Monday, September 30, 2013

Spinach Salad with Apples, Dates, & Goat Cheese

Spinach Salad with Apples, Dates, & Goat Cheese

Serves 6.

This salad is super easy to throw together and tastes amazing.  The only prep needed is some chopping.  The delicious store-bought dressing makes it a breeze.

Large box of fresh spinach
Container crumbled goat cheese.
2 Granny Smith apples, chopped
6 large dates, chopped
Marzetti Simply Dressed balsamic dressing

Fill salad bowls with spinach.  Top with crumbled goat cheese, apples, and dates.  Serve with balsamic dressing.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Chopped Thai Chicken Salad

Serves 6.

A crunchy, yummy, fresh and tasty salad.
Source: Pinch of Yum

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 small head green or white cabbage (2 cups shredded)
  • 1 large carrot (1½ cups shredded)
  • 1 green papaya (1½ cups shredded)
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup green onions
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 bird’s eye chili peppers (sub ½ teaspoon minced hot pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • ½ teaspoon fish sauce
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup water


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the chicken breasts, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes. When the chicken is done, remove from heat, drain water, let cool, and shred with two forks.
  2. Chop the cabbage into very thin pieces, like it would be for coleslaw. I did this by rolling up several leaves together and making thin vertical slices across the roll and then chopping them once horizontally. Peel and grate the carrots. Cut off the skin, remove the seeds, and grate the papaya. Roughly chop the cilantro and green onions. Toss the chicken and vegetables in a large bowl and keep chilled.
  3. Mince the garlic and chili peppers. Place garlic and peppers in a small mixing bowl with the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, lime juice, oil, and fish sauce. Whisk until smooth. Add the peanut butter and water and whisk again until smooth and creamy.
  4. Toss the salad with the dressing. Add the crushed peanuts. Serve chilled. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for up to one day. For best results, keep the leftover salad and dressing separate until ready to serve.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

One Breath Away

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

This book captured my attention from page 1.  When it was all said and done, I thought the ending could've been a little better, but I would still recommend this book to a friend.

Book description from Amazon:

In her most emotionally charged novel to date, New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf explores the unspoken events that shape a community, the ties between parents and their children and how the fragile normalcy of our everyday life is so easily shattered.

In the midst of a sudden spring snowstorm, an unknown man armed with a gun walks into an elementary school classroom. Outside the school, the town of Broken Branch watches and waits.

Officer Meg Barrett holds the responsibility for the town's children in her hands. Will Thwaite, reluctantly entrusted with the care of his two grandchildren by the daughter who left home years earlier, stands by helplessly and wonders if he has failed his child again. Trapped in her classroom, Evelyn Oliver watches for an opportunity to rescue the children in her care. And thirteen-year-old Augie Baker, already struggling with the aftermath of a terrible accident that has brought her to Broken Branch, will risk her own safety to protect her little brother.

As tension mounts with each passing minute, the hidden fears and grudges of the small town are revealed as the people of Broken Branch race to uncover the identity of the stranger who holds their children hostage.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Melt in Your Mouth Lemon Bars

Melt in Your Mouth Lemon Bars

Serves 24.

I got lazy and didn't end up making the frosting that is supposed to lay overtop of these bars.  Instead, I just sprinkled them with a healthy dose of powdered sugar.  Please reference the link below for the frosting recipe, or keep them classic (and easy!) and just do what I did.
Slightly adapted from: Just a Pinch

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar

4 eggs, whisked
2 cups sugar
4 T. flour
6 T. lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix crust ingredients and pat into the bottom of a greased 13x9 baking dish.  Bake for 15 minutes.

As crust is baking, combine filling ingredients.  Mix well.  Pour filling over crust and bake for 25 additional minutes.

Let bars cool completely, then cut and serve.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Lime Sherbet Dessert

Lime Sherbet Dessert

Serves 20+.

A refreshingly cool dessert.  The salty crust pairs perfectly with the sweet, sour sherbet.  Make it one last time during your own local Indian Summer.
Source: Thyme for Wine

1 1/2 C. Ritz Crackers, crushed
4 Tbsp. Sugar
7 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1.75 quart Lime Sherbet
1.75 quart Vanilla Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt
4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 C. Sugar
2 Eggs, beaten
6 Tbsp. Butter

Mix crust ingredients together in a small food processor. Once crumbly, press into a 9x13'' pan. Next, soften the lime sherbet and vanilla ice cream. Stir together in a large bowl (or I'm sure a stand mixer with the paddle or bread hook attachment would work fine on the lowest speed). Once combined, pour over the crumbs and put into the freezer. Meanwhile, make the lemon curd topping by cooking the lemon juice, beaten eggs, and butter in a small saucepan. Stir, while cooking over medium-low heat, whisking continuously until a low boil (about 10 minutes). Whisk for another 5 minutes and remove from heat; let cool (important). Pour the lemon curd over the ice cream; cover and freeze (best if frozen overnight). Let stand a few minutes before serving squares of this icebox dessert.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Into the Darkest Corner

Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

This was such a great read.  A true edge-of-your-seat thriller.  I honestly didn't like reading it if I was home alone.  But I always WANTED to read it, so sometimes I just HAD to be scared.  :)

Book description from Amazon:

When young, pretty Catherine Bailey meets Lee Bright man, she can't believe her luck. Gorgeous, charismatic, and a bit mysterious, Lee seems almost too perfect to be true.

