Martha’s Parmesan Shortbread Crackers

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‘Twas the weekend of a holiday party,
With my “mommy” schedule filled to the brim.
I had no free time for something hearty.
Of course, I wouldn’t chance it on a whim.
So what’s a girl to do when an appetizer is required?
Even if I weren’t tired,
I’d turn to Martha to settle my fears?
And, a pint of beer.
(Ok, that last line was just for the rhyme. I don’t drink beer)

These crackers are super versatile and can easily be made in advance. You can even freeze a batch unbaked, if you like.

Shopping List:
1 1/2 cups flour
8 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
2 sticks salted butter
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
A pinch of cayenne

Instructions:
1. In a small bowl mix together with a pastry blender or two forks in the butter and flour until it is pea-sized crumbles.

2. Stir in Parmesan, salt and pepper.

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface to form it into 1 inch round logs. Then wrap it wax paper and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.

4. After chilling slice into 1/4 inch rounds and space 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet.

5. Bake @350 for about 20 minutes or until golden and firm in the center.

Makes: 3-4 dozen crackers

Savory Tarlets: Fig Jam and Brie and Roasted Tomato Basil

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With the holiday season upon us, I thought I would post an oldie, but a goodie. If you’ve never used puff pastry sheets before, you are definitely missing out. It is by far my favorite trick when entertaining .

You can purchase the lovely dough in the frozen food aisle of any grocery store. Simply thaw it, then bake it off to make a fancy breadstick or a topping for a pot pie, or in this case savory tartlets. Top these buttery little rounds with whatever is in season and suits your taste.

Puff pastry makes something simple become decadent. So next time you sign up for a potluck, you might just find yourself using this delicate dough.

Shopping List:

1 box puff pastry sheets (2 sheets per box)

1/3 cup fig jam

4 ounces brie

1/4 cup of sliced almonds

1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup shredded parmesan

2 tablespoons fresh basil, shredded

Instructions:

1. Thaw the puff pastry sheets, then them roll out to 10 inches x 12 inches. Use a 3-inch round glass or cookie cutter to cut out  approximately 16 tartlets. You can roll out the scraps of the dough once to make remaining tartlets.

2. Lay out the circles of dough on two parchment lined baking sheets. Then, top one tray of circles with 1 teaspoon of fig jam and a thick slice of brie. Top the other tray with a teaspoon of cherry tomatoes, a teaspoon of parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of basil. Drizzle the tomato pizzettes with olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Top the fig and brie ones with a pinch of sea salt only.

3.  Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown at edges. Top the fig and brie tartlets with almond slivers.

Makes: 24  tarlets

Double Duty Meal #2: Lemon-Mustard Chicken and Israeli Couscous Spa Salad

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We eat a lot of chicken around here. As you might guess if you are a frequent visitor to my blog. Chicken, in my opinion, is a perfect double duty food element.

You can easily whip up a big batch of chicken on the weekend, and stock pile it in the fridge for quick fix meals later in the week. My favorites are to use it in a soup, a salad or a pasta dish. It is so versatile that all you need to do to reinvent it is to mix the chicken with some new flavors.

I’ve come into a pretty good routine in the past year of cooking meals that do double duty.  So, here’s another of my favorites.

 

Shopping List:

CHICKEN MARINADE:

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 garlic clove, sliced

2 pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breasts

 

Instructions:

1. Mix together the marinade in a ziptop bag and place the chicken inside. Make sure that all sides of the chicken is covered before you leave it to do it’s thing in the refrigerator. Marinate it between 1-3 hours, longer than this will cause the chicken to become mushy.

2. Drain the chicken and either grill it on a hot grill for 6-7 minutes per side or cook it  in a saute pan on medium high heat for the same amount of time. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan as the chicken will steam, rather than caramelize.

3. Save 1 1/2 chicken breasts to shred for the salad below.

 

Israeli Couscous Spa Salad

Israeli Couscous Spa Salad

For the second dish of the week you will need the items below. Check out the original posting of this recipe here.

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken (see above)

1 cup uncooked Israeli Couscous (or other small pasta)

1 apple diced

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/3 cup dried cranberries

4 tablespoons blue cheese crumbles (hey: by all means if you hate blue cheese a good substitute is feta here, or you could leave it out altogether)

1/2 loosely packed basil

1/3 cup olive oil

Edamame Sesame Salad

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The other night it was blazing hot, and I was dreading making dinner. That’s where this refreshing salad came into the picture. I had tried a similar one at Lemonade over the summer, and my daughter and I both loved it. It just so happens that I found this recipe in the most recent issue of Cooking Light. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Shopping List:

1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame, cooked
1 cup shredded carrots
1 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of sesame seeds (I used more than that)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions:
1. Place edamame and carrots in a medium sized bowl, then drizzle in oil and vinegar.
2. Sprinkle with seeds, cilantro and salt. Give it a good stir, and viola! It’s ready. Enjoy!

Serves 4-6 as a side dish, 2-3 as a main dish.

Green Monster Smoothie

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P1070400I am always looking for ways to get more veggies into our family diet and with the trend of adding them to smoothies I have to say I was a little hesitant. But I will admit that I have been won over.

 

A few months ago I ventured into one of the juicing stores around town, and  I tried one of their drinks that didn’t seem to far off the beaten path. I think it was orange and pineapple and spinach. I was blown away because I realized that if my kids were comfortable with the green color, they would surely drink this one.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not going crazy and hiding spinach in everything. Because that’s just ridiculous…kids should know what a real vegetable tastes like. Here’s my twist on the drink I tried.

 

Shopping List:

3 cups of fresh baby spinach
1 banana
1 cup of frozen pineapple
1 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions:
1. In a sturdy blender layer the ingredients in the order listed above and blend on the highest speed possible for about 1-2 minutes. Adjust the amount of milk to get it to the consistency you like.

