Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies

Any time I’m home to visit my family, we’re always feeding a big crowd. Generally we stick with what we know—grilled burgers or chicken, taco salad or nachos, soup and chili, or something similar. But every so often my sisters and mom and I put our heads together and come up with something different.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies

When I was home in July, we had one night where we were only going to have like 15 people—a considerably smaller crowd than our usual 25 or more. My sister and I decided we were really craving Thai food, so quickly had Mom poke through her cabinets to see if we had the makings for a Thai peanut sauce pasta. Since my mom’s cabinets are better stocked than most small grocery stores, we had almost everything we needed.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Veggies

Beyond the basics of the sauce recipe, we totally winged it (wung it??), adding all the delicious flash stir fried veggies we could find, chicken, and whole wheat noodles. This dish was meat, carbs, and veggies in one, so we knew we had to make enough to get the whole hungry horde through dinner.

Thai Peanut Noodles with Chicken & Veggies done

And it was definitely a hit! There wasn’t even a spoonful left after supper, the pan was scraped clean. Combined with the moist strawberry shortcake I made for the big group, I think everyone was stuffed. [Read more...]

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Heirloom Tomato Risotto

Heirloom tomatoes in season are seriously one of my favorite foods. In fact, I got to have a fancy dinner last night and there was an heirloom tomato and burrata salad that I could have eaten gallons of. I was in paradise.

heirloom tomato risotto tomatoes & basil

So last week at the farmer’s market when I saw these gorgeous big lumpy heirloom tomatoes, I had to get my paws on them immediately. Thoughts of juicy chunks of tomato swimming in creamy, salty ricotta and tossed with al dente pasta danced through my head. I had plans.

Heirloom Tomato Risotto

Then plans changed, and I had friends coming over that night, last-minute. Since they’re gluten-, dairy-, and egg-free, I had to make some adjustments to my master plan.

Heirloom Tomato Risotto finished

I racked my brain to find something that they’d be able to eat and would still do these beautiful tomatoes justice. I landed upon a simple risotto, with a few adjustments to accommodate their health challenges (namely, I left out the butter and parmesan—sad, but necessary). I was worried it wouldn’t be nearly creamy enough, but it was still totally delicious.

heirloom tomato risotto tomato

My love of risotto is legendary, and I’ve never understood why people are so scared to make it. Yes, it’s time consuming and takes a little TLC, but it’s also very straightforward, not difficult at all. It’s the perfect dish to put on the stove when you already have people over and want to just stand there and drink wine and chat and stir constantly. Or heck, make your guests stir and drink wine and chat while you put the rest of the meal together. This version lets the tomatoes be the star, with a supporting cast of fresh basil and balsamic vinegar to add just a little extra. [Read more...]

Crusty French Baguettes in 30 Minutes

You know those times when you realize that you’re having a bunch of people over and that you forgot to figure out a bread? But you’re like an hour from dinner and pretty much everything would take way too long?

30-Minute Crusty Baguettes

(yeah, me neither)

30-Minute Crusty Baguettes with Homemade Butter

Lucky for me, I’ve found a couple of pretty quick bread recipes that are pretty quick (and aren’t just biscuits). I have this 1-hour focaccia bread and a 1-hour french bread, but this goes even further. You can have this thing done start to finish in about a half hour (give or take a few minutes depending on how long it takes to bake). And the flavor is AMAZING!

30-minute crusty baguette dough wine

This is a key part of bread making…

30-Minute Crusty Baguette

Bread is a non-negotiable part of meals for my mom, so super happy to have another great recipe in the arsenal. [Read more...]

Moist Strawberry Shortcake (for a Large Group)

Does this picture not just epitomize summer?

I was back home in Kansas a couple weekends ago with my family for a memorial service, which involved a LOT of people and a LOT of cooking. Friday night we had a smaller get-together (maybe 15 people?), and we needed to figure out a dessert to feed the masses.

playing croquet

Strawberry shortcake is my go-to summer dessert when I have people over. It’s basically perfect—juicy strawberries, just a hint of sugar, fluffy cake, pillowy whipped cream. Healthy. And the easiest thing to throw together for an impromptu get-together.

moist strawberry shortcake strawberries

While angel food cake will do in a pinch, usually I try to go the extra mile and make traditional homemade shortcakes, kind of scone- or biscuit-like (or like this oat & brown sugar version). They’re not hard to make, but they’re not good for big groups and are not as great when you make them ahead of time—like biscuits, they’re great fresh but get tougher and stale once cool.

Moist Strawberry Shortcake baked

When I started thinking about dessert for a bunch of people (plus getting dinner on the table), I knew that individual shortcakes would be too much trouble. I knew I wanted something that made a lot, and something that would stay moist so we could make it several hours ahead. After quite a bit of digging, I discovered this recipe, and was quite pleased with the results.

Moist Strawberry Shortcake

It literally took less than five minutes to mix  the ingredients together and throw it in the oven, and it was super moist, not too sweet, and basically perfect for soaking up strawberry juices. My brother-in-law gave it his stamp of approval, and finished off the leftovers the next day. While it’s not quite as pretty as the traditional shortcakes, it’s got great texture and is delicious! [Read more...]

Peanut Butter & Honey Ice Cream with Sea Salt

Summer in Georgia. Crazy humidity. The smell of rain on concrete. Fireflies. And bare legs sticking to your leather couch.

In other words, folks, it’s been hot & humid up until the cool spell we had this week.

