Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Happy Birthday Dessert!

It's October and my husband's birthday month!  I haven't posted in awhile and right now I'm not working for the first time (other than maternity leave) my entire adult life.  While it's a little strange to not be in a classroom, these days are so busy for our family and I'm grateful to be around for it all.  As of right now, the girls are doing cross-country, band, gymnastics, Little Ladies Etiquette class, basketball, tennis, ASB and Big has an exciting new part-time job.  We spend a lot of time in the car but it's a great time to catch up and hear what's going on at school & with their activities.

Here are a few photos from the past few months:

From my previous posts, you know that my husband has great birthday dessert ideas - this year he said "something lemon or blueberry or both" and I found and modified a recipe online that turned out awesome.  We all loved it and I'll be making it again for friends.

Lemon Blueberry Cheesecake
from Gonna Want Seconds blog

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
16 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup marshmallow fluff
1 cup blueberries
1/2 - 1 cup lemon curd

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9 inch springform pan with nonstick baking spray and set aside.  

Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the butter and stir until combined.  Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan using an empty measuring cup to press it down evenly.  Bake the crust for 10 minutes.  Remove to a wire rack while keeping the oven at 350 degrees.

Place the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat until smooth and creamy.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla extract.  When it is all well-combined, add marshmallow fluff and beat until it's combined.

Pour the filling over the crust.  Sprinkle the blueberries on top and press them lightly with the back of a spoon to sink them into the filling

Bake for 20 minutes.  After the 20 minutes are up, without opening the oven, reduce the heat to 200 degrees and bake for an additional 30 minutes.  Once it's all finished baking, turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake inside for 10 minutes.  Remove and allow to come to room temperature.

Cover it and place it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

When ready to serve, pour the lemon curd over the top and spread it evenly before slicing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Baked Oatmeal (Food from Instagram Part I)

On Mother's Day, my daughters wanted to make a special breakfast for me but we weren't going to the grocery store and I was trying to think of what I wanted with what we had in the house.  I remembered this baked oatmeal that I had recently seen on Instagram and it was delicious!  You've probably seen the post or the reel but here is the full recipe and the proof that it's great in real life!  We ended up making it a few more times in the weeks that followed.  

The fruit & toppings can be easily adjusted and it's a "flexible" recipe in terms of portions but I like that it doesn't have added sugar but satisfies the sweet tooth and contains whole grains, fiber & protein.  You'll see below how adaptable it is . . . omit the chia seeds if you don't have them!

One Pan Baked Oatmeal (4 servings)

1/2 T coconut oil (or butter)

1 banana

1 cup old fashioned oatmeal

Almond milk (or soy or regular milk)

3 tsp. chia seeds (optional)

frozen or fresh berries

shredded coconut

sliced almonds

optional:  maple syrup, agave or brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium baking dish, brush the bottom with coconut oil (or butter).  Mash a banana all over the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with 1 cup oatmeal. Pour in enough almond, soy or cow's milk to just cover the oatmeal.  Sprinkle with chia seeds.  Whisk the oatmeal, milk and chia with a fork to combine.  Top with frozen or fresh berries, some chopped nuts and coconut and bake for 25 minutes.  If desired, sweeten with maple syrup, agave, or brown sugar.

"Air Fried" Chicken Tenders

Quick confession - I do not have an air fryer.  Although I've been tempted by rave review from friends and online recipes, I don't have room in my kitchen for more appliances.  Essentially, an air fryer is a smaller convection oven, so I've been experimenting with making some "air fried" recipes in my . . . convection oven.  I was looking for a new way to make some chicken tenders at home and stumbled across this on Pinterest.  My girls really liked the chicken tenders and I'm happy with the overall method and recipe.  I've been messing around with a cauliflower version (think: buffalo cauliflower appetizer) and I'll post an update when I have that one down.

My previous posts about these chicken tenders are still the family favorite (and check out those dipping sauces!) but what tips the scales towards this recipe is how simple it is.  Instead of doing the flour, egg wash, and bread crumbs, you marinate the chicken first in ranch dressing and then use a complete baking mix (which has both egg & flour in it).  I was trying to avoid the multiple dipping layers (and the trip to the store when you don't have panko or other breadcrumbs).  It's more delicious if you add some spices to the baking mix (try paprika + salt + ground pepper or Italian seasoning + parmesan cheese).

Tips:  To simulate the air fryer, you need high heat, a convection setting, and the olive oil (don't skimp or skip this step!)

I usually marinate the tenders in the ranch for a little while but it's not that necessary.  You can spruce up the baking mix by spices like I mentioned above.

"Air Fried" Chicken Tenders (4-6 servings)

1 cup prepared ranch dressing (like Hidden Valley)

1 cup Bisquick or other complete baking mix

1.5 pounds chicken tenders

salt, pepper, seasoning

Olive oil

For serving:  bottled buffalo sauce, bbq sauce, or bleu cheese dressing 

Heat oven to 450-475 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet or 9x13 pan with foil.  In a bowl or large ziplock bag, combine the ranch dressing and chicken tenders, making sure they are completely coated with the ranch.  Allow to marinate for 15-30 minutes (or while the oven preheats).  

In a plate, dish or large ziplock bag, add the Bisquick (or baking mix) and add some salt, pepper, and other seasonings (like paprika or seasoning salt).  Take the ranch-marinated chicken tenders and coat them with the baking mix.  

