Tuesday, May 15, 2012

~Grilled Salmon with Avocado Salsa~

Holy cow was this good salmon!! How can anything go wrong with avocado?  I have just been in love with salmon lately; I can't get enough of it.  This is the perfect summer dinner in my opinion--fresh cilantro, avocado, red onion (with some other stuff) and fresh salmon.  I made this with white rice and baked broccoli.  I do also love summer grilling--who doesn't?  Summer is my absolute favorite season--the days stay light longer, the weather is warmer, the ocean water is also warmer, and grilling seems to happen several times a week.  My favorite smell of summer is the ocean air and Coppertone sun screen--there is no greater smell than that!

What you don't want to do is overcook the salmon--because then it's dry.  Dry salmon=no good.  What you do want to do is use lots and lots of avocado and cilantro :-)  This dish takes a total of maybe 20 minutes to make.  Who doesn't have time for that on a warm summer night?

Oil and season the salmon (I bought a pound fresh at Stater Bros....I never buy pre-packaged frozen salmon).  That's part of the secret to always having moist salmon.  Then grill those babies up!
Next, make the avocado salsa--chop up the veggies and slice the avocado.  I used one avocado for two people, which is a lot of avocado.  But seriously, I love it...There are 7 grams of protein in one avocado--yay for good fat!

Serves 4

You'll Need:

2 lbs. salmon, cut into 4 pieces
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground coriander (I didn't put this in)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. black pepper
Avocado Salsa:
1 avocado (or more!) sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 mild hot peppers, seeded deveined, diced
Juice from 2 limes
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. finely chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

Get Busy:

Mix all the ingredients together for the salmon seasoning.  Rub the salmon fillets with the olive oil, then the seasoning mixture, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  While the grill is getting hot, make the salsa and chill in a bowl until the salmon is ready.  Grill the salmon; serve topped with avocado salsa.  This dish is also really good with tostones (which I will post soon!).  Enjoy!

Friday, May 11, 2012

~Pecan-Crusted Chicken Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing~

Oh, yum!  OOoooo how I love salads lately!  I had salad almost every day for lunch this week.  There is something incredibly refreshing about a salad--and I can't have a salad without a crunch!  This salad definitely has enough different textures to please your taste buds and tongue.

Mix together the chopped pecans, crackers, salt and cayenne.

Fry the coated chicken in light oil, enough to cover the pan and then some.  The chicken should be a good golden brown, and make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through.  A good idea is to flatten your chicken breast before cooking.

Once the chicken is cooked completely, chop into long thinner pieces.

...And voila! After you chop your lettuce and add some goodies, you have a delicious salad with lots of crunch and wonderful flavors.

Serves 3-4

You'll Need:
1 recipe pecan crusted chicken
1 recipe honey mustard dressing
8 c. romaine lettuce, sliced
1 apple or pear, thinly sliced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
dried craisins

Mix lettuce with celery and place in serving bowl.  Make a circle with apple slices and place chicken on top.  Spring some craisins and drizzle the dressing over all.

4 chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness (1/2 inch)
1/2 c. pecans
12 saltine crackers
1/4 tsp. salt
dash pepper
pinch cayenne

1/3 c. milk
2 eggs

Combine pecans, crackers, salt, pepper and cayenne in a food processor or blender and blend until finely ground.  With a shallow plate, put the pecan mixture on one plate.  In a bowl, combine milk and eggs and mix well with a fork.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat with about 1/2 inch oil for frying.  Dip chicken in egg mixture, then coat with pecan mixture, pressing pecans into chicken.  Fry coated chicken in hot oil, flipping sides until cooked through. (Or you can bake the chicken in the oven at 350 for 30 minutes for a healthier alternative).

Honey Mustard Dressing:
1/2 c. honey
1/4 dijon mustard
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbs. mayonnaise

Chop garlic in food processor.  Add the rest of the ingredients and chill until served.  Enjoy!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekend with the Ladies

Well I got to have a really fun getaway with most of the girls in my family--excluding all kiddos minus Little Dirk (Ashley's).  We spent the weekend in Palm Springs and it was about 95 degrees--perfect layout weather, if you ask me!  Aunt Jayne met up with us for a little bit and surprised us with fresh chocolate chip cookies--ahh so delicious.  Funny too, because we had just been talking about how much we needed something sweet.  Ohh Aunt Jayne you know us Hoovers :-)

It was nice to get away from the guys and kids (and Dirk was quiet so we hardly knew he was there).  We got some great sun and swam in the heated pool.

Supermom treated us to pedicures which felt sooo good.

