Baked Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Sauce

Skip the calories of fried fish for the fresh flavors and healthy ingredients of these baked fish tacos. Another simple, healthy weeknight meal brought to you by yours truly!

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If you’re in the mood to have a beer out on the patio, then fire up your grill and throw the fish on there instead of baking it in the oven.

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But if you’ve got some tidying up to do, or a dishwasher that needs emptying, or dogs that need feeding, then pop the seasoned fillets in the oven and walk away!

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Whatever you do, just don’t skip the chipotle lime sauce–it’s so good you’ll probably be licking the bowl clean!

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Baked Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Cream Sauce

  • Servings: 8 tacos
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Ingredients

Tacos:

  • 2 lbs. white fish fillets (tilapia, halibut, cod, grouper, snapper, mahi mahi, etc.)
  • olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • pico de gallo for serving

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons diced chiles in adobo
  • juice of 1 lime
  • splash of water
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

In a small bowl combine cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle both sides of each fillet with about a teaspoon of oil. Divide spice mixture evenly between the fillets, gently rubbing it in. Place fillets on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

In a small bowl combine sauce ingredients, adding just enough water to loosen it up into a creamy sauce. Set aside until ready to serve.

When the fish is almost done, start warming those tortillas. Heat a saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Heat tortillas one at a time for about 30-60 seconds. Once the first side has some golden brown spots and smells toasty, flip it over and cook the other side.

This is where it might be nice to have some extra hands in the kitchen to start an assembly line, building the tacos as the warm tortillas come off the skillet.

Flake fish into bite size pieces and divide evenly between tortillas. Top with a drizzle of chipotle lime cream sauce and pico de gallo and enjoy!

Lemon and Dill Goat Cheese Bites (4)

 

Quick Veggie Lo Mein

Looking for a quick weeknight meal? Want a dinner filled with fresh veggies and tons of flavor? Yeah, me too. That’s all I ever want. Isn’t that all anyone ever wants? A healthy meal that’s substantially satisfying but doesn’t require oodles of time or energy. That, and a million dollars. That’s what I want.

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I try to prep all my food for the week over the weekend, but sometimes I’m too busy, or too lazy, or it just doesn’t happen. So every once in awhile I find myself scrambling on a Wednesday night trying to figure out what to make for dinner. That’s when I reach for recipes like this one.

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Just like her momma, my toddler loves anything with noodles! And she really seems to dig soy sauce and other Asian flavors too. I think they are mild enough for her palette but flavorful enough to keep her interested.

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So, if you find yourself scrambling on a Wednesday night and you not sure what to make for dinner, make this! It is toddler tested and approved. And you’ll have dinner on the table in about 15 minutes!

Quick Veggie Lo Mein

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

For the noodles and veggies:

  • 3 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 cups bite size pieces of broccoli
  • 1 cup sliced red pepper
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 12 oz. lo mein noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • optional garnish: thinly sliced green onion

For the sauce:

  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce

Directions

Heat olive and sesame oils in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add veggies and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil and hoisin sauce in a small bowl. Add noodles and sauce mixture to the pan and turn heat to low. Toss to coat everything in the sauce and cook for one minute. Garnish with sliced green onion and enjoy!

Lemon and Dill Goat Cheese Bites

One Bowl Fudgey Pecan Brownies

Holy moly guys. These brownies are wildly delicious and oh SO easy to make. The best part is that you will likely have all of these ingredients in your kitchen already.

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Are you the queen of making a piping hot cup of coffee only to let it sit on the counter while you do the 75 million things that are on your mile long list?

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Then maybe you put it in the microwave to heat it up and forget about it. And then maybe it’s 5pm before you find it again?

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Save two tablespoons of that cold coffee for this recipe because it’s the secret ingredient!! Although, not so secret anymore I suppose.

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One Bowl Fudgey Pecan Brownies

  • Servings: 9 brownies
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Ingredients

  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons strong coffee, room temp
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine butter, sugar, eggs, coffee and vanilla until well combined. Then add flour, cocoa powder and salt and mix until just combined.

Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper and pour batter into the pan. Use a spatula to spread it in an even layer. Sprinkle with pecans and push them into the batter ever so slightly.

Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from pan and the center is set. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing.

