Archives for April 2012

{Super Easy} Homemade Salsa

One of my favorite things to eat of all time is chips and salsa.

Seriously, given a choice between chips and salsa or chocolate cake, I’ll pick the chips and salsa every.single.time. I can eat a huge jar of salsa totally on my own (um, maybe even in one day), and if I’m out at a restaurant – don’t even bother bringing me “salsa” that’s basically pureed tomatoes and nothing else.

I’ve gotta have heat!

I mean, what’s the point of salsa without some spice?

There isn’t one, is what I’m saying.

But, if you don’t like extra-spicy salsa, feel free to adjust the recipe below to fit your own tastes.  I grew up in a family where everyone ate super-spicy stuff, so I don’t know any different.  Thank goodness the Tall Boy also likes hot stuff, or we’d have some serious issues!

We had lots of homemade salsa growing up, and my mom pretty much rocked it with her recipe. Of course, I don’t think she used actual measurements on anything, so this is just a guesstimate. I add cilantro and lime to my version because…well, I add cilanto and lime to every Mexican dish I make.

Be sure to check back tomorrow. I’ve got a recipe to share using this salsa, and it’s super fun for Cinco de Mayo!

{Super Easy} Homemade Salsa
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used Rotel Hot)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalepeno, including seeds and membrane (de-seed if you don't want it too spicy)
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup diced onion
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • juice of one lime
  1. Place your ingredients in a food processor or blender, and pulse to combine.
  2. Eat 'til you're stuffed.

Happy Monday!

I’m linked up at these great parties this week: Crazy Sweet Tuesdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, Whip it Up Wednesdays, Eat, Pray {Read}, Love, Sweet Treats Thursday, Mrs. Fox’s Sweets, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Itsy Bitsy Paper, Crumbs and Chaos,  I’m Lovin’ It Fridays, and Weekend Potluck!

Strawberry Sparklers

I know the northeast got snow this week, but it’s already into the 90’s where I live.

It’s also practically raining cotton, so my throat is swollen, my eyes are little watering slits, and I’m sneezing like nobody’s business.  Ahhhh, Kansas in the spring.  There’s nothing quite like it.  =)

Anywhoo, this kind of weather makes me awfully thirsty, you know?

What’s great about this drink is that it’s just about as good sans alcohol.  The mint sprigs and lime juice really crisp up the drink, with just the right about of sweetness from the berries to keep it extra interesting.  Perfect for sipping on the deck while Doodle practices his t-ball swing (can you see the baseball bases in my first picture?  Whoops.).

I’m thinking this might be good with blueberries and lemon–what do you think?

Strawberry Sparklers
For a non-alcoholic version, just omit the wine. You can even use plain water--this makes for a pretty presentation when entertaining!
  • one bottle sweet white wine (I used a Moscato)
  • sparkling water (I used a strawberry flavor)
  • 4 to 5 limes
  • mint sprigs
  • 1 pint strawberries
  1. Slice the strawberries into vertical slivers, tear mint leaves roughly, and add both to a large pitcher. Squeeze the juice of your limes into the pitcher and gently muddle (mash) the ingredients using a wooden spoon.
  2. Add equal parts wine and sparkling water, and lots of ice.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Nutella S’more Cookies

I am officially a soccer mom.

Well, except for the fact that we’re playing t-ball, not soccer.

And the fact that I don’t drive a mini-van, nor do I have any intention of doing so.

But I am sitting at a dirty, dusty baseball field and cheering on my kid like he’s Babe Ruth.

Which he’s not, by the way.

He cried when he got tagged during practice this week.

For the record, he is only four, and it was only his second t-ball practice ever.

After an initial wave of disappointment washed over me for him, I had to giggle about it a little bit.  I mean, we need to learn early in life that we won’t always win, and that it’s okay.

Character-building, even.

But sometimes character-building also requires cookies.

Don’tcha think?

Nutella S’more Cookies
adapted from EveryDay Food, July/August 2009
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • Nutella
  • 15 large marshmallows, halved (I used caramel-vanilla swirl)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a food processor, pulse oats until finely ground. Add flours, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; pulse to combine.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, scraping down sides of bowl.
  4. On low speed, add in flour mixture until just combined.
  5. Drop dough by tablespoons on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until lightly brown, about 12 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven, and add a small amount of Nutella on the top of each cookie and top with a marshmallow. Broil until marshmallows are browned, about 2 minutes.

I’m linked up at these great parties this week: Crazy Sweet Tuesdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, Whip it Up Wednesdays, Eat, Pray {Read}, Love, Sweet Treats Thursday, Mrs. Fox’s Sweets, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Itsy Bitsy Paper, Crumbs and Chaos,  I’m Lovin’ It Fridays, Weekend Potluck, and Cookies and Cups!

