baked one bite nachos: easy, flavorful game-day snack

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This is the easiest snack to put together! It’s also really versatile. You can add all the types of toppings you want: meat, different types of cheese, salsa or dip. If you’re having an “appetizer” party, these can be whipped up in minutes and will go fast! It’s also a simple and filling snack for the little kiddos!

ingredients:
large, round tortilla chips (the best chips I’ve found were from Trader Joe’s)
salsa of your choice: it can be from a jar, or whatever liquid dip you like
bag of shredded cheese: your choice!

directions:
1.) Use the largest cookie sheet you have. This will allow you to fit more chips in one baking session.
2.) Line your cookie sheet with foil.
3.) Individually lay out your chips on the foil-lined cookie sheet. Do not overlap the chips.

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4.) Using a spoon, scoop your liquid (salsa or dip) on each chip.

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5.) Top with shredded cheese.

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6.) Bake uncovered on the middle rack at 400°F until the cheese is melted. Cool for a few minutes. You don’t want to burn yourself on the hot cheese!

 

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cream cheese and chive blossom spread

chive1We have a small herb garden and our chives have begun to bloom! What does one do with these beautiful, purple flowers?

Chives are wonderful in salads, soups and baked potatoes. They impart a subtle onion flavor in dishes. The purple flowers are edible and are just as flavorful! I decided to make a tasty spread using these blooms!

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ingredients:
– soft, spreadable cheese of your choice ( I used light cream cheese)
– a handful of chive blossoms with stems attached (if you want your spread to have a stronger onion flavor, you can use more blossoms

directions:
1.) Pull apart the chive flowers and snip the green stems into small pieces.
2.) Add the flowers and the stems to your spreadable cheese.

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3.) Mix well to thoroughly incorporate the flowers and stems into the cheese.
4.) Spread on crackers, bread or even on a bagel for breakfast!

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5.) Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Since I’m obsessed with Weck jars, I am storing my flavored cheese in it!

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I am loving all those green and purple flecks of color!

ahmazing blueberry scones

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Scones tend to divide people in two camps. Some like their scones hard and crumbly (almost like a biscotti) and others like their scones moist (like a really dense muffin). I like my scones to be in between: a moist, fluffy center with a crumbly crumb.

This recipe is pretty simple to make! The scones pair well with a cup of coffee!

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you will need:
baking pan (I used a 10 in. cast iron skillet)

ingredients:
– 2 cups of all-purpose flour
– 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
-2 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I freshly grated mine and used less)
– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1/2 cup (1 stick) of frozen butter

– 1/2 cup heavy cream
– 1 large egg
– 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
– 1 full cup of fresh blueberries or whatever berry you want to use

– sparkling sugar/coarse sugar for topping

directions:
1.) Pre-heat the oven to 400F degrees.
2.) If you’re using a baking pan, grease the entire inside of the pan with butter. Since I used a cast iron skillet, I didn’t need to grease anything.
3.) Place your frozen butter on a chopping board and cut into small pieces the size of nickels. Set aside.
4.) In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Mix well. Set aside.
5.) In a separate bowl, combine your wet ingredients: heavy cream, egg and vanilla. Mix well. Set aside.
6.) Add the butter pieces to the dry mixture. The mixture will be dry and some parts might be clumpy. Use a pastry cutter to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients.
7.) Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  Use your hands and work quickly. Knead the dough until all the wet ingredients are absorbed into the dry ingredients. Your dough will be very sticky.
8.) Carefully fold in the blueberries.
9.) Gather your dough into a ball and place the dough in the middle of your baking pan. Use your fingers to push the dough out towards the sides of the pan. Make sure to have an even layer of dough throughout the entire pan.
10.) Sprinkle the coarse sugar over the dough.
11.) Place in the oven for 25 minutes. Insert a toothpick in the middle of the scone pan; if uncooked batter is clinging to the toothpick, bake for 10 more minutes.
12.) Remove from oven, cool, cut and serve!

*this was slightly altered from the recipe found here.

 

 

super easy superhero ice-cream birthday cake

spiderThere is a long-standing tradition behind my birthday cake and why it always has to be a Spiderman theme. I am not a baker. Nope. No way. My oven and I have yet to get along.

