CUBAN SLIDERS

HAWAIIAN ROLLS + MOJO PORK = HEAVEN

Being able to get in the kitchen after a long day of work is my escape. Get in comfy clothes, blast some tunes, maybe pour a glass of wine, and get cooking...that's my oasis. But sometimes I don't want to do anything - I want to put my feet up and dinner to just be ready. OR sometimes I need to prep something up for the boy because I'm not home for dinner. This is where I introduce Hawaiian roll sliders. This recipe is a little bit more work, so you can do it all in one night or if you have a little more time one night prep it and then all you have to do is put it in the oven! 

I think everyone likes Hawaiian rolls...right? You can eat them by themselves, throw some turkey in there, bake them with chicken, or even scramble up some eggs & cheese and throw it in between those bad boys. Anyways, I thought Cubans wouldn't be any different...and I was right. 

We've been on a pork tenderloin kick for a while - decently cheap, super versatile and easy as all hell to cook. Seriously yall, you can throw one of these guys on the grill, in the oven, or if you want some pulled pork cook it in the handy dandy crock pot. 

With this recipe I marinade it overnight in a mojo cuban concoction, sear in a skillet & bake in the oven. 

INGREDIENTS

===========

For the marinade

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 TB garlic powder
  • ½ a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon or dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

For the rub

  • 1 TB garlic
  • ½ a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • ½ a teaspoon of cumin

For the Sandwiches

  • Pork Tenderloin (1-2 lbs)
  • 1/2 lb honey ham
  • about 4-5 slices Swiss Cheese
  • Bread & Butter pickles
  • 1 package Hawaiian Rolls

Sandwich Topping

  • 3 TB butter (melted)
  • 1 ts garlic powder
  • 1 TB Dijon Mustard

INSTRUCTIONS

===========

  1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a gallon ziploc bag. Place the pork tenderloin in and toss around to fully cover. Place in fridge - overnight or at least 4 hours.
  2. Cooking time - preheat oven to 425 degrees
  3. Remove tenderloin from marinade and pat down dry. Mix together the rub mix and rub over the pork tenderloin
  4. Preheat a cast iron skillet to medium heat with 1 TB of butter
  5. Brown all sides of the pork tenderloin - about 3 minutes per side. Once all sides have been seared then place in the oven for 15-20 minutes (or until pork is fully cooked - 145 degreeS).
  6. Let the pork cool before cutting into thin slices If you are cooking the sandwiches the same night, set the oven to 350 at this time
  7. Cut the Hawaiian rolls in high (in order to make sandwiches)
  8. Spray a cake pan with non-stick spray and place the bottom half of the sliders in the pan.
  9. Place slices of ham, pork tenderloin, pickles, cheese evenly on the open faced sliders. Top with the top half of the rolls
  10. Mix the melted butter, garlic powder, and Dijon mustard together and pour over the rolls.
  11. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes (at 350), uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes until golden brown. If you are cooking the next day, I would advise to cook covered for a bit longer until warmed all the way through
  12. Remove from pan and cut into sliders!

TERIYAKI NOODLES & ZOODLES

TWO VERSIONS OF AN EASY TERIYAKI DISH

My boy loves him some asian food, but to avoid going to get Hy-Vee Chinese every week I have started to implement some dishes into our weekly plan. This dish is a quick 30 minute fix up and easy to turn a little bit healthier by swapping out the noodles for zoodles!

Start with zucchini and turn them into zoodles - I either use my kitchen aid attachment or this hand held little guy. Both work like a charm. 

Now time for the sauce...

 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy saucE , 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed, 1 tb minced garlic, 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, 2 tablespoons honey + h20 + Corn starch slurry 

1/3 cup reduced sodium soy saucE , 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed, 1 tb minced garlic, 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger, 2 tablespoons honey + h20 + Corn starch slurry 

Add some steamed broccoli, cooked soba noodles, and shredded chicken - top with sesame noodles andddd DONE!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 package of soba noodles and/or 3 zucchinis
  • 1-2 lbs chicken (depending on your preference - I precook and shred)
  • 3 cups steamed broccoli
  • 1 ts sesame seeds

SAUCE

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 TB minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Instructions

  1. If using zoodles - pre zoodle the zucchini
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water and set aside for later
  3. In a saucepan over medium heat, add soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, honey and 1 cup water then bring to a simmer. Stir in the cornstarch mixture until thickened.
  4. Add in cooked chicken and steamed broccoli
  5. Stir in soba noodles (or zoodles) until cooked
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds

Faux Lasagna

Don't worry there isn't any tofu and yes, there is still cheese.

