Hi strangers! Sorry I haven’t updated in a while. Truth be told, I haven’t been cooking or baking much recently. I do, however, have a ton of recipes ready to be typed and uploaded, it’s just a matter of finding the time to do so. I decided to kick off my “return”, of sorts, with a recipe I just threw together because I had chicken thighs hanging out in the freezer and fresh honey mangoes (smaller, riper mangoes) that I was recently given. Since I always enjoy sharing my tips and tricks, I wanted to share my latest kitchen investment. This defrosting board ($30 on Amazon) is AMAZING! My chicken thighs were frozen solid and this board cut the defrosting time in half. Worth the money if you’re someone who prefers to not pop meat into the microwave to defrost and doesn’t have all day to spend waiting for meat to defrost on a countertop.
- 4 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
- black pepper
- salt (I only use salt that comes with a grinder since I like to break it up myself)
- minced garlic
- 2 honey mangoes, sliced
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and spray a small amount of olive oil onto the bottom of an oven-safe dish.
- Trim any extra skin off each chicken thigh, but be sure to leave most of the skin on.
- In a small bowl, mix together a healthy amount (eyeball it) of black pepper and salt.
- Rub the pepper & salt mixture onto both sides of each thigh.
- Using a knife, create a bunch of small “stab wounds” in each thigh and shove minced garlic in each opening.
- Place slices of mango on top of each thigh (I used 3 slices per thigh).
- Place chicken in prepared dish and cover with aluminum foil. Put in oven and set timer for 45 minutes.
- Once the 45 minutes is up, remove the foil, up the temperature to 400 degrees F. and cook the chicken for 15 more minutes.
- Remove from oven and serve! Be sure to pour the extra sauce over the top of the chicken.
These thighs came out incredibly juicy and the extra sauce the chicken and mangoes produced was delicious! Cooking times may vary based on what kind of oven you use (I used my convection oven since my regular oven makes my kitchen way too hot in the summer months) and the size of your thighs. This makes for a great summer dish thanks to the use of the mangoes.
Mac and cheese, by default, is a crowd pleaser. It could be the mac that you zap in the microwave and it will still make someone happy. It also comes in handy as a vegetarian-friendly dish when certain people in your group do not eat meat. Granted, it’s not vegan-friendly (sorry, vegans, but cheese is delicious) but it’s still guaranteed to make a majority of the group happy. Oh, and kids love it! Find me one child who dislikes macaroni and cheese. Go on, I’ll wait…
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (Ronzoni makes great “large elbows” which work perfectluy with this recipe)
- 4 tablespoons butter (extra required if you want to use it to grease your pan. I chose Pam olive oil spray instead since that helps cooked pasta stay fresh longer)
- 16 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 8 ounces mild cheddar cheese, shredded
- 2-2.5 cups whole milk (depending on how “dry” you like your pasta)
- 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. I actually prepared this first since I was transporting it the next day and therefore prepared the night before and baked it when I reached my destination. But! If you’re eating it the same night, then do this first.
- Prepare elbow macaroni, as directed on box (prepare it al dente since it will cook further inside the oven). Drain and set aside.
- Grease entire surface of a 9×13 in. baking pan.
- Cover the bottom of the baking pan with half of the cooked macaroni.
- Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into small pieces (like a pat of butter) and spread them evenly over the macaroni.
- Add a layer of half of the sharp cheddar cheese, then half of the mild cheddar cheese.
- Add the other half of the macaroni. Then 2 more tablespoons of butter (also cut into small pieces and spread out evenly).
- Add the other half of both cheeses.
- Add the milk.
- Sprinkle the breadcrumbs lightly in a thin layer over the top of the whole dish. You can either do this right before it goes into the oven or halfway through baking the dish.
- Bake for 45 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges.
I swear there is macaroni underneath all that cheese.
Complete and delicious!
People kept talking about this all night. It came out delicious with just the right amount of cheese. The breadcrumbs provided a nice crunch to the dish to mix-up the creamy texture. I’m fond of the browned edges so if you’re like me, you’ll definitely enjoy this. This makes around 8-10 servings.
Are you ready for a recipe that everyone will appreciate? A recipe so simple you can whip it up right before seeing family and/or friends? If so, then continue to read this post. I originally got this recipe from Taste of Home. I needed a quick and easy appetizer for something I could easily transport to a relative’s home. This recipe caught my eye because it includes a couple of my favorite things (I’m looking at you, feta and tortillas). While I HATE green onions, I realized if they were chopped finely enough then perhaps I wouldn’t notice them (I barely did when all was said and done).
- 1 8-ounce carton whipped cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
- 1 5-ounce package dried cranberries
- 4 10-inch flour tortillas
- In a small bowl, combine the cream cheese, feta cheese, and onions. Stir in cranberries.
- Spread an even amount of mixture over each tortilla (make sure the mixture reaches the edges of the tortillas) and roll up tightly.
- Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. I allowed mine to sit in the fridge overnight.
- When ready to serve, cut each roll-up into 10 slices.
