Deviled Egg Pasta Salad

Deviled Egg Pasta SaladEvery once in awhile, I serve something that everyone likes.  And I mean everyone.

I am usually a bit surprised by it and this time was no exception.  People went wild for this pasta salad.  I have served it twice, both times to a different crowd and WOW!  What a hit!  As my friends and family raved, I kept saying the same thing.


There isn’t anything terribly special or amazingly different about this pasta salad.  It doesn’t have any revolutionary flavor combinations that will blow you away, nor does it include any trendy food items (no Sriracha or Nutella in this one…)  And perhaps, that simplicity in itself, is the reason for its popularity.  It is one of those sides that I can’t believe I have never made before.  So obvious!  So simple.  Obviously, when I say everyone loves this, I am speaking in very broad generalizations.  Of course, if deviled eggs aren’t your bag, or pasta salad in general gives you the heebie jeebies, then go ahead and pass on this one.  But for the masses, it is a nice change from potato salad and coleslaw.

If feels good to finally post this here because I have been sitting on this recipe for nearly a month, waiting for Memorial Day weekend to arrive so that you could add it to your menus.  It is already on my list; right next to some barbecued ribs , this veggie combo, and these Cherry Hand Pies.  Wether you make it or not, I am so glad to have it in my arsenal for pot luck dinners, barbecues, and just lazy evenings by the lake.  By itself, leftovers are a great light lunch, but tossed with some leftover grilled chicken it makes for a fantastic, make-ahead (and no cook!) summer dinner.  Because the sauce is a bit creamy, this would go very well with whole wheat or gluten-free pasta. So it covers all your bases! This pasta salad + friends and family = happy Americans. 🙂
Deviled Egg Pasta Salad Deviled Egg Pasta SaladDeviled Egg Pasta SaladOne Year Ago: Caesar Salad & Chocolate Cupcakes W/Orange Buttercream
Two Years Ago: Hobo Dinners
Three Years Ago: Whole Wheat Cornbread

Deviled Egg Pasta Salad
Adapted from BHG
The beautiful color of this sauce comes from paprika, but the flavor is light and mild.  I am not usually a fan of raw celery in my salads, but here it adds a freshness that just may convert me.  Don’t leave it out!

1/2 lb (8 oz) cavatappi pasta (pictured), rotini, large macaroni, medium shells, or other medium, bite sized pasta, cooked according to package directions, and cooled (This can be done up to a day ahead.)
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 T fresh chives, minced
10 hard boiled eggs, sliced or cut into large chunks, some reserved for garnish if you wish
3/4 c diced dill pickle
1/2 c mayo
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
3 T dijon mustard
large pinch of salt and pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp smoked paprika, optional

Place the first five ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine the remaining ingredients and pour over pasta mixture.  Gently fold together until combined.  If pasta seems dry and all ingredients are incorporated, add a TEENY TINY splash of milk and mix again, just until it comes together.  It shouldn’t be gloppy, just creamy.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt and/or pepper if needed.  Garnish with chopped boiled egg and more chives if you wish.  Chill.

“Brace yourself,” I ordered my husband, as I dipped a piece of fresh spinach into the large measuring cup I was carrying.  “This may be the best salad dressing in the history of the word.”

And I dipped and he munched and he loved it and I grinned.
Green Green Salad W/Creamy Honey Lemon Vinaigrette I was right: It IS the best dressing in the history of the world. But there is much more to this dinner/lunch/spring supper on the deck, that makes it special.

I am very much a texture person when it comes to food.  One of the reasons I love this Yogurt Salad so much is because it is creamy and crunchy, sweet and tangy, chewy and cold, all rolled into one.  It just works together.  This Green Green Salad is kind of like that, in that the different flavors make your tastebuds dance the hula.  I love to eat asparagus but I am always brainstorming ways to do something new with it that still pays homage to its incredible flavor.  I don’t want to cover up the freshness of these ingredients, just highlight them with a little brightness.
Green Green Salad W/Creamy Honey Lemon Vinaigrette Why do I call it the Green Green Salad, you ask?  I would think that was obvious….
Green=Spring.  ‘Nuff said.

Also, Mother’s Day is coming up shortly.  This would be stellar with an ice cold beverage on the patio for the Mother you are looking to spoil in your life.  Or you could tweet, Pin, copy or share this post where your husband would see it.  Caption the link with ‘Doesn’t this look wonderful, honey?  Mmm.  What a GREAT lunch this would be this weekend…’
Green Green Salad W/Creamy Honey Lemon Vinaigrette Green Green Salad W/Creamy Honey Lemon Vinaigrette Green Green Salad W/Creamy Honey Lemon Vinaigrette One Year Ago: Power Parfaits and Quinoa Granola & Honey Lemon Grilled Chicken
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Cheesecake Bars & Lemon Quick Bread
Three Years Ago: Strawberry Ice Cream, Sweet Veggie Pasta Salad & Black and White Angel Food Cake

Green Green Salad W/Creamy Honey Lemon Dressing
This salad is great with or without the grilled chicken.  Shrimp or salmon is fantastic with it as well if  you want to change up the protein.  This recipe makes 4 large salads.

Fresh spring greens, or lettuce of your choice
half of an English cucumber, or 1 medium cucumber (peeled and/or scored) and diced
1 1/2 lb of asparagus, trimmed
2 T fresh chives
Honey Lemon Grilled Chicken

1/3 c olive or grape seed oil
2 T raw honey
2 T plain yogurt, Greek or regular is fine
zest of a full lemon
juice of HALF the lemon
pinch of salt and pepper

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and set aside.  Cut the asparagus into bite sized pieces and drop them into a large saucepan of simmering water to blanch.  Let cook no more than a minute or two, just to take the snap out of them a bit.  Drain and dump the asparagus into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process.  When cool, drain well.  Layer the salad ingredients on individual plates according to appetite and top lightly with dressing.  Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Naan

Whole Wheat NaanA few days ago I posted this recipe for Butter Style Chicken in the slow cooker.  At the end of the recipe, I casually mention that you should serve it with naan.  What I really wanted to say was, “Eat it with naan or you will regret it.”  Or even, “If you don’t eat this with naan, you are dead to me.”

