Monday, May 30, 2011

Mango Strawberry Salsa

I had the privilege of catering a small summer-themed party on Saturday, and I had a blast embracing the freshness of the season! This mango strawberry salsa was easy to make and a healthy, delicious choice for the guests!

I wasn't able to take any photos before the event, so this picture is the best chance of peeking at the salsa. It's pictured bottom left. 


Mango Strawberry Salsa
Serves 4-8 

2 mangoes, cored 
1 cup strawberries, rinsed and hulled
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped

Add all ingredients to a food processor. Pulse 5 or 6 times, or until desired consistency is reached. Refrigerate and serve with tortilla chips.

Best served the same day.  


Friday, May 27, 2011

Baked Egg Rolls


Kevin is constantly asking to go out for Chinese food. I rarely give in because a) it's a bit pricey. b) it's really unhealthy. c) I feel fat when I'm done. d) I secretly love Chinese but try to restrain my desires. 

I'd been wanting to try my hand at homemade egg rolls ever since I saw Annie post these two recipes. Unfortunately, none of our grocery stores seemed to carry the wrappers. But then, in a moment of brilliance, our local farm market had a pile of egg roll wrappers for sale! YES! I snatched up a package along with shredded cabbage, and started preparing the recipe. 

These turned out to be delicious and the baking versus frying aspect totally won me over! 


Baked Egg Rolls 
serves 2-6

6 egg roll wrapper
canola oil
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, shredded
3 cups cabbage, shredded
3 cloves garlic, minced/grated
3-4 Tbsp low sodium soy sodium 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Heat a large skillet to medium and drizzle with canola oil. Cook chopped chicken 5-6 minutes. Add in celery and onion and saute until softened. Add in carrots, cabbage, and garlic. Stir. Cover pan and let cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in soy sauce. Cook another 2-3 minutes. 

With dry hands lay out egg roll wrappers on a flat, clean surface. Place a heaping quarter-cup-full of the filling into the center of the wrapper. Fold over one of the corners, tuck and roll slightly. Fold two side corners to the center. Finish rolling. Dampen the final corner with water and gently press to seal. Place fold-side down on a baking sheet. 

Bake egg rolls 10 minutes then turn over. Bake another 10 minutes. Serve with soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.  

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Lemon Sugar Cookies


I can't believe I had completely forgotten about the deliciousness that is a Lemon Sugar Cookie. When I saw Maria of Two Peas and Their Pod post a recipe, I knew it was next on my to-bake list. 

As soon as the first batch came out of the oven, these cookies brought back so many memories of being in the kitchen as a young girl. I think my mom and I used to make these together. :)

The beautiful color and the fresh lemon flavor of these cookies is perfect for the warmth of summer!


Lemon Sugar Cookies 
recipe adapted from
Makes 3 dozen cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
Zest of 2 large lemons
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
2-3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar for rolling cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using a mixer, beat together butter, shortening, and sugar until smooth and creamy. Add lemon zest, egg, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Mix until combined. 

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually blend the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture.

Roll rounded tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in sugar. Place on baking sheets,  about 1-1/2 inches apart.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until cookies are slightly brown around the edges and set. Let cookies sit on the baking sheets for two minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

*To keep cookies soft, store cookies with a slice of bread in an air tight container.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Easy Beef Stew (Slow Cooker)


This dish is the epitome of comfort food with the ease of preparation you won't believe. I grew up loving this dinner and only recently asked my mom for the recipe. It was super fast and easy to throw together and all 7 20somethings who dined with us, loved it! I'm sure your family will too!

Easy Beef Stew (Slow Cooker)
recipe adapted from my mom
Serves 8 

1-1/2 pound stew meat
3 stalks celery, chopped
6-7 carrots, sliced
6-7 potatoes, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 can water
1 beef bouillon cube
1/2 package dry onion soup mix

Coat the edges of a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker with non-stick spray. Add all ingredients to the pot. Stir to combine. Cook on high 4-5 hours. 


Friday, May 20, 2011

{favorite} Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


I have tried numerous recipes for Oatmeal Raisin Cookies but none of them really got me excited. Granted, I'm not a big fan of raisins in my cookies to begin with, but I just knew I could come up with the perfect recipe eventually. 

I'm so glad I didn't give up hope. This combination of ingredients is unique and results in a perfectly round, perfectly chewy, perfectly spicy cookie. Just what I was hoping for! You'll love these for sure!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Makes 3 dozen cookies

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cup flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

In a large bowl, cream together margarine, shortening, brown sugar and sugar. Once fluffy and smooth, beat in eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Incorporate flour mixture into the creamed ingredients in three additions. Stir in oats, then chocolate chips.

