Wednesday, December 07, 2016

#FoodieExtravaganza ~ Bangin' Breakfast Potatoes


The Foodie Extravaganza is a monthly party hosted by bloggers who love food! Each month we incorporate one main ingredient or theme into recipes to share with you. We take turns hosting and this month it's Lauren of Sew You Think You Can Cook. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook page Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you! If you’re a spectator looking for delicious tid-bits check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out HERE.

December 17th is National Maple Syrup Day and Lauren challenged us to bake with, cook with, or make a beverage with maple syrup. (For some international bloggers who can't find maple syrup, they'll be joining the fun with honey as a substitute.) And don't forget to check out all these other mapley recipes linked below!

I am so very glad I stumbled upon this recipe and gave it a try! It was one of those recipes that makes me thankful to have a food blog - groups like #FoodieExtravaganza allow me to give all those millions of recipes out there that have yet to make an appearance in my kitchen a try, one at a time. I have discovered some amazing, tasty dishes, because I was searching for a specific ingredient, or a theme, etc.

These potatoes are a wonderful combination of sweet and salty. You get crisped, tender potatoes, chewy, crispy, salty bacon, a touch of unique flavor with the old bay and garlic - and then the maple syrup. It sizzles beautifully when it hits the hot pan and sizzles into your dish, coating the potatoes with a light sticky sweetness that really sets off the savory components in this dish.

This batch makes enough for about 3 people as a main dish, and if it was served as a side alongside something scrambled eggs you could probably serve 4. I will definitely make these again! Old Bay is an underused seasoning in my kitchen, so I was happy to have a chance to get that jar out and put it to good use!

See all the maple syrup inspired goodies here:

Bangin' Breakfast Potatoes adapted from Vodka and Biscuits

3 medium potatoes, skin on, diced small
1-2 TBS olive oil, more if needed
2 thick cut pieces of bacon, diced small
2 tsp minced garlic
1 TBS pure maple syrup
salt (appx. 1/4 tsp, more / less to taste)
pepper (appx. 1/4 tsp, more / less to taste)
Old Bay (appx. 1/4 tsp, more / less to taste)

  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Tilt the skillet so the oil spreads evenly.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add diced potatoes to the skillet. Season with salt, pepper, and Old Bay as desired.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring the potatoes frequently until evenly browned. If needed, add additional oil to the pan.
  4. Add the diced bacon to the potatoes. The bacon will start to render and the fat will begin to further cook the potatoes. Stir frequently, allowing the bacon to render and crisp (approximately 6 minutes). 
  5. Once the bacon is cooked, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the minced garlic and toss to combine. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Let the garlic cook until fragrant, about one minute.
  6. Just before serving, drizzle over the maple syrup and toss. Let that cook another minute to allow the maple syrup to caramelize and coat the potatoes evenly. 
  7. Serve immediately with a fried egg on top, if desired.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

One-Pan Creamy Lemon Pasta with Chicken and Asparagus

This was a very tasty pasta dish we enjoyed recently. Creamy, tangy, fresh, and satisfying. I love the combination of lemon, chicken, and asparagus. You just can't beat it! This meal goes well with a fresh salad and some crusty bread, or stands alone very well too.

Can I just take a minute and say how the heck is it December already??! I just can't seem to wrap my head around how fast the days are flying by. I am watching the New Year looming on the horizon and am shocked and excited that it's time for another year to arrive. We will be visiting our family in Washington state for the Christmas holiday - it will be a very short trip but one I'm very much looking forward to. I haven't taken Lindsey to Washington since she was 9 months old, and she'll be close to 3 1/2 by the time of the trip. There have been some health issues with some of our family members and it's time for a visit and a chance to hug a few necks we've all been missing. No one, except for my dad and step mom who flew down to visit a year ago, has seen Kent since his stroke a year ago either and it will be a little bit nerve wracking travelling for the first time since that event, but I'm hopeful things will go smoothly. It is just THREE WEEKS until Christmas!!

