Tuesday, May 31, 2011

3 Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

It has been pretty busy in our house lately. . . and this weekend was no different! Some of our sweet friends came in town and it was so much fun to spend time together! Since we had a big day planned, I had brunch prepared when they arrive! That way we could eat and then hit the town!
These poppy seed muffins, from Annie's Eats, were a hit at brunch and I had enough left over to take as a hostess gift to a barbecue later on in the weekend!
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
Yield: about 12 muffins
For the muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup yogurt (plain or vanilla)
For the glaze (optional):
½ cup confectioners' sugar
1-2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners.  Combine the flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.  Stir briefly to combine.  In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Mix in the lemon zest and the vanilla extract.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in two additions alternating with the yogurt, beating each addition just until incorporated.
Divide the batter between the prepared liners, filling each about two-thirds full.  Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the muffins are still warm, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl to make the glaze.  Drizzle a small amount of the glaze over each muffin.  Let the glaze set before serving.  
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

2 Paleo Pizza: The Meatza

This "meatza" is the Paleo version of pizza! Basically, it is a pizza with meat instead of pizza crust! Crazy, right. . . but it is SO good. . . so good in fact that Nate had to have seconds!
Ahhhmmaaazzzzingggg. . . 
Paleo Pizza: The Meatza
1 pound lean ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 slices bacon, cut in 1 inch pieces
3/4 pound button mushrooms, slicd
1 cup bell peppers thinly sliced
1 cup sugar-free tomato sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
(I used bell peppers, red onions, and pepperoni instead of bacon and mushrooms)
1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees
2. In a bowl, mix the ground meat with the onion, garlic, egg, salt and pepper
3. Spread the mixture on a 16 inch pizza pan and bake for 10 minutes (I baked the crust in a 13x9 in pyrex and baked it for 20 min)
4. While the crust cooks, heat a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the bacon for about 5 minutes so it's still a bit soft.
5. Add the mushrooms and continue cooking until they are almost cooked.
6. Add the bell peppers and cook for another 2-3 minutes. (I sauteed the bell peppers and onions in olive oil)
7. Remove the crust from the oven and pour out the juices when can be reserved for other recipes. At this point the crust will have shrunk a bit.
8. Preheat your oven broiler
9. Spread the tomato sauce evenly over the crust and spread the bacon, mushrooms and bell peppers on top of the sauce. Sprinkle with the oregano.
10. Put the pizza back under the broiler and broil until the top starts to brown.
The Paleo Recipe Book 
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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

4 Chicken and Guacamole Tostadas

Val So Cal has the best recipes .  . . and she loves Mexican food as much as I do!! I made these tostadas a while back and we LOVED them. . . so much so that I made them for Cinco De Mayo!  Quick, easy, and delicious! My kind of dinner!
Chicken and Guacamole Tostadas
1 ripe avocado
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped tomato, divided
4 tablespoons minced fresh onion, divided
3 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 to 2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
8 (6 inch) corn tostada shells
1) Place avocado in a small bowl, mash with a fork, Stir in
2 tablespoons of tomato and 2 tablespoon onion, 1 tablespoon
lime juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper and garlic.
2) Combine remaining 1 cup tomato, 2 tablespoons of onion,
1 tablespoon lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and jalapeno
toss well.
3) Combine chicken, remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and
paprika, toss well to combine. Spread about 1 to 2 tablespoons
of guacamole over each tostada shell. Top each with 1/4 cup of
chicken mixture and 2 tablespoons salsa.
Val So Cal 
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

5 Blackened Pork Chops with Pineapple and Mango Salsa

I made these pork chops from For the Love of Cooking a couple weeks ago and THEY WERE AMAZING! :-) (in fact, they are on the menu this week too!) 
Pork Chops 
Pineapple Mango Salsa

Blackened Pork Chops with a Pineapple - Mango Salsa

Blackened Seasoning:
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • Dash of cayenne
  • 4 pork pork chops
Combine the spices together and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle on each side of the pork chops.