Naan, if you are not familiar with it, is an Indian flatbread that is usually baked in a fire oven.  Tandoori oven actually.  Not having access to one of those, and being a bit leery of cooking near open  flames with a rambunctious 2 year old, I make do with what I have.  A dry pan on the stove works great and while I am sure it can’t even TOUCH the flavor of authentic naan, it works out fine for me and my family.

I replaced some of the flour in it with white whole wheat flour, but feel free to stick with regular ‘ol all-purpose if you like.  This is so wonderfully chewy and yeasty with just a bit of char on it.  Do me a favor and make the chicken and then make this naan to go with it.  Then we can stay friends.

On that same note, I like to do nice things for my friends!  Which is why I am giving away a copy of the fantastic, healthy cookbook, Cooking With Greek Yogurt, by Cassie Johnston.  It is ridiculously easy to put your name in the hat (click here to head to the post), costs nothing, and heck!  You may win!  Just ask the winners of my past giveaways!  Loot actually shows up in your mailbox!  From me!  Sweet deal right?
Whole Wheat NaanSlow Cooker Butter ChickenOne Year Ago: Cream Cheese Ice Cream
Two Years Ago: Root Beer Baked Beans & Lime Sherbet Punch
Three Years Ago: Speedy Glazed Salmon

Whole Wheat Naan
Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest
This is so great fresh, we never have any leftover.  It is really best eaten right after it is made, but I have heard of other people freezing the extras and then warming it in a low oven.

2 c white flour
2 c white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 T sugar
1/4 c warm tap water
3/4 tsp active dry yeast
3/4 c warm, low fat milk
1 c nonfat yogurt

Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and add the yeast.  Stir to combine and let the mixture sit and bloom-bubble and grow a bit as the yeast activates!  Meanwhile, combine the flours, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add the warm milk and yogurt to the yeast mixture, combine and stir into the dry ingredients with a fork.  When it starts to stick together, use your hands to gently combine it evenly into a ball.  Do not over work the dough.  Cover with a piece of cellophane and let sit and rise for about an hour or so.  When ready to cook, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces.  I just eyeball it, but you can use a kitchen scale to be 100% accurate.  Place a dry, cast iron pan, or other heavy bottomed skillet, over medium to medium high heat until very hot.  You can even grill it!!  While the pan heats, roll the dough pieces out one by one on a bit of flour.  Traditionally, it should be rolled in to an oval or tear shape, which is fortunate for me because they never seem to turn out round anyway.  Brush both sides of the dough disc with olive oil or grape seed oil.  Toss quickly onto the hot, dry pan and let set, without moving, until it puffs a bit and is good and toasted in spots.  This should only take a minute or two-tops!  Flip it (Careful! Its hot!) and let it toast on the other.  Remove them to a tea towel lined plate and wrap gently to keep warm.  Immediately brushed with butter and dipped in Butter Chicken, Curry, Tikka Masala, or any other saucy dish, may be the best thing you have ever eaten.  Sometimes, I drizzle a piece or two with honey while the butter is melting.  That would make anyones day.

Chinese Chicken Salad

Chinese Chicken SaladThe feel like I should start by saying that the relationship between cabbage and I is still in the infancy stage.

I didn’t eat much of it growing up and soggy coleslaw from the deli was certainly not going to sway me toward this rubbery, bitter vegetable.  But slowly, with much cajoling and the promise of something fresh, crisp, and crunchy, I have begun to warm up the idea of adding cabbage into my regular menus.  I started with it piled on these BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and now I can’t make it without the slaw.  I moved on to this stellar take on fresh cole slaw and am now ready to embark on recipes that surpass just condiments or side dishes.  Soon, when cabbage is so prevalent in the markets because of St. Patricks Day, I plan to experiment with a lovely dish I saw once that had bacon, caramelized onions, cabbage, and pasta.  Doesn’t that sound awesome?

Until then, I am sharing my version of a Chinese Chicken Salad I pulled off the Eating Well website about a bazillion years ago.  Again, this is not anything I would ever have ordered in a restaurant, but something about the ingredients in this salad made me…well…just feel healthier reading the recipe.  Kinda like I was absorbing the nutrients by osmosis!  Soaking in the vitamin C and fiber like rays of the sun on a June day!

And then I ate it.  Forget osmosis!  I want to EAT this stuff!  The mix of textures and flavors in this are so spot on it is a full celebration on a plate.  It has a bit of an asian bite, a great toasty crunch, and a freshness that is sweet and tart.  I can’t even find the words to explain how welcome its lightness is here at the tail end of January.  I usually make this in the summer because it is so great on a hot day, but since it doesn’t rely on summer veggies like tomatoes, fresh zucchini, or crisp greens, it is perfectly suitable to these cold frigid months.

So now, you can get back on track with any healthy New Years vows that you have probably already abandoned and I can add another successful and reliable cabbage recipe to my permanent stash.  Win win all around.
Chinese Chicken Salad Chinese Chicken SaladOne Year Ago: Banana Sour Cream Pancakes
Two Years Ago: Gringo Chicken Soup & Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Three Years Ago: Midnight Crunchies & Crispy Bars

Chinese Chicken Salad
Adapted from Eating Well
I like to save myself some time by getting the pre-packaged shredded cabbage but if it doesn’t look promising during your shopping day, or you have the time to spare, pick up a medium head of green cabbage to shred yourself here.  Cabbage should be medium sized and in a bright, heavy, tight ball with no discoloration or wilting on the outside.  Napa cabbage is nice to use, but plain old cheap green cabbage tastes just as fantastic in this. To make this gluten-free, omit the ramen noodles.