The ladies at the pool.  The only downfall of this weekend was that I got pretty sick.  On Saturday I went to urgent care, and the doctor said I had an ear infection in both ears and a major sore throat--ugh. (I could have told him that...just give me the drugs man and no one will get hurt).  I am still sick but feeling better...I thought only kids got ear infections...? Weird.  If you're going to be sick however, the best place is in the sun and with mama there to rub your back :-)

For dinner one night, we went to a delicious restaurant called Jackalope Ranch.  Our food was pretty awesome (and so were the misters that kept us a little cooler!).
Me and my beautiful sis-in-law, Kelli.  One of the prettiest pregnant girls I know!  It was nice to have a weekend away...and then back to the usual grind.  The whole fambam is going boating for Memorial Day weekend.  I seriously can't wait!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

~Strawberry Jam~

Homemade strawberry jam always makes me a little nostalgic.  I grew up helping Supermom make jam every year.  We used to make batch after batch after batch of strawberry jam around this time, since it's strawberry season.  You can't hate getting a box of strawberries for $.99 can you?? Strawberries are my favorite :-) Here is to the first batch of the season!

Now normally, the amount I made calls for 4 cups of sugar.  4 CUPS!! That is a lot of freaking sugar.  So...I changed it up a little to make it a little healthier.  Instead of 4 cups of sugar, I used 1 cup of regular granulated sugar, and 1 cup of agave.  My jam may be runnier than others, but it is healthier too.  Sometimes homemade strawberry jam simply has too much sugar.  Ya, it's not sugarless jam, but it's better than 4 cups of sugar!
Makes 3 container's/jar's worth

You'll Need:

about 4 c. diced strawberries
1/3 c. ball fruit pectin
1 c. sugar
1 c. agave

Get Busy:

Mash your strawberries (or I put mine in the Blendtec because I like my jam smoother rather than chunky).  Combine the mashed strawberries and pectin in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Slowly add sugar and agave and constantly stir under high heat for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and pour into the containers or jars.  Keep refrigerated once done.  You can use it immediately or you can freeze this jam up to a year, which makes a great gift.  I mean, honestly, who doesn't love homemade jam?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

~Baked French Toast Casserole~

Oh my my! I heart French toast, and I also heart Paula Deen! This woman makes amazing food (albeit, it seems most of her food has a ton of butter or cream in it...)!  I got this recipe from her, and every time I make or eat it, it's soooo good and moist.  The praline topping makes this money!

I will admit the first time I made this recipe, I was really excited to make it...so excited, I didn't read all the instructions before starting it.  So one morning I woke up to make this casserole, and realized the bread needs to soak overnight! Aargh.  I made the mistake of not letting it soak and just cooked it the way it was.  Bad idea.  Most of the liquid cooked out and my casserole was left dry.  Boo.  When I made it last week, I remembered my woe, and prepared it the night before.  The next day before work, I popped it in the oven, and by the time I was done getting ready for work, it was done and smelling like heaven!

There is something about French toast...ahhh.  I was too lazy to make the raspberry syrup that goes with this, but even without it, it's fabulous.
I made a half recipe for J and me.  Full recipe will serve 6-8

You'll Need:

French toast: 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbs. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. sugar
1 c. milk
8 eggs
2 c. half & half
1 loaf French bread
Praline Topping: 1/2 lb. butter
1 c. packed brown sugar (I like dark)
1 c. chopped pecans
2 Tbs. light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 ground nutmeg
Raspberry Syrup: 1 c. raspberry preserves
3 Tbs. water
2 Tbs. raspberry liqueur

Get Busy:

Slice French bread into 20 1-inch thick slices.  Generously butter the bottom of a 9x13 pan and arrange slices in 2 rows overlapping in the pan.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, half & half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk until blended.  Pour mixture over bread slices, making sure all pieces are evenly covered.  Cover with foil; refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Make praline topping:  combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Spread topping evenly over the bread and bake for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the syrup:  combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Stir until warm and thinned out like syrup.  Enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

~Hearty Vegetable Soup~

Well, hello easy delicious soup!  Where have you been the last couple months that I work late?? I needed you!!  I work late a few nights a week and don't get home until 8:30 or later sometimes...It's safe to say I do not want to come home and make a full meal that will take an hour or so to prepare. I don't really feel like eating after 9:30 at night!  SO I end up using my crock pot once a week, at least.  I sometimes get stuck on new recipes.  I was given a crock pot cookbook for my bridal shower, but a lot of the recipes only require 4-6 hours of cooking...and I'm gone for much longer than that.  Ugh.  So I found this beauty of a recipe in that cookbook actually, and oohhhhhh it's good!  It takes five minutes to put together.  Who doesn't have 5 minutes in the morning to make a full-blown meal?  Not only is it really good, it's really healthy.  Woot woot for super easy healthy meals.  Lean meat, corn, onions, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, potatoes...all very good.  I didn't actually put the potatoes in when I made this...either I didn't have any at the time, or I simply forgot.  I'm betting I forgot...
Serves 4-6

