Watermelon & Feta Salad, SRC June

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Hi friends!

I can’t wait to share today’s recipe with you- it’s delicious, healthy, and full of juicy summer flavor.  I just love a watermelon salad!

The recipe today comes from another talented blogger, “The Tasty Gardener“, my pairing for this month’s Secret Recipe Club.  The Secret Recipe Club is a really cool group I joined a little while back.  Every month, we are assigned a new blogger.  We get to pick ANY recipe that blogger has written about and cook it up ourselves.  We can make adjustments according to our tastes too.  All of the bloggers post their results on the same day and we all get to see who had who and more importantly, what delicious dishes were made!

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups Spring Mix Lettuce

1 cup Watermelon, chopped into small chunks

1/4 cup Reduced Fat Feta Cheese, chopped or crumbled

2 slices Sweet Onion, chopped

1/4 Red Bell Pepper, chopped

Mint Leaves

Cilantro Leaves

Olives, Sunflower Seeds, Balsamic Vinegar, Salt & Pepper

Directions:

Place lettuce in a bowl or tupperware container.  Add chopped ingredients and top with mint and cilantro.  Add with other salad toppings such as sunflower seeds and olives and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Add 1-2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar and ENJOY!

Recipe adapted from:  The Tasty Gardener

The original recipe was more like a side salad, but I wanted to turn that recipe into a lunch appropriate salad with fresh lettuce and more veggies.  The flavors are just fantastic and the juicy watermelon is such a nice addition to my lunchtime salad.  It gives not only a sweetness but a crunchy texture bursting with flavor.  I loved it!

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Now take a moment to check out these other fab recipes from this month’s SRC Reveal:

Amazingly Easy Yeast Rolls, SRC May

My sister and i are obsessed with this scene.

Oh, hello again.

It’s me… remember me?  It’s been quite a while, I know.

Life somethings just has a way of taking everything you know and are comfortable with… and flipping it upside down.  The first quarter of 2014 has been an extremely difficult one for Dave and I and our families (yes, despite the fact that we’re GETTING MARRIED!!!  OMGGGGG) and my dear little wonderful food blog has taken quite a hit.  Well… it’s freakin’ May and I’m over it!  Here I am and I am back for good.

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I am pretty excited to share my first recipe in two months with you… while it may seem simple, this “amazingly easy” recipe was a big deal for me!  I have ALWAYS been too nervous to try to bake my own breads or pretzels or challah or anything that used yeast.  I am not the best at following directions and I always feared that I would totally botch whatever yeast project I started.  Well, for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I decided to go “all in” and give it a shot.

Secret Recipe Club

The Secret Recipe Club is an amazing group of bloggers where every month, we are assigned a new blogger to replicate.  We get to pick ANY recipe that blogger has written about and cook it up ourselves.  We can make adjustments according to our tastes too.  All of the bloggers post their results on the same day and we all get to see who had who and more importantly, what delicious recipes were made!  The “SRC” has been an awesome resource for me and a place where I come to try new things… in this case… yeast bread!

This month, I was assigned to work on Micha’s Blog called “Cookin’ Mimi”.  I spent quite a few days browsing her site and it was SUCH a hard decision to make!  I can’t wait to try a few more recipes from her blog… (like Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Jam… omg … and now that I can bake rolls, maybe even her Onoin Cheddar Rolls)

But my decision was made… I just had to try her “amazingly easy” yeast rolls.  I was up for the challenge.  I WILL follow the directions and not mess this up.

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Well, my friends… they turned out perfectly.  I could not believe it.  And would ya guess what???  They were RIDICULOUSLY amazingly easy to make.  Success!  Now I just need to make some kind of fancy compound butter to slather them with…. nommmmmmm

Amazingly Easy Yeast Rolls (Perfect for Beginners!!!)

Recipe from:  Cooking Mimi

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

 Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 5 teaspoons Yeast
  • 5 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Butter, Melted

Instructions

  1. Heat milk, water, sugar and salt in a saucepan over low heat until warm (about 120 degrees), remove from heat and mix in the eggs and yeast.
  2. Place 5 cups of flour in a large lidded bowl (I listened to Micha and used my crockpot since it was big enough and had a lid). Make a well in the center and pour in the warm liquid and yeast mixture. Do not stir.
  3. Cover with the lid and let sit 20-30 minutes. Pour in the melted butter and mix well. Add flour if sticky until a soft but no longer sticky dough is formed. Knead several times (i almost missed this part!). Place back into bowl and cover again with lid. Let the dough sit for another 20-30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Divide dough into 12-16 pieces depending on how large you want your final roll. Shape into balls and place on baking sheet(s) cover with a damp tea towel or a greased piece of plastic wrap and let rise 20-30 minutes. Bake for 15 minutes or until done.
Just poured the hot yeast mixture into the flour.

