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.