Kale Chips

kale chips
I had heard good things about kale chips for quite awhile but never got around to trying them until now. I found this simple recipe on allrecipes.com but I have heard of sprinkling them with Parmesan cheese and all kinds of variations. I was surprised by how crunchy they were and tasty too! My kids even gave them a try and kind of like them :-).

1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Line a non insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. With a knife or kitchen shears carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.
3. Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

buffalo chicken lettuce wraps
I was looking for a crock pot meal a couple weeks ago and came across these on Skinnytaste. They looked like a perfect summer crock pot meal (unlike the soup I'm making tonight...oh well :-) and really hit the spot. The chicken was spicy but paired perfectly with the cool crisp lettuce leaves and veggies. We used light ranch in ours since we had that on hand and I made quesadillas with the leftover chicken the next day for lunches. Super yummy!!!

For the chicken:
24 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
1 celery stalk
1/2 onion, diced
1 clove garlic
16 oz fat free low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup hot cayenne pepper sauce (I used Frank's)
For the wraps:
6 large lettuce leaves, Bibb or Iceberg
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
2 large celery stalks, cut into 2 inch matchsticks
optional: blue cheese crumbles, light blue cheese or ranch dressing

In a crock pot, combine chicken, onions, celery stalk, garlic and broth (enough to cover your chicken, use water if the can of broth isn't enough). Cover and cook on high 4 hours.
Remove the chicken from pot,
reserve 1/2 cup broth and discard the rest.
Shred the chicken with two forks,
return to the slow cooker with the 1/2 cup broth and the hot sauce and
set to on high for an additional 30 minutes. Makes 3 cups chicken.
To prepare lettuce cups, place 1/2 cup buffalo chicken in each leaf, top with 1/4 cup shredded carrots, celery and dressing of your choice. Wrap up and start eating!

Servings: 6 • Size: 1/2 cup chicken + veggies (no dressing)• Calories: 147.7 • Fat: 0.1 g • Carb: 5.2 g • Fiber: 1.6 g • Protein: 24.9 g • Sugar: 1.7 g • Sodium: 879 mg

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Cookies...The Best Ever!!!

chocolate chip cookies!
I recently saw this recipe on Peachtree Cooking, where the poster said that while eating these cookies she had the rare experience of thinking, "These are the best cookies I've ever had!" After reading that, and the list of ingredients, I knew I had to give them a try. I made them to share with my class at church today so I doubled the recipe. This was a terrible idea because now I have so many left at home and I cannot stop eating them! They are sooo delicious! Definitely the best cookies I have ever made!!!
Here is another tip from the original post...
i didn't want to make giant cookies like it calls for so i made them smaller and adjusted the time. but i also learned that you can't do them too small either. they don't spread out very much so be generous in their size. also they taste better when they're a little bigger rather then little bite size cookies.

2 sticks ‘cold and cubed’ good quality unsalted butter·
3/4 cup granulated sugar·
3/4 cup brown sugar – not packed too hard. Just spoon it in the cup(s) and press down lightly when full, sweeping off any extra that runs over.·
2 eggs (room temperature)·
3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups All Purpose flour – Spoon and Sweep method. (feel the dough, it should be moist, kind of like cold cookie dough in a tube . . . but not super sticky, so you can portion the cookies with your hands)·
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt·
3/4-1 teaspoon baking powder ( I don’t fill the tsp fully, hence the 3/4 tsp)·
1/4 tsp baking soda·
1 T cornstarch·
1 cup Guittard brand milk chocolate chips·(I found these at HEB)
1 cup Guittard brand semisweet chocolate chips ·
1 cup walnuts (Toast the nuts for more flavor, if desired and/or use any kind of nut you like.)- i usually don't like nuts in my desserts but they add an amazing flavor and there are already enough chunks that it doesn't ruin the texture either. add them!!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle, cream together butter and sugars until well blended and fluffy.
2. Add eggs, one at a time and beat until well incorporated.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch. Add slowly to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.
4. Gently fold in chocolate chips and nuts
5. Transfer dough to clean work surface and gently mix dough by hand to ensure even distribution of ingredients. Divide into 12 equal portions, **about 4 oz each.
6. Place each on sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven 16-23 minutes depending on how gooey and raw’ish you like the middle. Bake until lightly browned, taking care not to overbake. Let cool on rack and store what you don’t immediately eat, in an airtight container. To freshen them after a few days (if they last that long), give them a quick nuke in the microwave for 5-10 seconds. (I made normal sized cookies and baked 12 min)

