Brittany wrote this on 6 April 2015
This is going to sound odd, but do you know what one of my favorite parts about Easter is?
I’m not talking about the boiling and dyeing and hiding and searching phase. I’m talking about the crack and peel and slice and devour phase. Using up those leftovers to make snacks. I. Love. Deviled. Eggs.
When I was little, we stored our freshly colored Easter eggs in the fridge, making sure not to waste a single one. My parents made a killer potato salad and like a true 70’s and 80’s family, we sliced hard boiled eggs on the top for garnish and sprinkled the whole she-bang with paprika. I can pretty much guarantee we were wearing polyester as well. And while we are on the subject, what was with all the hard boiled eggs during those years? Egg salad, potato salad, or deviled eggs — it was all there.
While deviled eggs may be a food fad from decades ago, they are still the first thing to go at a party. Like cornflakes and mini skirts, they seem to have withstood the test of time. And I know why! It is because they are good (duh) and the endless varieties of flavor combinations ensure that you will never get bored. Eggs are inexpensive to make, easy to peel and they will taste great no matter how artfully they are put together so don’t hesitate to let your kids help. My little ones — including the three year old — always feel SO important when I give them a kitchen task and peeling eggs keeps them busy for quite awhile. Score!
Do you like deviled eggs as much as I do??
Brittany wrote this on 9 February 2015
Ere go, I have purchased an alarming number of boxes of little ‘0’ cereal made of oats, such as Cheerios or something similar. Cereal that shows up in my couch cushions, on the bottom of my purse, and in my laundry. This kind of cereal is always around so anytime I can quickly throw together a fun snack or treat with items already in my kitchen, I consider it a good thing. If they are so scrumptious even my husband and I can’t stop eating them and we end up trying to hide them from our kids, well then that is a VERY good thing. I mean, you know. In a joking, I’m-not-really-hiding-food-from-my-kids-sorry-not-sorry-kind of way.
I have had bars like these before but I haven’t actually made them myself since God was a boy. I couldn’t remember the exact method or ingredients to make them stick so I turned to that necessary evil (I speak of Pinterest) and searched out some good ones. I settled on this version here from a blog called Chew Out Loud and they were exactly perfect. Just as I remember them. Better actually.
I do believe that it is the combo of the crunchy cereal with the chewy cranberries that really keeps me hooked. Also, is it weird that I think these bars just look friendly? I want to make huge batches of them and wrap them up individually and tuck them in everyone’s pockets. Then when they discover them later they have a snack that makes them smile. Corny, yes. But still a good idea. Such a good idea, I bet it will make you run out and buy cereal to make these, wether you have kids to throw them onto the floor of your car or not.
Honey Peanut Cereal Bars
Recipe from the blog Chew Out Loud
4 c oat ‘o’ cereal
1 c dried fruit, such as cranberries, raisins, or a mix of both
1/2 c dry roasted peanuts
1/2 c honey, preferably raw
1/2 c creamy peanut butter
Spray an 8 inch square pan or line it with parchment paper or wax paper. In a small microwave bowl, heat the honey and peanut butter together until melted together. Stir until smooth and runny. Meanwhile, mix the first three ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour the melted honey mixture over the cereal mixture and mix will with a large rubber scraper. When it is all coated evenly, pour into the prepared pan and press evenly to compact the cereal a bit. Press firmly so that the gaps are filled. This ensures the bars will hold together once they are cool. Let set completely, cooling at room temp or in the fridge. Cut into bars. These will keep for up to three days, sealed tightly. Enjoy!!
Brittany wrote this on 2 February 2015
A few years ago I started adding bacon and chives to my regular Mini Corn Muffins. I still make them plain all the time and usually serve them with chili, salads, or just as a snack to munch on. But filled with extras, they make the perfect addition to a brunch buffet or breakfast. With the green of the chives and the chunks of bacon, they are more than a little tempting all piled up in a big basket. A nice, savory change of pace. And bite sized! How cool is that?! I decided to make them for a little get together I was at recently, but couldn’t shake the fact that they looked like they needed something extra. Hats of cream cheese? Yuppers. Perfect. All dressed up and ready for a party. It was my husbands idea to top them with bacon. I wanted to add some chives to the top for color, but bacon won out due to the enthusiastic and
threatening insistent cries of my family. Ultimately, you decide which you want to top them with!
These are so easy to bake up and top that you are going to want to make them for everything. Parties are an obvious choice, but set out with a spread for a bridal shower or baby shower, these are a fantastic, non-sugary appetizer that are irresistibly pop-able. They are also the perfect size for little fingers so try adding them to a table at a kids party, with or without the topping. Bursting with flavor and fantastic textures, these little bites of wonderfulness are definitely ready for their close-up.