1-3 oz- pkg ramen, season packet discarded
1/3 c sliced almonds
1 T sesame seeds
2 tsp canola oil
3 c cooked chicken, preferably white meat, diced or shredded into bite sized pieces
1 pkg shredded cole slaw mix or 1/2 of a medium head of green or nappa cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
3 scallions, chopped

1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c rice or white wine vinegar
2 T honey
2 T of soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
large pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Crush and break up the dried ramen noodles into a small bowl and toss with almonds, sesame seeds, and canola oil. Spread onto a baking sheet and toast for 4 minutes, tossing a bit, and toasting for 3 more, just until crisp and lightly browned-DO NOT LET THEM BURN!  Set aside until ready to eat.  Just before serving, toss all salad ingredients together with the toasted crunchy mixture, drizzle on some dressing (you won’t use it all), taking care not to drown the salad, and toss, season with salt and pepper if necessary, and serve immediately.

Grilled Cheese Panini Sticks

Grilled Cheese Panini SticksTechnically, I don’t know that I can call these ‘grilled’ cheese panini sticks, as they are not on a griddle, but are in fact, made on a panini maker.  In any case, this is what my family has decided to name them after eating them over and over the last few weeks.  We are in the middle of a kind of soup marathon here at the house and what tastes better in soup than crispy, cheesy, dunk-able sandwiches?!

My parents rarely made grilled cheese when I was a kid so I don’t seem to have the nostalgic and emotional attachment that some of the rest of you do.  I don’t want to get any heated emails about how I have desecrated the sanctity of Wonderbread and Kraft singles sandwiches that seem to be present in most average American households.  And sorry, but we don’t buy white bread either.  So the classic grilled cheese dunked in canned soup will have to be upgraded to the above picture; Easy Homemade Tomato Soup and three cheeses on ciabatta bread.  And if I may be so bold, it tastes better too.  Fresh and hearty, you can taste each individual ingredient while still keeping things a bit light.  I always cut these cheese panini into sticks because they are perfect for dunking that way (obviously) but it also stretches the ingredients a bit.  We don’t all eat a huge bread and cheese sandwich each, but instead, munch on just a few sticks, rounding out our soup with a bit if texture.  We ate these sandwiches with a creamy, thai flavored carrot soup last week and it was out of this world.  Tomato soup is of course classic, but a brothy veggie soup is also great with this robust ciabatta to soak it up.
Grilled Cheese Panini SticksMmm.  Now this is a meal I want my kids to be nostalgic for while eating ramen noodles and Cheetos during their college years.

One Year Ago: Chicken Tamale Casserole
Two Years Ago: Beef Bourguignon & Tilapia W/Citrus Sauce
Three Years Ago: Buttermilk Bread & S’Mores Bars

Grilled Cheese Panini Sticks
You can make this with any kind of bread and cheese combination you like, but this is a good recipe to start with.  The bread holds up to the panini maker and this combination of cheese made us swoon.  We keep garlic grape seed oil in the house for lots of things, but we ALWAYS use it for brushing the outside of paninis before toasting.

ciabatta bread-whole loaves or individual rolls, cut in half
mayo, optional
sliced provolone
sliced cheddar, preferably sharp
sliced colby/jack
softened butter, nonstick spray, or oil for brushing

Spread both halves of the bread with a thin coat of mayo, if desired.  I like the extra bite of flavor it gives, but it is totally up to you.  Layer on a slice of each of the cheeses on the bottom half of the bread and top with the other half of ciabatta.  Brush or spread the outside of the bread with the butter or oil, or spray your panini maker, and toast until crispy on the outside and melty on the inside.  Cool slightly and cut into strips for dunking.  Alternatively, just set the sandwich in a heavy skillet over medium heat and weigh it down with another pan.  Flip it when the underside is brown and toasted, letting it brown on the other side.

Turkey Apple Panini

Turkey Apple PaniniGreetings!
I hope your Thanksgiving was blessed with family, friends, great food, and a wonderful spirit of gratefulness!

Before we get to the eats, I wanted to mention that Brittany’s Pantry has officially joined the land of INSTAGRAM!!!  I am fully equipped to snap pictures of good food, culinary adventures, and other things gastronomically related.  A cute little icon will eventually be added to the rest of the social media symbols on the top right, but for now, you can just click here to follow!!!

This recipe, of course, is posted today because using your leftover holiday turkey is what makes this sandwich so unbelievable scrumptious that is just may make your toes curl.  If  you have been reading this blog lately you know that my affinity for Apple Butter knows no bounds.  The spices and richness of it make it such a great accompaniment to so many different foods.  Apple butter on toast is one of my favorites, but I love the flavors paired with savory foods as well.  When I thought about adding it to a sandwich with mustard, I immediately headed to my panini maker.  I was once again reminded of my genius at getting one of those lovely little sandwich toasting appliances for my husband for Christmas last year.  Smart move, Brittany.  Smart move.

I will argue that this sandwich, although undoubtably autumnal themed, is good anytime you can get a fresh crunchy apple and decent sliced turkey.  With the amount of scary chemicals used in commercially grown apples these days (it is quite frightening), we have switched to organic, a move that has prompted my four year old to say, “Why are these apples so good?  They taste better than any apples we have ever had before!”  Its organic, Baby!!  Regardless, the tangy/sour snap of a cold, juicy apple with the salty turkey and then the creaminess of the melted cheese…gaaaaaah.  That would be swoon worthy on its own.  But then you have the chewiness of the bread and the vinegary bite of the mustard in there, only to top it all off with the spiced sweetness of the apple butter!  It is texture and flavor explosion overload.  In a good way.  In a way that works.  And makes your mouth water.  And gives you goosebumps.  And makes your socks roll up and down.