One-Pan Creamy Lemon Pasta with Chicken and Asparagus adapted from Cooking Classy

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 TBS butter
1 TBS minced garlic
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
1 3/4 cups water
10 oz. penne pasta
1 lb. thin stalks asparagus, tough ends trimmed, remaining diced into 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 TBS fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

  1. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until golden brown on bottom, about 4 minutes then rotate and cook until cooked through, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a sheet of foil and wrap to keep warm, set aside.
  2. Melt butter in now empty skillet, add garlic and saute 20 seconds then and broth and water, while stirring to loosen any browned bites from bottom of pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil, then add pasta. Cover and allow to boil until fairly tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 - 9 minutes. Sprinkle asparagus over top (don't stir), cover and allow to boil 4 - 5 minutes longer until asparagus and pasta are tender (note that there should be some broth/water left even once it's finished cooking, this will be part of the sauce. If needed you can add more broth). Add in cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and lemon zest and stir until melted. Stir in chicken. Remove from heat, cover and let rest a few minutes if desired to allow sauce to thicken slightly and soak into pasta. Sprinkle with parsley if desired, serve warm.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Lasagna Soup

I was working on recipes that incorporated canned tomatoes, and ended up making this recipe twice within about a 1-week span because I liked it so much! All the flavors of lasagna, but the convenience of one big pot and no layering. It is warm, cozy, and so comforting for a cool evening.

Serve this up with some soft garlic bread sticks and that would be extra amazing! It is nice to have some bread to sop up the tomatoey broth at the end. I really, really enjoyed this recipe - and as with most recipes it's easily tweaked to your personal tastes and preferences. I used a lot of seasoning and enjoyed the rich flavors, but you could scale back or add more / less of your favorites to taste.

Lasagna Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 med. onion, diced
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 TBS minced garlic
2 15-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 small tomato, diced
2 TBS tomato paste
4 cups vegetable broth
1 TBS dried Italian seasonings
1 TBS dried parsley
1 TBS dried basil
¼ tsp garlic salt (or powder if preferred)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups spaghetti sauce
9 lasagna noodles, parboiled and cut into bite sized pieces
About 1 cup shredded mozzarella


  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat cook the ground beef with the onion, garlic, salt, and pepper - breaking up the ground beef as it cooks. Drain if desired (I didn’t).
  2. Stir in tomato paste, vegetable broth, canned and fresh tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, and remaining seasonings, and parboiled noodles. Bring soup up to a simmer and let it simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes or until flavors have blended and the noodles are cooked through. Taste test, adjust if needed. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
  3. Pour soup into bowls and top with a sprinkling of shredded mozzarella.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Creamy Shrimp with Zucchini

After all the heavy thanksgiving goodies last month we were craving something a little different - and shrimp sounded good - especially combined with the zucchini I had in the fridge in need of a home. I did a couple searches to get some ideas, knowing I wanted some form of creamy sauce and voila! This recipe was born.

The sauce is rich, creamy, and just lightly parmesan flavored - you can always up the cheese content if you want a stronger flavor, or sprinkle additional cheese on top. There is a nice hearty bed of vegetables which I loved the most about this dish. The zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms work nicely together for good flavor, color, and texture. Overall I found this dish to be rich, satisfying, and perfectly comforting for a cool evening - and doable for a work night which is always a huge plus!

Creamy Shrimp with Zucchini inspired by Julia's Album

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound shrimp without shells, deveined (thawed if frozen)
1 TBS minced garlic
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 medium zucchini, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk
1/2 TBS cornstarch
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 cup Mozzarella cheese, shredded


  1. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. When hot, add shrimp and cook for a couple minutes per side, or until pink (they don't have to be cooked all the way through). Remove shrimp from skillet and set aside. Add in the vegetables (mushrooms, bell pepper, and zucchini), along with the garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and paprika. Stir occasionally until vegetables are cooked through to your preference (approximately 10 - 15 minutes).
  2. Combine the whipping cream, milk and cornstarch in a bowl and whisk to blend. Add the shrimp back to the skillet, then stir in the milk mixture. Bring to a low simmer, stirring occasionally, simmer for about 60 seconds until mixture begins to thicken and then add in the cheeses.
  3. Stir gently until mixture combines. If it's not thick enough, allow to simmer for a couple minutes. Taste test, adjust seasonings and / or cheese if needed.
  4. Serve over rice or pasta as preferred. 

Thursday, December 01, 2016

#FillTheCookieJar ~ Snowball Cookies

Welcome to the Fill the Cookie Jar blogger group! This month we were given the theme of "Christmas" for December, getting us all in the baking spirit. There are endless options as a Christmas cookie means a lot of different things to different people. Family traditions, certain ingredients, smells, scents, shapes, etc.

I decided to go the "Snowball Cookie" route - although mine didn't hold their shape  when baked. I think my dough was a little bit too wet, so increased the amount of flour in the recipe below. The filling is also "to taste" / at your discretion. I thought the amounts suggested in the original recipe were way too much based on the cookies I made. The flavor and texture was lovely in these cookies. So soft and tender, filled with sweet jam and a little bit of crunch from a sprinkle of pecan. The dough itself isn't very sweet, so the powdered sugar adds just the right touch of sweetness to these tasty cookies.

