Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Best Nachos I've Ever Made

This may be the last post for awhile, but I couldn't stop my recipe overload without sharing this one.

These Nachos are easy and so SO yummy.

So yummy that when I made them for our family soup fest awhile back, they were all but eaten before the soup fest even started.  That's because We started a bit late (as usual) and Nachos are really best eaten right when they are ready. So, those who snoozed (and were polite enough to wait for the blessing on the food) loozed.

quirky nachos photo IMG_0569.jpg
By the time I remembered to take a picture, this was all that was left.
But never fear--now you can make them yourself. Go ahead! Try this at home!

The Best Nachos I’ve Ever Made
(Campbells Deliciously Easy Recipes)

1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
 cup salsa
1 bag (10 oz) tortilla chips
Chopped tomato, sliced green onions, sliced olives, and diced avocados

Combine soup and salsa in saucepan.  Cook over medium heat until hot and bubbling, stirring occasionally. 

Arrange tortilla chips evenly on serving platter.  Spoon sauce over chip.  Top with tomato, onions, olives, and avocados. 

Serves 6 (appetizer size servings)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

the staff of life

Sometimes, when I'm making the ubiquitous (around our house at least) Peasant Bread, instead of forming them into circular rounds, I roll half of the dough into "sticks" and put them in these pans.

quirky bread photo IMG_0698.jpg

These pans belonged to my grandmother*. She had like six or seven of them (maybe more), and once a week or so, she'd get out her KitchenAid and make a big batch of bread, usually several loafs and/or a whole bunch of bread sticks. She'd rip those sticks into smaller bits and we'd eat them with Sunday dinner when we were visiting their Salt Lake home. I grew up thinking of them as grandma's version of rolls.

I remember at her funeral, someone (her Bishop maybe?) spoke about how Jean Willis was always showing up at people's houses with bread sticks to spread comfort, healing, or love.

When my aunts and uncles divvied up my grandparent's possessions, my mom ended up with a bunch of these tins, and she gave each of the daughters and daughters-in-law a set for Christmas that year. I'll admit, there are times when I forget that I have them, but sooner or later they make their way up to the front of my cupboard, and then they make their way to the counter, and into the oven.

And as I fill them with delicious dough, I think of my grandma.

* * *

And now for a helpful hint:

Over the Christmas break, when we were hanging out with family, we decided to get all of us together for the evening. Now that we're a big group, if we're going to be together over a mealtime it can take a little bit of planning to get us all fed. We decided on soup, and Krista whipped up these breadsticks like she was born to do it.

She used this recipe from Our Best Bites, and just skipped the twisting bit.

quirky bread photo IMG_0570.jpg

They were delicious.

Absolutely, mouthwateringly, smile enticingly delicious.

*Actually, according to my mom, the tins originally belonged to my Great-Grandmother, Lucy Grant Cannon, and she had had them specially made by a local tinsmith back in the day.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Grinches and Santas and Monsters--a recipe post with a rambling story preceding it (shocker, I know)

So, way back in August, I signed up to be one of the room moms for my daughter's kindergarten class Christmas party, along with two other moms. As the party date grew nearer, and on the advice of the teacher (who I adore), we decided that we would have three different activity stations, followed by a snack.  I did the snack and one activity station.

For the snack, we had grinch hat snacks--basically small fruit kabobs, put together so as to resemble a grinch head in a Santa hat.

quirky grinch photo F94864D7-038A-4F3C-B72D-643D90561651.jpg

We let the kids assemble them themselves, and I didn't get pictures, so I lifted this shot from allrecipes.com

For my activity, I led the kids in an old favorite "Don't Eat Santa!" (a/k/a don't eat Pete). I got my game board from a site run by my old college friend, Kara, here.

The game went well, except that some of the kids kept trying to sneak M&M's when it wasn't their turn. By the third (and final) group I finally wised up and told them kindly but firmly, that if I caught any of them sneaking even one M&M, that that person would lose their turn to "eat Santa", which would mean that they would be trading the possibility of getting NINE whole M&M's for the risky chance of getting one or two. Funny, that group didn't sneak a single candy. Were they just more well-behaved kids, or did my warning had an effect? I guess I'll never know.