You'll Need:

1 lb. round steak, cubed
1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
2 c. water
2 brown potatoes, peeled, cubed (optional)
1 onion, diced
15 baby carrots (or however many)
1 can green beans, with liquid
1 can whole kernel corn, with liquid
3 cubes beef bouillon
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper

Get Busy:

Throw all of that in the crock pot.  Cover and cook on high heat for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.  Serve with cornbread or bran muffins.  Enjoy!  Soo good.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

~Italian Sunday Casserole~

I am not too keen on casseroles normally (because they tend to be unhealthy), but this casserole is delicious AND very healthy!  I also don't usually like Italian sausages (I know, I'm a disgrace to my race), but I actually really enjoyed them in this dish!  This casserole is very easy to make, and can be made in advance.  I put it together Sunday morning so I could simply relax after church (who doesn't like that idea?).
There is something wonderfully rewarding to me when I find healthy recipes that actually taste good--no, not the recipes you have to eat and "pretend" they are good because they're healthy.  The recipes I've made lately really are delicious, which is so exciting!  This meal is the best because once your casserole is done, so is your entire dinner.  Your meat, starch and veggies are all being cooked at the same, convenient time.  Yay for time-savers!

Serves 4-6

You'll Need:

4-6 sausages, beef or pork
1 lb. potatoes
1/2 pound carrots (I eyeballed this)
1/2 red or green bell pepper
1 very large onion, or 2 small ones
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs. oil
black pepper, sea salt to taste
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning*
1/2 c. chicken broth
4 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 fennel bulb**

*I didn't have this, and the dish tasted great without it.
**I hate fennel, but the original recipe called for it.  If you like it, go for it.

Get Busy:

Peel the potatoes and cut into fourths.  Cut onions into thicker wedges.  If including the fennel bulb, remove the base and stalks, and cut into wedges as well.  Slice the bell pepper into strips.  Place everything in a 9x13 pan.  In a big bowl, combine oil, seasoning, minced garlic and chicken broth.  Pour mixture over the veggies and toss them around a bit.  Season the veggies with a generous amount of sea salt (or regular) and pepper.  Cover with foil and bake at 450 for 45 minutes.  This gives you plenty of time to brown the sausages in a pan.  Once lightly browned, cut the sausages in half.
After 45 minutes, the veggies should be fork tender.  If they are, add the sausages to the roasting pan and pour the balsamic vinegar all over.  Place the pan back into the oven, uncovered for another 25-30 minutes.  If you want, after 15 minutes, open the oven, grab a deep spoon and scoop up some of the juices at the bottom and pour over the veggies.  Enjoy!  This is so hearty and good.

Monday, April 16, 2012

~Almond Sheet Cake~

I have wanted to make this dessert for months now and just never got around to it until yesterday. AND I AM SO GLAD I DID! I have never had a more moist cake in my life. I looooove almond extract, and yes I know the cake isn't chocolate, but trust me. It is literally amazing!! I made this on Sunday for my folks who were coming over for dinner. My dad had two pieces and wanted to take some home! I also took some to Church for my Sunday School class. The boys loved them. I took the rest to work and they were inhaled by noon (except the pieces I hid for myself hehe...). Some of my coworkers requested the recipe, so here you go!

I feel like you can see how moist the cake is even through the picture! SOOOOOO yummy! I have never made a cake before this with such simple ingredients. I didn't have to buy anything at the store--I had everything in my pantry or fridge. Love these recipes!!

Makes 24 servings

You'll Need:

1 c. butter
1 c. water
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. milk
3 1/2-4 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. almond extract

Get Busy:

Cake: Preheat the oven to 375. In a small saucepan, add the water and butter and bring to a boil. In a mixing bowl, add the flour and sugar. Pour the boiling mixture over the flour mixture in the mixing bowl and beat well. Add the baking soda, almond extract, sour cream, and eggs; mix. Pour batter into greased 9x13 pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let the cake cool for 20-30 minutes before you start the icing.

