Friday, May 16, 2014

Baked Zucchini Fries with Pesto Dipping Sauce

I always enjoy trying something new at a restaurant and then trying to recreate it at home. These fries were inspired by the fried zucchini sticks at Claimjumper in Nashville. I hardly ever fry anything and think that the baked option can taste just as good or even better, and these zucchini fries were no exception. Claimjumper served theirs with a basic ranch sauce, but I wanted to change the flavor a bit so I made up a pesto-ranch sauce instead.

These turned out absolutely delicious. Crunchy on the outside, soft and warm on the inside. And the pesto sauce completely took these to the next level. We had these as a side with some tuna burgers, but they would be so good as a side to a pasta or lasagna dish as well. And a marinara dipping sauce would also be fantastic. There are so many options and ways to try them - Grant even liked them! Well, at least the sauce that he stuck his hand into. :)


Zucchini Fries
  • 2 large or 3 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (powdered form)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
Pesto Dipping Sauce
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup ranch dressing
  • 3-4 Tbsp. pesto
  • 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the beaten eggs in a shallow bowl. Mix together the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese in a separate shallow bowl. Dip each zucchini slice in the eggs, and then in the breading mixture. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, turning over halfway through the cooking. Serve warm.

For the sauce, mix all ingredients together and serve immediately. 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sweet and Sticky Slow Cooker Chicken

Since I've had Grant (my 9-month old baby boy), the slow cooker has become one of my favorite kitchen appliances. It's so easy and convenient to throw in some food in the morning or early afternoon, and then have dinner pretty much ready within just a few hours! I love that I don't have to be home and that I can go about my regular routine without having to worry about getting home in time to start dinner or wondering what I should make at 5:00 when we're all starving and grumpy.

Yesterday before we left for church, I threw in some frozen chicken and a few other ingredients and set the heat to low. A few hours later, after we returned from church, the house smelled amazing and all I had to do was cook up some wild rice and toss a salad. Love it! The chicken turned out sweet and salty and I loved the flavor combination of the BBQ, Apricot and onion soup mix. You can't beat the simplicity of 4 ingredients! I honestly don't know what I'd do without my crock pot...


4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (Mine were frozen)
1 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup apricot jam or preserves
1 packet dry onion soup mix

Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of the slow cooker. Mix together the BBQ sauce and the apricot preserves and pour over the top of the chicken. Sprinkle the dry onion soup mix over the top of everything. Put the lid on the slow cooker and cook on Low for 6-8 hours, or closer to 5-6 if using thawed chicken breasts. Serve over rice if desired.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Soft Sugar Cookies with Fluffy Buttercream Frosting

I have had several people ask me about my cooking blog lately and if I still had it running. The truth is I kind of put this blog aside for the past several months and kind of forgot about it. Then yesterday I made some sugar cookies that were absolutely fantastic and decided I needed to start adding recipes again! And since I've got a much better camera than I did before, I can start taking my own pictures which makes it a lot more fun. 

So on to these cookies. I've heard a lot of really great things about these from the "Our Best Bites" cookbook and website, but I've never actually tried making them. But recently I've been thinking about sugar cookies and how long it's been since I made them so I thought I'd give this recipe a try. These were hands down, the best sugar cookies I've ever had. They are so soft and chewy and the frosting is the best buttercream I've ever tried - way better than the Lofthouse cookie frosting or anything I've tasted from a bakery. 

The dough was a little tricky to work with since it was crumbly and sticky all at the same time, but I found it was easiest to roll out between two pieces of parchment paper or two silicone baking mats. The frosting came together beautifully and was silky smooth. It's been so tempting to not eat the entire pan so I've been trying to give them away to my friends and neighbors. Let me know if you want any! :)



1 cup real butter (no substitutions!) at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or other flavor of your choice, like vanilla)
3 C flour, lightly spooned into measuring cups and leveled (don’t scoop it! This is very important!)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy- about 2 minutes. Add in egg and extract and mix to incorporate.
In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt.  A very important note: It’s important to correctly measure your flour or you will end up with a dry, crumbly dough. Never, ever use your measuring cup to scoop up the flour.  Use a regular sized spoon and spoon the flour into the cup and then level it off with a knife.
 Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until completely combined.
When your dough is made, instead of putting it in the fridge, immediately roll  to about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick between 2 sheets of waxed or parchment paper and then place on a flat surface in the fridge.  Chill for about 20-30 minutes and then start cutting it out.  This way it chills faster and the bonus is that you don’t need to add extra flour to roll it out.  
Bake at 350 for 8-12 minutes. The baking time really depends on how you like them. If you like them really sot and slightly chewy, about 8-9 minutes does it. If you like them slightly crisp and buttery, then go for 10-12. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool. 
Makes approximately 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 tablespoons milk (or more, if needed)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
While the cookies are cooling, prepare the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, whip together the powdered sugar and softened butter until combined. Add in the almond and vanilla extract and very slowly, add a little bit of milk at a time until desired consistency is reached. If desired, add a few drops of food coloring.
When the cookies are cool, spread with frosting and sprinkle with colored sprinkles.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Greek Veggie Wraps