Snowball Cookies from My San Francisco Kitchen

½ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup powdered sugar, plus extra for coating
1 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon milk
2 TBS chopped pecans
2 TBS strawberry jam

  1. Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar in a standalone mixer on medium speed, then add the vanilla.
  2. Whisk flour and salt in a separate bowl, and add slowly to mixer.
  3. Once blended, add the milk.
  4. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 ºF.
  6. Once chilled, break off 2-inch pieces of dough with your hands.
  7. Massage into a ball by using your hands and rolling between your palms.
  8. Slice each ball in half.
  9. Using your thumbs, make an indentation in the center of each half.
  10. Add a dollop of jam and sprinkle of nuts to each half, then carefully press back together and pinch the seam with your index finger and thumb all around the ball.
  11. Gently roll the ball with your hands to smooth out the ball.
  12. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
  13. Transfer to a cooling rack, then coat each ball with powdered sugar by rolling them around in a shallow bowl.
  14. Cool for 30 minutes, then roll in the powdered sugar for a second coat (if desired).

Monday, November 28, 2016

#MuffinMonday ~ Chocolate Banana Crinkle Muffins

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.

These chocolate banana muffin treats are yummy!! They seem to me to be some mix of chocolate cake and brownie in texture and flavor, with a touch of banana flavor blended in. The texture is light, moist, tender, and rich, with a crispy sugared topping and lovely gooey bites of chocolate chips blended in. I used my square pampered chef pan, which I've totally fallen in love with. I love how easily muffins (and other treats) slide in and out of that pan! If you like the flavors of chocolate and banana together, these muffins are definitely worth a try. Although I have a hard time justifying these as anything other than dessert - but nonetheless they are muffins and have bananas in them, so that totally counts as breakfast-worthy I believe!

Check out all your November 2016 Muffin inspiration here:

Chocolate Banana Crinkle Muffins adapted from Averie Cooks

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
topping: about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar for each muffin, for sprinkling

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer blend the bananas until well mashed. Add in the vegetable oil, sour cream, vanilla extract, and egg. Blend until well combined.
  4. Gently stir in the dry ingredients just until combined.
  5. Stir in the mini chocolate chips by hand.
  6. Prepare your muffin tin by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. 
  7. Distribute the batter into 13 - 14 total standard sized muffin wells (use a regular pan with 12 wells, and distribute the remaining batter into a mini loaf pan, mini muffin tin, use a couple stand alone silicone muffin molds, second standard sized muffin tin, or discard as preferred). The wells should be approximately 3/4 full. 
  8. Sprinkle the regular sized muffins with 3/4 - 1 tsp sugar each for the crackled topping.
  9. Bake for 22-25 minutes for regular sized muffins, and 10 minutes if using a mini muffin tin. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

#CrazyIngredientChallenge ~ Garlic, Bacon, Beer Mac 'N Cheese

Join the Crazy Ingredient Challenge group for the November reveal day pairing Cornflakes with Beer! This fun group pairs two seemingly unlikely to mix and match ingredients together and says "GO"! You can make whatever you want as long as those two key items are included. Pop by the facebook page and check it out!

This recipe is really delicious! The flavor is deep and rich thanks to the addition of the dark beer and also the sharp cheddar cheese spread. The bacon adds a lovely salty smokiness and the butter drenched cornflakes a rich and crunchy topping. This is definitely a keeper, and reheats well too!

Garlic, Bacon, Beer Mac 'N Cheese adapted from Erica's Recipes 

6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled, divided
4 TBS butter, divided
3 TBS all-purpose flour
1 TBS minced garlic
2 cups milk
3/4 cup stout beer (such as Guinness)
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese spread (available in the dairy aisle)
8 oz elbow macaroni
1/2 cup crushed cornflakes

  1. Heat oven to 350F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 3 TBS butter with the flour over medium heat, whisking until bubbly. Cook 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Slowly whisk in the the milk and beer. Heat, stirring constantly, a couple minutes until quite warm but not boiling (should thicken up at this point). Reduce heat to medium-low, add both cheeses, salt, and pepper, and cook, whisking, until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in half the bacon.
  3. Cook the macaroni to al dente according to package directions in salted water. Drain and add to the cheese sauce. Transfer to a 2-qt baking dish.
  4. In a small saucepan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the crushed cornflakes and remaining bacon. Sprinkle over the macaroni. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes until bubbly.