Just poured the hot yeast mixture into the flour.

This is after the second time you let the dough sit.  (After first stirring, and after adding melted butter and extra flour)... now it's on to making rolls!

This is after the second time you let the dough sit. (After first stirring, and after adding melted butter and extra flour)… now it’s on to making rolls!

Rolls are made and ready to sit (again... !!!)

Rolls are made and ready to sit (again… !!!)

Rolls are a little bigger now and ready to bake!

Rolls are a little bigger now and ready to bake!

PERFECT!!!!!!!!

PERFECT!!!!!!!!

I cannot even tell you how happy I was that these turned out just right.  I sat in front of the oven staring at them as they slowly rose and then browned ontop.  I just couldn’t believe it!  You guys HAVE to try to make these.

A few notes:  

– I used my regular cookie sheets with nothing on them and had ZERO sticking problems.  The rolls popped right off.

-My first batch was browning quite fast, so I removed from oven at around maybe 11 minutes.  They were a little too gooey on the inside, so the next batch I let cook for about 13 minutes and they turned out much better and did not burn- but were a little more brown ontop

-Use a REALLY big bowl if you don’t have a crock.  It filled up most of the crock as it rested.

Add some butter and call it a day.

Add some butter and call it a day.

Well, now that I have come back to you and conquered the basic yeast roll… I will shut up and let you take a gander at what everyone else has made for this month’s SRC!  ENJOY!

-Marshmallow Crispy- Oreo Rice Krispy Treats, SRC March

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For my first post back in over two weeks, I thought I might as well start off with a bang.  Or, you know… what I like to call a cannibalistic treat.  I’m going to try hard to only use one Hannibal Lecter quote in here.

I do wish we could chat longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner.

I do wish we could chat longer, but… I’m having an old friend for dinner.

Obviously I’m not in the business of cooking up people.  I’m talking about some delicious Krispy-on-Krispy action here.

Did anyone get a chance to go out and try the new Oreos yet?!  I hope you did, because they are so darn hard to find!  Oreo came out with a ridiculous line of special edition (so rude… just like the Disney Vault… now they’re GONE!) flavors:  Cookie Dough, Lemon, and MARSHMALLOW CRISPY.  They are amazing!  I have only tried the flavors with vanilla cookie- since Dave doesn’t like regular Oreos (WTF, right?!!) and they are bomb.com.  <List of the top Oreo Flavors!>

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Besides eating an entire sleeve of these babies this month… I bought another package to do something special.  Yes, remember where I”m going with this?  Something cannibalistic.  I had to try to make Marshmallow Crispy Oreo Rice Krispy Treats.  WOW.

You might wonder why the sudden sweet tooth?!  The inspiration for this outrageous dessert came from my awesome Secret Recipe Club partner, Katrina from the blog Baking and Boys.  Katrina does it all- she is a wife and a mother of FOUR boys… she cooks amazing food and even bakes (I could NEVER! So Impressed).

Secret Recipe Club

Forget what my Secret Recipe Club is?  Every month, we are assigned a new blogger.  We get to pick ANY recipe that blogger has written about and cook it up ourselves.  We can make adjustments according to our tastes too.  All of the bloggers post their results on the same day and we all get to see who had who and more importantly, what delicious dishes were made!  This month was so difficult since Katrina is so creative!  I had to pick her Oreo-Krispy-M&M mashup.  It just sounded too good to be true.

Krispy Oreo Rice Krispy Treats

Ingredients:

6 cups Rice Krispy Cereal

3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

1 (10oz) bag Mini Marshmallows

15 Marshmallow Crispy Oreos

1/2 cup spring M&Ms 

Directions:

1.  Cover a 9×13 baking dish with foil, hanging over the edges and prepare with cooking spray.  Set aside.

2.  Chop the Oreos.  Combine oreos and cereal in a large bowl.  Set aside.

3.  In a non-stick saucepan, melt the butter, then add the marshmallows.  Stir over low heat until marshmallows have melted and are combined with the butter.  Dump the marshmallow mixture over the cereal and stir quickly with a sturdy rubber spatula or wooden spoon.  Add M&Ms.  

