Friday, February 28, 2014

Black Bean Cookies

I have done it!!!  Not only have I perfected Black Bean Brownies (which are still requested by co-workers and family members alike), but now I have added the cookies to my repertoire!  It took several trial and errors since I was making this recipe from scratch.  I went to work with a full tub of cookies and left with none!  Plus it has the approval of my family!  (You guys are awesome for encouraging my madness!)

Seriously, I cannot convey my excitement enough through this blog, but it was FANTASTIC!  Not only that, but I also completed two challenges this month with one recipe--WOW!

And now without further ado, I present to you, my awesome readers, Black Bean Cookies!

Black Bean Cookies
 {Black Bean Cookies}

{Placing ingredients in the blender then adding chocolate chips}

{Drop by spoonfuls (or use a cookie scoop) and cover in sprinkles if desired; baked cookies}

Black Bean Cookies with sprinkles
 {I put Valentine's Day sprinkles on them because I love sprinkles--they make me happy!}

Black Bean Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

2-15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup nut butter of your choice (I used peanut butter)
1/4 cup olive oil
1.2 oz (or 1 package) vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sprinkles (if desired)
  1. Place ingredients in a blender in the order above, leaving out chocolate chips and sprinkles.
  2. Blend until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping the sides after 1 minute.
  3. Scrape dough into another bowl and add chocolate chips.
  4. MOST IMPORTANT---Let the dough sit out for about 10 minutes before baking.  This gives the protein powder time to work.
  5. After 10 minutes, heat oven to 375.
  6. Line cookie sheets with foil.
  7. Place 1 tablespoon cookie dough on the tray; they spread a bit so only do about 6 cookies per sheet.
  8. Top with sprinkles if desired.
  9. Bake for 14-16 minutes.
  10. Cool for 2 minutes on the tray and then pull off the foil to cool completely.
  11. Handle with care when placing in a container.
I'll know what you'll be doing this weekend--making cookies!  I hope you love them as much as everyone in my life does!

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014


I've always loved fajitas--the sizzling goodness!  It's such a simple dish with the most important part of it being to get a good caramelization on everything (which is also the hard part!).  The easiest way to combat this is to make everything in batches and add it back together at the end.  The result is a deliciously caramelized fajita meal!

Beef Fajitas
 {Beef Fajitas}

Caramelizing the beef
 {Caramelizing the beef}

Caramelizing the vegetables
 {Caramelizing the vegetables}

Beef Fajitas
 {Add everything back to the pan and add your homemade fajita seasoning}

Beef Fajitas
{How I had my fajita--without a tortilla but still delicious!}


Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds steak or chicken, cut into strips
1 medium onion, sliced
3 peppers, sliced
2 tablespoons fajita seasoning
Toppings like sour cream, guacamole, salsa, cheese, etc
  1. Heat olive oil in a heat skillet like a cast iron skillet until very hot.
  2. Add meat and cook until caramelized on the outside (deep brown but not burned).  This might have to be done in more than one batch to get a good color to them.  Set to the side if doing more than one batch.
  3. Add peppers and onions, searing until caramelized.  This might have to be done in more than one batch to get a good color to them.  Set to the side if doing more than one batch.
  4. Add meat and pepper mixture back into pan and sprinkle seasoning on top.
  5. Stir until seasoning is incorporated.
  6. Serve with tortillas, sour cream, salsa, cheese, etc
What else can I say?....  YAY it's Wednesday!

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday Tip: Fajita Seasoning

Seeing as how I made taco seasoning, it only made sense to continue on with fajita seasoning.  Then I had to make fajitas.....  That's the natural progression of things around my house.

Fajita Seasoning
 {Fajita Seasoning}

Fajita Seasoning individual spices
 {Fajita seasoning's individual spices}

Fajita Seasoning

Makes 4 tablespoons spice mix or 2 fajita meals

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  1. Mix ingredients together until well combined.
  2. Store in an air tight container until ready to use.
So go home and make the seasoning tonight so you can make fajitas tomorrow for dinner!  They are quick and easy--promise!

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Chickpea, Feta, and Parsley Salad

With the weather being as nice as it was last week, I was dreaming of beach getaways....  Not possible for the hubby and I at the moment, but maybe some day.  Instead, I make foreign foods and pretend that I am eating my meal on a verandah overlooking the ocean with a breeze blowing my hair (when it's actually the balcony overlooking the parking lot--the breeze was real though!).

