Parmesan Dip

This summer my husband and I rode our bikes to a local park to meet good friends to hear a tribute band performing the Rolling Stones- it was awesome! We each brought bites to share and this dip was a hit- so easy to make and everyone loved it! 

Parmesan Dip

1 cup full or low fat sour cream
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 clove minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped chives (saving a few for garnish)

Mix sour cream, mayo, cheese, salt, garlic and chives together. Sprinkle with a few chopped chives and serve with crudites. Serve with cut vegetables and/or sliced pieces of tasty toasted bread.Yum!


Easy Summertime Lunch with Homemade Pesto

This is one of my favorite summertime whip-together lunches--- cottage cheese, homemade pesto and cherry tomatoes. Yum!

Basil Walnut Pesto

2 cups packed basil leaves
1/3 olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
sprinkle of pepper

Combine all ingredients in food processor or blender and combine until smooth.


Peanut Chicken Noodle Salad

Hot days always make me crave cold salads out on the deck for dinner. This Peanut Chicken Noodle salad is perfect when you know a heat wave is predicted- you can whip it together in the eve when it is cool, pop it in the fridge and when you get home from work the next day, you will have a cool and tasty salad ready to serve. We added the noodle salad on a bed of extra cabbage for more crunch and had crispy crudites alongside. This is also a great potluck salad because you can make it ahead and everyone will love it~

Peanut Chicken Noodle Salad

1 pound linguine
2 chicken breasts
olive oil
kosher salt & pepper
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 carrots, grated coarsely
6 green onions
optional: julienne red peppers or sliced snow peas for crunch and color
chopped peanuts for garnish (and cilantro leaves if you family likes it!)

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced

Coat chicken with olive oil, sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and bake at 400º for 25-30 minutes. Let cool after cooking and either shred or cut into cubes. Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water.

Mix all dressing ingredients in blender until smooth. Put cabbage, carrots, cold noodles, chicken pieces in bowl and mix with dressing. You can add julienne red peppers or sliced snow peas for color and crunch, too! Refrigerate until ready to enjoy and garnsh with green onions and chopped peanuts.


Toffee Bars

This recipe is another awesome treasure from the UC Davis Coffeehouse cook book (just like these Apricot Bars which were similar to Bozo bars from the UCD Coffeehouse). They are so easy to make and are a perfect quick sweet treat to bring to class events, office celebrations or family gatherings. They would also make a wonderful surprise for your kids when they come home from school or camp, served with a cold glass of milk!

Toffee Bars
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (if desired)

Preheat oven to 350º Spray a 9x13" pan with baking spray. Combine butter, brown sugar and vanilla and beat well. Stir in flour, chocolate chips and nuts (if using). Spread mixture into the pan and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown (don't over bake!) Let cool, then cut into squares. Enjoy!


Egg Breakfast Squares with Veggies and Sausage

Savory protein-filled breakfasts are my favorite! One easy way to make a portable healthy breakfast is to make egg cups like these. Although I love the perfect serving-size of these eggs cups, washing the darn muffin tins is always a bother for me. No matter how much non-stick spray I use, the pan always seems to need a long scrub to get it clean!

This breakfast recipe combines the best of egg cups with the ease of cleaning one dish. I cut these tasty portable protein and veggie filled bites into squares, refrigerate them and bring one with me to work in the morn  (I even like them cold!) The beauty of this recipe is that you can add whatever veggies you like or have on hand, as well as change up the meat or eliminate it, and add cheese if your diet allows. It is such an adaptable recipe!

Some of the ingredients ready to be chopped
I like to saute all the ingredients together before mixing with the eggs
Bake the egg/veggie/sausage mixture in a 9 x 13" pan
Top with fresh cherry tomatoes and a tasty breakfast is ready to enjoy~
 Egg Breakfast Squares with Veggies and Sausage        
3-4 cups of chopped vegetables—some of my favorite combinations are:
1)    ½ diced yellow onion, 2 chopped zucchini , 4 oz sliced cremini mushrooms and 1 cup fresh spinach
2)    ½ diced yellow onion, 2 cups broccoli florets and 1 diced red bell pepper
3)    ½ diced red onion,1 bunch cut asparagus, handful cherry tomatoes
4)    4 chopped scallions, 5 leaves chopped kale, ½ shredded sweet potato
5)    4 chopped scallions, 2 cups fresh spinach, ½c feta, 1 diced red pepper
2 cups of meat (or cheese), if desired—some of my favorites are:
1)    2 links  aidell's Chicken Apple Sausage, chopped into cubes
2)     several slices ham or Canadian bacon, cut into cubes
3)    ½ - 1 lb pork or turkey sausage, cooked and crumbled
4)    1 cup shredded cheddar
5)    ½- 1 cup feta
6)    ½  cup grated Parmesan
12 eggs
½ cup milk (not necessary if you do not want to add dairy)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Olive oil
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 tsp pepper (or to taste)

Pre-heat oven to 350º
Cut vegetables into bite sized pieces as well as meat. Spray bottom of 9 x 13” pan with olive oil spray. Sauté vegetables for 10 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add pre-cooked meat to veggies and sauté for 5 minutes more.
In large bowl, mix eggs, milk, Dijon mustard, kosher salt and pepper.
Add sauteed vegetables to raw eggs and stir to combine. Pour egg/vegetable mixture into greased baking dish and bake for 30 minutes or until set and brown around the edges. Cut into squares and serve. Enjoy!
Another version of breakfast squares with broccoli, asparagus and sausage~


Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken

When my daughter, Madeleine, served herself some of this curry tonight she asked, "Is this Indian curry or Thai curry?" Not knowing the difference myself, I guessed that it was "Indian" curry because the recipe called for garam masala, which is more typically found in Indian cooking than Thai. Whichever type it is, my family loved the flavor and I appreciated the ease with which one can make it. I whipped together the sauce the night before and popped all the ingredients in the crock pot before I left for work the next day. Add rice to the rice cooker when you get home, steam some green beans and you have dinner on the table!