This is something that my mom made and ever since I've been itching to make it - however this is not something the man of the house would be very interested in. So with him being gone on a ski trip it was the perfect opportunity. 

Welcome to [Italian turkey] sausage & sweet potato zucchini lasagna from Pinch of Yum

It takes a little bit of work, but the hardest part is the 15 minutes after it's done baking and you have to wait to let it cool. PURE TORTURE. I just had this for leftovers and y'all...you just need to have it. Who knew something that resembles baby food (this sweet potato puree) could be so damn amazing...but I'll still hold off on the baby part please. 

Here's a quick play by play - sweat out the zucchini, layer the zucchini, sweet potato puree, ground Italian turkey sausage, zucchini, puree, sausage, zucchini, puree & cheese! 

  1. INGREDIENTS
  • 3 zucchini
  • 1 lb. ground turkey Italian sausage
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup non fat milk
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Cut the zucchini into thin strips lengthwise. I did this with a normal vegetable peeler & resorted to a knife once it started to become too difficult.
  2. Lay down the zucchini on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Let them rest & "sweat it out"
  3. In a skillet, brown the ground turkey with 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
  4. Wash the sweet potatoes, poke/stab/pierce whatever you want with a fork and wrap in a damp paper towel and microwave for about 7 minutes. (BTW this is my go to way to cook sweet potatoes in a pinch!) If you prefer you can bake them too. 
  5. Chop up the sweet potatoes and place in a blender with the milk, chicken broth, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt - puree until smooth & delicious. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  7.  Now its time to layer! Start with the sweated zucchini noodles, then the sauce, sausage - repeat as many times as you'd like and end with a zucchini layer, sauce & some cheese.
  8. Cover with foil and bake for 30-45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 15-20 minutes. ** I promise let it cool - it makes the whole process so much easier

Eat your soul out because it's healthy and you can!

Asian Sesame Chicken Oodles

SOBA NOODLES ARE MY FAVORITE. 

There's something about soba noodles that make me want to curl up in a ball on the couch, with a glass of wine, and a heaping bowl of Asian flavored goodness. One major reason may be that stir fry was my go-to in college, and of course the noodles were the main show. This was usually paired with a few glasses of wine, and a piece of carrot cake...I mean it WAS college. 

Anyways, I came across this recipe from Pinch of Yum and decided to go with it. I was super hesitant because every time I try to make Asian/Japanese inspired food, I feel like the flavors don't quite match up...there's always something missing. Thankfully that was not the case with this sauce, it is delicious. I actually ended up whipping up some more at the end to make it extra saucy. 

The best part is you can really do whatever you want with this dish - I think versatile meals have become a staple for me. They are easy to change up so you can repeat them without getting boring and the best part, I can make something Ethan likes that I want to eat as well. With this dish, I added in carrots, cucumbers, edamame, and all of the zoodles for my bowl. 

What you're gonna need: 

Sesame Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger (I use a fresh paste)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  • 2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Other Ingredients

  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 ounces soba noodles
  • 1 cucumber shredded (can swap for other veggies, too)
  • 3 large carrots shredded
  • 1 bag edamame

What you need to do: 

  1. Mix together all ingredients for the sauce, except sesame seeds & red pepper flakes. You can either process this in a food processer or just mix well until combined. Stir in sesame seeds & red pepper flakes
  2. Cook the chicken, when almost finished pour in 1/3 of the sauce
  3. Remove chicken & shred
  4. Place the chicken back in the pan, add soba noodles, sauce, cucumbers, carrots, and edamame
  5. Top with extra sesame seeds & red pepper flakes

Notes:
* I loath shredding chicken, it just bothers me - I don't know why. I am half tempted to make the chicken in the crockpot and then continue, we will see. 
* I add in zoodles to my bowl and top with this goodness - I mean I'm all about the volume

Mexi Bowls

When you're a homesick Texan, easy Mexican dishes are something that you need to have tucked up your sleeve. 

Solid Mexican food is seriously hard to come by in the Mid-West, unless you're at Pancheros. But if you're looking to avoid the drunk, downtown goers in line, you'll be looking for a while. So when the going gets tough, you make your own! 

This is the easiest most versatile dish in my rolodex...not that I actually have a rolodex. Does anybody remember those, before everything was digital? I am obsessed with putting things from pen to paper, maybe I should get one. Anyways, back to the food. 