Shouldn’t all our meals do that?
Turkey Apple PaniniTwo Years Ago: Baked Doughnuts

Turkey Apple Panini
Wether you use sliced deli turkey, or thick slabs of a bird you roasted just a day or two ago (or even leftover roast chicken!) it is ALL good in this sandwich.  A good dill pickle on the side is highly recommended.

sliced turkey
granny smith-or other tart apple-cored and thinly sliced
apple butter
dijon or grainy mustard
swiss cheese
loaf of ciabatta bread, individual ciabatta rolls, or other thick and hearty crusty bread
garlic oil, olive oil, or grape seed oil

If using a loaf of bread, cut into thick slices, or halve the ciabatta, cutting into individual sandwich sizes if needed. Smear one half of the bread with mustard and the other half generously with apple butter.  Lay a slice of swiss on the top and bottom.  On the bottom half of the sandwich, layer on your turkey and then your apple slices.  Top with the cheese/apple butter half and brush the outsides of the bread (top and bottom) with the garlic, olive, or grape seed oil.  Press into a panini maker until the sandwich is flattened, toasted, and heated all the way through, melting the cheese.  Remove carefully with a spatula and enjoy immediately!  Alternatively, set the sandwiches in a hot skillet or cast iron pan and weight it down with another heavy pot or pan.  Leave for three or four minutes and flip, weighing it down again.  Serve immediately.

Simple & Classic Beef Stew is always a good idea. This paleo version from Brittany's Pantry doesn't ever disappoint.The weather here has finally turned a bit chilly (woohoo!) so comfort food is what I’m all about.

I am sitting on my couch as I type this and Eli, my four year old, is sitting at my feet and going through the ToysRUs catalog that came in the mail today.  He is rotating between shrieking and pointing, having conversations with the characters on the pages, and repeating the phrase, “Mom.  Mom.  Okay,  Mom.  Look at this.”  Nice and snuggly, we are.  It is overcast, a bit breezy, and very quiet outside.  Otherwise known as fuzzy sweatshirt-jean-scraf-chai tea-weather.  I suppose you could add Beef Stew to that list as well.

What can I say.  I’m predictable that way.  The temp drops and I start to live on nothing but hot chocolate.  I like to curl up in woven blankets and put together puzzles with a bowl of peanut M&M’s within reach.  My menu lists for the coming weeks start to say things like Roast Chicken with Glazed Honey Squash, Gringo Chicken Soup, and Enchilada Pie.

The bummer about this time of year, and as we head into the holidays and subzero temps, is that the food can be kind of heavy. Casseroles loaded with pasta, fat, carbs and cheese might warm us to our toes (and taste really really good), but on a regular basis, is not so good for the body.  So good news!  Comfort food doesn’t have to be heavy and heart attack inducing!! Hooray!

While this stew isn’t exactly health/spa food, it isn’t all that bad either.  Loaded with veggies and beef broth it has a simple ingredient list that keeps it on the lighter side while still reminding you of the classic stew you had as a kid!  This makes me feel infinitely better when I serve it with crusty bread slathered with salty butter.Simple & Classic Beef Stew is always a good idea. This paleo version from Brittany's Pantry doesn't ever disappoint. One Year Ago: Killer Fries & Dark Chocolate Cookies
Two Years Ago: Heather’s Dip & Fluffy Caramel Apple Dip & Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookies
Three Years Ago: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds & Fried Noodles & Sweet Potato Biscuits

Simple Beef Stew
I have made three batches of this in the last two weeks in an effort to get the spices and flavors juuuuuuuust right. In the pictures above, I used more tomato paste than is in the final version of the recipe.  I decided I liked the ratio in a previous batch better but didn’t want to make a fourth stew just to rephotograph it.  Sooooo… your stew will turn out less red.  Either way it is fantastic.  Also, don’t let the broth in the bowl above fool you.  This thickens up wonderfully.  What you can’t see in the picture is that it is SCREAMING hot!

2 lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed of large sections of fat and cut into 1 inch chunks
olive, canola, or vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1 large onion, diced
3 large carrots
3 large white potatoes
2 large sweet potatoes
1 tsp dried thyme or 1 large sprig fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary (dried tends to be to tough in the stew so I don’t recommend it)
2 (14 oz) cans good quality beef broth, preferably low fat/low salt
1/2 of a 6 oz can of tomato paste, about 2 rounded T
2 bay leaves

In a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot that is OVEN SAFE WITH A LID, brown the beef in batches in a bit of oil over medium or medium/high heat.  Season with salt and pepper and  be careful not to crowd the pan or they will steam instead of sear.  You just want them to get good color on them.  Remove the beef to a plate and set aside.  Meanwhile, peel and chunk the potatoes and carrots, cutting them into 1 1/2 inch pieces.  Add the vegetables all at once to the pot after the beef is done, turning the heat down to medium.  Give them a toss now and then, letting them pull all the good flavors up off the bottom of the pan.  Season again with salt and pepper.  Cook for 5 or 6 minutes, or until the onions are just starting to cook through.  Add the broth and tomato paste, letting the liquid deglaze the bottom.  Add the meat back in and then the herbs.  Give it a slow stir to distribute the flavors then cover and slide into a 300 degree oven for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove, stir carefully, and check to see if the largest potatoes and carrots are cooked through and if the meat is soft and tender.  If not, return to the oven for another 15 minutes.  Check for seasoning.  Serve with crusty bread for dipping.  Sourdough is especially fabulous. Once cool, you can freeze this stew.  Just know that the potatoes might break down a bit when reheated.  Tastes great, just a bit thicker.

Sour Apple Coleslaw

Sour Apple ColeslawIn general and on the whole, I am not a huge coleslaw fan.  I think it is the cabbage that gets me; the bitterness of it.  We never ate it all that much when I was a kid and if I came across it at a social event (i.e. potluck, family reunion, or picnic) it always seemed to be dripping in dressing with limp, soggy vegetables.  Cabbage in general has never been very high on my list of favorite vegetables, but in the last few years, I have been making an effort and have since learned to like the crunch!  I don’t hesitate to add this version to my BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and coleslaw is so darn pretty on the plate, wether I eat it or not, I like to make it and serve it.