All that is to say that I left kindergarten that day with a bag and a half of Christmas M&M's, which I promptly forgot about until well after Christmas.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Well, one day in mid-January, I unearthed the beauties, and (having had my fill of straight chocolate thanks to a holiday overdose) determined that we needed to use them in cookies ('Cuz I hadn't overdosed on those yet!) 

Thinking back to a trip that I had taken to Oregon years and years before, where Heidi, Phil, Brian, and I had feasted on Heidi's father's "Monster Cookies", I went to my trusty google.com, in search of a recipe that would do. (I could have just called Heidi of course, but I thought I'd try my luck on google first.)

I found about a million recipes, set upon one, and made up a half batch.

(We rarely make a whole batch of cookies or anything else around here, unless we are planning to do a whole lot of sharing or freezing.)

quirky monster photo IMG_0602.jpg

They were delicious, and should gluten be a concern of yours, they're actually gluten-free!

Regardless of your gluten sensitivities (personally, I never met a gluten I didn't like), you're totally going to want to make them.

So, here you go:

Monster Cookies
(adapted from www.recipegirl.com)
Yield: 36 regular sized cookies

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup M&M's plain chocolate candies

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper or a silpat mats.
2. In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter with the sugars and butter until well combined. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the oats and baking soda. Then stir in the chips and M&M's.
3. Drop the cookies by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets.
4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheets until cookies are set. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Bits of rubies!

Awhile back, one of my friends started a healthy living blog, featuring recipes, fitness advice, and motivation for a healthy life.  I follow it sporadically (which is pretty much how I follow most blogs these days), and back around November or so, she posted a recipe for her favorite breakfast, which is essentially super-healthy bread toasted with almond butter, and fat-free Greek Yogurt with stevia and berries.

At the time, I was trying (and still am trying) to up my fiber and protein intake and lessen my fat and sugar intake, and so I was pretty interested in her breakfast, especially the Greek Yogurt.  I went to my grocery store and bought some, finding that like her, my favorite in taste and fat content is Fage 0% Greek yogurt. (I've taste-tested it against the other Greek Yogurts that I can find, and there is no contest as far as I'm concerned. It costs $1.50 per 6 oz container in my Smith's, but I can find it on sale for $1 every couple of weeks or so).

So, nowadays, my default breakfast is a half a cup of Fiber One cereal (I like it best dry--which isn't to say that I totally like it any way at all, but I eat it because it's a really easy way to get a whole bunch of fiber in a relatively few amount of bites, and it keeps me feeling satisfied all morning.) and a bowl of Fage 0% Greek Yogurt with fruit, stevia, and either flax seeds or pumpkin seeds (to sneak in more fiber).  The yogurt tastes like dessert, and I'm not even kidding.

But, the main reason I'm even writing this post is to tell you that my favorite fruit to put in my yogurt, when it is in season is Pomegranates.

quirky pome photo IMG_0607.jpg

I can't remember whether or not I've gone off her on my love of pomegranates, but believe me when I say that it is a love that is everlasting and undying. The tart sweetness! The crunch! the sense of eating bits of rubies! What could be better?

All winter long, as they've been in season, I've eaten pomegranates every morning. I dislodge the seeds (using a handy dandy wooden spoon trick that ends up taking about a minute as opposed to the 20 minutes that it used to take), and put them in a glass jar, which I store them in the fridge. When it's breakfast time, I spoon about 1/3 a cup into my yogurt and get ready for a taste extravaganza.

quirky pomeg photo IMG_0605.jpg

Now that Pomegranate season is over, I'm back to putting frozen raspberries in my yogurt. It's more sweet, and certainly tasty, but there's nothing like a good Pomegranate, and I miss the good old days.

Oh well, something to look forward to next year.

If you like Pomegranates and you haven't seen this (or another similar) video on how to quickly de-seed one, I definitely recommend that you give this one a look. It may change your life.

Like it changed mine.

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