But what begins as flattering attention and spontaneous, passionate sex transforms into raging jealousy, and Catherine soon discovers that Lee's dazzling blue eyes and blond good looks hide a dark, violent nature. Disturbed by his increasingly erratic, controlling behavior, she tries to break it off; turning to her friends for support, she's stunned to find they don't believe her. Increasingly isolated and driven into the darkest corner of her world, a desperate Catherine plans a meticulous escape.

Four years later, Lee is behind bars and Catherine—now Cathy—is trying to build a new life in a new city. Though her body has healed, the trauma of the past still haunts her. Then Stuart Richardson, her attractive new neighbor,moves in. Encouraging her to confront her fears, he sparks unexpected hope and the possibility of love and a normal life.
Until the day the phone rings . . .

Monday, September 16, 2013

Oriental BBQ Pork Tenderloin

Oriental BBQ Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4.

A tasty pork tenderloin recipe that we all loved!
Source: Easy Weekly Menus

12 oz. pork tenderloin
3 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. olive oil
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. ketchup
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. rosemary

Put all ingredients except pork into a bowl and mix well using a whisk.

Pour over pork and let marinate for at least 15 minutes. 

When ready, cook pork on barbecue for 25 - 30 minutes, depending on thickness.  Turn occasionally to brown on all sides and baste frequently with marinade.  Quit basting after 15 minutes.

Pork is done at 145 F.  It will be slightly pink in the center which is perfect.  If you don't have a thermometer (instant or remote read) check it after 20 minutes by slicing into middle for a peak.  When done let it rest for 3 - 4 minutes, then slice at an angle, into 1" thick slices and serve.

Note:  Could also be roasted about the same amount of time, turning and basting, 400F

Friday, September 13, 2013

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Crumble Bars

Peanut Butter Cup Cookie Dough Crumble Bars

Makes 16 bars.

These were absolutely, positively delicious.  From now on, I will make a double batch and bake them in a 13x9 because one 8x8 pan is not enough!
Source: Averie Cooks

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 heaping cup mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (or diced full-size cups; or substitute with another type of diced candy bar such as Snickers, Milky Way, Butterfinger, Heath, Rolos)
  • about 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (just slightly more than half of one standard 14-ounce can)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute. Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don't scramble the egg. Add the egg, sugars, vanilla, and stir or whisk vigorously to combine, for about 1 minute. Add the flour, baking soda, optional salt and stir until just incorporated. Batter will be quite thick and dense.
  3. Reserve 1/2 cup batter; set aside. Turn remaining batter out into prepared pan, smoothing it lightly with a spatula. Evenly sprinkle the peanut butter cups over the batter. Pour sweetened condensed milk over the top (just eyeball slightly over half of the can as you're slowly pouring). Using your fingers, lightly crumble the reserved cookie dough over the top in irregular, marble-sized chunks.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out without cookie dough batter clinging; it may not be clean because you're going through other layers and you may have to peck around to find a testing place). Edges will be firm, raised, and golden. The sweetened condensed milk should nearly be set in all places, and possibly only a little jiggly in the very center of the pan. Bars will firm up more in pan as they cool.
  5. Allow bars to cool in pan for at least 3 hours before slicing and serving. Lift out using the foil overhang. I recommend cooling for 1 hour on the counter, and at least 2 hours in the refrigerator, or overnight. This ensures clean, pretty cut marks. If you don't care about that, bars may be consumed as soon as they are cool enough to eat; grab a spoon and dig in. Extra bars will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Classic Banana Bread

Classic Banana Bread

Makes 1 standard loaf and 1 mini loaf.

This will definitely be my go-to banana bread recipe for when I want the traditional, homestyle bread.  If you click here, you'll find another great recipe for banana bread, but it is definitely sweeter and tastes more like cake.  You won't go wrong with either, but they are definitely slightly different and both worth keeping in the regular rotation.
Source: The Dough Will Rise Again

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 very ripe bananas
1/2 teaspoon salt
teaspoon baking soda
teaspoon baking powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk

1.) Preheat your oven to 350°. Start by creaming the butter and sugar together for about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, and mix until well-incorporated.
2.) Peel the bananas, place them in a bowl, and smash them well with a fork. Add them to the wet ingredients, and mix until combined. 
3.) Whisk together the salt, baking soda, baking powder, and flour. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, and mix until just combined; add half the milk, then another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the milk, and finally the remainder of the flour mixture, mixing until just combined after each addition.
4.) Spray your loaf pans with non-stick cooking spray; scoop the batter evenly into the pans or tins, only filling them halfway. This bread rises quite a bit, and if you fill them more than halfway, the bread has a tendency to collapse on itself, and you end up with an overbaked bottom, and a raw top! Bake muffins for 12-16 minutes, mini loaves for 22-25 minutes, and standard loaves for 45-50 until the edges are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.