Sunday, July 29, 2012

Tomato-Basil Biscuits

I've been struggling a little with my bunches and bunches of basil that I've been getting from my CSA.  I need to acquire some walnuts and make a big batch of pesto... But I keep forgetting.

This week, along with my giant bag of the green stuff, I got an equally-as-large bag of cherry tomatoes.  They are as sweet as candy, but there's something about the texture of tomatoes that keeps me from just munching on them like popcorn. 

So, today, I chopped up a big bunch of basil and a big bunch of tomatoes... and made some tomato-basil biscuits!  You know I love my biscuit recipe, so I just altered it a little and punched up the flava. 


  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter
  •  3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup smashed cherry tomatoes (straight from my CSA)
  • handfull of basil, chopped

 Mix the dry ingredients together in a food processor.  Cut in the butter and pulse until your dough resembles crumbs.  Add in the milk, tomatoes and basil and pulse until it all comes together.

Dump it all out on a well-floured surface and fold over a few times, like you're kneeding, but gently.

The dough will be very light, so fold until it isn't sticky anymore, adding just enough flour to keep it from sticking to your hands and the counter. 

Cut into perfect little tiny biscuits and add a cute garnish. 

Put them in the oven at 350 until they're done. (You know how I am with time)

These are so good, I think I pulled a muscle in my jaw while shoveling them in my mouth as quick as I could. 

I always freeze as many as I can.  Just cut them out and put them in a tupperware layered with wax paper and put them in the freezer.  They take a little longer to cook, but you can pop them onto a pan straight from the freezer. Perfect addition to a quick dinner. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fruit Tarts and Burger Fest

I've been home from Chicago for a day now, and I already miss it.  The baby shower was a huge success.  One girl even said, "We're at a Pinterest party". Which I took as a compliment... But Emily was mad... Even though she admits that most of her ideas came from Pinterest... 

Another compliment I got was that my tarts looked like they were bought at a fancy bakery!

Pretty stinkin' cute, huh??

And they're semi-homade! So easy.

I've been making fruit pizzas since I was in college.  It was always a huge hit at pot lucks and church meetings.  And it is a cinch to make.  And even easier as tarts! 

Take some small balls of store-bought sugar cookie dough and place them in a greased mini muffin tin.  I flattened them a little with the back of a cookie scoop.

Let them bake until they're starting to brown around the edges.  One batch was a little darker than the other, but they were all tasty.

Don't worry when they puff up in the oven, they will flatten down and create a perfect cup for your fillings.  

You can fill it with whatever you want, but I filled mine with fruit pizza toppings.  The filling is just a can of mello creme and a block of cream cheese whipped until it's combined and piped into the cups. 

Emily came up with the beautiful fruit arrangement. 

While I was there, Chicago was having Burger Fest.  SAY WHAT?! Yes, you would think I planned it... but I didn't. it was pure luck. 

Chicago is always having a "fest" during the summer.  

My friend Andy and I stood in line for 45 minutes for a burger at the Butcher and The Burger... I'm not going to say people were budging... BUT PEOPLE WERE BUDGING.  

My burger had grilled onions, cheddar cheese and truffle mayo... It was very satisfying.  And for a burger made on an outside grill along with 20 other patties, and then thrown on a bun, it was surprisingly medium-ly cooked.  

They had a great band playing, and everyone in the neighborhood was out there, putting up with the heat to get a good burger and hear some great tunes.  

Emily and me!
It got my Chicago fix.  Now I want to go back!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Shower Favors and a Moist Cookie Trick

 FINALLY! I can show you the finished product of my labor.  (That was a baby shower pun)

My friend Emily and I threw a baby shower for my dear friend Heather out in Chicago.  Heather, Emily and I have been getting in trouble together since college, and we especially bonded the summer we spent in Chicago living with 8 crazy girls and a couple in a 4 bedroom house.  Have I ever mentioned that I had to leave the house at 4:42 every morning to work at a bakery for minimum wage that summer? That's a whole different story... 

I'll get to the rest of the shower later this week, when Emily sends me the pic of us three.... But I'm so excited to show you what I'm absolutely sure will become a Pinterest sensation. 

Adorable, right?  I saw this favor idea a while ago, but they had used elephant stickers.  While the stickers were nice and easy, I had this little baby foot tutorial in the back of my head, stored away for the perfect occasion.