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Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Salad

This is my faaaaaavvvoorrrrittteee summer salad.  I actually eat it all year round, but especially love it in the early summer for some reason. There is nothing better than crispy pecans and warm, creamy goat cheese paired with a simple white balsamic vinaigrette and roasted beets.

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Normally I roast my own beets, but this time as I was ordering our groceries, these Love Beets popped up as an option when I searched. And I was very intrigued. Normally I don’t go for many precooked convenience foods but when I saw that the only ingredients listed were organic beets, I thought they might be worth a try.

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And now, I may never roast another beet again. They are delicious! Perfectly roasted and very flavorful.

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I think it was $3-$4 for 4 medium sized roasted and peeled beets. You are paying for the convenience, but sometimes after a long day I like things to be a little convenient. Especially when they are so healthy and good for you.

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Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese Salad

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 10.5 oz. log plain goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup finely chopped pecans (a food processor works well)
  • 16 oz. spring greens or your fave lettuce combo
  • 4 medium beets, roasted and peeled
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • olive or grapeseed oil for frying
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

For the dressing:

  • 2/3 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Slice goat cheese into 8 equal pieces. I like to cut the log in half, then cut each half in half, and so on until I have 8 slices. Place goat cheese in the freezer for 5 minutes which will make it easier to work with.

Beat egg in a shallow bowl. Place pecans in a shallow bowl. Use hands to form slices of goat cheese into uniformly round pucks. Dip each puck into the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip off and then dip it into the pecan mixture, covering the entire surface with pecans. Use your palms to smash the pecans into the goat cheese, forming it into a flat round patty about half an inch thick.

Heat a 1/4-1/2 an inch of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. You will know the oil is hot when you can dip the handle of a wooden spoon into it and the oil begins to bubble around the spoon handle. Working in batches depending on the size of your pan, fry goat cheese rounds for 30 seconds to 1 minute per side. If you find the rounds are cooking faster than that, turn the heat down. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to soak up excess grease.

In a mason jar combine all dressing ingredients and shake vigorously until emulsified. Assemble each salad with a bed of lettuce, a handful of roasted beets, a sprinkle of diced onion. Then pour dressing over the salad and place the goat cheese round right in the center.

Directions

I made these as a meal prep recipe for the week and reheated the goat cheese rounds just before eating in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds and they were delish! Not quite as good as freshly fried, but the flavor and texture was still very tasty.

Lemon and Dill Goat Cheese Bites

Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef with Cilantro Lime Sour Cream

Did anyone else’s meal prep totally fall off once the warm weather hit? I’m not exactly sure what it was… The special dinner for my birthday, a couple extra days off work for the Memorial Day holiday, a few too many trips to Ramone’s for ice cream. I can’t pin point it exactly, but when Memorial Day rolled around we had no food in our fridge and no meals prepped to get us through the coming week. We improvised and made these delicious tarts which were thankfully very satisfying and helped use up a bunch of random leftovers.

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However, by Tuesday evening the leftovers had been exhausted and our situation was getting more dire. I was still feeling that lag you experience after having too many consecutive days off in a row and needed something super simple to bring to work for lunch this week. My brain was screaming SLOW COOKER.

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I wanted a recipe that was ridiculously easy to make but also made my mouth water. My first thought was Beer Braised Pork Carnitas, but since I’ve made that about 37 times so far this year I let my mind wander a bit more.

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And it wandered all the way over to these tasty barbacoa beef tacos. A simple spice rub followed by a quick sear on the roast and it’s off to the crock pot along with some onion, garlic, chiles in adobo, limes, cilantro and beef broth. 4-5 hours later, you have shredded barbacoa fit for a king. Or a queen!

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I know it’s saying A LOT, but this barbacoa beef rivals that of Chipotle! There I said it so I can’t take it back.

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Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef with Cilantro Lime Sour Cream

  • Servings: 8-10
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Ingredients

For the tacos:

  • 2 lbs. beef chuck roast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 32 oz. beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons diced chiles in adobo
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 limes

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • juice of 3 limes
  • zest of 1 lime
  • pinch of cayenne
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Heat two tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. In a small bowl combine chili powder, cumin, salt, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne. Rub spice mixture all over the surface of the roast. Sear all sides of the roast, cooking each side for about 2-3 minutes or until the entire outside of the roast is seared nice and dark golden brown. Add roast to the slow cooker.