Mini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Cream Cheese Whip
Top the mini muffins no more than an hour or two ahead of time. You can bake them up a day ahead and store them in an airtight container. Mix up the topping and chill it in the fridge until you are ready to use it and everything will be ready when you are.
Cook 1/2 lb of bacon and chop. Set aside several pieces for garnish. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray a mini muffin tin.
Mix together in a medium bowl:
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c buttermilk
1/4 c canola oil or grape seed oil
1 c white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
1/3 c cornmeal
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients just until combined. Do not over mix.
Fold in 1 c frozen corn, thawed
2 T chopped fresh chives
Add most of the bacon, still reserving a bit for garnish on the tops.
Divide batter among the mini muffin cups and bake until puffed and golden, 9-11 minutes. This makes about 40 mini muffins so it may take two passes through the oven. Remove to a cooling rack.
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T sour cream
1 tsp bottled hot sauce
1 T honey
1 tsp milk
Whip all ingredients together until smooth. Pipe, spread, or dollop whip on the cooled mini muffins and garnish with reserved bacon, more chopped chives, or both! Can be made and assembled an hour ahead.
Brittany wrote this on 26 January 2015
I only mention it because I happened to be visiting some hardcore football fans the weekend the competing teams were selected and I actually witnessed the games. Not being a huge sports fan, it may come as no surprise that this is the first time I have ever done that. And I must admit, it was seriously cool. I have no official affiliation with any team so I will be cheering for the Seahawks because my sister lives in Seattle, and because I thought their crazy comeback in the last game was pretty darn awesome. Those are good reasons, right?
I might as well and just show my true colors. My favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday (like this isn’t a teensy bit obvious) is the food. Don’t judge. The dips, the cheesy foods, the salsas and chips, the burgers and hot dogs…all winners. This is the first year in awhile that I am not sick and pregnant, taking care of a baby, or alone with small children because my husband is working. We are going to an actual, official, bonafide Superbowl party!! I realize how pathetic that sounds and, no, I don’t get out much.
In the spirit of the upcoming game, I wanted to bring to the event something new. Something outrageous. And something goooood. I recently discovered pork carnitas at our local Mexican restaurant and I cannot. get. enough. How have I been missing these my whole life and why has no one told me about them before? If you are unfamiliar with them, carnitas are usually pork braised in orange or lime, and then crisped up before nestled in a warm tortilla and slathered with toppings of choice. I know. Amazing, right? No matter how many times I eat them, I still want more. So I decided to experiment and make them myself. Research shows very little continuity in recipes so I created my own based on the flavors I noticed when taste testing them at every Mexican place I could find. Phew! It was tough.
In order to make them more party friendly, I decided to shred the meat over chips and turn them into nachos. The mix of textures is incredibly satisfying. Cunchy, creamy, tangy, meaty, cheesy-hard to resist, right? I solve that problem by choosing NOT to resist them.
I love to squeeze a lime over my carnitas just before I
inhale delicately enjoy them for a meal, but a cool dollop of sour cream is my favorite part. I decided to combine the two (using plain yogurt instead as a healthy substitute) and just drizzle it over the whole darn thing. Fresh lime + creamy yogurt = addictive sauce on every bite! So much easier to munch on with a crowd! Crema is just a fancy word for a Mexican sour cream, so my version is a very loose interpretation of that! But tasty. Very tasty. These are just so darn good, you may be too distracted to watch the game.
This picture is actually a different batch from the photos above. Notice the crazy amount of cheese. Ooey, gooey, goodness.
Carnita Nachos W/Chipotle-Lime ‘Crema’
You can easily make the pork on a weekend and either chill it for later in the week, or freeze it for later in the month. Either way, it makes for a speedy meal to throw together. Make sure to serve any extra crema on the side. Its spicy and tangy and incredibly awesome with these nachos. Feel free to slather it on anything else that sounds good too!
For the pork:
4-5 pounds pork butt, boston butt, or pork shoulder, trimmed of its large fat cap and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 c orange juice
1 c chicken broth, homemade or canned
1/4 c lime juice
Don’t trim the meat too much! All that fat is flavor, baby! Put all ingredients in a large slow cooker and turn on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 6-7 hours, or just until the meat holds it shape, but is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork. Remove the meat with a large, slotted spoon and discard the cooking liquid. Freeze, chill, or make nachos!!
For the crema:
1 c plain, fat free greek yogurt, such as Chobani
2 T fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
large pinch of salt
black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together and set aside.