This is pretty much your home version of your favorite local Mexican grill. If we are going to break it down, here's the steps: 

  1. Pick you meat: chicken breast, chicken thigh, ground turkey
  2. Pick your peppers & onions
  3. Pick your depth: black beans, pinto beans, rice
  4. Pick your toppings: taco sauce, guacamole, queso, shredded cheese, tomatoes, salsa cilantro, jalapeños, etc. 

Sautee up peppers and onions. Even though I prefer multicolored peppers, this girl is on a budget so green peppers it is. 

Toss in the meat - I went ahead and crockpotted the chicken thighs, but you can dice up the chicken or brown ground turkey on the stove top.

Add in the rice, beans, & sauce. I usually let this cover and simmer until the rice is cooked (of course I use the 5 minute quick rice), this lets the flavors blend together. Ethan loves him some taco sauce - there's never enough. 

Once it is all cooked together, the fun has just begun! Guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, and if you want it...even more taco sauce! 

Want a less carb-y version? Skip the rice and/or beans and throw over some greens! Want to add more flavor at ease? Stop by your local Mexican grill and pick up their queso and/or guac!

When life hands you avocados, you make guac! 

Perfecting Pizza Pies

The real ins & outs of our pizza kitchen - from dough baby to pretty pie. 

It all started in August last year, and there has been quite an evolution of these pizzas since time has passed.
Three major keys: 
1. Sauce recipe
2. Dough recipe
3. Oven as hot as you can get it (*notes in dough recipe)

AUGUST 2015
The cake pan babies...these bad boys were actual PERFECTION

October 2015
Halloween pizzas - the first try at the pizza stone for all three. 

December 2015
Doing the duo - pizza stone & cake pan 

January 2016
Using that extra dough to make some calzones

February 2016
Back to the pizza stone & making them pretty. 

April 2016
Once you start to perfect the pie, you start working on the photography. 

May 2016
Breaking away from the cheese & going for some BBQ

June 2016
Going for some sausage 

July 2016
The perfect crust 

August 2016
Extra person? Extra pie. 

October 2016
Sharing the love with the Rents

If I show you mine, will you show me yours? even if you can't share a slice, share the pics! Tag @slicebaby on instagram & Facebook 

Date nights with Chrissy

I am obsessed with Chrissy Teigen.

Okay, now that we have gotten that out of the way, we can continue. I received the Cravings cook book for my birthday in March and although I have cracked it open a few times I hadn't given it a chance in the kitchen yet...until now. I knocked out three recipes in one week. 

First up - Chipotle Honey Chicken

First things first - make the chipotle sauce.  

  1. 1/2 can chipotle chiles in adobo
  2. 1 1/2 cups of bbq sauce
  3. 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  4. 1/4 cup whiskey (always wise to sample to make sure it's still good)
  5. 5 cloves garlic
  6. Juice of 1 lime

Mix up everything in a food processor - she called for more chiles and garlic, but I put less in for E & I's spicy sensitive mouths. Toss the 2 lbs of chicken thighs in it and marinade for 2 hours to overnight. 

The Steps
-Preheat oven to 375
-Place marinated chicken on a baking sheet with foil
-Bake for about 20 minutes
-Take out and top with more sauce & honey and cook until chicken is cooked through

Second Up - Zucchini Fritters

INGREDIENTS

  • zucchini
  • Panko
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Eggs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Slice zucchini thinly
  3. Whisk 2 eggs together in a bowl, in a separate bowl mix together panko & parmesan cheese
  4. Dip the zucchini in eggs and then panko mixture
  5. Place on baking sheet (I lined with foil and the cooling rack)
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes

For convenience, I sliced mine in circles - they crisp up pretty quickly so make sure to keep your eye on them! For the sauce, I opted for a concoction of greek yogurt, cilantro and lemon juice. 

Different night/same cook book - Fish Tacos

The prep -

  1. Tilapia seasoned with garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder
  2. Sliced avocado
  3. Sliced limes
  4. Diced tomatoes
  5. Slaw
  6. Special Sauce*
  7. Corn Tortillas

Instead of Chrissy's green pepper sauce, I went for an avocado cream sauce (avocado, greek yogurt, lime, cilantro, seasoning all blended up). 

Corn tortillas - if you're usually not a fan for their flakiness then heat up the tortillas on a skillet for a few seconds each side. Not only gives them a little char but also toughens them up for all the goodness you want to put inside. 

Overall, my nights with Chrissy were a success - all that was missing was her! 

After this we're getting pizza

Pizza is a major major priority, so when there was a weekend together for the first time in FOREVS a pizza night was the obvious answer. However when the decision to make pizza is made then pizza is the only thing on the brain...so it's necessary to fill the time with something else. We decided to get a little active and go hiking...(thanks sister for the bomb water bottle). 

