Friday, May 24, 2013

{Nut-Free} Trail Mix Cookies

Am I the only one who can't believe it's Memorial Day Weekend? May has gone by so quickly!
Since summer is on our doorstep, I think it's a good time to share these cookies with you. I've been anxiously holding on to them, you see.

I made these at the same time as my Road Trip Chocolate Chip Cookies because they use the same cookie dough base. Those are fabulous, but we all (my accomplished taste-testers and I, that is) agreed that these are better.
And that's really saying something.

To me, summer means hiking and camping. Which means trail mix: Sweet, rich chocolate, chewy raisins, crunchy, nutty sunflower seeds, crisp and salty pretzels.
When I put together this recipe, I had my darling little nephews in mind. They have allergies to tree nuts, which meant I couldn't just throw your standard trail mix into the batter and go. Sunflower seeds have a nutty flavor, with none of the allergens involved with peanuts. If you don't have an allergy to consider, however, feel free to sub in chopped peanuts. Or whatever crunchy, salty nut your heart desires -- cashews and pistachios would also be lovely. Either way, you will be beyond pleased with these cookies.

Trail Mix Cookies

2 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) salted butter, melted (or browned!) and slightly cooled
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, at room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 c. M&M candies
1/3 c. coarsely chopped pretzels
1/4 c. raisins
1/4 c. shelled, roasted sunflower seeds or coarsely-chopped peanuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the butter and sugars until combined. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and stir until well mixed. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until a stiff dough forms. Gently fold in M&Ms, pretzels, raisins, and sunflower seeds/peanuts into the dough until evenly distributed.
Shape dough into walnut-sized balls (I use a cookie scoop), and place on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the edges are slightly brown. Be careful not to overbake.
Let cool for a few minutes on the pan before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sparkling Passion Tea Lemonade {Starbucks Copycat}

I have a weakness for sparkling water.
The first time I tasted it, it was an unwelcome surprise on a hot day in Europe, when I had no idea bottled water came any other way than flat. I'm not sure when, precisely, my mind went from revulsion to obsession, but it surely did. Oh, yes, it surely did.
I don't drink much soda anymore, just sparkling water. I love the subtle bubbliness, and try to add it to anything I can think of.

Like this Passion Tea Lemonade, for instance. It was instant love when I tried this drink at Starbucks last summer. It's refreshing beyond belief just the way it is, but I love to make it with sparkling water to feed my obsessive need for bubbles.

I don't know how to go about describing this drink to you. It's floral and herbal, fruity and a little exotic, tangy and sweet and crisp. I'm able to find TAZO teas in my local grocery store, but if you can't find it, you can substitute plain hibiscus tea. It won't be quite as magical, but it will still be awesome.

Sparkling Passion Tea Lemonade

1/2 c. sugar
2 1/2 c. water, divided
4 bags TAZO Passion tea
2 c. ice
1, 12 oz. can lemonade concentrate
2 quarts sparkling water or club soda (or tap water, if you don't care about effervescence), well chilled

In a small saucepan, combine 1/2 c. water and 1/2 c. sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until all sugar has dissolved. Set aside to cool completely. Then let chill in refrigerator until needed.
1n another saucepan, bring the remaining 2 c. of water to a boil. Remove from heat, and let tea bags steep in hot water for 3 minutes. Discard tea bags, and pour hot tea over ice. Stir in the lemonade concentrate. Let this mixture chill completely -- at least 2 hours, if not overnight.
If you are not using sparkling water, you can add tap water before chilling. If using sparkling water, wait to combine with tea mixture until ready to serve. When ready to serve combine tea mixture with chilled sparkling water or club soda, add sugar water mixture (called a simple syrup) to taste. Serve over ice, if desired.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Prawn Curry: Guest Post from Recipes from a Pantry

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Today I'm teaming up with fellow blogger Bintu, who writes at Recipes from a Pantry. She has a lot of great recipes on her site that utilize staples from the pantry for fast, fresh meals -- be sure to drop by and see what she has to offer! Today she's sharing her recipe for Prawn Curry. Personally, I cannot wait to give it a try!


Hi! I’m Bintu from Recipes From A Pantry and I’m delighted to be guest posting here today.

I love curries especially easy to cook ones that are ready in less than 30 minutes. Plus the fact
is that I loooooooove cinnamon, coconut milk and cardamom so combining these three in a
delicious dish is my idea of heaven.

