Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Feeling hot hot hot!

Welcome back!  Did you have a great holiday weekend?  I certainly had a fantasmic Memorial Day weekend.  I swear, these past four days had it all: power outages and trees down at my parents' house (oh my!), wedding tasks (flowers, check!), delicious dining, helping a friend move, some shopping, lots and lots of walking (and some sunburn!), and a picnic.


Needless to say, I slept like a rock last night.  9:30 bedtime, anyone? :)

One thing I didn't get to do this weekend was cook or bake.  It was simply too hot to even dream of turning on the oven in my air conditioning-free apartment.  And, judging by the forecast this week, I doubt that's going to change in the near future.

Friday, May 27, 2011

27 Memorial Day picnic recipes for all crowds!

Hosting or attending a picnic of some sort this weekend? Here's a wealth of recipes for things salty, sweet, and meals complete :)

To start:

The main event:

    On the side:

      Sweet endings:

          Have a beautiful and delicious holiday weekend! :)

          One Year Ago: Frozen banana custard (one ingredient dessert!)

          Thursday, May 26, 2011

          Individual blackberry crumbles

          (No, not those blasted cellular devices.)

          Remember when I said I phoned in a secretly easy but delicious dinner the other night when I had guests?  Well, I fibbed just a little.  I did put some effort into that evening's menu when I channeled my energy into making a berry-licious dessert: individual blackberry crumbles.

          Wednesday, May 25, 2011

          Slow cooker cashew chicken

          What if I told you that my crock pot worked harder than I did yesterday?  Sure, I threw a last minute dinner party -- with dessert, too (that's for tomorrow!) -- but I didn't exactly slave over a hot stove to plate up a delicious meal.  Sorry, J and B... you're absolutely worth the trouble, but there was no need for it last night :)

          A slow cooker is known for creating easy, comforting meals with little effort.  Toss ingredients into the pot, cover and heat, go about your daily routine, and come home to a kitchen filled with smells of already-ready dinner!  A slow cooker, however, may not be as heralded when it comes to the topic of guests for dinner.  Why not? 

          There's some unwritten rule that, when one is having guests for dinner, one must sweat and toil over an incredibly complex set of recipes and play show-and-tell with said fancy dishes.  I will admit that I've done it, and said recipes have failed miserably.  In conclusion, whoever came up with this rule should stuff it.

          There, I said it!

          Tuesday, May 24, 2011

          She knew not what she was doing...

          I worked this past Saturday.  Before you start thinking, "Oh, Katy, you had to work on Saturday and the rain-free day this week!", stop right there! 

          As I've said before, working on Saturdays only happens occasionally, and the real perk is that I earn a vacation day to use the next week.  Especially awesome this week when Monday is a holiday.  I smell a four day weekend :)  So, I actually like working these days!

          But, back to Saturday.  Long ago someone started the tradition of bringing in treats and snacks for everyone to munch while they worked.  Far be it from me to get in the way of tradition.  We had bananas, yogurt, sunflower seeds, cookies, and Cheez-Its (only the best kind -- white cheddar!).  A very nice, semi-balanced spread... at least for a weekend.

          And then my coworker went and did something.  Something magical.  She knew not what she was starting when she brought these to us:

          Monday, May 23, 2011

          Asparagus, bacon & potato hash with eggs

          Spring summer is here!  After a week of rain, the skies dried up and the clouds parted to reveal a fantastically sunny and warm weekend.  Temperatures in the upper 70s and low 80s made things like dining outside on picnic tables and going for long walks with no destination in mind.  It also made my little apartment quite warm and thus the idea of turning on my oven even more unappealing.

          Solution?  Have a bowl of cereal for dinner.

          I'm kidding!  For now, anyway.

          But, seriously.  The real answer was to keep that oven off and do all of the cooking on the stovetop.  My favorite quick and easy go-to meal: a hash.  And with some fresh asparagus to make one very spring-y dinner.  Don't these perky green spears make you so excited for warmer weather and farmer's markets? 

          Thursday, May 19, 2011

          Easy strawberry dessert topping

          Yesterday was one of those days.  You know how they go...

          Woke up to yet another day of rain pouring from the skies. 
          Had a super busy day at work, trying to meet deadlines. 
          Got absolutely soaked on my walk to lunch, but we'll call it a wash since my lunch date was lovely :)
          Phoned in a very sluggish workout at the gym.
          Threw together a very random meal of leftovers -- delicious but certainly not worthy of a post.
          Oh, and battled with the sound of rain that forced me to turn up the TV volume way higher than usual.

          Nothing that terrible, really, but I was in serious need of a pick-me-up.  Something to remind me of the bright and sunny days of spring and summer that surely must be right around the corner.  Right?!  

          With a little quick thinking, I whipped up a gorgeous and easy dessert that reminded me of a cute ice cream parlor we visited in Savannah.  I love recreating things from a trip, especially when those memories involve warm temperatures and sunshine :)

          Wednesday, May 18, 2011

          Steak sandwiches with caramelized onions & goat cheese

          Exactly one week ago I returned from my first adventure in the town of Savannah, Georgia.  Having some time to reflect on my trip, I can say that I've learned a few things about life, leisure, and, of course, food. Allow me to share them with you, as well as the most unbelievably simple and delicious steak sandwich you've ever seen.