I'm a big fan of Greek salads with feta cheese and that fantastic Greek dressing. So how about taking the basic Greek salad ingredients and putting them into a wrap? I have to admit I was a bit skeptical about this recipe, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to try since I liked the salad so much! These turned out great and made a healthy and filling lunch for Neal and I. I loved the tang of the dressing and banana peppers mixed with the feta cheese and crunchy veggies. Add in some cooked, diced chicken and these can become a great dinner too! (Recipe and picture courtesy of Annie's Eats)


  • 4 wraps or tortillas
  • Cooked whole wheat couscous or rice
  • Baby spinach leaves
  • Diced fresh tomatoes
  • Julienned or shredded carrots
  • Chopped banana peppers
  • Chopped cucumbers
  • Crumbled feta cheese
For the Dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small jar or tupperware and shake well to combine. To assemble wraps: Put all ingredients into a wrap or tortilla and drizzle with as much dressing as you'd like. Roll up the wraps tightly, tucking in the ends. 

Egg Salad BLT Sandwiches

Lately I've been trying to come up with different lunch ideas to play things up a bit. Neal has been coming home for lunch more often lately and I think we both get tired of the same boring options every day. So one morning I cooked up a dozen hard boiled eggs and decided to make some of them into egg salad! Then I added bacon, lettuce and tomato and piled them all onto whole wheat toast. Yum! It was definitely a great change from our usual lunches and would also make a great quick and easy dinner. Over the next couple of days I'll be posting some more lunch recipes and ideas for any of you who are also in a "lunch rut." Enjoy! (Recipe adapted from Our Best Bites)

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp. thinly sliced green onions
  • 3 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Dash of pepper and salt
  • 8 hard boiled eggs
  • 4 rolls
  • 8 bacon slices, cooked
  • 4 slices tomato
  • 4 large lettuce leaves
Combine mayo, onions, sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir to combine well. Coarsely chop eggs and add to mayo mixture. Stir gently to combine. Top each bread slice with about 1/2 cup egg mixture, 2 slices bacon, slice tomato and one large lettuce leaf and top half of roll. Serve sandwich immediately.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad Sandwiches

So obviously I've been terrible at adding any new recipes since my little one was born! I've been focusing a lot more on my personal family blog over the past couple of months to update all of my family and friends who live away from me. It's a private blog, so just holler if you want me to invite you!

I've got about a dozen recipes I've been meaning to add and I'm going to do my best to add them over the next few days. This is a twist on the classic chicken salad sandwich with a bit of a kick. If you like buffalo sauce or wings, you'll love this one! Neal told me he doesn't want the original chicken salad sandwich anymore.. It's just not good enough. Ha. I really liked this version for a change and will definitely be making it over and over again. (Picture courtesy of Elephant Eats)

  • 2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 celery stalks, diced finely
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced finely
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • sandwich buns
In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients. Serve on buns and top with your favorite sandwich fixings (tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, etc.) Store leftovers in a covered container in the fridge. Serves 4-6.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Southwest Frito Pie

In case you haven't been able to tell from the many, many Mexican recipes on here, we're a big fan. Neal always says he could eat Mexican food every night and be totally content. Me, not so much, but I do love having some type of Mexican-style dinner once or twice a week. I found this recipe in a recent Taste of Home magazine and knew it would be a big hit! Quick, easy, fresh ingredients and a perfect weeknight meal to throw together when you don't have much time or energy. With this little guy due to arrive any day now, quick and easy meals are definitely taking over my meal plans since I know my time to prepare and cook will quickly disappear! I loved the extra crunch and flavor the Fritos added to this recipe. And it's SO simple! Just layer Fritos, meat and beans and your choice of toppings and you've got yourself a meal. It's great for picky eaters too because they can put whatever toppings they want on and still love it. I think this would also taste great substituting chili instead of the ground meat and bean mixture - a great way to use up the inevitable leftover chili since that stuff can feed an army. (Recipe and picture courtesy of Taste of Home)


  • 1 lb. lean ground beef OR ground turkey
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups corn chips
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion or green onions
  • Sour cream and fresh cilantro
In a large skillet, cook beef or turkey over medium-high heat until cooked through and no longer pink; drain. Stir in the chili powder, flour, salt and garlic powder until well blended. Slowly add in the water. Add in the beans and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 12-15 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

To serve, divide chips between 4 bowls. Top with beef/turkey mixture and desired toppings. Serve immediately. (Makes about 4 bowls)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Guilt-Free Alfredo Sauce

Maybe I just haven't found the right brand or type of canned bought-from-the-store alfredo sauce, but every kind I've tried just doesn't taste all that good. It's either too strong, too thin, not enough flavor or too "fake" of a flavor. So when I ran across this recipe that was quick, easy, fairly healthy and absolutely delicious, I was thrilled! This sauce is garlicky and flavorful yet has a very light and creamy taste that is perfect over pasta, vegetables or even as a dipping sauce for breadsticks or pizza. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish so it's ready to go by the time you finish preparing the rest of your meal! Even better, you can make it ahead of time and refrigerate it. When ready to use, just reheat the sauce and add a little milk until the right consistency is reached. It also makes a great freezer meal poured over some pasta with a little diced chicken and vegetables. I've got a big pan in the freezer just waiting to be used after little Grant arrives in the next few days (hopefully!) :) (Recipe and picture from Our Best Bites)

