Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Breakfast Skillet

You're going to get picture overloaded with this one - I couldn't help it; I just think cast-iron skillet dishes are so PRETTY and with the gorgeous fresh blueberries on top? Pretty as a picture. :)

This is a dish I've had my eye on since I had Lynsey Lou's as my secret assignment for Secret Recipe Club - I love the idea of cooking up a breakfast skillet in my cast iron skillet with large fluffy biscuits, a cinnamon sugar topping and some perfect summery fruit.

It was really easy to put together, and I loved the cinnamon sugar with the biscuits - made it taste like cinnamon rolls (but SO much quicker and easier)!

The bursts of warm, fresh fruit were a wonderful contrast to the texture and flavor of the biscuits.

We served these with some bacon and scrambled eggs on the side for a warm, filling, tasty weekend breakfast!

Breakfast Skillet from Lynsey Lou's


For the Streusel Topping
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 TBS unsalted butter
1/2 TBS ground cinnamon

For the skillet cake
1 (12-ounce) can Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Buttermilk Biscuits
2 TBS unsalted butter
2 TBS brown sugar
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (sub other fruits if preferred)

  1. Preheat oven to 350.

For the Streusel Topping
  1. In a small bowl or food processor combine 4 tablespoons butter, granulated sugar and cinnamon. With a fork, mash the butter into the other ingredients until completely combined.

For the skillet cake
  1. Place a 12-inch cast iron skillet over low-medium heat. Place 2 tablespoons of butter and brown sugar in skillet and stir until butter is melted and ingredients are combined. Remove skillet from heat.
  2. Place biscuits in the pan (1 in the middle, the rest pressed around the outside edge). Sprinkle ¾ of the fruit over the biscuits. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture over the biscuits. Sprinkle the rest of the fruit over the sugar mixture. 
  3. Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes (mine was perfectly cooked at 30 minutes), until the biscuits are cooked and the sugar mixture has melted.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Cornbread Made with Coconut Oil

This was a lovely cornbread recipe we enjoyed a little while ago when I was going crazy making and photographing faceless recipes on AllRecipes!

The flavor was mild and lightly sweet, and it was a little crumbly, but with a crunchy top and very tender inside. We really, really liked this one!

Slice in half and add some butter and honey, and it's almost dessert... Perfect accompaniment to chili or beans and rice which is typically when we make cornbread in our house. There are also some super delicious sounding recipes out there that use cornbread croutons. This one is on my radar to make and enjoy soon!

Cornbread Made with Coconut Oil from Texaslady on AllRecipes

2 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  2. Stir milk and cornmeal together so the cornmeal is completely wet; let soak for 5 minutes.
  3. Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl with a whisk; add cornmeal mixture, eggs, and coconut oil and stir until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Soup

This recipe is delicious! I was introduced to it by Lauren at From Gate to Plate during the #10DaysofTailgate event I participated in last September. I pinned it and knew I needed to try it at some point. Soup is something I love to make, really enjoy eating, and I love how versatile and adaptable soup recipes are! I grew up in a home where my dad made a lot of "refrigerator purge" type soups - especially a chicken / turkey, veggie, rice soup that I remember well. Thick, comforting, chock full of delicious and hearty ingredients that would warm you from the inside out and leave you full and satisfied. Dad's soup always froze really well and reheated great too. Another huge plus for soups!

This particular soup is a cheeseburger variation on a more traditional potato soup base, and the addition of the ground beef alongside all that cheese and the potatoes makes for a rich, creamy, and hearty soup. The thick cut bacon adds a nice savory flavor and good texture. I love all the vegetables mixed throughout as well. It's just a great combination of flavors, textures, and ingredients. The cheese really thickens up the broth and it's a "stick to your ribs" kind of meal! Serve this with some crusty bread for sopping up all that goodness.

I really, really liked this recipe. My son ate this for dinner two days in a row (and came back for seconds of the leftovers)! That is always high praise for any meal at my house.

Lindsey wanted to get in on the action - what was mommy more interested in than her??! She wasn't, however, super interested in eating this one. Sigh. We are definitely in the land of super picky toddler eating habits.

