Tag Archives: recipes

cooking

Christmas Cookie Roundup

It is no secret that I love cookies.  In fact, I have a few almost every night with a glass of milk while relaxing with Mike on the couch after Ava finally goes to bed.  My favorite – chocolate chip – and I cheat by baking up batches of Pillsbury’s Simply Cookies [as you will find out in tomorrow’s post, I am not a baker].  Growing up, we always had trays and tins full of cookies to eat at Christmastime.  My gramma must have been baking them in her sleep.

One of my holiday favorites are Russian Tea Balls [or Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes].  I have lost more than one of these in my glass of milk.  Nutty, cakey, little balls of goodness covered in powdered sugar … and fairly easy to make!  I found a great recipe for these at Peppercorn Press.

[Click image for recipe]

russianteaballs

How cute are these little gingerbread houses?!?!?!  Thanks to Megan of Not Martha you can print out a pattern and start building your own tiny houses to accompany your mugs of coffee, hot chocolate, egg nog, etc.  Mike and I were thinking this recipe would be great to make little Santa’s to hang on your mug or snowflakes or candy canes or whatever.  Maybe one day I will give it a try and if you do, I would love to see the results!

[Click image for recipe]

ginhouses

While we’re on the subject of gingerbread, check out this recipe for Gingerbread Man Cookies [on a stick!] created by Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks.  Kids will LOVE these!

[Click on image for recipe]

gingonstick

Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking? is to thank for these Chocolate Snowballs.  It’s basically a delicious chocolate cake and some cream cheese frosting rolled into cute little balls of goodness and dusted with powdered sugar.  Mmmmmm.

[Click on image for recipe]

devilballs

Now, this next recipe isn’t exactly a cookie, but it is a major Christmas sweet treat staple for my family [Ohio].  Buckeyes aka Peanut Butter Balls.  Sugar coma, here I come.  The family recipe Michelle from Brown Eyed Baker [or her old blog, Sugar & Spice] uses is pretty close to the Buckeyes my gramma makes.

[Click on image for recipe]

buckeyes

I love chocolate and Mike loves candy canes, so these Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies are perfect for us.  Just looking at them makes my mouth water.  Get the recipe from Susan at Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy.

[Click on image for recipe]

chocopeppermint

Who can resist the crunchy creamy goodness of an Oreo?  Not me.  And even better?  A Homemade Oreo from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  OMG these look amazing.  Milk!!!  I need milk!!!!!

[Click on image for recipe]

oreos

And to wrap things up … I couldn’t have a Christmas Cookie Roundup without including some fruit and nuts.  This recipe for Cherry Chocolate Nut Cookies comes from Sybil Brown, via Taste of Home.

[Click on image for recipe]

cherrychoc

So there you have it.  Eight amazing Christmas treats to fatten up Santa [and your friends].  If you have an awesome Christmas cookie recipe, let me know and we can share it!  XO!

cooking

Amazing Birthday Cakes Anyone Can Make!

My little Ava babers turned one this week – unbelievable!  I baked her an organic chocolate cake with chocolate icing and spelled out “Happy Birthday Ava” in puffs – her favorite treat.  I thought she would just dive right into the cake when we set it in front of her, but instead she daintily picked off one of the puffs and put it in her mouth.  She wanted nothing to do with the cake.  Eventually she got into the frosting when she started smashing her treats down into the cake, but there was no face in the cake like I expected … maybe next year.

I just made a chocolate sheet cake – no fancy schmancy decorations, but next year for Ava’s second birthday I plan on going all out.  I found these amazing cakes that actually seem fairly simple to bake and decorate – no elaborate piping, no fondant, no ‘cake boss’ skills required.  Just a little imagination and a whole lot of love!

This super cute Castle Cake uses sugar and waffle cones for the turrets and you could customize this cake in so many ways with your own candy choices.  For more details, visit the Parenting website.

castlecake

I found this Sledding Party Cake recipe at Better Homes and Gardens.  Coconut snow, pretzel rod trees, and cute little teddy graham sledders!

sledcake

I think this Cookie Crown Cake with M&M and gumdrop jewels is so pretty!  Find out how easy it is at Family Fun.

crowncake

The Family Fun site also has an A to Z list of cute cupcake ideas like this Mini Monster!

minimonster

I found this cool site called Birthday in a Box – they have everything you can imagine to put a party together – including this awesome Daisy Cake Pan!

daisypan

And this Dinosaur Cake Pan!

dinopan

Have you made an amazing birthday cake??  Send me a picture and the recipe and I’ll feature it on the blog!!!

cooking

Spicy Goat Cheese & Corn Quesadillas

It’s official – we are moving to Chicago!!!  So long NYC!!!  As you can imagine, things are busier than normal around here.  Ava is determined to walk [and wave and clap and jibber jabber all day long!] and we have tons of stuff to pack, so I am lucky if I get five minutes of peace.  Somehow I still manage to find the time to cook … but it has to be quick and simple and of course delicious.  I made this quesadilla for lunch the other day in less than 20 minutes.  Go, Shannon!