Without wiping out the pan, turn heat down to the medium and add onion to the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Then add garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add onion and garlic to the slow cooker. Then add beef broth, chiles in adobo and cilantro to the slow cooker. Cut limes in half widthwise and squeeze juice into the slow cooker, then add the rinds of the limes in as well. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or until beef is fall apart tender.

While the roast is working it’s magic, add the sauce ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until cilantro is well minced and ingredients are combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Remove beef from crock pot and shred using two forks. Serve with flour tortillas, Cilantro Lime Sour Cream, fresh pico de gallo, diced onion and fresh cilantro.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (14)

Proscuitto, Parmesan and Asparagus Bundles

You asked and I answered. In a recent Instagram poll, you guys told me you wanted to see more appetizer recipes, and I am delivering another super simple appetizer recipe that is perfect for your next party, baby shower or backyard BBQ.

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These little bundles take less than 30 minutes from start to finish and if you’re kids are itching for a project, this might be the perfect way for them to help out in the kitchen!

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You could totally serve these as a main course as well. They’d pair perfectly with my Orange Fennel Salad for a super fresh dinner combo.

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If you’re looking for some other puff pastry recipes to try, check out my Fig Jam, Pear and Gorgonzola Tartlets, Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Tart or Swiss Chard, Leek and Potato Tartlets. Puff pastry is definitely the way to go if you’re looking for a simple, yet elegant appetizer.

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Proscuitto, Parmesan and Asparagus Bundles

  • Servings: 18 bundles
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Ingredients

  • 2 sheets  puff pastry, thawed
  • 4 oz. proscuitto
  • 18 spears of asparagus, woody ends removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • a couple large pinches Kosher salt
  • large pinch fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg, beaten

Directions

Heat oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Unfold both sheets of puff pastry and cut along seams to create three large rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 3 equal size rectangles. This will give you 18 rectangles total from the two sheets of puff pastry.

Divide proscuitto evenly, placing it in a single layer across each rectangle. I used a little less than half a slice per rectangle. Chop asparagus spears in half widthwise and transfer to a medium bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place 2 pieces of asparagus in the center of each tart, along with about a tablespoon of grated Parmesan. Wrap corners of puff pastry around the fillings and press the outside corner into the bundle a bit to make sure it’s sealed.

Place bundles about an inch apart on the lined baking sheets. Brush each bundle with egg wash and bake for 12-15 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown and cooked through. Let cool for a few minutes and enjoy!

These tarts are delicious at room temperature as well, so feel free to make a few hours ahead of time. If you are going to transport, I would recommend not covering them at all if possible as the puff pastry will lose some of it’s crisp flakiness when sealed in an airtight container.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (4)

Tomato Basil Linguine with Burrata

This is seriously the simplest and most delicious recipe ever. It’s the perfect thing to make when it’s 96 degrees and insanely humid outside and you want to spend about 4 seconds in the kitchen.

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The garlic works it’s magic in some melted butter, then throw in the cherry tomatoes and simmer them in some white wine until they burst.  The addition of a little heavy cream and fresh basil gives you the lightest, yet creamiest sauce you’ll ever taste.

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And then, as if it couldn’t get any better, you add a dollop of burrata on top! Never had burrata? Go directly to the store right now and buy some. Burrata is a ball of fresh mozzarella filled with shredded fresh mozzarella mixed with heavy cream. It’s the most decadent and and amazing thing ever. And I only buy it once every few months because I can barely control myself around it!

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Not only is this a great weeknight dinner, it’s also a wonderful meal prep recipe! It reheats beautifully–just add some fresh basil before serving!

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Tomato Basil Linguine with Burrata

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped basil + more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 oz. linguine, cooked according to package directions, tossed in olive oil (so it doesn’t stick together)
  • 8 oz. Burrata cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

Heat butter and olive oil in a large saute pan over medium low heat until butter melts. Add garlic and cook for about one minute, stirring frequently. Then add cherry tomatoes and white wine along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn heat to mediumhigh and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until cherry tomatoes begin to burst. You can use the back of a wooden spoon to gently press them and help them along if they are not bursting. Remove pan from heat and stir in basil and heavy cream. Season to taste, then toss with pasta. Garnish with fresh basil and burrata.

