It’s APRIL tomorrow people. I just can’t believe it. Where has the first quarter of this year gone? It’s passed me by in a cold white flash I guess. Not that I’m not looking forward to spring. Real spring that is. The one with flowers popping up, much much warm weather, my hands in the garden, cute wedges on my feet and lots of wind therapy and tangled hair from the open road. Not this current bi-polar spring that is going on. I’ve got whip lash trying to keep up. Heater on. Heater off. Shorts sleeves. Long sleeves. Gah. I’m going to drown myself in a few cups of this panna cotta and all will be well until the weather makes up it’s mind.
I love a good meat sauce. What’s not to love, it’s hearty stick to your ribs kinda food. Sometimes though I don’t have the time that my beloved BOLOGNESE sauce takes to make. No fear our easy Italian Ragu Sauce comes to the rescue. It takes about 1/4 of the time that our Bolognese sauce takes to make and tastes out of this world. It starts with Johnsonville’s sweet Italian ground sausage, which has a lot of flavor packed right in there. What does that mean besides it tastes amazing? That means there’s less spices we have to the pot. Win. Win.
I have a coffee problem. Meaning if I don’t have my morning cup (or two okay usually two who am I kidding) there’s going to be a problem. Up until recently I had never heard of the deliciousness that is Greek (also called Turkish) coffee. Have you tried this coffee? It’s pretty incredible and guess what? It’s EASY to make. You will need to have a special pot called a BRIKI (pictured above). Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s typically a small copper or brass (or sometimes stainless steel) pot that’s narrow at the top and wider toward the bottom. This allows the coffee grounds to easily fall to the bottom. I felt so dainty holding onto the long handle and pouring. Almost fancy schmancy. Hey I take it where I can get it.
If you’ve known me for any length of time you KNOW that Spaghetti alla Carbonara is my hands down all time favorite meal. It’s the meal I would eat ALL. DAY. EVERY. DAY. That’s if I had a super ramped up metabolism and/or didn’t gain any weight no matter what I shoveled into my mouth. I of course am not blessed with that metabolism. Nope, and if you are one of those VERY lucky people, please don’t tell me. That wouldn’t make me like you very much and I really want to like you.
Sweet potatoes aren’t just for baking. Nope, apparently they make a creamy dreamy addition to tomato sauce. Who knew? Apparently Food and Wine. That’s who. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t try it myself so I understand if you’ve got an arched brow at the moment. I saw this recipe online and had that same reaction. Curiosity got the best of me, that happens a lot. So yep I gave it a go and I’m happy I did. I love making sauces with CARROTS and other vegetables so this being scrumptious shouldn’t have surprised me.
If you know me you know I don’t drink beer. At all. I gave it the good old college try, in well you guessed it, college. Beer was cheap and my measly student budget was practically non existent so beer was the obvious choice but alas I could never choke it down so I made friends with Jim and Jack instead and just saw them on a less frequent basis. My dislike of drinking beer hasn’t changed after all these years. I don’t however have a problem cooking with beer. Kind of like how I’m not a fan of cucumbers but like pickles. I know. I know, ’tis weird but it works for me. What also works for me are these slow cooker beer brats.
Have I mentioned how much we absolutely are coo coo for coco puffs over blood oranges? Well we are. We’ve been buying them up every time we’re at the market and will keep doing so until they’re gone. I might actually cry at that point. I know it’s coming soon (sniff sniff) but I won’t be able to help myself. I should probably go ahead and put a travel pack of puffs in my purse. I wish blood orange season was longer but I will take them in bulk as long as we can get our hands on them.
You might have heard these bars called by a few different names: Millionaire Bars, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Copycat Twix Bars. Whatever you call them (I’m leaning towards sticky fingers chocolate bars myself), you won’t be able to stop after one. They’re the perfect mix of sweet and salty and will satisfy your sweet tooth craving in a big way. Instead of making our own shortbread for this recipe, we’ve taken a shortcut and used our favorite shortbread rounds by Walkers. You know the ones. They have a distinctive taste and simply melt in your mouth . In a word they are butteriffic.
As I’m sitting here looking out my window and seeing a BLANKET of WHITE (yes we’re having yet another snow day here), I’m dreaming about warmer weather and quick, simple and flavorful foods. Had I known that my kids would have been out of school for yes count them TWO weeks because of said weather we might have planned a vacation to someplace tropical where I’m certain we would have been able to nosh on things like this Mango Avocado Tuna stack. Since that didn’t happen I can always pretend I’m off to warmer weather and make these myself. If I close my eyes and sit in front of the fireplace it “almost” feels like it.
We’ve got a new taco for your Tuesday taco night taco night, or Thursday taco night but does anyone really prefer Thursdays to Tuesday taco nights? Tuesday just has a better ring to it yeah? Don’t let the turkey fool you, this turkey taco has got flavah for days. You might also be surprised to hear that its also stuffed full of veggies. You heard right. We’ve snuck in shaved carrots, bell peppers, onions and more spices than you can shake a stick at. You don’t have to tell the kids if you don’t want to. They’ll be none the wiser.