  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1/3 cup (3 oz.) low-fat cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (pregrated Parmesan cheese still tastes fine, but the sauce will be lumpy)
In a blender (or using an immersion blender), blend the milk, cream cheese, flour and salt until smooth and set aside. In a large, nonstick saucepan, melt the butter on medium-high heat and add the garlic. Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from sticking and burning. Add the milk mixture to the pan. Stir constantly for 3-4 minutes or until it just comes to a simmer. Keep stirring and let it cook for a few minutes more or until the sauce thickens, about 6-7 minutes.

Once the sauce has started to thicken, remove from heat. Whisk in the cheese and immediately cover the pan. Allow the sauce to stand for at least 10 minutes before using. It will continue to thicken upon standing. Serve immediately.

My favorite way to use this is over some whole wheat pasta with diced chicken, mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes for a little twist on the flavor!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuna Lemon Pepper Sliders

Since they first became popular, I have always loved the idea of having a slider instead of a huge hamburger or sandwich. They are the perfect size for an appetizer, party food, or for dinner with a few small sides. These turned out so delicious and were surprisingly easy to throw together for a quick meal. Neal loved them too and told me to put them on the "permanent-and-never-forgotten" menu - not a problem for this girl! I topped off the mini-size patties with a homemade tartar sauce, tomato and lettuce, all piled in between a King's Hawaiian roll which added just a hint of sweetness to the savory tuna and pickle flavors. This will definitely become a go-to on my summer menu and I can't wait to make them again! (Picture and recipe adapted from Lauren's Latest)

  • 2 5 oz. cans chunk light tuna, drained well
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • 1 egg
  • 3 Tbsp. bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp. lemon pepper seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
Tartar Sauce:
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. relish OR 3 Tbsp. chopped dill pickle
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • dash of paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried dill
  • 6 King's Hawaiian Rolls
  • 6 slices of Roma tomato
  • 6 lettuce leaves
In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, onions, egg, bread crumbs and lemon pepper seasoning together. Mixture should be thick and hold together when formed into patties. If they don't, add more bread crumbs until they hold together. Form into 6 even patties, about 3/4 inch thick.

In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Place patties into the hot pan and cook about 4 minutes on each side or until brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

While the patties are cooking, mix together the ingredients for the tartar sauce in a small bowl.

To assemble the sliders, slice each roll in half and spread on a generous scoop of tartar sauce. Layer with a tuna patty, tomato slice and lettuce leave. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

My life has taken a huge change this week and I'm absolutely loving it. When Neal and I found out I was pregnant, we made the decision that I would quit working once the baby came so I could be a full-time stay at home mom and be with our little one. It's a dream I've always had and we both fully agreed it would be the most beneficial for our children and for us. Although I'm not due for another few weeks, my last day of work was Friday and now my sole focus is getting everything ready for our baby boy and for the move to our new house in a couple of weeks. Being at home is definitely a big adjustment since I've always either been in school or worked full-time. This is a whole new experience that I'm quickly learning to love and look forward to.

I like to talk to our baby boy when I'm by myself. Even though I'm sure I look pretty silly talking to my belly, I know he can hear me! :) When I left my work for the last time on Friday, I talked to him almost the whole way home about how excited I was to turn all of my focus and attention to him and his daddy - my two boys! Although I'm only in Day 2 of this new homemaker business, I'm determined to make it the best I can and live each day to the fullest. I'll keep you all posted on how everything's going since I know you're all dying to hear about my mundane life.. ;)

Anyway, back to the recipe here. I realize it's the middle of June and eating soup on a hot, humid 90-degree day sounds about as wonderful as getting a root canal, but we had a refreshing rain storm come through last night that cooled it off enough to make soup actually sound pretty nice! I knew it would be the last time I could get away with eating soup until around October, so I took advantage of it! There's nothing like a homemade chicken noodle soup, but I think I may have made it even better by making it creamy! I can easily say this is one of my favorite soups. Neal came home today to eat lunch with me and quickly decided this was much better than a sandwich or lean pocket any day! It's chocked full of hearty vegetables, chicken and thick noodles which absorb most of the liquid - just the way I like it. Plus there's an added bonus: it's a one-pot meal so less dishes are used and there's only one pot to clean - can't beat that, I tell you. It makes enough to comfortably feed around 4-5 people, or 2 people for several meals in our case!

  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2-3 chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 8 oz. egg noodles
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add in the chicken, carrot, celery and onion and saute for 3-4 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and onions are translucent. Add in the chicken broth and egg noodles and bring to a boil. Cook for 7-8 minutes or until egg noodles are al dente. In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and flour until the flour has dissolved. Stir into the soup and simmer over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until the soup has thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the cream cheese and spices. Allow the heat from the soup to melt the cream cheese, stirring occasionally until dissolved. Serve warm.