This year, I decided to make my own Spiderman strawberry ice-cream cake. Let me tell you, it was much much easier than I thought. There are so many cake decorating tools/ products out there these days that anything is possible. This cake took 2 days to make but was oh-so easy! I now know that in the future, I can make other types of fondant cakes!

I used the following cake supplies below. You can easily find them in the cake decorating aisle of JoAnn’s, Michaels or even Walmart.
– 1 large red fondant sheet
– 1 small black fondant sheet
– 1 small white fondant sheet
– 1 tube of black icing (make sure you buy the tube with a fine tip)
– a cake leveler (some people use non-flavored dental floss)
– 2 trays (I used a cardboard cake tray); I could also have used a cookie sheet.

For the cake:
– 1 box of cake mix (since I was making a strawberry ice-cream cake, the box of cake mix I used was a yellow cake mix)
– 1 half gallon container of strawberry ice cream

Other stuff:
– a pizza cutter and a sharp knife with a point
– a printed picture or shape of your cake, cut to it’s accurate size. I googled an image of Spiderman’s head. Then I printed his head out on a regular sheet of paper in the exact size I wanted my cake to be.

Because Spidey has eyes, I printed 3 pictures. One to trace the shape of his head, 1 picture to trace the black parts of his eyes and another to trace the white parts of his eyes. I used the shapes as templates.

Here’s the picture I used below:
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directions:
1.) Grease your cake pan heavily. Bake your cake according to the instructions on the box.
2.) Once cooled, flip the pan over onto your tray and pop the cake out. The cake should easily come out of the pan onto your tray.
3.) Take your head template and place it on your overturned cake.
4.) Using a sharp knife with a point, make deep downward cuts into the cake following your template.
5.) Discard the remaining pieces.
6.) Using your cake leveler, split your cake in half.
7.) CAREFULLY and slowly remove the top half of the cake and set aside.
8.) Slightly melt your ice-cream in the microwave to the consistency of  oatmeal. You want the ice-cream to be spreadable but not runny. If your ice-cream is too runny, it will make the cake soggy.
9.) Evenly spread the ice-cream on the cake half that is on the tray. How much ice-cream is up to you.
10.) Bring the two halves of cake together on the tray. It will be one large, ice-cream cake “sandwich.”
11.) Put foil over the cake and place in the freezer to set the ice-cream and bind the cake all together. I placed my cake in the freezer overnight. You don’t have to wait overnight, a couple hours in the freezer should work too.

second day:
1.) Take your printout and cut out the two sets of eyes: the black eyes and the white eyes.
2.) Using a rolling pin, separately roll out the white and black fondant.
3.) Use the pizza cutter to cut out your fondant eyes; use the printouts as a template. Set the eyes aside.
4.) Roll out your red fondant much larger than Spiderman’s head. You want enough red fondant to cover the entire cake.
5.) Remove your cake + tray  from the freezer and remove the foil covering.
6.) Set your cake + tray on a flat surface.
7.) Pick up your unrolled red fondant and cover your cake with it. Work quickly and press/push out any air bubbles. Stretch your fondant over the sides of the cake making sure to cover the entire cake with your fondant.
8.) Trim off the excess fondant with the pizza cutter.
9.) Place the cut-out black fondant eyes on the cake and then the white fondant eyes over the black eyes.
10.) Use a toothpick to pre-draw Spiderman’s black facial lines on your cake. I looked at my initial printout for where to draw the lines.
11.) Squeeze out black icing over your toothpick lines!

Not so bad, right?!

mexican pie

20150413_193730_HDR~2 (2)My husband loooves mexican food. If he had it his way, he would have it for dinner 7 days a week. Sometimes, I like to express my gratitude for him being his fabulous self. I don’t know how he does it — being fabulous and all.