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Fig Jam, Pear & Gorgonzola Tartlets

It’s that time of year again–picnic season! What’s your favorite picnic food? I’ve totally got a thing for tarts. Maybe it’s the flaky, buttery crust? Maybe it’s the way they puff up into little pillows? Maybe it’s the way they look super fancy and elegant but they’re actually the easiest thing ever? Most likely, it’s the latter.

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Frozen puff pastry makes these tarts easy enough for even a novice home cook, so don’t be intimidated if you haven’t worked with it before. I like to thaw mine in the fridge overnight before baking. In this recipe I use the natural seams of the dough to create the shapes of these tarts so there’s no complex dough rolling or measuring involved. Skill level required: none!

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You may remember these Leek & Potato Tartlets from last year or this Caramelized Onion and Blue Cheese Tart? These Pear & Gorgonzola Tartlets are just as tasty as their blog brothers. They are picnic perfect and a sure fire brunch brightener. Am I writing a blog post or a poem here? Either way, they are a welcomed addition to whatever spread you’ve got.

IMG_5935-03And they pair well with a chilled white wine or rosé. So grab a bottle of your favorite vino and head for the park with a picnic basket full of these tasty tartlets.

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Fig Jam, Pear & Gorgonzola Tarts

  • Servings: 9 tarts
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Ingredients

  • 1 sheet puff pastry (thawed)
  • heaping 1/2 cup fig jam
  • 1 slightly under ripe pear, thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. crumbled Gorgonzola
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • optional: a drizzle of honey on each tart

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unfold puff pastry and cut along the seams, creating three long rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 3 equal size rectangles. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange tarts about an inch apart. Score a crust about a half inch from the edge of each tart. Spread a tablespoon of fig jam across the center of each tart, keeping it within the scored lines. Place 4-5 slices of pear in the center of the tart, overlapping them. Divide Gorgonzola between the tarts, sprinkling it on top of the pear slices. Use pastry brush to paint the beaten egg across the crust of each tart. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until edges are a dark golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then drizzle with honey and serve!

Lemon and Dill Goat Cheese Bites (1)

Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes

If you’re looking for the accompaniment to my  Bourbon Braised Beef, here it is! These mashed sweet potatoes are rich, garlicky and oh so creamy. They will pair perfectly with fall apart tender beef and a big glass of red wine!

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Truth be told, I am not a huge sweet potato fan. I know, can you believe it?! I love literally every other kind of spud, but I’ve never been too keen on the sweet tater. Not sure why, I know it’s a lot of people’s jam. However, these mashed sweet potatoes are making me re-think my alliances with the other spuds.

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I’m not sure that I’m ready to admit it quite yet, but I might like mashed sweet potatoes more than regular mashed potatoes. There’s something about the slight sweetness mixed with the garlic and salt that really does it for me. Kinda like my Salted, Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies–the perfect marriage of salty and sweet. Life is all about balance, right?

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Garlic Mashed Sweet Potatoes

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

Add diced potatoes to a large pot. Fill pot with water until it covers the potatoes by about 2 inches. Turn heat to high and bring water to a boil. Add a few large pinches of salt and boil potatoes for 10-12 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and set aside.

Return the large pot to the stove and add butter. Heat butter over medium heat until melted. Add garlic and saute, stirring frequently for about 1 minute. Remove pot from heat. Add potatoes back into the pot along with heavy cream, sour cream and a couple large pinches of salt and a large pinch of pepper. Use a potato masher to mash potatoes as you combine them with the other ingredients. Mash until well combined and well mashed. Season to taste and garnish with fresh chopped parsley and Bourbon Braised Beef.

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Salted, Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I can hardly contain my excitement about these cookies!!!! I made them less than 24 hours ago and there are 4 left. Out of a batch of 30. And we are a family of three. And one of the three is a toddler.

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Although my toddler did manage to steal a few cookies off the edge of the counter while they were cooling. You’d think I would have moved them back even farther after she got the first two…I’m a slow learner. So, my husband and I ate a total of 23 cookies. Oh wait, my brother had one cookie. So we actually each only had about 11ish cookies cookies each in the last 24 hours. When did this turn into a math problem? Good thing calories don’t count when it’s homemade, right?

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All kidding aside, you can just throw away any of your other chocolate chip cookie recipes right now. These are that good.

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You won’t be able to go back to regular chocolate chip cookies without brown butter and salt and dark chocolate chunks. Once you find out what you’ve been missing you’ll wonder how you ever lived without these.

