Archive | May, 2012

Baja Fish Tacos

30 May

Baja Fish Tacos
Summer is on the way and if you haven’t noticed by now, I’m kind of obsessed with grilling. And this is the perfect light and refreshing summer supper. It involves a few components but they are quick and easy to throw together and totally worth the work. Even better, the sauces can be mixed up hours ahead of time and refrigerated and the veggies can be chopped so all you have to do is grill the fish then assemble.

The sauces are just delicious together…the avocado is thick and creamy while the mayo sauce is thin and tangy. I love the crunch of the cabbage (or lettuce if you don’t have cabbage on hand) and when it combines with the mayo sauce it tastes a bit like coleslaw. It’s so refreshing with the light, grilled fish.
Baja Fish Tacos
Baja Fish Tacos
recipe from Taste and Tell

Fish: 4 (6- 8-ounce) mahimahi fillets, I used tilapia
olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
juice of 1 lime

Avocado Sauce:
Flesh of 2 medium-ripe avocados
juice of 1 lime
handful of fresh cilantro leaves
pinch of cayenne pepper

Tangy Mayo Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons water

10 to 12 (6-inch) soft flour tortillas
1 small head cabbage, shredded
2 medium tomatoes, diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Preheat a grill to high.  Drizzle fish on both sides with olive oil ans sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until opaque.  Remove from heat and drizzle with lime juice.

2. In a small food processor or blender, process avocado, lime juice, cilantro and cayenne until smooth, the consistency of thick cream.  (Add water to thin, if necessary.)  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

3. Place tortillas on top grill rack and heat through, 30 to 60 seconds.  Arrange food on a table for self-service.  To assemble, hold a tortilla in your hand and spread a spoonful of avocado sauce on it.  Add some fish and drizzle with tangy mayo sauce.  Top with cabbage, tomatoes, and scallions.

Ramen Cabbage Salad

25 May

Ramen Cabbage Salad
For Memorial Day this year, we decided to travel to Kansas City to visit Joel’s family. It’s so hard these days to travel 9 hours in the car so we really cherish the times that we are able to get back. We have a lot of fun and exciting things planned for the weekend including an awesome BBQ with lots of family.

This Ramen Cabbage Salad is always a huge hit with my family and I’m sure would be with just about anybody. We make it for almost every spring and summer gathering because its unique and not the typical side dish. It’s pretty simple to throw together but doesn’t keep well so make sure to mix it up right before serving. You most likely won’t have to worry about leftovers.

Ramen Cabbage Salad

6 green onions, whites only
1 medium cabbage, thinly shredded or a bag of pre-shredded cabbage
2 packages Oriental Ramen, crunched
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup sugar

1. Thoroughly combine all dressing ingredients and refrigerate.

2. Toast sunflower seeds and almonds in a dry pan until you can smell them. Set aside then toast the crunched ramen (without the packets) in the same pan. Combine the nuts, ramen and the ramen packets.

3. Just before serving, combine the cabbage and onions with the dressing. Then mix in the toasted ingredients and enjoy.

Recipe linked to Totally Tasty Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday and Full Plate Thursday.

Creamy Macaroni Salad

24 May

Creamy Macaroni Salad
I just love picnic food so it should be no surprise that I just love when Memorial Day rolls around because it means that picnic food is here and not going anywhere for a few glorious months! What could be better than cold fried chicken, lemonade and macaroni salad? Not a whole lot in my book.

This macaroni salad recipe happens to be my favorite so I wanted to be sure to share it with you before the holiday weekend hits. It’s super creamy and has some of my favorite indgredients – pasta, bacon, vinegar and pickles (I know vinegar is a weird thing to love but I do). I like to use Barilla Plus pasta for this because it tastes just as good as regular pasta but is much better for you. Also, the box is a little less than a pound so there is an increased saucy-ness to the salad which is always a good thing to me.
Creamy Macaroni Salad
Creamy Macaroni Salad
recipe adapted from

1 lb. large elbow macaroni, cooked to desired tenderness
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup finely diced sweet onion
1 small red sweet bell pepper, finely diced
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pickle relish (I chop up Claussen pickles because they are my favorite)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon celery seed
1/2 lb bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled

1. Mix cooled macaroni, celery, onions and bell pepper together in a large bowl.

2. In a separate bowl mix together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, pickle relish, sugar, salt, pepper and celery seed, stirring well.

3. Stir dressing into the macaroni mixture.

4. Stir in the crumbled bacon.

5. Serve chilled. Best if made the night before.

Recipe linked to Totally Tasty Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday and Full Plate Thursday.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

23 May

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
These peanut butter bars are definitely one of my top 3 favorite desserts ever (along with Lemon Hush and pretty much any cheesecake). I literally can wipe out an entire 13 x 9 pan of these if I am left alone with them for too long. They are the ultimate combination of chocolate and peanut butter and I just can’t resist them.

