Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Easiest Hard Boiled Eggs... In the Oven.

Today I don't have a recipe for y'all as much as I have a technique. Of all the things I feel like I do well in the kitchen I will let you in on something I've always had trouble with, hard boiled eggs. Seriously. It seems like the most simple thing but you've got to boil them for so long, then rest them for so long, then chill them for so long? And I seem to never get the equation right. Seriously if you looked at my Pinterest board I have like 6 different hard boiled egg methods. Makes me feel pathetic, isn't this a basic technique? But then I found THE method I needed. Hard boiled eggs---- IN THE OVEN. Wait, what? Aren't hard boiled eggs supposed to be, ummm, boiled? But, whatever I was ready to try anything. So here's the tutorial I used:

So I'll give you the 411 quickly, because this is seriously quick, easy, and fool proof. Even I get perfectly cooked, hard- boiled eggs every time. Plus you can make a ton at one time, no need to fill a pot, just fill a couple muffin pans with eggs and you can make deviled eggs for the masses!

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Put the eggs in a muffin pan (or mini muffin pan if you have it) that way they all have their own little place and they can't roll around on you!

Step 2: Put the muffin pan with the eggs in the oven, set a timer for 30 minutes and walk away. Catch up on your DVR, call your mom, do your nails, take your pups for a walk, whatever you may do with a free 30 minutes- now's your time! 
Step 3: Fill a bowl with ice water and drop in the eggs in when they've finished their 30 minute cook time. Let them chill until they've cooled enough to peel, approximately 10 minutes? Peel those babies, and enjoy! Perfectly hard boiled eggs. Fool proof. Easy breeezy! 

You may notice in the above picture the eggs do come out with some little brown spots on the shell, disregard these the insides look perfect it's just from the heat of the oven! Also I was cooking these today specifically for deviled eggs so I'll throw in a little deviled egg tip while we're sharing egg tips. The easiest way to go from hard boiled egg to deviled egg heaven? Scoop out the yolks, throw them in a ziploc, mash them with whatever you add to your deviled egg mixture (I use mayo, mustard, salt & pepper), zip the top of the bag, cut a hole in a corner, pipe the mixture into the egg whites, and toss the bag when you're finished. Zero cleanup. Wahoo!

Side note: Those pictures didn't come out the greatest because I took them as an afterthought. Sorry. But you get the idea right? What kind of brizziliant methods do you use in the kitchen?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Monster Cookies!

Happy Memorial Day! My heart is thankful and proud today to be an Air Force wife. These cookies remind me a lot of my husband, I may even be sending some out to him tomorrow ;), he LOVES the combination of chocolate & peanut butter. Don't we all? It's kind of like they were made for each other. Just like Nick & I! But these cookies aren't just chocolate & peanut butter, they're also oats & m&ms. It's like an oatmeal cookie had a baby with a peanut butter cookie and that baby met a chocolate chip cookie and they had a baby. Okay that's a little bit extreme but its basically oatmeal cookie + peanut butter cookie + chocolate chip cookie + m&ms= MONSTER COOKIE! And they're awesome. 

They don't take very long to come together, and you likely have most of the ingredients on hand. When they're fresh out of the oven they are BANANAS. And they're also good cooled:). Just seriously, make them. You'll be happy, and everyone you share them with will be very happy. And that oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chip, m&m baby will be proud! ;)

Ingredients: (Makes 3 dozen)
1 C. White Sugar
1 C. Brown Sugar
1 Stick Softened Butter
3 Eggs
1 1/4 C. Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
2 Tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 Tsp. Salt
4 C. Oats
1 C. M&MS (2 single serving pkgs)
1 C. Mini Choc. Chips

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream together white & brown sugar and butter. 
Step 2: Beat in the eggs, peanut butter, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. 
Step 3: Stir in the oats, m&ms, and mini chocolate chips.

Step 4: Scoop rounded spoonfuls (I use an ice cream scoop to keep all of the cookies evenly sized) onto a lined cookie sheet.

Step 5: Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown a round the edges. Enjoy!

