Friday, August 31, 2012

Cheesy Chicken Noodles

Cheesy Chicken Noodles
Sometimes a recipe comes along that is so quick, so easy, dirties so few dishes, that you make it like...a lot.

This is one of those recipes.

Let me list everything that is awesome about this dish:
  1. It's delicious.
  2. Michael loves it.
  3. It's pretty darn healthy.
  4. I pretty much always have all these ingredients on hand.
  5. Can be made with 1 pot/pan.
  6. QUICK.
Pinch of Yum described this as a hybrid macaroni and cheese and chicken noodle soup. I don't know about that...I do know it tastes alarmingly like a casserole my mom made for me growing up-only this is like a bzillion times better for you, and tastes better too (don't you love it when that works out? Sorry mom!) This is one of my go-to meals for Michael and I when I just don't have the time/energy/supplies to make something else. It is always a winner. The only thing that can make it slightly more complicated is the fact that I roast chicken breasts for the shredded chicken, but you can really just buy a rotisserie chicken, use leftovers, or probably even use that canned stuff. I don't know. But, even with the extra step of roasting the chicken, it is still sooooo simple! LOOOVE IT!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

S'mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

S'mores Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
I love s'mores.

A LOT.
Always have.

You see, me and s'mores go way back.
I may seem like I'm not much of a country girl but that's just because...well...
I'm not.

But I was raised as one. Went camping all the time. Learned how to bait my own hook (fishing) when I was 6. Had frequent bonfires in my backyard. One of the only fond camping/bonfire memories I have is of s'mores. Oooh I waited for the s'mores all day long, like they were my reward for dealing with all the dirt and bugs and allergy attacks. It was all worth it to have a delicious sandwich of golden toasted marshmallows, rich, gooey chocolate, and crisp, wonderful graham crackers. Like nirvana. The one downside to s'mores is how messy they are. In a perfect world, I like to have 2 marshmallows for 1 s'more. This, however, results in globs of marshmallow ending up on my face, shirt, hands, hair, etc. Immediately following my s'mores binges, I was always rushed towards the nearest sink to rinse off all the residue. 

Totally worth it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Graham Crackers

Graham Crackers
After announcing I had made some s'mores desserts (yes...with an "s") last week, I felt I couldn't be too mean and hold out on you for long. Obviously, this is not a s'mores recipe. But it is a base component! In the effort to make as much from scratch, un-processed, etc. I decided to use homemade graham crackers for the base of the dessert that I will be sharing Wednesday. But then I still had a lot left over. So I used them for the crust for the pie. Then I still had a lot left over. So I used them for the crust of another s'mores related dessert that I will also, eventually, share. I even had enough graham crackers to snack on after all that! 

Suffice it to say, these were put to use.

I'd been wanting to make homemade graham crackers for awhile. And I've seen recipes for them posted everywhere, and they all seemed to vary a great deal. But, when I saw Annie's Eats post sharing these, I knew they had to be good. She swore up and down that these tasted just like the real thing, PLUS I had pretty much all the ingredients on hand. It was really a good situation. About a week after finding the recipe, I made them. And was shocked by 3 things.
  1. How ridiculously easy these are.
  2. How good they smell.
  3. They forreals taste like graham crackers (a bit softer in texture, but who cares? And honestly..that could totally be my fault from doing something wrong, like not rolling them out thin enough perhaps.)
Oh yeah, and how many crackers this recipe made. It really does give you a good amount. They store great, too. Oddly enough, I almost found that with time they tasted more and more like normal graham crackers. I don't know if it was just because I'd gotten used to how these tasted or if the actual lack of freshness contributed. It doesn't really matter.

I seriously believe you NEED to make these. Make them for your kids (if you have them). Make them for s'mores. Make them for smearing with peanut butter. Make them into a graham cracker crust. Use them for whatever graham cracker needs you have because, trust me, YOU WILL NEVER BUY GRAHAM CRACKERS AGAIN.