They are made even better because they are ridiculously easy to whip up and I always have all the required ingredients on hand. I mean, what’s better than a dessert that only requires 5 ingredients?  It’s a great dessert to make when you have last minute guests stop by or for a potluck. They aren’t fancy but they are so decedant, rich and just plain good.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars
Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars

1 cup butter, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup + 4 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

1. Mix butter, graham cracker crumbs, powdered sugar and 1 cup of peanut butter. Press into a 13 x 9 pan.

2. Melt remaining peanut butter and chocolate together. Spread over peanut butter mixture. Keep refrigerated.

Recipe linked to Totally Tasty Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday and Full Plate Thursday.

Banana Cake

21 May

Banana Cake

Ok, I have a weird confession to make. I love banana muffins, bread or cake but actual straight up bananas I could totally do without. I enjoy the flavor but the texture is usually too much for me to handle. I know, it’s odd but I kind of am too so it makes sense in the end. Now that the confession is out in the open we can move onto the recipe.

This is one of the best cakes I have ever made! It’s moist and dense and bursting with banana flavor. And who could forget that rather thick layer of cream cheese frosting? Not me. It is cooked at a low temperature for a longer amount of time then thrown into the freezer immediately. This attributes the moistness of the cake so make sure to keep the freezing time in mind before you start baking.

After the freezing time, frost it liberally with cream cheese frosting and keep in the refrigerator. I think it tastes best when chilled.

I love to bring this lovely cake to potlucks because everyone seems to enjoy it, it travels well and can feed a crowd.

Banana Cake
recipe from

1 1/2 cups bananas, mashed, ripe
2 teaspoons lemon juice
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Chopped walnuts, optional

1. Preheat oven to 275°.

2. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.

3. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

5. In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.

6. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.

7. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.

8. Stir in banana mixture.

9. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

10. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.

11. For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.

12. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

13. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.

14. Spread on cooled cake. Sprinkle chopped walnuts over top of the frosting, if desired.


18 May

Homemade Croutons
It’s time for another item to be marked off my Top 100 list. I love croutons and a salad really isn’t the same without them in my opinion. And croutons are so easy to make homemade. They are one of those things that I never really thought to make even though we always have the ingredients on hand. It’s really a weird day when we don’t have random odds and ends of bread lying around. In fact, I have some onion poppyseed ciabatta rolls that are just dying to become croutons.

Homemade Garlic Croutons
recipe from What’s Gaby Cooking

1 loaf french bread (a few days old)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Cut the bread  into small cubes. Transfer cubed bread to a parchment lined baking sheet.

3. Drizzle the bread with the olive oil and butter and then sprinkle with garlic, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

4. Using your hands, gently toss the croutons and make sure they are coated with all the oils, butters and seasonings.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

Recipe linked to Mania Monday.

Steakhouse Panini

16 May

Steakhouse Panini
We got a panini press a little over a year ago and love using it whenever we get the chance. Joel requested panini’s a few days ago and I decided to do something different from our usual Ultimate Grilled Cheese or Honey Mustard Chicken. We don’t eat a whole lot of red meat but I have been craving it so I decided a steak panini would do the trick.

Instead of scouring the internet for a recipe I wanted to come up with something on my own. Since we were using steak I figured I could turn a classic all the elements of a steak dinner into a sandwich. Steak, carmelized onions, steak sauce, melty cheese and some bacon (for good measure of course) between two slices of bread sounded just perfect to me! And it was.
Steakhouse Panini
I asked Joel to describe the panini so he thought about it then stated that it was “man-licious.” I think that might be the perfect description. This woman enjoyed it too!

Steakhouse Panini

1 large sirloin steak
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 Tbsp. onion powder
1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp. oregano
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Ciabatta rolls (I used onion poppy seed ones)
6 strips bacon, cooked until crispy
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 slices provolone (or replace with blue cheese or gorgonola)
4 Tbsp. steak sauce

1. Preheat panini grill. Heat grill pan or outdoor grill over medium high heat. Mix onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, paprika and kosher salt together then rub liberally on steak (I didn’t use it all – store remainder in airtight container).

2. Heat olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat then add onions and cook until carmelized.

3. Sear steak for on grill for about 2 minutes per side or until desired doneness has been reached. Let rest for about 5 minutes then slice thinly against the grain.

4. Spread 1 Tbsp. of steak sauce on each side of the ciabatta rolls. Top each halve with a slice of provolone then pile on the sliced steak, bacon and carmelized onions. Put the sandwich halves together then place on the panini grill. Grill for about 5 minutes or until the cheesy is melted and bubbling.

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, What I Whipped Up Wednesday and Full Plate Thursday.

Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork Loin

15 May

Now that summer activities have started up, life is getting busy busy busy! On Wednesday’s Joel has softball at 6:30 but has to leave the house by 5:50 and usually doesn’t get home from work until 5:30. That leaves very little time to get dinner on the table, especially with a busy toddler that wants your constant attention.

