Red, White & Blue Mini Trifles

trif3Before the month of July gets completely away from us, as these summer months tend to do, I wanted to put up a quick post about my mini 4th of July themed trifles! Independence Day has always been my favorite holiday, as I like holidays that are more centered around fun than presents. Well, on my first 4th of July as a parent I very quickly realized that a holiday whose activities include mainly drinking, staying up late and explosives, is not baby friendly, lol. We already knew that the fireworks show on base wasn’t in the cards for us because of P’s six o’clock bedtime, but we did manage to keep him up an extra two hours to attend a BBQ at a friend’s. Coincidentally, this was the same friend who had P and I over for a Memorial Day while J was at fleet week, so I had to come up with another patriotic dessert since they had already experienced my Patriotic Tie-Dye Cupcakes. I had been seeing a lot of flag cakes online, particularly an adorable one by Ina Garten (love her), so these patriotic trifles were my little deconstructed version of a red, white and blue cake. I like to do individual desserts when baking for a casual get-together or party, this way everyone can take one at their convenience and there doesn’t have to be a big to-do with cutting the cake or pie (people are always really weird about taking the first piece! haha). Also, the fact that it is served in a jar makes it easy for people to take one to go on their way out to enjoy at home later. So again, I went the semi-homemade route with this recipe, as I’ve mentioned before my baking skills are quite limited but if you are more blessed than I in the baking know-how department this can be made from scratch as well. Happy Be-lated 4th of July, I was so happy to be able to spend it with great friends enjoying mini desserts 🙂

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RED, WHITE & BLUE MINI TRIFLES (makes 16 trifles in 8 oz. mason jars)

INGREDIENTS

NOTE: If “blue” velvet cake mix is not available you can always purchase white cake mix and add blue food coloring or use red velvet and substitute blueberries for the strawberries to keep with the “red, white and blue” color scheme. 

  • 1 Box Blue Velvet Cake Mix (and required ingredients – eggs, oil/butter and water)
  • 2 Boxes Vanilla Instant Pudding (I used the “cook and serve” kind, but whatever works for you is fine) – don’t forget to pick up whole milk to prepare! 
  • 1 carton strawberries
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream or 1 regular sized container whipped topping (I opted to make my own whipped cream but if you don’t feel like doing so simply use cool whip instead)
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar, divided (if using prepared whipped topping you will only need 2 Tbsp.)

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: Begin by preparing cake mix and pudding according to package directions.

Step 2: While cake is baking and pudding is chilling, slice your strawberries. I cut off the stems then halved, quartered and then thinly sliced the berries, however you want to cut them up is fine! Once your berries are all sliced, place in a bowl along with 2 Tbsp. of sugar and mix then allow to chill in fridge until you are ready to assemble the trifles. 

Step 3: While cake is cooling and pudding is chilling in fridge, begin preparing your whipped cream by combining the 2 Tbsp. sugar and cold whipping cream and whisking with an electric mixer or by hand until stiff peaks form. Place in the fridge until you are ready to assemble trifles. If you are going the whipped topping route just hang tight!

Step 3: Once you are ready to assemble your trifles, start by cutting the cake into small cubes (although it will probably just end up crumbling when you handle it, which is fine). Place about 2 Tbsp. of cake in the bottom of each jar, then top with about 1 Tbsp. of pudding followed by 2 Tbsp. of strawberries and a heaping Tbsp. of whipped cream. Repeat in this fashion for a second layer, ending with whipped cream.

They will look something like this :)

They will look something like this 🙂

Step 4 (optional): If you are not serving your little masterpieces right away, place the lid on the jar and use a ribbon to tie a plastic spoon to the jar (this is just a fun little “to-go” touch for your guests), then chill until ready to serve! *While these are still good the following day, I don’t suggest making them too far in advance as the whipped cream tends to “deflate”.   
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Faux Sangria

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As if my Mom wasn’t already amazing enough, she is also the creator of this amazing drink that I am about to share with you! Whether or not she will actually read this post is debatable, as it took her about three years to finally master Facebook and a whole seven years to finally hop on the iPhone bandwagon (although she did just learn how to post pictures from her iPhone to Facebook, so there may be hope for her after all lol). Whenever I tell her about my blog she seems confused so either she doesn’t know how to navigate it or she is just too busy being awesome to find the time to read my nonsensical babble, so to give her the benefit of the doubt I’ll say it’s the latter lol.

