Peanut Butter Cheesecake Dip

This is how it usually goes: I down a protein shake half asleep on my drive to work (my husband is the driver so I can be half asleep). I get to work a little more awake and disheveled (is it the weekend yet?) and try to get my morning tasks finished before my customer service line is set on fire. Around 11, I’m starving; like “I could eat that chocolate chip cookie I threw out on Friday because I have that much self control” hungry. So trying to be an adult, I usually come prepared with a snack to get me through to lunch. Sometimes, it’s edamame crackers with a kale yogurt dip (shout out to Trader Joe’s). Sometimes, it’s my Larabar I usually save for the afternoon slump. Sometimes, it’s a piece of fruit that is hopefully in season. But I still feel like the healthy snack idea well runs dry and then I become bored, hence the thrown away chocolate chip cookie. (more…)

Real talk. The holidays are upon us and as my heart grows bigger with excitement for the festivities to come so does my waste line if I’m not careful. In an attempt to dream up decadent holiday recipes, I also have to think of things to eat that aren’t as calorie filled. I know you understand this predicament and I am here to tell you we will get through this! I love apples and peanut butter for a snack but peanut butter’s serving size is itty bitty compared to my appetite in the morning. In this dip, we stretch out peanut butter’s peanut butteryness and make it more cheesecake like. I know you don’t have a problem with that. The best part is you can make this dip as healthful or decadent as you want but make sure you serve it with a yummy dipper! For me, it’s apples.

Our easy peasy ingredient line up:

Top to Bottom: Creamy peanut butter (or chunky if that’s your flow), greek yogurt, honey, cream cheese, and cinnamon.

We throw all of our ingredients into a mixing bowl and whip it! Whip it good! I mean, look at that dreaminess. You could add chocolate chips or nuts or dried fruit. Whatever you want. As for me and my house, we will serve it just as it is!

This dip is posing all pretty for you. That fluffiness is all I need! You can serve this for the holidays but I think it should be kept our little secret for those hangry snack attacks. Happy dip making!

BLTA “Spring” Rolls with 3 Dipping Sauces

I’ve been asked a lot lately what is the premise of my blog? Or rather, what kind of food do I make? These questions stump me because I haven’t really thought about it. I just blog about the things that matter to me most. I make food that I eat and think that you would enjoy. Does it need to be more than that? Maybe. But until then, I’m going to keep making meals that make us both feel special. Cool? Cool. If you need a theme to follow then these spring rolls are really going to throw you for a loop. Don’t worry! It will be fun! (more…)

I do have measurements for this recipe but the best part is…do what you want! How many times in life are you told to do that? Adjust to what you like: a little more avocado (always), a little less bacon (never). Whatever floats your boat! I will say make a few to practice with first. Things can get a little tricky but also can be easily mastered. As you can see with the ones I made, perfection isn’t the goal but yumminess is.  We ate these for dinner but they would be sublime as an appetizer or a fun snack!

Check out our ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: My grocery store had these adorable little lettuces but any salad mix would work too! Bean sprouts, red onion, heirloom tomatoes (because they were leftover from this), avocado, red pepper, rice paper, bacon (bow down), and asparagus. Can I tell you a secret? I cooked my asparagus in my bacon grease. I don’t believe in waste.

Rice paper is where this madness begins. Soak it and lay it onto a damp cloth. Most rice paper wrappers will have the directions on them. Let’s load up on the goodies! Don’t see your favorite veggie here? Add it! Are we getting carried away? Let’s roll that little guy.

We move onto our 3 dipping sauces. Why 3? Because I’m OCD and I like things in threes. You could totally do one or two. Take mayo, green chilies, garlic, pepper and salt. I know, I know. That’s a lot of mayo. Where is my greek yogurt/mayo combo? Well, when I make a sauce and put mayo in the title, I really mean it. Pulse that baby!

Another fun sauce is basil with sun dried tomatoes. Add a little extra virgin olive oil if it gets too thick. A pinch of pepper never hurt anyone here. Pulse.

Our avocado, lime, Sriacha sauce is exactly what it sounds like. I added the bright red Sriacha with the green avocado and pulsed together. Don’t be like me. Just pulse the avocado, lime, and a little greek yogurt to soften things up a bit. Drizzle with Sriacha once you have put the avocado sauce in a dish or else your pretty, ripe, green avocados turn a puke green. Sorry…

I love the playfulness of this dish. We use our hands to dip and enjoy. I’m sure this will be a fun change from the usual weeknight casserole or salad. The bacon is staring at you. Say hi! Happy “spring” roll making!