For the nachos:
large corn tortilla chips (the hint of lime ones are stellar here)
1 c canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, chopped, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, chopped
2 c shredded cheese, jack, cheddar, or a mix of both
quartered limes for garnish
Chipotle Lime Crema
Layer the nachos in a cast-iron pan or another oven proof pan or platter. Start with a generous layer of chips, then break up the chunks of pork, covering it with as much as you like. Note: you will only use about half of the amount from the recipe above. Next, sprinkle with the black beans, then the onions and tomatoes, and lastly the cheese. Tuck the whole she-bang under the broiler until the cheese melts, remove (with hot pads!!) and drizzle generously with the crema. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on the nachos and any extra crema. Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 29 December 2014
I feel as though I would be remiss in my duties as a blogger if I didn’t share this recipe with you. Is there some kind of foodie law enforcement that makes sure bloggers share the good stuff instead of keeping it to themselves? Just to be safe, I will disclose all here. I have been living off of it for several weeks now and I still can’t get enough. *phew* Glad I got that off my chest. I figured I could’t hoard the recipe forever… So simple. And sometimes the best things are the simple things, right?
I always see veggie spreads in the store and just kind of skip over them. I guess I like stuff either sweet, or at least dip-able. I like to dunk and scoop my crackers and veggies. But I have been on this kind of color kick with my cooking lately and I decided to experiment and come up with a pretty, veggie flecked spread that I loved equally on a cracker or a bagel. A recipe that I could just throw together when I had company coming and not even give it a second thought. A reliable, go-to version with minimal ingredients. Min-i-mal. This was actually a tall order and a bit of a challenge for myself as generally I like things like jam, honey, jelly, sweet butter, flavored cream cheese, or cinnamon-sugar on my bagels. You may notice the sweet trend there. What can I say? I’m a ‘sweet’ kind of gal. Heh heh.
But seriously. Friends. I haven’t even touched the sugary crap since I started making this. Who knew so few ingredients could taste so glorious? Love love love it. And here it is, just in time for you to put out on New Years Eve. A great snack to munch on while playing Scattergories, working on a puzzle, watching movies, or whatever it is that you do when you party down. Just be sure to make another batch for latter, too. Because who knows what the new year may bring! Veggie spread instead of jam on my bagel is a good start.
Easy Veggie Spread
The good things you can do with this stuff is endless. It is down right awesome on a whole grain cracker, pretzels, or bagel. But it is great spread on toast, layered thin on a tortilla with fresh cucumbers then rolled up, dolloped on top of an omelette just before serving, spread on a roast beef sandwich, filled into celery sticks, and OH so much more! Be sure to share in the comments below how YOU are enjoying this recipe! As for the hot sauce, my test subjects were split 50/50 on wether or not to leave it in. Everyone love the tiny bit of kick though, so you be the judge.
1 (8 oz) block softened cream cheese (I use Neufchatel)
4 T (1/2 stick) room temperature butter
1 T freshly snipped chives
1 medium carrot, scrapped and grated
1 heaping T freshly chopped parsley
big pinch of salt and lots of black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp hot sauce, optional
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, adding hot sauce if desired and tasting for seasoning. Let the flavors sit together to meld for an hour or so if possible. Taste again and add more salt, pepper, or hot sauce if needed.
Brittany wrote this on 23 December 2014
I never get sick of quick bread recipes and this time of year is the perfect opportunity to branch out. Bloggers go bananas trying new things and showcasing special recipes. The list of recipes I had to share with you was epic. I am talking EPIC here people!! Alas, life gets in the way. So does bronchitis, pneumonia, sinus infections, fevers, and all the other fun stuff that comes with three kids who obviously need to be washing their hands more. Our whole family has been sick and in the moments of health, concentrating on the continuing construction of our new home. I have not been in the kitchen nearly as much as I have liked and am sadly, setting aside cookie and holiday treat recipes for another year.
But. I have rallied for one last hurrah-er, recipe. We have been quite addicted to this bread, which you may have noticed on Instagram. It is so darn easy to mix up, my kids have been doing it for me. Which is why there are twice as many cinnamon chips in this batch than normal… It is definitely a snack bread and lacks the really super sweet taste of a dessert. But the flavors are so special, you can serve it either way. It will make anything it touches smell good. Wrapped tightly, I store it in my fridge for a day or two and the whole thing smells like rum eggnog. It is heavenly. And just in time for Christmas.Spiked Eggnog Cinnamon Bread
Recipe adapted from UniHomemaker
This bread is even better the next day so make plans to whip it up before you actually need it. Your house will smell ah-MAY-zing.
