Newlyweds navigating their way through married life – and the kitchen

Monthly Archives: April 2012

Arugula Salad with Feta, Sweet Potato, Cranberry and Candied Pecans

Featured on TasteSpotting! #162959

My friend Ashley turned me onto this salad from Martha Stewart – and I feel like all the frying and desserting we’ve been doing lately, it was time for a salad.

When Ash made it, it was perfectly dressed, and I thought it was such a perfect combination of flavors – a roasted sweet potato that had been seasoned with salt and pepper to offset the sweetness of the potato, and the saltiness of the feta cheese (fat free at that!) contrasted really well with that peppery flavor that arugula has.  So it was a low-fat salad that packed a huge flavor punch!

So what did I do with it? Added more calories!  I loved this salad just as is, but I thought to add some added sweetness and crunch to it, that would just make it that much more amazing.  I love dried cranberries on any salad – and also,  have recently become a fan of candied nuts – and they’re so expensive in the stores! And it takes no time to make them yourself.

Arugula Salad with Feta, Sweet Potato, Cranberries and Candied Pecans

INGREDIENTS

1 box/bag of baby arugula

1 large sweet potato

1/2 cup whole pecans

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup cinnamon

1/2 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup fat free feta cheese (or more if you like)

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

1) For the sweet potatoes – preheat oven to 450 degrees and cut your sweet potatoes into 1″-1.5″ chunks.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet and toss in olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.  Cook for about 10 minutes until soft. Set aside.

Arugula Salad with Feta, Sweet Potato, Cranberry and Candied Pecans

2) For the candied pecans – place pecans in a medium saucepan and toast over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes.  Once the pecans have been toasted, add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and let melt to coat the pecans.  Mix the sugar and brown sugar together (or you can buy premixed cinnamon and sugar in the seasoning section) and coat the buttered pecans in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Set aside.

Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans

Candied Pecans

3) For the dressing – In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons oil, grated orange zest, orange juice, and white-wine vinegar; season with salt and pepper

4) Layer arugula, roasted sweet potatoes, cranberries,  candied pecans and then sprinkle top with crumbled feta cheese.  Use dressing to your liking.  I only like a little dressing, so I add mine on afterwards, but you could definitely pre-dress the arugula if that’s what you prefer.

This is a perfect late spring/almost summer salad for any occassion – and not too bad for you either! Thanks Ash! And Martha!


Cake pops are all the rage now – taking baked cake, crumbling it up into tiny pieces and then slapping a can of frosting in the mix, rolling into balls and putting it all on a stick – GENIUS!

I saw a version of this new fad on pinterest from Play Eat Grow, only these ladies added an extra, super fun step, and instead of placing the cake balls on a stick, they stuck them on an ice cream cone! Making a new, fun version of everyone’s favorite summer time treat.  I took one look and knew that I had to try them.  But I thought of making them a little differently by using brownies instead of cake.  I just love brownies – not that I don’t love cake – but how can you go wrong with chocolatey brownies rolled into a ball on top of an ice cream cone? You CAN’T!

Brownie Cake Cones

INGREDIENTS
(makes about 8 brownie cones)

1 Box of brownie mix, prepared according to instructions
(cake like style)

1 can of your favorite chocolate frosting

1 Box of sugar cones

1/2 bag of candy melts
*I got the melting discs that you can buy at A.C. Moore or Michaels but any melting chocolate will do

Colored non-pareils

1) Prepare the brownies according to the instructions, using the cake-like recipe (fudgey style brownies would be hard to crumble). After the brownies have cooked and cooled off, crumble them into small pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.

2) Add 1/3 of the can of frosting to the brownie crumbles and mix.  You can add frosting as you feel necessary.  Most cake pop recipes call for an entire can of frosting, but I thought that the brownies are naturally a little more ‘fudgey’ than cake, so a lot of frosting wasn’t entirely necessary, but you can use your discretion.

3) Take a handful of the brownie frosting mixture, so that when you go to roll the mixture into a ball, it fills the palm of your hand.  You want the balls to be large enough to fit in the sugar cones.  You can test beforehand to make sure they’re large enough.

4) After you have your brownie balls rolled, chill them in the refridgerator for about 20 minutes, just so that they will hold their shape.

5)  While the brownie balls are chilling, melt the chocolate melts over medium heat in a saucepan.

pink = PARTY!

6)  Take the brownie balls from the fridge and dip the bottom half of the ball in the chocolate and then place on the top of the cone so that the chocolate will fuse the brownie ball to the cone once it hardens.