IMG_9296 2.JPG

We were off to the Coralville Reservoir - Woodpecker Trail - Linder & Squire Points area. I've been wanting to try this area out for some time now and an 80 degree weather day was agreeing with us. 

The hike was amazing, there were little pockets that looked out onto the lake - which we turned into adventure opportunities. There are also little "workout pods" throughout the hike so we got to sneak in some abs, pullups, etc. After skipping some rocks and Ethan climbing a tree, we called it good and headed back to make the za! 

We already decided on our go to for two pizzas - one massive original cheesy pie as well as a smaller bbq chicken. 

This was the third time that we have made this pie, its pretty basic. 
1. Make it huge
2. Cover with freshly shredded provolone & mozzarella
3. Bake it hot (520 for 8 minutes to perfection). 

Every time we have attempted to make it, it just keeps getting better and better. This time, we used all bread flour and let it rise in a warm oven for 3 hours. The dough consistency was PERFECT - Ethan thinks it was due to when he fermented the yeast it melted right into the beer. The dough was airy and bubbly but held it's density from the bread flour. Also cheesy goodness always wins. 

This bad boy came to fruition after I made bbq chicken thighs in the crockpot last week. The flavor was so on point that we knew it would be even better on a pie, and let me tell y'all its easy as pie (sorry...I had to). We threw an onion, chicken thighs, chicken broth, and bbq sauce (we've been hooked on Cookies bbq) and let it cook on high for 3 hours. I typically cook everything on low for about 6, but we were in crunch time. We stuck with our typical pizza sauce, just not as much, topped with sliced mozzarella ball, shredded chicken & onions and a little shredded mozzarella (leftover from the first pie). This sucker took about 8 minutes too and then topped with some more bbq sauce and fresh basil...from our tree that Ethan is doing a damn good job of keeping alive. 

We were in full agreement that these were our best pizzas to date...but I think we say that every time. At this point, I'm unsure if its factual or if we are just that infatuated that we fall back in love over and over again. Either way, I'm okay with it. As always we polished these off followed by pints of Ben & Jerrys and 2 glasses of wine (Ethan had milk...ew) because...

Calories don't count on the weekend...right?

Protein Pancakes

Put a plate of pancakes in front of me...poof! They're gone. 

Then..the endless guilt and food comma overtakes me. Protein pancakes are the perfect answer. 

I Absolutely love protein pancakes, they are warm and bready and then once I top them off with sunflower butter they're golden. the best thing about these guys is that there isn't one way to make them, I almost always have everything for one of the variations! 

INGREDIENTS

UNO

  1. 1/2 banana
  2.  1/4 cup egg whites
  3. 1 scoop protein powder
  4. 1 teaspoon baking powder

DOS

  1.  1 egg
  2. 2 egg whites
  3. 1 banana
  4. 1 teaspoon baking powder

TRES

  1. 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  2. 1/2 scoop protein powder
  3. 1/2 cup egg whites
  4. 1 teaspoon baking powder

DIRECTIONS ARE ALL THE SAME - mash everything in a bowl & cook like a normal pancake. I always always ALWAYS add cinnamon & vanilla to the mix and sprinkles are a go to when feeling the slightest bit festive. 

TOPPINGS: Sunflower butter is a MUST in my book and if I used half the naner in the mix, I'll Use the other half for the toppings. 

Treat these like normal cakes, want some blueberries or Choco chips? Throw em on in! Want to make a smilie face or Top it all off with Whipped Cream - Go for IT! 

The protein pancake is your canvas - dive on in. 

Spicy Tuna Sushi Bowl

There are a few things I'll leave to the pros, sushi is definitely one of them. 

A sushi bowl though? That's something I can handle. Ethan & I love us some sushi, but I'm not quite sure he would come running to the table for a bowl of cauliflower rice and seared tuna. With him being gone on the weekends, it gives me the opportunity to try out some things he might not fancy as much as me.

I've always wanted to make seared ahi tuna but always scared to. I don't know if it's reading Chrissy Teigen's cookbook chapter, "Things That Intimidate People But Shouldn't" or just the fact that I have a food blog and I can't be cooking chicken every night...either way I decided to give it a shot. If you wanna try it, do it - seriously as simple as it sounds. Heat up some oil sear it for a minute, flip until all sides are seared andddd done. Everything else kinda just came together with a lot of inspiration from Pinch of Yum's sushi bowl .