Bacon Cheeseburger Potato Soup adapted from Gate To Plate

1 lb ground beef
4 slices thick cut bacon
1 small onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium / large celery stalks diced
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden lightly dried basil
1 teaspoon Gourmet Garden lightly dried parsley
3 TBS butter
4 cups chicken broth
2 large russet potatoes, diced into small chunks
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

  1. In a medium nonstick skillet brown the ground beef; drain and set aside.
  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, brown the bacon. Remove the crisped bacon with a slotted spoon and set on paper towels to drain. Leave the bacon grease in the saucepan.
  3. Saute the onion, carrots and celery in the bacon grease until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add in the broth, potatoes and cooked beef; bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  5. Meanwhile, wipe out the skillet you previously cooked the beef in. Melt the butter in the skillet and then whisk in the flour; cook and stir frequently for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly. Carefully whisk the milk into the flour / butter mixture until well combined and very smooth.
  6. Pour milk mixture into the soup, whisking to combine; bring to a boil and simmer for a couple minutes. Add in the cheese, stir until melted. Season with the basil, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Remove from the heat. Serve in bowls with bacon sprinkled on top and additional shredded cheese if desired.

Monday, June 22, 2015

#SecretRecipeClub ~ Chicken Taco Salad with Quesadilla Strips

Welcome to the June, Group D, reveal day for Secret Recipe Club! I hope you will take a moment to visit the Secret Recipe Club if you've never heard of it before - it is a wonderful group of food bloggers who are given a secret assignment of another member's blog each month and our goal is to pick ANYTHING from their blog to make and post about on our designated reveal day!

I have been a part of SRC for over two years now and LOVE the opportunity to get to know another blogger a little better each month by spending time browsing their blog, reading through their recipes and posts, and finding something perfect for my family from what they've shared.

For this month's assignment I was given Erin's blog, The Spiffy Cookie to work my way through. Erin is awesome - she recently received her PhD in Microbiology (that's Dr. Spiffy Cookie to you), and makes a point to cook and / or bake on an almost daily basis. Erin and I share a disinterest in making the same thing twice - there are too many new and exciting recipes out there yet to be cooked! You will find a tasty balance between healthy and indulgent on Erin's blog. Just don't invite Erin out for coffee (you'll find that on her dislike list), stick with cookies!

I have been seriously craving some summer salads lately and typically my family is not a big fan of salads for dinner, but I decided to make them "suffer" through. With that thought in mind I went straight to Erin's Salad Recipe Index. There I found a BBQ Chicken Salad with Cornbread Croutons, Homemade Olive Garden Salad and Dressing (my FAVORITE), Grilled Chicken Gyro Salad with Pita Croutons, a Crunchy Thai Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing (drool), Coconut Chicken Salad with Apricot Honey Mustard Vinaigrette, the Chicken Taco Salad with Quesadilla Strips, Chicken Salad with Grapes, Apple, and Pecans, and a Chick’amole Salad Sandwich!

My stomach was grumbling thinking through my options, what I thought my family would like best, and what I had ingredients for.

As you can see I opted for the Chicken Taco Salad - and my oh my was it summer salad perfection. The chicken is incredible - perfectly seasoned with a brightness from the lime juice; and the extras added to the dressing?? Ah-maz-ing! It is incredible how a few added ingredients can take normal store bought Ranch and turn it into something pretty special. I really didn't measure any of the ingredients, just eyeballed and adjusted as necessary using the recipe posted below as a guideline.

This salad is packed full of delicious fresh veggies and hearty protein. The quesadilla strips are a fantastic addition - look at all the goodies packed into this dish! We will definitely be enjoying this again - and certainly the marinated chicken in other dishes too, ok and maybe that dressing... yummm....

Chicken Taco Salad with Quesadilla Strips from The Spiffy Cookie
Makes 2 - 3 salads


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS lime juice
2 tsp minced garlic
2 TBS taco seasoning

Quesadilla Strips:
2 medium sized tortillas
4-oz shredded cheddar cheese (more or less to taste, feel free to mix and match cheeses to your personal preference)

2 TBS prepared Ranch dressing
2 TBS sour cream
1 TBS lime juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 TBS extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

4 cups lettuce, chopped (I used romaine)
1 ripe avocado, chopped
2/3 cup sweet corn (I used canned, drained)
1/2 large tomato, diced

  1. Combine the olive oil, lime juice, minced garlic, and taco seasoning in a resealable container; add chicken and toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours, tossing occasionally, if desired, to ensure chicken is evenly coated.
  2. When ready to make the salads, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Preheat a grill to medium / medium-high heat (make sure to clean and oil the grate before turning heat on). Cook chicken, flipping as needed, until cooked through (about 15 minutes). Set aside to cool slightly before slicing.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, take a medium sized nonstick skillet out and add a little olive oil or butter. Heat skillet over medium heat and add a tortilla, top with grated cheese and the second tortilla on top. Cook, flipping once or twice, until both sides are golden and cheese is melted, then remove from the skillet and slice into strips. 
  5. To make the salads, place desired amount of lettuce on a plate, sprinkle corn, avocado and tomato over the top. Top with sliced chicken and quesadilla slices, then drizzle with dressing.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Meal Plan ~ Week of June 22nd

Here is the next week of planned meals! I am having a good time going through my saved recipes and trying to mix and match them to achieve a balance of proteins, sides, flavors, etc. I've settled on the themes you see below for the various days of the week and am going to generally try to stick to them. International Tuesday was going to be Taco Tuesday, but I have too many Asian, Italian, and French dishes to name a few other cuisines) that I want to get around to!