Anyway, on my recent trip home my Mom offered me “faux sangria” and while all I heard was “diluted alcohol”  (yuck lol) when I tasted it I was pleasantly surprised to find that it actually tasted exactly like the sangria at one of our favorite mexican joints back home, day = made! I was even more excited when she told me that you could make it using only two or three ingredients, whaaaaaaaat?! Needless to say when we got back to NC the ingredients for “faux sangria” were at the top of my shopping list (and here I sit enjoying a glass as I write this post and pray that hurricane Arthur doesn’t knock out my power lol). I love a good summer cocktail and I especially love one that is easy to whip up and doesn’t cost a fortune in ingredients you will only use an ounce of (a problem I encountered when making  my whiskey punch for J’s 30th, I will post about this soon). While I know this isn’t the most creative recipe and is I’m sure, by no means an original, I still think it’s worth posting because I for one am always looking for new budget friendly cocktails, especially those that lend themselves to social gatherings a.k.a. ones that are cheap lol. I hope you whip up a batch for your next fiesta, even if you’re like me and your “fiesta” involves working on your blog while hubby and baby snooze haha.

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I let baby P have at one of the apples while I was making the sangria, only 20 years and three months until he can give it a taste lol

 

FAUX SANGRIA

NOTE: This recipe can be doubled, tripled etc. It is GREAT for a party and you can use any combination of fruit, I actually plan to come up with a variety of “faux sangrias” using different wine, fruit and oj combos. If you’re on the “skinny” train lighten it up by using Trop50 or if you like a sweeter cocktail add some simple syrup.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 750 mL bottle red wine (I like dry wines and think that the OJ gives the cocktail enough sweetness but if you’d like it sweeter use a sweet red)
  • 3 cups orange juice
  • Juice of half a lemon (this just brightens up the flavors, feel free to omit it if you don’t like/have lemons)
  • 1 Apple, cubed
  • 1 Orange, quartered and sliced thin

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving – enjoy!

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Italian Chicken Dijonnaise

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If you ask my hubby about the best day of his life, he will either tell you it was the day baby P was born or our wedding day. I now know that he will be lying, because as much as it pains him to admit it, the best day of his life was in fact today, when I successfully came up with a copy-cat recipe of his favorite dish from one of our favorite restaurants (haha kidding of course, nothing trumps baby P). The idea for this dish came about on our recent trip home when J and I were able to have our first actual date night since baby P was born (a whole nine months ago, eek, needless to say not living near family can suck for various reasons, a big one being no free babysitters lol). We went to one of our favorite Italian restaurants, La Volpe , not only because we love it but because it is about four miles from my mom’s house and is about the only fine dining option the Moriches have to offer, lol. Now as much as I love a good date night or simply dining out in general, I still think it is ridiculous to spend close to $100.00 for two people to have a meal. Even without drinks, our bill still would have come in at around $50.00 for two main courses, no appetizers – crazy! However, no matter how overpriced the meal my hubby waits all year round for our trip home so he can order the “Chicken Dijonnaise”, which even frugal J will pay $25.00 for, haha. This time as we were enjoying our meal I told J that in the interest of not having to wait all year round for it, I would attempt to make it myself.

Since we rolled right into another vacation (4th of July) upon our return home, I decided as usual, to make the hubs a nice dinner to celebrate his impending four days off but this time I would make it extra special and try to duplicate the “chicken dijonniase”. Additionally, his four day weekends are the best time to try out new recipes anyway since I’ll get lots of alone time in the kitchen, although I do love my squishy baby looking on, he can get a little impatient if a recipe is taking too long lol. So here you have it, recipe numero uno for our 4th of July weekend (and if we lose power due to hurricane Arthur it may be the only one I get to post, who knows haha), a delicious chicken dish, an Italian “chicken cordon bleu”, if you will. Since the recipe was such a success I’m sure this will be a very frequent request in our household from now on, nothing like some restaurant quality food at a homemade price 🙂