7)  After the brownie ball has been ‘glued’ onto the cone, take a spatula and spread the chocolate over the rest of the brownie ball.  You could also take the cone and just dip it directly in the chocolate – I thought spreading it with the spatula helped to give more of a ‘drip’ effect, making it look more like ice cream.

8)  While the chocolate is still melted, dip the cone in the non-pareils.

9) Let the cones/chocolate harden in the make shift cone holder.

These honestly came out so much better than I pictured! The brownie was perfectly soft on the inside, and the chocolate and non-pareils on the outside really gave it a nice crunch – and it’s on a cone! How can you go wrong? You can’t get a funner or more delicious dessert! And the best part is that they won’t melt all over your hands 🙂

Enjoy!


Happy birthday Al!

Not only is it Thirsty Thursday, it’s Al’s birthday! In my group of gal pals from home, Al is the ‘baby’ of the group and on this Thirsty Thursday she is turning 28.  Ahhh I remember 28 – it was a good year.  The automobile was invented that year (haha just kidding – I’m not THAT old!)

To celebrate Al and the big 2-8, I’m havin’ the gals over for some food and drinks – it’s always nice to have a legitimate reason to have drinks on a Thursday night!

Now that it’s getting closer to summer time, I’m thinking of sangria.  I absolutely love sangria – I love that you can make it a zillion different ways, and with a zillion different combinations and it always seems to be a crowd pleaser with any group.  And these ladies are a great group that deserve a delicious Thursday night cocktail!

So tonight, I’m taking a stab at Peach Iced Tea Sangria – I feel as though this could turn out really well or really badly, since I can’t really picture the tea flavoring with sangria.  Welp here goes nothing!

Peach Iced Tea Sangria

INGREDIENTS

1  Box of Fish EyePinot Grigio
*
Or you could use 4 – 750ml. bottles of P.G., but nothing says classy like a box of wine

2 quart packets of Crystal Light Peach Iced Tea

8 cups of water

1 cup orange juice

1 cup Sweet Tea Vodka

1/3 cup simple syrup
*Cal friendly version – 8 packets splenda & 1/3 cup water)

Fruit of choice 
*I used grapes and green apples, but peaches and rasberries would probably be best – apparently they’re not in season just yet (although I did get my hands on some after I had already made the sangria)

1) Cut fruit and place in the bottom of a large beverage container with a spout.

2)  Add all ingredients and stir together.

A round of slap-the-bag anyone?

3) Place in the refrigerator and chill overnight (if possible – if not, for at least an hour or two – chilling is key in sangria making!)

4) Put some fruit in a glass and fill the remainder with the sangria.  Enjoy!

As I said, I think when making sangria, the amount of time you chill it is key.  When I first tested this before putting in the fridge, it tasted really boozey, and I was a little bit worried that it wasn’t going to taste good.  But, almost 24 hours later, this sangria no joke tasted just like Peach Iced Tea – you could barely even taste the wine and vodka! Which is AWESOME but dangerous, so drink with caution 🙂

Obviously, this recipe is for a large serving – bascially a doubled recipe of regular sangria, so for a smaller crowd, you could just cut it in half.

So cheers to Al!  And to birthdays!  And to tomorrow being friday!

 


Sorry for the crappy picture – I was starving – and you know how I get when I’m hungry!

Ground chicken is one ingredient we don’t use much of, but on a whim, I tossed it in the carriage at the store on our last trip.  And for some reason, grabbed it out of the freezer to defrost for dinner before leaving for work.  And then I got to work and thought “WTF am I gonna do with that chicken?”.  Embarking on a new ground meat journey, while exciting, is somewhat nerve racking.

Then I remembered that Dave and I get these Chile Lime Chicken Burgers from Trader Joe’s, and even though they’re frozen, they’re pretty good in a pinch, and also pretty easy on the hips too!  So I started browsing and looking up some chicken burger recipes and after taking bits and pieces from a few, and adding a few twists of my own, came up with what I thought would be the perfect Southwest Chicken Burger.

Southwest Chicken Burger 

INGREDIENTS

1 lb ground chicken

2/3 cup panko or plain bread crumbs

1/2 cup black beans, pureed

1/2 cup corn (or corn of 1 ear removed)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

1) Puree the black beans and corn together in a food processor (or if you don’t have an FP, you could just chop them finely with a knife.  They’re meant to add texture anyway so they don’t have to be super small)

2) Put the ground chicken, bread crumbs, black bean/corn mix, garlic, cumin, chili powder, juice of 1 lime in a large mixing bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and mix together – try not to over mix though.

3)  Form 4 patties (or 6 – if you make 4, they’re pretty large patties) – chill in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes so they’ll hold their shape.

4) Heat a grill or frying pan for a few minutes to let it get hot – then place the formed patties on the grill pan and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked through.