(Place dough in the refrigerator in between batches.)

Using a cookie scoop, drop dough by large tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet. 

Bake for 9–10 minutes until edges and tops are just golden. Let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Creamy Sausage and Pepper Pasta


Creamy Sausage and Pepper Pasta 
Serves 2-3

2 cups short cut pasta
canola oil
2 large smoked sausages, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped or sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1-1/2 cup pasta sauce (your favorite!)
1/2 cup half and half 

Boil water in a 2 or 3 quart sauce pan. Cook pasta of choice. 

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, drizzle with canola oil. When pan is hot, add sausage slices. Cook for 2 minutes on the first side. Stir/turn slices and add onions and peppers. Cover pan and cook 5 minutes. Stir. Add in garlic, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Cover pan once more and cook until peppers are softened. Stir in pasta sauce. Stir in half and half. Add up to 1/4 cup pasta water (water from the cooking pasta pot) to reach desired consistency. 


Monday, May 16, 2011

Blackberry Citrus Cake


I had a few cups of blackberries left over from the awesome $1.00 sale at Meijer a week ago. I wanted to be uber creative with them, and since I had already made Blackberry Lemon Muffins, I decided cake sounded outstanding. It was the eve of Mother's Day so rather than gorging ourselves on cake, we opted to share half of ours with the Pastor's wife and her family. They were thrilled!

This recipe has a few steps to it, but they are all simple--you can handle it, I promise! Just be sure to read all the way through the instructions before beginning so you have a grasp of what's to come. (I recommend that tip for any recipe!)

check out those beautiful berries!

I adapted this recipe from Annie's Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes. I swapped in blackberries (slicing the larger ones) for the blueberries, orange zest for lemon zest, and a cake pan for the muffin tins. I fell in love with the beautifully colored bottom of the cake and chose to frost the top only--to allow the blackberries to peak through. Dense, rich, and insanely delicious, I highly recommend you try this recipe next time berries are on sale in your neck of the woods!

Blackberry Citrus Cupcakes
recipe adapted from
Makes: 1 one-layer 10 inch cake

For the cupcakes
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
3/4 cup cake flour*
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of  1/2 orange
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. milk, at room temperature
1 to 1/2 cup fresh blackberries (gently cut the larger ones in half)

For the frosting
8 oz cream cheese
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Zest of 1/2 large orange

Additional fresh blackberries, for garnish

*for a cake flour substitute: sift together 3/4 cup all purpose flour with 2 Tbsp corn starch. This makes 1 cup cake flour. Use only 3/4 cup for this recipe!

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  

Grease the bottom and sides of a 10 inch round cake pan and dust with flour.  In a medium bowl, combine the ¾ cup all-purpose flour, the cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk together and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and lemon zest.  Beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla and lemon juice.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Blend in the milk.  Mix in the remaining dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.

In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour.  Using a spatula gently fold the berries into the cake batter.  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared liners, filling each about ¾ full.  Bake 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pans 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the lemon juice and lemon zest.  Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired. (I used a large, unlabeled star tip to frost these cupcakes.) Garnish with fresh blueberries.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Slow Cooker Steak and Potatoes


A few months back (I won't specify how long...) we purchased a few pounds of NY Strip Steaks that we had sliced to order. My lack of knowledge in the strip steak arena led me to have the steaks cut into 3/4 or 1 inch thick portions. Unfortunately, grilling a steak this thin results in tough, dried out meat. Not cool. Besides that, this particular cut of steak had far too much fat on the edges for our liking. I wanted another delicious way to use of this perfectly-good-except-not-for-grilling-meat. 

Lucky for me, Slow Cookers make ANY cut of meat fork tender and delicious!!

This was the perfect dinner to come home to after a long morning at church. Any man (or woman for that matter!) in your life, will LOVE you for throwing this in the Crockpot in 10 minutes flat. You will look like a rock star. 

Slow Cooker Steak and Potatoes
Serves 2

2 New York strip steaks 
3-4 red potatoes, washed and chopped
2 cups baby carrots
1 cup sliced mushrooms 
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 package onion soup mix 
1 small onion, sliced or chopped 
3/4 cup water 
salt pepper 

Coat the sides and bottom of a 4 quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Combine potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, celery and onion soup mix in slow cooker. Place uncooked strip steaks on top of the vegetables, sprinkling generously with salt and pepper. Add onions on top. Cook on high 4 hours or until meat and potatoes are tender. 