This is one of my basic curry recipes and you can tweak to your heart's content. In fact I used
this base for a wild garlic and chickpea curry. So feel free to add in whatever is in your pantry or
in season for a fast, fresh curry. You can easily omit the chili if you don't want the heat.

So try this easy prawn curry recipe and don’t forget to leave a comment below to tell Kristyn
what you think.

Prawn Curry

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cardamom pods crushed
4 whole cloves
1 shard (stick) cinnamon
1 onion, finely chopped
2 (bell) peppers, chopped
2 tsp. minced ginger
1 mild red chili, deseeded and chopped
1 Tbsp. curry powder
400ml (1 3/4 c.) coconut milk
300g of cooked jumbo prawns
sugar or honey (optional)
Chopped coriander (cilantro) to serve

Heat oil in a pot, add in the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and stir fry for about 30 secs until fragrant.
Add in the onions, peppers ginger, chilli and 2 tbsp of water and cook until the onions are soft and the
water dried off.
Then add in the curry powder and stir fry for about 30 secs.
Pour in the coconut milk, mix well, bring to the boil and let the curry simmer for a few minutes.
Then add in the cooked prawns gently and let the curry simmer for another few mins before adjusting
seasoning and any sugar if using.
Take the curry of the heat and serve topped with fresh coriander and rice.

Serves 4.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Broiled Tilapia with Lemon Artichoke Pesto

This week is a "detox" week, having gorged ourselves on fast food on our recent road trip to the Redwoods. My toddler actually begged for "nugget" and "fry" on multiple occasions today. Multiple!

Honestly, just the thought of eating French fries right now is enough to send me in search of some veggies to crunch just to get the idea out of my head.

I've planned some light, mostly vegetarian and seafood dishes to get us through the withdrawals. Though we're not having it this week, this dish is one of my favorite ways to eat through the giant bags of tilapia I pick up at Costco. I love tilapia because it is quick-cooking and versatile. I picked up some lemon artichoke pesto from the store on a whim. It was so fabulous, but spendy. I knew I could recreate it for ever so much cheaper. All you need are a few things you probably already have in the pantry! (That is, if, like me, you have marinated artichokes in your pantry most of the time...)

It's a wonderful meal for a buy weeknight. The fish cooks in just a few minutes, and you will love the pesto. We've used the pesto in panini with chicken and fontina cheese -- delectable! I'm excited to find other ways to use it up.

Broiled Tilapia with Lemon Artichoke Pesto


for lemon artichoke pesto
6 oz. marinated artichokes
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
pinch red pepper flakes (I like Aleppo Pepper)
2 tsp. parsley flakes (or fresh parsley, chopped)
salt and pepper

oil as needed (olive, canola, or a blend you like)

4 tilapia fillets
lemon pepper seasoning
lemon wedges, for serving

In the bowl of a food processor, combine artichokes, parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse until finely chopped and well combined, about 10 pulses. Add oil as needed, mixing well either by hand or in the food processor, to loosen the mixture to an easily-spreadable consistency. Set aside.

Pat tilapia fillets dry with a paper towel. Coat evenly in a light layer of lemon pepper seasoning, and drizzle lightly with oil. Place on greased baking sheet under broiler set to high. Broil on one side for about 2 minutes, then gently turn over and continue to broil for another 2 minutes or so. Fish is done when fillets are opaque and flake easily when gently pulled with a fork.

When ready to serve, top each fillet with a good portion of artichoke pesto. Provide lemon wedges on the side, if desired.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cream Biscuits (For Strawberry Shortcake)

Twice a year (once in April and once in October), my church holds a General Conference. It's a time when we tune in to a broadcast of wonderful messages from church leaders. It runs for two days -- Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday night, there's a meeting just for the men, and we womenfolk get to play.

This was always one of my favorite times, particularly in the spring, because that's when my Mom and I would make Strawberry Shortcake. Mom would break out the Bisquick and make shortcakes while I sliced the strawberries. We would watch a movie (something girly that the boys would have rolled their eyes at) and wait impatiently for the boys to come home so we could eat!

Those are sweet memories for me -- times when I felt extra close to my Mom, and when we forged traditions together.