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Salted, Brown Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

  • Servings: 30 cookies
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Ingredients

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt + more for sprinkling
  • 1 cup chopped chocolate chunks or chips

Directions

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted and starts to spit and sputter, swirl the pan over the burner. If the butter sits too long at this temperature it will burn so the idea is to keep it moving. The browning process takes about 3-5 minutes so watch it closely during this time. You can remove the butter from heat once it’s turned a dark brown color and has a nutty aroma. Transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool for about 5 minutes. This is a good time to chop your chocolate if you’re using a bar. I found that a chopped up Giant Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Bar (6.8 oz) was the perfect amount of chocolate chunks for this recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once the butter has cooled slightly, stir in both sugars until well combined. Then stir in the egg and vanilla until well combined. Next add flour, baking powder and salt and stir until just combined. Then add chocolate chunks and stir until evenly distributed.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Use a tablespoon cookie scoop to scoop cookies and place about an inch apart on the pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and garnish each cookie with a sprinkle of salt. Try not to eat them all in 24 hours. Maybe it’s best to make a double batch…

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30 Minute Creamy Horseradish Potato Salad

Grilling season has finally arrived! And this zingy potato salad is sure to make you the talk of the town; or at least the backyard barbecue. If you’re looking for something a little different to bring to the block party this summer, here you go. The subtle flavor of the horseradish is sure to tantalize everyone’s taste buds–even those horseradish haters!

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And chances are good if you’re a horseradish lover like myself, you might already have all the necessary ingredients to whip this bad boy up. Be sure to note that in this recipe I used a horseradish sauce which means the horseradish is cut with mayo or cream (I like Silver Springs brand best). So the flavor is much more mellow compared to that of a prepared horseradish, which is just straight horseradish.

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Instead of parsley you can also garnish with green onions, chives or better yet, crumbled bacon!!!

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30 Minute Creamy Horseradish Potato Salad

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

  • 3 lbs. potatoes, diced
  • 3/4 cup mayo
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • splash of heavy cream
  • 4 hard boiled eggs, diced
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper
  • fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and a large pinch of salt to the boiling water. Boil for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender but still have just the slightest bite to them. Strain potatoes and rinse with cold water. Place into a serving bowl and put them in the fridge to cool for about 20 minutes.

While the taters are cooling, in a small bowl combine mayo, sour cream, horseradish, vinegar, cream, hard boiled eggs, a large pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Pour dressing over the potatoes and stir until potatoes are well coated. Garnish with parsley and serve!

If you are not planning to serve the potato salad the same day, you may need to add another splash of cream or milk to the potato salad just to loosen it up again.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (16)

Charcuterie Board Making 101

If you don’t feel confident in the kitchen, the charcuterie board might become your best friend. No cooking skills required whatsoever and even the least creative person can put together an artful masterpiece of meat and cheese. You can make them large enough to feed an army or small enough for a date night with your other half.

Charcuterie boards are hands down the easiest and most elegant appetizer for any group. But they are often overlooked as many think they are too difficult or complicated to make, or that there are certain rules you have to follow. In my humble opinion, the only rule for making a charcturie board is that there are no rules. It’s typically comprised of a few kinds of cheeses, a few kinds of meats, a nice crusty sliced baguette and some crispy crackers along with a few other accompaniments–think pickles, potato salad, roasted nuts, fresh or dried fruit, jams, spreads, etc. Actually, I do always follow one rule when making my boards–variety and randomness are paramount. I like to cut all the cheeses in different shapes and arrange my meats in different shapes also. I put some in neat rows, others in piles, some are fanned around dishes and others are rolled into little cones. I never plan where I’m going to put anything; I just let it happen organically.

But if you’re into following rules you can use a simple blueprint of different cheese textures that takes the guesswork out of what to include. Try one creamy cheese (like Brie), one firm cheese (like manchego), one crumbly or blue cheese (like goat cheese or gorgonzola) and one aged cheese (like aged cheddar). Also try to include a variety of textures with the meats–soppressata or hard salami, proscuitto,  and sliced deli meats work well. But don’t get hung up following these blueprints exactly. I usually think about the tastes of my guests and try to include things that I know they will like, and also things that they maybe haven’t tried before.