Peanut Butter & Honey Ice Cream with Sea Salt

The last thing I’ve wanted to do lately is turn on my oven, so to get my sweet fix I’ve had to turn to cool treats. I’ve never made anything but frozen yogurt in my frozen yogurt maker, but didn’t see any reason this wouldn’t work. And the peanut butter + honey + sea salt flavor combo is one I seriously can’t resist.

Peanut Butter & Honey Ice Cream w Sea Salt

This ice cream is amazing! The texture is super creamy, with the mild sweet honey and peanut butter blending perfectly, with just the hint of sea salt to cut it. I sat on my hot couch on a Saturday night in my pajamas and ate a giant bowl, then contemplated eating the rest…then reminded myself that then I would have eaten an entire can of coconut milk in one sitting. So I resisted, but it was touch-and-go there for a while! [Read more...]

Banana Chocolate Coffee Muffins with Whole Wheat Flour

I’ve really slipped on my healthy breakfast train the last month or two. I had family in town, then was out of the country for a couple weeks, and have been buried under work and lack of sleep. So I just haven’t had the time or energy to do much baking or cooking to prepare for each coming week. Thankfully, over 4th of July weekend I finally got back on track with these beauties.

Banana Chocolate Coffee Muffins

I really haven’t done a lot of baking lately, partly because when I use my stove and oven it makes my kitchen feel like Death Valley during the summer. My A/C can’t come close to keeping up. But I decided it was worth it to give these guys a try. I mean, coffee and chocolate in a muffin together?? Sign me up!

Banana Chocolate Coffee Muffins done

As much as I love whole wheat flour, I was a little nervous about using it exclusively, since sometimes that can make things a little too dry and dense. I shouldn’t have worried, though—these were moist and light even as reheated leftovers at work the next day. And the dark chocolate chips are these gooey little nuggets of awesome. For something that literally takes like 5 minutes to stir together, the return on this is totally worth it! [Read more...]

Pasta with Fresh Sweet Corn Pesto

This is seriously one of the best things I’ve eaten in a while. I had such high hopes for this recipe, and am inordinately happy that I wasn’t disappointed.

Pasta with Fresh Sweet Corn Pesto

Sure, traditional pesto is made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, and parmesan, but the word basically comes from the Italian verb pestare, which just means “to pound or crush” (i.e. what you do with all these ingredients). Typically you’d make pestos with a mortar and pestle (from the same verb) but most of us are way too lazy to do that on a regular basis. Because food processors are magical.

pasta with fresh sweet corn pesto corn ears

While I’ve tried kale pestos, spinach pestos, and all kinds of different nuts in the sauce as well, this is a very different take on the traditional dish. You start with sweet, juicy fresh corn cut right off the cob. Cook some bacon and leave the drippings in the pan to start the flavor profile. Saute some minced garlic in it to release its amazing aroma. Add a dash of red pepper flakes for just a hint of bite. And finish it off in the food processor with pine nuts, fresh parmesan cheese, and olive oil to make a creamy sauce that clings to the noodles like its life depends on it.

pasta with fresh sweet corn pesto corn sliced

This dish doesn’t take long overall—the longest part is cutting the corn off the cob, which I’m pretty slow at (partly because I value my fingers). Once that part’s done, the rest moves quickly and you can have it on the table in less than half an hour. While you could use many different kinds of pasta, I think a long flat pasta like linguine or tagliatelle is best for this (though I break most of the noodles in half before cooking). [Read more...]

30-Minute Mongolian Beef

Happy Independence Day! Because what’s more patriotic than Americanized Chinese food?!

30-Minute Mongolian Beef

It’s  funny, I looked through all the recent recipes I’ve made but not posted yet, and there’s not a single one I’d classify as American. Apparently I’ve been on an Asian kick, though. And this one’s a doozy—the most delicious, successful Asian recipe I’ve made since this super easy sesame chicken.

30-minute mongolian beef green onion

I’ve gone through like a hundred green onions lately. They’re the best!

30-Minute Mongolian Beef done

The sauce is obviously the hero of this recipe—you could switch the beef out for chicken and maybe wouldn’t even notice. It’s a little sweet and salty and garlicky and super tangy. It’s got bite. I honestly don’t know that I’d classify it as a traditional Mongolian beef sauce, which I think of as a little more mellow. But no matter what you call it, it’s awesome. And as a bonus, this recipe creates a lot of sauce to soak into the rice, which is one of my non-negotiables where Chinese food is concerned. [Read more...]

Super Healthy Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream

Guys, this is so good. I didn’t believe that somehow simple frozen bananas could be broken down and then coalesce into a creamy, magical ice cream.

Peanut Butter Banana Ice Cream 2

If I served this to you and told you it was ice cream, you’d never guess otherwise. Unless you hate bananas, and then you’d just wonder why I was trying to poison you with banana ice cream. [Read more...]

Traditional Spanish Tortilla

See, I would have called this a frittata. And apparently I would have been wrong.

Traditional Spanish Tortilla done

One of my co-workers is half Spanish, and one time he brought in a traditional Spanish tortilla for breakfast. While it looked exactly like the frittatas I’m so fond of, it just had a slightly different flair. The gold potatoes are delightfully tender and add a delicate base to the dish. Many also include onion, asparagus, chorizo, and other fillings. The recipe below called for tarragon, though I used fresh rosemary and oregano instead.

Traditional Spanish Tortilla

Spanish tortillas and frittatas are very similar, though there are a few differences. Tortillas are always egg- and potato-based, while frittatas only have to have eggs. Also, apparently the main difference is that you’re supposed to flip a Spanish tortilla on the stovetop at the end, versus finishing in the oven like a frittata. I’ll definitely be trying this method next time—I’m trying to wheedle my co-worker’s recipe out of him! [Read more...]

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