When apples are in season, this is the one I like to make.  It is the very first coleslaw recipe I ever made waaaaaaaaaaaay back in my twenties and it is still my favorite.  Apples and cabbage are paired up together all the time with pork chops and roasts and other applications where they are actually cooked together.  I thought it was kind of genius-and painfully obvious-that they would be great together in a cabbages’ most famous role-coleslaw!!  It just makes sense, ya know?!

And they do.  Taste good together, I mean.  Perfectly matched with a dressing that is just a smidge sweeter than your classic coleslaw and with more simple flavors to let the apple-i-ness shine through.  Like its more classic cousin, this Sour Apple Coleslaw goes great with just about anything grilled or roasted, but brats are particularly fantastic.  When we are surrounded by apple cake and apple pies and apple strudel and baked apples and have crazy apple overload from September through November, this is a refreshing and healthy way to vary autumns favorite fruit.  I guess I can’t really say that I am not a coleslaw fan anymore, huh…?
Sour Apple Coleslaw One Year Ago: Caramelized Onion Crostini
Two Years Ago: Spice Muffins W/Pumpkin Chocolate & Streusel
Three Years Ago: Veggies W/Pasta

Sour Apple Coleslaw
Adapted from Wolfgang Puck
With just a few ingredients, this salad comes together fast.  It is wonderful with roast chicken.  Make sure that your apples are nice and firm and crunchy.  Mushy apples make for a mushy coleslaw.

1 bag (14 oz) shredded cabbage and carrot mix or 1/2 small green cabbage shredded and 2 large carrots, scraped and shredded
2 large tart apples, such as fuji or granny smith
1/2 c mayo-I use canola
2 T apple cider vinegar
3 T honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk the last four ingredients together to make the dressing, starting with just a half teaspoon or so each of salt and pepper.  You can always add more later.  Set it aside and dump the cabbage and carrots in a large bowl.  Peel and core the apples and either shred them on the largest side of your box grater, or cut them into thin julienne strips.  If you have a mandolin that will do this, that will be even better.  Immediately toss the apples with a the cabbage and drizzle on a bit  of the dressing, being careful not to squish the apples into applesauce!  Taste for seasoning and dress until the slaw is just barely coated with dressing.  Enjoy!

Homemade Herb Mix for Veggie Dip {Brittany's Pantry}I came across this recipe via 100 Days Of Real Food and even though I have a reliable ranch dressing recipe that I use, I liked the flavors and thickness of this one for dip.  The fact that it is a spice mix that you make ahead is extremely appealing to me.  Just as convenient as the little pre-made spice packets at the supermarket, but without all the added mystery chemicals, maltodextrin (I looked-I don’t have any of that in my spice cabinet), and MSG.  This is fresh and quick and easy, so I decided to give it a whirl.

I am so glad I did!  Great flavor and perfect for those days when I am trying to put together lunches for the kids, but want to send them with something other than hummus or bottled dressing to dip their carrots and peppers in.  I have smeared this in wraps with sliced chicken, fresh spinach, tomatoes, and cheese, and have future plans to use the dregs of the last batch as a cold, tangy dip for spicy chicken wings.  Its great with a roast beef sandwich too.  Heck!  You could put the dried spices together and send it out in cute little bottles at Christmas with directions to make the dip!  Don’t you think that a homemade dip for veggies would be a nice change of pace from all the cookies?Homemade Herb Mix for Veggie Dip {Brittany's Pantry}Homemade Herb Mix for Veggie Dip {Brittany's Pantry} One Year Ago: Gluten Free Apple Carrot Muffins
Two Years AgoMaple Pecan ShortbreadChicken & Barley Soup
Three Years Ago: Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Instant Veggie Dip
Recipe from 100 Days Of Real Food, originally from 5$ Dinners

1/4 c dried parsley
2 tsp dried dill
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp cracked black pepper

1 c sour cream (I use light)
2 T spice mix
salt to taste

For spice mix, combine all ingredients and store in a sealed jar or container.  Don’t forget to label it!  When ready to make dip, combine sour cream, spice mix, and a pinch of salt.  Let sit so the flavors can meld at least an hour.  Stir the dip well and taste for seasoning, adding salt if necessary.  Just before serving, stir and taste again.  Dip can be kept sealed in the fridge for several days.  This spice mix makes enough for exactly three batches of dip.

Chunky Applesauce Years ago, my Mom brought me all her canning supplies, complete with about 40 quart jars, a huge canning pot with a rack for up to 7 jars at a time, and all the tools of the trade.  What she didn’t know at the time, is that she also brought with her a wealth of memories from my childhood.  Rows and rows of brightly colored jars filled with tomatoes, peppers, beans, pears, sauces, and apples.  A tiny, steamy kitchen in an non-air conditioned house in August with pots for boiling, pots for sterilizing, and pots that were bubbling.  It was hot.  We burned our fingers.  It was (and still is) sticky, dirty, seemingly never ending work.

And I loved every minute of it.

There is something supremely satisfying about taking a perishable food item and lining it up neatly with its fellow bounty, like portly soldiers waiting to be called up to duty on some unspecified future day, and knowing it will be just as spectacular then as it is at that moment.  Preserving food is not a new concept and while it was mostly done out of necessity and survival, there is a certain respect that goes along with canning foods.  One doesn’t can-or freeze or dehydrate-food unless we love it.  We want the flavor to last and the waste to be minimal.

