Wednesday, May 30, 2012
When I started planning for the Drumstick summer celebration from Monday's post, I decided on the menu immediately and was so excited! The theme was going to be a Mexican twist on summer barbecue favorites. It was, until I received the most recent issue of Cooking Light and saw the Cheddar Cheeseburger with Caramelized Shallots. These looked so good, I shifted the menu to a more traditional barbecue.
These burgers are delicious, garlicky, and combined with the sharp cheddar, caramelized shallots and arugula, all result in one amazing burger! I prepared the patties the night before, which helped intensify the garlic flavor. Since we're working with very lean beef, it is important not to overhandle the beef for the risk of it becoming tough/dry. Cooking Light shared a helpful tip for working with leaner ground beef: when mixing the garlic and beef, use a [silicone] spatula, instead of your hands, so the heat from your hands won't melt away the little fat there is. It worked quite well, and the result was a perfect "lean-er" burger. I enjoyed mine plain, while Mike and my dad enjoyed theirs with some ketchup.
With grilling season upon us, these Cheddar Cheeseburgers with Caramelized Shallots are definitely a must-make!
Monday, May 28, 2012
We have been enjoying unseasonably warm weather lately, which has put us all in summertime frame of mind. With summer comes lots of time with family and friends over barbecues and ice cream cones. Accordingly, we decided to celebrate the unofficial kick off to summer in all its glory, christen our new grill and try Nestle's Drumstick Pretzel Dipped Cones.
We had a busy day planned, so I wanted dinner to be a no-fuss classic summer menu. The low-maintenance menu for our perfect summer day included:
*Cheddar Cheese Burgers with Caramelized Shallots
*Grilled BBQ Chicken (recipe to follow)
*Baked Sweet Potato Rounds
*Drumstick Pretzel Dipped Cones
I was able to prepare the burgers, marinate the chicken, chop the veggies, and cut up the watermelon, all the night before. Thanks to Nestlé Drumstick, dessert was easy.
This left very little work to do the day-of, so we were able to enjoy our day of outdoor recreation, which included a trip to the park, blowing bubbles, and playing with Grandma and Grandpa.
Come dinnertime, grill master Mike grilled the chicken and burgers to perfection. The roasted broccoli and sweet potato rounds were delicious and healthy accompaniments to our dinner. We enjoyed every bite, and then it was time for dessert.
Once we opened the box of Drumsticks, that's when the magic happened.
Everybody started talking and reliving memories of Drumsticks. It was so fun to have different generations sharing memories of eating Drumsticks as kids.
These were the same old Drumsticks that we all remembered, except with pretzels in the chocolate coating instead of a peanut topping. We savored every last morsel from the chocolate-pretzel covered vanilla ice cream down to the chocolate at the bottom of the cone.
Our summer celebration went off without a hitch, from our activities to dinner to the magic of Drumsticks. With today being the unofficial start of summer, in the months to come, I hope that you get to enjoy many perfect summer days with many magic moments!
Disclosure: Nestlé has provided me with free product and other items in order to help with my review, but anything I receive from Nestlé does not affect my thoughts on its company or their products.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Cheese has always been one of my favorite foods. As a child I remember sneaking some cheese whenever my mom was in the kitchen, or simply grabbing a Kraft Single on my way out to play. I also remember my mom always made my brother a ham and cheese sandwich using Kraft Singles, but I liked my cheese plain. That is...until I discovered the grilled cheese sandwich. Melty cheese on bread? So simple yet so delicious!
When I went to college and had my own apartment, I started experimenting with grilled cheese sandwiches. It was around this time when I noticed Kraft Singles came in more varieties than American, and I was very excited to see they came in Swiss! I made a tasty little combo with a slice of cheddar, a slice of Swiss, some sauteed onions, all on multi-grain bread. Grilled cheese perfection every time. Oh...the memories!
That was all many years ago, yet my love for experimenting with grilled cheese sandwiches continues to this day. Mike and I like to mix it up with tomatoes, sunflower seeds, onions, bacon (for him)...really nothing too crazy, but always tasty. This time, I thought it would be fun to experiment with guacamole and make a Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
For a while now, I have had a recipe flagged for a grilled cheese made on the stove top and in the oven, without any butter. This sounded like the perfect method for the Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich. The result? Amazing! The stove-to-oven method gives the bread a crispy exterior without any frying or being greasy. The cheese is perfectly melted, and the guacamole can shine right through. This Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich is a fun and tasty twist on a childhood favorite.
Do you have childhood memories or a family story to share about Kraft Singles? You can share your story at https://www.facebook.com/KraftSingles. Put your story on the map and join the conversation about Kraft Singles!