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Strawberry Parfaits


I'm the type of person who would love to eat ice cream at the end of every dinner. But that little voice in the back of my mind keeps me checked in reality. I can't always have ice cream. So on the nights when I decide to be healthy, I make Kevin and I a luxurious yogurt parfait. They look and taste delicious! Plus, these would make an amazing breakfast!

Strawberry Parfaits
Serves 2

6-8 large ripe strawberries
1/2 cup homemade granola
1/2-3/4 cup non-fat vanilla yogurt

Rinse strawberries and cut into bite-sized pieces.

In a lovely sundae dish or in a small glass, place 2 spoonfuls of yogurt. Sprinkle with granola and then with strawberry pieces. Spoon another layer of yogurt followed by granola, followed by strawberries. Repeat until your dish is full of goodness. 

Use this process to fill a second dish. Enjoy! 

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Baked Tortilla Chips

My husband and I love to much on chips and salsa, but I hate knowing I'm using a fried chip to scoop up a completely healthy vegetable dip. Do you relate? If so, you should definitely try making your own chips. It takes a few times to learn exactly when the chips are done or to keep them from burning. :) (I certainly don't speak from experience. *wink*) 

I wrote this recipe for one pan of chips, but typically I'll make 3 or 4 pans once I have the oven heated up. Then, I have plenty on hand for snacking emergencies!  

Baked Tortilla Chips
36 chips 

6--6 inch corn tortillas 
Non-stick cooking spray
Sea Salt 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Using a pizza cutter or large knife, cut tortillas into 6 even wedges. Arrange on large baking sheet and spray with a light coating of cooking spray. Sprinkle with sea salt. 

Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden and center of chips are firm to the touch. You will want to check the chips frequently during the last 5 minutes of baking to be sure they do not burn. Some ovens may require longer than 15 minutes. If so, check chips at 1 minute intervals.  Remove from the pan to cool. 

Store in an airtight bag or container. 


Friday, May 6, 2011

Blackberry Lemon Muffins


Blackberries were on sale for $0.99 cents per package, and I couldn't resist buying a few! These delicate berries are normally $3.00 or more each, so even though I didn't have a plan for them, I knew I would figure out a way to enjoy their deliciousness. 

I found a couple blackberry muffin recipes and I decided to go with the citrus version on the Two Peas and Their Pod blog. I made a few alterations--namely swapping lemon in for the lime--and these turned out amazingly tasty. They have an irresistible sweetness, with the tang of the berries, the lemon, and the buttermilk keeping things interesting. YUM!


Blackberry Lemon Muffins
recipe adapted from
Makes 9 muffins 


1 1/2 cups  flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup buttermilk*
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup blackberries

*buttermilk substitute=just under 1/3 cup milk plus 1-1/2 tsp lemon juice. Stir and let sit 5 minutes. Stir again before incorporating. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 9 paper liners or spray with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a small bowl, add the sugar and lemon zest. Use a fork to toss sugar and zest together until fragrant. Add sugar and zest to the flour mixture. Whisk ingredients together.

In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, mix canola oil, egg, buttermilk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract together.

Pour the wet ingredients over the flour mixture.  Slowly stir together, the batter will be thick. Don’t over mix. Gently fold in the blackberries.

Fill 9 muffin cups with the batter. 

Bake muffins for 17-20 minutes, or until muffins are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Let muffins cool on a cooking rack.

*Note-you can use frozen berries, but try to use fresh blackberries. They make these muffins extra special. This recipe only makes 9 muffins, feel free to double it.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Breakfast Burritos


This is the perfect meal to throw together in 15 minutes--whether you need a hearty breakfast or a quick, delicious dinner. Eggs scrambled with peppers, onions and black beans and wrapped in a flour tortilla makes for a surprisingly tasty meal. Try it sometime! 

Breakfast Burritos 
Serves 2-4

canola oil
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated or minced
sprinkle of cumin
sprinkle of chili powder
5 eggs
1/2 cup black beans

4 flour tortillas
salsa, for topping

sour cream, for topping
hot sauce

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and drizzle with canola oil. Saute green peppers, onions and garlic 3-5 minutes, until fragrant and slightly softened. Sprinkle with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. 

In a medium bowl, beat eggs.  Add eggs to the pan with the pepper and onions and use a wooden spoon to stir even few seconds while cooking. Stir in black beans. 

Microwave tortillas for 10 seconds each, if desired. Fill tortillas with egg mixture, topping with desired amounts of salsa, sour cream, and hot sauce.