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ITALIAN CHICKEN DIJONNAISE

NOTE: Sorry for my lack of step-by-step pictures, I was doing the prepping while J was still at work so I was working as fast as I could and trying to entertain/avoid getting chicken juice on my squishy baby lol. Next time I make this dish, which I’m sure will be very soon, I will update pictures 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups bread crumbs (I used Italian Seasoned but I may try again using panko, check back for an update!)
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 thin slices of mozzarella cheese or 1 1/2 cups grated
  • 8 thin slices of ham
  • 8 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning (I happened to have it on hand, if you do not just substitute a little dried basil and oregano)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil for frying

DIRECTIONS

Step 1: Take your chicken breasts and butterfly them by taking a knife, inserting it into the side of the breast and slicing it in half almost all the way through (as if you were cutting a sandwich roll) making sure to leave it attached along one edge. You should be able to open it like a book.

Step 2: Open each of your chicken breasts (like a book).place them between two pieces of clear plastic wrap and use a meat tenderizer to pound your pieces to about 1/2 an inch or so of thickness (don’t get too violent lol, you want them to remain attached). Once you have achieved your desired thickness, season each piece generously with salt and pepper on either side.

Step 3: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Then working one at a time open each of your chicken breasts and layer two pieces of basil, two pieces of mozzarella and two pieces of ham in each, then close so the contents are sandwiched between the two halves of the breast.

Step 4: In three separate dishes place flour, eggs (beaten) and bread crumbs. Taking one chicken breast holding firmly closed so that the contents do not fall out, place first in the flour dish, coating on both sides. Then dip carefully in the egg mixture and finally the bread crumbs (again, be careful not to allow your contents to fall out!). Place on a platter or dish until ready to cook.

Step 5: In a large skillet or pan (I used a cast iron skillet) suitable for the oven, heat your oil. Once oil has come to temp, place each of your chicken breasts in the oil (I placed them upside down so that when I flipped them and placed in the oven they would be right-side up for the remainder of the cooking time, although this does not matter) and cook until browned on both sides. *If you don’t have a pan big enough to fit all four breasts just cook them in batches and place them on a baking sheet for the oven portion of the cooking, as cooking them in the same pan is simply to create less dishes (I hate dishes lol).

Step 6: Once you have finished browning all of your breasts, move the pan to the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes (this may vary depending on the thickness of your breasts, mine cooked for 25 minutes and were cooked perfectly, if yours seem thinner than mine you may want to adjust time time down a bit). If you feel that there is too much oil remaining in the pan after frying you can drain some out before transferring to the oven or simply move the breasts to a baking sheet and cook them off on that. While chicken is cooking prepare dijonnaise sauce (recipe below).

Step 7: After your chicken breasts have finished cooking remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before serving. Pour dijonnaise sauce over each breast and enjoy!!!

DIJONNAISE

*If you do not want to make your own sauce, Hellman’s makes a “Dijonnaise” ready-made and available in the condiment section of most grocery stores, I would just add a little milk or mayo to it as it is on the thicker side.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Tbsp. Mayo
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. Stone Ground Mustard (this is simply to add a grainier texture to the sauce, if you do not have stone ground mustard or want a smoother sauce just use dijon instead).
  • 1 Tbsp. Sour Cream (this can be omitted if you wish, I just added it because I had it on hand)
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 cup whole milk

DIRECTIONS

Whisk all ingredients together. If the sauce is too thick add a little more milk or if you feel it is too fluid or wish to use it as a dipping sauce add a little more mayo and mustard. Serve atop the chicken or use as a dipping sauce!