The Best Baked Beans

best baked beans
Once we decided to go with a BBQ-style meal for Preston's family party, I knew most of the sides I wanted to serve. My go-to potato salad, my new favorite quinoa salad with roasted corn and avocado (if you haven't tried this yet, you must! I made it for book club and everyone went on and on about it), potato chips and white bread. But I needed some super yummy baked beans to complete the perfect brisket meal. Of course my first stop was The Pioneer Woman and she just happened to have a recipe for what she called the best baked beans ever...so I believed her without even tasting them, and as usual she was right! I was able to mix it all up the night before and then just bake them before the party which is just what I prefer for my party fare. They were a big hit!

recipe originally by Pam Anderson
Serves up to 18 (seriously! It makes TONS!)
8 slices bacon, halved
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1/2 medium green pepper, cut into small dice
3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans
3/4 cup favorite barbecue sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup distilled or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dry mustard or 2 tablespoons Dijon

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released about 1/4 cup drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. Add onions and peppers to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add beans and remaining ingredients bring to a simmer. (If skillet is not large enough, add beans and heat to a simmer then transfer to a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients). Pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by 9-inch (or similar size) ovenproof pan. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

Quinoa Salad with Zucchini, Arugula, Tomatoes and Mint Vinaigrette

zucchini argula quinoa salad
While looking for new yummy quinoa recipes I came across the blog Authentic Suburban Gourmet and saw this yummy one. It looked delicious and incorporated lots of things I love, plus some new elements I was excited to try (raw zucchini, mint). I made it at the beginning of the week and ate it all week long for lunches. I just kept the arugula separate and mixed it in when I was ready to eat. It was amazingly fresh and light, yet so filling as well. Definitely a perfect combination of flavors for summer!

1 C. Quinoa
2 C. Chicken Stock (I had made a big batch with just water, and it was fine)
½ t. Salt
2 Medium Zucchini, one inch julienne slices
2 C. Tomatoes, small orange or cherry, halved
2 C. Arugula
½ C. Pine nuts, dry roasted or toasted
¼ C. Cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium sauce pan, add the quinoa and chicken stock plus ½ t. of salt. Quickly stir and bring the mixture to a boil. After it boils, reduce the heat to simmer and cover with a lid for about 10 minutes. Check and stir the quinoa. If liquid remains, check every 2 to 3 minutes until liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool.
Once the quinoa is cooled, add to a large bowl to assemble the salad. Add the zucchini, tomatoes, pine nuts and cilantro. Toss gently and add the vinaigrette and toss again to combine. Right before serving, toss in the Arugula. Taste and then season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

Mint Vinaigrette
1 C. Fresh mint leaves, lightly packed
3 T. Red wine vinegar
2 t. Dijon mustard
2 Garlic cloves, minced
½ t. Sugar
½ t. Salt
8 Grinds pepper
½ C. Olive Oil

Add all of the above ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until well combined. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your desired taste level. Set aside to strengthen the flavors for about one hour.

Calories...I divided it into 6 servings, which per my calculations would make it about 315 calories per serving

Bob Andy Pie

bob andy pie
I may have loved the peach pie, but this one was the big hit of the night and was specifically mentioned in our book (Peace Like a River...which we all loved by the way!). Thanks again to Susan for baking the delicious pies and then sharing the recipes with us all! The recipe and notes below are taken straight from the email she sent out...

The notes on this one are from the site where I got it. I have Pennsylvania Dutch heritage, too.
Bob Andy Pie Recipe
* 3 large eggs
* 2 cups whole milk
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 2 tablespoons flour
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1 (9-inch) pie shell (flute high; it will be full)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Crack eggs in a medium bowl and whisk. Whisk in milk. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt and whisk into milk mixture.
Pour filling into unbaked pie shell. Bake until custard has set and crust is golden, about 50 minutes.
Remove from oven, cool and serve at room temperature or chilled.
Serves 8.