Why yes it’s snowing outside (in our neck of the woods and probably in a lot of yours) and we’re making homemade ice cream. It makes perfect sense yeah? At least in our heads. In all honesty we eat ice cream year round. No matter if I have to sit in front of the fire place to warm up or jump in a hot bath afterwards. I’m nothing if not dedicated. I’m also dedicated to good chocolate and COFFEE so this ice cream pairing was bound to happen. I can’t believe I didn’t make it happen before now. What was I thinking? I’m glad I went ahead and rectified that.
I haven’t met too many people who don’t adore flan. It’s creamy dreamy and you might be surprised to know that it’s super simple to make. Now there is quite a bit of time involved but the majority of that time your oven and fridge are doing the heavy work for you. Now that you know, there’s no reason not to try and make this at home. If you can stir, blend and pour you’ve got this. Trust me.
Bacon makes everything better. It’s true. At least in my world. Pairing bacon with Brussels Sprouts and pasta well that was inevitable in my house. Sadly, Brussels Sprouts tend to get a bad wrap. If I was a betting girl, I’d bet that those people planted firmly in the dislike camp were served Brussels sprouts at one point in their life that were boiled to a soggy sphere state. Which is GROSS. I’ve had them that way (thanks Mom) and until I started roasting and sauteing them I was also stubbornly planted in the dislike camp. I’ve since proudly defected and am in the bring on the Brussels camp. Roasting and sauteing is the way to go. Adding all that to pasta and give it a zip of zest and a sprinkling of spice well it’s just really really nice.
A few months back we took a Carnival CRUISE . Have I mentioned that I LOVE to cruise. Cruisin’ is aca-AWESOME. I’d probably live on one of those floating cities if I could swing it. What’s not to love? Well I suppose if you have motion sickness that might be a problem and well the rooms are on the small side, but you’re not really in them except to change and sleep so that takes care of that problem. What is to love? For starters there is all the food and drinks you could ever want available 24/7. There are attentive staff who actually remember your name. That still BLOWS my mind every. single. cruise. I can barely keep my kids names straight and they memorize new names every. single. WEEK. Gold star to them.
Have an occasion that calls for creating special dessert? Maybe you’re celebrating a birthday, graduation, anniversary? Maybe it’s even Valentine’s Day (we don’t dare to not have dessert on heart day gasp)? Or heck maybe it’s because you just WANT chocolate. Whatever the occasion we’ve got a chocolate recipe for you to choose from. Our list includes: TARTS, MOUSSE, PUDDINGS, CAKES, CUPCAKES, COCKTAILS, BARS and even RAVIOLI. All have a little bit or a whole lot of one of our favorite ingredients: CHOCOLATE! I’m going to go ahead and tell you it’s probably not going to be easy decision if you’ve got a sweet tooth like mine that is. I would tell you I’m sorry but misery loves company you know.
Like almost every other child I know my kids go berserk for macaroni and cheese. They’d probably eat it every single day if I let them. I grew up eating traditional baked macaroni and cheese, let’s be honest it’s some kind of amazing but it’s a process, a timely process. Sometimes I just don’t have that kinda time on my hands when I’m faced with three fired up kids asking for mac and cheese please. Times like those call for a stove top version of macaroni and cheese that hits the spot.
If you’re gluten free you’re probably familiar with flour-less cakes and can sing their praises with the dessert choir. If you’re not familiar with gluten free desserts this might be new to you. You may even have your eyebrow raised and be thinking how can you make a cake without flour? You can, you really really can. Once you have a bite of one you’ll be singing the praises along with the rest of the choir. Flour-less is fantastic. Not convinced? How about if I told you the cake portion only takes 4 ingredients? 4 ingredients that are staples in most kitchens. You probably have everything you need.
Gluten free is looking good. Real good. If you’re looking for an easy peasy dessert you’ve found it. Chocolate mousse is quick and easy and honestly you can eat it by itself if you don’t want to take the extra step and make the crust. I’m not going to lie and say I haven’t. I kinda look forward to keeping the bowl, beaters and spatula to myself. What can I say, you know I have a wicked sweet tooth. I could tell you it’s quality control. Yeah, on second thought let’s go with that.
I believe in moderation. So since I’ve been a VERY good girl this week and put in the time with my workouts I’m rewarding myself with a tart. A raspberry Nutella frangipane topped with powdered sugar and pistachios (insert smile and sigh). I’m not going to eat the entire thing (although I could, I really could). If I did that, that would require me to be on the treadmill even more hours of the day than I already am and I’m so not willing to do that, which means one (okay maybe two) slices for me. You know for being so good and all.
Have I mentioned lately that one of my new favorite vegetables is cauliflower? ‘Tis true. I might have a problem considering I buy a head of it every time I’m at the market. Every. Single. Time. I kid you not. I guess there are worse things to be enamored with. 9/10 I roast it up with just a simple drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt, pepper and chili pepper flakes. Because spice is nice. I’ve also heard that spicy foods help to speed up your metabolism. I can use all the help I can get so woot. Winner winner roasted curried cauliflower soup dinner. Okay so maybe that doesn’t exactly rhyme but you know what I mean.