Al Pastor Pork Tacos with Piña Colada Slaw

I don’t know when putting coleslaw on top of my tacos became a thing at my house. Maybe it was an attempt to add veggies to the meal without being obvious? I really don’t know. But what I do know is that the taco/slaw combo is delicious and perfect for good summer eating. I love making a spicy taco then topping it with a slightly sweet, cooling coleslaw. The perfect combo. No, wait. Chocolate and peanut butter are the perfect combo but this one is close behind. I bet right about now you are wondering what Al Pastor means. Al Pastor is the process of slow cooking pork with dried chilis and pineapple juice. How simple is that? Plus, you can impress people by calling simple pork tacos Al Pastor. Are you impressed? Let’s kick off our Sunday shoes and put on our Taco Tuesday hats on Monday. Not confusing at all!
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Our tropical ingredient line up:

From Top Left: Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, garlic, a spice mixture of salt, chili pepper and dried oregano, lime, pineapple juice (try not to mix it with your coconut water and drink all of it), cilantro, tortillas, and pork shoulder.

We begin with our spicy rub for the pork! The colorful spice mixture is combined with our garlic. I’m a sucker for that deep chili powder color.

We take our dainty, not used to getting dirty paws and rub the mixture all over the pork. Let this sit for awhile. It will be worth it.

We pour our chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, pineapple juice, and lime juice on top of the pork. This pork is treated with the utmost respect and is slow cooked. It’s the right thing to do. You could throw this in your slow cooker and forget about it until dinner! Let’s shred that sucker!

Our ingredient line up for the coleslaw is as follows:

From Top Left: Coconut cream, sugar or honey, lime, greek yogurt, red onion, pineapple, and broc slaw because you know I love it!

Just take a whisk and combine the coconut milk, yogurt, lime juice, sugar/honey, and a pinch of salt. Coconut milk is not created equal unfortunately. I used Trader Joe’s Coconut Cream in a can. It’s incredibly thick and doesn’t have added sugars like other milks so be warned. You don’t want the added sugars and make this a dessert coleslaw. Yuck! Not to be graphic but look at that thick, creaminess!

We pour the coconut milk dressing over the slaw and mix. Taste for seasoning! The tacos are spicy but if you need more spice, save the cooking liquid and skim the fat. Dunk your shredded pork back into the liquid. I love this taco. All I need is a beach to eat it on! Feel me? Happy taco making!

Almond Apricot Chicken Salad

Chicken salad. It’s been around since before our parents were parents and their parents were parents. It’s constantly being reinvented into many different delicious combinations. Tarragon, apples, pecans, curry, and mayo-less are just a few of the newer renditions of the classic. Chicken salad appeals to the old and young; older people are reminded of their childhood, eating it between 2 slices of Wonderbread. Younger foodies are appealed by it’s inexpensive price tag and it’s endless options. I, for one, love chicken salad. I like to make a batch on Sunday and enjoy it for the next couple of days. I like it on toast, with crackers and apples, in lettuce wraps, and sometimes, straight out of the bowl with a fork (when no one is looking). (more…)

I was at a party a few months back and someone brought chicken salad as a snack. I couldn’t get over how genius and refreshingly vintage that was. For my house warming party last weekend, I decided to add it to my repertoire. I am always looking for new pairings for my beloved chicken salad and when I get the chance, I like to add fresh fruit. Apricots add a pleasant sweet note, while the almonds add a crunch and the dill is a good reminder it’s Summer. This salad is great with chips, in a lettuce wrap, or on your favorite sandwich bread. In this recipe, I show what kind of chicken I used but really use whatever you like. Rotisserie chicken is a great foundation for a stellar chicken salad!

Let’s check out our exhaustive ingredient line up:

From Top Left to Right: Sliced almonds, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, crushed garlic (fresh or jarred), cubed or shredded chicken, red onion, sugar, fresh apricots (have you tried these?), fresh dill, and white wine vinegar (not pictured but always in our hearts?).

This recipe might be hard for you. Just have patience with it. Ok, ready? Throw everything into a large mixing bowl and, um, mix! Taste for seasoning. A bit of salt and pepper are key here.

Chicken salad is light, easy, and great for the hot summer months (when are those coming, again?) I need to go rest after this tiresome and long post. Happy salad making!

