Friday, January 31, 2014

Fast Friday: 3-Layer salsa, guacamole & bean dip

(Apologies to RSS feed readers -- Blogger error may have resulted in this popping up a day early.)

Welp, that's it for January, guys.  Today's the last day of the first month of the new year, so I guess it's high time I stop wishing folks "Happy New Year!" and start wishing them a "Happy Valentine's Day!"

With one more day of January, that means I get to wish my very own dad a happy 65th birthday!  :)  He's been traveling for business all week in Texas but will hopefully take this weekend to relax and celebrate.

The majority will be celebrating something this weekend, and I'm betting the Super Bowl is the reason.  (However, if you want to celebrate my dad's birthday, I'm sure he'd appreciate it -- he's a really fun guy.)

Football festivities are only two days away, and I've given you 42 recipes perfect for whatever party you're attending.  This week, I made cheese-stuffed meatballs and chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream frosting -- you know you want some of those.  But I've save the best for last.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry buttercream

I'd like to talk about equality.

What's that?  Men and women, equal opportunity, yadda yadda?  Not exactly.

I want to talk about savory and sweet snacks getting equal playing time at football parties, y'all.  These are the real issues that keep me up at night, Mr. President.

Whenever it comes time to plan a menu for an event revolving around a sporting event, it's easy to come up with a list of must-have food: chips and dip, pretzels, pizza, the obligatory veggie tray, and anything else that's meaty and cheesy (like these yummy stuffed meatballs!). 

But, as I'm sure you noticed, everything on that list -- while deeeeeelicious -- is savory.  What about dessert?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cheese-stuffed cocktail meatballs

Whew, good morning, icicles!   It is fah-reez-ing here in Pittsburgh, and I'm so thankful I don't have any reason to step one (or both) of my feet outside in the foreseeable future.

I won't mind being cooped up inside this week since I was able to get out and enjoy lots of time with friends this weekend.  Dessert and dinner dates, chick flicks and baking, and discussing spring and summer vacations.  It was so much fun!  But, I was happy when Sunday night rolled around because that meant Matt returned from his weekend visiting his folks.  I missed the guy!

I also missed his man-ppetite -- that's "man's appetite" FYI.  I was working on new recipes for Super Bowl Sunday and desperately wanted a guinea pig.

Monday, January 27, 2014

40 Super Bowl party recipes

Whoever said all the fun ends after the holidays clearly forgot about one of the biggest excuses to party -- the Super Bowl!

It's amazing how one event can draw such fanfare and excitement, especially considering most viewers aren't cheering for their home teams.  We adopt a temporary home team -- for me, it's the Denver Broncos since Peyton Manning was my quarterback in Fantasy Football -- and live or die by how it performs for those crucial 60 minutes, cheering and trash-talking the entire time.  It's the American dream!

Well, what really makes it the American dream is how we use the Super Bowl as the backdrop for one of the most epic food celebrations of the year.  Football-watchin' foods are hearty, cheesy, meaty, and all things comforting!  While players, coaches, and downright insane fans are freezing their arses off on Sunday in New Jersey, you and yours will be toasty warm inside while enjoying the revelry and a delicious buffet.  Here are some of my favorite recipes perfect for your Super Bowl party.  Check back tomorrow and the rest of this week for 3 new recipes, too!

Small bites


Burgers -- make smaller patties and serve with tiny buns as sliders!


Chilis & Stews -- keep 'em warm in a Crock Pot and serve with bread bowls (no dishes!)

Desserts -- individual items that don't require cutting or chilling are ideal!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Fast Friday: 3-ingredient Nutella brownies

Happy Friday!  And, happy January... 24th?!  How exactly did that happen?

It appears as though it's taken me 24 days into the new year to share a new dessert recipe.  (I'm as astounded as you are.)

Actually, if I'm being honest, I'm not totally surprised, given the make-up of our kitchen cabinets after the holidays.  Matt and I have been nursing our stash of cookies, Sarris chocolates, and Christmas treats (Twix Santas and Reese's trees, natch) for weeks.

As long as there was a pre-packaged solution to our dessert desires, there was no need to bake.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

National Pie Day!

(Not to be confused with Pi Day, March 14th.)

As if we really need an excuse to indulge in a slice (or two).  That being said, I'm all for food-centric holidays.  Here are some of my favorite pie recipes, savory and sweet, to make your day especially delicious!

Savory Pies

Sweet Pies

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Crock Pot salsa pulled pork tacos

Because it's Wednesday.

Because it's hump day.

Because I love my Crock Pot.

And I know you do, too.