I know I won't.*

*(probably)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Something Saturdays (8/25/12)

Last Sunday Michael's dad and step-mom (Jeanne, we love her), visited us. It was such a wonderful day! It was their first time seeing our apartment and Astoria! They absolutely loved the apartment, and the area, and everything we ate (we enjoyed that too :P)! We got lunch/dinner at a Greek seafood restaurant Okeanos and got dessert at our fave bakery Martha's. It was so much fun spending time with them.
(Left: Michael's Dad, Jeanne, Michael, and me, eating at Okeanos. Right top: Michael and I @ Okeanos. Right bottom: Chuck and Jeanne @ Okeanos. Right Mid: Our desserts at Martha's Bakery. Michael's mocha frappe, Chuck's lemon & coconut cake, my Mississippi Mud Pie, and Jeanne's fruit tart. Everything was delicious!)


Note: I think it's hilarious that I have to say this again, but as there have been some comments, I will once again state: Michael is my boyfriend. He is almost 26 years old. He is not my son. I do not have children yet. That is all :P.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Quick Baguettes

Quick Baguettes
Baguettes.
They sound French and terribly complicated.
But they're not!
Quick Baguettes
...Ok...well...they are French, but they're not complicated! At least, not if you use this recipe.

 It makes 2 baguettes and take around an hour (2 max) from start to finish. 1 hour and then you have delicious, fluffy, buttery bread. Some of the best bread I've ever had (not even mentioning made). And this is such a great, simple, base recipe that you can totally play around with it. I have made these baguettes with various ratios of whole wheat and AP flour (I've done entirely whole wheat, entirely AP, and everything in between. My favorite has about 1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour and the rest is AP.) I bet you can also experiment with putting cheese or other add-ins as well. All that matters is that this bread is golden and crisp on the outside, and incredibly fluffy and chewy and soft inside. Michael and I are crazy about this bread. I seriously just made it a few days ago. It's so good.

We've used this bread to dip in my spinach artichoke dip (in which case I make these mostly/entirely whole wheat) or soup, as toast, warm with butter (my favorite way), in sandwiches, French toast, or any way you can imagine! A couple days ago Michael had it for breakfast with cut tomatoes on top. He was so happy, lol. This recipe is a great idea if you're a beginner at baking yeast breads. It's nearly foolproof. And it's awesome so....yeah, duh. 

(Don't mind me, I speak fluent Valley Girl :P...I should probs. say something French but I am no good at it. Sooo...yah.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Pie

Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Pie
NOOOO! Summer is almost over! (There's only a month left!) I hate fall! Nonononononooooooo! I want sun and blue skies! And warmth! And sundresses and shorts! And flowers and green trees and just happy summertime! I dread the leaves and everything dying and the gray skies and colors shifting from blues and yellows and pinks to oranges and browns. I abhor the idea of wearing a jacket and boots instead of a tank top and flip flops. I am not looking forward to September, nononooo.

To try to hold on to summer a little longer, I'll share a super summery dessert recipe that I recently made for my Michael.

Like me, he hates fall. Loves summer. Especially summery desserts. Michael loves anything "refreshing" and is obsessed with berries-especially strawberries. A couple weeks ago I decided to make myself a s'mores treat (that I'll share later), and Michael is not a s'mores fan. So, I knew I'd have to make him his own special dessert. I also had some extra Greek yogurt lying around that I needed to use up. When I saw this recipe I knew it was sure to be a winner-and I was right! Michael says this may be the best thing I've ever made him. He says, "It's like a cheesecake...but frozen...and more refreshing. So pretty much-perfect." It's everything he loves and wants and needs in a dessert. I've scored major girlfriend points. :D.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins
A typical morning in my apartment:
Alarm clock wakes us up around 7 AM.
Michael and I trudge out of bed.
We sit down on the couch and get on the internet.
He then goes into the bathroom to shower and such.
Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins
I check my emails and facebooks, 
post a blog post if I have one for that day, 
do all the sharing, etc.
Then I pack Michael's lunch and get his breakfast ready, and mine.
I usually then eat my breakfast while watching some show on the computer.
 (Today that show is last night's True Blood). 
Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins
Michael gets out of the shower and gets ready.
 I get his breakfast on the table, then sit and talk with him while he eats.
Far too quickly 8:30 rolls around and we put his lunch in his backpack,
and he goes on his way to work.
And I miss him immediately.
But then I do dishes.
And grocery shop.
And probably cook something.