When you were little, did you ever make these feet on the car window when it got all fogged up?  I remember making tiny little baby feet on the windows of the school bus, and then wondering if anyone saw them and thought, "there was a baby walking on the window of that bus!"

Well, if you don't know what I'm talking about... Here's how it's done:

All you need is white CD sleeves with a clear circle and a few colors of paint.   This cost me about $8.

Stamp that baby right on the circle.  You might have to play around with the tightness of your fist.  But it perfectly mimics the arch of the baby's foot! Try to keep the bottom clean and round, or you'll get a heel that sort of trails off.  

Now, use your little pointer finger and poke some toes onto the foot. 

Look at that little footprint!

People will say, "Look! There was a baby walking all over those CD sleeves." 

Then, I made some big cookies (We're talking two scoop cookies) And stuffed them in the envelopes for perfect gifts for all the attendees.  

I used a little trick my friend Danielle told me about for the chocolate chip cookies. I added a box of pudding to the mix.  Just dry-regular pudding.  It kept them MOIST.  (Everyone I know hates that word)

 Emily made some kimchi for people to take home too.  It's a Korean dish (Heather was adopted from Korea) that is basically spicy fermented cabbage. 

A little sweet, and a little spice, just like her mama and her aunties.  

I LOVED throwing this shower, and for a moment, I wondered if I could make a living throwing parties like that.... People raved about our ideas and our cooking...  And the games we played were hip and funny.  I had a blast.  So, if you know of anyone looking for a young party planner to apprentice... I have weekends off now, and I'm dang good at this.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tomato Tart

Well, I found myself with a bag of tomatoes and a trip planned for this weekend, so I knew I would have to eat them all, or make them into something or I would come home to some mushy tomatoes. 

So I took out my favorite valentines day pan and made a heart tart!

I'm a huge fan of using what I have in the fridge.  My dad, on the other hand, doesn't mind going to the store before every meal for exactly what he needs. 

So I emptied my parmesian shaker and grabbed the provolone for a delectable pizza-ish tart. 

1 1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
6 T butter
enough ice cold water to keep it together. 

5 slices provolone
1/4 cup grated parmesian
1/2 t sugar
salt and pepper

Mix your flour and salt together in a food processor.  Add the butter in chunks until you have a crumby dough. 

You know how I cook... a little of this, a little of that... So drizzle in the ice water slowly until the dough sticks together.

Flatten it all out into a tart pan and bake for 10 minutes.

Take it out of the oven, sprinkle the parm over it and lay the provolone over that.  Decorate your tart with some lovely garden-fresh tomatoes.

Bake until the tops of the tomatoes are starting to turn brown and it looks like you want to eat it.  That's how I cook... I end up with a lot of undercooked and overcooked tries.  I should get a timer. 

This is delicious. Hot or cold.  I prefer room temp, the same way I like my pizza.  mmmmmmm, coagulated cheeeeeeeeeeese. 

I spent all morning baking for a baby shower this weekend.  So I have some AWESOME blogs coming next week.  Keep your finger on that "Pin It" button. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What To Do With All Those CSA Veggies

I have an overabundance of veggies in my fridge.  I get a great bag of CSA veggies every Saturday, and I invevidble snag some sweet corn and anything else that looks good. 
This week I ended up with some tomatoes from my grandma's garden and a summer squash from a coworker.  Needless to say, my crisper overfloweth.
I have also gained a few pounds in the last few months that I need to get control of.  So today I busted out the bottom drawer of the fridge and got to cooking... 

Well, I got to sauteeing...

And boiling...

And roasting... 

The sauteed vegetables start with 2 strips of bacon and 1/2 an onion.  Let that cook down for a while and then add greens and green beans.  Sprinkle with some S&P, put the lid on and let them cook until they taste good!

Boiled corn is pretty straight forward. 

Roasted vegetables are SO easy.  Chop, drizzle with EVOO (you don't need much!) sprinkle with some S&P and roast until fork tender.  I had some onions, summer squash and potatoes with a little clove of garlic on the side.

In other news... I need new jeans. 

In the last few weeks, I've patched these 4 times. 

Thankfully no one can see this unless I do a toe touch in the newsroom, or I put this picture up on my blog.....  