Pineapple - Mango Salsa:
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 small fresh pineapple, diced
  • 2 tbsp minced red onion
  • 1 jalapeƱo, seeded and diced
  • 1-2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
Chop all the ingredients and place in a bowl, add the lime juice and combine gently until well mixed.
Heat the grill pan on medium high heat and coat with olive oil cooking spray. Cook the pork chops for 4-5 minutes per side or until it's cooked through. Let the meat rest for 5 minutes. Serve the pork chops with the pineapple - mango salsa. Enjoy.
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

3 Blog-Etiquette . . .

My friend, Casey, wrote a great blog today about "following." In it she explained step by step how to follow a blog!
I am pretty good about "following". . . if I come across a blog I like, I immediately add them to my blog reader. . . I am much slower about updating my blog list on my blog or about helping others follow my blog(mom, setting you up tonight!)  
 I listed numerous "new" bloggers on my Versatile Blogger award. Following a blog encourages the blogger to "keep going" . . . to keep writing. . . it tells them that "you bless me." It is such an motivational boost, as are your comments! 
So I encourage you to "follow" new blogs. . . like different blog's facebook pages, and leave thoughtful comments. 
I know it makes my day! ;-)
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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

5 Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bar Cookies

I am so excited to link up with Casey's recipe exchange today! 
I saw this recipe on The Waspy Redhead and decided to try it out a couple weeks ago! AND it was AMAZING and SUPER easy! :-) I already had all the ingredients in my pantry which made me love this recipe EVEN more!! :-)
Make sure to head over to Casey's recipe exchange to see a little "dinner party" tip from me! :-)
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment and grease lightly with butter.
Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Cream butter, peanut butter and sugars together until well combined. Add in the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Fold in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips until just combined – don’t over stir or the dough will get tough and your bars will be less delicious.
Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 mins depending on your oven. Allow to cool completely on a rack. Use the parchment to lift the cooled bars out in one fell swoop then cut into 16 servings.
The Waspy Redhead
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Monday, May 9, 2011

2 Sister Friends and Lemonade Sweet Tea

This weekend, I met two of my best friends for dinner. We lounged on couches on a patio since it was a beautiful night. . . and then we proceeded to talk until the restaurant closed. Of course, we weren't finished spending time together so we walked across the street for coffee, and then closed down the coffee shop. We sat outside of the coffee shop until 1 am. Finally, we walked to our cars and talked in the parking lot until 1:30.
I am truly blessed. . .
A friend. . .
  • knows the ugly things about you and loves you in spite of your faults
  • calls it like it is 
  • you can share anything with them. . .
  • you feel absolutely comfortable in their presence . . . like a family member
  • you never run out of things to talk about. . .
  • you spend 6 hours together and realize you aren't halfway done with what you needed to catch up on. .
  • you go through trials together  . . .
  • you lift each other up. . .
  • you speak truth over each other and rebuke the lies that Satan has us believe. . .
  • You are protective of them . . .
  • a simple squeeze of the hand, a bear hug, or a kiss on the cheek means I love you more than I can really express in words. .
  • you get emotional thinking about how lucky you are to have them in your life. .
  • you cry together
  • and above all, you rejoice together . .
My heart overflows with thanksgiving.
Here is the perfect "front porch drink" to sip with friends this summer!
Lemonade Sweet Tea
Makes about 8 cups
3 cups water
2 family-size tea bags
1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups cold water
1/2 (12 oz) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed (I used the entire can)
1. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan. Remove from heat, add tea bags, and stir in fresh mint. Cover and steep 10 minutes.
2. Discard tea bags and mint. Stir in sugar until dissovled. Pour tea into a 3 qt container, and stir in 4 cups cold water and lemonade concentrate. Serve over ice.
Southern Living
16. Nate's drive to succeed and work ethic.
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

3 Southwest Cobb Salad

In honor of Mother's Day, I'm posting this Southwest Cobb Salad that I found on Keeping Up with the Joneses. As I have said before, my mom is the healthiest eater in the world and the most disciplined. (literally, she has not had one dessert in my entire lifetime). So, this is probably the only thing she would eat on my "list" of recipes to blog about. . . BUT if she were ordering this salad at a restaurant, she would cut the cheddar cheese and the bacon and have oil and vinegar in the side. And that is why she is so tiny! :-) 
Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you!
Nate and I on the other hand had our salads with the everything piled on top! 

Happy Mother's Day to veteran moms, new moms, expecting moms, moms waiting for their children through the adoption process, AND moms to furry children! 
Have a lovely Sunday celebrating YOU! :-)
1  large head romaine lettuce, shredded
1  pound  chopped smoked chicken (or 1 rotisserie chicken)
1  cup  (4 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3  large tomatoes, seeded and diced
2  large avocados
1  tablespoon  fresh lemon juice
1  bunch green onions, sliced
1  (4-oz.) package crumbled blue cheese
6  bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 package buttermilk ranch dressing (and ingredients called for on packet) (I just used regular Ranch Dressing)
1/2 cup barbecue sauce
Prepare buttermilk ranch dressing according to package directions. Stir in barbecue sauce and refrigerate until ready to use.
Layer first 4 ingredients on a large serving platter.
Peel and chop avocados; toss with lemon juice.
Layer avocado, green onions, crumbled blue cheese, and crumbled bacon over salad. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to 8 hours. Serve with Barbecue-Ranch Dressing.
Keeping Up With the Joneses
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

1 Mandarin Chicken Salad

I hope you are enjoying your Saturday!
First off, I must say that Courtney from Marvelous Light might be the sweetest person in the WHOLE world! Thank you for your incredible encouragement, friend! 
Secondly, I have been in a salad mood lately. . . like I "CANNOT get enough spinach and fruit" type of mood. . . 
So I thought I would share a light and lovely salad with you today. . .
Mandarin Chicken Salad 
Cubed chicken
Raw Spinach 
Madarin Oranges
Toss together with a light fruity dressing (I love raspberry walnut vinaigrette) . . .
and ENJOY!
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

7 On my heart. . .

I want to tell you a story. . . 
I flew into Charlotte a couple years ago to meet up with two of my best friends from high school. As I was waiting on my luggage, I saw a young couple walk down the stairs with a precious Asian girl in their arms. At the bottom of the stairs were the couple's family, with balloons, signs, hugs, and tears. In an instant, I realized what I was witnessing. . . this couple was bringing their daughter home for the first time. . . oh how it touched my heart. . . I, too, cried in that airport . . .
I have such a tender heart when it comes to children. . . 
So when I hear about sweet friends adopting children, saving a child from a lifetime without parents, and forever blessing their OWN lives with the addition of a special gift from God. . . it makes me cry tears of joy. .
I have loved reading all the adoption stories on Faith Blogs and it is amazing to see the patience of the parents as they wade through all of the red tape, the sweet joy on the faces of the children as they meet and get to know their family for the first time, and above all, God's hand in the entire process. 
A few journeys that I am "praying" through with friends are . . . 
The Eicher's as they wait on sweet Archie from Bulgaria
Wynne and Stephen waiting on Camp from Ethiopia 
The Kohlbachers waiting on a little boy or girl from Rwanda 
AND I am also praying for Katie (from Faith Blogs) as she mothers her four children, including 7 year old Arnold from Uganda
(this is the first video Katie saw of Arnold. . . little did she know that, one day, Arnold would call Katie. . .  "Mom!" ) 
 Oh the tears. . . I just can't help it. . . I weep with joy and thanksgiving for God's hand in connecting two parts to make a whole.
"And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me." Matthew 18:5
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7 Cinco De Mayo

I had plans to do a giant post with links and pictures to all the different Mexican foods that I have on Elizabeth Ann's Recipe Box. . .
but then life got in the way. . . 
Our school does an annual t-shirt sale to benefit the Invisible Children in Africa and I have been in charge of it the past three years. . . 
and. . . 
we are right in the middle of it. . .
This is for another post, but the hearts of the kids I teach, never cease to amaze me. . . 