And if I'm lucky, our breakfast would have been something great like these muffins. Although Michael's not a big fan (he doesn't love banana). They're a really nice, healthier muffin full of banana, peanut butter, and oats. A winning combo, in my opinion. (Kind of like Michael and I :) )

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Something Saturdays (8/18/12)

Do you have a name that gets misspelled/mispronounced a lot?
I do.
My name is Kayle. Pronounced Kay-lee (rhymes with Haley).
More frequently than I would care to admit, people refer to me as Kayla (both in the written and spoken word). It's difficult because I understand mistakes happen, and I do have an unusual name (especially the way it's spelled), but I am SO tired of telling people "My name is Kayle, not Kayla"...you know? And that's not even talking about the various other misspellings and mispronunciations I get (Kyle, Kylie, Kale-for mispronunciations, and countless misspellings: Kaylee, Kayleigh, Caleigh, Kayly, Kayley, Kailee, Kali, Kaly...etc etc etc). Sorry about this rant, I just needed to vent a bit. You guys are great, I love you :).

In other news: I was nominated for the "Very Inspiring Blogger Award" by Free Spirit Eater! Thanks so much Kym!! You guys should go over and visit the gorgeous site and oogle over all the delicious food! Since I've been awarded this before, I won't do the nomination-y things, but I'll give you the 7 Facts about Me:
  1. I used to hyperventilate a lot when I got upset, so I'm now in the habit of taking long, slow, deep breaths when I start to get extra emotional. I sound like I'm in labor.
  2. My grandparents have an inside joke about the fact that I always call them when I'm walking home from the grocery store (which is once a week): what can I say? I like to talk to people on the walk!
  3. One of my favorite things Michael ever gave me was a rose he made out of aluminum cans and some wire and paint. So beautiful.
  4. I'm addicted to Say Yes to the Dress on TLC. 
  5. Michael's mom was one of my favorite teachers in high school, we both joke and say we loved each other before Michael and I did.
  6. I love big earrings. Love them. But, I rarely get to wear them lately because of work, etc. so now my ears have become wimps and get sore when I wear them.
  7. I love makeup. I'm awesome at it. It's true. My friends have always come to me to do theirs--I'm not a fan of wearing too much, just enhancing your natural beauty :).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Yes.

More mashed potatoes.

Healthy ones. Pretty much. AND these ones have ROASTED GARLIC in them!!

I loooove garlic.

I'm even gonna show you how to make roasted garlic, in case you didn't know (I totally didn't before I made these).

Wanna hear a funny mashed potato story? Up until...I don't know...like...college(?) I would only eat 1 kind of mashed potatoes: Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes, made very thick and "lumpy". For a long time I had a very specific butter regimen as well ("squeeze" butter in concentric circles on the pile of mashed potatoes and a big hunk of "spread" Country Crock in the middle). I was a little OCD about food. Also, boy that was a lot of butter. It's a miracle I wasn't obese. Why did I only like instant? I imagine because that was what I had been raised on. Anyway, I eventually figured out that real mashed potatoes can be totally delicious, and I've never looked back since. I still like my potatoes thicker, though. So I suppose some things stick.

I promise I don't do that thing with the butter anymore....actually I usually don't put any butter on mashed potatoes...they usually have enough that was made into them. I've overcompensated it seems. 

Do any of you have weird food neuroses from your youth? 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Yoder's Peanut Butter Pie

Yoder's Peanut Butter Pie
I'm sad.
I've been so busy, I've barely been able to cook.
Michael and I have had to have food delivered this last week more times than I would care to admit.
I just wanted to share my feelings.

NOW-about the pie. One day, I was watching the travel channel and some sort of food special was on. One of the many delicious things featured was what was lauded as the "Best Peanut Butter Pie" from Yoder's in Sarasota. Part of what apparently made this pie so amazing was the fact that Yoder's (an Amish establishment) makes everything from scratch--and I love that. So I immediately became obsessed with making this pie myself. A quick Google search yielded some promising options, and then I set to work adapting it. This pie had 4 main components: crust, peanut butter crumbles, vanilla pudding, and whipped cream-all made from scratch! I devoted an entire, internet-less (back when my computer was out of commission) day to putting this pie together. 