Okay so they really aren't the prettiest cookie on the block, but trust me once you taste them you won't care.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fresh Summer Pasta Salad!

A pasta salad is the perfect side for a summer BBQ. But what do you think of when you think of a traditional pasta salad? Pasta weighed down with heavy mayo or sour cream? Not this salad. This is the recipe my mother has been making for years, it's delicious, fresh, easy, and it doesn't weigh you down like a traditional creamy pasta salad! 

We use tomatoes, cucumber, and olives in ours but you could really use whatever vegetables you like or have on hand. I think it would be great with peppers, spinach, zucchini, etc. I like to use the rotini pasta because the shape holds the dressing and seasonings well but you could really use any short pasta you like, I've used penne pasta in a pinch and it worked fine.

8 oz. cooked rotini pasta
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil (or enough to coat the pasta)
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 tomato, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1/4 c. olives
1 3.5 oz container of feta cheese
1/2 tsp. italian seasoning
salt & pepper to taste

Step 1: Toss cooked pasta with the olive oil and vinegar. Make sure the pasta is coated completely, if need be add more olive oil.
Step 2: Add tomato, cucumber, olives, and feta cheese. Stir to combine. 
Step 3: Add italian seasoning and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Cover and chill for 3-4 hours before serving (Although I usually eat a bowl right there while it's still warm, I can't help it!).

And there you have it, quick and easy pasta salad goodness that you don't have to feel guilty about! Enjoy! What are some of your favorite BBQ sides? 

ALSO- I've added a button on the bottom of each recipe where you can "pin" it to your pinterest board, or share it on facebook if you'd like! There's also a section on the right side of the blog where you can subscribe to my blog, I will send recipes right to your inbox! Convenient! Thanks for stopping by, I hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend and remembering those who make these holidays possible for us. Thinking of my deployed hubby all day today and tomorrow! So proud of him.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Easy Weeknight Calzones

These were easy-peezy. And delicious. And who doesn't love a calzone? 

The key to this is a store bought crust, I used a pillsbury crust that I got for $2 a piece. Cheap and easy!You could put literally whatever filling you'd like in your calzone, we used cheese & pepperoni for these. I'm thinking spinach, chicken, mushrooms, garlic, peppers, whatever you like on your pizza would be delicious in these!

Ingredients: (Makes 4 calzones)
2 pre-made pizza crusts
2 cups mozzarella cheese
2 cups mini pepperoni (or whatever topping you prefer)
1 cup pizza sauce 


Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Open one of the pizza crust cans and roll out the dough, divide it into two even portions. Roll the portions of dough into two balls of dough.

Step 2: Take the first ball and roll it into a circle.

Step 3: Put your choice of toppings on top of the dough.
Step 4: Fold the dough over the toppings, to make a half-moon shape. I used a fork to close the dough.
Step 5: Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray. Put filled calzones on the sheet. Spray the calzones with non-stick spray (to help them get golden brown).
Step 6: Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and cheese is melted. Serve with pizza sauce on the side. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Hashbrown, Egg, Bacon, & Cheese Breakfast Casserole

This is what I made for mother's day breakfast...

 It's a hash brown crust, topped with egg, cheese & Bacon. Yum. A full breakfast in each bite. It comes together pretty quickly, and serves at least 4 hungry campers. I've made it in all kinds of different variations- with sausage instead of bacon, without the hash browns (essentially a quiche), with whatever veggies I have on hand (pico de gallo, tomatoes, spinach, etc), or even with seasoned ground beef instead of the bacon. It's a basic recipe that you can make a trillion different ways! Those are my fave.

3 cups of frozen, shredded hash browns
2 Tbsp. Canola oil
6 strips of bacon
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk 
1 cup of shredded cheese

 Step 1: In a skillet heat the canola oil and add the hash browns, cook for 5-6 minutes or until a bit crispy. This step isn't NECESSARY, you could put the hash browns in the bottom of the casserole dish frozen, I just like the little crispy bits on the bottom!
Step 2: In a separate skillet cook the bacon until crispy and drain. Crumble the cooked bacon.
Step 3: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray. Pour hash browns into dish and press down with your fingers to make a crust. 
Step 4: Whisk together the eggs and milk until combined. Add the shredded cheese and crumbled bacon. Pour the egg mixture on top of the hash brown crust and bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown on the eggs and cooked through in the middle. Enjoy!