Sweet Red Pepper Coleslaw

I had some left over roasted peppers that have been staring me down every time I opened my fridge but guiltily, I closed the door. I didn’t know what to do with them and I didn’t want them to know it. Then, it hit me: when in doubt, make a sauce! If I blend the peppers, they will disappear and leave behind a nice flavor and beautiful color. I think they were happy to leave that cold fridge! Personify much? Moving on… (more…)

As you can probably tell, I like my coleslaw. There are so many variations, it literally makes me go crazy. I just think there are few things better than a hot/cold combination. Chicken, hot off the skillet, paired with a cooling, creamy slaw, like I did here. Or tangy, smokey slow-cooked barbecue topped with a sweet, crunchy coleslaw.
After making my Summer Peach Barbecue Sauce and realizing the intense smokey, slightly spicy flavor needed a sweet contrast, I turned to this guy.

Let’s check out our ingredient line up! I did my usual greek yogurt/mayo combo, which makes for a thinner dressing. If you want a thicker dressing, add more mayo than yogurt. Or go nuts and add all mayo and no yogurt. You know yourself. Do what you like! And whatever you do, don’t regret using mayo. Ever.

From Top Left to Right:Shredded green cabbage, red onion, honey, lemon, garlic, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, roasted red peppers, and white wine vinegar. And no, that’s not make believe vinegar, it’s really there!

Here comes the most exhausting part: throw everything, except for the cabbage and red onion, into the blender and… wait for it…blend! I also chose to throw some lime basil in there last minute. Look at those adorable little leaves! You could also do regular basil if you feel so inclined. Don’t forget to season! Blend first then taste to see how much you need to add.

Put your cabbage and red onion in a mixing bowl. Drizzle with the dressing. Look at that light pink color! Purdy!

Toss everything together! This is a yummy side dish to any cook out or BBQ and you don’t feel carb guilty eating it. If you make the dressing with all mayo, it can make a great sandwich spread if you have any left over! Happy slaw making!

Antipasti Pasta Salad

How was your 4th of July? Mine surprisingly wasn’t hot and sticky but cool and crisp. I had a small shindig with family and of course, TONS of food (hence my post today). I know we are all coming off the carb loading train but in case you have another cookout or gathering soon, here is a fun spin on pasta salad. As you will learn, I love pasta. I love it hot with a meaty wine tomato sauce doused over it. I love it cold with a tangy, creamy dressing and all sorts of goodies cut up (dill pickles, anyone?). I also like to take a favorite and make it into something totally different and new. Aside from pasta, my favorite snack is antipasti. In case you were wondering, antipasti is an Italian appetizer of cured meats, cheeses, and marinated veggies. It’s a brilliant snack (or dinner), especially for hot summers. I combine my favorite aspects of a good pasta salad with the vinegary, saltiness of salami, mozzarella, and marinated artichokes. This pasta is perfect for a cookout or just a night in, hanging with friends. Either way, enjoy this sophisticated take on a barbecue classic.

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And our ingredient line up is:

From Top to Bottom: red wine vinegar, cooked to al dente penne pasta, dried oregano, fresh parsley, soppressata, mayo, garlic, greek yogurt, buffalo mozzarella, red onion, anchovies, and last but not least, marinated artichokes and roasted red peppers. Whew!

I know that seems like a lot of ingredients but the good news is most of them are being thrown into the blender to make our luscious sauce! We put into the blender our red wine vinegar, dried oregano, mayo, garlic, greek yogurt, and anchovies. Add a pinch of salt and a bigger pinch of black pepper. We are using a lot of vinegary and salty ingredients so make sure you don’t over season! Blend until nice and smooth. Taste the sauce once blended and figure out what you need to add. We are all about modifications here.

Blending our ingredients is the majority of the work needed for this recipe. But get those stirring arms ready because that’s what stands between us and this delicious pasta salad!
Put your pasta in a bowl (or be lazy and keep it in the pot you cooked it in) and pour the sauce over it. It’s best to add the sauce when the pasta is still warm so it can soak up all of the yummy flavors of the sauce. I try to be self aware and transparent so I apologize for the picture below. I’m still learning! You get the drift!

Once the sauce and pasta have cooled a little bit, add your mix ins! Choose your favorite antipasti ingredients, dice them, then just throw them in! I chose buffalo mozzarella (provolone would be fun), soppressata, marinated artichokes and roasted bell peppers, and fresh red onion. Toss until combined. Taste again for seasoning!

I had some left over and ate it straight from the bowl the next day (see, I am being transparent). Like most things. it’s even better the next day! What are some of your favorite pasta salad combos?