1/3 c canola or grape seed oil
1 c eggnog
1/4 c spiced or dark rum (both are good)
2/3 c sugar
1 c white flour
1 c white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/2 c cinnamon chips
Preheat oven to 350 and spray an 8 or 9 inch bread pan. Whisk first five ingredients together until smooth. Fold dry ingredients into the wet until just incorporated. Gently fold in cinnamon chips and pour into greased pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with just a crumb or two attached. Cool 10 minutes in pan and then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. Store, wrapped well, at room temp for a day or two, or in the fridge for up to three days.
Brittany wrote this on 9 December 2014
My husband just walked by the computer and glanced at this photograph. He stopped, looked closer, and stated. “Wow, Babe. That photo is amazing.” As he strolled away, I growled under my breath, “I want to eat it…”
The truth is, I did eat it. Last week. I snacked, dipped, nibbled, and devoured with gusto. And it was good. But I look at this and I want more.
Who can resist the classic combination of chocolate and cherries? I blame my addiction on my Dad. For as long as I can remember, he has received a box or two of Queen Anne Cherries at Christmas, wrapped and tucked under the tree at the last minute by the enthusiastic hands of his children. He somehow managed to convince us that he was surprised to open them each year. Christmas makes us gullible I guess… We aren’t often able to be together for Christmas these days but the tradition lives on. I have never told him this, but I still buy a box every year and break into it on Christmas Eve, handing one to each of my kids just as he did to my siblings and I all those years ago. One bite and I could be sitting Indian style on the living room floor of my childhood home, waiting for gifts to be passed out.
I feel as though I should mention that I am listening to Francesca Battistelli’s Christmas Album as I type this. One of my most favorite holiday albums ever. Beautiful music, coupled with writing the memory above is making my heart positively ache with missing my family this holiday season. Who knew chocolate covered cherries could make this momma weep with nostalgia?
Anyway. Enough with the sappy stuff. Back to this dip. It is officially my go-to, bring along treat of the Holiday 2014 season. Its beautiful, simple, fun, and just kind of screams the word ‘party’, don’t ya think? It is basically a low effort, less messy way to serve these familiar flavors. I realize that there are a bazillion versions of this recipe out on Pinterest right now, but I felt the need to make it come together a bit faster and with less fuss. I have enough things to do these next few weeks without wasting time on unnecessary steps in a recipe. I would much rather channel that energy into something useful. Like eating that recipe.
Chocolate Cherry Cream Dip
Adapted from Shugary Sweets
This can be made a day ahead and wrapped tightly in the fridge. Keep cold while serving and dip whatever sounds good in it. I am partial to pretzels. The sweet and salty combo is stellar.
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, slightly softened
1/4 c (4 T) soft butter
1/2 chopped maraschino cherries
1/4 c maraschino cherry juice, right from the jar
1/2 c mini chocolate chips
Combine the cream cheese, butter, and cherry juice until combined and smooth. Fold in the chopped cherries and mini chocolate chips. Serve with pretzels, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, or anything else you can think of!
*This post contains affiliate links that may result in compensation for the author.
Brittany wrote this on 5 December 2014
Of course, what she really meant was the toasted, sugar coated walnuts, almonds, or pecans that seem to crown so many restaurant salads. While I am a fan of sugar (and nuts, for that matter) I never really liked them on my salad. They were a hunk of sweetness when what I wanted to eat was supposed to be light, fresh, and wholesome. Salad=guilt-free health food. Yes? Yes.
Enter the Savannah Chopped Salad at McAlister’s Deli. I luuuuuuuurve it. I have yet to tire of eating it and just writing about it now is making my mouth water. I have been completely converted to a ‘nuts on my salad’ person. My favorite part? When I am almost done with it and the last bites are of cranberries, cheese, and the honey roasted almonds. It is tangy and tart, creamy and sweet, and crunchy and chewy. The best combo of textures and flavors from three little ingredients. When I was at a food conference in Virginia a few weeks ago (Read: Mixed Conference. Best time ever!), I had a salad with those exact same elements to it and thought to myself, “Self? Why have you not made this before?” So I did! I started making it myself. The salad I will post later, but the sugared almonds above are my nut of choice when it comes to topping my greens. Sliced, to be exact, as they look pretty and add texture and crunch without sticking a whole nut in your mouth.
So how do you make these delectable slivers of deliciousness? Ha! Say that three times fast… It is ridiculously easy. And fast. And did I mention easy? Wait, what? I meant the recipe was easy, not repeating that three times fast. Was that clear? I’m so tired…
The possibilities with these babies are endless. Top a salad (duh) or ice cream (be still my heart) or a no-bake pie (MOMMY!) for a little crunch. Or you could just eat them. Add them to yogurt, pudding parfaits, trail mix, or garnish a smoothie! Or just eat them. Sprinkle these beauties over a bowl of fresh fruit to give it a bit of texture or crumble them over a dessert pizza just before serving. Oh! And you know what?! You could just eat them…
1 c sliced almonds
1/3 c granulated sugar
pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a small sauté pan and place over medium-medium high heat.