Patriotic Tie-Dye Cupcakes

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Since J has been gone (wow, I’m really acting like he has been gone for years, it’s two weeks Natasha, grow up! lol) I have been crafting so much I haven’t really taken the time to cook much of anything. Tonight baby P and I attended a BBQ at our friend’s house and in keeping with the Memorial Day holiday I wanted to whip up something cute and patriotic. Now I have previously written about my love affair with boxed cake mix but I will tell you again – I don’t bake. Meaning, if the words “baking soda”, “baking powder”, “yeast”, “stand mixer”, “rise” or any other baking lingo appear in a recipe I’m likely to pass, lol. That being said, when I do decide to bake something (usually cupcakes) I generally take the semi-homemade route by allowing my girl Betty Crocker or my homie Duncan Hines do the heavy lifting, while I take care of the decorating. This recipe was no different, so while P went down for a three hour nap (LOVE when that happens) I got down to it and ended up with the cutest little patriotic cupcakes! Keep this one in mind for the 4th, it’s as simple as making some chocolate covered strawberries and adding some food coloring to your cake mix, it only looks fancy, which is the best part! If you’re reading this while those patriotic holidays are still far out, go ahead and adapt this to any holiday – green, white and red for Christmas, orange, black and white for Halloween etc. Tie-dye cupcakes are so fun and you need not buy the special “tie-dye cupcake” boxed mix, you can easily make your own. Wishing everyone a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend, thank you to all who have served and are currently serving (especially my very own US Marine, J!).

PATRIOTIC TIE-DYE CUPCAKES (makes 24)

INGREDIENTS

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the frosting and red sprinkles are not pictured, oops!

  • 1 Box White Cake Mix (WHITE not yellow)
  • Food Coloring
  • Blue and Red Crystal Sugar Sprinkles
  • 1-2 Cartons Strawberries (enough to have 24 strawberries, try to go for smaller strawberries, they sit atop the cupcake much easier)
  • 6 oz. White Chocolate
  • 1 can Vanilla Frosting (any white frosting will do)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Begin by melting your chocolate over a double boiler or in the microwave. If using a double boiler place chocolate in a glass bowl set atop a pot of simmering water, stirring until melted. For the microwave, place chocolate in a microwave safe dish, microwaving 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval until completely melted.
  2. Place your blue sugar sprinkles in a small container, then working one by one dip each strawberry in the white chocolate, allowing any excess chocolate to drip off before dipping in the sprinkles then place on a sheet pan or plate lined with parchment or wax paper. When you have finished, place the strawberries in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to allow the chocolate to really harden, I just left mine in there until I was done making the cupcakes.pat1
  3. Prepare your cake mix according to package directions, once the batter is prepared divide the batter equally among three separate bowls. One bowl will be left as is (that will be your white portion), into the second, squeeze a few drops of red food coloring and into the third a few drops of blue. The amount of coloring you add depends on how vibrant you want your color to be. NOTE: I am usually all about dollar store everything but I learned the hard way, there is a BIG difference between name brand and dollar store brand food coloring. The tie-dye cupcakes I made for Easter were sub-par in the color department lol. Go for the good stuff, it’s worth it. pat2
  4. Place your cupcake liners in your tin and beginning with your first color (doesn’t matter which) gently place a dollop of each color into your cupcake liner, aiming for off to the side (see pics). Work your portions so that you will have enough for 24 dollops, just eyeball it. Do the same with the second and third colors, the idea is to have each color showing on the top of the cupcake once they are baked. pat3 pat4

    yikes, I need to clean my oven lol

    yikes, I need to clean my oven lol

  5. Bake your cupcakes for the minimum suggested time, just until the toothpick comes out clean and they are springy. If you allow them to overcook your white will become tan or brown. Once baking has finished allow the cupcakes to cool. pat7 pat9
  6. Frost your cupcakes however you please, I use a large Wilton star tip and a plastic bag to pipe a small amount of icing onto the middle of each cupcake so that the red, white and blue will still  be seen on top. Dash some red and blue sprinkles on top then set a strawberry on top of each cupcake. Ta-da, you’re finished, God bless America … and easy cupcake recipes!!!

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Look who woke up just in time to watch the finishing touches!

Look who woke up just in time to watch the finishing touches!

Hard to believe I will be making this guy a smash cake in under 5 months!

Hard to believe I will be making this guy a smash cake in under 5 months!

So as I put it on Insta - If you've got the time and your squishy baby don't mind ... get yo patriotic cupcake on!!!

So as I put it on Insta – If you’ve got the time and your squishy baby don’t mind … get yo patriotic cupcake on!!!