This dish is so easy to put together. I say, “put-together” because there’s not much “real” cooking involved. Everything gets thrown in the cast iron pan, the oven works its magic and voilà, a mexican pie with burnt cheese for a crust emerges.

ingredients
1 tube of chorizo (can be any kind you like)
1 bag frozen bell pepper blend with onions
1 box of pre-mixed mexican rice
1 regular can of refried beans
1 jar of Tostinos® salsa con queso sauce
1 bag of shredded mexican cheese blend
2 cans of Ro*tel® diced tomatoes and green chilies
guacamole
parsley
a cast iron skillet or oven proof dish

*I used a 10 in. cast iron skillet for this recipe

directions
1.) Pre-heat the oven to 450° F.
2.) Begin cooking the mexican rice according to the package.
3.) In a skillet, cook the chorizo. Drain on paper towels to remove grease. Set aside.
4.) Drain the grease from the skillet. In the drained skillet, add the bell peppers, refried beans, 1 can of Ro*tel®. Heat on medium high heat until mixed and cooked through.
5.) Add the chorizo to the skillet and mix.
6.) Once the rice has finished cooking, begin pie assembly in the cast iron skillet.
7.) Pour the entire bean/chorizo mix at the bottom of the cast iron skillet.
8.) Spread out the rice mix on top of the bean/chorizo mix to create an even layer.
9.) Spread out as much Tostinos® salsa con queso sauce you’d like over the rice.
10.) Add the shredded cheese on top. Do not be stingy with the cheese. You want to cover the entire thing so that a crust will form.
11.) Place assembled pie in the oven until cheese begins to bubble and brown.
12.) Garnish with remaining can of Ro*tel® diced tomatoes and green chilies, guacamole and parsley.

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ina garten’s mustard chicken

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Ina Garten is such an inspiring cook! Long ago, her simple, short and tasty recipes were what made me realize that cooking didn’t have to be so bad. Last night, I decided to make her wonderful crispy, crunchy, mustard chicken.

We have a tiny herb garden. Chives, mint, parsley, oregano and thyme are currently thriving in container pots on our deck. It has been so nice to be able to have fresh herbs on hand when I am cooking.

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 ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk
8 pieces of chicken (I used 4 thighs in this recipe)
1 cup dijon mustard

3 sprigs of thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups panko or bread crumbs
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper

directions:
1.) In a large ziplock bag, dump in your chicken.
2.) In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the buttermilk and the mustard. If you want more of a mustard flavor, add more mustard. If you want less mustard flavor, add less.
3.) Dump the buttermilk-mustard mixture in the bag over the chicken. Seal the bag and make sure the chicken pieces are coated thoroughly with the marinade. Leave in refrigerator overnight.

Next day: pre-heat the oven to 400°F

4.) In a food processor combine the: thyme, olive oil, bread crumbs, lemon zest, salt and black pepper. Pulse to combine all the ingredients. The mixture will be grainy and may not all stick together. That is okay.
5.) Dump out the breadcrumb mixture into a large flat plate.
6.) Working with one chicken piece at a time, remove the chicken from the bag and dredge it in the breadcrumb mixture. Make sure the entire chicken is covered.
7.) Place each dredged chicken piece onto a baking sheet with parchment.
8.) Repeat the dredging process until all chicken pieces are done. If you have leftover crumbs, you can press the crumbs onto the chicken.
9.) Bake at 400°F for about 40 minutes.
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4 ingredient quinoa caprese salad

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If you’re in the mood to throw something together that is healthy and delicious, this 4 ingredient salad will stand up to that craving.

you will need:
large pot
1 package of quinoa
Mozzarella cheese log from Trader Joe’s
Fresh basil
Tomatoes
Chicken broth
Balsamic vinegar

directions:

I like to use quinoa from Trader Joe’s.

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1.) Cook the quinoa according to the package. I like to cook the quinoa in chicken broth for a little bit more flavor. Cooking the quinoa in the broth is entirely optional. You can always just use water.

2.) While the quinoa is cooking, slice up pieces of the cheese; how big and how much cheese to slice is entirely up to you. If you like a lot of cheese, add more. Set aside when finished chopping.

3.) Chop up the fresh basil, about 1 cup. Set aside.

4.) Chop up the tomatoes. (Similar thing as the cheese.) I like tomatoes, so I tend to add a lot. You can use any kind of tomatoes. When I’ve used grape tomatoes, I just cut them in half. Set aside.

5.) After the quinoa cooks, remove from the heat.

6.) Stir the quinoa and add the: cheese, basil and tomatoes to the pot. Stir the ingredients together.

7.) Season with salt & pepper to taste.

I like to sprinkle my salad with about 1 tsp. of fancy balsamic vinegar.

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