And what is more classic than applesauce?!  Its gluten free, vegan, made with refreshingly few ingredients, healthy, and has a bazillion uses.  I like to make a few batches of unsweetened sauce that I make a bit smoother and then use just for baking and cooking with.  The chunky version shown here is great on pancakes or waffles, and I stir it directly into plain oatmeal all the time.  After trying this recipe, you will never spend money on the high fructose corn syrup laden, super processed store bought versions again!  Try it spooned right on the plate at lunch or dinner.  I like to send it in my daughters lunch or serve it to her as a cold, right from the fridge snack with whole wheat graham crackers for dunking!
Chunky Applesauce Two Years Ago: Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Three Years Ago: Apple Cider Syrup

Chunky Applesauce
I like using a natural, no sugar added, pure apple cider when I make my applesauce.  It needs liquid so that it can cook, but you might as well add flavor while you are at it!  After many different versions of applesauce over the years, I discovered that the best flavor comes from minimal plain white sugar and a bit of cinnamon.  The pure apple taste comes out and it isn’t masked with a bunch of other flavors.  Feel free to omit the sugar and cinnamon entirely and just make an unsweetened version for eating or cooking.  If you are making this into baby food, use only water as the liquid and add three times as much.  No sugar or cinnamon and puree the soft apples in batches in a blender or food processor or with an immersion blender until very very smooth.  Freeze in ice cube trays and then pop out the cubes and store in labeled plastic bags.  This recipe yields about 4 quarts of finished applesauce.

16 cups peeled, cored, and thinly sliced apples-soft apples work best since you are cooking them down anyway (Golden Delicious, Cortland, Fuji, MacIntosh, or in my case, whatever you get free from your friends and neighbors)

2 c apple cider or water or a mix of both
1 c white sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

Lets get started!
Chunky ApplesauceThese were directly off my neighbors tree.  Beautiful!  Regardless of where your apples come from, give them a good rinse before peeling.
Chunky ApplesauceI have a hand crank that attaches to my counter.  It peels, cores, and slices all in one fell swoop.  A major time savor when you are dealing with 6 or 7 bushels of apples, which is what I had!  You can find them just about anywhere this time of year and this is the one I have.  However, I highly recommend this one.  It suctions to the top of the counter which is way easier for clean-up than the clamped base one.
Chunky ApplesauceThis is one batch of apples for applesauce-16 cups.
Chunky Applesauce In your largest, heavy bottom pot, add your apples, liquid, sugar, and cinnamon.  Stir it if there is room!
Chunky Applesauce On medium low to medium heat, cook the apples, stirring occasionally.  Lower the heat if it starts to burn.
Chunky Applesauce Keep cooking.  This will take awhile…
When you have the space and the apples are starting to break down, mash with a potato masher to break up the pieces.  If the fruit is getting too dry as it cooks down and evaporates, add a bit more liquid.
Chunky Applesauce Cook the apples more, several hours, stirring often.  Continue to mash the apples to aid them in cooking.
Chunky Applesauce When the fruit is cooked through, and you can now mash or puree if you like, but I prefer my applesauce thick and chunky, not smooth like babyfood.  Taste the sauce to see if it is sweet enough and add a bit more sugar if your apples are especially tart!  The total cook time will depend on the size and density of your chunks of apples, and the moisture content of the fruit.  Every year I have to adjust the cooking time and sweetness and liquid because the apples I use change, but this recipe is my starting point.
Chunky Applesauce And there you go!  Eat, freeze, can, enjoy!  The picture above also has some of my jars of plain apples in cinnamon syrup.  If you are canning the applesauce, pour it hot into clean and sterilized jars leaving 1 inch of headspace.  Wipe rims clean, top with a sterilized lid and ring, and process in a boiling water canner with the water at least and inch above the lids for 20 minutes.  Remove, cool, and check that all jars are sealed.  Enjoy any unsealed jars right away!  If freezing, pour the applesauce into freezer proof containers, or into heavy duty, gallon ziptop plastic bags.  Lie flat until frozen solid.
Chunky Applesauce Look at that texture! Mmm.

Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-UpsOne of my favorite things about food are the associations that you make with it.  A certain dish or meal that makes you think of a time or place in your life, triggering a memory.

I love that.

This is one of those foods for me.  Years ago, while catering with two especially lovely ladies, I learned this super quick, make-ahead dish.  One bite takes me back to those crazy, fun years of my youth.  When I found out that the secret to making them so blasted addicting was taco seasoning, I couldn’t believe it!  How simple!  How easy!  How genius.  It lands on the Back To School Series list because it travels well and can be made the night before you need it; two things that make it prefect for the inevitable early morning dash to the school bus.

Today’s recipe is just one way to use up that taco seasoning we talked about a few days ago.  You can sprinkle that spice mix in chili, marinade chicken or skirt steak with it before grilling for fajitas, or fold it into your favorite hot and cheesy dip.  This sandwich roll-up is just to get you started.  Please don’t limit these to just the lunchbox!  These make a great snack for a party.  Since you can make them the day before, it frees up your time to do other things.  You just slice them up and set them out on a pretty platter.  I have made these for hundreds of people and for just a few.  They are so easy, the effort is about the same and they are usually one of the first things to go!  My kids think it is kinda special to have them show up in their lunches, but what they don’t know is that it is just as easy as pb & j.  And just a bit more memorable.
Homemade Taco Seasoning Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-UpsOne Year Ago: Oatmeal Caramel Bars
Two Years Ago: Summer Berry Pudding
Three Years Ago: Good Lookin’ Man Potatoes

Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-Ups
Assuming that you aren’t making these for dozens of people, you will have leftover spread.  It is fabulous smeared on a hamburger or as a quick dressing and tossed with hot roasted potatoes.

1 c mayo
1 T taco seasoning
thinly sliced ham, turkey, or roast beef
sliced cheese-cheddar, colby, provolone, or swiss
baby spinach
large tortillas-any variety

Mix together the mayo and taco seasoning until well incorporated.  Smear thinly, but evenly over the surface of the tortilla, nearly to the edges.
Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-UpsLayer on your meat, then cheese, then spinach last.
Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-UpsRoll this up as tightly as you can.
Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-UpsIf making these ahead of time (as in the night before a party or school day) wrap individually in plastic wrap, or if you are doing several, store in a large zip top bag and chill overnight.
Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-UpsWhen ready to serve, place toothpicks across the roll-up about an inch apart and trim off the ends, if desired.
Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-UpsSlice between the toothpicks, keeping the roll-up secured and together.
Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-UpsPlate or pack them up and enjoy!
Spicy Meat & Cheese Roll-Ups

HummusDon’t be misled by the title of this post!  When I say ‘instant’ hummus, I don’t mean it is a mix or prepackaged, but rather that it is so easy and quick, it comes together in almost an instant!