          1. Vacations need not be jam-packed with plans.  Throw out itineraries, and bring only a short list of places you absolutely can't miss.  We pretty much woke up each day and said to each other, "What should we do today?"  If we wanted to walk somewhere, we walked.  If we wanted to shop, we found a place to shop (and found wedding things!).  And, if we wanted to just wander aimlessly, sit, and stare at our gorgeous surroundings, we did just that.  After all, it's vacation!  A time to relax and just enjoy a break from your daily routine.

          2. If you try to follow an itinerary, the South will crush it like a little bug.  I'll admit to being a super organized type A personality, while Laura is a cool-as-a-cucumber type B person.  Ying and yang, if you will.  But even she found herself craving order after a while.  Every day we encountered things that would never happen in the north -- public transportation "out of order" with no warning and no sign of a return.  Businesses that would be closed for hours at a time for a simple lunch break (siesta, anyone?).  And stores with signs like these:

          Monday, May 16, 2011

          Monster cookies

          Though it's been a few days since I returned from Savannah, I can't stop thinking about the food I ate at Paula Deen's restaurant, The Lady and Sons.

          Laura and I wisely decided to make lunch at The Lady and Sons our last meal before we said goodbye to the quaint little river-front town.  And goodness, did we ever make the right decision.  We'd heard the buffet was good, but to order off the menu for even better out-of-this-world southern Paula classics.  I ordered the chicken pot pie since I'd see her make it many times on her Food Network show.

          Nope, I didn't care that the mercury was hitting 90 degrees outside.  Nothing could've kept me from my date with destiny that pot pie.  OUT OF THIS WORLD!  Easily the best pot pie I've ever had.  Here is a link to the recipe so you can make it at home.  And, if you're planning a trip to Savannah, this should be a must-do on your list.  Totally worth the hype and then some.

          So, now you're wondering why I've talked up this woman's show-stopping chicken pot pie when this post is clearly about something else.  Well, being inspired by her love of butter and wanting to inject a little south in my mouth kitchen, I dug up a recipe I've kept for months for this perfect non-occasion: monster cookies.  Just look at all of the deliciousness packed into these cookies, hence the name.  I wouldn't expect any less from Ms. Deen.

          Thursday, May 12, 2011

          I'm back! + Savannah recap

          ...and playing catch-up.  I swear that I lived the last four days in sloooooooooow moooooooootion, Southern style :)  Tried a wealth of new and delicious foods and will write about them in due time, I promise.  Until then, a few pictures to share with you of the very photogenic city of Savannah!

          Wednesday, May 11, 2011

          Meringue cloud cookies

          (I've flown the coop and headed south!  :)  I'll be spending the next few days on vacation in Savannah, Georgia.  While I'm off enjoying the sights and tastes of the area, I've prepared some recipes to keep your eyes and stomachs happy and satisfied.  Any questions or comments will go unanswered until I return.  Thanks for understanding!)

          As beach and vacation season approaches, it seems like everyone is trying to watch portions and cut calories wherever possible.  To those devoted souls, I salute you!  ...I have no idea how you do it.  I really try to eat a balanced diet, but rely more on how I feel than what the labels say.  For example, if I have Razzy Fresh for lunch, I'll have a plate of steamed broccoli for dinner.  (And then possibly followed that with a late-night stop at another Razzy location.  Gulp.)  All about balance, or something like that :)

          But, I absolutely couldn't stand to cut out a sweet treat now and again and especially not baking.  Summers are always tough because having an oven on all afternoon will send the temperature in my apartment well above 80 degrees (gah!), so while I cut down, sometimes I bite the bullet and go ahead anyway.  And the recent Lenten season was tough, too, but I opted to bake and immediately deliver the goods to others.  It's not just the final products that I love (oh how I do love them!), but the process of creating something with my hands from which myself and others will receive great joy.

          So, rather than cutting out baking, how about cutting out the butter and oil?

          No!  Don't go!  I swear, it's only just this once.  But you won't even miss it. That's the joy of a meringue cookie!  I totally prefer to call them cloud cookies, though.  Growing up, a friend and her family referred to them and I thought the name was so cute that it's stuck with me ever since then.

          Tuesday, May 10, 2011

          Monte Cristo sandwiches

          (I've flown the coop and headed south!  :)  I'll be spending the next few days on vacation in Savannah, Georgia.  While I'm off enjoying the sights and tastes of the area, I've prepared some recipes to keep your eyes and stomachs happy and satisfied.  Any questions or comments will go unanswered until I return.  Thanks for understanding!)

          Quick!  Name a few of your favorite foods.  If I said that to Matt, somewhere in his top 5 would come mentions of French toast and sandwiches.  This comes as no surprise since one of our very first conversations revolved around lunch and that sandwiches were one of the greatest things on the planet.  Looking back now, had I mentioned this very meal, I'm convinced he would've proposed on the spot :)  Hindsight is always 20-20, right?