Chickpea, Feta, and Parsley Salad
{Chickpea, Feta, and Parsley Salad}

Chickpea, Feta, and Parsley Salad ingredients
{Salad ingredients}

chopped parsley
{Chopped parsley}

Chickpea, Feta, and Parsley Salad
{View from the top}

Chickpea, Feta, and Parsley Salad

Makes 4 servings

2-15 oz cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
5 oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of chili flakes
Dash of salt
  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Season to taste with salt--the feta is already fairly salty.
  3. For best flavors, allow to sit overnight, but it can be served immediately.
A light and healthy salad that is also filling.  I can't ask for much else, except for the hubby to not eat it all....

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Food for Thought

{Ansel Adams, Jeffrey Pine}

Wherever my travels may lead, paradise is where I am.


When I first saw this quote, it was simply "Paradise is where I am".  I started thinking about that because it really struck a cord in me.  To me, that meant that this body and this moment is paradise and where I am meant to be, even when that body or moment is not very pleasant.  
I couldn't remember with certainty that it was Voltaire who said this so I googled it, and I saw the rest of the quote.  "Travels" and "where [you are]" can mean so many things--spiritually, mentally, physically--that this quote just moved much deeper for me.

I keep this quote in mind so that when an unpleasant moment happens, a happy, peaceful part of me believes paradise here with me no matter what, but sometimes it's hard and requires some wine, chocolate, laughter, or all of the above.

So here's to a weekend filled with chocolate, laughter, and a good book! (at least for me--maybe some wine too!)  I hope that you have a wonderful weekend enjoying your paradise!

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tzatziki (Garlic Sauce)

Taking a much beloved family recipe and reworking it to make it healthier is always fantastic!  My family's tzatziki (Middle Eastern/Mediterranean garlic sauce) has always been made with cream cheese which is not the best for the waistline especially since we literally suck it right up!  So I've been on this "replace everything with yogurt" kick, and let me tell you, I've been amazed by the results!

{Tzatziki with a kebab}

{Close up of tzatziki (yogurt garlic sauce)}

tzatziki ingredients
{Mixing it together couldn't be easier!}

mixed tzatziki
{The hard part?  Trying not to eat it all in one sitting!}

So I replaced the all of cream cheese (16 oz if you want to make it with cream cheese) with a mix of plain yogurt and sour cream.  Let me tell you--I don't even miss the cream cheese!  It's been approved by my mother and brother (in fact, when I brought a container over, I was told I wasn't leaving with it--as I closed the door to leave, my mother and brother were circling each other to keep the rest.....)

One year ago:  Black Bean Ragout


Makes 8 servings

2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Mix all ingredients together until well combined.
  2. For best flavors, allow to sit overnight, but it can be served immediately.
A few recipes to try this delicious garlic sauce with:  Pork Souvlaki Kebabs, Middle Eastern Garlic Chicken, Mediterranean Turkey Burgers, Chicken ShawarmaChana Masala (vegetarian), and Shakshuka (vegetarian). However, we eat this will all kinds of grilled meats and on sandwiches (sometimes by itself!).

Do you have a favorite spread or dipping sauce that you love to eat?

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

fish patties

The hubby was telling me about how his family would eat salmon patties on the occasion and how he really liked them.  So he made them for me!  I don't ever pass up an opportunity for him to make me dinner.  Here lately, he's made soup beans a few times while I make cornbread.  Simple but so delicious!

Anyway, the salmon patties (or slammin' patties as he calls them) were good, but they need some refining....  After many tries to get everything right, here is the recipe that we created together!

Salmon Patties
{Salmon patties}

Salmon Patties mix
{The hubby mixed it up, and he did a fantastic job!}

Salmon Patties cooking
{Frying the salmon patties}

Salmon Patties
{Hubby claims I burned them, but I love this dark, crispy outside because the inside is nice and soft still!}

One year ago:  Clam Chowder

fish patties

Makes 6-8 patties

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
16-18 oz canned fish
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons seasoning (fish, creole, blackened, Cajun, etc)
3 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  1. Place oil in a cast iron skillet and heat until hot.
  2. Meanwhile place fish in a bowl and flake with fork.
  3. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.  Add only 1 cup of bread crumbs to begin with; sometimes you'll need more.  Mixture should stick together almost like dough.
  4. Taste fish mixture and season to taste with salt and more pepper.
  5. Pat mixture out into 6-8 patties, depending on the size you want them.  These could even make mini patties!
  6. When oil is hot, carefully place patties into the hot oil.
  7. Fry until crisped and brown; turn over and repeat on the other side.
  8. Repeat frying patties until all are done.
  9. Serve with your favorite sauce (ketchup (hubby's favorite), dill and sour cream sauce, spicy mayo, tarter sauce, lemon and sour cream sauce, tzatziki--the list is endless!).
Have you and a significant other made your own recipe?  I love it!  I've been working on a black bean cookie recipe here lately which I can hopefully perfect this weekend so I can share it with all of you!