4.  Dump the Krispy mixture into the foil-lined baking dish and either use your hands or a potato masher to spread and smooth out.  Let sit for an hour, then remove using the foil, peel off the foil, and cut into squares.  Enjoy!

Recipe <seasonally> adapted from:  Baking and Boys!

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YUM!  I had wayyyy too many of these!  They are awesome!  I never had Krispy Treats with oreos AND M&Ms… the opportunities are endless!  I am dying to try to make these with the Peppermint Oreos when they are in season like Katrina made- yum!

Take a second to check out the rest of the bloggers in my group… these recipes sound awesome this month!

Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread

I am seriously SO over all of this snow!  We have now had the third snowiest winter of all time in Philadelphia… ew ew ew ew ew!!  All last week while stuck inside because of the terrible weather, all I could think about was soup.  I was looking at recipes of soup that I’ve made before and ones that I’ve saved for a rainy day.  I didn’t even care what kind… I just really wanted soup.

And honestly, what better soup to make on a snowy day than one that cooks in a crockpot and makes your house smell all sorts of delicious?!  I decided to spend some time on Sunday making a new chili recipe with Dave.  We like to experiment and try new things, so this time around, we made a lamb chili.  It was so delish!  Stay tuned because I’ll be posting about that recipe soon 🙂

We decided to make this amazing cornbread to go along with the chili, which was a fabulous idea because it was so freakin’ easy and so yummy!

I have actually always wanted to try a baking recipe in my cast iron skillet, so this was the perfect opportunity.

This recipe is from the super popular blogger, Michelle, from Brown Eyed Baker.  This is the first recipe I’ve made from her site, and I am so excited to try others… this one was great!  Check out her blog and instagram… she has two adorable Golden Retrievers and posts so many pictures of them, I just love it!

Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread

Ingredients:

1¼ cups Yellow Cornmeal
1¼ cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons White Sugar
1½ teaspoons Baking Powder
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
1½ teaspoons Kosher Salt
1¾ cups Reduced Fat Buttermilk
1 large Egg
1/2 can Creamed Corn

4 Tablespoons Butter, cut into 4 pieces

Chives

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.  Measure your buttermilk in a large measuring cup, then add the egg and stir.  Add the buttermilk mixture and the creamed corn to the dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula until the mixtures are completely combined.  Chop or snip some chives into the batter as well if you’d like.

2.  Put the four pieces of butter in a cast iron skillet (10-12 inches) and then place the pan in the preheated oven until the butter is melted (about 3 minutes).  Remove the skillet from the oven and swirl the pan so the butter coats the bottom and partially up the sides of the pan.  Add the batter to the skillet and smooth the top with the rubber spatula.  

3.  Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick entered into the middle comes out clean.  Let cool slightly then cover the pan with a cutting board and flip, removing the cornbread.  Slice and serve warm.

Recipe Adapted from:  Brown Eyed Baker

Ready to go in the oven...

Ready to go in the oven…

all done :)

all done 🙂

I sliced mine like a pie :)

I sliced mine like a pie 🙂

 

I was literally in shock when this recipe turned out right.  I’m not very good at baking (I rarely follow instructions the right way) and could not believe how perfect this cornbread came out of the skillet!  What a relief.

The only change I would make to this recipe for next time would be to add either a little bit more sugar or kosher salt… or even jalapeños!  The good thing about cornbread is that the opportunities are endless… you can add whatever you’d like.  This cornbread was so delicious and was the perfect accompaniment to our lamb chili!

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cornbread

 

Caramelized Carrot Cake Bread : Feb SRC

I’m hoping you’re reading the title of this post and having the same reaction I did… WHATTTTT?!??!!  When I read about this recipe on my SRC partner’s blog… I was just amazed.  I don’t think I can personally ever be so creative.  What an awesome recipe.  Whoa.  I just had to try it.

After a month off, I’m back on with the Secret Recipe Club.  For those of you who haven’t checked it out before, please do!  The Secret Recipe Club (or the SRC) has been a really fun way to encourage me to try new recipes and connect with new bloggers.  Each month, everyone in the club gets an assignment to check out another blogger’s page.  We then pick ANY of their existing recipes and make them ourselves!  Then, on reveal day (today), we all post about our findings and experiences.  I have made some of my favorite recipes EVER from some of my paired blogs (check out THIS one… omg).

Secret Recipe Club

This month, I was paired with the blog:  Easily Good Eats.  It was so hard to pick just one recipe to make from this blog.  Like I said- she is so creative!  There are so many interesting recipes from different cuisines and countries around the world.  Very impressive.  I was automatically drawn to this recipe once I saw the word “Caramelized”…. I was practically drooling (as I am sure you are now too!)…  I won’t waste any more time, here is what I made:

it's as good as it looks.

it’s as good as it looks.