I have a mind-blowing slow cooker recipe for ya.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Apricot almond oat muffins

Top o' the morning to ya!  Did you have a nice weekend?  Whether it was a standard two-day-er or a holiday three-day-er, I hope it was relaxing and re-energizing.

Ours was pretty great, despite last night's exchange of "What did we do this weekend?  I can't remember!"  Nothing outlandish, but lots of little things that added up to a just-what-we-needed kind of time.  Saturday, in particular, was basically my perfect day.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Five: New (to me) things I'm loving

TGIFOATDW - Thank goodness it's Friday... of a three day weekend!  I always rant say that I'm not yet ready for a day off when MLK Jr. Day rolls around because it's so soon after the holiday break.  And that I'd much rather have Presidents' Day off in February.  That being said, um, hallelujah for MLK Jr. day off! 

Three cheers for the extra time because there is so much I want to do this weekend, rather than so much I must do, and the list involves a little bit of everything.  In the sports column, there's a Pitt men's basketball game against Syracuse on Saturday and the Quarterback Bowl AFC Championship game on Sunday.  Regarding the latter, I have this feeling the hype is way bigger than it will be for the Super Bowl.  In the food column, Matt and I are dining at a new-to-us restaurant called Matteo's as part of Pittsburgh Restaurant Week.  The menu looks incredible, so here's hoping we leave satisfied!  And the miscellaneous fun column may include a trip to the mall (holiday weekend sales, what what!), a massage (treat yo'self!), and trampolining.  Yep, trampolining.  TBD.  Say a prayer, please ;)

I told you about two new-to-me discoveries that have brought me such joy: the flat whisk and Cooks' Illustrated.  I thought I'd share a few more things I've started enjoying in the new year that you might get a kick out of, too.  Here is today's Friday Five: New (to me) things I'm loving!

1. YurBuds - I do not like change, especially when it comes to my workout essentials.  I've used the same kind of headphones (but multiple pairs) for over 10 years.  When my most recent pair played its final tune (and no longer worked with the power of rubberbands and tape), I discovered that my kind is no longer made.  After some serious research, I chose YurBuds ear buds since they got the best reviews from athletes.  My sister-in-law gifted me this pair at Christmas, and I've been using them nonstop since then.  They are truly no-slip and stay in place like a champ.  I highly recommend these!

2. Fancy Sunday brunch - Matt and I have a thing for making brunch in the comfort of our own home (and pajamas) and rarely go out for it.  For months, we've talked with friends about going out to at any of the more upscale restaurants around the city; this past weekend, we finally made it happen.  Turns out that getting dressed up and having someone else prepare your brunch is totally amazing!  We visited Savoy (in the Strip District, for you locals) and had a fantastic time.  My shrimp & grits was to die for, loaded with spicy andouille sausage, cheddar cheese, and mushrooms.  Yum!  Can't wait to see where we're headed next.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Chorizo & lentil stew

Happy 2014!  Yep, I'm still using that greeting.  "Happy Thanksgiving" is used for most of November and "Merry Christmas" for December, so why not extend the same courtesy to other holidays?

The onset of a new year means different things to different folks.  To my husband, said new year begins with January 1st, otherwise known as National Pork & Sauerkraut Day.  Seriously, don't try to feed him anything else in place of it; nothing will do.  Pork and sauerkraut -- oh, and rye bread -- or bust.

To me, it's about appreciating the past year and then looking forward... and planning new goals, adventures, and projects!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Shrimp, white beans and spinach

Two weeks into the new year, and I've yet to share a dessert recipe with you.  Just in case you think I haven't noticed that void, I'm well aware of it.

Fret not.  My sweet tooth hasn't gone anywhere, and I know yours hasn't, either.

I'm just trying to play nice for the time being.  To go along with all those resolutions to eat healthy, consume more fruits and veggies, and get on board with the idea that dessert need not follow breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


Monday, January 13, 2014

Apricot chicken with quinoa salad

They say you can learn so much about a person based on what she buys on impulse.

Who exactly?  Frankly, I don’t know, but I’m sure somebody important, somewhere said it.  If you know, I’d love to know, too.

I’m reminded of the Friends episode in which Rachel Green returns home after a shopping trip, and Joey and Chandler wager that they can correctly guess every item in her bag.

“If you check Rachel's bag, you’ll find a half-eaten box of cookies,” declares Chandler.
“Everybody snacks when they shop,” Rachel says in defense.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fast Friday: English muffin breakfast pizza

Happy day, guys!  I've got a few reasons for you to smile and get excited:

It's Friday!  This has been my first full week back at work after the holidays, and thanks to a busy office, it's breezed by.  It actually feels nice to get back into a regular routine.