When these days roll around, I almost always turn to the crockpot. I found this recipe via Pinterest and knew we had to give it a try. I often find that meat, especially pork or chicken, dry out really quickly and easily in the crockpot. Well, I was pleasantly surprised when I pulled this out of the crockpot and found a moist, flavorful pork loin. This definitely has a vinegary zing but the brown sugar really mellows it out for a delightful, easy meal. I served this over rice which I cooked in a rice cooker so I had a double serving of easy when it came to this meal.

Brown Sugar Balsamic Pork Loin
recipe from C + C Marriage Factory

1 (2 pound) boneless pork tenderloin (or regular pork loin)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup water

1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce

Combine sage, salt, pepper and garlic. Rub over roast. Place in slow cooker with 1/2 cup water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About 1 hour before roast is done, combine ingredients for glaze in small sauce pan. Heat and stir until mixture thickens. Brush roast with glaze 2 or 3 times during the last hour of cooking. Serve with remaining glaze on the side.


Poppyseed Lemonade Mini Muffins

11 May

Poppyseed Lemonade Muffins
Remember on Wednesday how I promised a yummy brunch item to finish off your Mother’s Day meal? Well, here it is. I bring you Poppyseed Lemonade Mini Muffins….my official new favorite! I’m sure you don’t believe me since I just brought you roasted banana muffins only two weeks ago and claimed they were totally heavenly.

Muffins are my breakfast of champions and lemon poppyseed have always been one of my top choices. But these little guys have a secret ingredient that puts them over the top, lemonade concentrate. It adds more zip than an ordinary lemon poppyseed muffin and creates a super moist end result. Plus, who doesn’t love a sugary glaze?
Poppyseed Lemonade Muffins
Poppyseed Lemonade Muffins
recipe from Taste of Home Cupcakes, Muffins and More!

2 cups all-purpose flour
9 tablespoons sugar, divided
4 teaspoons poppy seeds
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup thawed lemonade concentrate, divided
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 egg

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, 5 tablespoons sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, combine 1/2 cup lemonade concentrate, milk, butter and egg until blended. Stir into dry ingredients just until combined.

2. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full. Bake at 400° for 15-20 minutes for full size muffins or 8-12 minutes for mini muffins or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

3. In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and lemonade concentrate. Pierce muffin tops several items with a fork; drizzle with lemonade mixture.

Recipe linked to What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday and Full Plate Thursday.

Baked Eggs with Crispy Hashbrown Crust

9 May

Baked Eggs with Crispy Hashbrown Crust
This is one of my best blog finds to date. The second I saw this recipe, I knew we would absolutely adore it. Not only is it delicious and simple but I almost always have all the required ingredients on hand. That means I can whip this up as a quick, yet fancy breakfast or dinner when I’m in a pinch.

I stumbled across this recipe a couple months ago and have made it several times but decided to hold off on sharing it with you until now because it is the perfect brunch item for a Mother’s Day feast. I don’t know about you but my guy doesn’t do a whole lot of cooking so this is great for him since it doesn’t require too much work but yields an amazing result that seems like he must have slaved in the kitchen. I have a little something coming on Friday that would combine with this dish to make a beautiful Mother’s Day brunch.
Baked Eggs with Crispy Hashbrown Crust
Baked Eggs with Crispy Hashbrown Crust
recipe from Two Tarts

1 1/2 – 2 cups fresh shredded potato (about 4 medium sized red potatoes)
1/2 tsp salt
6 eggs
3/4 cup shredded cheese (we used sharp white cheddar)
2 Tbsp olive oil

1. Shred the potatoes (I used my food processor to make quick work of this).  The quantity of potatoes you use is flexible – less will create a thinner crispier crust, more will create a thicker crust that’s soft in the middle.  I’ve done it both ways and I think I like the thinner/crispier crust… Toss the shredded potatoes with the salt, then press them firmly between two dish towels or a few layers of paper towels.  The goal is to get as much moisture out of the potatoes as possible so they’ll brown up nice and crisp.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet with the olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the potatoes and use the back of a large spoon to spread them evenly and then press them down firmly into a flat pancake.  Let them sit and brown, undisturbed, for about 3-4 minutes.  Make sure your heat isn’t so high that it burns the potatoes – you want them to get golden brown but not burn.  You can use your spoon to lift up an edge and take a peek to monitor progress.

3. When the first side is brown, use a large spatula to flip the whole thing over.  They shredded browned potatoes should be interwined with each other enough that this isn’t too difficult to do.  Let the 2nd side brown for an additional 4 minutes.

4. When both sides of the crust are browned, remove from heat and crack the 6 eggs evenly over the top.  Season with a little salt and pepper if desired, then sprinkle the 3/4 cup of shredded cheese over the eggs.

5. Pop in the oven on broil for 5-7 minutes, depending on whether you like your eggs to be soft or hard.  I like mine hard, so I let them broil for the full 7 minutes.  Slice, serve, enjoy!

Recipe linked to Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday and Full Plate Thursday.


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