          What exactly is this very meal?  A Monte Cristo sandwich, of course!

          Monday, May 9, 2011

          Coconut cream pie

          (I've flown the coop and headed south!  :)  I'll be spending the next few days on vacation in Savannah, Georgia.  While I'm off enjoying the sights and tastes of the area, I've prepared some recipes to keep your eyes and stomachs happy and satisfied.  Any questions or comments will go unanswered until I return.  Thanks for understanding!)

          It hardly seemed fair for me to abandon ship the rainy Pittsburgh weather in favor of 90+ temperatures and leave you without any distractions.  On Friday, I gave a teaser of three recipes to come this week.  Sure, I could've done a better job disguising the final products (original idea was to use a picture of the cans of coconut milk), but why when they were just so darn gorgeous?!  First up is this luscious coconut cream pie.

          See what I mean?

          Friday, May 6, 2011


          It's Friday!  And that means tomorrow is Saturday, and the day after that is Sunday... when I leave for Savannah, Georgia, on a little vacation!  I can hardly contain my excitement and all of the clock-watching that I'll be doing will make today and tomorrow last an eternity.

          Even though I'll be gone until Wednesday night without computer access, I have been working ahead and have three DYNAMITE recipes waiting in the wings for you!  Rather than tell you what to expect, I thought a illustrative preview would get tongues wagging.

          Up first on Monday:

          And for Tuesday, oh just you wait.

          Finally, what's in store for Wednesday:

          Any guesses, detectives?  Nothing too tricky, but the middle one may give you some trouble.

          In the meantime, let's hope that I can get my allergies under control before my trip.  By the way, thanks for all of your suggestions about things to do in Savannah!  Have a fantastic weekend, and I look forward to sharing all the details (and pictures) with you when I return :)

          One Year Ago: Chocolate pound cake (Wouldn't you know that this is a Paula Deen recipe? Oh the coincidence!)

          Thursday, May 5, 2011

          Zucchini and portobello tacos

          Happy Cinco de Mayo, amigos!  Without intentionally planning it, this week has turned out to be quite the celebration of Mexican dishes.  Yesterday I shared with you the it-can't-possibly-be-that-easy cilantro chicken with homemade salsa.

          Today I've got a doozy for you -- zucchini and portobello soft tacos with alllllllll the toppings: salsa, sour cream, and melty cheese!  Be still my little jumping bean of a heart!!

          Wednesday, May 4, 2011

          Cilantro lime chicken with avocado salsa

          Just in time for Cinco de Mayo is Quatro de Mayo!  Come on, are you really surprised that I'm jumping the gun getting a head start on this?  :)

          Truthfully, I wanted to give you enough time to pick up all of the ingredients to make this Mexican feast for yourself: cilantro chicken with homemade salsa.  I've never been one to jump on the "celebrate Cinco de Mayo!" bandwagon because it's a Mexican holiday and, well, there is no trace of said heritage in my family anywhere.  But I will absolutely get behind any reason to make my kitchen smell like south of the border.  You could also call this confetti chicken... the colors are so bright and inviting!  Dios mio, just look at that gorgeous plate of food!

          Tuesday, May 3, 2011

          Too early for popsicles?

          It may be a dreary day in the 50s here, but it's never too early for popsicles!  Especially these...

          [via here]

          Seeing these has me counting the days (5 to be exact) until I depart on a little spring adventure -- I'm going to Savannah, Georgia!  We're still gathering information on what to see and where to eat, so I ask, if you've been to Savannah, what do you recommend as a must-see/do?  Thanks! :)

          Monday, May 2, 2011

          Chicken with garlic spinach & cheese

          Lately I feel like I've been in a chicken funk... or rather, no-chicken funk.  I've been attracted to every other kind of meat and protein, some of which I don't regularly cook with, and this has led to some exciting culinary pursuits: savory oatmeal with eggscrab cakesherb-marinated pork roast!  Very different, yes, but also equally delicious and unique.  Between you and me, I could eat crab cakes every.single.day.  But, between you and me, I don't think I can afford justify $15/pound for enough crab meat to sustain me week in and week out.  Not yet, anyway.

          Enter the always-affordable and infinitely adaptable chicken.  I once proclaimed that if I could only eat three foods for the rest of my life, they'd be 1) string cheese, 2) bananas, and 3) chicken.  Yep, surprising and strangely simple.  I think that proclamation stems from my eating habits during sophomore year of college.  The dining options on campus were plentiful, but after about a week, Pizza Hut, Subway, Chick-fil-A wore out their welcome.  So I survived mostly on grilled chicken because everything else was too heavy and greasy for everyday consumption.

          While grilled chicken is great simply seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper, it can become a bit predictable and bland.  I'm always looking for ways to spice up ordinary chicken.  Ham and Swiss chicken rouladesProscuitto-wrapped chickenOrange brown sugar chickenCoconut chicken!  And, goodness, they are all so absolutely tasty that I could've picked any one to make again.  But, where would the fun in that be?  After all, I wanted to turn over a new leaf and share something with you.