The best part is it’s a great way to use up those odds and ends you have in your fridge or cupboard. You know, the ten green olives at the bottom of the jar, the last of the Dijon mustard, the handful of roasted pecans you didn’t end up using in your favorite cookie recipe. The wider the variety, the more beautiful the cheese plate.

 

 

Charcuterie Board Making 101

  • Servings: unlimited
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Ingredients

  • soft cheese
  • firm cheese
  • aged cheese
  • crumbly/blue cheese
  • salami
  • proscuitto
  • deli sliced ham
  • crackers
  • sliced French baguette
  • pickles
  • sliced apples
  • Dijon mustard
  • roasted pecans
  • pitted olives
  • literally whatever you want

Directions

Find a large cutting board or serving platter. Place your accompaniments (pickles, fruit, nuts) in small serving dishes. Start by arranging those on your platter. Slice cheese and meats into bite size pieces and arrange them randomly on your platter. Add sliced bread and crackers to the platter. Pour yourself and your guests a glass of wine and head for the patio to enjoy this delicious appetizer!

When selecting your meats and cheeses, plan on about 3-5 ounces of meat/cheese per person, depending on whether this is an appetizer or main course.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (4)

 

 

 

Bacon & Leek Pizza with Dill Pesto

Do you have a Woodman’s where you live? Have you tried ordering your groceries online? You literally pick out exactly what you want (including back ups in case they are out of something) and pick the date/time you want to pick them up. They text you a reminder when your groceries are ready and you text them back when you have arrived. They wheel the groceries right out to your car and even help you load it up. It literally could not be easier! It has saved us so much time it’s ridiculous! There is a $4.95 charge if your order is $50-$99.99 but get your order over $100 and it’s free! In the long run I’m convinced it’s also saved us money too, because there’s no impulse purchases as you’re navigating the aisles.

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The biggest plus for me is the not having to deal with the anxiety and annoyance of grocery shopping. I hate dealing with the aisle blockers, slow walkers, dilly dalliers, loud talkers, yelling parents, screaming children (mostly my own) and worst of all those shoppers who act like they are literally the only people in the entire store. You know the ones, blocking the entire dairy aisle with their perpendicular cart only to leave it in the middle of the aisle and wander down 10 feet to look at the sour cream. Meanwhile a line of 8 people is waiting to get around her. I may have lost my temper a bit and after politely saying, “Excuse me” also muttered under my breath, “Not like there’s a line of 10 people behind you.” This lady got super pissed and started yelling at me. Admittedly, I was being a bit snippy and I probably deserved the words she said to me. But damn lady, get outta the freakin’ way! We all have places to go and no one wants to stand here and watch you spend 20 minutes debating sour cream brands.

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So now it’s click, click, click, pick up my groceries and I’m done. No more starting shit at the grocery store for me!

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I do have one complaint though…I hate all the plastic bags! I have tried writing “paper bags only, no plastic bags please” in the notes section of every single order, and I still get everything in plastic bags. I could probably bring my own canvas grocery bags and switch them out, but you know they are just going to throw away those plastic bags and no reuse them, so what’s the point? At least when I get them home, I can recycle them. But, come on Eau Claire, let’s get on this “plastic bag ban” bandwagon please!

Rant over. This pizza is delicious and you need to make it now. It easy, it tastes great and your family will love you for putting this delicious creation on the dinner table.

Bacon and Leek Pizza with Dill Pesto

  • Servings: 2-3
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Ingredients

  • 1 (12-14 inch) pizza crust (1/4 of my no knead pizza dough recipe)
  • 1/2 recipe of my homemade dill pesto (or 1/2 cup of your fave pesto)
  • 1 medium leek, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Garnish: fresh chopped dill

Directions

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. If you’re using my no knead pizza dough recipe, line a pizza pan or baking sheet with foil and and sprinkle a thin layer of corn meal to prevent the crust from sticking. Turn the dough ball out onto a floured work surface. Gently shape it into a disc, then carefully working in a clockwise motion, gently press and stretch the dough into a 12 inch circle. Don’t overwork the dough; the less you touch it the better. If you’re using a pre-baked store bought crust you can skip these steps and just place your crust on a foil lined pan.

Spread pesto in an even layer across the pizza, leaving about a half inch of crust. Then add, leeks, bacon, mozzarella and Parmesan, spreading everything in an even layer across the crust. Bake for 15 minute or until the edges are dark golden brown and the cheese starts to brown as well. Garnish with fresh dill and serve!