It never really crossed my mind that I could buy pickled ginger. Let me tell y'all, I LOVE ginger. I'm definitely that girl that is reaching across the table stealing everyone's ginger off of their plates. Crystallized ginger, candied ginger (that's my favorite), pickled ginger...give me all of it.

I used some cauliflower rice I had in the freezer from my last Trader Joe's run (shout out to my sister for telling me to get it) & bought the spicy mayo from the sushi counter at our local Hyvee. I'm not one for the spicy, so buying a bottle of sriracha seemed silly (I'll pause for all the Bedells in my family to shake their heads at me) - so 99 cent spicy mayo won. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz ahi tuna
  • cauliflower rice
  • mushrooms
  • broccoli
  • cucumbers
  • carrots
  • pickled ginger
  • spicy mayo (sriracha & mayo)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Sautée cauliflower rice with broccoli & mushrooms
  2. Heat a skillet with oil and sear a ahi tuna steak approx 1 min on each side. Remove from heat & let rest for a few minutes before cutting into strips
  3. Prep veggies & any other toppings
  4. Place in a bowl and don't forget the ginger & spicy mayo!!

Chopsticks optional. 

Pizza in a pinch

When you need pizza, you need it NOW.

Sometimes, you're really craving the 'za but there are just not enough hours in the day to let those perfect balls of dough rise. I mean nothing beats the real deal, but if you're in a pinch a flatbread works as a great ready to go base. 

BBQ and margherita were the lucky two - so I slapped our favorite barbecue sauce on one and olive oil on the other. 

Then it was time to pile toppings until there was no more space. This is a great opportunity to use up that produce about to go bad or some leftovers. I had a mozzarella ball that needed to be used up and some leftover chicken so I knew I wanted to use those up.  Cheese & shredded cheese on one / sliced tomatoes & mozza ball on the other. 

...Now the hardest part, the oven minutes. I swear those bad boys are longer than treadmill minutes (and those are long!). These guys were cooked at 350 for about 15 minutes. 

FLATBREAD PIZZAS
serving size - 1 (hungry person)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 flatbreads
  • "base coating"
    -olive oil
    -bbq sauce
  • cheese
    -mozzarella
    -shredded cheddar & provolone
  • toppings
    -tomato
    -basil
    -chicken
    -moreeee bbq

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Top flatbreads with base coating of your choice
  3. Main toppings & cooking
    • BBQ: top with cheese & diced chicken & place in oven for 15 minutes
    • Margherita: Place oiled flatbread in oven for 5 minutes, top with sliced cheese & tomatoes / back in the oven for 5-10 minutes
  4. After both pizzas are cheesy & bubbly top them off!
    • BBQ: drizzle bbq sauce
    • Margherita: basil, salt & pepper

Another perk of the flatbreads is that they are small(er) than the normal pizza, so you are able to have more than one!

I mean what's better than a personal pizza? TWO personal pizzas! 

Power Me Up

Why do boys never remember to eat?

Is it just me or does anybody have the struggle of eating more than their significant other? Ethan and I will get home after a long day and set down all of our bags on the counter...his lunchbox always a little heavier than mine. Lo and behold the kid hasn't eaten all day! In his defense, he is in the midst of starting his own company for speed & agility training, Ethan Holmes Performance. With this new day to day, he is constantly running around and doesn't have time to eat a sandwich or chow down on leftovers. Welcome, power balls. 

Now, I'd be shocked if you have yet to hear of these little gems. They are delicious & nutritious snacks all wrapped up in one (or three) balls with no fuss, even making them is easy. Trust me, the way Ethan goes through these things I am making them constantly...no way I'd be volunteering as tribute if it was a major pain. 

You start with some simple recipes and each one can be adjusted to your liking. Ethan is a Skippy kinda boy, where as I would make these with Sunflower butter if it were me. Coconut oil is my use for liquid, I think it just adds an extra punch without adding the texture of coconut flakes. I prefer to use mini chocolate chips because I feel like the mini ones incorporate better into the balls, but you could add white/caramel chips, dried fruit, or nix it all! Also, honey can easily be switched out for agave nectar or even syrup! 

Get all the dry ingredients in and then start adding the sticky ones (honey & peanut butter). I usually start with a spatula and end up tossing it in the sink and just going at it with my hands. I have yet to learn to just start off that one, but hopefully one day. 