I've tried to buy a new pair a few times, but the Gap apparently doesn't let you use their coupon codes on denim anymore.  Booo.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I-Cubs, a Must-Do

If you live in the DSM and you've never been to an Iowa Cubs game... I suggest you check the schedule. 

We went tonight and had a BLAST.  We can get a couple tickets through WHO, and the seats were OUTSTANDING. It was in the shade, and the 90 degree heat didn't really feel like that.  There was a great breeze. The crowd was pretty sparse, but I like that more than I like being jammed in the park like a sardine. 

It was $1 hotdog night, so we feasted on the cheap. 

The Cubbies couldn't get the W, but it was a night to remember.  Definitely gonna make a repeat appearance.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Snickerdoodles and Mac & Cheese Day

I was in a baking mood late last night, (think 1:00 am).  I knew my parents were coming to bottle my beer in the morning (wasn't quite ready yet... waiting for Monday or Tuesday) and I know my dad LOVES these cookies.

They're super quick and easy to make, and the dough is one of my FAVORITES.  Sometimes cookie dough is a little too salty, but this one is salty-sweet perfection. That's probably why they almost-raw cookies are so good.  You know what I mean... that first tray of cookies that you keep peaking at and they just aren't getting done and you're desperate for a ooey gooey bite of warm sugar and cinnamon...  Yeah, that first tray came out a little early.  But those are my favorites. 


1 cup butter (the original recipe calls for shortening...)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
1/4 cup cinnamon-sugar mixture

Cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs. Blend in milk and vanilla. Sift in dry ingredients; mix well. Stir in chopped nuts. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place on cookie sheets and lightly flatten with bottom of tumbler. Bake in 350°oven10-12 minutes. Yield: 3 dozen

Make sure to bring these to your coworkers...  They will love you forever. 

So, according to the Cheese Shop, it's Mac & Cheese day!

Now, I'm not calling anybody a liar, and I'm not saying this was a ploy to get cheese-hungry lunch-goers into the cheese shop on a sentimental basis....

But according to, today is NOT National Mac & Cheese Day.  Today doesn't even have a specified delicacy.  They skip from Pecan Pie day on the 12th to Tapioca Pudding day on the 15th! 

I'm extra peeved at this site because they skip right over my birthday!

It is kinda a fun site though, check it out and let me know what delicious delight is designated for your day!

And, don't bother me on the 18th, I'll be celebrating National Caviar Day.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

These are a few of my favorite blogs.

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite blogs

Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite blogs

Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite blogs

When the dog bites
When the bee stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite blogs
And then I don't feel so bad

I love the Petite Athlete for her inspiring workouts

This is not part of my usual workout...
and fun Paleo-friendly recipes.  I'm not Paleo myself, but I like the concept.

There's a waffle in there somewhere.

When in DSM is a hilarious Tumblr that you will absolutely get if you live in the DSM.

Hilarious-ness.  Prepare to laugh HARD.

 Espresso and Cream is the blog of Madison Mayberry, who was on "Hey, Can You Cook?", a segment on the Rachel Ray show.  She lives here in the metro and works for Meredith.  She always has great recipes and thoughtful posts. Plus, her pictures are to DIE FOR.  She could make a peanut and butter sandwich look crave-able. 

It's Ice Cream Week at Madison's blog... Get out of town!

My friend Natalie recently made a recipe I've been dying over...  Marshmallow popcorn.  It is like rice crispy treats in popcorn form.  YUM.  You can read all about it, and her other yummy food adventures, here. 

Give me this

Macke Monologues  is a blog of a former co-worker of mine.  She blogs adorable pics of her son and really easy recipes.  All around, she does some fun stuff.

And finally, my mom and dad have blogs.  My mom's is mostly wine related.  She is a Wine Shop at Home consultant.  It's basically a tupperware party with wine.  Brilliant!

This looks like a sangria is going to happen soon. 

And my dad's blog is all about being a 62-year old lifeguard at the aquatic center in Ames.

He never has pictures...Even though I tell him everyday he should put pictures in his blog... 

*Each picture is from the corresponding blog... get it? cool. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blackened Chicken Sandwich

I haven't gone on a bike ride in TOO LONG.   I love riding my bike, but carrying it down 4 flights of steps, and then back up again is a pain, and I haven't been in the mood to workout outside in the 100 + heat index lately. 