End result: a good pie. A little short on peanut butter-y taste, the vanilla pudding took over a bit (I've changed some of the amounts in the following recipe in an attempt to remedy this, but I'm also thinking it'd be better if you mixed some pb into the pudding), but it actually really grew on me. I'm a big fan. It's got a great, old-fashioned, down home taste and texture, and is delicious whilst chilled. Michael only kind of liked it. He's quite loyal to a particular peanut butter pie. I must admit, that is still my favorite, also. This is just different-still very good, but different. I definitely think it's worth trying, and I think I'll make it again someday, even if I'm the only one who eats it ;).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract
OMG YOU GUYYYS!

I've been waiting to share this with you for...like...ever!

I'm OBSESSED with making homemade vanilla extract.
Whaaa? Yes--you can make your own vanilla extract.
And it. is. SO. easy!

If you're a frequent baker you're aware of how expensive pure vanilla extract is (and how inferior imitation vanilla extract is). It's kind of ridiculous, especially once you read this post and totally realize how much money you could be saving. As it turns out, all vanilla extract is is vanilla beans that have been soaked in alcohol for awhile. That's it. For serious.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Something Saturdays (8/11/12)

Wanna see some photos of my friend Angela's visit?
Places we/they ate during the visit: Neptune's Diner, Au Bon Pain, Heartland Brewery(top right), Max Brenner's(right corner), and Bubba's Chicken and Waffles.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chocolate Cookies and Cream Cookies

It's the case of the missing photos!
...I had an extra picture showing the steps of making these cookies and, sadly, somehow it's vanished. I can't begin to tell you how much this has been bugging me but...I've (mostly) made my peace with it.

Michael's hilarious. He loved these cookies. Thought they were so good.
A week after they're all eaten, he says, "You know what you haven't made in awhile? Cookies."
"Uhh...I just made those chocolate cookies last week."
"Oh...yeah...well...but...no, I mean like cookie cookies."
Ah. Of course.

While these, apparently, are not "cookie cookies", these are some pretty fantastic, uber chocolatey cookies! These are EXACTLY like the kind of amazing, big, cookies you buy at bakeries but are somehow never able to replicate at home. BOOM! Picky Palate solved that problem: You can totally make these at home. Super easy. And there are Oreo's in them. Not like...noticeable chunks. They're ground up. Almost like Oreo powder...yes...I like that...Oreo powder. Cocoa powder, but made from Oreo's.

Someone should market that s#!+

If you drink milk (which I assume most of you are not weirdos like me) these are probably amazing with a tall glass. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crunchy Cornflake Chicken Fingers

Crunchy Cornflake Chicken Fingers
Ahh, things have calmed down about here now.
I had a lot of fun :).
But now-back to business!

I get along great with kids. Give me a 5 year old little girl and I will talk about princesses, play Barbie's, dress-up, and commiserate about how grown ups eat yucky foods and chicken fingers are where it's at.

True story.

It's sort of hilarious, because when I was young and my family would go out to eat you could 99% of the time count on my brother ordering chicken fingers and me ordering a burger. Times have changed. I still love burgers, but I'm much more picky about them now, so if being cautious I err on the side of chicken.

I love chicken fingers. But...I'm not so into frying food at home, if I'm going to eat something fried I might as well just order it from somewhere. So I've accumulated a few baked chicken tender recipes. These are, so far, my favorite. Jessica is the queen of baked chicken finger recipes! These are crunchy, moist, and the cornflakes really add something special to the flavor. I love these and I suggest-whether you have little ones or just like to eat like one-that you try these. Stat. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Whole Wheat Biscuits

Whole Wheat Biscuits
My biscuit recipe collection is nearing rivalry of my chicken collection.*
(Not really, it's not even close)

There's just nothing like waking up in the morning and biting into a warm, delicious biscuit with butter...Mmm. But you know, sometimes...I worry about my waist-line. So I hunted down a whole wheat biscuit recipe-made entirely with whole wheat flour. The biscuits are great. They're hearty, but delicate, and are amazing with jam, honey, and, of course, butter. They'd even be great to dip into a soup or stew. They're pretty quick and simple to make, and you can go about your day knowing you started it right!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Something Saturdays (8/4/12)

Hello friends!
I'm super lonely right now.
Michael's in Ohio for a friend's wedding, and I had to stay here to work, so you all will have to keep me company, k?
Since he's not here to listen to me ramble, you'll all have to fill that role.