Back to Cinco de Mayo. . . 
Nate, Parker and I celebrated on Tuesday night with a Mexican Dinner since I have a soccer game tonight.
Guacamole, Tostados, Sopapilla Cheesecake, and Churros were on the menu. . .
I'll share the rest of the recipes later but today I wanted to leave you with a short, easy, amazing one. . . CHURROS! :-) I can't remember the first time I had a churro but I am sure it was in San Antonio with my dad's family at Sea World or something like that. . . oh, the cinnamon sugar deliciousness! :-) I literally haven't had one since elementary school, so I thought I needed to remedy that! :-) 
Vegetable Oil
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3 1/4 cups Original Bixquick mix (I used Pioneer Brand) 
1 cup hot water
In 3-quart saucepan, heat oil (2 to 3 inches) over medium-high heat until thermometer inserted in oil reads 375°F.
In small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons of the sugar and the cinnamon; set aside. In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, hot water and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar with spatula until dough forms. 
Spoon dough into pastry bag fitted with 1/4-inch star tip. Pipe 5-inch strips of dough into hot oil. If necessary, cut dough with knife or scissors between each churro. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, turning frequently, until golden brown. Carefully remove from oil; drain on paper towels. 
Immediately sprinkle churros generously with sugar-cinnamon mixture. Serve warm. (Nate likes his COVERED in honey!)
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Monday, May 2, 2011

5 Cupcakes

Nate takes care of my car with such care. I have literally pumped my own gas a handful of times since we have been married.
A couple weeks ago, I was shopping and saw that Sprinkles cupcakes didn't have a line (for the FIRST time EVER) .  . . so I ventured inside, thinking I am going to surprise my sweet Nate with a cupcake. . .
well, one cupcake turned into
and then I saw a Dr. Pepper with REAL sugar. . .which is his favorite. . .
and, of course, Wrigley and Gus needed a cupcake too. . .
so. . . I went a little overboard. . .
which is typical . . .
But, Nate loved his cupcakes. . . and that is all that mattered! :-) 
13. The way I don't have to pump my own gas because Nate always takes care of it!
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Sunday, May 1, 2011

7 The Versatile Blogger AWARD! :-)

Sweet Sarah at Racing Towards Joy gave me the "Versatile Blogger Award!!" 
Sarah is constantly blessing me with her comments and with her posts!!!!

When receiving this award the rules are:
1. Thank and link to the person who awarded you
2. Share 7 facts about yourself
3. Pass on the award to 7 new-found blog friends
4. Let your friends know they were awarded!

7 things about me. . .
1. I have been doing Crossfit for a month now and am addicted. . . seriously, I think I have a problem! :-) 
2. Wayne Graham is by far my favorite baseball coach to watch. He is 73, has coached 20 years at Rice, and has led Rice to the College World Series 7 times. He is fiery, tough and has an incredible baseball mind. From squeeze plays to pinch hitters, you never can predict what he is going to do!
3. I have a problem over committing. . . I normally remind myself of my problem when I am going to my 4th event of the day or when I am baking at one in the morning. 
4. My bridesmaids represented the different chapters in my life. . . childhood, high school, college, and post college. I am so thankful for each of them!
5. I fell off a cheerleading pyramid my senior year of high school. My head hit the ground and another girl fell on top of my head, splitting it open. . . the ambulance came and I got wheeled out of school on a stretcher with a neck brace (lovely) . . . by the time the rumors reached my brothers, I was basically dead.. . . haha! Turns out, I just needed a couple staples! 
6. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. 
7. I feel closest to the Lord when I am reveling at his creation! :-) 
{a south Texas sunset!}
And here are my picks! :-)
From beautiful pictures and recipes, to Mel's heart for the Lord, you get a little bit of everything on The Larson Lingo! 
Blair gives us a peak into Minor League baseball. . . and believe me, it is versatile! :-) 
In the same light of "versatile" careers, Courtney provides such amazing stories from her daily life in Teach for America!
Sarah and Lauren are two of the funniest people I know! From videos, to running into THE Mrs. Armstrong, they are sure to bring a smile to your face! :-) 
Whether Kara and Jacky are writing about working out or Disney Land, one thing is for certain. . . their overwhelming love for the Lord! 
 Versatile is Taylor's middle name. A city girl learning how to live in the country provides for some pretty funny posts! You'll find recipes, party ideas, and do it yourself decorations on Country Club Cowgirl!
Last but certainly not least, is the Cake Duchess. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the place to go! :-) I love reading about her Italian relatives, stories of baking with her mother in law, and, of course, the beautiful pictures of her desserts!

I hope you have a wonderful Sunday! :-)
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