It has a fabulously funny name – Bob Andy Pie – and old roots in the midwest Amish communities of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, but it feels right at home today, when we crave simple, comforting flavors and value the utter ease of a dessert for which you will already have all the ingredients. Some might think of it as a spiced chess pie. Others liken it to a Sugar Cream Pie, a staple that is popular in Indiana.
Bob Andy? Say what?
The common story goes that an Amish farmer came in from working in the fields, took one bite of this delicious pie and said, “This pie is as good as Bob and Andy.” Bob and Andy were his two prize gelding plow horses.
That works for me! I guess it speaks to my Pennsylvania Dutch heritage.
One intriguing feature of this pie is that the ample cinnamon floats to the top while baking, making a dark crust, and giving the impression of layers. It’s a very pretty pie when cut!

Peach Pie

peach pie
I hosted book club this month and one of my favorite ladies from church brought 2 pies in honor of the book we read. I LOVED this peach one! I don't eat peaches nearly enough and I forget how much I love them. I think I have posted Susan's crust recipe before, but here it is again in a convenient place for when I try making this pie on my own!

Peach Pie
6 cups peeled, sliced peaches (she used frozen and said there is no need to defrost them)
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons corn Starch
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400°.
Prepare crust for a 9" two-crust pie.
Mix the sugar, corn starch and spice together and then mix gently with the sliced peaches.
Place in prepared pie shell. Cover. Seal edges well and cut steam vents in the top crust.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until crust is brown and the juice bubbles through the vents.
Serve warm or cold.

Fool Proof Pie Crust
Cut together with pastry blender:
4 cups flour
1¾ cups vegetable shortening

Mix in small bowl or measuring cup:
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 egg
½ cup water

Combine two mixtures until moistened. Chill 15 minutes. Refrigerate up to 3 days, or freeze. Makes 2 2-crust pies

Notes to the wise:

· All pastry recipes benefit from chilled ingredients. If your house is warm, chill the shortening. Use ice water.
· Any pastry will benefit from chilling before shaping. Any pastry can be frozen, airtight for up to 3 months. Label well.

Grilled Potato Spears

grilled potato spears
We made these to go with our yummy kebabs and they were a perfect combination! I wrote down what I did, but obviously there is a lot of variation to be had with them.
I just know I LOVED them :-)!

3 potatoes
1 T olive oil
Pappy's seasoning (or any other general seasoning of your choice)

Peel potatoes and cut into wedges.
Toss with olive oil and seasoning.
Grill...just keep an eye on them and turn as needed. (I like mine pretty dark)

Per my rough calculations: 100 calories/3 wedges

Kebabs with Spiced Honey Glaze (Beef or Chicken)

spiced  honey kebabs
I have been wanting to make these for a long time and they were well worth the wait! The week got crazy and I ended up waiting too long to use the beef I bought for them (I am particular about my meat), so I used chicken instead and they were still delicious! I would have never thought to grill canned artichokes, but they were amazing and the spiced honey glaze with sooo delicious! This is a Rachael Ray recipe and she doesn't provide nutrition information so I did my best :-) with it (I used 2 chicken breasts, 1/2 red onion, 1 c grape tomatoes, the whole can artichokes and only 2 T olive oil).

1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into 1-inch cubes (or chicken)
24 grape tomatoes
3 red onions, cut into 1-inch cubes (I used less)
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat a grill to medium-high. In a small bowl, mix together the honey and cumin.
2. Thread the beef, tomatoes, onions and artichoke hearts onto 8 skewers; brush with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the kebabs on the grill, cover and cook, turning occasionally, until grill marks appear, about 10 minutes for medium-rare. Brush immediately with the honey mixture. (Tip Set the honey mixture near the hot grill to warm it up for easier brushing.)

Per my best calculations, using chicken breasts, each kebab is approx 100 calories.