Set the bowl up in the fridge for about 30 minutes to chill it out & then roll them out! Keep these bad boys kept in an air tight container, but only after you try one or two or three. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 2 scoops protein powder
  • 1-2 TB cinnamon
  • 1 TB vanilla extract
  • 2 TB coconut oil
  • 2-3 TB honey
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (I never really measure this spot, put enough until you're happy)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add oats, protein powder and cinnamon into a bowl
  2. Add in vanilla, honey, peanut butter, and coconut oil
  3. Start to incorporate all together and add in chocolate chips
  4. Stick in the fridge for 30 minutes to let chill
  5. Once chilled,

**coconut oil is hardened in the jar, just measure it out and stick in the microwave for less than 30 seconds to melt it ebfore adding into the mix.

Nut Butter Fudge

sprinkles are my best friend

Seriously, if something is cake batter flavored and/or has sprinkles i am going to be all over it, and lets be real shouldn't cake batter & sprinkles always go together? Anyways, I am always looking for a new sweet treat to take care of my constant sugar cravings. I have had my fair share of protein ice creams , which side note i just tried Enlightened Ice Cream  in Sea Salt Caramel and it was unreal...globs of caramel and everything.

Back on Topic, sweet snacks. I think my Pinterest search tab is full of cake batter dessert recipes. Then I stumbled on Ambitious Kitchen's cake batter freezer fudge and thought I just had to give it a try. it calls for cashew butter, which I did Not have on Hand so I went with my trusty sunflower butter. Just grab some coconut oil, sunflower butter, syrup & Vanilla and throw into a sauce pan. Melt it all, add some sprinkles and then pour into a loaf pan lined with parchment paper. freeze it for 30 minutes, take a knife (or your mouth) to it and you're done! 

These are a good little healthy fat treat, They have more of a maple syrup taste to me than anything but I attest that to the fact that I didn't use Cashew butter (which is key for the cake batter taste). 

look at all those sprinkles!

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup sunflower butter (cashew/peanut/almond butter)
  • 3/4 coconut oil
  • 2 TB maple syrup
  • 1 TS vanilla
  • sprinkles, sprinkles, sprinkles

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper
  2. Add all ingredients, except sprinkles, into a saucepan and stir into all melted and combined
  3. Add in as many sprinkles as you would like
  4. Pour mixture into the prepared loaf pan & freeze for 30 minutes
  5. Cut up into cubes and store in an air tight container

Creamy Chicken Ricotta

Back at it again with the pasta

Is anybody else still struggling through the time change? The major upside is our office closes at 4 now, so after work I'm able to hit up the gym, run a few errands, make dinner and it's only 7:30 AND it's still light out. Anyways, I've had this ricotta in the fridge that I need to use so pasta was an easy answer. Ethan had just gotten a great deal on chicken from Lucky's  and who couldn't use a little extra protein in their lives - so I decided to throw that in too. 

Side note - look how huge that chicken breast is! 

I have a habit of adding spinach, tomatoes, garlic & onions to pretty much anything I can. I would add mushrooms (my all time favorite) but Ethan absolutely despises them, he even hates the smell when they hit the pan. 

This was a breeze of a recipe, I was powering through everything so quickly that I forgot to stop and take pictures. I know I know, I'm still learning so give me a break here. Essentially just cook up your chicken, sautée your garlic and onions, while all of that is happening cook your pasta. I used mostaciolli, but you could really use anything you have in your pantry. add your tomatoes, then pasta, then spinach until it all comes together.

At this point, you have a few options. 

  1. Add some parmesan cheese & olive oil for an easy good to go
  2. Toss into a bowl & dollop with ricotta mixture 
  3. Blend the ricotta mixture & some pasta water for a creamy pasta
  4. All of the above

I went with option #4. this dish couldn't be easier. I've learned pasta water is a real life savor...especially when your boyfriend is running a late for dinner and you need to freshen it up a bit. but seriously, always keep a little pasta water when you are draining your noodles, you can always add it in when everything starts to get too dry & it helps incorporate the ricotta throughout the whole dish. 

Ingredients

  • 1-2 TB Olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast (salt & peppered)
  • 3-5 Roma tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups of spinach (or a few handfuls)
  • Pasta of your choosing
  • Grated parmesan
  • Ricotta mixture
    -light ricotta
    -parmesan cheese
    -seasonings (S&P, garlic powder, rosemary)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Dice onion, mince garlic, cube chicken (go ahead and chop of your tomatoes to get all the knife work out of the way)
  2. Add olive oil to a pan and turn to medium heat, once hot add chicken and start cooking through
  3. Add onions & garlic, at this time get your water boiling and cook your pasta
  4. Cook chicken, onions & garlic until fragrant (make sure chicken is fully cooked) and add tomatoes until they soften
  5. Drain your pasta (make sure to save some pasta water!) and add to the pan with spinach
  6. At this point you can start getting a little creative - I added grated parmesan, some pasta water, as well as my ricotta mixture until creamy
  7. Put in a bowl and dollop some more ricotta!