Of course you could purchase the hummus from the store.  And most of the popular brands are quite good!  But I like to cook.  I like to bake.  And making something this simple from scratch seems the logical thing to do.  I can use my own great ingredients and know for sure that my family, and in turn, myself, are eating quality food.  My kids watch the dip wiz up in the food processor and they know that there are garbanzo beans in hummus, not just read it on a label.  They dip in a finger and tell me they want more lemon juice added this time.  They laugh and joke around, dipping grapes in the bowl, only to wrinkle their noses and deem them NOT good in hummus.  They fight for a foothold on the step stool so they can watch the mixture turn colors when I add a roasted red pepper or pulse in chopped olives.   These are all very good things.

Using dried beans is the next step here and we will cover that another time, but for now, I just wanted to share my straight up hummus.  All hummus recipes are usually quite similar and my version pretty much sticks to the classic formula.  I always kind a thought it was missing a little something though, and so, never felt comfortable posting it. But after eating a spicy hummus at a cafe a few months ago, I realized what I needed.  Cumin.  Not enough to be a prominent flavor, but just enough to boost it a bit.  Bingo!  I hit the mark!

The beauty of hummus is that you can make it totally your own.  Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the recipe and read the variations and of course, feel free to add your own ideas to the comments below.  I just don’t recommend grapes…

And don’t forget to head over to the previous post and enter the HONEY GIVEAWAY!!  Who wouldn’t love to get sweet treats in the mail!-CLOSED
HummusOne Year Ago: Lunchbox Chocolate Chip Cookies
Two Years Ago: Pesto, Chocolate Zucchini Bread
Three Years Ago: Tortellini W/Shrimp

Instant Hummus

2 cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas) rinsed and drained
3 T tahini
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T lemon juice
3/4 tsp cumin
1/3 c water
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
salt and pepper to taste

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor, adding more olive oil to achieve desired consistency.  Continue to process until the hummus is as smooth or as chunky as you like!  Taste for seasoning. Store tightly sealed in the fridge for up to 4 days.  Serve the hummus smeared on a sandwich with cheese, spinach and tomato, rolled up in a tortilla, or with crudite, pretzels, crackers, pita chips, or naan.


-add 1 whole roasted red pepper, seeds removed, and process
-add 1/4 c grated parmesan
-coarsely chop one can of drained artichoke hearts and pulse in
-stir in 1/2 c chopped black olives to the final dip
-pulse in 1 tsp of black pepper and a few splashes of hot sauce
-use 1 recipe roasted garlic instead of freshly minced

Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter Hi everyone!

I know I have been kind of missing the last week or so and I have a good excuse.  Its summer!  I have been immersed in home improvement projects, little red wagon walks around the neighborhood, bike rides, picnics, and appointments!  I am also in the middle of trying to perfect an oatmeal raisin cookie recipe (that still is not ready after 9 batches-argg!) so that has been keeping me in the kitchen but away from my computer and all of you!

That said, I have been making big plans and am excited to share!  Today marks the first day of my Back To School Series!  I have been compiling lists, recipes, ideas, and tips to help make lunches, snacks, and weeknight dinners a bit easier, more streamlined, and less monotonous!  The series will continue through August and September as we all get back into the swing of things and nail down a new routine for a new school year.  Not everything posted here in the next few months will be geared toward kids, but the great thing is that even if you are single, married without children, or empty nesters, its nice to have some fresh ideas for healthy snacks, brown bag lunches at the office, and even pre/post workout food!
HoneyIn addition to what is hopefully  useful ideas for you, starting today, I will be featuring one of my favorite ingredients throughout the month: HONEY!  If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know how much I luuuuv to cook and bake with it!  My local supplier has been harvesting and I am celebrating with a wealth of new recipes all highlighting the golden sweet stuff.  Which brings me to my next announcement-another GIVEAWAY!  My third and final giveaway of the summer will be a box of raw honey shipped straight to one lucky winner!  More details on that later so keep checking back so you don’t miss it!  Be sure to follow Brittany’s Pantry on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and subscribe via email so you are sure to get all my updates and witty prose!

And now, on to the eats!
Honey Cinnamon Peanut ButterWe love peanut butter at our house.  As in, we go through an obscene amount of it every month.  We never get sick of pb&j and it makes its way into my baking and cooking on a regular basis.  Unfortunately, we don’t have access to good natural peanut butter here-which we far prefer-but we make do with our favorite brand.  We are a JIF family all the way, baby!  But as much as I like peanut butter, I dislike repetition.  I get bored with food quite often and even though the chitlins and the hubs don’t complain, I like to shake things up.

Can I confess something to you?  Every time I watch the movie Matilda and I see her make a sandwich with that Smuckers Goober Grape, I wonder why I don’t do the same thing.  I mean, what a genius time saver!  So here is my version, sans the retro look and just a bit more versatile.

These two recipes are kicking off the Back To School series because they are, well, peanut butter!  Can you get more traditional than that?  Feel free to post your ideas in the comments section below!  Here are some snack and lunch ideas to get you started:

– use either spread to make a sandwich but use banana bread instead

– dip apple or pear slices in it

– we LOVE them smeared on a warm multi-grain bagel

– make a chocolate peanut butter and cream cheese sandwich with raisin bread

– spread it on a graham cracker with some marshmallow fluff and make an extra special fluffernutter snack

– spread it on a rice cake

– top sliced bananas

– use it as a dip and pack it with graham crackers, pretzel sticks, or mini vanilla wafers
Honey Cinnamon Peanut ButterHoney Cinnamon Peanut Butter Honey Cinnamon Peanut ButterOne Year Ago: Ranch Dressing, Saucepan Brownies
Two Years Ago: Smashed Potatoes W/Spinach, Cherry Hand Pies, Grilled Yogurt Chicken
Three Years Ago: Earth Bread, Banana Bran Muffins

Honey Cinnamon Peanut Butter
This will keep tightly covered in the fridge for weeks.  Although I doubt it will last that long!

