Thursday, June 20, 2013

Fish 'N Chips Cookies....#Improv

Betcha can't guess the theme for this month's Improv challenge. Fish and Chips! Don't you love it? Of course I had to figure out how to make a baked good using those two ingredients. Enter the lovely baked Goldfish crackers....

Improv is a monthly challenge for bloggers sponsored by Kristen of Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker. Each month Kristen chooses two seasonal ingredients and we have our way with them. So far, Fish and Chips has been the most challenging for me. :)

Luckily, Kristen gives us some leeway. The challenge wasn't quite so hard when I could include some ingredients that weren't so...well, so fishy. I do love fish, but somehow tilapia doesn't sound quite right in a cookie. The chips part was easy for me. Besides the usual chocolate chips, I was ready to give some roasted coconut chips a try. Oh my. They are good! 

There are times when my husband wonders if I will ever make just a normal baked good. Everything has to have a twist with me. Last week, I was craving an ordinary chocolate chip cookie. While checking around for a good recipe (wow...there are hundreds (!)--I do have to try one of those sea salt and dark chocolate varieties....), I came across a really good one using coconut oil. The recipe, Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, from The Cheeky Kitchen is awesome. It is the basis for the recipe I am going to share today.

Fish 'N Chips Cookies
Printable Recipe

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pretzel Goldfish crackers
1/2 cup roasted coconut chips (or shredded coconut)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F; line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda; set aside.

Place the coconut oil and the brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, stirring until well blended. Fold in the chocolate chips, Goldfish, and coconut chips.

Use a cookie scoop to drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until the cookies are just golden. Remove from oven and cool on wire racks.

So, I've been a little tired and forgot to set the timer on this batch. I call them "Blackened Grouper" cookies. They actually tasted really good...just a bit crunchy. 

Easiest fish I've ever bones about it.

These cookies are really, really good. As I write this I am digesting the three that I had for dinner. They are just the right amount of chewy, salty, crunchy, and sweet. I heart them. 

Please check out what everyone else is making with Fish and Chips!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Orange Cardamom Blueberry Crostata

WooHoo! I done did it! Well---almost. You are looking at a semifinalist finalist (!) in the 46th Pillsbury Bake-Off®! Have you heard of this contest? It is probably the most famous cooking/baking contest in the history of cooking/baking contests. No lie. Take a look at this:

This year's contest is a little different from before....the public gets to vote on the recipes! Pillsbury actually chose 60 recipes in this round of Simple Sweets and Starters, but only 34 of us will get to go to the finals. One thing that hasn't changed is that the grand prize is still $1 MILLION. You heard right. I said $1 MILLION. Before I beg for your vote, let me tell you a little bit about my recipe.....

The theme this year is simple. We can only use a maximum of seven ingredients, two of which have to come from the Pillsbury list. Regular table salt, pepper, and water are free. Oh...and prep time is limited to under 30 minutes, not including baking or cooling time. Whew. Tricky stuff, but not really so hard.

One of my favorite Pillsbury products is the pie crust. Seriously, I always have a box or two in the fridge. I do know how to make my own pie crust, but I don't always have the time. Plus, it's a lot less messy to roll out a Pillsbury crust. I'm all for less that's what I started with.

Start out by softening the crust for a few minutes, just like the package says. Then roll it out onto a parchment lined baking pan. Oh...and set the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Next, measure out 1/2 cup of Smucker's Orchard's Finest Pacific Grove Orange Marmalade Medley (Have you tried this stuff?'s so good!) into a medium sized bowl.  Then, stir in 2 tablespoons of flour and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom.

Blueberries might just be my favorite fruit....

Carefully fold 2 cups of fresh blueberries into the preserves......

......and spoon it all in the middle of the pie crust dough, leaving a 2" edge.

Next, fold the crust over the filling, pleating the dough as necessary. 

Slightly beat one egg yolk with a couple teaspoons of water and lightly brush it over the edges of the crust. A sprinkle of sparkly, coarse sugar is the finishing touch. Who doesn't like sparkly?

Bake the crostata for 17 to 23 minutes or until the edges are browned and the filling is bubbly. Cool for a least 30 minutes.

How's that for a quick dessert that is fit for company? I think you need to go vote right now, don't you? You can get a printable recipe and show your support by visiting You will need to register and there is only one vote per recipe. If you see another recipe you like, go ahead and vote for that, too. Voting is open until 11:59 a.m. CST on June 27, 2013. Feeling inspired? On July 4, you can enter your own recipe into the Quick Rise and Shine Breakfasts category.

