Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Toast

If it’s been awhile that I wrote a general life post than it’s been FOREVER since I shared a recipe. We’ve definitely been eating well though, so hopefully I can get busy in the kitchen and snap some photos to share.

This year we planted five tomato plants and OH MAN did they ever produce. I’ve made about 20 pint jars of salsa, given away bags and bags full to friends, family, neighbors and coworkers, and made fresh caprese salad dozens of times. It’s now mid-September and I’m still collecting 4 or 5 tomatoes every couple days (last night I got 9– true story). I certainly don’t mean to complain about having so much produce, but I tell ya, it’s tough to come up with new ways to use it all.

I actually found this recipe looking for new ways to use the 1+ lb block of goat cheese that I recently bought. Goat cheese + roasted tomatoes + basil + balsamic reduction…. That’s a combination that will get me into the kitchen RIGHT THAT SECOND to make (which is definitely what happened!).

There’s a few steps to this open faced sandwich, but most of them you can do while the tomatoes are busy, busy roasting. It probably took me about a half hour to prepare, but was well worth the wait and the effort!

It also looks pretty fancy (if I say so myself!) so it would be a perfect recipe to make for a small dinner party or if you were trying to impress someone.

(little note before we get started: I’m going to leave off the quantity for each ingredient. I had plenty of tomatoes and balsamic reduction (enough for 4-5 people), but since it’s just me — I obviously didn’t need a ton of toast, goat cheese, parmesan, basil, etc..)

Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Toast

Ingredients:

  • Good Sandwich Bread (I used a marble rye + pumpernickel, but you can use whatever)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt + Pepper
  • Garlic, minced
  • Goat Cheese
  • Parmesan Cheese
  • Fresh Basil, chopped
  • Balsamic Reduction (recipe to follow)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Slice tomatoes 1/4 inch thick and lay on a foil lined baking sheet.

DSC_09232.  Mix together olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic and pour some over each tomato.

DSC_0924 DSC_09273. Roast tomatoes in oven for 20-25 minutes. (when they’re done, they’ll be shriveled and almost brown around the edges)

DSC_09464. While those are cooking, make the balsamic reduction (look below for directions) and toast the bread. Brush olive oil on each side of bread and place on a hot skillet (medium heat). Flip until each side is browned (like you’re cooking a grilled cheese).

DSC_0937 DSC_09385. Once bread is browned, spread goat cheese over each piece.

DSC_09576. Still on the hot skillet — fry parmesan cheese and cook until brown on each side. Once browned, let cool on plate and break into pieces.

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7. Use a spatula and place roasted tomatoes on each slice (I had mid-sized tomatoes so I could fit three per piece of toast). Top with chopped basil, parmesan crisps, and balsamic reduction.

DSC_09648. Devour!

Balsamic Reduction:

This can be used in SO many recipes to really take them to the next level. All you need is 1/2 cup of balsamic vinegar. Heat in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring very, very frequently (but I wouldn’t say constantly). It should take about 10 minutes to completely reduce. You want to take it off the heat when there is about 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar left and it’s the consistency of maple syrup.

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There you have it!!!

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Margarita Cupcakes

It’s Wednesday, what better time to talk about booze, right? Uhh.. Hmmm, I’m not sure that’s exactly true, but hey, it’ll work! Speaking of booze, part of our focus on health dealio was to cut back on drinking a bit. We definitely don’t drink all the time, but there’s always room for improvement! First, we considering not drinking at all during the month of January to really kick start the year. All was going well and dandy until the first Friday night.

You see, every Friday night Alex and I go out to a Happy Hour near our house. We have a drink or two and grab some food, we chat with our bartenders, and we make new friends at the bar. It’s our thing. We don’t go crazy and drink all night or spend a ridiculous amount of money. We just hang and decompress from the week. In fact, most evenings we’re home by 7:30 and already in our PJs. So on this particular Friday, we were contemplating what we should do instead… should we go to the movies? Just hang out at home? We searched our minds for answers when we both realized that we really wanted to do our thing and that we had been looking forward to it all week. We agreed that instead of putting a restriction on not drinking for the whole month, we decided we just wouldn’t have a glass of wine after work and drink only on Friday and Saturday nights.

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here we are at the Budweiser factory in NH.

So far, so good. We don’t have to give up something we enjoy or quality time that we both anticipate all week long. But, we are still being a little more mindful of it and making good choices.

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here we are with Mr. Jack Daniels himself in Tennessee.

These babies are probably not good choices, but I just have to share them with you. My mom’s friend, Becky, would bring them to all of their girls’ nights and my mom would rave on and on about them. I never understood why until I was there one night and got to try them! They are out of this world! I’ve made them twice since then for parties – once for Alex’s 30th birthday and just this past New Year’s Eve. They’re always a big hit!