Crock Pot Monday

International Tuesday

Wild Card Wednesday

Soup or Salad Thursday

Pizza Friday
Cheeseburger Pizza, Baked Mozzarella Sticks, Caesar or garden salad

Cook A Book Saturday
Sloppy Joes from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier

Copy Cat Sunday

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hot Baked Italian Sandwiches

These are tasty, easy, and have been on my "must eat" list lately - or some variation thereof. I've been on a salami and pepperoni kick. The last couple times I've ordered a sandwich out over the past few months it's been some version of Italian. I love the lightly spiced, hearty, and so flavorful combination of meats with some melty cheese and toasty bread. I had a version from Cosmic Dave's recently piled high with a homemade coleslaw that was DIVINE (and super messy). I am going to have to try to recreate that version sometime in the near future.

It has been a busy and hectic weekend at our place, and I needed something satisfying, quick, and easy and these fit the bill just perfectly.

The next time the urge for an Italian sandwich strikes, give this version a try - pile it high with your favorite toppings, dig in, and enjoy!

Hot Baked Italian Sandwiches adapted from Wonky Wonderful

4 hoagie rolls
12 slices salami
4 slices of ham lunch meat
16 pieces of pepperoni
4 slices provolone cheese
4 TBS butter softened
1 tsp Italian seasonings
1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
Optional toppings: shredded lettuce, sliced tomato, olives, etc.


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and arrange hoagie rolls on a baking sheet.
  2. Blend the softened butter together with the Italian seasoning and garlic powder in a small bowl. Spread desired amount of butter mixture on the inside of the bun (top and bottom).
  3. On the bottom half of each bun add half a slice of provolone, followed by 3 slices salami, 1 slice of lunch meat (cut in half to fit if needed), and 4 pieces of pepperoni. Top with remaining halves of provolone cheese. 
  4. Close up hoagies and place baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 8 minutes, or until sandwiches are toasted and cheese has melted. 
  5. Top with olives, shredded lettuce, and sliced tomatoes if desired.
  6. Serve warm.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Boiled Lobster Tails

 Kent and I were at the grocery store, I was talking about making taco salad for dinner. Then we walked past the seafood display. The lobster tails were calling my name. I don't know why - they just were. I've never, ever made lobster at home before, but we all love it. I mean, it's lobster. It's delicious!

(Don't you love to see the beautiful color change from pre-cooked, to cooked? Look at that gorgeous red!)

So, the incredibly cool, funny, nice guy behind the counter (named Sheldon) helped us wrap up three lobster tails, and 3 very nice steaks as well, and home we went.

Since I've never cooked lobster at home before I looked up a few methods for preparing. The oven was occupied, so I opted to boil them and the results were divine. Like seriously. When I first pulled the meat out of the tail and looked at how small each one was I whined about paying nearly $9.00 per piece. Then I finished my pictures, plated food and served. I took that first soft, buttery bite and took it ALL back. Yes, these are definitely only once-in-awhile treats but man oh man are they worth it. So rich, so incredibly flavorful and tender... mmmm.... drool.... I dipped mine in a little bit of melted butter and that was it. Lobster perfection.

Boiled Lobster Tails inspired by Victoria Haneveer

3 (thawed) lobster tails
1/2 tsp salt
water for boiling
2 TBS butter
Lemon wedges for serving, if desired

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add salt.
  2. Add lobster tails to the pot (they will most likely curl during boiling, so feel free to put a wooden skewer through them to keep them straight while cooking, and remove afterwards, if desired)
  3. Boil for 4 - 10 minutes depending on weight / size (my three tails were perfectly cooked at 8 minutes).
  4. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat in a small skillet (or microwave if desired).
  5. When tails are cooked (shells have changed color, and the meat is no longer glossy), remove from water and drain. Cut along the back of the shell in a straight line with kitchen shears, pry the sides apart and pull the meat up and out of the tail. You can close the tail up and leave the meat on top, or remove completely from the shell and serve.
  6. Serve with warm melted butter and lemon wedges on the side, if desired.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Weekends in a French Kitchen

You may have heard about "French Fridays with Dorie" - I actually just a week or so ago hopped over to the website hoping to jump on in and start participating (I just ordered a copy of her cook book). However, as I started browsing through I realized they were DONE!! They'd cooked the whole book and were saying their good-byes.