Let warm and melt while stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. The sugar will start to melt and stick to the nuts. If some of it never melts, that is ok.
Keep going for another 5 minutes or so, or until the nuts are coated and toasted. Spread out in a single layer on a wax paper or parchment lined baking sheet to cool.
Once cool, crumble into smaller pieces of needed. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Be ready to make more than one batch due to snacking.
Brittany wrote this on 17 November 2014
Actually, I owe quite a bit to her. Not the least of which is the fact that she taught me how to devein shrimp, sneak food into a movie theater, and even hosted our wedding at her farm. Years ago, when I was younger, thinner, and less wise, she introduced me to the cheesy, gooey artichoke dip and I was hooked. It was never something my parents prepared and we rarely ate out so I made it all the way to my teens before having my first artichoke surrounded by melty goodness. I inhaled it; scooped with crispy chips and enjoyed with plenty of laughter. Dede also taught me how to make it myself and it is on those experiences which my classic recipe is based. Don’t you love it when certain foods make you think of someone or something that brings a smile to your face? I do too.
This version is surprisingly different. The flavor is light and tangy-a welcome difference from many of the heavy appetizers and snacks that can be served this time of year. It is still creamy? Oh yes. But it has a much fresher taste. Be prepared to stave off the praise, pats on the back, and the marriage proposals when you serve this. It is just that scrumptious.
Bonus: It is not as unhealthy as you might think. Artichokes come packed in water, and the spinach as well. Did you hear that? Spinach. We are talking major health food here. As for the dairy that gets mixed in, I generally purchase Neufchatel cheese, which is a lighter version of cream cheese with the same flavor. The taste of Canola based mayo is the same as classic, but much more heart healthy. Low fat sour cream works great in this recipe, so feel free to sub that out. Just please do not use fat free versions of any of these products. *shudder* The chemicals involved give me the heebie geebies.
So. The details? This dip can easily be mixed up a day in advance and chilled, unbaked and covered until you need it, making it a time saving dish. It also travels well so be sure to keep this recipe in mind when you need to bring something to a party. Much easier to transport due to low risk of spillage. It tastes great with gluten-free rice crackers, tortilla chips, or just classic pita chips. If you want to throw a veggie on with with, thinly cut celery sticks are especially good and look very nice on the plate. It also makes a particularly good snack to share with that a good friend that brings a smile to your face. Spinach & Feta Artichoke Dip
Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen
1 pkg (8 oz or so) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts or quarters, drained of liquid and roughly chopped
1 pkg (8 oz) oz cream cheese, softened
1/3 c sour cream
1/2 c mayonnaise
6 oz crumbled feta cheese, divided
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, combine all the above ingredients, saving a small handful (about 2 T) of the crumbled feta. Pour the dip into a small casserole dish, sprinkle with reserved cheese, and bake until cheese is golden brown on top and dip is starting to bubble, about 20 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips, pita, chips, celery, or crackers.
Brittany wrote this on 27 October 2014
It is spectacularly comforting which is why I am posting my favorite, easy version of this now. It is the perfect food for the cozy theme I am following during the duration of my Pine Tree Goods Giveaway! Melted cheese on chewy bread paired with a green salad or bowl of soup? Yeah baby!!
As you may have guessed from my previous postings of Garlic Toast and Herbed Garlic Bread, I like having a carbohydrate to dip in my food. I may or may not make noises like a crane on a construction site when I scoop with tools of bread. One of my favorite hot lunches when I was a kid was the dunkers; big slabs of bread with melted mozzarella on top served with a scoop of spaghetti sauce. Scrumptious. Essentially, that is what I make this bread for. The salad just makes me feel less guilty about eating a dinner centered around bread.
I was reading a recipe by Pioneer Woman recently and she mentioned that she freezes hers. This never once occurred to me, but you can bet I am going to be doing that from now on! Smear on the cheese mixture, wrap it up tightly, and pull out to thaw and toast whenever it is needed. Genius. And speaking of smart ideas, whoever paired bread and cheese together the first time (probably someone French…) and warmed it up and called it a meal, well they are my forever friend.
Here in South Carolina, I am learning about Southern Caviar (aka Pimento Cheese) and all its versions, uses, and adaptations. In some ways this recipe is a simpler version of that. I have been holding out on making my own pimento cheese but since it is everywhere down here, I am sure I won’t be able to resist for long. Then, of course, I may just have to smear it on bread and toast it up. That recipe and this recipe can be buddies. Hehe!
