I’m thankful for all the wonderful cooks out there who share their recipes on websites, blogs, and Pinterest. It makes my life easier and more delicious!

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Deli Wraps

Alright, I’d be lying if I called this a recipe. An “idea for putting things together” would be more accurate.

Regardless, it’s easy, delicious, and healthy.

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These yummy deli wraps are my go-to recipe on nights when I do. not. want. to. cook.

Period.

Statement.

Declarative sentence.

You have nights like that too, right?

The yummy secret to these wraps is “homemade” honey mustard sauce. Want the recipe? It’s really difficult.

Ready?

Mix one part honey with one part spicy brown mustard.

Yeah, I know. My technique is advanced.

The honey mustard sauce has great flavor and a really good consistency. Spread a good layer on a large, burrito-sized tortilla.

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Then, add a thin layer of deli meat (I like to use Boar’s Head BBQ chicken), lots of fresh spinach, and cherry tomatoes.

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Now, here comes the only part of this recipe that could be slightly frustrating…rolling up the wrap.

First, fold in two long sides.

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Next, fold in the two other sides, and roll the tortilla into a wrap.

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Then, use a sharp serrated knife to cut the wraps at a diagonal angle.

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I like to serve them with extra honey mustard sauce for dipping, and a side of sweet potato fries.

Guacamole

I have lived in Texas for a year now, and I have learned that to be a Texan woman, you must have a guacamole recipe. There are as many different varieties as there are women. In my effort to assimilate with the locals, I have created my own guacamole recipe. It is very simple, but I could eat it every day. For the rest of my life. Seriously.

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Feel free to add chopped jalapenos, cumin, or whatever your heart desires. You really can’t go wrong with this one.

For 4 servings of this recipe, you will need 2 ripe avocados, a quarter of an onion, 12 cherry tomatoes, a handful of cilantro, one lime, salt, and garlic powder.

If you’ve never cut avocado before, there’s an easy way to do it. First, cut around the pit to create two halves of the avocado. Take out the pit, and then use a knife to cut the avocado into squares. Then, use a spoon to scoop the avocado squares out of their…shell? Peel? What do you call that thing? Who cares? You’re gonna throw it away.

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Add the avocado to a bowl, then added one half of a quarter of an onion. I prefer purple/red onion, but I only had a white onion this day. Such is life. Then add the juice of one lime. Next, you will add chopped tomatoes and chopped cilantro.

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Sprinkle generously with salt and garlic powder. Then using a fork, carefully mash it all together. You want to make sure everything is incorporated well, but you don’t want to overdo it. I like my guacamole the same way I like babies…a little chunky.

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Notice the two avocado pits? After I make my guac, I put the pits back in the bowl. It may be an old wives’ tale, but I’ve heard if you keep the pits with the avocado, it keeps them from going brown as quickly.

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Serve on tacos, chips, grilled chicken, or anything at all! I’m pretty sure heaven for me will look like an endless buffet of guacamole, real Cokes, and chocolate chip cookie dough.

Enjoy!

25 Year Old Entertaining Wisdom

Okay, so this is one of those posts that I know when I look back in 2o years, I am going to think, “Oh, how little I knew.”

For now, middle-aged me can just stay quiet.

Daniel and I hosted our church small group for a Christmas party this past Sunday. I was so thrilled about having people over, and I spent every night last week bouncing around our house like a rabid elf preparing for Christmas.

I also went into marathon cooking mode. We had sausage and stuffed mushrooms for apps, pork tenderloin, salad, rolls, twice baked potatoes, asparagus, and corn casserole for dinner, and a red velvet cake for dessert. It was all delicious (humble brag), and I learned some useful advice to share with you.

1. Plan ahead. I learned this from stalking Daniel’s mom when she entertains. Write out all of the food you plan on serving on sticky notes. Then lay out the serving platters, bowls, spoons, etc. that you will use, and place a sticky note on each serving piece. This way, you are sure to have everything ready, and you won’t end up serving Sister Schubert rolls out of their ugly tin.

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2. Purchase Baker’s Joy cooking spray. It is incredible. The red velvet cake was layered, and spraying Baker’s Joy on the pans before baking made all the difference in the world. The cakes practically leapt out of the pans. So great!

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3. I’ve said it before, but use real napkins and silverware! It makes people think you are fancy. Even if you ain’t. (See, I use the word “ain’t”. Therefore, I am not fancy, but I am convincing guests otherwise with my fancy cloth napkins.)

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4. Use what you have. Scrounge the pages of Pinterest, rack your creative brain, and you can think of creative ways to decorate using what you already have. I sent Daniel out in the yard to cut berry leaves, and we decorated this mason jar to make an awesome candle holder. That is, after I scrubbed the mason jar. It smelled like pickles. Nothing about pickled candle smell says Christmas.

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5. Improvise. We do not currently own a dining room table that seats fifty, but I aspire to own one. Until then, we have to improvise when five or more people come over. For this dinner, we borrowed wooden trays from Daniel’s parents, and each person grabbed a tray, a wrapped silverware, and a plate of food. It worked out great!

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For Better: I feel like the party was a success!

For Worse: I still have so much more to learn.

Warning: Cooking Horror Story

I have truly loved learning to cook, but if I am being honest, there have been some serious cooking disasters during my culinary education. Thankfully, Daniel is kind enough to taste everything I cook, and will sweetly say, “Not a repeat,” instead of telling me to turn in my apron. For life.

My most disgusting concoction to date was a “healthy cookie dough” recipe I found on Pinterest. Girls were raving about how it tasted just like cookie dough, but it was good for you! What? This sounds too good to be true!

It was.

The healthy cookie dough recipe called for chickpeas/garbanzo beans/whatever you want to call them as the main ingredient. You then added chocolate chips, oats, sweetener, etc.

The smell was intolerable. It smelled like feet. Nasty, sweaty, feet.

As a testament to his devotion to me, Daniel tasted the healthy cookie dough. We both did.

We both immediately rolled around on the kitchen floor, gagging and trying to scrape the tastebuds off our tounges. I was willing to sacrifice my ability to taste forever, so long as I never had to taste the horror known as healthy cookie dough again. The memory of it will always haunt me.

After about 18 glasses of water and 700 Ritz crackers, I was pretty sure the taste was gone. I used the leftover chocolate chips to make cookies. Real cookies. Sugar and butter-laden cookies.

My point? It’s okay to make mistakes in the kitchen. You move on. We’re all learning how to cook, and making mistakes is part of the process. Until I see paying customers in my dining room, I ain’t gonna worry ’bout it.

Banana Nut Bread

 

You know how when you get married, you not only get this awesome spouse, but you also get some bonuses? For example, your husband might teach you how to play guitar, or you might get a wife who already has season tickets to Braves games. You know what I’m talking about.

Well, when I married Daniel, I got a huge bonus.

MawMaw and PawPaw.

When I married Daniel, I was blessed to gain these two as grandparents. They treat me as if I have always been their granddaughter, and it warms my heart more than I could ever explain. They are everything you expect from awesome grandparents…They are adorable, they have incredible stories, and they spoil us rotten.

They most recently spoiled us by mailing this box of goodness to our front doorstep:

Pecans, oh yummy pecans.

This treat inspired me to make Banana Nut Bread, and oh was it delicious!

To make 2 loaves of Banana Nut Bread, preheat oven to 325 degress, and grease two bread pans.

Mix 4 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar, 1.5 teaspoons baking soda, 1.5 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon nutmeg in a large bowl.

Mix ingredients together well, and then set aside.

Next, add 8 sliced bananas to a blender. Blend until it has the consistency of a thick batter.

Pour the banana batter into a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup oil, 4 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, and 1 cup of almond milk. If you have never used almond milk before, don’t be scared of it. It is an incredible product, and you should definitely try it out!

Mix all of the wet ingredients together.

Combine the wet and dry ingredients.

Fold in 2 cups chopped pecans. (Thank you MawMaw and PawPaw!)

Your batter should look like this:

 

Pour batter into two bread pans. Sprinkle more chopped pecans on the top of the loaves.

Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, cover the loaves with foil to prevent the top of the bread from burning. Then bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until a fork inserted comes out clean.

Let cool completely, then slice and enjoy!

Cranberry-Nut Cinnamon Chex Mix

I found this recipe on the back of the Cinnamon Chex box, and it is too good not to share.

It has an awesome combination of flavors, especially the hint of orange.

I followed the directions that can be found on http://www.chex.com, but I did make one change. Instead of using 6 cups of Cinnamon Chex, I used 4 cups of Cinnamon Chex and 2 cups of plain Rice Chex, so the sweetness wouldn’t be too overwhelming.