I said oh well, I guess I'll just work my way through my cookbooks on my own instead. I've just recently started focusing on meal planning again and one of my days of the week is dedicated to "Cook The Books" to pick one cook book recipe a week, from an actual hard copy cook book I have gracing the shelves in various locations of my home.

Then I just so happened to see "Weekends in a French Kitchen" pop up on Cam's blog... what's this??! I scurried over to read to see what Cam was up to... and oh my! A new group dedicated to cooking their way through not just one, but TWO french cook books!! Yes please!! I signed up right away, and ordered both books. Now to wait for them to arrive so I can dive on in.

I can't wait!! I love having a group to work my way through a recipe with, and love that we will be working our way through these cook books together. So much fun! I can't wait to get started!!

Hop over the website now and learn more about the Three French Hens and this awesome project!

If you want to join in, or just check out the books, I've added the links to them on amazon below:

#BundtBakers ~ Pink Lemon Pound Cake

#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest board right here. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient. Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.

This month our host is Anne of From My Sweet Heart and she chose the incredibly perfect lemon for our theme in June. I adore lemon in baked goods. How can you not?! It adds such a freshness, brightness, and perfect tartness to balance the sweetness in cakes, bars, cupcakes, even cookies! Beautiful, vibrant, and fresh - lemon is a fantastic theme for the month of June.

First of all, credit must be given to my adorably monstrous 16-year old (the kid has grown like 20 inches in the past year... ok, not quite. He's nearly 4 inches taller than me already - and he's not done growing yet though). He is the baker extraordinaire for this beauty! I have been attempting to bake this for the past week but one thing or another kept causing it to get bumped to "the next day"... well the next day turned into yesterday. Yesterday was absolutely have to make this right this second and try to get some pictures before all the light disappears after I get home from work!

So I emailed the recipe to Kent (who is home on summer break and enjoying his mostly lazy days at home), and said "help"?? He did, of course, because he's kind of awesome like that, and when I walked into the house this pretty cake was baking away in the oven.

This pound cake is absolutely fantastic. The texture is fascinating - almost crumbly / sandy, but somehow dense and it really stays together pretty well... it's soft but dense... I am confused on how to explain it, because it's got a dual personality it seems. Whatever the texture, it is YUMMY. It has a very subtle lemon flavor, and the bright lemon flavor of the glaze is a perfect complement.

The pretty pink color is absolutely beautiful too - this would be a perfect Easter cake or a lovely Valentine's Day dessert as well. The outside of the cake turns a golden brown, and then you cut in and find the very soft pale interior - perfect pastels!

See all the gorgeous LEMON Bundts shared this month! 

Pink Lemon Pound Cake from Smart School House


For the cake, you will need:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups of white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups of butter (softened)
1/3 cup of milk
6 eggs (3 egg whites & 3 full eggs)
2 tsp lemon extract
1 TBS grated lemon zest
4 lemons

Pink lemon glaze frosting:
1 1/2 cups of confectioner’s sugar
4 TBS lemon juice (more if needed to thin)
1 tiny drop of red food coloring

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 and spray Baker's Joy or grease your desired cake pan.
  2. In a small bowl, pour the milk over 1 TBS of lemon juice and let it sit for a few minutes.
  3. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder on low speed with an electric mixer.
  4. Add the softened butter, the lemon/milk mixture you made earlier, and 3 egg whites.
  5. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  6. Scrape down the sides, turn the mixer on high and let it mix for 2 whole minutes.
  7. Next, add the lemon extract and lemon zest (blend in at a medium speed).
  8. One by one, at a high mixing speed, add the 3 eggs with 30 seconds between each egg.
  9. Pour the cake batter into your Bundt pan and bake it for 50 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool in the pan on a baking rack for about an hour, and then gently run a spatula around the outside edges of the cake if needed, to help release it from the pan, and then turn the cake over carefully and allow to complete cooling on the baking rack.
  11. While your lemon pound cake is cooking, mix together the confectioner’s sugar with 4 TBS of lemon juice (more or less to reach your desired glaze thickness). Then add the tiny drop of red food coloring and mix until well blended and a pretty shade of pink. Drizzle this over your cooled lemon pound cake.