Refreshing Cucumber Water…

Cucumber Water

For Valentine’s Day this year, Joel took me (sans baby) to an nice hotel for the weekend. We lounged in bed watching movies, snacked on complimentary cake balls and champagne, and literally did pretty much nothing but wallow in our sweet, sweet freedom. I know. That sounds just horrible, doesn’t it? How could we even think about enjoying ourselves without our precious one year old?? Well….it was EASY. Although I did require hourly updates from my parents and may have ended up watching a video they sent us of Cassidy having an absolutely splendid time over…and over…and over. Ah, freedom from the baby; always a bit bittersweet, no? ;)

Anyway, to treat ourselves after a particularly long and tiring few weeks, we visited the spa at the hotel. Being one of the top rated spas in the DFW area, we were eager to give it a try, and it totally lived up to its reputation! Hands down, the greatest massage I’ve ever had! However, the thing I remembered most from our little spa outing was the lovely snacks they had! All kinds of fresh fruits, dried fruits, nuts, coffee, a variety of teas, and glasses of ice cold water with cucumber slices. It was so crisp and refreshing! Since that weekend in February, I’ve made several pitchers of this cucumber water. When it’s hot summer, there’s nothing better than a cold glass of this stuff! It’ll cool you right off!

Refreshing Cucumber Water

filtered, cold water
1 seedless hothouse cucumber (if your store doesn’t carry the seedless variety, regular cucumbers are fine)
ice

Fill a large pitcher with cold, filtered water. Thoroughly wash and thinly slice your cucumbers; no need to peel. Add ice and cucumbers to pitcher. Serve immediately.

 

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Buttermilk Biscuits…

Buttermilk Biscuits 2

Raise your hand if you love breakfast for dinner. Me too. Something about getting to drink coffee at night is strangely fun for me. Speaking of that, isn’t it funny how old people always drink coffee with their dinner? In our little town, you’ll go to a restaurant and see an old couple eating mexican food and drinking coffee. Weird.

Anyway, about these biscuits. Now, normally, I would insist on making my great-grandmother’s biscuits, since that was her thing. Baba was a very gifted cook, but I think she would agree with me when I say biscuits were her specialty (well, it may be a tie with her peach cobbler.). However, I don’t exactly have the recipe. Once I tried making them from the cookbook my mom said Baba always used for her biscuits, but something wasn’t right. Honestly, for whatever reason, I’m too scared to make Baba’s biscuits. Just add it to the list of things I’m too chicken to make (my mom’s fried okra, chicken fried steak, anything involving yeast…the list, unfortunately, goes on).

So this time, I chose Deb of Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. And they were really, really good. So perfect hot from the oven and smeared with butter alongside a cup of coffee. And far too easy to continue making store-bought. Frankly, there’s just no comparison.

Buttermilk Biscuits

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar (to taste; you can use more or less. I don’t like mine to be overly sweet)
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 °F and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large, wide bowl. Using fingertips or a pastry blender, work butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, Add buttermilk and stir until large clumps form. Using hands, knead mixture briefly until it just holds together.

Transfer dough to floured counter and pat out until 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick. Using a round cutter (about 2 inches; I always use a small juice glass, like my great-grandmother did), press straight down — twisting produces less layered sides — and transfer rounds to baking sheet, spacing two inches apart.

Bake until biscuits are golden brown on top, about 12 to 15 minutes. Serve warm. Makes approximately 9 biscuits.

Recipe source: barely adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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Meatloaf Muffins…

Meatloaf Muffins

Ok, so these look more like meatloaf…spheres.

I make meatloaf all the time- I love it, Joel loves it, Cassidy loves it….we all love meatloaf. But sometimes it’s fun to play around with a classic. What’s more fun than having your own personal little meatloaf sphere muffin? I don’t know how it is at your house, but at my house, everyone wants the end piece of the meatloaf- it’s the piece with the most “crust” on the outside. By making muffins, every single piece is the end piece! Huzzah!