Oy vey…I really shouldn’t blog when I’m tired….
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Simple Cheesy Bread
1 large loaf french bread (not baguette-you want it softer than that)
8 oz grated colby-jack cheese
1/2 c good mayonnaise
1 stick (1/2 c) softened butter
Combine the cheese, mayo, and butter in a small bowl. Set aside. Cut the bread in half down the side lengthwise and open like a book. I cut it in half crosswise as well so that the pieces fit on my pan butter, but whatever works for you is fine! Divide the mixture evenly between the pieces of bread and smear evenly all the way out to the edges! Don’t forget the edges! **If you are freezing this for later, gently sandwich the bread together, wrap well in plastic wrap, and then again in foil, or place in a zip top freezer bag. Defrost in the fridge and proceed with recipe.** Preheat the oven to 375. Place the bread cheese side up on a parchment or foil lined sheet pan (because burnt cheese is a major bummer to clean off of metal) and toast for 10 minutes. Check the bread to see how it is melting and proceed at 5 minute intervals until it is toasted to your preference. Some like their cheese barely melted, other like it to be bubbling and turning brown. Your choice! Pull it out and let it set for a minute-if you can wait that long-before slicing and enjoying!
Brittany wrote this on 10 October 2014
If you read my blog with any regularity, you know that my family moved to South Carolina a few months ago. I am finding it a bit of a trial to keep a balance between my Northern upbringing and wanting to experience and immerse myself in my new region of the south. Case in point-cornbread.
So why, you may be asking, am I not posting a good southern cornbread recipe where the batter is poured into a cast iron skillet and baked to a perfectly crusty disc? The kind of cornbread that practically thirsts to be doused in black eyed peas? Cornbread that is to gravy as Curly is to Moe?
Because I haven’t perfected it yet. Everyone makes their cornbread a bit different around here and since I have Mississippi ‘family’ that influences me as well, I need to cover all the bases and possibilities. This requires more testing to come up with the final version and it will be, I assure you, coming soon. It will even be baked to the perfect state of crustiness in my cast iron skillet.
That said, I am, as you know, from the North. We Minnesota folk like our cornbread tall, fluffy, and sweet and I am not ashamed of it! That is how I grew up with it, and, if I may be so bold as to say, it is still my favorite way to eat it. *gasp* Its true. This is a safe place, friends. We accept fans of all kinds of cornbread here. No judgement.
Often called Yankee Cornbread, my version has flour in it, as well as cornmeal, to lighten the batter a bit. Most traditional southern cornbread recipes I have come across, either researched or those served to me by southern women, have little or no flour in them and much less baking powder, if any at all. The Northern version gets flack for being more cake like, while its counterpart is often criticized for lack of flavor.
Never one to discriminate against food (I am an equal opportunity eater), I like them both. In turn, I like to eat them in different applications. Today’s recipe is fantastic served with breakfast or brunch, spread with butter and jam. Generally though, my kids and I like to eat it plain. The texture and flavor is enough to warrant only a glass of milk on the side. It is great baked into muffins as well and is a nice balance between crumbly enough to still be cornbread but firm enough to eat out of hand. Since cornbread is just so darn easy to mix up, this is SO much tastier-and better for you-than reaching for a box of processed mix. Occasionally, those come in handy, but for straight up cornbread, there is no substitute.
So below is my staple, straight-up, no messing around, no frills recipe for sweet cornbread. Use it well and enjoy. No matter which side of the Mason-Dixon Line you call home.
Sweet Northern Cornbread
Equal parts flour and cornmeal have always been my standard for cornbread. My mom made it that way, so I make it that way. I add a bit more baking powder to mine because I like it extra fluffy. The white sugar forms just a bit of a sweet crust on the top that I can’t resist. Makes great muffins too!!
1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
2/3 c sugar
pinch of salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c milk
1/3 c grape seed, canola oil, or even melted butter
Preheat oven to 375.
Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl with a whisk. In a large measuring cup, mix the egg, milk, and oil together with a fork. Slowly combine the wet and dry ingredients with the whisk, careful not to over mix! Pour into a greased, 9X9 glass or metal baking dish and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until puffed, golden, and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan until just barely warm. Cut into squares and enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 4 October 2014
You will probably never find me with a pumpkin spiced latte as the sweetness level is a bit much for me, but other than that, I happily submit to all the pumpkin craziness that ensues from Labor Day to the end of the year. And beyond, as I make pumpkin muffins and quick breads year round. These Pumpkin Pie Muffins are my go-to, make ALL the time, never fail, can’t-get-enough-of-them-type of recipe. So much so that I only ever so briefly stray from my loyalty to them.