Cheesy, bacony, eggy, potatoe-y goodness. Can't beat that!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Strawberry-Lemonade Cupcakes:-)!

Happy Mother's Day to all of the mommies out there! I woke up to a wonderful greeting by my fur babies ;) and got to make breakfast for my mother! (Breakfast casserole I will post tomorrow!) We are heading out to the lake to meet my grandmother, my great-grandmother, and my aunt for a mother's day extravaganza! I wanted to bring a dessert that reminded me of this time of year, light, summery, and pink! I was inspired by a post I saw here: for Lemonade cupcakes with Raspberry frosting and I thought that I would want a lemonade cupcake with strawberry frosting, I love strawberry lemonade!

The lemon cake is light and lemony and the frosting has real strawberry jam in it to complement the lemon perfectly. Plus it comes out such a pretty pink color! Who doesn't love a pink cupcake?!


Lemonade cake mix:
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 cup milk

Step 1: Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.
Step 2: Cream the sugar and butter together. Add lemon zest and lemon juice until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated. Beat in vanilla.
Step 3: In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Step 4: Add the flour mixture and the milk to the butter mixture in alternating thirds, starting with the flour, until just combined.
Step 5: Fill the prepared tins and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.

Strawberry frosting:
1 container of vanilla premade frosting
1 jar of seedless strawberry jam

Step 1: Combine frosting and jam until combined and pour into piping bag for frosting (I don't ever buy real piping bags, I use gallon sized ziplocs!)

Enjoy! One more question, why do cupcakes always taste better than cake? Is it the size you can hold in your hand? Or is it the proportion of cake to frosting? Whatever it is, I love a good cupcake.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Crispy Italian potato wedges!

I have my fabulous mother in law to thank for this recipe. I'm blessed to have a mother in law who is a wonderful cook and always willing to share her recipes! I'm a lucky girl:)

 It's easy! Like super easy. And tasty. Like super tasty. The hardest part is waiting for them to finish baking because it makes the house smell phenomenal!They get crispy like they're fried, but they're baked. They're the perfect side dish.

I used red potatoes because that's what I had on hand but you can really use whatever kind of potato you want. I usually go for the smaller potatoes (red or Yukon gold) because the smaller the wedges, the crispier they get. And crispy is the name of the game here. The secret flavor ingredient is dry Italian dressing mix. This little baby:
It has all your seasoning goodness right there. Now I have previously made my own dry mix and stored it, but this is just easier and already portioned out. All you really need is olive oil, potatoes, & Italian dressing mix. I usually add whatever spices sound good to me at the moment, today it was garlic powder, paprika, & fresh ground black pepper.

Ingredients: (6 servings)
8 Medium sized red potatoes
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Package dry Italian Dressing mix
1 Tsp. Paprika
1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 Tsp. Fresh ground Black Pepper
Step 1: Heat oven to 375 degrees (You can do a higher temp. for quicker cooking but you will need to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't burn!) Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Step 2: Cut washed potatoes in half, and then into quarters. For larger potatoes you may want to cut into eighths. The smaller the wedge the crispier they get! Make sure all wedges are cut in uniform sizes so they cook at the same time. Place wedges into a large bowl.

Step 3: Toss the wedges with the olive oil, make sure they are all coated evenly. Add Italian dressing mix and seasonings and toss to coat.
Step 4: Place in an even layer on the cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes- 1 hour, or until golden and crispy. Enjoy!

Look at that crispity- potatoey goodness! MMM!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Fried Rice!

One of my favorite restaurants to go to with my husband is a Japanese hibachi restaurant. The best part of hibachi? The fresh fried rice! Filled with veggies and goodness, who doesn't love fried rice? So tonight I decided to recreate my favorite restaurant side at home, for a fraction of the cost, plus I got to share it with my nearest and dearest!