To make a Spicy Goat Cheese & Corn Quesadilla … [and if you can’t handle the spicy, just leave out the hot sauce!] …

First, cook some corn.  I just microwaved some frozen corn, but this is also a great way to use up those end of season ears of corn sitting in the crisper.  Add chopped scallions, fresh chopped basil and/or cilantro, and diced tomatoes to the corn.  Then add a few dashes of salt and pepper and squeeze in some hot sauce.  Next, crumble up some goat cheese and mix it all together ….

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Heat up a little bit of canola or vegetable oil in a skillet.  Place tortilla in skillet [I used whole wheat tortillas] and spoon in some of the goat cheese & corn mixture onto one half.  Fold the tortilla over, cook on one side then flip and cook on the other until golden brown.  That’s it – all done!  Easy!

Spicy Goat Cheese & Corn Quesadilla

cooking

Now THAT’S a Ham Sandwich!

This sandwich is sort of Croque Monsieur meets Monte Cristo meets Grilled Cheese and is soooo rich and delicious!

First, whisk together an egg [or two] and some milk.  Add a little pepper, paprika, and some fresh chopped rosemary and lemon thyme.  Heat up some butter in a skillet and dip your bread [I used whole wheat sourdough] into the egg mixture, coating both sides.  Cook the bread like you’re making french toast.  When it’s finished, remove the bread from the pan and top with shaved ham, pickles, mayo, and shredded mozzarella cheese.  Melt a little more butter in the skillet and place the sandwich back in for some melting action [about two minutes on each side over low to medium heat].  Remove from pan, cut in half and eat it up!!!  [And yes, I took a bite out of it before taking this picture.  I couldn’t resist!]

shannon's ham

cooking

Egg & Purple Potato Casserole

La la la rosemary and thyme … lemon thyme in this case.  I am posting two recipes today – both of which use these fresh and fragrant herbs.  First up is my egg and potato casserole.  I used purple potatoes in this batch because that is what we had picked up at the Prospect Park farmers’ market we went to last Saturday.  Any potatoes will do.

potato herbs

Cube your potatoes and boil for about 8 minutes [should still be firm in the middle].

While the potatoes are cooking, whisk together four eggs with a little skim milk [like you are making french toast].  I did mine right in the casserole dish [be sure to spray with a little organic canola oil first!].

eggs & milk

Dice some tomatoes, red peppers, and scallions and stir into egg mixture.  Strain your potatoes, roughly chop your fresh rosemary and lemon thyme and mix it all into the eggs.  Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste.  I also microwaved some turkey bacon and crumbled that in as well.  Now you are ready to pop it into your preheated oven at 375 degrees [covered in foil] for about 45 minutes.

ready for oven

When it’s finished, it will be fluffy, golden, and slightly pulling away from the sides of the casserole dish.  Serve and enjoy!  Great for breakfast, brunch, and even dinner.  Serves four [or two if you’re really hungry!].

egg & purple potato casserole

cooking

Tasty Couscous Salad

I just recently became a big fan of couscous.  I had eaten it before – usually as a muted little side dish, but never as the star of the meal.  I love the texture of it … the way it rolls around and pops in your mouth.  Delicious!  I was staring in my cupboard and refrigerator today wondering what I would have for lunch and this box of couscous stared back at me …

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So, I got out my cutting board and chopped up a red pepper, halved some grape tomatoes, shredded a carrot, performed a chiffonade on some fresh basil leaves, and peeled two mandarin oranges.  I poured 1 cup of boiling water over 1 cup of the couscous, covered it, and let it sit for five minutes.  When it was ready, I fluffed it, added a pat of butter and my veggie/citrus mix.  Then I stirred in about a tablespoon of honey and squeezed in the juice of one orange.  That’s it!  Serve warm or chilled!  Would be great with some almond slivers tossed in too!

tasty couscous salad

cooking

Couscous & Eggplant Casserole

I made this versatile dish for us last week and we gobbled it up without even missing the meat [we love a good steak here in the Shirley household]!  It’s fairly easy to make and can be made ahead and thrown back into the oven to heat up again when you’re ready.

To Make Couscous & Eggplant Casserole …  Slice off the top [and discard] of a large eggplant and then cut into bite sized cubes, lightly salt and set aside.  [I removed the skin from one half of the eggplant and left it on the other just to have different textures.]  Saute onions and red peppers in olive oil with salt, pepper, a little bit of cumin, and some cinnamon.  Toss in your eggplant cubes [or use a separate pan if yours isn’t big enough] and add a little more olive oil.  Be careful with how much oil you are using – eggplant is super absorbent and you don’t want it to be greasy.  If you have them on hand, toss in a handful of golden raisins too.  Keep on medium heat until tender then remove and set aside.

eggplantonionredpepper

Meanwhile, cook your couscous according to package directions [mine took just five minutes and I tossed the ‘spice pack’ that was included].  In a small bowl mix about 1/2 cup ricotta cheese [goat cheese or fresh mozzarella would work well in this dish too], fresh chopped parsley, and a squirt of lemon juice [or some orange or lemon zest].  Now the fun part – mix everything together in a casserole dish or baking pan, cover with foil, and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional ten minutes.  Eat.