I think the recipe she originally used was from here, although I’ve listed the changes that I’ve made below.

Also – you can find a ton of recipes online that make the cupcakes completely from scratch. This one uses a white cake mix as the base. It turns out really, really well using the mix that I haven’t even bothered to try it from scratch. If you try both and the from scratch recipe is waaaay better, let me know and I’ll give ‘em a whirl.

Margarita Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients
9 ounces Margarita Mixer
3 ounces tequila
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier
1 (regular size) box white cake mix
3 large egg whites
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 Tablespoon lime zest

Icing Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 to 6 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/8 teaspoon salt
Tequila and Grand Marnier to taste
1 teaspoon lime zest
green food coloring (optional)
small lime slices for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine margarita mix, tequila and Grand Marnier in a small bowl. The original recipe suggests using only 1 ¼ cup of this mix for the recipe, however, I’ve used the entire amount and it turned out great!
  3. Blend cake mix, egg whites, vegetable oil, lime zest and the liquid mix. Blend on low until ingredients are incorporated and then increase speed to medium for two minutes. Batter should be slightly lumpy.
  4. Pour batter into cupcake liners (about 3/4 full). Bake for 20-25 min, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes in the pans. Remove them to a rack to cool completely.
  5. To prepare icing beat butter until light and fluffy. Add 5-6 cups of powdered sugar, salt, lime juice, and lime zest. Mix until thick and creamy. I’ve found that these ingredients alone make the icing way too thick. I always add tequila and Grand Marnier to my icing mix to thin it out (or just margarita mix if I’m making non-alcoholic ones for kids). Mix in a small amount of green food coloring or if you desire (I’ve made them with and without this step). Ice cupcakes once they are completely cool. Use small lime slices as garnish.

Enjoy!

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Have you ever tried margarita cupcakes before? Or some other kind of alcoholic cupcake? I’ve heard of Bluemoon cupcakes, but I’ve never tried them. What’s your absolute favorite kind of cake/cupcake??

NYE + Salsa Recipe

Wow, I’m getting pretty original with the old titles, aren’t I? Yes, my friends – I put a lot of thought into that one.

Happy New Years Eve! Tonight we’re planning to hang out with good friends and family at my mom’s house. I’ll bring my camera — you know that though. I’ll even try to take pictures of people too, not just dogs! Oh yeah, it’s happening. Let’s take bets though. Five to one chances that I take twice as many pictures of dogs than people. What do you think?

DSC_0857I kinda like these mutts.

DSC_0848Before the holiday season is officially over and it becomes taboo to write about it anymore, I wanted to share my little village. I remember as a child my grandma (who we all call Mom (yes, even Alex) but I think that would be confusing for all you non-family members).. anyway! I remember my grandma had a village set up every Christmas. I could sit for hours and look into all of the different houses (they’re very, very fragile so certainly not a toy) and imagine about the little people’s lives. I would make up little stories about their Christmases and their families.

I kinda forgot about them though. It wasn’t until Alex and I got really serious and started our own Christmas traditions when he told me that his mom had a collection of them as well. So it was an easy decision, I wanted a Christmas village too. We started collecting the Department 56, Dickens Village a couple years ago and oh, how it’s grown!

This year we set up a little table just for the houses!

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DSC_0866I just love them. They make me feel like a little kid!

Anyway, let’s get to this recipe. I’ve mentioned it a few times that the man of the house REALLY enjoys salsa. Like… a lot, a lot. He judges salsa based on whether it can make the back of his neck sweat. When I ask Alex to put into words how much he likes salsa, his exact words were (in a very serious voice, mind you), “I can’t. I drink salsa. I love it.”

So, in an attempt to have his favorite snack around the house – I dove head first into the salsa making world. I’ve tried all different kinds. Fresh tomatoes, pureed, chopped, roasted, ALL KINDS.

The problem was that every time I made a different kind of salsa, I never wrote the recipe down. I just kinda winged it, ya know? I would throw in this and that, we would taste it, then I’d add a little more of a couple things. It really wasn’t a science. BUT every time we would find the best salsa ever, I could never recreate it exactly. Thus this recipe was born. I made salsa again a couple weeks ago and wrote down every ingredient and made changes every time I added a little more. It was a pain, but I’m happy it’s done and I can finally make it taste the same every time! Huzzah!

some notes before we get started: I use a food processor, but you could use a blender as well. I would recommend chopping the onions and jalapeños first if you use a blender. Also, this recipe is more of a pureed salsa without any big chunks. You could throw some chunks in at the end if you want more texture. Additionally, I’ve found that using fresh tomatoes versus canned tomatoes doesn’t make a big difference taste wise. Unless it’s summer time and I have an overflow of tomatoes like I did here, I always use cans now. I buy them in bulk and they’re way cheaper than fresh ones and MUCH less work than cutting them and scooping out the seeds, yadda yadda.