{Cilantro-Lime} Mexi-Corn Dip

Yeah, so this recipe probably isn’t new.  And while it’s probably all over Pinterest, I honestly haven’t even looked because every now and then I like to pretend that I’ve discovered something new.

And this is new.  To me.

Which is a little disconcerting, given my love for anything Mexican food related, or food that can be consumed with an accompanying bag of tortilla chips.

Last weekend, we attended a family birthday party, and like most anything my family does, this party came complete with food.  Lots of food.  And this dip.

Dip that I pretty much scarfed and considered my actual meal.

Well, let’s just say it should have been considered an actual meal, given the sheer quantity that I shoved in my mouth.

If you’re planning on hosting a Cinco de Mayo party this year, this would be a great dip to serve as an appetizer.

Or, you know, just the main course.

{Cilantro-Lime} Mexi-Corn Dip
recipe adapted from my cousin. I added the cilantro, lime, and jalepeno, because that's how we like it around here! I think black beans would also be a great addition.
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup cilantro
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 can Rotel, drained
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 jalepeno, diced
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Mix all ingredients, stirring to combine.
  2. Let stand in refridgerator for two hours prior to serving.
  3. Enjoy!

Banana Bread Pancakes with Nutella Maple Syrup

I mentioned the other day that since the Tall Boy was out of town, Doodle and I were making pancakes for dinner.

When I was single, I ate pancakes for dinner all.the.time.

And, since the Tall Boy doesn’t like pancakes, I’ve hardly eaten them since I got married.  It’s a sad, sad thing.

So when Doodle specifically asked me to make them, don’t think I didn’t jump at the chance.

Look, I know banana pancakes are not exactly a new thing.  But banana bread is one of my all time favorite things, so I’m usually trying to figure out a way to work it into my meal plan in some form or another.

Except I’m pretty much super lazy on the weeknights.  After working all day, running a few errands, and racing around to pick up Doodle, preparing a fancy meal is not top on my to-do list.  I’m not one of those women who “have it all together.”  Unless having it “together” just means finding socks that match.

So, I was super excited about making these pancakes, until Doodle informed me that he didn’t want bananas and that the syrup sounded “gross.”

But then he tried the syrup…and changed his mind.


Banana Bread Pancakes with Nutella Maple Syrup
For the pancakes:
  • One banana muffin mix (find one that requires the addition of only milk or water)
  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
For the syrup:
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
For the pancakes:
  1. In a large bowl, combine your dry ingredients.
  2. Add water, egg, and vegetable oil, stirring until well blended.
  3. Spray a frying pan or griddle with a non-stick cooking spray. Turn your stovetop burner to a medium heat setting.
  4. Pour ¼ of the muffin mix into the frying pan. Flip after two minutes. Fry until the pancake becomes dry around the edges and begins to bubble.
For the syrup:
  1. In a small saucepan combine your syrup ingredients over low heat.
  2. Stir constantly, until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth.

I’m linked up at these great parties this week: Crazy Sweet Tuesdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, Whip it Up Wednesdays, Eat, Pray {Read}, Love, Sweet Treats Thursday, Mrs. Fox’s Sweets, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Itsy Bitsy Paper, Crumbs and Chaos, I’m Lovin’ It Fridays, and Weekend Potluck!

Tuaca Nutter

I am seriously glad it’s Friday.

As fast as the weeks tend to go for me anymore, this week Friday couldn’t come fast enough.

I think it had something to do with the fact that I needed to get my driver’s license renewed. Has anyone else gone through this torture lately?

Fortunately, our DMV no longer requires a written test for a regular renewal.  However, they did apparently decide that in lieu of the written test, they’d force you through a process that you’d gladly exchange for a root canal.

This “simple” renewal cost me three trips to the DMV office, and a huge chunk of my life I’ll never get back.

The first time I attempted to go, the computers were down.  My second visit entailed a seriously disgruntled employee informing me that the wait was two hours, and that I’d better just “come back.”  Look, you sent me the renewal card, okay?  I’m totally okay with my current license, one showing my picture nearly a decade younger, and my pre-pregnancy weight.  It’s not like I’m in any mad rush to change it.

So Thursday morning, I got up nearly an hour before my usual wake-up time (torture!), so I could “beat the crowd” and get there when the office opened.

Except everyone else in the city had the same idea.

So yeah, pretty much all day this little sipper was on my mind.

If you haven’t tried Tuaca before, well…you need to.  It’s an Italian liqueur that one of my best girlfriends introduced me to eons ago.  And while it’s most often served as a chilled shot, it’s also a great way to punch up apple cider.