1 c creamy peanut butter
3 T honey
1 1/2-2 tsp cinnamon

Whisk all ingredients together.

Peanut Butter W/Honey & Cocoa
I wanted this to taste like peanut butter with chocolate in it, not chocolate with a bit of peanut butter.  This has just a hint of chocolate without being too sweet.

1 c creamy peanut butter
1/4 c honey
1 T cocoa powder
a splash of hot water

Whisk all ingredients together.  Add the splash of hot water if needed, as the cocoa can make it a bit dry.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad There are so many things I love about this dish, that I just…like…I can’t even deal.

This might sound weird, but the fact that I finished this recipe just in time for summer is really the best part.  Because now I, and of course you, can enjoy it all. season. long.  *sigh*  I’m so happy.

So yes, this is a continuation of my quinoa love fest, but if you don’t like quinoa, well, it actually doesn’t really matter.  This dish is just as fantastic made with brown rice, couscous, or a personal favorite of mine, orzo.  Although, I wish you wouldn’t!  It would be doing yourself a serious disservice.  The texture and nutty flavor are part of what make this one-plate meal so addicting.  Addicting.  As in it is nearly impossible to stop snacking on it before it hits the table, type of addicting.

With all the veggies and lean meat thrown in, it is certainly not short on satisfaction.  I picked these particular vegetables and flavors because they lend themselves to each other very well; almost like a greek salad, but better.  But if you didn’t add the chicken, it would be an awesome dish to bring to a summer barbecue when you needed something to pass around.  You can make it ahead, it is fine chilled or at room temperature, and it goes with everything.  The Honey-Lemon Grilled Chicken is so fantastic in this you won’t even believe it, so grill extra and save yourself some time for a meal later in the week.  The Grilled Yogurt Chicken is good too.  Plan ahead and take advantage of the convenience!  If I ever have extra, which is quite rare, I plan to use leftover cold flaked salmon in here too.

Maj-or drool fest.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad Mediterranean Quinoa Salad One Year Ago: Marshmallow Buttercream & Homemade Granola Bars
Two Years Ago: Vanilla Ice Cream, Lemon Thyme OrzoStrawberry Watermelon Coolers, & Fried Corn

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
The dressing isn’t heavy for strong.  It is just enough to boost the flavor of the veggies without drowning them!

1 recipe Basic Quinoa
1/2 cucumber, cubed
1 sweet bell pepper, cubed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed
2 T chopped fresh mint
8 oz feta, diced
Stir all ingredients together and chill.  Meanwhile, in a glass measuring cup, add:
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c red wine vinegar
1 T honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Whisk together and pour over salad, tossing well to distribute the flavors.  Taste for seasoning.  Enjoy!

Caesar Salad


Caesar salad and I have a kind of love, hate relationship.

Up until just a few years ago, I was more of a french or bleu cheese dressing type of gal.  I thought caesar salads were quite boring actually.  At least with a house salad you get tomatoes, maybe some cheese, a few shreds of carrot, and on a good day, a crouton or two.   Caesar salads are always the same; romaine, which has no flavor whatsoever, dressing, parmesan cheese if you are at a reputable place.

But then I got pregnant.

I know.  Not the statement you were expecting, eh?  But nevertheless, there I was.  Pregnant and sick and tired and not hungry.  And for reasons still unknown, I found myself at a deli and ordering a chicken caesar salad wrap for the first time in my life.  And it tasted amazing.  It was cold and crunchy and tangy and salty and…ghah.  After that day, I never looked back.  There are some great places with some pretty fantastic salads out there, and I now know which ones to skip, and which ones to order every chance I get.

Now, though not pregnant :), I find myself craving that same salad love at home.  But I so rarely purchase bottled salad dressings anymore, I started messing with my own version of caesar dressing.  And believe you me!  It was quite a process!  Too much anchovy, too much garlic, not enough vinegar, too thin-sheesh.  But I finally nailed it.  Ha!  And then I had to go and make it one more time to make sure that I could actually follow all my notes and scribblings and produce a solid recipe!  Now, I plan to enjoy the fruits of my labor with all the fresh greens coming out of the Farmer’s Markets.  I am quite particular about salads in general and almost always eat my caesar salads the same: romaine (because its traditional), hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, and parmesan cheese.  I also like to make what I call a ‘loaded caesar salad’ but that is a recipe for another day!  And remember when I said that I had a favorite way to eat that Honey-Lemon Grilled Chicken in the last post?  Well, voila!
IMG_0726 IMG_0688

One Year Ago: Hobo Dinners
Two Years Ago: Whole Wheat Cornbread

Caesar Salad
Do not be afraid of the anchovy paste in this recipe!  If you have ever purchased it, you can usually find it by the tuna and canned meats at your grocery store and it comes in a little tube.  It lasts in your fridge for forEVER and it is not a big deal so just be brave and pick some up!  The flavor is unbeatable and it is amazing in so many things!  You never know its in there, but you miss it if you don’t use it!  Be sure to use it in this recipe too!  I prefer to use mayo in place of the egg yolk used in a traditional caesar recipe, but only for the sake of convenience.  Feel free to go old school.

2 cloves garlic
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 heaping T mayo
1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
1 T honey, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients in a blender or mini food processor. Taste for seasoning, but be careful with the salt.  Chill.  The dressing will thicken up and become creamy when it is cold, but is more pourable when freshly made!  Serve over fresh romaine with hard boiled eggs and Honey-Lemon Grilled Chicken.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.