Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Harvest chicken quinoa stew

Looking back on 4 years of blogging and all that I've made, I've come across recipes that I loved so dearly and questioned why I don't cook more frequently.  I first posted this recipe a year ago in 2012 when kale and quinoa were relatively new to me.  If only I'd known then how much I would love kale now.  I made it last week and thought that everyone, everywhere (especially you West Coast folks who are dealing with unseasonably cold air!) would appreciate a recipe for a warming and stick-to-your-ribs kind of healthy stew.  Plus, it's just so gosh darn pretty!  And, yes, I still stand by what I said then: I'd take a bunch of kale over a bouquet of flowers any day of the week.

Here's the original post and how to make it:

You might have noticed that I'm on a few food kicks lately (i.e. pumpkin). Well, you can rest easy that this isn't another pumpkin recipe.  It's a kale recipe!

Things between kale and I have gotten really serious these past few weeks.  Spinach used to be my main squeeze, but kale is really coming on strong.  And I love it.

If I were in 6th grade (pre-cell phone era), I'd be stealthily passing kale folded pieces of notebook paper.  On it would be scribbled notes like, "Do you want to be my boyfriend?  Circle one of these: Yes  No  Maybe   Pass back before recess."

If we were in high school, I'd be lingering by kale's locker, batting my eyelashes as he returned from gym class.  (That kale, he's such a fitness nut.)

And, if we were working adults, I'd be in full swoon mode when a lovely bouquet of kale showed up at my office unannounced.  All of the other ladies would be jealous.  Flowers are so last season, boyfriends and husbands of the world.  Kale is in.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

11 Frighteningly delicious Halloween recipes!

Whether you're going out to chaperone the kids as they travel around the neighborhood asking for candy or you're cuddled up with your warmest blanket for a scary movie marathon at home, I wanted to share some of my most favorite recipes, perfect for your last minute All Hallows Eve menu!

Breakfasts good enough to awaken even the dead:

Monday, October 28, 2013

4th blogging birthday + sun-dried tomato parmesan salmon

Somewhere in the middle of all this fun I've been having lately, I almost forgot an important birthday -- the blog's!  I knew it was sometime in late October but couldn't recall the exact date.

Can you believe it's been 4 years since I first posted?  This past year has been a particularly big one for me, full of changes and growth.  I'm having more fun than I ever thought possible cooking, toiling, tweaking, and playing in the kitchen.  I feel as though I'm really hitting my stride and discovering my "cooking identity" and you guys confirm that every single day.

For once, I'm nearly speechless when I try to come up with the words to express how grateful I am for your passion for food, support, love, and insatiable appetites.  So, I'll just say thank you from the bottom of my heart! :)

From the heart to the stomach, let's get to the real way I can show you how much I appreciate your faithful reading: a delicious new recipe!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Friday Five: Teamwork in the kitchen

It's Friday, and I find myself staring down a very empty calendar for the first time in ages.  For months, Matt and I planned to visit Annapolis, Maryland, for the weekend to enjoy a trip with friends and the Pitt football game versus Navy.  However, Matt learned he has a swim meet this weekend, making travel impossible.  Though we're bummed we'll miss the game and visiting friends in nearby Arlington (Hi, guys!), we know there will be more chances in the future for weekends like those.

With nearly everyone we know out of town for one reason or another, it looks like we'll have a quiet weekend in the city.  I'm so glad we did all of the major fall cleaning on Sunday, so we can enjoy ourselves this weekend, chore-free!  I want to head outside for a long run (fingers crossed the rain stays away!) and do some baking while Matt's coaching.  But, when he gets home, it's date time!  He made reservations at Root 174, a local restaurant we've been talking about since it opened, for dinner.  We also want to see the movie Gravity in the theaters and hope to do a little furniture shopping, but TBD.  Three cheers for room to be spontaneous together!

One thing we'll surely make time for at least once this weekend is cooking together.  It doesn't happen often due to our schedules, so I really love the moments we're in the kitchen together.  I've found that certain dishes are much more enjoyable to prepare as a team.  In that frame of mind, here is the latest edition of Friday Five, featuring some of my all-time favorite dishes that are way more fun to make with a sous chef.