Icing: In small saucepan, bring butter and milk to boil. Add remaining ingredients in large mixing bowl; then add boiling mixture. Stir until well-mixed. If it's too runny, add more powdered sugar. It should be pourable though. Pour onto the cake and let sit for at least 20 minutes. Serve with fruit or ice cream or nothing :-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

~Carrot Cake Bars with Cinnamon/Cream Cheese Frosting~

Yep...these are pretty good! Yes yes, I know it's not chocolate, but some desserts without chocolate are still good! I have always loved carrot cake (it's healthy, right? hehe) and anything with a cream cheese frosting has my attention. How could anything with a cream cheese frosting taste bad?? I made these for my parents when they came for dinner on Sunday. I accidentally made them in the wrong-sized pan so they were thicker than they were supposed to be. Ha, whoops. Better luck next time, Ang. I would recommend these for any dessert for home or for a party. Everyone will like them!

Makes 48 bars

You'll Need:

1 box Betty Crocker carrot cake mix
1 c. butter or margarine, softened
2 eggs
3 Tbs. milk
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. maple extract
1 pkg (8 0z.) cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. butter or margarine, softened
2-3 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 c. powdered sugar

Get Busy:

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 15x10x1 inch pan with baking spray; then flour. In a large bowl, beat the bar ingredients until blended. Pour into the pan. Bake 15-18 minutes or until top is evenly golden brown and the bars spring back lightly when touched. Do NOT overcook or else they will be dry. Frown face. Cool completely.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, milk, vanilla and cinnamon with a mixer until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar until smooth. Spread the frosting over the bars evenly. Enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Easter Sunday

Growing up, Easter was such an awesome holiday. Supermom used to either sew me a new dress every year or buy me a new dress--either way I got a new church dress--yesss. Then every year (and she still does this) Supermom makes fudge eggs for everyone and writes our names on it in frosting. Yum. We would have big Easter egg hunts which were never very fair, as I am the youngest of 7 kids and they are all much older than I am. So I got shoved aside and beat for my candy! (Kidding, love you all). We used to do Easter egg hunts at Aunt Jayne's house in Newport which were the best because Aunt Jayne hides the golden egg which had a $20 bill in it. Austin (one of the triplets) and I forgot about the candy eggs and just searched for the golden egg. So fun. This year unfortunately we didn't get to do an Easter egg hunt. However, I did make a delicious special breakfast for us, and I even let Jeremy sleep in until 10 or so.

Breakfast, sticky buns--soooooo delicious! (fab recipe here)

For dinner, I made what is called Lazy Sunday Casserole. It is fantastic--and I don't usually even like Italian sausage!! I'll post the recipe this week.

We spent our Easter day at church, learning about Christ. I taught my Sunday school class (9, 10, and 11 year-old boys...sigh) about the Resurrection and the Atonement. What a wonderful day. I even made my boys chocolate chip cookies with butterscotch chips too!

This week I also went to the temple. This is my favorite place on earth. I hope everyone can make it to the temple this month--it's such a special place ;-)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

~Sticky Buns Breakfast~

I don't make breakfasts like this very often (let's be honest...it's not that healthy). HOWEVER, what a delish treat this is on an occasional Sunday morning! Next time I spend the night with the padres I'll definitely make this for them. I know my daddy would love it! It's easy to make and doesn't take long to prepare.
Now since this is such a sweet treat for breakfast, I also cut up fresh strawberries and bananas for a side. At least something from this meal was healthy!
The nuts and brown sugar really make this dish amazing in my opinion. I would say this serves 4 people...but my hubby and I inhaled it. SO depending on how hungry you are, it serves 2-4 people.

You'll Need:

1 1/2 tubes Pillsbury buttermilk biscuits
3 Tbs. butter, melted
1/2 c. pancake syrup (I make my own)
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. chopped pecans, optional
1/4 c. chopped almonds, optional

Get Busy:

Now normally this is made in a bundt cake pan...but I couldn't find mine! (Curse you Jeremy for trying to "organize" my kitchen so I can't find anything). So I made it in a bread pan. Spray your pan with a non-stick spray. Combine the melted butter and syrup in a small bowl; set aside. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts. Pour half of the syrup mixture in the pan, then sprinkle half the brown sugar mixture over it. Lay the biscuits down overlapping each other at a slant. Top with remaining syrup mixture and nut mixture. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, or until the biscuits are not doughy. Let it cool for a minute in the pan, then invert onto a serving platter.