Update: This girl is meeting the Doughboy in Sin City---I'll keep you all posted!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dark Chocolate and Orange Muffins....#Recipesfromtheheart

"Today's event is being hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Jen of Juanita's Cocina. They teamed up with their blogger friends to help raise awareness and support for Cancer and Hospice today in memory of Kim's dad. We encourage everyone to read the posts and share their own experiences with cancer. We also would like to encourage everyone to donate to the Canadian Cancer Society, the American Cancer Society and also to the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association. Hospice was a key element during Kim's father's battle with cancer. They made it possible for Kim to care for him at home. So please show your support and donate if you can. You can also contact your local Hospice and donate directly to them if you wish. A little goes a long way!"

Cancer awareness is a subject near and dear to my heart, as well. My mother passed away from complications of cancer (she had both ovarian and colon cancer) when I was just twenty years old. Last year, I lost both my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law to breast cancer. Since my mother-in-law's mother also had breast cancer, there are three generations of women in my husband's family that suffered from it, making me fear for my daughter. Cancer in our family isn't limited to females though, as my father-in-law succumbed to lung cancer soon after my husband and I were married.

When you read Kim's story of her and her father's journey through cancer, you will be heartbroken. Cancer not only robs it's victims of their health, it also robs the victim's entire family...of their sense of well-being, for lack of a better word. It is tough, tough, tough to care for an ailing human being, but when that person is a parent or other family member it is so draining. I thank my sister for being there for my mother through the very end. I was in college and barely aware of all she went through. My time came many, many years later when I cared for my mother-in-law.

My mom in the kitchen...I love to remember her this way.

I pondered for a while over what kind of recipe I should share for a cancer awareness post. Should it be healthy? Should it be something a cancer patient could eat? In the end, I decided that it might be too difficult to decide what a good food for a cancer patient is...there are way too many variables. Let's concentrate instead on the caregivers or the family members that are involved with caring for someone with cancer. For sure they could always use a pick me up, no? So, I decided that a treat was in order. These muffins, full of dark chocolate and fresh orange flavor, may not be health food but they sure are tasty and will be a welcome treat for anyone.

Dark Chocolate and Orange Muffins
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 tablespoons orange zest, divided
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3.5-4 oz. premium dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg, room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.; line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners.

2. In a small bowl, stir together 1 teaspoon of the orange zest with 1/4 cup of the sugar; set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar together. Stir in the chopped chocolate; set aside.

4. Add the buttermilk, the egg and the orange juice to a large, microwave safe measuring cup. Use a fork to blend the mixture. Microwave for about 30 seconds, or just until the mixture is at room temperature; stir in the melted coconut oil, the vanilla, and the remaining orange zest.

5. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and gently stir with a rubber spatula until just blended. 

6. Spoon the batter into the lined muffin cups. Sprinkle the orange-sugar over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until the tops spring back when lightly touched. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

Two of these bars of chocolate from Trader Joe's were perfect....

Please check out the stories of all of the #recipesfromtheheart bloggers. You are sure to be inspired:

Chili Verde by Juanita's Cocina
S'Mores Brownies in Jars by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Dark Chocolate and Orange Muffins by The Dutch Baker's Daughter
Boston Cream Pie by Pass The Sushi
My Fathers Day Recipe Round Up by Curry and Comfort
Tropical Smoothie by Dinners, Dishes and Desserts
Mini Gugelhupf by Masala Herb
Spicy Beef Sliders by Katie's Cucina
Thai Red Curry Soup by Damn Delicious
Suman (Sweet Rice and Banana Leaves) by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Fresh Vegetable Salad by White Lights on Wednesday
Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream Sundae by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen
Honey Beer Bread by Hungry Couple
Cinnamon-Chocolate Chip Pancakes by The Spiffy Cookie
Cookies and Cream Brownies by Cooking in Stilettos
Blueberry Lemon Cake by Roxana's Home Baking
Angel Cake by Ninja Baking

Now, to add a little excitement to our cancer awareness post, look at what KichenAidCanada has agreed to give to one of our readers (!):

"Enter for your chance to Win an Artisan® Series KitchenAid®  Stand Mixer in the color of your choice (there are 26 to choose from) as well as an Ice Cream Maker Attachment. A sweet choice for all,  this creative attachment features the largest ice cream bowl capacity in the industry. Prepare 2 quarts of ice cream, sorbet, gelato or other frozen desserts. We're pleased to announce the giveaway is open to Canadian residents, as well as U.S. Residents. Winner will be chosen and announced during the pinchatlive event, described below. Winner will also be notified via email and has 48 hours to respond. If winner does not respond another winner will be chosen. 1 Stand Mixer and 1 Ice Cream Attachment are being given away as a group, not 1 per blog just to be clear for our readers. 