Margarita Cupcakes with Tequila Lime Frosting

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Happy Cinco de Mayo, y’all!!! I am so excited to share this adorable cupcake recipe with you! I came up with this recipe after seeing these cute little margarita cupcakes on Pinterest (of course, lol) and decided that they would be the perfect treat for the little Cinco de Mayo play date that baby P and I were invited to attend. I love all holidays and especially fun holidays that don’t involve presents, just lots of food and drinking (although the drinking has come to a temporary halt on account of my squishy baby, lol), so naturally Cinco de Mayo is one of my faves. While I would love to enjoy a nice margarita today, I’m pretty sure any amount of tequila would probably kill me at this point, given that I haven’t had any hard liquor in over a year, so I figured a margarita cupcake would have to do the trick this year. Since I rarely bake anything from scratch, my goal is always to jazz up a box of cake mix enough to keep anyone from caring that I didn’t make the actual cake myself, and it always works :)! Point being, you can keep your recipes super simple and “semi-homemade” and still look like a rockstar baker or cook. Here is how I whipped up my margarita cupcakes by adding just a few simple ingredients to ordinary Betty Crocker cake mix (which was buy one get one free at Food Lion this week, woo-hoo!). Hope you can enjoy these at your next fiesta!

MARGARITA CUPCAKES WITH TEQUILA LIME FROSTING

(Makes 24 cupcakes)

FOR CUPCAKES:

INGREDIENTS

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Ignore the yellow food coloring, I don’t know why that’s there – sometimes my brain doesn’t work lol

  • 1 box cake mix (golden vanilla, white or yellow will do – I used golden vanilla)
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. Tequila Mixer (or 2 Tbsp. lime juice and 1 Tbsp. orange juice)
  • Green food coloring
  • 2 Limes (for garnish)
  • Decorative Straws or cocktail umbrellas (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare your cake mix according to package directions, then add in your tequila mix or lime juice and orange juice, and lime zest. Mix until combined.
  2. Add in 1-2 drops of green food coloring and stir to combine. This is optional, I just wanted to make mine look margarita-y lol.
  3.  Bake your cupcakes according to package directions and allow to cool before frosting.
  4. Meanwhile prepare your garnish by slicing limes into thin rounds, then slicing the rounds into little half moons with a slice down the middle so they will be able to stand atop the cupcake once frosted (see pic). Cut your straws so they are about 3 inches each, I only used about 4 whole straws total (I purchased my super cute straws at Target in the party section).
  5. Once cupcakes are cooled frost using prepared frosting (recipe below). I piped mine out of a plastic ziplock bag with the corner cut off and used a large star tip icing tip. Then apply your garnish. Enjoy!

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FOR FROSTING:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 container vanilla icing (I used cream cheese flavored icing because I had it on hand, but any white icing will do)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon tequila (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine frosting, lime juice and tequila. NOTE: I did not use tequila this time because I didn’t realize that liquor stores down here aren’t open on Sundays, lol. They were still delicious!
  2. Spoon frosting into a piping bag (or plastic ziplock bag) fitted with a decorative tip and pipe onto cupcakes. I allowed my frosting to sit in the fridge for a few minutes after I mixed it to allow it to become a little less fluid.

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Mini Caprese Bites

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While I’m on the subject of tiny food (see yesterday’s post on mini pancake stacks here), I have to share another adorable mini food creation from this week. My hubby recently underwent an inspection at work which went perfectly, so the Colonel arranged a little potluck to congratulate J and his team on a job well done. Since I was going to have to prepare the item during P’s nap and drop it off to J at work, it had to be something that wouldn’t require too much prep work and would also transport easily. I decided to go with mini caprese bites, a mini version of traditional caprese – fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and balsamic reduction. These are quite the Pinterest sensation which is how I got to try and LOVE them when I made them for the baby shower I threw my SIL last year. Here is how I assembled them using halved grape tomatoes, mini fresh mozzarella balls (available in the specialty cheese section or at the olive bar in many grocery stores), fresh basil and balsamic glaze. These are perfect for entertaining, SUPER delicious and so pretty to look at 🙂

First, I halved my grape tomatoes, drained my mozzarella balls (if you don’t want to purchase balls just buy a large piece of fresh mozzarella and cut into squares) and cut my basil (I cut the large leaves into quarters, the medium sized leaves in half and left the smaller leaves as they were).

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I only ate one while prepping them 😉

Next, I assembled my mini caprese bites by threading half a tomato (through the non-cut end first) then a folded piece of basil and finally a piece of mozarella.

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Finally, I assembled them in a sort of star burst pattern on a platter.

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I didn’t drizzle the balsamic glaze on right away since they were going to be sitting for a bit before being served. Still so pretty though! 🙂

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This is a pic from the first time I made them for my SIL’s baby shower.

 

 

 

“Short Stack” Pancakes – Perfect for Brunch!

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I LOVE tiny food, I basically wish each of my meals were served in the form of a wedding cocktail hour (cocktails included obviously lol). I also love brunch, as I enjoy breakfast foods but not necessarily at breakfast time, also brunch usually means mimosas :). This week our weekly baby play date was a brunch and I was all about it since I couldn’t wait to try my hand at making some of those adorable mini pancakes that have been popping up all over Pinterest. Since I have been trying to really stick to our grocery budget (I plan to post about my budget soon!) I wanted to make something for our brunch date using mostly pantry ingredients so pancakes were perfect, all I had to buy were blueberries. The pancakes were a hit and I even had left over batter for breakfast this Saturday, J was so pleased :). I was able to whip these up during P’s morning nap using a pancake recipe that was proclaimed “best pancake recipe” on Pinterest. I liked the pancakes a lot, however, they were a little on the sweet side, so next time I think I will reduce the sugar by half, although I compare all pancakes to Long Island diner pancakes which are my fave and the recipe had rave reviews by other pinners, so perhaps this recipe is in fact the “best pancake recipe” it just is not what I am used to, so try it out for yourself :). Here is how I assembled my “short stacks”:

 

First, make your pancakes using whatever recipe you choose, I used the one mentioned in the link above but you could also use store bought mix or your own favorite recipe. I made the pancakes using a 1/2 Tbsp. measuring spoon to spoon tiny little pancakes onto the griddle.

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  amazingly I only ate about 5 during the cooking process 🙂

Next, assemble your pancakes into stacks of three. This recipe would have made close to 50 stacks  total if I had used all the batter.

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Now, take a toothpick and thread on a blueberry or fruit/garnish of your choice and stick your little stack 🙂

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That’s it! I served with syrup in a tiny little spouted cup that I stole from a diner somewhere – so cute!

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and you know what else was cute that day … my squishy baby!!!

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I can’t even! 🙂

 

Grilled Thai Tacos with Peanut Sauce

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So the weather has been getting progressively nicer, creeping into the high seventies and finally into the eighties today! Southern summer is in full swing (must have blinked and missed spring, lol). Needless to say with the exception of rainy days (and even on some of those too lol), I plan to prepare most of our meals on the grill. As I’ve said before I like to switch up our protein intake during the week (chicken and beef get boring), so I always keep frozen shrimp on hand. Since the nearest Thai restaurant is about 35 mins away (not to mention, the nearest payday is about a week away lol) I decided to satisfy my craving for some Thai with a little homemade Asian fusion in the form of Thai tacos! After a busy day of baby-birthday-partying and errands, us Schulzes reconvened at home to throw together a quick marinate for our shrimp before heading to the park so J could see baby P swinging on the swings like a big boy for the first time (awwwww!). Upon arriving back home we shuffled P off to bed (6 pm sharp lol am I a lucky mom or what!?) then J and I fired up the grill and whipped up a quick peanut sauce for these DELICIOUS Thai tacos, which were ready in 15 mins flat! These were another winner, and like so many of my other recipes, made with mostly pantry ingredients. If you like Thai/Asian inspired food, definitely throw these on the menu, they are quick and easy, can be made with any form of protein and like my hubby says “anything with peanut sauce is good!”.

First things first, how cute is baby P on the swings!?

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Okay, now that you’ve had your squishy baby fill, here’s the recipe 🙂

GRILLED THAI TACOS WITH PEANUT SAUCE

TIPS 

  • Use a store bought peanut sauce if you are in a rush.
  • Switch it up: use the sweet chili marinade as the sauce and the peanut sauce as the marinade.
  • The recipe for the peanut sauce makes quite a few servings, freeze the other helpings in smaller portions and thaw in the fridge the night before making this recipe the next time (because there will be MANY next times 🙂 ) or use with other Thai dishes (satay anyone? yummmm).

