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 :-).

Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Directions:
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!!!

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Ingredients:       
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!!

Directions:
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)

Beef and Asparagus Curry

beef and asparagus curry
This is a recipe from Martha Stewart's Every Day Food magazine and I have been meaning to try it for awhile. The sauce was delicious, the asparagus and peppers are my 2 favorite stir-fry veggies so I loved them, and it's nice to add some beef into our menu every once in awhile. I think you could easily use chicken or tofu in place of the beef though and it would be equally delicious. We ate it the first night on noodles, but had leftovers on rice and preferred the rice (I also used quinoa for mine which was great too).

Ingredients:
1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk, shaken well (I used light)
1/4 cup red curry paste
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons fish sauce (I was out so I used Hoisin sauce)
1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus (1 pound), trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound sirloin steak, trimmed and thinly sliced against the grain
Cooked rice noodles, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro leaves, for serving (we liked it better on rice)

Directions:
In a large wok or skillet, heat 1/2 cup coconut milk over medium-high, stirring, until shiny and thick, 2 minutes. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add remaining coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, and brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Add bell pepper and cook until softened, 2 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until crisp-tender, 3 minutes. Add steak and cook, stirring, until just cooked through, 2 minutes. Serve over noodles with lime wedges and cilantro.

It said it makes 4 servings...ours went way further than that!
Per serv (sauce only): 410 cal, 25g fat, 31g protein, 17g carbs, 5g fiber

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!)
Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Stir-Fried Chicken with Bok Choy

chicken bok choy stir fry
I recently got a good deal on an Everyday Food subscription and this is my first recipe to try from it (it is a Martha Stewart magazine). It was simple and tasty and light. Just what I am looking for lately! I love the crunch bok choy and cabbage give to stir fry and was pleasantly surprised at how flavorful this one was despite its lack of other vegetables.

Ingredients:
* 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
* 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
* 2 teaspoons light-brown sugar
* 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)
* 4 teaspoons cornstarch
* 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
* 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
* 4 cups sliced bok choy (from 1 head)
* 1 small red chile or jalapeno, seeded and sliced (I used jalapeno)
* Cooked rice, for serving

Directions:
In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons water.
Slice chicken into thin strips. In a medium bowl, toss chicken with cornstarch until coated.
In a large wok or skillet, heat oil, garlic, and ginger over medium-high until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add chicken in a single layer, pressing against pan to sear. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned and just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add bok choy and chile and cook, stirring, until bok choy slightly wilts, about 1 minute.
Add soy sauce mixture and cook until sauce thickens slightly, 2 minutes.
Serve over rice.

Serves 4. Per serving (without rice): 226 calories, 10 g fat, 24 g protein, 11g carbs, 2g fiber

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!

Salad
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 :-)!

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

Directions:
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).

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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.

Salmon Cakes

salmon cakes 2
salmon cakes 1
I saw these salmon cakes in All You magazine and was curious to try them. I love crab cakes and I love salmon, so why wouldn't I love a combination of the two? Overall they were good. My husband and I both agreed they would be better with less potato so that the salmon to potato ration would be higher. Also, I will never by canned salmon again! I thought it was going to be like a can of tuna, but there was skin and bones and everything in there. I had to call my husband down to deal with it because I was super grossed out. So, I would make these again with less potato and just using salmon fillets that I had cooked already. The patties are HUGE if you make the 6 they suggest, so the calorie count wasn't too bad...and if you use less potatoes it would be even better.

Ingredients:
3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces (I will use 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. next time!)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 14.75-oz. can pink salmon, drained, skin and bones removed, fish flaked
1 teaspoon dried dill
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 scallions, white and light green parts, finely chopped
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (I used corn starch)
1 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I used GF crumbs)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions:
1. Place potatoes in a pot, cover with water and add 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; mash with butter until smooth. Set aside to cool.
2. Stir salmon, dill, parsley and scallions into potato mixture. Taste; add additional salt and pepper, if desired. Beat 1 egg; stir into potato mixture. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. Divide mixture into 6 pieces; shape into disks. Beat remaining egg. Place flour and bread crumbs in shallow bowls. Coat a disk with flour, dusting off excess, dip in egg, then dip into bread crumbs; pat to adhere. Repeat with remaining disks. (Cakes may be kept covered and chilled for up to 2 days.)
4. Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Working in batches, fry cakes until heated through, 7 to 8 minutes per side.

Amount per serving (1 cake) Calories: 452 Fat: 13g Saturated fat: 4g Protein: 24g Carbohydrate: 3g Fiber: 4g Cholesterol: 105mg Sodium: 547mg