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chicken Romanoff

I acquired a large amount of cottage cheese so I went looking for recipes with cottage cheese in them, and I found this excellent recipe.  I absolutely loved this recipe, but the hubby wasn't too thrilled.  It was the peas--way too many for his taste...  In his defense, I might have just dumped peas in the crock-pot and not measured out the exact 1 cup the recipe called.

Chicken Romanoff
 {Chicken Romanoff}

Mixing sauce ingredients
 {Mixing sauce ingredients}

Cover chicken with sauce
{Cover chicken with sauce}

add peas
{Add peas}

Chicken Romanoff
from Betty Crocker

Serves 4

1 package chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 oz cottage cheese
12 oz sour cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup frozen peas
Pasta, cooked
Chives or green onions (optional for garnish)
  1. Place chicken in the bottom of a crock-pot.
  2. Mix onion, pepper, cottage cheese, sour cream, cheese, and flour together in a bowl.
  3. Pour cheese mixture over chicken thighs.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is done.
  5. Add peas and cook until heated through, about 45 minutes.
  6. Serve over pasta with chives as garnish.
Sorry about my recent absence....  Without going into detail or living in the past, let's just say that I am glad last week is over!  I am looking forward to this week and what it has to bring!

Have a great week!

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Monday, February 17, 2014


Hey everyone!

Just wanted to apologize for my absence.  Work and life has been very busy and stressful the last few days, but I will be back tomorrow!

I hope that you guys had a great weekend and Valentine's Day!

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Caribbean Beef Stew

I was noticing that I have made an Argentine Beef Stew and Greek Beef Stew.  Now, I have this lovely Caribbean Beef Stew to share.  Wait a minute....  No regular beef stew?  I'll get on that ASAP!

Caribbean Beef Stew
{Caribbean Beef Stew}

floured meat
{Floured meat}

Floured sauce mix for stew
{Floured sauce mix for stew}

{Place hard vegetables on the bottom so they are closer to the heat and get done quicker!}

Caribbean Beef Stew cooking
 {Place everything in a crock-pot and cook}

Caribbean Beef Stew
from Food Network

Serves 4

3 medium potatoes, diced
3 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg (a pinch really)
1/16 teaspoon ground cloves (a pinch really)
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 pounds stew meat
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup beef broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1-10 oz can of Mexican style diced tomatoes with green chiles
Green onions, sour cream, and hot sauce (optional toppings)
  1. Spray crock-pot with non-stick spray.
  2. Place potatoes and carrots into the crock-pot.
  3. Combine thyme, flour and spices together in a medium bowl.
  4. Place meat in the bowl with flour and toss to coat; place on top of potatoes and carrots.
  5. Add ginger, garlic, broth and Worcestershire to bowl with the flour and whisk until dissolved.
  6. Pour flour mixture over beef.
  7. Top beef with tomatoes.
  8. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until carrots and potatoes are tender.
  9. Serve with green onions, sour cream and hot sauce.  
Do you make beef stew?  It's a hearty, one bowl meal that's easy especially in a crock-pot!

I love the different varieties I have made so far.  The Argentine stew has a sweetness from the fruit.  However, this Caribbean stew had a bit of a kick to it that I loved!  The richly spiced tomato base of the Greek stew with the feta cheese was also awesome!  I can't really decide....  Try them all and tell me what you think!

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Tip: Season Wooden Spoons

Huh?  Season wooden spoons?  Why would anyone do that?

Those are the same questions I asked when my grandpa asked if I seasoned my wooden spoons.  He took that as a "no", and he taught me about why and how to season wooden spoons.  In a nutshell, wooden is an organic material that breaks down overtime.  Just like a cast iron skillet needs to be seasoned, so do wooden spoons!