 5) Remove from grill pan, let sit for a minute or two, then place on a bun and enjoy!

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this little creation!  The flavors were awesome together, and the black beans and corn added a little something extra to crunch on.  Like I said before, I would probably actually make 6 patties instead of 4 next time – it was a LOT of burger and I’m they type that likes a somewhat even ratio of bun to meat when I’m eating a burger or sandwich even.

Dave had his with pepper jack cheese and I mixed a little ketchup and ranch dressing together and spread it over the top.  DELISH! And easy! And healthy! My three faves!


Another Tuesday gem for you guys – the most delicious onion rings this side of Burger King (I always really liked Burger King O.R’s UNTIL I had these!)

Tuesday nights I usually don’t get home from the gym until around 8, so Dave is usually nice enough to take care of dinner.  There’s a lot of things I love about Dave, heck that’s why I married him right? HOWEVER, one of the things I DON’T love is his tendency to start these intricate meals invovling numerous steps and ingredients 8 o’clock at night, leaving us eating dinner for what seems like breakfast. 

I don’t know about all of you but I get pretty grumpy when I’m hungry – and when I’ve just been at the gym, all I want when I get home is dinner ready and on the table, even if it’s sandpaper with peanut butter on it. So when I called Dave on my way home around 7:30, I was anticipating that he’d say “oh hello dear, how was the gym? I hope you’re starving because I have dinner hot and ready when you get home”  – Instead, he said “Actually, I’m on my way home from Market Basket right now – and I’m making pan seared scallops with fried vidalia onion rings and some sort of side dish with Kale”.  As I heaved a huge sigh and a stomach rumble, I started chewing on my fingers, knowing that this ambitious meal might not be eaten til’ sunrise.  I got pretty snappy with Dave, and having the patience of a saint, he replied in a calm, cool and collective manner  “You’re mean when you’re hungry”.

So I get home – the kitchen in shambles, being assured that we’d be eating by 8:30 (clock then reading 7:55) and I watched Dave shuffle around the kitchen with every pot, pan and kitchen tool that we own in use.  I think he was pretending like he was on Chopped (one of our favorite Food Network shows) – only the challenge was not to cook a meal in 1/2 hour and impress a panel of expert judges, but his ravenous wife who was giving him death stares as she shoved tortilla chips in her mouth.

I must say though, the dinner was worth the wait – and on the table by 8:46 p.m! Delcious seared scallops and sauteed Kale, which we had never had before, but both really loved – it retained a nice crunch, unlike spinach which can get soggy when you saute it.

But, the best part of the meal was by far the onion rings – O.M.G – now I know pretty much everything dipped and batter and fried is amazeballs, but these just tasted so good.  Sweet vidalia onions battered in an adaptaion of the batter we used for our Fish and Chips – delicious.  A great summer time (or any time) side dish! 

Beer Battered Vidalia Onion Rings

INGREDIENTS

Vegetable or Canola Oil

1 large Vidalia Onion, sliced into rings

3/4 cups of flour

1/4 cup of cornstarch

3 tsp of baking powder

1 cup of Lager beer (we used Victory Hop Devil)

Salt and pepper for seasoning

1) Fill a shallow pan 2/3 way full with oil and let heat for about 5-10 minutes, until you can see the oil rippling

2)  Mix flour, corn starch, baking powder and beer together in a mixing bowl.

3) Season the sliced onion rings with salt and pepper.

4) Place the seasoned rings in the batter and then drop in the hot oil.

5) Let the onion rings cook in the oil for 2-3 minutes, until they really start turning golden brown.  You don’t want to take them out too early because the onion won’t cook.  Don’t be nervous if you start to think they’re getting too brown – you want the onions to cook too.

6) Place onion rings on a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt.

7) Serve hot!

Unlike the Fish and Chips, we found that the onion rings were best when just placed in the wet batter, vs. dry then wet then dry again.  These were so tasty, you didn’t even need ketchup or a dipping sauce. 

So all’s well that ends well on a Tuesday night in the Schoon household – we didn’t file for divorce, we ate a delicous dinner before 9 o’clock and as an apology for being a crab apple, I did all the dishes 🙂

 


Sounds strange I know – but lately I’ve been loving goat cheese – it’s soft and creamy, delicous on crackers, similar to cream cheese but with a little bit of tanginess – all in all a great ingredient!

And then I thought of a way to incorporate it with dessert. 

My friend Maggie made these delicious little Nutella pockets a while back at one of our wine clubs.  And they were so yummy, and by the sounds of it, so easy to make! So I experimented with some ingredients to make a new spin on everyone’s favorite chinese food side, crab rangoons.  Only using brownie mix and goat cheese.  YUM!

Goat Cheese and Brownie Rangoons

INGREDIENTS

Vegetable oil

1/4 cup fresh goat cheese

1/4 cup fat free ricotta cheese

1 teaspoon confectioner sugar

3 tablespoons dry brownie mix, plus 2 tbsp for dusting

12 won ton wrappers

3 tbsp granulated sugar

egg white for basting

1) Combine the goat cheese, ricotta, confectioner sugar and brownie mix in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until creamed together.

2) Lay out the 12 won tons on a baking sheet – place 1/2 tbsp of the goat cheese/brownie mixture in the center of each won ton.

3) Baste the edges of the won ton with egg white and then fold won ton into a triangular shape, covering the mixture.

4) Take a fork and press the edges of the won ton together.

5) Take the two outside corners of the won ton triangle and pinch together.

6) Take the granulated sugar and remaining dry brownie mix and combine in a small bowl to form the sugar coating for the outside of the won ton.

7) Heat the vegetable oil on medium heat until hot (about 5-10 minutes – you could also bake these, I just think frying them in the oil gives them that extra crunch and flavor)

8) Drop each won ton into the hot oil for about a minute, removing when won ton starts to become golden brown.  Remove from oil and place on a paper towel lined plate.

 9) Sprinkle the hot won tons with the brownie/sugar mixture.

10) Serve hot/warm!

A perfect quick and easy dessert for your next function! You could probably use regular Ricotta cheese as well for a richer flavor (I just happened to have the fat free in the fridge) I’d recommend serving warm and if they happen to get cold, you could toss them in the oven or microwave to warm them up.

Who said cheese from goats couldn’t be delicious?

 


Sunday already? WTF! The weekends go by so fast – hate that.  Yesterday’s beautiful 70 degree day turned into a cold, raw and rainy yucky Sunday.  One of those days where you just want to stay on the couch, snuggled under a blanket all day, in the hopes that there’s a really good lifetime movie on, or maybe a Real Housewives marathon (well, that’s my idea of a good day anyway!)

On this Sunday afternoon, the Bruins are about to be eliminated from the playoffs.   And while I’ve removed myself from the living room because I can’t handle the stress, I can pretty much still tell exactly what is going on, thanks to Dave and his ‘commentating’.  One minute, I hear “YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH – WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO” and the ground is shaking as Dave jumps up and down in front of the t.v. like a little boy on x-mas morning who just opened a brand new x-box, or found out he’ s going to Disney World.  And then, what seems like only a few seconds later I hear “F$%@, F$%@, S$@&” every invective on the planet, and I’m prettttty sure that the capitals have just scored – just a hunch. 

So I decide that to get my mind off the game, and try to avoid my ear drums being blown out, I’m gonna make something delicious for dinner! I don’t know why, but I’ve had stuffed peppers in my head.  It’s a good day for something warm and hearty.  I’ve made this Bolognese Stuffed Pepper recipe from Allrecipes.com a few times before, and it is really good.  But tonight I wanted to try something a little different.   It was just last week that I made those delicious Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls , so I took the recipe for the Bolognese stuffed peppers, and swapped out all the ingredients with those that I thought would comprise the perfect Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Pepper – so here goes nothin! 

INGREDIENTS

4 Large bell peppers (I used orange, to be festive)

2 cups of cooked rice (brown or white)

1/2 lb boneless chicken (about 4-5 tenders or one large breast)

1 stalk of celery chopped

1 carrot, minced

3/4 cup frank’s hot sauce

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/3 cup ranch dressing

1/2 cup blue cheese

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) Slice chicken tenders into small pieces. Season with Salt and Pepper and cook over medium heat til’ cooked through.

3) Add celery and carrot and cook another 2 minutes.

4)  Add hot sauce, chicken broth and red pepper flakes.  Turn to low and simmer for about 10 minutes.

5)  After 10 minutes, add the ranch dressing, 1/2 of the blue cheese and the rice and simmer another 5-10 minutes or so, until liquid is absorbed.

6)  Place peppers in a shallow baking dish and fill with the buffalo chicken mixture.  Sprinkle top with remaining blue cheese.

7) Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

Not to pat myself on the back again but wow, these are really good!  I might have used a little less Frank’s next time, only because myself personally am kind of a wimp when it comes to hot stuff, but all the flavors worked really well together.  And the best thing about stuffed peppers is that it’s a complete meal all in one little bundle – you’ve got your veggie, your meat and your starch.

And we were finally able to exhale and enjoy these hot little numbers after the Bruins took the win in overtime – game 7 on Wednesday – wish the bruins, me and my ear drums luck!



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