couscouseggplantcasserole

I would have taken a prettier picture of it plated, but we couldn’t wait long enough to eat it.  When you have an eight month old that isn’t sleeping through the night, you eat when you can and you do it fast.  :-)  Enjoy!

cooking

Turkey Dill Burgers

Sorry for the oh so less than perfect picture of this burger.  It was late, we were hungry, and I have horrible lighting in my kitchen.  That aside, these burgers are juicy and delicious.  I got the idea from an old Salmon Dill Burger recipe the chef at a restaurant I worked at fourteen years ago used to make.  I am not a salmon fan, but figured it would work well with turkey, since it’s sort of a “blank slate” meat.  To jazz it up even more, I mixed some capers into some light mayo to spread on the buns.  So Tasty!

turkey dill burger

To Make Turkey Dill Burgers … Mix a little salt, fresh ground black pepper, and about a teaspoon [maybe a little more depending on how many burgers you are making – I made two] of dried dill into your ground turkey breast.  I also mixed in some fresh chopped parsley, but I’ve also made them without it.  Shape into patties and place in hot skillet that has been sprayed with a hit of non-stick spray [we use organic canola].  Cook for about 7-10 minutes on each side over medium heat.  When the burgers are almost finished, melt a slice of swiss cheese on top.  We added lettuce, tomato, and caper mayo to our burgers too.  Quick, Easy, and Good for You!!  Enjoy!

cooking

Fried Green Tomato Recipes

This past weekend we woke up early, Mike and I had baked eggs w/ prosciutto and cheddar at Fabiane’s, Ava dined al fresco in the park, and we visited our local farmers’ markets in McCarren Park and DUMBO.  I think we are going to make this a regular thing – we had such a great time together and picked up some beautiful fruits and vegetables.

Mike and Ava at waterfront park in DUMBO

mike and ava DUMBO

Farmers’ Market fruits

market fruits

In addition to the mouth watering fruit, we brought home fresh baked whole wheat sourdough bread, parsley root [parsnips], sweet red onions, radishes, red tomatoes, and green tomatoes.  I was most excited to slice into those green tomatoes …

Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches

FGT Sandwich

Fried Green Tomatoes w/ Cucumber & Apple Slaw

FGT w/cucuappleslaw

To make Fried Green Tomato Sandwiches … Slice green tomato, lightly salt, dip into egg wash [1 beaten egg] and then into mixture of flour, bread crumbs, and black pepper.  Place tomatoes into a hot oil filled [I used canola oil and you do not want too much – tomatoes should NOT be covered by the oil] skillet to fry.  While the greenies are frying, slice up some red tomato, onion, fresh mozzarella, and bread.  Flip your green tomatoes when they are brown on one side.  Drizzle slices of bread with olive oil.  Remove the fried green tomatoes from the pan and place on paper towel to soak up some of the excess oil.  Layer bread with the ingredients, adding leaves of fresh basil along the way.  Eat.

To make Fried Green Tomatoes w/ Cucumber & Apple Slaw … Follow directions for fried green tomatoes above.  The slaw is easy.  Julienne two cucumbers and one apple.  Add a tablespoon or so of mayo, teaspoon of white [or apple cider] vinegar, a little bit of fresh black pepper, and some poppy seeds.  Toss together, chill, and serve on top of warm FGT.  Delicious!

cooking

Making Salad in My Sleep

Today is supposed to be my Thursday fashion post about stylish maternity wear, but I was so tired last night that I didn’t get the chance to finish.  Tomorrow I will still be sharing recipes for beauty and promise I will get the maternity styles up on Saturday.  For some reason I am out of steam this week.  Maybe it’s the humidity … or maybe it’s just the combination of chasing Ava around all day and barely sleeping at night.  Mike and I came to the realization the other day that we won’t get to sleep in again until we’re like 50.  Makes me want to go back in time and really savor those lazy sleep until noon days.

Well, I don’t want to forfeit this post entirely, so here are some great recipes for a few simple, delicious, and healthy summer salads!  Enjoy!

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To Make Green Bean & Squash Salad … Boil fresh green beans for about 4 minutes and then place into ice water.  Thinly slice yellow squash and place in bowl with mixed greens.  Chop up some green [or red] onion and add to salad.  Remove green beans from the ice water, blot dry and toss into bowl w/ some light italian dressing or olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper.  Crisp and clean flavors!  Yummy!

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To Make Black Bean & Avocado Salad … This one is soooo simple.  Boil water and toss in corn.  Cut up avocado, carrot, green pepper, and tomato [optional].  Strain corn and rinse under cold water.  Open up a can of black beans and rinse.  Throw everything together in a bowl and you’re finished!  If you want to add a little spice, throw in some garlic [or mix in garlic paste] or jalepeno, a little bit of lime juice, and some salt.  Have leftovers?  Throw it in some soft or hard taco shells with grilled chicken or ground beef.

XO

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