To start, put 4 cups Cinnamon Chex, 2 cups Rice Chex, and 1 cup of chopped walnuts in a microwave safe bowl.

In a separate, smaller microwave safe bowl, combine 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, and 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Microwave for two minutes, stopping every 30 seconds to stir the mixture together.

Then, pour this heated mixture evenly over the cereal and walnut mixture.

Microwave on high for five minutes, stirring every two minutes.

Remove from microwave, and then add 1/2 cup dried cranberries.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper or foil, and then spread the mix out on the cookie sheet. Let cool, and then enjoy!

Spicy Sesame Noodles

This dish is my new obsession.

The nutty, spicy, Asian goodness of this dinner makes me want to be the kind of gal who owns her own chopsticks. Monogrammed chopsticks. Like Taylor Swift has. Different story, but the point is….this meal is delicious.

For this recipe you will need:

chicken broth, chicken breasts, sesame seeds, chunky peanut butter, garlic powder, fresh ginger root, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha sauce, brown sugar, salt, angel hair pasta noodles, green onions, carrot 

First things first, let’s make things easy. Let’s use the slow cooker. Obviously, you can cook the chicken a different way, but why would you want to cook any other way than throwing things into a pot and forgetting about it?

To cook your chicken, put 2 pounds of chicken breast into the slow cooker with 1 cup soy sauce, a squirt of sriracha sauce, a tablespoon of garlic, and enough chicken broth to cover the meat. Cook until there is no pink left in the chicken. It took about 2 hours on High for my friend the Crock Pot.

When your chicken is cooked, cut it into bite size pieces. Set aside.

Before making the sauce, boil some water and start cooking one box of angel hair pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, let’s make the sauce. (I say “let’s” because if I find out you are cooking this meal, I’m coming over to eat it with you!) In your food processor, combine 1/2 cup sesame seeds and  1/2 cup chunky peanut butter.

Then, take your fresh ginger root and grate it. It is very fragrant, and your kitchen will smell heavenly.

Add the 2 tablespoons of grated ginger to the food processor.

Then add 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 3/4 cup soy sauce, 4 tablespoons rice vinegar, and 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Now, here comes the part you can decide on your own. Sriracha sauce is spicy, but oh so good. If you are the kind of person who likes tears to come to your eyes when you eat, add as much Sriracha to these ingredients as your fiery heart desires. For the wimps like me, I did about 1 good squirt. Squirt is the technical term, because it comes in a squirt bottle.

Put on the lid, and blend, blend, blend.

Ok, you know how your food processor has that weird tube thing on top? While this is blending, open up that tube thing and add about 1/2 cup of hot water. It will help with the consistency of the sauce.

Your pasta has probably cooked by now, so make sure you take it off the heat and drain it. Put it back into the pot and set aside.

Next, grate some fresh raw carrots. I used about 15 baby carrots.

Using tongs (it’s easier I promise), combine the noodles, carrots, and chicken.


Then, pour the sauce mixture evenly over the pasta, and combine further. Remember, you may not want to use all the sauce! It’s your preference, based on how saucy you are. See that play on words?

Serve in bowls, and then add chopped green onions, sesame seeds, and Sriracha sauce as desired.

I don’t have words. It is just utterly scrumptious. Make it. Tonight. Now. Just trust me.

Movin’ On Up

Dear Diary Blogging Community,

We are moving.

It is stressful.

I usually cook to destress.

My cooking utensils are here:

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Cooking is not possible.

We have lived on cereal, frozen pizza, and Chinese food.

Feel free to pray for us.

Love,

Krista

Pancakes

We had a very lazy Saturday recently, and it included delicious, coma-inducing pancakes. I definitely couldn’t have a productive work day after eating these fluffy cakes, but they were perfect for a lounge-y Saturday.

For pancakes, you will need:

vegetable oil, baking soda, baking powder, egg, flour, salt, sugar, milk, chocolate chips (optional)

To start, mix 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and a dash of salt in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix 1 cup of milk, 1 egg, and 1/4 cup of vegetable oil.

Combine wet and dry ingredients.

Mix well. If you want chocolate chip pancakes, stir in chocolate chips at this point.

Ladle onto a hot griddle.

When the surface is bubbly, flip over.

Chocolate chip pancakes will look like this:

When both sides are golden brown, it should slide off the griddle easily.

Add butter and syrup, and enjoy!

Daniel staged this photo. He wanted you to see his Masters cup.