To this day, I still make Strawberry Shortcake during April Conference. But I never have Bisquick on hand, nor do I really want to start. But I loved the ease of preparation. These cream biscuits might have Bisquick beat for simplicity. They are so easy to make! It's a great recipe for a beginner, or to make with kids, who will enjoy patting out the dough and cutting it into shapes.

The resulting biscuit is tender and flaky -- perhaps a little more dense than a standard buttery biscuit, but I'll take the trade if I don't have to use my pastry cutter to cut in butter. (Can you say carpel tunnel?) Plus, they are nice and sturdy for holding all that fruity, whipped cream-y goodness!

Mother's Day is another time I associate with Strawberry Shortcake. And I have to say, I wouldn't mind having a plate of it myself this coming Sunday. And I know my mom would approve.

Happy Mothers Day!

PS: I'm linking up at the Weekend Potluck this week. Be sure to head over there to check out more fun recipes!

Cream Biscuits
from America's Test Kitchen

2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. -2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. heavy cream, divided
additional flour, for dusting

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, sugar (use 2 tsp. if using for a savory purpose, 2 Tbsp. if using in a dessert like shortcake), and salt. To this mixture, add 1 1/4 c. heavy cream. Stir with wooden spoon or spatula until a shaggy dough forms, about 30 seconds. Grab the dough out of the bowl and place it onto lightly-floured countertop or pastry mat, leaving any loose bits of dough and flour in the bowl. To the dry bits in the bowl, add remaining cream 1 Tbsp. at a time until moistened. Add this to the dough already on the counter, and knead together by hand lightly until just combined (only 30 seconds or so, if that). Pat out dough to about 1" thick. Cut into 8 squares, or use a floured cutter to punch out rounds or other shapes as desired. If using a cutter, be careful not to wiggle the cutter -- try to punch straight down and pull straight up. This will result in higher- rising biscuits.
If needed, pat together scraps and punch out more biscuits until all dough is used. If desired for shortcake, sprinkle tops with turbinado sugar.
Transfer biscuits to parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake at 425ยบ for 15 minutes, or until golden.

Makes 8

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Best Cooking Blogs for New Moms

I have quite a few friends who are new moms or who are about to be new moms, and I've been thinking about them lately, and musing about my own experiences in the early days of motherhood. It was overwhelming and intense, and one of the things I wished I had done was to have a better idea of how to manage my kitchen and my baby.

With that in mind, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite mom-centric food blogs.

Parenthood also resulted in me reevaluating the way I feed my family. The sites I've listed give a lot of food for thought on that score. I don't agree with all of it, and that's just fine. One of the things all moms must come to terms with is that there are a lot of opinions out there about how you should raise/feed/talk to/discipline/look at/breathe near your children. The only opinion that truly matters is yours. Forge your own path, and do it as fearlessly as you can. You are awesome!

There are lots of great blogs out there, and these are just a few of the ones I've found most helpful and delightful.

Some great recipes here, easily catergorized by "Nap-Friendliness" or "One-Handed Meals" you can eat while nursing or running after a toddler.

Lots of homemade baby food recipes and ideas for first foods at every stage of development. Also lots of video tutorials!

This has got to be one of my favorites. I love how fearlessly this family approaches feeding children. It's not all chicken nuggets and carrot sticks.

Just as the name implies, this site is great for families on the go. Squeezing dinner prep into even the shortest catnap starts to sound like a breeze! One to bookmark for sure.

I love this site all around. Great food, fun parenting ideas, awesome book recommendations. But the food is my favorite. (Surprise, surprise...)

Do any of you have favorite Mommy blogs to share? Leave a comment and tell us about it.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Guest Post: "Road Trip" Cookies

Hi guys! I'm delighted to be guest posting on Recipes from a Pantry today!
Pop on over to get the recipe for these awesome "Road Trip" Cookies, and while you're there, be sure to check out all the other fun things Bintu has up her sleeves -- it's a great site.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Salad Recipe Round-up

Just for fun, I thought I'd remind you, my dear internet peoples, about some of my favorite salads, since today is National Salad Day and all. And also because salad actually sounds really good about now -- I've been ogling them around the web all evening.

Here are some of the best I have to offer:

Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing

Asian Cabbage Salad

Tuna & Cannellini Bean Salad

Field Fresh Chopped Salad

Tortellini Caesar Salad

French Lentil Salad

Summer Chicken Salad

Hope you're having a great week, you salad-eaters, you!