Monday, March 31, 2014

Sloppy Joe Seasoning Mix

Here it is--a homemade seasoning mix that you can keep on hand for last minute dinners. No more store bought mixes--in a package or a can. And the result is a thick and delicious beefy sandwich with a slight kick. We had friends over one night and not sure I'd have enough food, I quickly added sloppy joes to the menu, to great success. Everyone loved them and Dave enjoyed the slight difference in flavor from my regular crock pot version. This seasoning mix stores easily in the cupboard for a quick weeknight meal, and you could make it with beef, turkey or chicken, probably even meatless crumbles. So I put together a jar and sent out for this month's Foodie Pen Pal.

The Lean Green Bean

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Homemade Twinkies

Yup. I made them and they are awesome. I'll ignore the whole Twinkie shortage outrage of 2013 and just say, I'm glad I stumbled across this pan at Bed Bath and Beyond for $4. Yup, I bought the pan for cheaper than an actual box of Twinkies. And they are easy. Plus I can pronounce everything in them. Oh, yeah, and they taste good. Better than the real thing, I think. The cakes are light and fluffy with just about nothing to them and the filling is sweet and creamy, slightly thinner than the store-bought version but perfect for these homemade treats. I'm so excited to have this pan. If you follow me on Facebook, then you might have seen me suggest running to the clearance department of your nearest Bed Bath and Beyond with your 20% off coupon for the ultimate baking equipment score. Hopefully they still have some left!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream Frosting

Rarely do the stars align so I can share a recipe for birthday baking on someone's actual birthday. Happy Birthday, Rachel! We had Rachel and some other friends over this weekend and I made these lemon cupcakes when the birthday girl asked for something lemony. And boy are they. Lemon juice and zest give these cupcakes a tart, citrus tang and lemon extract in the buttercream frosting is quite literally the icing on the cake. This frosting is slightly different than I typically make thanks to a little cream in the frosting, whipped up to creamy and smooth. Yum! These cupcakes will definitely make you think spring (even if you do still have chipmunk igloos in your yard like we do).

Friday, March 21, 2014

BBQ Beef Chili

We love a good twist on chili--chicken enchilada, pizza, butternut squash, buffalo chicken, you name it. So of course this BBQ beef chili needed to be tested. And it is definitely approved. Onions, tomato and corn pair up with barbeque baked beans and seasonings for a hearty and flavorful chili. What I like about this chili is that the flavors are strong, but since it's barbeque they aren't the typical "hot" spice that it normally associated with chili. Just a nice, strong smoky flavor that always goes really well with beef. Plus the beer makes things that much richer. Top with cheese, serve with chips and dig in.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Guinness Cheddar Dip

Do you have leftover Guinness floating around your fridge (um, why? Drink up, we don't waste!)? Need a fun appetizer? Good, because I've got one for you. This creamy and smooth cheddar dip is amped up with a bit of Guinness which leave a hint of something different without tasting like you soaked some cheese in some beer. As a dip or a spread, it's great with crackers, veggies, pita--just about anything. Ooh, I didn't try it with pretzels--do that, let me know how it is. A little bit of seasonings and herbs paired with some dark and delicious Guinness takes cream cheese and cheddar to the next level. And this dip makes a ton. You could roll into into cheese balls for a fun appetizer platter or just put out a big bowl with some dippable snacks like I did. Definitely a good way to use leftover beer.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Beergarita Chicken Tacos

How about a Mexican twist on St. Patrick's Day? I think that sounds awesome, so I made you these beergarita chicken tacos. And by made you, I mean I made them, took a picture for you to look at and then shoved them in face. And they were tasty. Like for real yummy. The chicken is tender and flavorful will all kinds of good stuff, not the least of which is beer and margarita mix.  So good. And not just for tacos. We ate this on top of salads and rice bowls and really enjoyed it. This versatile chicken works a lot of ways and has tons of flavor. Plus it has beer and taste like margaritas. What's not to love?