For Thai Tacos:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. frozen shrimp (feel free to use fresh shrimp or any other protein for that matter)
  • 2 Tbsp. Chili Garlic Sauce (available in oriental section of most grocery stores, feel free to use any chili paste or sauce or if you prefer a non-spicy dish use red curry paste instead)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
  • 2 cups shredded napa or other cabbage
  • 1/2 cup green onions, sliced (for garnish, optional)
  • 6-8 flour tortillas
  • 1/2 cup peanut sauce (store bought or see recipe below)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Defrost your shrimp by placing in a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes, then remove shells and tails (if not already cleaned). If you are using another protein disregard this step.
  2. Meanwhile, combine chili sauce, honey, lime juice and sesame oil in a freezer bag.thai
  3. Add shrimp or other protein to bag and allow to marinate 30 mins or overnight (for shrimp or fish marinate only about 30 mins).
  4. Preheat grill or grill pan.
  5. Skewer your shrimp and grill for about 4 mins on each side or until pink.thai1thai2
  6. Heat your tortillas on the grill or for a few seconds in the microwave, then assemble your tacos by placing a few grilled shrimp topped with cabbage and a drizzle of peanut sauce with green onions for garnish. Enjoy!thai3

For Peanut Sauce:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (about 1/2 can)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. Rice Wine Vinegar (or white vinegar)
  • 2 tsp. chili sauce or siracha sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and whisk to combine.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.
  3. Allow to simmer for about 10 mins until slightly reduced and thickened.
  4. Serve with above recipe or any other thai dish! Note: this will make several servings, I divide them and freeze in small sandwich bags for later use.

Healthy Mini Summer Chicken Pot Pies

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After coming off of a super fun long Easter weekend with my hubby and squishy baby, it was sad to lose J to another dreaded full week of work, lol. Luckily P and I were able to fill our time with lots of outdoorsy things since it was in the high 70s all week! We even got to host our own little belated Easter egg hunt and picnic in our backyard and it was a huge hit  with our baby and mommy friends. Since the weather was going to be questionable today, I figured it would be the perfect time to give the grill a break and try out my idea for a “summer” chicken pot pie recipe. I don’t dabble in paleo (no pasta or potatoes, is that a sick joke!? lol) but apparently cauliflower based everything is all the rage for those folks, so a few weeks ago I gave the cauliflower “alfredo” sauce a go and it was AMAZING (and freezes well which gave me the opportunity to use my left over sauce in tonight’s recipe!). When I triumphantly posted my cauliflower dish on Facebook, a friend of mine had suggested using the sauce as a base in a chicken pot pie – genius! Even without the heavy cream-based sauce I still felt that chicken pot pie was a little heavy a dish for the beautiful weather we have been having so I decided to lighten it up a tad more by using zucchini and summer squash in the veggie mix (plus squash and zucchini were next up for baby P to try food-wise so I was going to be buying them anyway). So tonight with J off early to hang with my sweet squishy (I know I’ve mentioned before how P does not like super involved recipes lol) I gave this recipe a go. Truthfully, I was a little worried that without the hearty sauce the finished product would be too watery and much less flavorful – I could not have been more wrong!!! This was a homerun to say the least, my hubby even said he liked it better than my regular pot pie recipe! I’m literally enjoying my second right now as I type because it was THAT good lol. These will without a doubt be going into our regular recipe rotation, they are hearty but not heavy and the leftovers even make perfect little lunches. If you’re looking for some almost-guilt-free summer comfort food, look no further (and let me know what ya think!).