So I drug my bike down the steps on Monday and WALKED it to work because I had left my car at work, and my pump was in my car, and I had a flat tire.  So I walked the 3 blocks to work.  But while I was walking out my door, I felt a rain drop on my arm... But it wasn't a rain drop.  It was BIRD POOP! 

And then I got to the trail and got about a mile in and felt another rain drop... MORE POOP!

I got pooped on TWICE by a bird.  They say that's good luck.  I believe it.  I've had great luck lately, and I hit it out of the park with my dinner Monday night...  

This recipe is my version of the blackened chicken sandwich at The Continental in the East Village in Des Moines.   It's my boyfriend's FAVORITE food.  He once ordered two sandwiches at once. And ate them both. 

There are a million herbs and spices in this recipe, but it's not difficult... And I had all the spices in my spice rack. (I was going to say, it's herbs and spices that everyone has in their spice rack... But I'm a spice freak)

Blackened Chicken Sandwich
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • take and bake ciabatta 
  • avocado
  • chopped basil
  • 2 slices provolone cheese
That's enough for 2 chicken breasts.

Rinse and pat dry your chicken breast. Pound it down so it's even thickness all the way through. Cover it on both sides with the seasoning. Put it in a HOT pan sprayed with a little Pam. I prefer a cast iron, but any oven-safe pan will work. 

Cook on each side, don't be afraid of the seasoning getting black, it's just the sugar caramelizing and mixing with the other spices.

Once it's dark on both sides, put it in a 425 degree oven until it's cooked through. 

Take it out of the oven and put a slice of cheese on each one.  While that melts, get your sandwich ready.  Some  warmed-up ciabatta slathered with buttery avocado mixed with some chopped basil (or basil mayo, if you're trying to be exactly like The Continental). Top each slice with your chicken.

I started to dig in before taking a picture....  Yum.

 I also whipped up some homemade whipped cream.  I usually just buy it from the freezer section, like everyone else... But I thought I'd try my hand at the fresh stuff.  And I found out, it's SO EASY and 20 million times better. 

A small carton of whipping cream and 3 Tablespoons of powdered sugar.  Whip that up in your Kitchenaid.  Thank me later. 

Perfect on a strawberry shortcake. 

I would share the recipe for my shortcake, but I got one online and it wasn't perfect.  I have to copy the recipe we used to use as kids.  It was always my favorite dessert.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Chinese Coleslaw

This is one of my all-time favorite pot luck grabs, but I've never made it before.  While I was searching recipes for my mini cabbage that I got in my CSA, I stumbled upon a recipe for Chinese Coleslaw. 

I'm not going to lie to you, this was BY FAR the most inexpensive recipe I've made in a long time.  The Ramen Noodles were 2 for 59 cents, the cabbage was in my CSA and I found a sweet deal on sliced almonds for 99 cents!

Chinese Coleslaw adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 thinly sliced mini cabbage (about the size of a softball)
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 (3-ounce) package Ramen noodles, crushed
For the Dressing:
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/6 cup white vinegar (I halved the recipe.... So just eyeball it. I know no one has 1/6 measuring cup)
1/2 seasoning packet from the Ramen noodles.  I like the flavor of the recipe without much packaged seasonings. 

1. In a large bowl, mix together the cabbage, almonds, green onions and crushed Ramen noodles.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, vinegar and seasoning packet until well blended.
3. Pour the dressing over the coleslaw mixture and toss until it is evenly distributed. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I suggest making this at least an hour before you want to eat it so the noodles soften up a little.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Black Bean Avocado Salad

When I decided to end my 100 days of eating local, I was excited to venture back into the world of avocados and black beans... two of my favorite foods.

This is a great summer BBQ recipe that can be mixed with chopped chicken and put in a wrap, or just scooped up with my utensil of choice... the tortilla chip. 

Black Bean Avocado Salad

1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed.
1/4 cup onions
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 cobs of Iowa sweet corn, boiled and cut off the cob
1 avocado
1 green onion, chopped
Cilantro to taste 
1 lime
2 T olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Dice everything up and mix it together.

Add the lime and olive oil.  Toss it all.

I had a very soft avocado and it coated everything in delicious avocado mush.  But yours might stand-up to the mixing a little better.