Monday, June 10, 2013

Chocolate-dipped Pretzels

This is one of the easiest go-tos for an impromptu get together in the backyard or a well-planned over-the-top birthday party. They're fun, finger food that has a crunchy salty taste with decadent sweet as well. Pretzel rods are easy to keep in your pantry for months, as well as chocolate chips, so this is a snack with ingredients you can stash for a party day. Make ahead of time or the day of your event.

Chocolate-dipped Pretzels

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz or so)
1 package of pretzel rods
Decorations: sprinkles, mini M&M's, shredded coconut, chopped peanuts, candy buttons

Step One:
Lay out a large sheet of wax paper for the finished product to cool. Have a saucer or bowl ready with each topping.

Step Two:
In a microwave-safe bowl, pour in 1/2 of the chocolate chips (6 oz). Heat on high for 1 minute in the microwave, stirring afterward. Then, heat in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until all of the chips are melted. Be careful to stir the bottom of chocolate so it won't burn!

Step Three:
Grab a pretzel rod. Using the stirring spoon, carefully dip and coat melted chocolate onto half of the rod. Twirl it around and carefully tap it on the side of the bowl to remove any excess chocolate. Then, sprinkle the topping of your choice all over the chocolate part of the pretzel rod. Lay onto the wax paper for cooling. Repeat this process with all of your pretzel rods: Tip: it is cleaner to stick to one topping per rod (coconut or M&M's, etc.).

Step Four:
Let cool for at least an hour. Serve upright in juice classes for a fun party display or package in clear plastic bags for gifts/party favors. Yippee! You can store these in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Happy eating!

Linguini with Clam Sauce

Some of the best, most authentic pastas I've had also had the fewest ingredients.

Simple. Thoughtful. Delicious.

This also goes for my mother-in-law, Pat's, recipe for Linguini in Clam Sauce. It is creamy, yet light. Simple, yet elegant. Delicious yet not over-powering. And she graciously shared her recipe with me (and with you, too!).

Linguini with Clam Sauce
 You can use other pastas like spaghetti or fettucini, whatever you have on hand.

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 butter or margarine (butter tastes better)
1/3 cup chives (3 entire stalks)
4 cloves of smashed garlic (use a press or chop by hand)

Step one: In a hot saute pan, combine the olive oil, butter, chives and garlic and saute for several minutes, until garlic is soft.

1 can progresso white clam juice
6 oz clams
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 TB fresh)

Step two: Drain the clams and KEEP the juice. Set the clams aside. In the saute pan, add the clam juice from the jar and from the clams can. Add the basil and oregano. Stir. 

4 roma tomatoes, diced
3/4 pound pasta

Step three: Then add the tomatoes and stir. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. During this time, boil water and cook the pasta al dente. After 20 minutes, add the clams in and heat it through to serve. (Don't leave the clams in too long, as they'll become rubbery.)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese

Step four: Once the pasta is cooked, keep a little bit of the water in the pot after draining. Scoop 2 TB of the clam sauce and 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese into the noodles and stir. Serve the noodles topped with plenty of clam sauce for a wonderful, classic Italian dish. Serve with a salad and crusty bread for dipping.

 I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we have. It's so fun to be able to make a dish that Matt loved as a child (and to not screw it up too much!). 

Happy eating! Laurel

Biscuits and Gravy 2

 I love weekends. They're busy and relaxing, sunny and rainy, but never too long. We were feeling a little breakfast for dinner last night, and here's what happened:

Biscuits 'n Gravy (the quick way)
For a lazy brunch, make your favorite homemade biscuits. For an easy dinner that's quick, too, bust out the pre-made biscuit dough or bakery-bought biscuits. This gravy is creamy without any fatty cream and will remind you of your Southern grandmother's amazing recipe for buttermilk biscuits, even if she was from New Jersey. Enjoy.
Serves 6

10-12 biscuits
16 ounces of your favorite sausage (pork, tofu crumbles, etc...)
1/4 cup flour (all-purpose or brown rice flour do well)
1 quart of milk (cow, soy, hemp, almond...something thicker [not rice milk])
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper; 1/2 teaspoon ground sage

Step One:
Prepare your biscuits (oven, already baked, etc.) and heat them. In a large saucepan, brown the sausage. If using pork or other fatty meat, drain almost all of the fat (reserve 1 TB with the meat). 

Step Two:
Next add flour to the cooked sausage and coat the meat. 

Step Three:
Then, add the milk. Stir continuously until gravy starts to thicken (7 minutes or so). Add pepper and sage for flavor. Let sit for a few more minutes to thicken more and stir once again. Spoon over piping hot biscuits and serve.
Hope your fun weekend spills over into the week!

Happy eating!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Healthy No-bake PB Banana Pie

Oh. My. Wordy.

Thanks to Katie at Chocolate Covered Katie, we have a new, fun HEALTHY(ish) dessert! A no-bake peanut butter banana pie that even Elvis would approve of. Have 10 minutes? Let's make it!

No-bake Peanut Butter Banana Pie
This pie is easy, pretty healthy and is a kid-pleaser, too. You can substitute the marshmallows for dehydrated fruit or a natural, sugar-free alternative. Enjoy crustless or with the flavor combination of sweet from the bananas, nutty from the peanut butter and salty crunch from the pretzels.
Adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie 

STEP 1: In a blender, combine these ingredients:
1 1/4 cup peanut butter (you can use creamy, chunky, or a combo of both)
4 medium bananas (ripe is good)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar or sweetener (optional)

STEP 2: Coat a pie pan with nonstick cooking spray/butter. Transfer the peanut butter mixture to a large mixing bowl. Fold these into the peanut butter mixture:
1 cup mini marshmallows

STEP 3: Using small pretzels, spread one layer into the bottom of the pie pan:
1 to 1 1/4 cups "waffle-style" pretzels (regular 2-inch pretzels from the chips aisle work, too)

STEP 4: Carefully pour the peanut butter mixture into the pie pan. Note: the pretzels will shift and move as the heavy peanut butter filling is poured in. Don't worry about it. Put the pie pan in the freezer and let chill for 3+ hours. Slice and serve.

I have to work today, but this is a fun treat to look forward to after a long day! Hope you can enjoy this one, too!

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

4-minute Pantry Fruit Salad

Happy June! Happy Summer!

It's time to (finally) enjoy some sun. Being in the sun makes me want to eat everything in sight...everything bright and crisp and fruit, that is. So this is a fruit salad that requires no last-minute trip to the grocery store. Use what is in your pantry! And make it in four minutes because your life is chaotic and you need some sunshine!

4-minute Pantry Fruit Salad
1 can mandarin oranges, drained (15 oz or so)
1 can peaches, drained (15 oz or so)
1 can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice (15 oz or so)
1 banana, sliced
1/3 cup one other fruit (cherries, grapes, etc.)

In a mixing bowl with a pour spout, blend all fruit together (including the pineapple juice). Chill and serve. Bam.


 Why make my fruit salad in a bowl with a pour spout? What??
If you like fruit over plain yogurt, that's where the pour spout comes in. You can naturally sweeten your yogurt with a few tablespoons of pineapple juice. Yum and healthy snack. 


Oh! And some news...
I've got a summer goal...100 posts this summer, by August 31st. Heaven help me. So here goes....check back (almost) daily for new stuff! 

Happy eating!