Caramelized Carrot Cake Bread

Makes:  1 Loaf

Ingredients:

1 cup Flour
½ cup Sugar, divided into 1/4’s 
1½ cups Carrots, peeled and grated
½ cup Unsalted Butter (1 stick)
2 Eggs, large
just under 1/4 cup Milk (I used 2%)
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
¼ teaspoon Kosher Salt
1½ teaspoons Baking Powder
 
Directions
  1. Prepare a loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. Add ¼ cup sugar and 1 Tablespoon of water to a saucepan. Bring to the boil and cook on high heat until the sugar turns dark red. It will happen- I promise.  (I used a rubber spatula) Stir and don’t let it burn!
  3. Add carrots and butter.  Cook over low heat until the carrots becomes soft. This will take about 15-20 minutes. Puree the mixture (optional). Let the mixture cool completely.  *Optional to puree the mixture in a food processor- I did not*
  4. In a bowl beat ¼ cup sugar and eggs until the sugar dissolves. Add to the carrot mixture together with milk and mix well.
  5. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture.  Don’t overmix.
  6. Pour the batter into loaf pan and bake at 350°F until done, about 30-40 minutes. A skewer inserted in the middle of the cake should come out clean.

Recipe slightly adapted from: Butterscotch (Caramelized) Carrot Cake

At first, this recipe was a little more labor-intensive than what I’m used to.  First of all, I don’t really bake that much.  I also rolled my eyes when I saw how much carrot I’d have to grate.  But then I remembered, OMG, I have a food processor!  I finally was able to use our engagement gift from Dave’s parents in a new way- the grating tool!  Once I got it set up and peeled my carrots, it took literally 45 seconds.  It was the easiest thing ever, I totally recommend doing this- it will save you so much time!  Once the carrots were grated, the rest was simple.  Cook up the sugar, add the butter, carrots, and make the bread.

Lots of shredded carrots!  Thank goodness for our new food processor :)

Lots of shredded carrots! Thank goodness for our new food processor 🙂

If you were curious about what caramelizing carrots looked like...

If you were curious about what caramelizing carrots looked like…

Here is the batter with the wet ingredients and carrots

Here is the batter with the wet ingredients and carrots

I should also tell you that you should make DOUBLE this recipe.  You’re going to want to eat the whole loaf yourself, but also share one- it is one hell of an impressive recipe… show off your skills!  Next time, I’m going to double AND make a little bit of cream cheese glaze to drizzle overtop.

Finished product!  YUM!

Finished product! YUM!

Now that I’ve probably made you hungry for something sweet…

check out some of the other blogger’s recipes from this month’s SRC!

Roasted Jalapeño & Honey Hummus

Holy Hummus.

I think I’ve discovered my favorite snack, like… ever.

This stuff is legit.

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Don’t get me wrong, my other hummus recipes are awesome.  I love making this stuff from scratch.  It’s so easy and I love being able to customize the flavors.  This recipe puts all others to shame.  It’s just so-freakin-awesome.

The idea for this hummus recipe came from one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Jessica, from How Sweet It Is.  Not only do I love reading her hilarious stories, Jessica has just the best recipes.  Her pictures are amazing too.  I knew I had to try this recipe out when I read it a week or two ago.  I love roasting peppers and adding honey to hummus was something I had never even heard of.  I’m all in.

hummus

Roasted Jalapeño & Honey Hummus

Ingredients:

1-4 Jalapeño Peppers, roasted*

2 cans Chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid

1/4 cup Tahini

1/4 cup Honey

1/4 cup Olive Oil

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/4 teaspoon Cumin

1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Directions:

*To roast the jalapeños, you can hold them with heat-safe tongs over a gas range, or you can roast them in the oven (what I do) on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Roast at 400 checking/flipping every 5-10 minutes or so, until the peppers are soft and browning.  I used 4 peppers with seeds.  Use one at a time, tasting to see how spicy it is.  Dave and I love spicy food, this is about average spice for us.  Remove the seeds if you don’t like spice at all.*

1.  Add the chickpeas, jalapeño, and garlic to the food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  

2.  Add in the tahini, honey, and all four spices and continue to blend, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary.  With the processor turned on, slowly stream about half of the olive oil into the hummus.  Depending on how you like the consistency, add in a few tablespoons of the bean “juice” (from draining the chickpeas).  Keep processing until you get the desired consistency, adding bean juice or oil as you go.  I stop and taste often.  Serve with chips, cucumber slices, carrots, or spread on a sandwich!  MMM!