Meatloaf Muffins 2

Meatloaf Muffins

1 pound lean, ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
half an onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 package Saltine Crackers, crushed (probably about 10 crackers or so)
ketchup for the tops, if desired

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin pan that holds 12. In a small skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the onion and pepper with a little butter or olive oil until soft; about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, tomatoes, salt, pepper, worcestershire, onion and pepper, and saltine cracker crumbs (I find the best way to do this is with my hands). Place some of the meat mixture in each greased muffin cup and bake for about 35 minutes, until a nice crust forms on the tops. Top with ketchup before serving, if desired. Makes about 12 muffins.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Ugh, Blogging…

I’m going to be real honest with you for a second. I’m sick of blogging. Each day I find it harder and harder to sit down and write a post. Usually because I’m too busy/too tired/whatever. But mostly because, frankly, I’m just tired of it. I’m too lazy to style my food, so my pictures suck. There’s nothing I can say in my post that hasn’t already been said a billion times. I’ve been blogging for 5 years, people. It’s been said.

Blogging is a different animal nowadays. When I first started this blog back in 2008, it was pretty simple. We cooked, we photographed, we blogged. It seems like now there are like, 10 added steps! We cook it (not necessarily because it sounded like great recipe, but because we think it might be a big hit on pinterest), we style it, we photograph it, we blog it, we submit it to various food photography sites, we pin it, we post it to our facebook, twitter, and instagram, and then we do the whole thing over again the very next day, because if we let off the gas pedal for even a little, we might lose our followers and our advertising revenue will go down, all the while, finding time to go to countless seminars and conferences learning how to better our blogs, become masters at SEO, and learn how to get the maximum exposure on pinterest. Well, I’m in trouble….because I hardly do any of that! Imagine the cloud of worry constantly hanging over my head because I’ve fallen off the blogging horse and can’t seem to get back up. What will happen to my blogher ads? What if I lose readers? My pay will go down considerably! ‘My pay’?? Seriously?! Gross, Amy.

Then I log onto twitter/pinterest/feedly and see so many fellow bloggers selling out and proudly doing some random company’s advertising for them. Is that what we’ve become, bloggers? An advertisement for someone else‘s stuff? If every post you create revolves around a product that someone paid you to talk about, I think you’re missing the point. I’m tired of good bloggers trying to sell me on cell phones/potatoes/coffee makers/yogurt/WHATEVER.  But even that isn’t the real reason I’m sick of blogging.

There is a particular post that has been sitting in my drafts folder for almost a year now. It’s a cursed post. Seriously. Every time I sit down to finish the dang thing, something ALWAYS happens to prohibit me from typing a word. I’m not kidding- the post draft contains one picture…but not one word. This morning, I decided to sit down and just knock it out in one setting. Just plow on through and get it finished! And then this happened:

photo 1

And this:

photo 2

 [heart = melted]

Seriously, HOW can I, in good conscience, sit there and blog while my sweet baby looks like this?! I can’t. That’s why I barely get any blogging done anymore. Because I refuse to do it while Cassidy is awake, since that’s our time. When she’s napping, I try to use the time for a shower or cleaning or napping myself. By the time bedtime rolls around, honestly, I just don’t feel like it. That’s my time with Joel, and the last thing I want to do is sit in front of a laptop.

I know. There are LOTS of blogging moms who find time to do it all. Pretty much all of my closest blogging friends have kids- little kids!- and they find plenty of time to devote to their blogs while giving ample attention to their children. I guess the difference between them and me is they’re not burned out. I need to find purpose in my blogging again. And something tells me it has nothing to do with stats, ads, or pinterest. I know that every time I wait a week in between posts, I lose readers. I know that. But it also means I’m doing something far more meaningful with my time- whether it’s swinging in the back yard or pretend cooking with Cassidy, lounging in bed watching Psych re-runs with Joel, or having coffee with my mom and sister. When I finally do find my blogging purpose again (and I will), it’ll be because it was on my schedule and not my readers’ or pinterest’s or my sidebar ads’. So there.

Phew. It feels good to get that out! Any other bloggers out there feel my pain? Share it with me! I’d love to know how you refreshed yourself and your blogging! Hopefully I’m not alone, here. :)

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Crispy Baked Black Bean Taquitos…

Crispy Baked Black Bean Taquitos

Hi friends! I hope everybody had a great 4th of July weekend! We had the whole family over Thursday, and then Joel took off work Friday through yesterday, so we’ve had a great, loooooong weekend! We ate out, saw the new Star Trek movie (finally), had brunch, slept in, went shopping, and lounged by the pool. I love stay-cations! Unfortunately, that means I’m way behind on my blogging (as if I weren’t already…). So let’s get back to it!