Until now. (Cue dramatic music)
I saw a version of the following recipe on the food network website. I did my usual changes and tweaked things to make it a bit more streamlined, shave off a few steps, and make it ever so more healthy. More healthy means I can eat more of them, yes? But the point here is that I made these up and thought I may have just found my new favorite pumpkin muffin. Then I made another batch and was sure I had found it. The tang and chewiness of the cranberries make these extra special and just so darn irresistible. They have been inducted into the Brittany’s Pantry hall of fame, which may sound prestigious, but actually just means they are a recipe that I make on a regular basis. High praise for my family. And since these adorable muffins are a kind of dressed-up, boss is coming to dinner, pumpkin muffin, they make a great quick bread to give as a gift this season.
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, whisk together:
1/3 c canola or grape seed oil
zest of one orange
2/3 c sugar
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c milk
Combine ingredients until smooth. Add:
1 c all-purpose flour
1 c white whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
2 tsp baking powder
Gently fold in the dry ingredients. When nearly combined, add:
2/3 c dried cranberries
Continue to gently fold batter together until JUST COMBINED! Do not over mix. Portion the batter evenly amongst 12 sprayed or paper lined muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin cup with just a pinch of granulated sugar, raw sugar, or casters sugar, if desired. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a moist crumb or two. Let set for a few minutes then remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy!
Brittany wrote this on 28 September 2014
There are some things in this world that you just need to know how to make. Bread, poached eggs, really good chocolate chip cookies, and if I may be so bold as to add to the list-artichoke dip. Its classic. Its simple. Its familiar to all. It also happens to be cheesy and creamy and wonderful; all good things when it comes to food.
This version is nothing special and it has no fancy frills. It is just straight up, good ‘ole artichoke dip. It comes together in a matter of minutes and can be doubled very easily. Such an easy appetizer or snack is a must-have recipe for game season, holiday party season, or just a saturday. If you still aren’t convinced, I will leave you with this short, true, artichoke dip story: This dip is so good, I once ate it off an oven door. My pot holders slipped when I took it out of the oven and it flipped upside down on the open oven door. It didn’t break the glass dish, but the smell of scorched dip fill the house pretty quick. I kind of stared at it for awhile with my guests looking over my shoulder, and we unanimously decided to risk it. I grabbed a big spatula from the counter and scraped the whole gloppy, cheesy, bubbly mass back into the dish. Totally. Worth it.
Simple Artichoke Dip
This recipe makes a small batch of dip. Its perfect for 4 or 5 people. Any more than that and you will want to double it. If you like things with a kick, add a few dashes of hot sauce to this when you mix it up!
1 can of artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
1/3 c mayo
1/3 c sour cream (I use light)
1/4 c grated or shredded parmesan cheese + 1 T
1 c shredded mozzarella
1 clove finely minced garlic
black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Combine all ingredients (minus extra T of parmesan) in a small bowl and spread into a small sprayed glass dish. An 8X8 or 9X9 would be fine, or even a deep glass pie plate like the one pictured above it good. Spread evenly, sprinkle with reserved tablespoon of parmesan, and bake for 20 minutes, or until evenly browned and bubbly. Serve with crackers, chips, toasty bread or these awesome garlic toasts!
Brittany wrote this on 16 September 2014
About a year ago, when I still lived in central Illinois, I was given this recipe from a friend and fellow Mommy. She was on a mission to get more fit and make some long lasting, healthy changes in her life. One of her discoveries was this recipe that she got off Pinterest. As a rockstar mom of boys, she was looking for a quick, homemade snack that she could make ahead and share with the whole family and this fit the bill. (Personally, I think she just needed a quick bite of something that would keep her on the move. Why are boys so exhausting?) She was so surprised at how delicious they were, she made sure to share it with everyone she knew! I recently started experimenting with all variations of no bake, granola-type, snack bite kind of recipes and thought I would start with this one.
Score! I am a huge peanut butter and chocolate fan so this was one of the flavors that was top on my list. Man, are they good! I have several family members and friends that are gluten-free due to celiacs disease or other health issues so I am psyched to be able to pass this on to them! My Mom used to make something similar to this when I was a kid so I can’t help but feel like these are kind of a retro snack making a comeback as a food fad. There are so many recipes similar to this that are floating around the internet, I am glad to have narrowed them down to just one! I am still working on another version; different flavors so that we all get some variety, but I’ll leave that for another day. For now, know that these awesome little bombs of heart healthy flax and oats are a powerhouse of good things for your bod!