Recipe adapted from:  How Sweet It Is

Ready to whirl!

Ready to whirl!

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So while these pics might look like any old hummus… I promise you, this stuff is special.  Try it out!

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Or… try another one of my favorite dips!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Italian Hoagie Dip

Italian Hoagie Dip

Smoked Salmon Dip

Smoked Salmon Dip

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

One of my all-time favorite stories about Dave’s horrendous spelling, is that he once spelled “Lasagna” “Liggisana”.  Every time I see the word I say it the way he spelled it.  It just cracks me up.  I literally can’t think, spell, or say the word “Lasagna” without thinking about him.  I love it… too funny.

I suppose the reason for my inspiration to try a Buffalo Chicken Lasagna was perhaps because that Liggisana spelling Dave was in the back of my head telling my subconscious to make a new Buff Chick creation… they’re his favorite.  First we tried Buffalo Chicken Dip which is a classic in our house.  Then we did some Buffalo Spiced Peanuts (yum!), my favorite- Buffalo Stuffed Baked Potatoes, and a new hit- the Buffalo Chicken Soup.  We’ve got a whole lotta buffalo goin’ on over here.  This Liggisana takes our Buffalo Chicken loving to a whole new level.  

The inspiration for this recipe took me to googling some yummy treats.  My favorite out of the few that I found came from one of my go-to healthy recipe bloggers, Prevention RD.  I have saved so so many of her recipes, they are out of this world.  

Check out the recipe for the lasagna below, but also make sure you read my notes afterwards… my lasagna didn’t turn out as perfect as Nicole from Prev. RD’s did!  I think I need to read up on some “do’s” and “don’t’s” on Lasagna… hmmm……

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 lb White Meat Chicken Breast, cooked and cubed (I boiled mine)

3 cups Low-Sodium Marinara Sauce

1 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce or Buffalo Wing Sauce

1/3 cup Water

15oz Fat Free Ricotta Cheese 

2 Large Eggs

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

Cayenne Pepper if desired

16 Whole Wheat Lasagna Noodles, uncooked

9 slices Pepper Jack Cheese

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.

2.  Combine chicken, marinara, wing sauce, and water.  In a separate bowl, combine ricotta cheese, eggs, salt, pepper, and cayenne if using.

3.  Spray a 9×13 inch pan with cooking spray.  Spread enough sauce to coat the bottom of the pan.  Arrange 4 noodles over the sauce before spreading more sauce, then a layer of the ricotta mixture.  Add another layer noodles and of sauce repeating the process until you end with a final layer of sauce.

4.  Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight or bake immediately for one hour.  Uncover and place the pepper jack cheese slices on top.  Bake an extra 8-10 minutes uncovered so the cheese gets nice and melty.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving to firm up so you can get nice slices.

Recipe barely adapted from:  Prevention RD

Sauce on the right, ricotta mixture on the left.

Sauce on the right, ricotta mixture on the left.

Layered and baked!

Layered and baked!

Gotta love the lasagna cross-section shot

Gotta love the lasagna cross-section shot

Served these babies with a plate full of Ceasar Salad- the creamy dressing was a nice compliment to the spicy sauce.

Served these babies with a plate full of Ceasar Salad- the creamy dressing was a nice compliment to the spicy sauce.

So as I fairly warned you earlier… mine did NOT turn out as gorgeous and perfect as I’d liked it to.  Lasagna failures is a common topic in my foodie magazines, so I don’t feel that alone… right?  I’ve done some research and figured out I have a few problems that I’d love to tell YOU about so you don’t make the same mistakes that I have.

First of all… silly little me… all this time I thought my big pyrex was 9×13… it WASNT!  My dish was way too long for this lasagna.  I just couldn’t figure out why it didn’t stack right!  That’s why.  DUH.  I really shouldn’t have told you that, it’s really embarrassing.

One of the KEY tips that will help make your lasagna perfect and not dried out… is the sauce.  Make DOUBLE if you’re worried.  Have extra on hand.  Spreading the sauce on the bottom is key.  Even more key?  The sauce ontop.  You want this sauce to completely coat every inch of pasta on the top of the stacks.  This is what will keep the lasagna noodles from drying out.  

Also, I’ve commented on the original recipe at Prevention RD, and she highly recommended the refrigeration process before baking the dish.  I’ll try that next time!