You know those crunchy black bean tacos I love so much? Well, these are their not-so-distant cousins. As much as I love the tacos, I wasn’t in the mood to stand over the frying pan for a long period of time. So I decided to make baked taquitos instead of tacos! The filling is the same, but you could easily add meat and customize it any way you like. These are crunchy, crispy, and oozing with cheesy bean filling- super yummy!

Crispy Baked Black Bean Taquitos

1 can black beans
12 corn tortillas
small handful chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons salsa
1/4 teaspoon salt
shredded cheddar cheese
vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mash the black beans with the back of a fork; stir in the cilantro, salsa, and salt. Set aside.

In a skillet, heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Have your bean filling nearby. Place one of the tortillas in the hot oil and cook for 30 seconds or so on each side; remove from oil and place on a work surface. Spread some of the bean filling over the tortilla, then sprinkle with cheese. Roll the tortilla up and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and filling. Bake for about 10 minutes, until crisp. Serves 3-4.

Serve with guacamole, sour cream, and/or salsa. I like to stir a little salsa into my sour cream to make an easy dip.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

Crispy Baked Black Bean Taquitos 2

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Summery Lemon Strawberry Trifle…

Strawberry Lemon Trifle

As promised, here’s the second trifle I told you about. And my personal favorite. :) Don’t get me wrong, I love, loooove a good chocolaty trifle, but something about this lemon variety won me over. Maybe the sweet, lemony syrup- soaked angel food cake, or the lemon-vanilla pudding between layers, or the slices of fresh, ripe strawberries…whatever it is, this dessert is a WINNER! And so ideal for a summer cookout! No one wants to turn their ovens on during the hot summertime, so this trifle is where it’s at. No oven required.

Summery Lemon Strawberry Trifle

1 angel food cake, cut into cubes
3 large lemons
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 3.4-oz. boxes vanilla pudding mix
3 3/4 cups milk
1 16-oz. container Cool Whip
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons (be careful not to get the white pith or you’ll end up with a bitter taste). Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a small bowl and set aside. In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat, bring the water, sugar, and lemon peels to a boil and simmer until sugar has dissolved (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove peels.

Whisk the pudding mix and milk until thick, about 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved lemon juice. Set aside.

In a trifle dish or large glass bowl, place half of the angel food cake cubes in an even layer; drizzle with half of the lemon simple syrup. Layer half of the sliced strawberries, then spread half of the pudding, then half of the Cool Whip. Repeat layers. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Serves 12.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Decadent Chocolate Trifle…

Chocolate Trifle

This week, I’ll be sharing not one, but two awesome trifle recipes! I know…that’s kinda weird to just randomly post a bunch of trifle recipes, but I have a reason. :) We threw a graduation party for the son of our good friends a couple of weeks ago and when I asked his mother what his favorite dessert is, she told me he loves chocolate cake and my lemon-lime sugar cookie truffles. I wanted to do something unique that incorporated both of his favorite things, and after lots of thought, ended up making two kinds of trifles- chocolate and lemon. They were both a huge success! I really love this kind of dessert, not only because can they be made ahead of time (and should be!), they’re super simple to throw together and the result is always fantastic.

This trifle features chocolate cake soaked with coffee, then drizzled with a bit of hot fudge and layered with chocolate pudding and cool whip. I’m not kidding when I say this is decadent. The best part is, the longer it sits, the better it gets.  I love “soggy” desserts, so naturally, this one ranks pretty high on my list. If you’re looking for a dessert that looks beautiful, tastes amazing, and requires minimal time and effort, this one’s for you!

Chocolate Trifle 2

Decadent Chocolate Trifle

1 chocolate cake, baked, cooled, and cut into cubes (you may have some left over- save ‘em for a snack!)
hot fudge, for drizzling
1/2 cup freshly brewed coffee that has been allowed to cool
2 3.4-oz. boxes chocolate pudding mix
4 cups milk
1 16-oz. container Cool Whip

Whisk together the pudding mix and milk until thick; about 2 minutes. Set aside.

