Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Chili Macaroni

We have had an inexplicable bout of cool weather lately.  Yesterday (July 29th!) our high temperature was 68 degrees.  It has been unbelievable and totally awesome!  I have to remind myself that it isn't fall and we are going to see 90 degrees again this week.

Since it's not actually fall, it's not really chili season.  This is the season where I like something I can throw together quickly, and stove top recipes fit the bill.  But thanks to this chili macaroni recipe, I can enjoy the flavors of chili (tomatoes, beans, spices, oh my!) without waiting for hours, and without a ending up with a hot bowl of soup.  Chili, meet summer.  I think you guys are going to like each other!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Makeover Monday: Skinny Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwiches

Is there a better guilty food pleasure than cookie dough?  I think not.  It is so delicious!  Most people would even probably agree with me that the cookie dough is actually better than the finished cookie product.  But it is taboo to eat cookie dough, or at least more than simply licking the spoon.  Maybe that's part of what makes it so delicious.  Don't we love things we're not supposed to have?

But with this recipe, eating cookie dough doesn't have to be taboo.  Because it doesn't contain raw eggs, it is perfectly safe for anyone to eat.  And you definitely won't be able to stop yourself at just a lick of the spoon with this stuff!  Fortunately, these chocolate chip cookie dough bars aren't just safer to eat with the absence of eggs.  They are also healthier to eat.  I made a few tweaks to this recipe to cut some serious calories.  And even though they are now less of a guilty pleasure, they are definitely still a pleasure!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Spicy Thai Beef

I have a culinary confession to make.  I honestly don't know much about Asian food.  We have a Chinese buffet in my little hometown, but we almost never went there when I was growing up.  It had a less than stellar reputation.  I'm talking about rumors of cats in freezers kind of reputation.  We would occasionally have Chinese food when we went out of town and my dad would pick where we ate.  And I never thought I liked Chinese food until I tried Panda Express, which I imagine is about as authentic Chinese as a Big Mac.  But who doesn't love that sweet and sticky orange chicken?

I didn't have Thai food until college, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have had it since.  Because of my lack of experience with Asian cuisine, I couldn't really tell Chinese food from Thai food from Vietnamese food from my elbow.  My understanding of Thai food is that it is spicy and it often has a peanut sauce.  That's it.  With that being said, I can't really tell you if this spicy Thai beef dish is actually good Thai food.  But I can tell you that it is good food!  It is easy and delicious with a little kick of spice and a little tang thanks to lime juice and ginger.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Birthday Cake Pancakes

Today my wonderful husband turns 28.  Happy birthday!  As I have mentioned before, it is tradition in my family to make pancakes on someone's birthday.  And when my husband married me, he married my family traditions.  That means birthday pancakes and deodorant in your Christmas stocking.  These are actually the pancakes I made him last year on his birthday.  I have been selfishly holding onto this recipe, but I think today is the perfect time to share.

As the big day approached last year, I pondered over what kind of pancakes I should make.  They had to be perfect for his special day.  I had already decided on a red velvet cake for later in the day, so a festive, cake-like, pancake seemed like a fun way to start the day.  I have come across recipes for pancakes that actually use cake mix for the batter.  While that sounded delicious, and I was willing to splurge a bit, I couldn't bring myself to have cake twice in one day.  My solution was to take my favorite basic pancake recipe and tweak it slightly to make it a birthday worthy pancake that didn't put my whole day off track (I'd save that for the cake!).  What I came up with was a delicious pancake that is worth celebrating!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Butterscotch Chip Cookie Dough Bites

It is still summer.  Therefore, I still am boycotting my oven.  And, I am trying to eat a little healthier.  And I still have a sweet tooth.  Fortunately, I have found an awesome recipe that meets all my needs, especially my need for delicious!

This is one of those Pinterest posts I pinned thinking I might make it "some day."  It had peanut butter, oatmeal, and butterscotch chips, and is eaten in it's delicious cookie dough form.  And it doesn't have any butter or white sugar.  I had to pin that!  When it started getting hot outside, my "some day" finally came.  So I tried it out, and it was absolutely delicious!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Quinoa with Chickpeas & Tomatoes

Have you tried quinoa yet?  If you haven't, you should.  It is amazing stuff.  It is a whole grain, so it's got the  fiber thing going for it.  But unlike most other grains, it is also a complete protein (which means that it contains all of the essential amino acids our bodies need but can't produce).  

So it's really a nutrition powerhouse.  As an added bonus, it is tasty and easy to prepare.  If you have been interested in trying quinoa, but aren't sure what to do with it, you're in luck because I've got a perfect quinoa-for-beginners recipe right here.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

No-Bake Homemade Granola Bars

I'll say it.  I'm cheap.  I don't like spending money when I don't have to, and I love saving some change at the grocery store.  In general, I try not to buy a lot of processed foods.  They are full of mystery ingredients and can be pretty pricey.  Plus, I like to make stuff myself.  Why would I buy something I could make it?

A great example of this is granola bars.  There was a time in my life when I used to eat a granola bar every afternoon as a snack.  They are convenient, delicious, and if you choose carefully, they can even be healthy.  But you can certainly pay a price for that convenience.  And who knows what you will find in them?  Fortunately, making  your own granola bars at home is easy and cost effective.  Plus, this allows you to tailor your bars to your own personal taste.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

S'mores Bars

Another summer is whizzing by.  I can't believe that the 4th of July has already come and gone.  Where is the time going?  I've got less than a month before my summer vacation is officially over.  So I've got to soak up the summer while I can.  

One of the great iconic treats of summer is the s'more.  They are simple goodness.  Artfully toast a marshmallow over a fire on a summer night, add a milk chocolate Hersey bar, put it between graham cracker squares, and devour.  It's really a pretty simple recipe.  And they are fun to make.  But what if you want s'mores pronto?  What if you don't have a fire?  Enter these amazing s'mores bars.  Easy and delicious come together to revamp this great summer classic!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Easy Beef Stir-Fry

We have had a reasonable summer thus far.  Until this week.  Hello, hot and humid.  I haven't missed you.  That means that my oven is officially out of commission.  I just can't make myself turn it on when my poor air conditioner is working its tail off just to keep it under 80 degrees in this old house.  So stove-top recipes are my friend right now.  

One of my favorite oven-free dinners is stir-fry.  It is fast, easy, and packed with yummy flavors.  I also love that you just need to add some brown rice and a side of fruit, and you have a great, healthy, well balanced meal in no time.  If you use instant brown rice, you can have this meal ready in about 15 minutes.  Yeah, I like that.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Makeover Monday: Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Can you satisfy your sweet tooth and still fit into a bikini?  Maybe so.  If you are on Pinterest, you probably have seen this peanut butter oatmeal cookies floating around.  I have seen them pinned about a million times in various forms.  And it's easy to see why.  The description of the pin always says something like "no flour, no oil, no eggs, and no added sugar."  That's pretty tempting in a delicious looking cookie.

So can you really have it all in one cookie?  After seeing this pin several times, I finally decided to give it a go.  I wasn't too surprised to see the ingredient list.  Filling in for granulated sugar was a mashed banana, applesauce was in for the fat and eggs, and oats were taking the place of flour.  Oh, and there was peanut butter and chocolate chips.  But I think those are just in the recipe because they're delicious.  Minor detail.