On the baking sheet or foil rimmed baking pan, drizzle it with olive oil and use spread it all over (I use a brush to make sure it's all coated with the olive oil).  Place the chicken tenders flat in the olive oil coated baking dish or pan, making sure they don't overlap or touch each other.  

Bake for 8-10minutes or until the bottom of the chicken is golden brown then carefully & gently flip the chicken over.  Bake for 9-10 more minutes or until the chicken is slightly crispy and golden brown.

Serve with some dipping sauces & enjoy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Taco Cake

 In our family, we've recently been talking about palindromes like Tacocat (and Madam, I'm Adam).  This Taco Cake isn't a palindrome, but it was a fun dessert we made for Cinco de Mayo.  While my girls continue to tease me that my favorite food is chicken, it's actually tacos . . . and taco cake!  I pinned this on Pinterest a long time ago and it's actually one of the rare times that our version met and exceeded our Pinterest expectations (#nailedit!).

It's more of a method than a recipe . . . make a cake flavor of your choosing in one cake pan (we used a boxed yellow cake recipe).  Take a white frosting (we used a canned frosting) and dye it a pale yellow (a couple drops of yellow food coloring).  Cut the cake in half, stand it on the sliced ends and put a generous layer of frosting in the middle to stick it together.  Frost the outside of the whole cake with the pale yellow frosting.  


Make the taco fillings.  We used crushed Oreos for the ground beef, red m&ms for the tomatoes, coconut dyed green for the lettuce, and sliced orange jelly candies for the cheese.  We sprinkled it over the middle of the taco cake and were so happy with how realistic it looked!

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Recently, Thai red curry is a flavor we can all agree on and all enjoy.  I'll post soon the revised red curry stir fry that's in regular rotation, but this soup is something a little different.  I only have a mini chopper, not a full food processor and can just barely fit it all in there to make the paste that becomes the soup base.  Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients - I bought some of these pastes at a grocery store (Stater Bros) and made 3-4 batches of soup with them but you could chop your own ginger, cilantro and lemongrass and add it to your food processor.  

The amount of heat is determined by the chilis in the garnish more than the red chile paste or red curry paste and we liberally add Sriracha at the table.  If you're gluten free, just use a GF soy sauce alternative.

Word of warning:  You'll wish you had made a double batch!

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 T fresh ginger (or ginger paste)
1 T lemongrass paste
2 T red curry paste
2 T fresh cilantro (or 1 T cilantro paste)
1 T red Chile paste (or 2 red chiles, chopped)
2 T coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 T soy sauce
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 can coconut milk
2 cups shredded chicken
7 oz rice noodles
For garnish:
4-5 green onions, thinly sliced (both white and green parts)
1 green chili (sliced, seeds removed)
1 red chili (sliced, seeds removed)
Chopped cilantro

Combine garlic, onion, red pepper, ginger paste, lemongrass paste, red curry paste, cilantro (or paste), and coconut oil in a food processor and process until a paste forms.

While you are making your paste, start boiling water for the rice noodles.

Add paste to a medium pot and fry it for a couple of minutes, just until fragrant.

Add chicken stock and coconut milk and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes.  While soup is simmering, cook noodles according to package directions and drain.

Add shredded chicken.  Add soy sauce, lime juice and zest, and rice noodles to the soup.  Top with garnishes and serve.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Blueberry Ice cream

We haven't made ice cream in ages but we've consumed more than ever during the last year #thankscovid19.  I was making a lemon bundt cake last weekend and thought that blueberry ice cream would go well with it.  The recipe is super simple but it was delicious.  

Blueberry Ice Cream

from Taste of Home

4 cups blueberries

2 cups sugar (or less depending on how sweet your berries are)

2 T water

4 cups half-n-half

Combine the blueberries, water, and sugar in a large saucepan on the stovetop and cook until the sugar is dissolved and the blueberries are softened. Transfer to a food processor or high quality blender and blend until smooth.  An optional step is to strain the mixture to remove the skins.  My Vitamin blender got it pretty smooth, so I didn't do this step.  Refrigerate until cold.  Mix with the half and half and put it in your ice cream maker.

Grilled Chicken Drumsticks

We had a lovely Easter together this year although it was another "unusual" holiday.  We sold our desert condo where we've spent many holidays together (usually Christmas Eve, often Thanksgiving, and sometimes Easter) and were packing up and moving all weekend.  Our Easter dinner was at a restaurant but we made these cute cupcakes to share with friends before we headed out to the desert.  I made a lemon cupcake with vanilla frosting and had lots of helpers volunteer to decorate. 

The second dish / main recipe is in the theme of "chicken is mom's favorite food."  I marinated these overnight with ingredients I had in the kitchen and the garden and my husband grilled them up - they were a big hit and will be on regular rotation around here, especially now that the weather is warm!  We put them in a cast iron skillet after searing the outside but you can grill them any way you like.


Chicken drumsticks (about 8)

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 T dijon mustard

1 T chopped garlic

1 T fresh rosemary, chopped

1 T fresh sage, chopped

salt and pepper to taste


Put drumsticks in a glass baking dish or a large ziplock bag.  Combine all the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk.  Pour over the drumsticks and marinate 2 hours or overnight.  Grill at medium heat (400 degrees) for about 30 minutes, flipping every 5-7 minutes.  Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees.