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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Dreamsicle Cookies

It’s that time again. Time for something sweet.

As a kid one of my favorite combinations was orange and vanilla. Still to this day I can’t decide if I want the dreamsicle ice cream pop or the strawberry shortcake ice cream pop (and I know you all know which ones I’m talking about). These cookies just made that choice so much easier.

I love these cookies. Dare I say they may even be my new favorite. I know, I know… big words, just eat one. You’ll know why.

I am proud to report they are also a huge success with Matt, our roommate, and my fellow work employees. Sharing is caring. The more I share, the less I eat myself…remember that when you make these yourself. But if you do say, ohhh I don’t know, eat these cookies for a whole meal, just remember that they have fruit in them. So technically they are healthy and you are merely just getting your daily dose of fruit.

I rest my case. Pass the cookies.

Dreamsicle Cookies

2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Butter, Softened
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Cup Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed
1 Large Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
Zest of 2 Oranges
1 3/4 Cup White Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until creamy.
4. Beat in egg and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated.
5. Gradually beat in flour mixture, being careful not to over mix.
6. Lastly, mix in orange zest and white chocolate chips.
7. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.
8. Scoop small amounts of dough (or roll into balls), and bake for 8-10 minutes or until just golden around the edges.
-I got 3 1/2 dozen cookies from this recipe both times I made them with my small cookie scoop.

**To insure you have chocolate chips in each cookie, toss them in flour before you drop them into your batter. That way they will stay incorporated in the batter and not fall to the bottom. 

Since I was already zesting the oranges I didn’t want to waste all the juice inside so I decided to make a glaze to drizzle over the cookies. No measurements, I just juiced one of the oranges and added powdered sugar until it was the consistency I wanted. Once I achieved that, I took a fork and drizzled it over the cookies. It gave them even more delicious orange flavor!

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Zesty Corn Muffins

I am sorry these weren't posted yesterday. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Matt and I are training for a race at the end of October. Since it's only a month away, training and trying to figure out how we will be making our costumes is consuming my life (that's right, I said costumes... who wouldn't want to get all their friends together and run a Halloween 10K dressd as Mario Kart's finest??) What's even better is not only do we get to sport awesome costumes and try to win the costume contest but we will be receiving medals and free Blue Moon beer.

So there is my confession, I go through the hell of training in Pittsburgh, hills (more like mountains) and all, for the medal and free beer. Oh... and also for the exercise and the great memories... I almost forgot that part. Back to the muffins, let's just consider them a form of carbo loading one month out.

I found this recipe while on one day and it instantly jumped out at me. If computers could talk, mine was screaming, "Make me tonight, and make me with chili!" And that is exactly what I did.

I honestly never thought making cornbread from scratch would be so easy. I was pleasantly surprised. These muffins put my normal Jiffy box cornbread muffins to shame. They were warm and not dry at all. Make Paula Deen proud and smoother these bad boys with butter and I promise they will be a flavor explosion in your mouth. The perfect complement to chili...or in my case, 2 by themselves before the chili was even done.

Zesty Corn Muffins (makes 12 muffins)
(adapted from Allison Eats)

1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Corn Meal
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 Eggs
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, Melted and Cooled
1 1/2 Cup Frozen Corn Kernels, Thawed and Drained
1/2 Cup Scallions, Chopped
1 Jalapeno, Diced (I used 2)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Grease and flour a 12 cup muffin pan, or use paper liners.
3. Combine all dry ingredients (the first 7) in a large bowl.
4. In a smaller bowl whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and melted butter.
5. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients until just moistened.
6. Fold in corn kernels, scallions, and diced jalapenos.
7. Divide batter evenly into muffin pan and cook for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out clean.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011


O my gosh… it’s not a chicken dish! Don’t get used to it, we eat a lot of chicken. And when I say a lot, I am actually surprised Matt hasn’t started sprouting out feathers. But anyways, back to the meal…

Now that football has started who doesn’t love a Sunday Funday? Ok… so it has been a long time since I spent my Sundays drinking at a pizza place, but I do love to sit and relax with Matt, get some stuff done that has been put off all week, and of course…watch football.

Since we had several errands to run today, I needed something that the longer it simmers, the better it tastes.

Fall.Football.Time to simmer? Helloooo Chili.

This is my go to chili recipe. What is so great about it is the fact that you can change it up and it still taste delicious. The perfect soup for a relaxing Sunday.


1 lb Ground Hamburger
1 Small Onion, Chopped
2 Cans Light Red Kidney Beans, Drained
3 Cans Diced Tomatoes
1 tbsp Chili Powder
1 tbsp Sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
Red Wine
Shredded Cheese

1. Brown hamburger and onions-drain.
2. Add spices, sugar, beans, and tomatoes. Stir.
3. Add red wine. I usually go around the pot 2-3 times. Maybe I even bring it to my mouth once, you'll never know.
4. Bring to a boil and simmer for a good half hour or longer. Stirring occasionally.
5. Serve with shredded cheese on top. (Matt also likes sour cream)

You are also going to want to make tomorrow’s muffins with this meal. Yummm.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Engagement Roast Chicken

I have decided to test my culinary skills and roast a chicken. Yes, a whole chicken… not the kind you find already cooked to perfection in the grocery store (which are delicious.)

As for the recipe, I decided to turn to my trusty friend, Ina Garten. And let me tell you something… she is a genius. I attempted her Engagement Roast Chicken (choosing this recipe had absolutely nothing to do with the name.)
(I don’t know why you don’t believe me...)

Now let me just tell you one thing about this chicken…DO NOT stick your hand into your chicken and expect the giblets to be in a nice little bag like some whole turkeys because that is NOT the case! I didn’t even take this chicken out to dinner before I gave him a full examination. You guys may be laughing now, but I felt very strange after this happened. I even had to call my mom and talk through my big “culinary” traumatic experience. 

By this point I wanted to put the uncooked chicken (and his parts) in the trash can, drive to the Giant Eagle and get a precooked chicken. Matt would never know the difference. But we digress and I moved on… it was round two. Chicken: 1. Stacy: 0. 
This round I went into with an open mind…and a glass of wine.

I am happy to report the rest of the dish is surprisingly easy. I didn’t have kitchen string so was unable to tie the legs together (hopefully I will have some the next time I attempt this dish) and I also learned, after the fact, that I roasted the entire bird upside down. Just consider me a “learn from my actions type of person” I will get it one day…

(for everyone reading... roast the chicken- breast side up, which I'm sure is common sense to everyone else... but you never know!)

Engagement Roast Chicken
(Adapted from Ina Garten)

1 (4 to 5 pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 lemons
1 whole head garlic, cut in 1/2 crosswise
Good olive oil
2 Spanish onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to
425°F. Remove and discard the chicken giblets. Pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Cut the lemons in quarters, place 2 quarters in the chicken along with the garlic and reserve the rest of the lemons.
3. Brush the outside of the chicken with olive oil and sprinkle
the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the chicken in a small (11 by 14-inch) roasting pan. (If the pan is too large, the onions will burn.)
4. Place the reserved lemons and the sliced onions in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon
of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Pour the mixture around the chicken in the pan.
5. Roast the chicken for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and a thigh.
6. Remove the chicken to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce, leaving the lemons and onions in the pan.
7. Place the pan on top of the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the wine and stir with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Add the stock and sprinkle on the flour, stirring constantly for a minute, until the sauce thickens. Add any juices that collect under the chicken.
8. Carve the chicken onto a platter and serve with the lemons, onions, and warm sauce.

The way this chicken tasted to the way it made our condo smell was absolutely amazing. I definitely proved to Matt (and myself) that I can excel the kitchen.

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chicken and Wild Rice

Sometimes home cooked meals just fix everything. Rough days at work, colds, the list goes on. And although every meal I make is technically homemade, I’m talking about comfort food, which in my case is a select group of recipes that my Mom has been making for my two brothers and me since we were kids. My Mom has been making this dish as long as I can remember and it was always one I most looked forward to. Chicken and Wild Rice has been around for weeknight dinners for birthdays, for college finals… it has been around for everything important in my 26 glorious years. Ok… that’s a bit of an exaggeration but you get the point. 

I. Love. This. Meal.

What’s even better… it’s a one-dish wonder that you can prepare, pop in the oven, and do something else for an hour and a half of your time… like read a book drink a glass (or 2) of wine.  

This time, I decided to make steamed spinach as a side. Every single time I steam spinach I am amazed by how much the stuff wilts down. For 3 people I used an entire bag of spinach and we BARELY had enough to go around. I don’t know how restaurants do it…

Chicken and Wild Rice
(Adapted from Sally Bielat's Kitchen)

1-3 Pounds Chicken Breast (depending on how many you are feeding)
1 Box Uncle Ben's Original Wild Rice
1 Stick Butter
1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 Can Water

1. Melt butter in dish- Spread wild rice and seasonings on top of butter.
2. Season chicken (salt, pepper, paprika, poultry seasoning) on both sides. Place on top of rice.
3. Mix together soup and water in separate bowl. Pour on top of chicken.
4. Bake at 325°F for 1 1/2 hours or 350°F for 1 hour.

Steamed Spinach

1 Bag Fresh Spinach
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic

1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and garlic. 
2. Add spinach. Keep an eye on this because it wilts down pretty fast. Toss occasionally. 
3. Serve hot.

So there you have it, Chicken and Wild Rice, Steam Spinach, Red Wine, and all things comfort. We even threw in a few post dinner games of Bananagrams (if you haven’t played this, go do it now.)

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Peach Pie

Matt’s Mom is coming to dinner and I wanted to pay tribute to her by making something she taught me to make. On my first birthday in Pittsburgh away from my family all I wanted to do was go to Mary’s house and have her famous strawberry pie (which is equally as good with blueberries). One of the most thoughtful birthday gifts I have ever gotten was when she bought me my own pie making ingredients (complete with the most perfect apron ever) and taught me how to make this heavenly pie.

Fall Candle- we meet again...

Now I bet you are wondering why, if this pie is so “delightful” (yeah, I know… corny) with strawberries or blueberries, I am blogging about a peach pie. Ever since I tried this pie all I thought in my head was how good this would be with peaches. The first time I tried this pie with peach was the week of my big brother (personal trainer) and sister-in-law’s (dietitian) wedding. I even got a B+ for effort trying to convince them that is was “fat free” and “sugar free.” Ok, more like an F… but that doesn’t matter because the speed in which this pie was consumed was quite impressive. I guess that means I wasn’t the only one who thought it was delicious.

Peach Pie
(Inspired by Mary Winkler’s Strawberry Pie)

1 Pie Crust (I am sorry to say that for this pie I used a store bought pie crust. I do have 2 recipes for pie crusts however, so if you are feeling extra culinary message me and I can give you them)

4 Large Fresh Peaches, peeled and diced
3/4 Cup Sugar
3 Heaping Tablespoons Cornstarch
2 Tablespoons Karo Syrup
1 Cup Water
3 Tablespoons Peach Jello (use dry from the package)

1. In a large sauce pan, using a wire whisk, mix together sugar, water, cornstarch, and Karo Syrup.
2. After those ingredients are mixed together, heat over medium high heat until mixture boils, thickens, and becomes clear. Keep stirring with whisk so it doesn’t burn!
3. Remove from heat and whisk in the 3 tablespoons of jello.
4. Put in filling in fridge to cool.
5. Do not add the berries until the mixture is cooled because it will make them too mushy.
6. When sauce is cool, add the cleaned and dried berries.
7. Refrigerate an hour or two before serving. Add whipped cream or Cool Whip just before serving.

A few notes and a disclaimer…
~If you would like to try this pie with strawberries or blueberries, use about a quart of fresh fruit and that flavor jello.
~The peaches are pretty juicy once diced so I put them on a plate and put a paper towel on top to try and dry them out some.
 **Now the disclaimer** When you put the filling in the fridge do not forget about it! The filling will harden and there is not much you can do with it after. Learn from my mistakes!

Enjoy! :) 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad

Some things just need to be copied. This Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad just happens to be one of those things. The cafe at my work offers this for one week every month and once you taste it you will realize why I had to take it upon myself to master this dish so I could eat it whenever I wanted. It's so simple to whip up as a lunch salad or a side dish for dinner, or in my case... an entire meal all in one sitting. Don't judge me.

I figured this would be the perfect dish to blog about today since Lauren, the supervisor of the cafe at work and 1/3 of our work happy hour wolfpack (who, I sadly report, has yet to make it to a happy hour after work) is counting down the hours until 4:00pm when she no longer has to wear black on black and serve people pastries all day long... at least not here.

Mediterranean Cous Cous Salad
(Inspired by Brioche Doree Cafe)

*Note: Since I had a staring contest with this dish to figure out all the ingredients in the recipe, I am letting you know how much of each ingredient I used. Since there are not true measurements, simply add as little or as much of each item that you would like!