In this version I used zucchini and broccoli, but you could add whatever veggies you prefer. Standard fried rice usually features onions, carrots, and peas, just add whatever you have on hand. This is a great way to get those who aren't usually very veggie friendly to get some greens! My baby brother (not so baby, actually 17) even ate the broccoli! I couldn't swing him on the zucchini, but I take 1 green as a win.

The KEY to good fried rice is that the rice needs to be cooked beforehand and chilled and dried out in the fridge before you fry it. Ideally, you could cook it the night before and leave it uncovered in the fridge to fry the following evening, I cooked mine about 3 hours beforehand.

Ingredients: (makes 6 servings)

3 eggs
2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Zucchini peeled and chopped into 1 inch spears
1 C. Frozen broccoli florets
3 C. Cooked and chilled white rice
2 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce (Or to taste)
Salt & Pepper to taste

Step 1: Whisk the eggs and add to a skillet heated to medium coated with non-stick spray. Cook through and remove from pan, chop.

Step 2: Add oil to skillet and saute garlic. Add zucchini and broccoli and cook until zucchini is soft. Add chopped and scrambled eggs to sauteed vegetables. Add rice one cup at a time until fully incorporated, top with butter and soy sauce and stir to combine. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve!

Shown here topped with teriyaki chicken I cooked, I didn't add that recipe because it was just chicken I marinated in store-bought teriyaki sauce and pan fried. I will post my homemade teriyaki chicken another day!

This was the perfect, easy weeknight meal. As long as you have the fore-thought to cook the rice beforehand it comes together very quickly, and deliciously! What's your favorite go-to weeknight meal?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Lasagna Skillet

This is my first blog post. I've been thinking about starting a blog for awhile, and I've had several people suggest it to me for a place to host my recipes and tutorials. I've always had an excuse- too busy, too whatever, but I really am all out of excuses now. My husband is overseas (Air Force, hooah!), I'm in Florida staying with my mom for the summer, and I'm cooking. And now, blogging. Why not? So here goes...!

Last night was Sunday dinner and my brother was begging for lasagna. I also love lasagna, but it's so time consuming. And who wants to cook the food, put it all together, and then cook it again? It's maddening, really. I recently came across several Pinterest posts for a "lasagna skillet", a quicker, easier dish that comes together in a skillet rather than a pan. I was all in. This is the recipe I used as inspiration: but i ofcourse had to make my own little tweaks and changes. I apologize for not taking enough pictures, I will do better next time- it's my FIRST blog post remember?

Olive Oil to Coat pan
1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
1 lb. Ground Beef
1/2 c. white wine (Optional, I really just used to deglaze the pan)
3 oz. Tomato Paste
24 oz. Your choice Marinara Sauce
1/2 Tbsp. Italian Seasoning
1/2 C. Water
8 oz. Lasagna Noodles (broken up into pieces)
15 oz. Ricotta Cheese
1/4 C. Parmesan Cheese
1/4 C. Good quality mozzarella cheese

Step 1: Coat a large skillet with olive oil and heat on medium- high heat. Add ground beef and season with garlic powder, break up the beef and cook until browned.

Step 2: Drain beef and deglaze empty skillet with the wine, add beef back to the pan. Add the tomato paste, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add marinara sauce, italian seasoning, and 1/2 c water. Bring to a light boil and reduce heat to a simmer.

Step 3: While meat sauce is simmering cook lasagna noodles until al dente, 7-10 minutes, and drain in a colander.

Step 4: Stir the drained pasta into the meat sauce.

Step 5: Combine the ricotta and parmesan cheeses in a seperate bowl and add in dollops on top of the meat- pasta skillet. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese and cover. Cook until all the cheeses have melted, mine took about 15 minutes, and serve!

I also topped mine with a bit of fresh basil we had and that was a really good addition if you have some!

What I really loved the most about this recipe was just the ease of it. It came together really quickly and while I waited for the cheese to melt I popped some garlic bread in the oven and chatted with the family. A great Sunday night meal for everyone to sit down and talk about the upcoming week and the past weekend. What's your favorite Sunday night meal?