One last thing: keep in mind that the longer you keep the salsa in the fridge, the stronger the cilantro taste becomes. If you aren’t eating it right away, tone down the cilantro. And feel free to make a TON and freeze it (like I did here and here).

Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 2 -3 jalapeños (depending on how spicy you like it, I freeze my jalapeños in half so I use 2.5 (5 halves))
  • 1.5 medium onions or 1 large onion, quartered
  • 1.5 T garlic
  • 3 T of lime juice
  • 1 t cummin
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • 3 cans of chopped tomatoes (do not drain)
  • small handful of cilantro, rinsed
  • salt to taste

Directions

1. In a food processor (or blender) pulse together onions, garlic and jalapeños until chopped.

DSC_06562. Add the remaining ingredients besides the tomatoes and pulse until well incorporated.

DSC_06573. Add tomatoes and pulse until desired consistency.

DSC_06594. Let sit in the fridge for at least an hour for flavors to really combine. (we occasionally eat it right away, it’s still good. it just gets better if you can manage to wait!)

ENJOY!

DSC_0662So yeah, it’s really easy. Just basically throw it all in the processor and pulse it together. Bing, Bang, Boom. Done.

one more quick note: I typically only use two cans of tomatoes, however, I added a little too much lime juice this time so I had to dull it down with more tomatoes. If you only want to make it with two cans, only use 2 T of lime juice rather than 3. Since I was trying to write down exactly what I used and we ended up loving this end result, I’m keeping the recipe as is.

Do you have any recipes that just wing every time you make it? Do you have specific Christmas/holiday decorations that remind you of childhood? Do you have any fun NYE plans? 

Happy New Year!!!!

Cowboy Breakfast Skillet

I know, I know – you just heard from me this afternoon and then here I am.. all up in your computer space. What’s with that? You’re used to seeing me only, what? like once a week?

Blowing that record right outta the water.

I made the following recipe for dinner tonight and I just couldn’t wait to share it with you! Oh man. This dinner breakfast thing was absolutely to die for. It’s sweet. It’s spicy. It’s filling. It’s healthy (mostly).

MAN. Words really cannot convey how awesome this dish is. It’s anything but complicated and so, so delectable.

Just do me a favor and make this as soon as you get a free fifteen minutes.

Cowboy Breakfast Skillet

BreakfastSkillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb breakfast sausage
  • 3-4 diced sweet potatoes
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • hot sauce
  • cilantro

Directions:

  1. Brown and crumble the sausage on medium heat.
  2. Remove sausage from pan with slotted spoon. Try to keep as much of the sausage grease in the pan.
  3. Add diced sweet potatoes into the pan with sausage grease and cook until browned and crispy. (about 5 minutes)
  4. Return sausage to pan and cook together for another few minutes.
  5. If you have a cast iron skillet, keep the mixture in your skillet. If not, transfer into an oven safe dish. Create five wells in the potato/sausage mixture.
  6. Crack one egg into each well.
  7. Bake at 400 for five minutes. After the eggs have started to set, change the oven to BROIL.
  8. Watch the eggs carefully until the desired doneness. (about 2-4 additional minutes depending on whether you like your eggs runny)
  9. Removed from oven and add avocados, cilantro and hot sauce to the top. Serve and enjoy!

BreakfastSkillet2

(recipe originally found here)

I typically don’t even care for hot sauce, but it’s absolutely perfect on this recipe. Please make this. It won’t disappoint!

Zucchini Egg Bake Plus a Rant.

I mentioned yesterday that I have about 643 things to catch you up on. We’ll get started with a super quick, extremely delicious recipe. But first.. I have a few things to get off my chest.

  1. Happy Friday. (self explanatory)
  2. Happy Olympic ceremony day. I have been anticipating this day since the last day of the Vancouver games (serious throwback post right there) and I can hardly believe it’s finally here. To say I  am obsessed with love Olympics is really an understatement. The only thing that would make me happier is well… 1. if I was at the Olympics and 2. if I didn’t have to pay for it (and 3. if bacon wasn’t fattening).
  3. I had the absolute WORST experience with health insurance yesterday. I hate to complain about insurance since there are so many people in this country without – with that being said though, it doesn’t make them any less of a hassle to deal with. I had an extremely personal issue this week and had to schedule an impromptu visit. After I left work early and drove an hour to get there, they just thought they should mention that I # 1. need a referral to be seen (why they didn’t tell me this on the phone baffles me), # 2. I need to meet with my primary care doctor first, # 3. my primary care doctor left the practice meaning that, # 4. I need a new doctor and finally, # 5. I couldn’t be seen by that new doctor until I schedule a new patient appointment (which isn’t available for a few weeks). I’m glad my issues weren’t life threatening. UGH.
  4. Thankfully I had a drink and calmed the heck down.
  5. I had a half day at work today. Yippie! So my weekend is already underway! Cue Olympic ceremony music NOW.
  6. Alex has had a ridiculous work schedule this week (literally working from 8 am until 3 am, getting 2 hours of sleep and going back to work). If you haven’t heard from him lately – I promise he isn’t ignoring you. He just hasn’t been home! If he’s ignoring you.. he’s definitely ignoring me!