In a trifle dish or large glass bowl, place half of the cake cubes in a single layer; spoon over half of the coffee, then drizzle a small amount of hot fudge over the cake. Spoon half of the chocolate pudding and spread evenly, then half of the cool whip. Repeat layers, reserving one or two small pieces of cake for the top. When layers are complete, crumble the cake and sprinkle over the top of the cool whip for decoration. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Serves 12.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Crock Pot Green Chile Pork…

green chile pork2

The crock pot is seriously one of my greatest friends in the kitchen. I love having dinner mostly prepared for me at the end of a long day. Especially if it’s juicy, tender green chile pork. Yum. The best part about this recipe is that it can be used for multiple meals. I made tacos with it the first meal, then salads, then sandwiches. It’s the pork that keeps on giving.

green chile pork

Crock Pot Green Chile Pork

boneless pork roast (or loin), about 2 pounds
bunch cilantro (do not chop- just leave it on the stems)
salt and pepper
juice of 2 limes
juice of 1 orange
1 small can diced green chiles
dash liquid smoke

Place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. When done, remove cilantro stems and shred meat to use for tacos, salads, or sandwiches. Serves about 6-8.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies…

Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies 2

There’s a joke (sort of funny, sort of not) in our family now that these are “tornado cookies”, because I baked them the day of the tornado last month. Chuckle. Sort of.

These are some seriously good cookies. It’s a marriage of two awesome cookies- chewy M&M cookies and rich chocolate sugar cookies. Yeah baby. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for chocolate sugar cookies (which would’ve been awesome on their own), and since I was craving M&M cookies, threw some M&Ms in. I was verrrrry happy with the results! Chewy and deeply chocolaty with the nice crunch of M&Ms. I can’t wait to make these again; hopefully minus the tornado this time. ;)

Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies 3

Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon corn starch
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, substitute 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups M&Ms

Preheat oven to 375. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and corn starch in a medium bowl; set aside.

Put butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in shortening (or additional butter). Add egg and vanilla; mix until creamy. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until just combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the M&Ms.

Drop dough by tablespoon-size scoops onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are firm, 9-11 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 days. Makes approximately 36 cookies.

Recipe source: adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies cookbook

Chocolate M&M Sugar Cookies

Choc Sugar Cookies

Cassidy was obviously a fan. :)

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Sauteed Kale…

Sauteed Kale

Are you scared of greens? Does kale or spinach send you running in the opposite direction? Well, fear, be gone, because I have news for you- there’s nothing easier or tastier if you know how to prepare them! I know a plate of soggy kale might seem unappealing to those of you who aren’t big into greens, but I promise it’s just the opposite! Joel and I both love kale (even Cassidy loves it!); in fact, it’s just about our favorite green. I keep a giant bag of frozen, chopped kale in the freezer and put it in soups, casseroles, smoothies, and much more. But my favorite way to prepare it is simply sauteed. It’s amazing how much flavor is packed in these amazingly healthy greens.

A church friend and neighbor of ours is going through some health issues and he and his wife have decided to completely change their lifestyle. They’re exercising and eating healthy- no processed or refined foods. I recently talked with them about their new diets and found out they’re trying to eat as many healthy vegetables as possible. So of course, I asked them if they’d tried kale yet. Since they hadn’t, and seemed a little hesitant, I decided to post this recipe for them. Getting healthy is serious business and I want to help them find some recipes that are super good for you, yet delicious as well.

The kale is blanched, then simply sauteed with a little pancetta (which could absolutely be left out), garlic, and a little red pepper for some heat. Ready in 7 or 8 minutes, full of flavor, and packed with nutrition! Say yes to kale!

Sauteed Kale 2

Sauteed Kale

1 pound fresh kale, washed, ribs removed, and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon diced pancetta
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
pinch red pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Drop the kale in and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes, until it starts to wilt. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta in a skillet over medium heat for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add the olive oil. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for a minute or so.

Using a large slotted spoon, remove the kale from the boiling water and place directly in the skillet with the pancetta and garlic. Sautee for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper. Serves 4 as a side dish.

Recipe source: Sing For Your Supper original

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