1. Homemade fish sticks -  Any recipe that calls for breading and frying is a great one for two cooks.  Even when I'm blogging about a specific recipe, I often need Matt's help to photograph since my fingers are a sticky floured mess.  Fact: The only time I've made onion rings at home, we did it together.  It's much more fun to make a mess and coughdothedishescough with someone by your side :)

2. Chicken enchiladas - Another assembly line dish that's perfect for multiple sets of hands; in fact, it comes together much faster, which means you'll be devouring them sooner!  We made these recently, and both wondered why we don't make them more often.  Cheesy, comforting, and good!

3. Shrimp and asparagus risotto - Not necessarily a messy dish, but it does require some patience and a little time for the add broth/stir/repeat cycles.  I think time would fly by if you added good conversation to that cycle.  Also, share the stirring responsibilities with your spouse/friend.  It's quite an arm workout!

4. Cookies - Any kind, any flavor.  If there's one person who loves cookie dough more than me, it's Matt.  He always manages to find a way to sneak some, so I've just learned to invite him to sample it, no ninja stealth required.  Whenever I decide to make cookies, it's pretty much a given that I won't be alone in the kitchen.  I'll see if I can put him to work this time!

5.  Breakfast - It happens rarely due to my habit of waking up super early, even on weekends; I just can't wait 3 hours for food after fasting all night!  (while sleeping but still...)  But, if I go kill some time running and gently wake up Matt before I shower, he'll be alert enough and hungry that making breakfast together sounds appealing.  Smoothies are great if we have a busy day ahead of us, but pancakes are my personal favorite.  The sour cream in our fridge is begging to be used for a batch of Edna Mae's pancakes this weekend...

Have yourself a great weekend cozying up to your most favorite people, have fun in the kitchen, and hail to Pitt!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Pumpkin chocolate chip cake

I recently stumbled upon a new-to-me food magazine.  I ooed.  I gasped.  I salivated.  And I read the whole darn thing from cover to cover in one sitting.  It was simply magical!

Except I can't remember which magazine it was, exactly.

Before you scoff and think, "Some magazine it must've been, Katy.  You don't even remember the name!" let me explain.

Matt and I went to Barnes & Noble to kill some time before a movie; it's one of our favorite places to visit/shop.  Once inside the store, we went our separate ways.  He typically begins in either the historical or science fiction sections.  I, on the other hand, don't pretend to be any kind of bookworm and proudly head to the other side of the store.  First stop is the Starbucks counter for hot chocolate and then to the magazine racks.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chicken noodle soup

There are few things I love waking up to more than a sparkling clean apartment.

(My husband, a fresh blanket of snow, and doughnuts occupy the first three spots.)

But a freshly-cleaned home makes my heart so happy.  It means that I've earned whatever fun activity I've got planned, or I can come home after a long day at work and simply unwind.

I absolutely dread doing laundry on a weeknight.  Between checking the machines, folding, and putting away clothes, I don't seem to sit still for more than a few minutes.  I can't tell you how many times I've missed a fantastic play in a hockey game because I was searching for the other matching sock.

Because of my dislike for weeknight chores, coupled with a few busy weekends spent out and about, let's just say we'd gotten a bit behind on cleaning.  Dirty laundry was no longer contained to the basket; there was a ramp of clothes leading up to the top.  Yikes.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Pumpkin spice pudding cookies

I think I'm in love with these cookies.  I want to bake a giant life-size version and wrap myself in it like a quilt.  A pumpkin-spiced edible blanket.

Too far?

You see, as weird as that may sound, it's not entirely impossible.  How so?  Because these are basically the chewiest cookies I've ever eaten.  And they smell like a dream, but I'll get to that in a minute.

Anyone who's baked cookies before knows that the longer you leave them in the oven, the firmer and crisper they'll be.  Sometimes snappy cookies are what you're looking for, so firm and crisp is good.  But, more often than not, it's that chewy, slightly doughy texture that's the most appealing.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fast Friday: Chocolate pudding tart

Is it really only Friday?  This week has zipped by, thanks to unusually busy evenings.