1 Box Israeli Cous Cous 
3-4 Baby Carrots (Finely Diced)
1 1/2 Jalapenos (Finely Diced)
3-4 Green Onion (Sliced)
3/4 Cup Dried Apricot (Quartered)
1/2 Cup Fat Free Feta Cheese
12-15 Kalamata Olives
Olive Oil
Pepper to Taste

1. Cook Israeli Cous Cous according to box.
2. Prepare carrots, jalapenos, green onions, and apricots.
3. Once cous cous is done transfer to bowl and stick in fridge to cool completely.
4. Once cool, add all ingredients from step #2, feta cheese, and olives.
5. Drizzle whole salad with olive oil.(I go very light on this step so the salad is not too oily).
6. Add pepper to taste and toss whole salad together. Serve cold over mixed greens or by itself.

Enjoy! :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Some people think everything is better with bacon. Although I agree with that statement, I more so believe everything is better with hot sauce. Chili with hot sauce, Lays potato chips with hot sauce, eggs with hot sauce…they’re all fantastic. Matt (the boyfriend) sometimes doesn’t quite understand this. He will learn with time. I have faith in this. Along with my crazy obsession with hot sauce is an equal love for Mexican food. I could seriously eat it every day. I hope you are okay with that because there will be an abnormal amount of dishes inspired by the South of the Border on this blog.

Right now, easy is key. Let’s be serious…easy meals are practically always the answer. I’m a huge fan of the semi-homemade. I’ll admit it. Matt and I are training for a race and the meals I can prepare before our after-work run are the meals getting made. Not only is this dish extremely easy, it is so SO delicious. Thanks to my cousin, Cindy, this soup has traveled across the country and on to the tabletops of many!

Matt and I running the Virginia Beach Wicked 10K in 2010.

Chicken Tortilla Soup
(adapted from the kitchen of Cindy Fiester)

1 Cup Diced Onions
2-3 Cloves Crushed Garlic
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1- 16oz Can Fat Free Refried Beans
6 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1- 14.5oz Can Tomatoes (diced and undrained)
1 Can Black Beans (rinsed)
1 Can Corn (large or small can, your choice)
1-2 jalapenos (optional)
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro (I think I about quadrupled this amount, who doesn't love cilantro??)
1-2 Cups Cooked Chicken (optional if you don't eat meat)

Garnish Options
Hot Sauce
Tortilla Chips
Grated Cheese
Sour Cream

1. In a large sauce pan, saute onions and garlic in hot olive oil until tender.
2. Add refried beans, chicken broth, tomatoes, black beans, corn, jalapenos, and chicken. Mix well.
3. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes.
4. Stir in cilantro during last couple minutes.
5. Put chips in a bowl. Ladle soup on top and top with cheese.

Enjoy! :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chicken with Sweet Corn Salsa

 I have a secret to tell you. I am excited for fall. I am totally ready to embrace football, pumpkins, the changing leaves, fall scented candles, and eating endless amounts of candy corn. Yeah, I'm ready for it all. 
Although Pittsburgh has the most beautiful fall I have ever seen, it means winter is just around the corner. Even though I consider myself prepared for this winter (yes, I bought a real jacket this year), I still consider him my enemy. So, in honor of summer hitting the road, here's a dish that will help relive the hot months that will soon be missed.

Summer. Please. Don't. Go....Yet.

Chicken with Sweet Corn Salsa

2-3 Chicken Breasts
Taco Seasoning

2 Ears of Cooked Sweet Corn
1/2 Can Diced Green Chilies
Grape Tomatoes (about 12)
1/2 tbsp Honey
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Juice from 1 Lemon
Salt/Pepper to taste
Splash of Green Chili Juice

1. Whisk bottom 5 salsa ingredients together in a bowl. 
2. Cut corn off ears and grape tomatoes in half. Add corn, tomatoes, and chilies to dressing and let sit.
3. Rub taco seasoning on chicken and cook in skillet until done.

I served the chicken over brown rice and then spooned the salsa over everything. Yumm.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Let's Meet.

The other day I felt like I was watching a movie about my life. I was watching Julie and Julia for the first time and hearing Julia Childs say, “I enjoy shopping for food more than shopping for a dress” (or something like that) it was like she was me. I have people say I am crazy for finding my stress relief in the isles of the Giant Eagle Market District or the local Trader Joe's. It’s almost as good as Target… and it gets me in just as much trouble. Watching Julie struggle with her new move and monotonous job, I found myself relating to her as she finds her solace in the kitchen. It is at this moment that I had my epiphany. I love to cook. Trying new recipes and feeding my bottomless pit fantastic boyfriend is what makes me happy. So that is the story on how I got here, sharing my food and life experiences (whether good or bad) with you. I love to share (seriously, ask the people on my email thread) so I hope you enjoy also. Here it goes…