Thursday, May 24, 2012
One of our favorite cuisines is Mexican, and an essential accompaniment is (of course) guacamole. For a while now, I have been saving recipes for guacamole and finally decided it was time to make my own. I wanted to give it with a healthy twist incorporating one of my favorite foods - enter Edamame Guacamole.
This guacamole did not disappoint. There are little flecks of edamame throughout, adding a protein and fiber boost. Along with the good fats from the avocado, this guacamole is a nutrition powerhouse. The combination of the onion, chile and salsa (I used medium) give this guacamole some zip without being overpowering. Below I listed the amounts that I used, but really everything can be adjusted to taste. It is such a flexible and forgiving recipe. This Edamame Guacamole tasted so fresh and delicious, I almost grabbed a bag of baked tortilla chips and some crudites and called it dinner. Almost....but I needed to save some for a special recipe that I will be sharing with you tomorrow. Edamame Guacamole meets an old childhood favorite!
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
S'mores are one of my favorite treats, so various s'more-inspired goodies are always popping up in our kitchen. These S'more Blondies have all the yummy goodness of a s'more in a delicious, layered bar cookie. The bottom layer is a soft and chewy graham blondie. The graham layer is topped with chocolate bars, which are then covered with a layer of marshmallow creme. A little reserved graham blondie dough is sprinkled over the marshmallow layer. They are quick and easy, and with no fire or twig required, these S'more Blondies are ideal for any potluck or picnic, rain or shine, or simply because you're craving a s'more!
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Herbed Goat Cheese Muffins are a savory, herb-y muffin stuffed with goat cheese. The muffins are almost biscuit-like in texture, and the goat cheese center is a delightful contrast with the green onions and herbs. These are very quick and easy to make and go well with your favorite salad or grilled chicken (or any grillable for that matter!).
Speaking of herbs, do you usually plant an herb garden? That is my plan for this weekend! It's always a tough decision, but I usually plant rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, and then whatever else looks good. What's in your herb garden?
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
This Cajun Chicken Pasta is an easy, one-pot stovetop dinner made with lots of vegetables and spicy chicken in a creamy sauce. The hands-on cooking time is around 20 minutes, which means with a little advance prep (chopping vegetables and chicken), this can easily be a weeknight dinner, or a quick dinner any time. The recipe is also easily halved to make dinner for 2.
I used this recipe from Southern Living for my inspiration, but made several modifications to lighten up the dish. For the cream sauce, I used fat free evaporated milk instead of half-and-half, and the result was great. It had a creamy texture without being heavy. I also eliminated the butter in favor of cooking spray and a small amount of olive oil for the vegetables. I reduced the amount of pasta and added more vegetables. There is a lot of flexibility with the vegetables to add more or change it up to use up what you have on hand. The result is a lighter version of Cajun Chicken Pasta that is simply delicious!
Thursday, May 10, 2012
The first time I made macaroni and cheese with smoked Gouda, it was really tasty, but there was something missing. The smoked Gouda wasn't as pronunced as I had hoped. So after experimenting with some seasoning, I found a little paprika was the key. It really brought out the smoked Gouda flavor. The broccoli was also a nice addition to this dish, giving a nutrition boost while adding some texture and color. One can never have too many mac 'n cheese recipes, and this version is definitely a keeper!
Monday, May 7, 2012
My initial impression of this No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie was that it's a perfect pie for summer. While I still believe that to be true, let's be honest. This pie is so amazingly delicious (and easy!) it should not be limited to any single season or occasion. This pie is the perfect any time pie!
We all know, some of the best desserts are quick and easy. This No-Bake Peanut Butter Pie is no exception. It can be whipped together in a matter of minutes, and then just popped in the freezer until time to serve. The texture is smooth and creamy, almost like an ice cream pie. The peanut butter flavor is nicely balanced with the COOL WHIP whipped topping and cream cheese. I halved the amount sugar from the original recipe, and the result was just the right amount of sweetness.
The recipe makes two pies, one for now, one to share, or to simply make ahead for later. It's great for a holiday, potluck or really any day. The ingredients will soon become pantry staples in my house (thanks to Mike!), so we can enjoy this any time pie...any time!
Friday, May 4, 2012
Baked Cayenne-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa is one of those dishes that combines very simple ingredients to make something versatile, classic and delicious. The spice rub is an easy way to add flavor to the chicken without any added fat or calories, keeping things nice and light.
The avocado salsa topping is also a combination of simple, fresh ingredients. The creamy avocado cools the spicy chicken, and the red onion complements everything quite nicely. While delicious as-is, I can also envision adding some black beans or corn to the salsa or served as a simple side.
The chicken can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake, and the recipe halves easily to serve dinner for two.
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
The dough is very simple to make and takes around 10 minutes. To make it easier to work with, I recommend refrigerating the dough for a couple hours (if you can wait overnight, even better).