Balsamic Caesar Wedge Salad

Remember when eating salads meant you were on a diet? It didn’t matter what came on the salad, as long as it was a salad, you were eating healthy. I would be sitting there with my family and as they all ordered burgers and pasta, I would give a disappointed look to our waiter when he asked what I wanted to eat. “I’ll have the buffalo chicken salad with blue cheese dressing, I guess.” Wow! What a sacrifice! I was trying to lose weight and obviously choosing the calorie appropriate meal. I’ve come a long way in my salad eating repertoire and normally, I stick to the vinaigrettes. But when I’m craving something a little more decadent in a salad, I turn to this guy. I really enjoy salads in the summer: minimal cooking, crisp lettuce, a luscious dressing. This recipe is my favorite salad dressing. It’s a creamy Caesar, which I prefer over an oily one and it’s perfect for a weeknight meal or as a side dish. The iceberg wedge is drenched in tangy balsamic Caesar dressing and topped with crunchy, salty bacon. By roasting the tomatoes, their flavor is deeper and more sophisticated for a salad. Enjoy!

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Let’s check out our ingredient line up!

From Left to Right: Mayonnaise (always and forever), iceberg lettuce, greek yogurt, lemon, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, bacon, anchovies, garlic, and tomatoes. I used heirloom but any smallish tomato works!

We begin with our tomatoes! Put them on a sheet pan and toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them in the oven to roast for about 20-25 minutes. They will look like this gloriousness when they are done. Spell check didn’t like that I said gloriousness.

Next, we take our ingredients for the dressing: yogurt, mayo, balsamic, garlic (this is really garlicky so one clove might be your style), parmesan, anchovies, lemon, salt and pepper. And here comes the best part: we just throw it all into the blender! No pre-cutting or mincing! Genius! Just blend until smooth and creamy. I added some olive oil for flavor and to stretch the dressing a bit. Totally optional! Also, taste and adjust to what you like in a Caesar. Make sure you add plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

All we have left to do is assemble our salad! Put one of the wedges on a plate, drizzle with the dressing, top with crumbled bacon and roasted tomatoes. This salad is perfect along side grilled chicken or seared steak.

If you want to make this for a cookout this weekend, just put the dressing in a container and refrigerate until ready to serve. Easy peasy! I hope you guys have a great 4th of July; filled with good food, great company, and thankful reflections.

Steakhouse Potato Salad

I’m that person at a cookout who has a plate completely piled high with carby sides. Potato salad, macaroni salad, potato chips, and mac and cheese all make the cut with a measly hot dog clinging to the edge of my plate, begging for its life. Of course, the whole focus of a cookout is the protein because, duh, we’re at a cookout. But no one gets excited for a cookout if there isn’t a plastic cloth covered table, displaying the endless possibilities of sides. Mac and cheese dog anyone? I’ll save that for another day. This gem has been a “must make” for any cookout I go to for the last couple of years. I make it and I know I will be coming home with an empty bowl. This recipe is broken down into 3 easy steps: roasted potatoes, caramelized onions, and cheese. Don’t you wish all of life was this simple?

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Let’s check out our ingredient line up!

From Left to Right: We got olive oil, butter, garlic, yellow onion, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, red and white small potatoes, blue cheese, and parsley.

We will start with our potatoes. Depending on their size, quarter or halve them so they are all close to the same size. Place on a sheet pan.

Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix so everything is evenly covered and arrange them cut side down. Make sure they are all in one layer so they roast evenly. If your pan seems crowded, move the party to another sheet pan so the potatoes can roast and not steam. Put them in the hot oven and cook until fork tender; turning once during the cooking time.

As the potatoes cook, let’s start on the onions. Heat the butter in a medium sized skillet over medium low heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and pepper. We’re layering our seasoning, people! Cook onions until golden brown. Make sure you stir those onions every couple of minutes so they don’t burn! After onions are caramelized, add garlic and cook one more minute. Just a minute!

Add the balsamic vinegar and cook until reduced and thickened. about 2-3 minutes.

The last thing we need to assemble here is the blue cheese dressing. We take the mayonnaise, greek yogurt, dijon, blue cheese, parsley, and black pepper. They are placed in a bowl and simply stirred. Black pepper is key in this recipe since there is a lot of saltiness going on (I’m definitely not complaining). Let’s gather everything!

Grab a large serving bowl and combine potatoes, onions, and blue cheese dressing. Mix and taste for seasoning. THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE! Sprinkle parsley as the garnish.

Don’t you just want to plunge your face into that? Also, this potato salad is best served right away or at room temp. Once you put it in the fridge, it all goes downhill from there; the potatoes get weird. Trust me. Enjoy!