There are bonus prizes for the pinchatlive event. We are giving away 1 Vanilla Infused Gift Box Set, 1 Lemon Infused Gift Box Set and a $30 Amazon Gift Card.  In order to participate in this event follow the Pinterest Board #recipesfromtheheart. Hop on the Pinterest board on June 22 at 2 pm Est to follow along. We'll ask questions and those who comment are entered to win the bonus prizes. There will be a G+ Hangout on Air during the event as well. Winners of the pinchatlive event must be Canadian or U.S. residents.
Visit and click on the “More than a Mixer” tab to explore all 12 attachments available for the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer."

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Fried Brie and Raspberry Salad with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette.....#thesaladbar

With all of the bleak weather around here lately, I think it's about time for some Spring food, don't you? How about a tasty salad? My friend Wendy from The Weekend Gourmet thought that salads would make a nice monthly feature and I think so too. We're calling it The Salad Bar and each month we'll feature a salad with a theme. The first theme? Berries!

I have to say, berries are right up my ally. I love them all. Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries....they're all good! I was just a little stymied over what I was going to pair with my berries. Of course, all it takes is a little stroll through Trader Joe's to get inspired....look what I found! Slicing Brie! I had an idea!

Now, bear with me as I assemble my salad...I don't necessarily measure my salad ingredients. This recipe will make about 4 servings.

Fried Brie and Raspberry Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette


2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon coarse ground mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


8 oz brie, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 egg, beaten
1 cup panko bread crumbs
canola oil for frying (about 1/2 cup)
6-8 oz baby lettuce leaves (I used a Spring mix)
6 oz fresh raspberries
1/2 cup candied pecans

Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients and keep chilled until ready to use.

Dip the brie slices in the beaten egg. Season the panko bread crumbs with a little sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Roll the brie slices in the seasoned crumbs, coating each side completely. Place the breaded slices in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. Fry the brie slices, 3-4 at a time, until golden, about a minute per side. Watch carefully so that the cheese doesn't ooze out into the oil. Drain on paper towels.

Arrange the lettuce on a serving plate. Sprinkle the raspberries and the pecans over the top. Place 3-4 brie slices on each salad; drizzle the vinaigrette over all.

You're going to want to freeze these for a bit so they won't get too melty in the hot oil.

Martha used Dijon mustard in her vinaigrette...I used coarse ground mustard...whatever works!

Packaged lettuce, candied pecans, and raspberries...this was an easy salad to make.

I have to say that I love this new monthly salad idea...what do you think?

 Check out the salads everyone else is making:

Sunday, June 2, 2013


One of the perks of this blogging hobby of mine, is that I am sometimes invited to some awesome events. Recently, I was invited to participate in the launch of KEMPS® Family Traditions Ice Cream Flavor Contest. It was held at the KEMPS®plant in Rochester and I was really happy to accept the invitation. Unfortunately, circumstances beyond my control kept me at home on the big day. I missed an opportunity to meet Theresa Mauer (Joe's mom!), a few other bloggers, and KEMPS® own ice cream guru, Logan Julstom. Most importantly, I missed the excitement of the launch of this fun contest. Don't worry, though--I'm going to share the info with you. 

We all have family traditions, right? What is yours? And most importantly, how can you make it into ice cream? If you have a delicious family tradition, simply mix it up into an ice cream idea and you could win $2500! How fun is that?

If you happen to live in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota or South Dakota, then this contest is for you. But you have to hurry--there's only 5 days left!!

Simply click on this link: KEMPS® Family Traditions Ice Cream Flavor Contest and enter your idea!

 KEMPS® was good enough to send me a goodie bag since I was unable to attend the event. While I missed tasting last year's winner ( had MINI-DONUTS in it!), they did send me a carton of the 2011 winning flavor, Land of 10,000 Licks--Sweet Cream Vanilla Ice Cream with thick ribbons of Salted Caramel and Salted Caramel Toffee Bits. 

Holy Salted Caramel--this was awesome!

Just a few things I think you should know about  KEMPS®:

 ~Kemps works with 17,000 farm families and 100% of the profits go to them.
~ Kemps products are sold in Minnesota, parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas and frozen yogurt is sold throughout the Southeast.
~ Kemps produces 70 million gallons of milk at three milk manufacturing facilities across Minnesota
~Joe Mauer and his mom Theresa have been spokespeople for Kemps since 2010.
~At last year's Minnesota State Fair over 20,000 ice cream samples were passed out.
~ Cows have a very keen sense of smell--they can smell something 6 miles away!

I know that I want to be at the Minnesota State Fair to try samples of the finalist flavors. The winner will be announced on August 28!

What family tradition can you mix up into a great ice cream flavor?