Enjoy! Most of you probably have all of the ingredients in your kitchen already, which is the best! If you're out of ideas for breakfast one morning, you'll love this one.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

~Rich & Creamy Tortellini~

This is one of my favorite pasta dishes :-) It's such a simple recipe and everyone who's ever had it likes it! Sometimes I buy cheese or mushroom ravioli instead of tortellini, but any filled pasta will pair well with this sauce. It's exactly what its name says--rich and creamy. MMMMM. I adapted this recipe from my awesome Taste of Home (which I highly recommend getting). We have tried soo many good recipes from that magazine.
This dish takes about 20-25 minutes to make, depending on how soft your cream cheese is...but either way it cooks up quickly. This is a good dinner to make when you don't have a ton of time or don't want to wait for a meat to cook. For a slightly healthier alternative, buy whole wheat pasta, non-fat milk and reduced fat cream cheese.
Don't ever cook tortellini or ravioli too long--it will be soggy and no bueno! I cooked my tortellini a little too soon, but instead of letting it sit in the hot water, I just let it sit in the strainer.
This time I bought 4 cheese tortellini, but other times I have tried ravioli, spinach tortellini, etc. It's all good!
The day I made this, my girlfriend and I accidentally showed up at work wearing the exact same outfit! So funny. Same blazer, white shirt, black slacks and closed-toed black pumps. Love you, Patty!

Serves 2-4

You'll Need:
9 oz. package refrigerated cheese tortellini
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbs. butter
4 1/2 tsp. flour
1 c. milk
15 oz. jar marinara sauce
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed
salt and pepper, to taste

Get Busy:
Cook the pasta according to the directions. In a saucepan, saute the garlic cloves in the butter for 1 minute. Stir in flour; slowly add the milk and bring to a boil. Add the marinara sauce, cream cheese, and salt and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Serve over tortellini. That's all folks!

Monday, April 2, 2012

~Oven Baked Kale~

Who knew kale could be so delicious?? I did not think kale was good until I cooked it this way. Baked kale is amazing!! I used to be afraid of trying new or different vegetables I didn't grow up with, but as I get older, I find myself being a little more daring. I would like to thank Pinterest for this. I try a lot of different things from that website I wouldn't have otherwise tried. I tried chard for the first time a few months ago and wasn't a huge fan. If anyone has a good chard recipe, send it my way, and I will give it another go. (Same thing goes for quinoa recipes.) These basically turned into chips when I made them--and it's an incredibly healthy way to have your veggies. I am not a big fan of smothering my vegetables with butter/cheese/other fattening but yummy adds...I try to keep my veggies very simple. I learned this from my awesome sister, Ashley. I asked her one day why she didn't make her veggies fancier, and she replied, "Because I don't want my kids to get used to veggies added with all that stuff. I want them to learn to like veggies the way they are..." (or something like that).
I have made baked kale several times now, and it's even good cold! I could make these at night and eat them as a snack at work the next day and enjoy every bite. This is a very healthy, very easy way to make your veggie for dinner--it requires minimal attention.
They're so pretty! Kale is an awesome superfood and is called the "queen of greens." It is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet and a nutritional powerhouse, according to WebMD. It's incredibly low in calories (36 for every cup) and contains a bunch of vitamins and nutrients.
Serves 2-4

You'll Need:
1 bunch of kale
olive oil
sea salt
pepper, optional

Get Busy:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the kale and pat dry. You can snap off the long ends if desired. Place on a cookie sheet (with a lip) and drizzle some (not a ton) olive oil over the leaves. Toss the leaves so that they are mostly covered by the oil. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes, turning the leaves once. Enjoy! The edge of the leaves may turn dark, and you'll know it's done if when you're eating it the leaves are slightly crunchy. Yum.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kauai, Hawaii Part II

I think I had too many pictures on the first post, so I'll post the rest here from our trip.

From our luau, which was soo fun! There were wild peacocks on the property that were absolutely gorgeous.

Best hot dogs on the island!!

Don't know why I couldn't get this picture upright! This is Secret Falls; it's so cool!

A smaller falls on the way to Secret Falls

Hiking to Secret Falls

So it had rained a ton the week before we arrived, so there was a ton of mud on the trail. It was actually quite soothing on my skin

To get to Secret Falls we had to cross a river with a very strong current (several times) and hold onto a rope so we didn't get swept by the current
Rope swing :-)
Lighthouse on the north shore
Kayaking the river

Waimea Falls
The lighthouse

The peacocks were trying to impress the females... :-)
We got so close to the peacocks :-)
I even got to feed some right out of my hands
At the luau
The guys pulling the pig out of the ground
This was just the first round at the luau...
The wet and dry caves. Apparently the cave goes back 300 yards.
I found a baby turtle stuck in the sand! It had been washed down the river into the ocean from all of the rain, so we took it to the river and it swam away. Glad I found it before a seagull did.
Mr. Turtle. We had a blast this week.