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (7)

The Best Ever Crispy Baked Fries

Spoiler Alert: If you just want the recipe keep scrolling because Olivia’s about to get real. I can’t say for sure what it is, but there’s a certain quiet loneliness about the late winter months that I just can’t seem to shake. The warmth of the holidays has worn off, the sun is out for like 3 hours and I’m not much of a cold weather person so I don’t really get anytime quality time with mother nature. Did anyone else feel the seasonal anxiety and depression that comes along with winters in Wisconsin this year? I honestly have never realized it before. But looking back, the last few years I’ve been buried pretty deep in those mid-winter blues. As the sun starts shining, the temps warm up and I come out on the other side now, I noticed that I have quite a distinctive pattern around the same time every year. Usually it’s late January or early February, but sometimes it even rolls into March. I start to feel really out of it and melancholy and start contemplating life and how crazy it all is. Which prompts me to schedule a visit with a doctor, who of course tells me everything is fine and then spring comes and I forget all about it. One year it was a few trips to the ER, a few EKGs and finally an echo-cardiogram because I was having palpitations and chest pains (which I later realized were actually panic attacks). A couple years in a row it’s just triggered me to schedule my annual exam and have some labs drawn; I can’t tell you the number of times they’ve tested my thyroid levels. This year it was some delightful rectal bleeding and lower abdominal CT, followed by a colonoscopy. Oh, and there’s usually a drastic hair cut or color thrown in there somewhere. How have I never noticed this about myself before? But with this realization comes the ability to do something about it!

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Move to a warmer climate, right?! JUST KIDDING. I do love Wisconsin; mostly because it’s where my family lives, but I also appreciate the seasons. Even if I go a little crazy for half the year. Every season has it’s pros and cons, but I like living somewhere where you get to experience each season so distinctly. Plus I hate big spiders, snakes and scorpions. So climates where it’s warm all year are out of the question for me. I need that deep freeze to make sure the spiders only get pretty big and not gigantic.

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This past winter my anxiety actually got so bad and constant that I considered adding some sort of prescription pharmaceutical to my daily routine. Which if you know me at all, is quite a surprising thing to hear (see my latest post regarding a sedation free colonoscopy) because I am someone who hates to even take Excedrin when I have a raging migraine with aura. But, almost like clockwork, the seasons have begun to change and I am feeling good again. Certainly not anxiety free, but leaps and bounds better than I had been feeling even just a month ago.

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*Just to clarify: I am in no way putting down those who take prescriptions for anything. I realize it is very necessary for many and might even be for me some day. I just really hate to put any medication of any kind into my body so when I started to consider it, it was a sign that my anxiety was really starting to take a toll on me. It’s so important to listen to your body and take it’s queues.

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The Best Crispy Baked Fries

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice each potato into 1/2 inch slices, then cut each slice into 1/2 inch wide sticks. So basically, cut the potatoes into french fries. Then add potatoes, oil, garlic powder, thyme and paprika to a large bowl. Add a couple generous pinches of salt and large pinch of pepper. Stir until seasoning is well distributed and fries are well coated.

Spread fries in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the fries so all sides get nice and crispy. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Then crank the heat to 500 and bake for 15 minutes. Flip fries and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until desired crispiness is reached. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. I’m not going to pretend like mine isn’t Heinz ketchup, because it is.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (8)

{Vegan} Sesame Ginger Pasta Salad

This salad is fast. It’s easy. It’s simple. And so, this post will be too! This is another one of my favorite meal prep recipes for lunches during the work week. I like to bring something cold for lunch so as not to fill our tiny office with the fragrance of my favorite curry recipe or roasted poblano soup. While I enjoy all those smells and flavors, I realize that everyone may not. So I usually save those gems for dinner and bring something equally as flavorful but slightly less offensive to the senses of those around me.

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Enter, pasta salad! You might be saying, didn’t you just post a pasta salad recipe last week?! Yes, I did. But that was last week and this is now. And when summer comes and you’re not sure what to bring to your friend’s BBQ, now you have this recipe and you have that Mediterranean pasta salad from last week. So you’re welcome!