My initial taste testers of this recipe, who coincidentally eat GF and include at least one health professional, all gave a full stamp of approval. They liked that you can really taste the ingredients, which in my opinion, makes them that much more scrumptious. My kids went crazy for them and have requested they be tucked in their lunches, sent for snack, or both! My husband is a runner and even though he has had them as a boost before and after his runs, the rest of the time I need to physically separate him from the container. While they are healthy and full of good things, too many would really up your calorie intake. So don’t eat them like popcorn!
Ultimately, they are just a smart, easy, kid and adult friendly food that is a good idea. They are a faster, more simple recipe than making a full batch of granola bars and easy enough for your kids to make by themselves! They last for quite awhile stored properly in the fridge and can be frozen too. Very convenient if you are little, grown, single, married, new parents, old parents…or a rockstar mom of boys.
**This recipe is fourth in the healthy eating series I am featuring over on the J Rose Fitness Facebook page! It is a great resource for healthy living tips, ideas, motivation, and the occasional challenge! Check it out and ‘like’ it to get your daily dose of information and humor. I guarantee it will make your day! Jessica, the brain behind the page is ready to answer questions, give support, and keep you going! I am loving being a contributor and you can see all my submitted recipes on her site. I don’t receive any compensation for contributing-I just really love her page! Check it out!
Gluten-Free Honey Oat Protein Bites
Recipe via Danielle (friend of BP) via Pinterest
These can be altered a bit depending on your tastes. I have specified substitutions where applicable.
1 c peanut butter or almond butter
1 c ground flax seeds
2 c rolled oats, gluten free if desired
1/2 c mini chocolate chips or 1 c raisins or dried cranberries
2/3 c honey, preferably raw
Combine all ingredients in a bowl with a wooden spoon. Cover and chill until the mixture firms up. Scoop by level tablespoonfuls and roll between the palms of your hands until they are smooth and round. Chill. Enjoy! Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for…I don’t know! We always eat them too fast! I like to freeze them in bags of six to pull out later and make them last longer.
Brittany wrote this on 13 September 2014
A few days ago I posted a quick, weeknight worthy recipe for a simple Pasta Puttanesca. It is essentially foolproof, is made with all things from your pantry, and if you make it with whole wheat pasta, is actually quite healthy. Like the main dish, the garlic toast that accompanied it was easy and fuss free. My secret?
An earth shattering revelation, I know. You see, my freezer and I have a special, mutually beneficial relationship. I keep it organized (usually) and clean, and in turn, it provides me with quick meals and the occasional pint of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie. When I am pressed for time or simply lack the energy and drive to make dinner, pulling something out of the freezer that requires little or no action is the best feeling in the world. Am I right? It is like winning the lottery. Its 5:30 pm on a Tuesday and you are digging through bags of frozen edamame and blocks of ground beef when suddenly you find a quart container of Chicken & Barley Soup, ready to be microwaved. I can’t be the only person out there who would hold it up in victory and shout Eureka!! And it is equally gratifying if you are pulling out dinner for one or two people at eight o’clock at night after a long day of work, or if you are a stay at home mom without the time to whip something up between laundry, grocery shopping, homework checks, piano lessons, PTO meetings, and ballet rehearsal. It is for these exact moments in life that I keep certain items in my freezer.
In this case, it is pre-sliced french bread. Every once in awhile, I rifle through the day old section of baked goods in the bakery of my local supermarket. When I find the big loaves of thinly sliced french bread for 1.99, I buy two! I bring them home and toss them right in the freezer. They aren’t perfectly wrapped to store long term, but it is enough to let them slowly dry out over the next few weeks. Then, when I need a quick dinner, I have stale, frozen bread that I can use to make french toast, panini, bread crumbs, bread pudding, croutons, and in this case, garlic toast. The smaller, chewier baguettes are better for crostini or bruschetta and can be a bit tough for just toast. So for this, you want the softer, country type loaves that aren’t so crusty on the outside. Perfect to slather with garlic butter.
thinly sliced french bread, preferably slightly stale
1/2 stick (4 T) of soft, salted butter
1 large garlic clove, minced finely
Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the butter and garlic in a small bowl and set aside. Arrange your bread in a single layer on a dry sheet pan and oh so very thinly spread with garlic butter. You want this toast to get crunchy and crispy, so be sure to spread the butter to the very edges and use it sparingly. Just a VERY thin layer. Be sure the bread is butter side up on the pan and toast in the oven for 10 minutes. Check the toast. If it is firm and overall golden brown, then it is done. If not, rotate the pan 180 degrees and let it go for a few more minutes. Watch it closely! Toast can go from nothing to burnt in a short amount of time. Essentially, toast until your preference and enjoy! This is fantastic served with chili too! Leftover garlic butter can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge to be used for more garlic toast but is also good spread on the outside of panini, stirred into mashed potatoes, rubbed on chicken before roasting, or anything else you can think of!