But, since we’re sort of out of the apple cider season, and I’m really about too old to be drinking shots anymore, I toned mine down with a little cream.  Then punched it back up with some Frangelico (a hazelnut liqueur), and some Kahula.*

Tuaca Nutter
  • ½ ounce Tuaca
  • ½ ounce Frangelico
  • ½ ounce Kahula
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  1. Mix all ingredients in cocktail shaker; serve over ice.
  2. Sip and relax.

*See my little rose?  Doodle brought it to me as I was hurriedly taking this photograph.  He’s my doll.

Yippee for Friday!

Peanut Butter {and Peanut Butter Cup} and Jelly Bars

Holy cow, is time flying by just as quickly for everyone else as it is for me?  Seriously, wasn’t it just Christmas?

Anyhoo, this is my fifth month participating in the Improv Challenge, hosted by Kristen over at Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker.  If you haven’t heard about the Improv Challenge, each month participants are assigned two ingredients to pair together to create a fun, new recipe. This month’s ingredients were peanut butter and jelly.  These are top ingredients in my household, since I live with toddler and a husband who goes through a jar of peanut butter once a week.

Yep, once a week.

If I ate like that, I’d weigh like a billion pounds.

On the flip side, he also eats a bag of carrot sticks every week.  He eats them as a “snack.”

Um, a “snack” is a something like scarfing a couple of The Domestic Rebel’s Monster Cookie Cups or stuffing one of Crazy for Crust’s Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Donuts in my mouth when no one is looking.  A “snack” is not carrot sticks, okay?  Carrot sticks are something that I eat because I think I should, not because I’m over the moon for them.

These peanut butter and jelly bars, though?  Totally a snack.

Peanut Butter {and Peanut Butter Cup} and Jelly Bars
  • 1 stick butter
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups jam (I used blueberry)
  • ⅔ cups chopped peanuts
  • ⅔ cups chopped peanut butter cups
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9x13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Lower speed and add egg, vanilla and peanut butter. Beat until combined.
  3. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly add to the peanut butter mixture; mix until just combined. Set aside ½ cup dough.
  4. Press remaining dough into the bottom of your prepared pan. Use your fingers--it's fun!
  5. Spread jam over the dough. Crumbled reserved dough on top, and sprinkle with peanuts and peanut butter cups.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and bubbling.

Check out my previous Improv entries:

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins with Blue Cheese and Cheddar Cheese
Carrot Cake Cookies with Dulce de Leche Buttercream
Lemon Cream Cupcakes with Raspberry Cheesecake Buttercream
Cranberry Muffins with Eggnog Cream

I’m linked up at these great parties this week: Crazy Sweet Tuesdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, Whip it Up Wednesdays, Eat, Pray {Read}, Love, Sweet Treats Thursday, Mrs. Fox’s Sweets, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Itsy Bitsy Paper, Crumbs and Chaos, I’m Lovin’ It Fridays, and Weekend Potluck!

The Best Pasta Salad Ever {Really}

The best pasta salad ever. That’s quite a bold statement to make, isn’t it?

With bacon and toasted pecans, Greek yogurt and red wine vinegar, this pasta salad has just the right balance of flavors.  So easy and so good!  #recipe #pasta

(photo updated 5/25/2013)

But let me give you the reasons why I love this pasta salad:

1. Since I don’t like mayonnaise, I substituted Chobani plain Greek yogurt instead. It was the bomb!  I scarfed this stuff down like it was my last meal.

2.  This salad has the perfect amount of crunch from the broccoli and grapes.

3.  Oh, and from the toasted pecans. I could eat toasted pecans all day.

4.  It’s slightly tangy from the red wine vinegar, yet with just the right amount of sweetness.

5.  Plus, it has bacon in it. Wait…should that be #1?

I look forward to grilling season all year long.  There is pretty much nothing I like more than foods right off the charcoal grill.  I know gas grills are more convenient, but you just can’t beat that charcoal flavor.  Or the smell.  I sort of rub my face against the Tall Boy’s shirt after he comes inside from grilling, take a big whiff, and fall into a charcoal induced coma.  Seriously, if there was a charcoal scented cologne, I’d buy that for him in an instant.

Does that make me weird?


The Best Pasta Salad Ever {Really}
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 8 ounces small pasta
  • 1 pound fresh broccoli
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Chobani 2%), or mayonnaise
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ⅓ cup diced red onion
  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
  • 8 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 5 to 7 minutes or until lightly toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare your pasta according to package directions.
  3. While your pasta is cooking, cut broccoli into bite-sized pieces.
  4. Whisk together Greek yogurt and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; add broccoli, hot cooked pasta, and grapes, and stir to coat. Cover and chill 3 hours. Stir bacon and pecans into salad just before serving.