Wooden spoons also have some rules:
  1. Do not soak wooden spoons in any liquid at any time.
  2. Do not use soap on wooden spoons.
  3. Any time a wooden spoon touches raw meat or eggs, re-season it before using it again.
How do you season wooden spoons?  It's really easy and only took about 5 minutes!

unseasoned wooden spoons
{Step 1:  Lay out your unseasoned (and sad) wooden spoons}

fuzzy wooden spoonsplintered wooden spoon
 {Step 2:  Look over your spoons for dents, fuzziness, splinters, etc.  The spoon on the left is fuzzy while the one on the right is splintering}

olive oil and fine sandpaper
 {Step 3:  Take fine grit sandpaper and sand the wooden spoons until smooth.  You can sand out burn marks, fuzziness, and even small splinters!}

oiled wooden spoons
 {Step 4:  Take olive oil (one used for frying or sauteing) and rub down the wooden spoons.  Make sure to give each groove a good massage!}

wooden spoons in oven
{Step 5:  Place the wooden spoons in the oven and turn it on to 350.}

{Step 6:  As soon as the oven reaches 350, turn the oven off and leave the wooden spoons in the oven to cool.}

seasoned wooden spoons
{Step 7:  Take your cooled wooden spoons out of the oven and admire their shininess and softness!}

Then follow the rules mentioned above, and your wooden spoons will keep for YEARS!  The wooden spoon on the far left has been in my family for YEARS.  It needs to be seasoned really well a few more times.  The others were much newer and looked brand new after only seasoning them once.  The rubber spatula did fine in a 350 oven because it's heat proof to 450.  If you're not sure, I wouldn't risk it!

Since this is so easy, I'll definitely be doing this once a week to keep my spoons healthy!

Have you ever heard or done this?

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Sweet and Spicy Tuna Pasta

This is another recipe the hubby said was "okay", and then he ate it all between dinner that night and his lunch the next day.  I loved this recipe mainly because I made it in less than 30 minutes including cooking the pasta, and I loved the contrast of the spiciness of the pepper flakes and the sweetness of the tarragon.  If you have never tried tarragon, it has a sweet slight licorice taste.

Sweet and Spicy Tuna Pasta
{Sweet and Spicy Tuna Pasta}

{Playing with ingredients for pictures, and trying to quiet my guilt for eating pasta by eating veggie pasta (hence the colors)}

add pasta to tuna
{Add cooked pasta and Parmesan cheese to tuna}

Sweet and Spicy Tuna Pasta
{Sweet and Spicy Tuna Pasta before additional cheese love}

Sweet and Spicy Tuna Pasta
adapted from allrecipes

Makes 4 servings

10 oz tuna packed in olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-6 oz cans tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Pasta, cooked
Parmesan cheese, optional for garnish
  1. Place tuna in a hot skillet and cook until oil sizzles.
  2. Add garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, tarragon, and black pepper.  Cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add tomato paste, Worcestershire, water, and broth.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes or until heated through.
  5. Add Parmesan cheese and stir until melted.
  6. Add pasta and stir to combine.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese on top.
Have you ever tried tarragon before?  I never did until I was in culinary school.  I'd love to hear if you have!

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Friday, February 7, 2014

Food for Thought

{Cathedral Peak by Ansel Adams}

Happiness is contagious and will always manage to find a solution, whereas logic can find only an explanation for the mistake made.
~Paulo Coelho

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Creamed Corn

I've only ever made corn either steamed on the stove top, boiled on the stove top, in a pudding, or grilled.  The hubby and I got into a discussion of his love of corn, and he said that he really, really loved cream corn.  So I decided to see what I could do, and being the lazy person I am, I found a recipe for the crock-pot!

Creamed corn
{Creamed corn}

cream cheese butter corn
{Place ingredients in the crock-pot}

 Done creamed corn
{Stir and eat!}

Creamed Corn meal
{I had it with seared steak, steamed broccoli and Cajun Garlic Bread}

He said it was"okay", but he ate at least 3 generous helpings that night!  I managed to freeze a quart bag for a rainy day.  I think that he thought it was more than "okay".

Creamed Corn
from Damn Delicious

Makes 8 servings

3 pounds corn, fresh or frozen
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
  1. Place corn in the crock-pot.
  2. Heat milk, sugar and pepper together and stir until sugar is dissolved.
  3. Pour milk mixture over corn.
  4. Top corn with cream cheese and butter.
  5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  6. Stir and add salt to taste.
  7. Serve.
How do you like to eat corn?  On the cob?  Popped?  Flavored any particular way?  I'd love to hear from you!

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