Serves: 2

Maple-Spice French Toast

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P1070394When we head out of town I like to clean out the refrigerator before we go, so that upon return I don’t find some unidentifiable food that’s morphed into something other worldly. I normally make it into an opportunity to eat soups and salads for most of the week prior to the trip. Which in return makes me feel better about gorging myself on vacation food.

Recently we traveled for a long weekend, and I did what I could and used as much produce as possible beforehand, but I still had half of a loaf of bread to leave behind. This was inevitably due to all the salads we ate, but I just popped it in the refrigerator so that it would still be salvageable when we returned. Unfortunately it was a little dry to use for sandwiches, but it was perfect to make a big batch of french toast.

From time to time I will make french toast on the weekends during the school year, but eating it mid-week is a treat for my kids. Occasionally when I have extra time I will make a big batch like this and freeze it for those busy school days.

Shopping List:
9 slices of bread, about half a loaf
3 large eggs
3/4 cup milk of your choice, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3/4 teaspoon of maple flavoring
3/4 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
powdered sugar and berries for serving

Instructions:
1. In a shallow bowl beat together the eggs, milk, maple flavoring, spice and sugar. Then turn on your griddle to medium and grease it with a little butter.
2. Once the pan is hot, dip each slice of bread in the egg mixture one side at a time. Then cook the bread for 1-2 minutes per side.
3. Serve with berries and powdered sugar. Or cool and store in freezer-safe storage bags. If frozen, microwave for 20-30 seconds per slice.
Serves: 3-4

Save the Day Chicken Lettuce Cups

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Save the Day Chicken Lettuce Cups

P1070235One of my biggest daily challenges is to try to get a healthy meal on the table that the whole family will enjoy, while still shuttling kids to their afterschool activities. But often after working and then doing homework with the kids and driving them to their stuff, I succumb and just throw together some pasta and sauce or end up ordering takeout. I know it’s a bad habit.

Sometimes I will actually plan out the meals for the week on Sunday, and then head to the grocery store, and then chop up some of those fruits and veggies so they are ready to go. That of course is always the plan, but often the weekend fun and busy week gets in the way of my best laid plans. Read the rest of this entry

Super Indulgent, Mini-Chocolate Pancakes

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I know it seems pretty unlikely, but this week I am turning forty. Yep! You heard me right. I think I’m certainly on the older end of some other food bloggers, but whatever. For those of you wondering how I’m handling this milestone, I can honestly say that I feel pretty good. In fact I feel fabulous! In my forty years I’ve accomplished quite a lot, career, marriage, kids….blah, blah, blah. But I am thrilled there is so much more to come, the tough infant years and struggling with balancing it all is behind me.

So it’s not only my birthday this week, but also my three-year blogiversary…and Valentine’s Day. The stars could not have aligned better for a perfect little breakfast treat post. Read the rest of this entry

A Party? In a Bowl? Why yes, thank you! (A Super Bowl Party Appetizer Wrap-Up)

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As many of you know I love to entertain, mostly because I love to make mini-foods. But really because I enjoy hanging out with friends while celebrating something special. So, it’s been a pretty long tradition–ok so it’s only been 4 or 5 years, but what ‘evs–of hosting a small group of friends for a Super Bowl Viewing Party.

Normally, I will make a couple of heartier dishes and ask the other families to lighten the load by bringing a dish to share. Here are some of my favorite Super Bowl Go To Party Faves!

Nothing like a hot dip to get the party started, yeah? P1050450Baked Green Chile Artichoke Dip
Simply fresh flavors make this one pop.

P1050799Roasted Tomato Bruschetta
You’ve got to have something for the kiddos, too.

Pizza Pop 'ems

Pizza Pop ‘ems

Pizza Pop ‘ems
And, who doesn’t love bacon? P1040448

Bacon Carmelized Onion Pinwheels
Ok, maybe the vegetarian doesn’t love bacon? Real men do eat quiche.P1030196

Spinach and Feta Quiches

I really don’t care who wins, FYI.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Quick Bread

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Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Quick BreadLately, I’ve been on this kick where I am trying my best to avoid buying so many prepackaged snacks for my kids. When they were toddlers it was no problem to get them to snack on fruits and veggies, but with the hectic lifestyle that seems inevitable for kids (and moms). All that running between activities after school, of course. I’ve fallen into that trap that I told myself I would never do…rely on endless carbs that result in my kids having no appetite for dinner.

In the spirit of making changes to our eating habits, this just seemed like a good fit. Over the past couple of years I have tried making Peanut Butter Chip granola bars, Peach-apple fruit leatherTropical Pineapple Smoothies and  of course Chocolate Chip Zucchini muffins, my neighbor’s favorite. But none of these truly felt all that healthy or satisfying for the kids.

And then, for a while there I went down the route of a mini-meal after school with Pizza Pop ‘ems and chicken taquitos, but there is only so much reinventing I can do. That’s when I thought of making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, but this time turning them into a quick bread. What a fab idea, right? There must be a recipe out there for something like this, surely Quaker Oats might have one, but alas no. It was Sunset magazine that saved the day. With a few easy tweaks to suit our palate this became a winner. And it made a large enough loaf to last a long 3-day weekend.

Shopping List:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips.

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 large eggs

1/4 cup melted butter.

For the streusel:

1/4 cup softened butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

Instructions:

1. In a large bowl mix together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup rolled oats, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, and 1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips.

2. Stir in 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, 2 large eggs, and 1/4 cup melted butter.

3. In a separate small bowl mash together the ingredients for the streusel.

3. Pour into a greased and floured 9-cup loaf pan. And top with streusel mixture.  Then bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Adapted from Sunset Magazine