Serve with some garlic Bread or a glass of wine...I opted for a glass of vino (or two).

Source: sliceslicebaby.net/dinners/creamyricottach...

Taco Salad

I want tacos but I also want abs. Insert taco salad. 

Being a Texas girl, I am always down for some Mexican food. Now I haven't ventured much past the local Chipotle in Iowa City, but I think it is safe to say that there is no place that can compete with some of the Mexican & Tex-Mex places down in the dirty D. Taco salads are an easy, healthy go to for me and its about the only way I can get Ethan to eat a handful of leaves. 

Prep prep prep it up! Another perk is how cheap ground turkey is, we choose 93% lean to eliminate the fattiness but you could also use ground beef or even chicken! Chop up your veggies, I went with bell peppers & onions. Last but definitely not least is the guac! Chop up cherry tomatoes - some in quarters and some finely chopped. 

Place a little EVOO in two pans both at medium heat. You could cook both your meat & veggies together, but I like to keep them separate so that I can sneak some more veggies without picking them out :) 

Season the veggies with salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc and cover while sirring occasionally until they are at your preferred doneness. We add taco seasoning to our ground turkey - for a less of a sodium attack just add your own seasonings (the kind that aren't pre packed). 

The fixins: your lettuce of choice (Ethan is strictly romaine - I'll go for both), salsa, taco sauce, guac (simply just avo, lime, tomatoes, garlic powder), and black beans. 

Take a few minutes to line up this beauty or simply dump it all into a bowl. Top with salsa, guac, lime juice, etc and you're golden! 

Ingredients

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • Fixins:
    Guacamole (or homemade with 1/2 avocado, 1/2 lime 3 cherry tomatoes diced, pinch of garlic powder - mash and you're golden!)
    Black beans
    Salsa
    Taco Sauce
    Anything else you want!

    Directions

  • Chop bell peppers & onions
  • Heat two pans to medium/medium high heat and add 1 TB olive oil in each pan
  • Once pans are warm add ground turkey in one and the chopped vegetables in the other
  • Season both the meat & veggies - cover the veggies and keep the meat uncovered - stirring both occasionally
  • Mix and match your flavors to get to your taco salad perfection.

Doesn't hurt when you have leftovers to look forward to for lunch. Nothing better than coming back from a workout to a plastic bowl of deliciousness. 

I mean, I could always go for some queso but this will do. 

Tortellini Bake

I wouldn't say that I am a big pasta eater, I rarely will go to a restaurant and order a pasta dish. However, that doesn't mean I can't take down a big bowl of noodles.Now, Ethan on the other hand is a big pasta eater, I think he could probably eat variations of pasta every day (as long as there was meat and cheese involved). In order to feed his carb cravings, I tend to make a pasta dish once or twice a week.

I have become of a huge fan of one pot dishes - the only thing that would make them easier would be one of these bad boys.  I mean, a girl can dream. But with or without a gorgeous dutch oven, this meal is practically fool proof. 

Start sauteing the onions & garlic in oil on medium high heat. I love when Ethan is home while I'm starting to cook because this is his favorite smell in the world. 

Toss in your ground turkey (or beef) and season to your liking. For me, that's usually just salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook until browned. 

Add in the diced tomatoes & sauce and get it simmering. 

Stir in the spinach until wilted. At this time feel free to add any more seasonings to your mixture - salt, pepp, garlic seasonings, etc. 

Add in the tortellini and transfer to a baking dish if your pan has hit its limits. Ethan was watching from a far and reminded me..."don't you need to boil that". I just stared at him until he realized I knew what I was doing and went back to his business. Don't be concerned about adding in raw pasta, it will cook in the oven. 

Cover the noodles with mozz, which we already conveniently had shredded from pizza making, and the grated parmesan. Cook for 20-30 minutes with foil on top for the first 10-15. 

Your only job now is to devour! 
We pushed our bellies as far as they could go and still managed to have a decent amount of leftovers - which Ethan gladly ate for lunch the next day. 