Tomorrow's Saturday!  Do you have anything fun planned?  For the first time in months, we have nothing on the calendar.  I'd like to get a few organizing projects finished around the apartment, but after hibernating all week, we may have to venture out because...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The kitchen tool that changed my life

I can be overly dramatic about a few things.

Okay, many things.

For example, when I came home from the grocery store on Saturday, I told Matt to sit down because I had terrible news.  "The grocery store was out of kale.  All kinds of kale.  Gone!"

He asked if that was it and, when I nodded, went back to what he was doing, mumbling something along the lines of, "I thought something was actually wrong."

Um, hello, dear husband.  No kale makes Katy one unhappy customer, and I felt the shortage warranted a big fuss, thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, I digress... to the next item deserving of a fanfare, parade, and possibly even a national holiday -- the flat whisk.

What Matt thought was an average culinary stocking stuffer has turned out to be the love of my life in the kitchen.

Making anything on the stove-top has become infinitely easier, thanks to a tool that is perfect for mixing and scraping the bottom of the pan.  Things like homemade tomato sauces (recipe coming soon!) and the base for shepherd's pie are now a breeze.

Plus, I need only dirty one utensil rather than two or three, including a regular round whisk that has become a bit misshapen thanks to someone trying to flatten it against its will.

Turns out I'm dramatic and stubborn.

Moral of the story: You must get yourself a flat whisk.  Stat!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Spinach & onion frittata for one

Forgive me for being a little insensitive -- yesterday, I posted a recipe for a smoothie without considering over two-thirds of the country is being plagued by this crazy polar vortex.

Never mind the fact that the mere name "polar vortex" is intimidating enough!  With heaters across the nation struggling to keep up, something tells me you probably aren't in the mood for an icy cold blueberry and banana smoothie, regardless of how tasty and healthy it may be.

That being said, I definitely made one for my breakfast yesterday and slurped up every delicious drop.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Blueberry banana power smoothie

We're one week into January, and I'm still writing 2013 for the year about half of the time.  Old habits die hard, right?  Here's hoping that I'm fully aboard the 2014 train by the end of this week month.

Speaking of old habits, how many of you made resolutions to change those old habits or adopt new ones?  I made quite a few, wrote them down, and even signed the paper like it was a contract with myself.  Holds me accountable, and I hear I can be quite a stickler :)

In addition to my usual goals of treating others well, keeping up with my faith, eating healthy (most of the time) and exercising, I made a few new ones.  My favorite recent addition is "print more pictures."  Not only do the frames in our apartment need updating, but we have taken so many great photos in the last year that won't be seen hiding on the hard drive.

Whatever your resolutions, you deserve a pat on the back for making them.  Change isn't easy but it can be so satisfying and rewarding, so kudos for taking the initiative!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

14 Healthy recipes to start 2014

Happy 2014, friends!  How is the new year going for you so far?  I hope happily and well!
I've been off work for most of the past two weeks and vowed to unplug and truly savor every moment.  Matt's been off school, too, so we've hustled and bustled... and then been total bums.  We covered nearly 600 miles (driving, whew!) visiting family and friends in the days after Christmas before returning home to Pittsburgh.

We enjoyed a fabulous New Year's Eve dinner with friends at Kaya, marveled at the gorgeous winter light show at Phipps Conservatory, and seen both American Hustle and The Hobbit.  Plenty of time has been spent cozied up in our apartment, too.  Playing with new gadgets and reading new books, watching all the movies we could find on TV, and getting back into a routine of cooking healthy and delicious meals at home.

I love the holidays because it's a time of reunions with loved ones, near and far.  It's no coincidence that most of those reunions involve parties, dinners, and gifts of decadent bites, sweet and savory.  I indulged and enjoyed a bit of just about everything but am ready to get back to a healthy routine.  I'm craving fruits and vegetables, and I bet you are, too.  Here are 14 of my favorite healthy recipes to kick off 2014.  Balanced meals that are big on flavor and nutrition and light on the not-so-good-for-you stuff.  You might even be surprised by some of the dishes -- meatloaf, pasta, and even pizza are good for you!  Happy Friday, indeed :)

1. Strawberry banana protein smoothie

2. Super mighty & mini quinoa cups

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Beef taco salad with chunky tomato dressing

5. Zucchini pizza bites

6. Chicken, sweet potato & pecan salad

7. Protein lover's shrimp & spinach salad

8. Pumpkin & bean chili (vegetarian)

9. Chicken, chick pea & collards soup

10. Creamy avocado pasta with peas (vegan)

11. Slow cooker Santa Fe chicken

12. Lighter old-fashioned meatloaf

13. Roasted kale, potatoes & tomatoes with chicken

14. Easy frozen banana soft serve