Though I'm nearly 30 (!), I still tend to think of weeknights like school nights and try to avoid making plans.  After a long day of work, I want to enjoy a glorious routine of exercising, making dinner, lounging in sweats, and not getting dressed up to go out again.

But, rules routines are made to be broken, especially when one's best friend of 20 (!!) years turns the big 3-0 (!!!).  A milestone birthday like that deserves multiple celebrations: Milkshake Mondays, a surprise dessert party on Tuesday, and dinner last night.  Tonight, a group of ladies is going out to commemorate her actual birthday, which is today.  Basically, we've eaten our way through the week, and I'm sure this is exactly how the birthday girl wanted it :)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beef & butternut squash stew

I first posted this recipe nearly two years ago in 2010 when I was a) new to butternut squash, and b) new-ish to food photography.  To this day, it remains one of my favorite soups/stews.  I made it recently and decided you lovely folks deserved some updated pictures and a reminder of a delicious recipe to add to your dinner menu this week.  Bon appetit!

Here's (most of) the original post and how to make it:

...the sun has gone, and the clouds are here.  Late October cool rains are perfect for cozy foods.  You know, the kind that makes you want to literally hug your knees to your chest and pull a steaming bowl of something close to you.  This is exactly what happened last week when I wrapped my hands around a cup of this stew.

There's a saying that suggests making lemonade when life hands you lemons.  I'd like to submit a revision -- when your friend gives you an unwanted (due to excess) butternut squash from her latest CSA pick-up, you make stew.  (Thanks, L!)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pumpkin pancakes

If you had to name your #1 go-to easy comfort food, what would it be?

At first thought, a plate piled high with macaroni and cheese comes to mind.  Or chicken pot pie.  Gosh, it's been a while since I made either of those...

But then I think about the time it takes to make either of those dishes.  Are they worth it?  Absolutely.  But are they appealing to an uncharacteristically lazy cook who doesn't want to wait long for sustenance?  Not so much.

Enter breakfast foods.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin & bean chili

I don't even know where to begin with this chili, other than it's utterly perfect material for a Monday.  It was my shining star and literally saved the day last week.  A day when nothing seemed to go according to plan.

(On a slightly related note, my coworker recently printed and posted this on her office door.  So true!)

Anyway, my day ended up being all kinds of discombobulated.  Nothing terribly bad happened, but things just went awry.

-I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm and was wide awake.  The worst!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Friday five: You-pick-it pumpkin recipe!

Friday!  I never thought I'd make it.  I could just kiss you right now.  The disbelief is so great that I've checked my planner and multiple calendars to confirm that it really is Friday and not Thursday or -- shudder - even Wednesday.  It wasn't exactly a slow week, judging by my to-do lists and evening plans, but certainly seemed like it.  Between you and me, I think it's because I'm still reminiscing about the excitement of last weekend.  Too much fun, I tell ya!

Speaking of last weekend, I've been on a mega apple kick lately, and realized I've only posted two pumpkin recipes so far this fall.  Eek!  Naturally, once I made sense of this, I went on a bit of a pumpkin brainstorming binge, jotting down no less than 20 ideas that I must make tomorrow, no, now!

Since indecision is my middle name (along with "kale" and "can'tsleepin"), it dawned on me that I should turn to you guys for a little help.  This week's Friday Five are a few of the pumpkin recipes near the top of that impulsive/hungry list.  Here goes:

1. Pumpkin spice snickerdoodles - The same soft and chewy cookie base you know from traditional snickerdoodles but amped up with pumpkin puree added to the cookie batter and then rolled in a mixture of sugar and pumpkin pie spices. 