Baked Tortellini
- serves around 2-4 people (depending on how much you eat) 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 sweet onion chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey (we get lean 93/7% but feel free to use beef too)
  • 1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes drained
  • 1 14.5oz can of tomato sauce (use any sauce you like)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 package of tortellini
  • Shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan*

*who really even measures their cheese anyways

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Sautee garlic & onions in the olive oil in pan until fragrant
  3. Add in ground turkey and cook until browned (if using beef or fattier turkey make sure to drain most of the grease)
  4. Add in diced tomatoes (drained) and can of tomato sauce
  5. Stir in baby spinach until wilted and let simmer
  6. Turn off heat & add in tortellini and cover with cheese
  7. Transfer to baking dish (or place your pan in oven if large enough). Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes then uncover and bake for another 5-10 until cheese is melted

Time and time again I tell myself that I will just have a bite or a small bowl, but I think I end up eating more than him every single time. 

A Pizza My Heart

Valentine's Day is a day to spend time with those that you love, so with no questions asked Ethan and I decided a pizza night in would be the perfect date night. Without knowing what kind of pizza we wanted to make and the grocery store still in our future, we made some of the dough first thing in the AM so it could rise all day. We tend to change something up each time we make our pizzas, this time we went with all bread flour instead of mixing in any all-purpose like we normally do

10 hours without food (if you know me, you know I eat every 2-3) and arms full of grocery bags we couldn't have been happier to come home to a bowl full of rising dough. 

First pizza was a classic margherita - our go to sauce, slices of a mozza ball, and some grated parmesan. 

Second pizza was huge doughy platform (seriously so much dough), dusted with garlic butter and endless shredded mozzarella & provolone.  

In light of Valentine's weekend, we decided to go hot hot hot and cook these at pizzas at 520.  

The first pizza was topped with more grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil. The second didn't need a single finishing touch - it was perfect the way it came out of the oven. 

We think that this cheesy pizza was our #1 creation. Since the dough had risen all day it had this great chewiness as well as a hint of garlic within every single bite. We took the few minutes to take our necessary pictures and then it was time to devour.

A pizza perfect Valentines Day with my two true loves

2 Pizzas. 1 Calzone

The decision whether it's going to be a pizza night or not is pretty simple. One of us usually brings it up, the other responds with this look of longing desire for cheesy goodness, and its been decided. One thin crust and one thick crust has become the go to - but the toppings are the real brain stopper.

After perusing the grocery store and making numerous trips there and back to decide prosciutto or sausage...so we went with both.  After the shredding of the mozza, cooking of the sausage and taste testing the prosciutto, we were ready to start topping! 

left/middle: mozza ball slices, goat cheese, prosciutto. right: shredded mozzarella & Italian turkey sausage

Does anybody else think that oven minutes are even worse than microwave minutes? Of course, we paced around the kitchen trying to keep ourselves busy while our pizza cooked.
[500 degrees - Thick 'za went in first, covered in foil, for 8 minutes. Then foil came off & thin 'za went in on the stone for another 8-10 minutes]

These two pizzas were the best to pair together. The 1st one was crispy & salty and the 2nd one was dough, greasy, and extra cheesy. Every time I would take a bite of one, I would think it would be my favorite until I went to take bite of the other - needless to say, it was a tie and they were both demolished. 

....then Sunday came around. It was a long day with pizza on the brain and leftover dough in the fridge. One simple solution...calzone. There was no decision making on what would be inside this turnover pizza - we went with an everything leftover - goat cheese, mozzarella, prosciutto, and turkey sausage. 

Combining the two pizzas in one made one great love child of a calzone. The salty, greasy, cheesiness of the ingredients completely complemented each other, but my favorite part of this calzone was the dough. Have y'all ever been to Macaroni Grill? If you have you'll know what I'm talking about when I said rosemary bread. Thats exactly was this dough tasted like, the extra egg wash (plus butter and garlic), gave the crust a dense crispiness plus the rosemary seasoning brought a punch of flavor. 

All I can say is these two pizza nights were definitely worth my three pound pizza baby. 

All About the Mozza

At this point, we have made pizzas a staple in our kitchen, and every time we make them we get an extra toy. First was a pizza stone, now the mother of them all...a Kitchen Aid! Ethan's family got me the prettiest Kitchen Aid for Christmas, so of course the first thing we thought of was pizza dough! 

i mEAN LOOK AT THAT BEAUTY!

We went the pretty standard pizza dough and all of the mozzarella you could think of. Our deep dish was covered in shredded mozz (hand shredded block of course). 

and our "thin" crust that wasn't so thin, was covered in slices from a mozza ball. Don't worry, that little corner is just sprinkled with herb goat cheese. Well, because goat cheese has my heart. 

....and time to devour.