I have a new obsession.
OBSESSSSSED.

Whoever this Amy Mebberson is...I love her. She has a collection of tons of art works (that she makes) that take all your favorite stuff from your childhood...and sometime mashes them together. My favorite is her "Pocket Princesses" series. She draws the Disney Princesses doing hilarious things together. Seriously. Check it out. Giggle for hours. She totally understands their personalities and it's so fun to see them interacting with their fellow princesses!

Also...I did something crazy on Thursday. Don't hate me. But...I had some leftover chocolate chip cookies that I'm not in love with. I wanted to do something to them to make them taste more interesting. So I did this:
Oh yes...I did.
These aren't really a recipe, so I'll just sum up how you make these:
  1. Take a cookie.
  2. Place marshmallows on top.
  3. Put under a broiler.
  4. Keep a close eye on it, and remove when marshmallows are golden brown.
  5. Place a 2nd cookie on top.
  6. EAT!
Um....yeah. Exactly. Amazing. I don't know how I'll ever eat these cookies plain again. I apologize for the fact that I've undoubtedly ruined whatever your immediate plans were, because obviously you're running off to do this. I cannot blame you.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Brown Bag Microwave Popcorn

Brown Bag Microwave Popcorn

Popcorn and I have had a very intense relationship over the years-we've had a lot of ups and downs.

For some reason, up until the 2nd grade-I thought I didn't like popcorn. Then, when I tried some, I realized I LOVED popcorn! I began to eat it a lot-a movie theaters, but especially microwave popcorn at my house. Eventually I was up to eating 1 bag of microwave popcorn PER DAY! I was very picky about what kind as well. Act II Butter Lover's Popcorn was the only popcorn for me. In high school, when I was worrying about my weight a bit more, I cut back to only a few bags of popcorn a week. This kept up through my first year of college. Then, in the midst of my 2nd year...something happened. I sort of started to get over it. I began to eat popcorn less and less. I realized movie theater popcorn made me sick, and I was sort of microwave-popcorn'd out. So, me and popcorn took a break. 
While I was shooting in Maine and discovered Michele's popcorn, my love was reawakened, but in a new form, now I'm more into the occasional sweet popcorn (such as caramel corn). 

Recently, I learned that microwave popcorn bags are lined with all kinds of stuff that is bad for you (yeesh I wish I'd known that as a kid). I don't have an air popper. Using oil/skillet/etc. seems messy and complicated.  So I was VERY excited when I learned there's a safe, easy, fat-free way to make popcorn in my own microwave! It's so seriously simple: Take a brown paper bag, put the kernels in (you don't even need oil!), tape it shut, microwave and VOILA! YOU HAVE POPCORN!!

So cool. Just....so cool. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

So, I'm on a bit of a personal mission.

I am searching for the perfect mashed potato recipe.

Along the way, I have found many recipes that I really love, but none are that quintessential, perfect mashed potato. Now...I'm sure part of the reason for this is I have yet to actually use cream + a lot of butter (because let's face it...that's probably it). I'm not complaining, though, because I thoroughly enjoy all of the different kinds of mashed potatoes I've made so far--although most of them have some aspect of garlic/cheese to them. These potatoes are, so far, my favorite basic mashed potato recipe I've made. I mean...c'mon...they use browned butter, and we all know how awesome that is. And, because of the strong, buttery flavor that lends, you can use less butter than normal-which is good for our bellies/thighs/whateverproblemareayouhave. These are absolutely best if you use a combination of gold and russet potatoes-they just are.

I know I should probably be sharing this recipe around like Thanksgiving time. But...I don't eat according to season. I eat what I like, regardless of the date on the calendar. I understand this is a strange idiosyncrasy of mine, and I completely understand if you wait until fall breaks to try these but...I wouldn't be able to wait if I were you :).

 Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

Adapted slightly from How Sweet It Is

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4-6 (generous helpings)
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