Okay. I think that’s all…

So.. Zucchini. (did you like that super sweet change of topic. one word to describe it? smooth.)

Anyway. The garden is producing enough produce to feed a family of 20. Seriously if you need some 3 feet long cucumbers (honestly I have no idea what happened to them this year. more on that later), tomatoes, strawberries (weren’t those supposed to be done last month?), squash, zucchini or peppers – come on over. SERIOUSLY. It’s just going bad!

I’ve made (I think?) six new recipes with zucchini lately and amazingly – they’ve all been fantastic! Even the husband, who has had zucchini on his hard limit list (50 shades anyone?) has agreed that they were tasty and maybe he doesn’t hate zucchini after all.

Here’s a perfect way to sneak some veggies into your breakfast.

ZucchiniEggBake

ZucchiniEggIngredients

ZucchiniEggDirections

Adapted from this recipe.

Honestly, this couldn’t get any easier (unless someone else made it for you and all you had to do was shovel it in). Since it doesn’t have a crust, it really doesn’t slice like a quiche would, just scope it on each plate. (This would be a delicious quiche filling though!)

Bonus points: It’s even better heated up the second day.

If you have a husband like me that “doesn’t like certain veggies” – just don’t tell them what’s in it! I promise you, they’ll never know!

Happy cooking! And more importantly – Happy Olympics!!

ps. if your pets were in the olympics, what sport would they compete it?

bailey? high jump. forsure.

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hunter? long distance swimming. nodoubt.

Hunterswimming

or sandbox running.

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Good Eats

How come you always buy new ingredients and some how end up making the same five or ten recipes over and over again?

I think everyone gets into a little recipe rut now and then.

Lately, we’ve been trying our darnedest to step out of our culinary comfort zone. Here are a few recipes we’ve tried out (and loved). Now one thing I want to get straight, while I like to tweak recipe’s to our family’s liking, I’m certainly no recipe inventor.

I’m still going to link these on my recipe page just to make it easier to find in the future. But… I definitely don’t have a food blog and I didn’t come up with these myself. SO – click on each for the original recipe. Got it?

Shrimp Risotto (one major change we made – we cut out the butter completely. Olive oil worked perfectly!)

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Egg Salad (not the completely runny, mayo-ey kind that belongs on Wonder Bread)

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Black Bean Quinoa (we ran out of frozen corn so I left it out completely. So, so good.)

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Blueberry Oatmeal Bake (reheats perfectly. This has been awesome to bring to work every morning this week!)

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So, there you have it. Good Eats. Get on that.

Other random things to talk about:

Check out how long Bailey’s nose is.

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That boy’s got a sniffer on him. He still hasn’t gotten rid of his yearly snow nose. Not sure what snow nose is? Yeah, we didn’t either. Check out this post.

The husband came home from his work trip and apparently caught a cold (or even the flu) on his way home. One good thing about his sickness? He’s been getting a lot of babying lately. Medicine brought to him in bed, Powerade (hey, a boy needs his electrolytes), lots of tea.. all the good stuff. Hopefully, he’ll be feeling better soon (without me catching this monster first!).

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On a happier note – we’re planning a vacation to…

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YAY!!

Have you been there? Did ya love it? Tell us everything!! What do we NEED to see? Anything we should stay away from? Tell. Tell!!

Never been to Nashville? That’s okay. What are you going to do on your next vacation?

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

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We made these pancakes for the first time on Saturday morning. They were so good that we made them again on Sunday. We even made enough that we would have leftovers to heat up throughout the week.

You can alter this recipe in so many ways. We’ve made vanilla and strawberry pancakes so far, all by changing up what flavor of Chobani we used.

These pancakes are thinner than regular pancakes, but they’re incredibly dense. They fill you up and keep you full for hours! Give them a go!

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (our second time we used 1 c. flour and 1 c. ground oatmeal – tasted the same, but with even more nutrients!)
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 – 1 t cinnamon
  • 2 t honey
  • 2 large egg (or 3 T egg whites)
  • 1 1/2 c. Chobani (or other greek yogurt in any flavor)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 t lemon juice
  • 1 t vanilla

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
  2. Mix in honey, eggs, vanilla, milk, chobani and lemon juice until smooth.
  3. Pour about 1/3 c. of batter onto a preheated griddle. Once batter is nice and bubbly, flip ‘em!
  4. Done when golden brown. Serve with fruit, syrup, or whipped cream. Or all of the above Smile

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