 

HEALTHY MINI SUMMER CHICKEN POT PIES

*Recipe makes 6 mini pot pies, using 6 6oz ramekins. If you use 4 or 10oz ramekins your portions will vary.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups diced chicken (I used left over grilled chicken breasts)
  • 1 package frozen or refrigerated pie dough (mine came with 2)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 yellow summer squash, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 1 red potato, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  •  1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 cups Cauliflower Sauce (I used 1 head of cauliflower instead of the 3 that the recipe calls for, other than that I followed the recipe to the letter. If you are preparing the sauce specifically for this recipe just use an extra cup of the boiling vegetable broth in lieu of the starchy pasta water that is called for)
  • 1 egg + 1 tbsp. water

DIRECTIONS

  1. If your pie dough requires defrosting remove from the freezer, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Begin by dicing all of your vegetables and chicken.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   IMG_5787IMG_5788
  3. Heat the oil in a  large pan and add the onions, squash, zucchini, potato, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook until veggies begin to soften (about 7-10 mins. The potatoes will still be hard, they will finish cooking in the oven).
  4. Once veggies begin to soften add frozen peas, corn and cauliflower sauce. Stir and allow mixture to heat through.
  5. Unroll your pie crusts and use one of your ramekins as a guide to cut around the edge of the ramekins and set aside.           IMG_5790    IMG_5792
  6. Add about a cup of the vegetable mixture to each of your ramekins (depending on the size of your ramekins this will vary). IMG_5791
  7. Lay each piece of pie dough over each ramekin then seal the edges using a fork (if your ramekin does not have a flat edge just disregard this step), then using a knife cut a few small slits in the top to vent each pie.IMG_5793IMG_5794
  8. Beat the egg and water and brush the tops of each mini pie, this will help them brown. IMG_5795
  9. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until tops are golden and filling I bubbling. IMG_5797
  10. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 mins before serving, enjoy!!! IMG_5798

 

Easy Slow Cooker Lamb Roast

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Given that my father is from Greece, my love for Greek food and flavors come as no surprise. Lamb is a big part of Greek cuisine and every one in a while, usually on special occasions my father would make the most amazing lamb roast. Preparing the roast was always a very specific (and weird) process, which involved seasoning the lamb then wrapping it in wax paper, newspaper (yes, newspaper lol), tying it together with thread and putting it in a paper bag before finally roasting it in the oven for several hours. Strange as the cooking process was, it always came out amazing and I had always wanted to attempt it myself but it was too involved for my liking so I would resort to grilling up some little lamb lollipops instead, a much quicker and easier dish to prepare. This year with Easter upon us I figured it would be a great opportunity to keep the lamb roast tradition going and attempt to make one for J and myself. I decided I would make it in the slow cooker, because whatever magic occurs in the crockpot always ensures a tasty, tender roast which was key since I was going to cry if I messed up a piece of meat that cost almost $40.00, haha. I followed my Dad’s steps for seasoning the roast but stopped there, because I’m pretty sure that cooking your food in newspaper can’t be good for you, lol. It came out amazing!!! I served it up with my Lemon and Herb Roasted Potatoes and could not have been more thrilled with this delicious meal! Sadly our grocery budget won’t allow for us to make this often but I am super excited to make my next slow cooker lamb dish. So if  you love lamb and are looking for a simple (emphasis on simple – this has only 4 ingredients!!!) recipe that is absolutely delicious and will make you look like a superstar chef, this is it!!! Καλό Πάσχα (Happy Easter)! 

SLOW COOKER LAMB ROAST

Ingredients

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Only 4 Ingredients!!!

  • 4-5 lb. lamb roast (bone in or boneless, whatever is cheaper)
  • 1 head of garlic (about 12 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

  1. Peel all of your garlic cloves (I just do so by smashing them with the broad side of the knife, it doesn’t matter if they get broken into smaller pieces).
  2. Combine salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  3. Using a small knife, cut small slits all over your lamb roast (top, bottom and sides), making sure there is one slit per clove of garlic.lamb2
  4. Take a pinch of the salt and pepper mixture and mash it into each of the slits you have made, then stuff a clove of garlic into each individual slit.lamb3lamb4
  5. Rub the remaining salt and pepper mixture all over the roast.
  6. If your roast is boneless, use a piece of kitchen twine to tie the roast together so it does not fall apart as it is roasting.                              lamb5
  7. Place the roast in your slow cooker, fatty side up.                                                                                                                                                               lamb6
  8. Cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 4-5 hours.                                                                                                                                                                    lamb7lamb8
  9. Enjoy!!! 🙂