Slow Cooker Coconut Chicken Curry
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 8-10)
3 large yukon gold potatoes, cut into chunks
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 15 ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
cilantro, if desired

Add chicken thighs and potatoes to slow cooker. In a food processor of blender, add onion, bell pepper, garlic, tomato paste, coconut milk, curry, garam masala and salt. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture over chicken and potatoes and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve over rice with chopped cilantro. Enjoy!


Easy Coffee Cake

My good friend Abbie recently made the Pioneer Woman's Coffee Cake and shared a piece with me-- and it was awesome! She inspired me to make coffee cake this morning for my daughters and their sleep-over buddies, but when I looked in my fridge, I only had one stick of butter (and Ree's recipe calls for three). 
I found the recipe below some time ago and thought it was the perfect time to try it since I was butter-challenged. This coffee cake recipe turned out to be a keeper- it was very easy to make (no creaming of butter or whipping of egg whites required, so I didn't have to pull out the mixer) and my daughters and their friends said the cake part was just as good as the topping! Try it!

Tyra Bank's Great Grannie's Old-Fashioned Coffee Cake

Preheat oven to 350

4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
11/2 t. salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg (I didn't have nutmeg, so I used Pumpkin Pie spice- cinnamon would  work, too)
11/4 cups canola oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I did not have buttermilk, so added 1 1/2 T lemon juice to 1 1/2 cups 
     milk and let it sit for 10 minutes)
2 teaspoons cinnamon for topping

1. In large bowl, mix all-purpose flour, packed brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt  and nutmeg until no lumps remain. 

2. Whisk in vegetable oil until the oil is incorporated with the dry ingredients.
3. Reserve 1 1/2 cups of this mixture for the topping. Add cinnamon to topping; set aside.

4. To the remaining mixture in the large bowl add baking powder, baking soda, eggs and buttermilk. Mix completely.

5. Spread batter in greased 13" x 9" pan; sprinkle with topping. 

6. Bake 45 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.



Pesto Lemon Chicken

This is the easiest chicken you will ever make! All you need is a container of pre-made pesto (or use your own home made pesto if you happen to have some in your fridge) and lemon juice. My favorite store bought pesto these days is Three Bridges Basil Pesto (they even have a kale pesto that I would like to try) which you can find at Safeway. Pesto chicken is perfect for a quick weeknight meal when you have just a few minutes to get dinner on the table-yum!

Pesto Lemon Chicken

4 chicken fillets (or two large breasts cut in half lengthwise)
1 container pesto 
juice of one lemon

Stir lemon juice into pesto and spread mixture on one side of the chicken breasts. Place pesto side on grill pan or barbeque and spread rest of pesto on top side of chicken. Cook until done and serve with lemon slices. Enjoy!   

Basil Pesto Sauce


Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli on a bed of Creamy Polenta

This dish will be a huge hit for your family (of course, if they enjoy shrimp and broccoli) because not only is it easy and quick to prepare but it is also amazingly delicious! Roast your shrimp as Ina does, then roast your broccoli in the same pan (after a quick swipe with a paper towel to clean it) while you whip up some very tasty polenta. Yummy dinner is ready for everyone to enjoy!

 Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli with Creamy Polenta

2 pounds uncooked shrimp (21-25 count), skin and tails removed
2 - 3  heads broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
olive oil
kosher salt and pepper

How to Roast Shrimp:
Preheat oven to 400° Place shrimp on baking sheet and toss with 1-2T olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 8 minutes.

How to Roast Broccoli:  go here

Creamy Polenta
1 cup polenta (or yellow cornmeal)
4 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup freshly shredded Parmesan

Bring water to boil in medium saucepan. Add salt and whisk in polenta/corn meal. Lower heat to simmer and cook polenta, whisking often for 10-15 minutes to prevent it from sticking on the bottom of the pot, until thick. Add butter and cheese and more salt/pepper to taste.


Pomegranate Lime Vodka

I think homemade holiday gifts for friends are so fun to make and give! I found this clever idea for Pomegranate flavored vodka online and it was a cinch to put together. Since it takes about a week to "marinate", you need to time your creations a bit before the day you want to give them. These cute bottles are sold at World Market. The flavored vodka is perfect to use in Pomegranate Cosmos or mix with tonic water for a delicious holiday Vodka Tonic to share!

Pomegranate Lime Vodka

  • 2 cups neutral flavored Vodka
  • 2/3 cups Pomegranate seeds
  • 1 ½ small limes, peeled and cut into large pieces
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  1. Pour the vodka in a quart Mason jar or other sealable glass container (plastic not recommended). Add the pomegranate seeds and using a cocktail muddler or firm wooden mixing spoon, mash some of the seeds for better infusion. Add the lime, muddle slightly and seal.
  2. Place in a cool, dark location for 5-7 days. Taste the infusion to ensure it has the density of flavor desired and either let sit longer if more flavor is needed or strain into a clean jar for longer keeping (discard the pomegranate and lime).

Recipe and printable labels found here