Secret Recipe Club

Friday, March 14, 2014

Irish Triple Threat Cupcakes

Oh boy, are these the real deal. Amazing cupcakes. Really. They are all that is good for St. Patrick's Day and you have all weekend to make them. I made them when friends came over and several people tried to "just have half" only to immediately shove the other half in their (and my) face). Just don't even try. You'd be better off saying, "I'll have half...the recipe." Let me break it down for you: Guinness helps make a dark chocolate cupcake that is then stuffed with a Jameson whiskey ganache only to finally be topped with a Bailey's buttercream frosting. Yes, that'll do just fine. It covers all your Irish bases--three of the food groups (Guinness, Jameson and Bailey's) plus it's a cupcake plus it's awesome. You need these cupcakes in your life if you are Irish, like alcohol-infused treats, like cupcakes and/or are not completely insane (the last qualification is excluded for anyone with the first qualification see we Irish are a wee bit nuts at times). Seriously? Make these. Eat them all. Make them again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Guinness Irish Stew

Are you noticing a theme yet? There are alternatives to corned beef and cabbage if you'd like to make an Irish dinner in honor of St. Patrick's Day coming up. This is the good stuff I made to go with the brown bread I shared on Monday. Loaded with yummy beef, lots of veggies, barley and seasoning, plus a Guinness kicker for extra flavor, this is a wonderful meal. Oh, did I forget to say it was a crock pot meal? Because yes, it's as easy as dump, mix, turn on and eat. My favorite kind of meal. This stew is definitely hearty and will warm you up, so if like me you're still stuck underneath a polar ice cap (or have so much snow in your yard that it's now insulated itself and is giving off cold air of it's own causing you to wonder if you might see the grass by May) then this is the dish for you. I love everything about it. The Guinness is definitely there, but in a mild behind the scenes flavor kind of way.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Irish Brown Soda Bread

Dave and I went to Ireland last year for a belated honeymoon (hey, better 4 years late than never!). While there we really enjoyed the food. Like for real. And one of our favorite finds was this brown bread. It's soft but with a gently crusty edge. The flavors are nutty and hearty. It's the perfect bread warmed with a pat of sweet cream butter or for dipping into a hearty bowl of stew. We found a little corner coffee shop/deli in Bray that we ended up getting a few meals from and each time I had the option, I went with the brown bread. I'm so glad to have finally found a recipe to enjoy it again!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Enchilada Meatballs

You know how much we love Mexican food here, and I loved the idea of a twist on traditional meatballs. These enchilada meatballs at made with a mix of beef and turkey, combined with cornbread crumbles, and flavored lightly with cilantro, onion, seasonings and lots of enchilada sauce. They come together quickly and are baked, so they are a bit healthier than a pan fried version. We enjoyed these with noodles, a little extra enchilada sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. Not too shabby for a quick weeknight dinner.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

S'mores Whoopie Pies

Milk chocolate and marshmallow filling squished into graham cracker cakes make for a perfect, delicious and fun dessert. I'm a huge whoopie pie fan, and I love smore's (hello cookies and brownies and well, brownies), so the idea of whoopie pies in that delicious combo of flavors seems like a no brainer. The cookie of these whoopie pies mimic graham crackers because they are made with crushed graham cracker, but a soft, cakey version of the traditional crisp outside of a s'more. Melted Hershey bars and a marshmallow filling bring it all together. And a glass of milk and you are all set to enjoy a s'more and think about an end to this cold winter, looking forward to some warm campfire nights this summer.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sausage, Butternut and Spinach Pasta

We loved this pasta. It was full of flavor and texture and yes, you can make a delicious sauce from winter squash! Which is awesome because we still have squash leftover from the fall farm shares and got a few in the beginning of the winter shares as well. I'd pureed a bunch and put it in the freezer,but still had some others whole. Just a little sage brings a lot of extra flavor. Spinach bulks up this dish already brimming with good for you stuff like chicken sausage and squash. I thought I would like it, one of those eh, try it once kind of recipes. But I really enjoyed. More surprising, however, was how much Dave liked it. So much that I made it again a shortly after we polished off the leftovers. If you enjoy pasta but want an alternative to tomato based or heavy cheese sauces, this could be your new favorite.