XO, Ashley

Fig-Prosciutto Pizza {with Honey-Balsamic Drizzle}

It’s month number three of Eating the Alphabet and I’m awfully pleased with myself for making a recipe that’s not a cookie, candy, or cupcake.  I have a tendency to use these parties as an excuse to try making some type of new baked good.  And while this recipe is a little on the sweet side for a main dish, it does also use greens, so this is practically a health food by default.

If you’re not familiar with Brenda’s Eating the Alphabet party, each month, we’ll create a new recipe using a fruit or vegetable with an assigned letter–this month we’re using the letters E or F.

I actually wanted to try using fresh figs for this pizza, but I couldn’t find any in my local market.  This is the problem with living in the middle of the midwest.  It takes for all of the cool stuff (Biscoff, I’m talking to you) to make it here to us.

The only thing “fig” related I’ve ever eaten is a Newton, so I was actually really excited to give this recipe a try.

And I’m so, so glad I did.

I mean, really. Look at this:

See that oozing down the side of the pizza? It’s the fig jam, which wasn’t nearly as sweet on this as I had anticipated. There was definitely a hint of sweetness, but paired with the smokiness of the proscuitto and the peppery arugula, it was simply perfect.

But I couldn’t leave well enough alone.  While the pizza was baking, I made a honey-balsamic drizzle that pushed this pizza right over the edge.

The edge being my pie-hole.

Holy smokes, please make this pizza soon, mmkay?

Fig-Prosciutto Pizza {with Honey-Balsamic Drizzle}
For the pizza:
  • one whole wheat pizza crust (homemade or store-bought; we made our own)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons fig jam
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 12 ounces mozerella, sliced super thin
  • 6 ounces proscuitto
  • 1 bunch fresh arugula
  • ½ cups shaved parmesan or asiago cheese
For the drizzle:
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
For the pizza:
  1. Preheat oven to 500.
  2. Drizzle dough with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Spread fig jam all over the dough and again, sprinkle with salt.
  3. Lay mozzerella slices over the top of the dough. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
  4. Remove from oven and lay proscuitto over the hot pizza. Right before serving, sprinkle on arugula and Parmesan/Asiago cheese.
For the drizzle:
  1. While pizza is baking, mix balsamic vinegar and honey in a small saucepan and cook until thick and syrupy--about 5 minutes.
  2. Drizzle over top of pizza and enjoy!
just barely adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Is anyone interested in seeing recipes for homemade pizza dough?  We made a whole-wheat dough for this pizza, which was fabulous.  And the best part?  It was so, so easy.  I have a few other pizza dough recipes I’m interested in trying, and will share them here if anyone wants to see them.

Happy Sunday!

I’m linked up at these great parties this week: Crazy Sweet Tuesdays, Trick or Treat Tuesdays, Tasty Tuesdays, Totally Tasty Tuesdays, Cast Party Wednesday, Whip it Up Wednesdays, Eat, Pray {Read}, Love, Sweet Treats Thursday, Mrs. Fox’s Sweets, Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons, Itsy Bitsy Paper, Crumbs and Chaos, I’m Lovin’ It Fridays, and Weekend Potluck!

I can’t wait to see what everyone else made! Be sure to check them out!

Midori Colada

I guess I’m sort of on a “colada” roll this week.

And after the week I’ve had, I could definitely use one of these today. Except I’m now out of Midori, so I can’t make any more until I get to the store…and, at the rate I’m going, I probably can’t get there for another few days. So make one of these for me, would ya?

I wish I had a better picture to show you. But the reality of it is, when I went to take this picture, my camera shut down, thumbing its nose at me and telling me to “change the batteries.”

Except I couldn’t find any.

And, since it was a fairly warm day, my icy drink was melting at an alarming rate. Frantic, I took batteries out of every remote in the house, until I finally found a combination with enough juice to power up the camera for long enough to take one picture.

And then I drank this, ’cause by that time, I kinda needed it.

At which point, the Tall Boy returned home to tell me that he had a stock pile of double A batteries hidden in some super special top secret location I knew nothing about.  Seriously?  Who hides batteries?  Apparently, my husband.  Although it wasn’t so much “hiding” the batteries as it was “remembering” that he tossed some aside instead of putting them away.

You’d think that after nearly 10 years, I’d be used to his methods of “organizing,” but I’m not.  These midori coladas sure help, though.  =)

Midori Colada
Makes two coladas
  • 1 ounce rum
  • 2 ounces Midori
  • 2 ounces cream of coconut (I actually used some of the frozen pina colada mix I had leftover from this salad
  • 4 ounces pineapple juice
  • ice
  1. Blend all ingredients until desired consistency is reached. Best served with a straw. =)

Happy Friday! What are your weekend plans? I’d love to hear!