2. Pumpkin pancakes - Exactly as they sound.  I'd love to say they'd be shaped like pumpkins, too, but that's TBD.

3. Pumpkin pudding cookies - Super soft and chewy cookies thanks to the addition of a package of pumpkin spice instant pudding to the batter. 
4. Pumpkin spice puppy chow - Again, another twist on a classic snack.  This time, think Chex cereal tossed with peanut butter, melted white chocolate, and pumpkin pie spices before being blanketed in confectioner's sugar.  I already can't keep my hand out of the imaginary bowl of this in my mind!

5. Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies - Mmm hmm.

Search your soul, listen to your stomach, and leave a comment with your votes for #1 and #2 picks as to what you'd like me to make and share next.  Please submit votes byWednesday, October 16th, to have your appetite heard.

Thank you, friends! :)  Have a fantastically autumnal weekend!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Triple chocolate mousse cake

There are cakes, and then there are cakes like this.  Cakes that command a room.  Cakes that elicit gasps from soon-to-be samplers.  Cakes that are truly epic.

Over the years, I've amassed quite a collection of recipes.  I've clipped, torn out, stashed, and bookmarked hundreds.  "Desserts" is the most well-represented genre.  (Obviously.)

Within the "cakes" subcategory, there even more headings: cheesecakes, fruit/veggie cakes, ice cream cakes, semi-homemade cakes, bundt cakes, no-icing cakes, and layer cakes.  There's one more tab, that's not visited often enough, titled "Epic cakes."

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mini apple bacon meatloaves

My brain and calendar say it's Wednesday, but my heart and stomach are still in weekend-mode.  That's what happens when you have too much fun.  Shame on me.

We kicked things off with homemade pizza and TV catch-up on Friday.  On Sunday, Matt and I went on a lunch date and visited the Heinz History Center.  But Saturday was so much fun that I still can't handle it.  We spent the day celebrating my sister's birthday, starting with a visit to Soergel's Orchards.

There were oodles of pumpkins, delicious BBQ, warm homemade doughnuts, and so, so many apples.  We brought all of them home with us.

Just kidding.  We only brought half of all of the apples home.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Slow cooker breakfast casserole

Two weekends ago, I ran the Great Race with my husband, sister, and a few friends.  It was, as far as I can remember, the most ideal conditions I've ever had for a race! 

We couldn't have asked for more perfect weather.  At the start, temperatures were in the low 60s and the sun was shining among a few sparse clouds.  I was comfortable when moving and just barely cool in the shade when still.  Though I've happily run in extreme heat, rain, and even snow, I realize that I'm a tad crazy and not everyone enjoys jogging in the elements.

(Mother Nature, please please remember that and try to repeat them for the Pittsburgh marathon on May 4th.  Danke sehr!)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fast Friday: Turkey applejack toasties

What do you do when you can't make up your mind?  Don't! 

(Bet you weren't expecting that.)

Sometimes -- okay, often -- I can't decide what I want to eat.  It's usually because I've had too much time to think about the upcoming meal and have roughly 9,322 ideas bouncing around my brain as to what I could make.  With that many ideas, there are bound to be nearly as many (differing) themes.

Cheesy and warm, like a... grilled cheese.

With some spice!  Yeah, spicy would be great.  Not too much, but just enough to make my tongue tingle with a little heat.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

September, in pictures

Before I jump headfirst into all things Halloween, here are some of my favorite pictures from September.  It was a very Pittsburgh-centric kind of month, even more than usual.

One of the most un-mini (and generously iced) cookies I've ever eaten.  Thank you, Pitt Alumni Assocation!

Lights + Cathedral = Mesmerizing!

Tailgating for the Pitt Homecoming game versus University of Virginia.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mini chicken taco bowls

Is there a food in your fridge or pantry that you tend to forget about?

For us, it's 6-inch corn tortillas.  I'll buy a pack for enchiladas or tacos, use 5 or 6 of them for a specific recipe, and toss them back into the fridge.

A week or two later, I'll find them stashed on the second shelf, way in the back, all alone.  Then, every time I open the fridge, that bag of corn tortillas will be the only thing I see.  Tunnel vision, if you will.

I'll become obsessed with using them up, like, yesterday.  And I'll turn it into a challenge to come up with a new way to eat them, too.