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I like to use spaghetti noodles because I love to swirl them around on my fork but you could use any shape you want. Just try to make sure it’s whole wheat. It’s way better for you and once you get used to the toothier texture you might find that you prefer it over regular white pasta.

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{Vegan} Sesame Ginger Pasta Salad

  • Servings: 8
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Ingredients

For pasta salad:

  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper diced
  • 1/4 red onion, petite diced
  • 1/2 a small red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3 large carrots, shredded
  • 3 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1.5 cups cooked, shelled edamame
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

For dressing:

  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Directions

This recipe really couldn’t be much easier. Add all pasta salad ingredients to a large bowl. Add all dressing ingredients to a large mason jar and shake it up real good. If you are planning to serve the pasta salad immediately, pour dressing into the serving bowl and toss until everything is well coated. Garnish with sesame seeds.

If you are planning to meal prep this recipe like I did, pour about 1/2 of the dressing into the serving bowl and toss until everything is well coated. Then divide into 8 containers and garnish each container of salad with sesame seeds. Each morning before work, or just before serving add another splash of dressing to the salad. This will ensure that the noodles don’t get too soggy and that your pasta salad is still flavorful a few days later.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (2)

No Knead Pizza Dough

This recipe is Midwest Foodie’s twist on the famous no knead pizza dough recipe by Jim Lahey. I have made his pizza dough several times and while it is out of this world delicious, I couldn’t help but tweak things just a bit. My only changes are increasing the amount of yeast and adding olive oil to the dough. These may be cardinal sins in some people eye’s but when I make food I’m not really focused on traditional methods or “rules”. I usually just make things the way I like them.

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We eat pizza about once a week. I think we’ve tried every take out pizza restaurant in town and honestly I am not in love with any of them. The only pizza that gets me truly excited is Tutto Bene and they’re portable wood fired pizza oven can only be found during the summer months. So what am I supposed to do for the other 9 months of the year?! Make my own, obviously. Next to Tutto Bene, this crust is the best. And the best part of this pizza dough is the complete lack of effort it takes to make it! Stir your ingredients until the dough comes together and then let it rise for 24 hours.

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Could it be any easier than that? I mean I guess you could buy the dough, that might be easier. But then you’d have to go to the store. So that would not be easier than hanging around in your jammies, sipping a glass of wine and stirring dough for one minute.

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Also, did I mention that I hate pizza crust?? Yeah, I hate it. I eat the part with cheese and sauce and toss the rest–except for this crust. This is the only crust that makes me want to eat the whole entire thing. So all you crust haters, this pizza is for you!

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This recipe makes enough dough for (4) 12 inch pizzas so you can make one now and freeze the rest for another day! Again, some people might say you can’t freeze this dough, but I will tell you that you can and I,  in fact,  have done it before! When you’re ready for another homemade pizza next week, let the frozen dough thaw in the fridge for 24 hours and then let it rest on your counter for about an hour before shaping and making.

No Knead Pizza Dough

  • Servings: 4 (12 inch) pies
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Ingredients

  • 500 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yest
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for oiling the bowl
  • 350 grams lukewarm water

Directions

Add flour, yeast and salt to a large bowl. Stir with a fork to combine. Add oil and water. Stir just until the dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl. Gently drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil over the dough ball and roll it around in the oil to coat all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and place in the warmest part of your kitchen to rise for 24 hours. True story, the warmest part of our kitchen is in one of our lower cupboards right by the heating vent. Some people let the dough rise in their oven, I lock it away in my cupboard.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Divide it into four balls. Working with the first ball, gently shape it into a disc, then carefully working  in a clockwise motion, gently press and stretch the dough into a 12 inch circle. Don’t overwork the dough; the less you touch it the better.

Continue the above steps with remaining 3 dough balls if you are baking them right away. If you are not baking them right away, place them into separate airtight containers (so they don’t stick together) and freeze for up to 2 months. When you’re ready for pizza, allow the frozen dough to thaw in your fridge for 24 hours. Then allow the dough to rest on your counter for about an hour before making.

Sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal down on your pizza pan to prevent the pizza from sticking and place crust on pan. Partially bake your crust for 5 minutes. Then add desired toppings, just be sure not to go overboard or the pizza will get soggy.

Bake at 500 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the toppings are warmed through. For an extra crispy crust, bake it without a pizza pan underneath.

Fig Jam, Pear and Grogonzola Tartlets (6)