Ready for transport
All sliced up and ready to serve
These were a hit! So simple and quick to make, yet everyone enjoyed them. The sweetness and bit of tart flavor from the cranberries meshes incredibly well with the feta, cream cheese, and onions. If you’ll be transporting these, like I did, then keep them wrapped until you reach your destination. This will ensure they hold up well (thanks to the wrap) and will stay cold until ready to serve (bring and ice pack or two along). I will definitely be making these again.
I pre-ordered the new Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook and was thrilled when it got to my house…On the day it was officially released. I follow Gina’s blog and always love what she comes up with. I especially love recipes that involve the use of a slow cooker since you can set it and forget it. They’re the perfect recipes for days where you’re either heading to work or running errands and don’t have time to stand around the kitchen and prep a meal. This book also includes recipes that can be thrown together in under 30 minutes. That’s also great if you had a long day at the office and need something quick, that does not involve the drive-thru window. I decided the first recipe I was going to try was the slow cooker turkey and pumpkin chili. Gina uses navy beans in hers, while I opted for kidney beans. I also changed around the amount of ingredients here and there but at the end of it all, it’s a chili that is still incredibly delicious and perfect on a chilly day (see what I did there?).
- Cooking spray or oil mister (I used PAM olive oil spray)
- 2 pounds lean ground turkey
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground sea salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (I used Swanson)
- 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened pumpkin puree
- 2 (4-ounce) cans chopped mild green chiles (Old el Paso makes these if you don’t know what to look for)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 3 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Black pepper, to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Coat skillet with cooking spray and add the ground turkey and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, using a wooden spoon to break the meat into pieces as it browns (this takes 5-10 minutes). Transfer to a slow cooker.
- Add oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent (5 minutes or so). Transfer to the slow cooker.
- To the slow cooker, add the broth, beans, pumpkin, green chiles, cumin, chili powder, oregano, black pepper, and bay leaves, as well as the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Stir well. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours (low and slow is always better IMO).
- Remove the bay leaves, adjust the seasoning to taste, and serve.
Chili isn’t the prettiest thing in the world but it sure tastes good!
This came out delicious with just the right amount of spice. The flavors blended together beautifully. And it was filling! Definitely a fantastic recipe if you’re looking for something to make as the months get cooler. This recipe also made a ton of food, which resulted in a lot of leftovers. I can’t wait to try out some other recipes from this book!
It’s the end of the summer and it’s still hot in New York. Too hot to turn on my regular oven. This is why I own more than 1 slow cooker (and am looking to purchase an InstaPot by the end of the year). I happened to stumble upon this recipe while searching for something new to make in my Crock Pot. I’m typically not much of an orzo fan, however, the cheesy goodness of enchiladas is enough to make me say yes to almost anything. I tweaked the recipe a bit (as you’ll see below) but feel free to switch it up however you choose!
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (10 ounce) can Old El Paso medium enchilada sauce (feel free to switch to mild if medium packs too much of a punch for you)
- 1 (4.5 ounce) can Old El Paso chopped green chiles, drained
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth, plus more, as needed (we’ll get to that later, but I had 2 cups ready to go total)
- 1 cup corn kernels, frozen, canned, or roasted (I used canned, if you do the same make sure you drain them!)
- 1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- Ground sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
- 2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
- Place diced tomatoes, enchilada sauce, green chiles, 1/2 cup vegetable broth, corn, and black beans into a slow cooker; season with S&P, to taste. Stir until well combined. Top with cream cheese (the cream cheese does NOT need to be mixed in. It will melt as everything cooks up and you will fully incorporate it later).
- Cover and cook on either low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours (I did high).
- Uncover and stir until cream cheese is well combined. Stir in orzo. Stir in additional vegetable broth until desired consistency is achieved (I ended up using about 1.5 more cups so it wasn’t so thick). Cover and cook on HIGH heat for 15-30 minutes (15 did the trick for me).
- Serve immediately and transfer any leftovers to a casserole dish (it will begin to stick to the sides of the slow cooker otherwise).
What this baby looked like prior to adding the orzo 4 hours later.
All finished and quickly transferred to a casserole dish so I wouldn’t be spending hours scrubbing my Crock Pot.
This came out insanely cheesy (much like my sense of humor). Even with the additional broth, it still remained a bit thick but that was just fine with me. Make sure you don’t overcook once the orzo is added or you’ll have some mushy pasta (and who really likes that?!). This is guaranteed to taste even better as leftovers, which allows everything more time to come together and pack more of a flavor punch. The chiles and fire roasted tomatoes can make this pretty spicy so if you can’t handle heat, then I suggest substituting with something else.
A few years ago, for my birthday, a friend of mine made me Diet Coke cupcakes. They were easily the best cupcakes I had ever had. You can go ahead and tell me, “Magnolia is better!” but I will disagree. Since then I have wanted to make my own version of cola cake but not using a boxed mix (my friend’s version required Miss Betty Crocker which is fine and dandy in my book, but I love watching something come together with each individual ingredient). I finally tracked down a cola cake recipe in a Taste of Home cookbook. While I typically try to cut back on sugar and fat in my recipes, I simply could not do so with this particular recipe. You need the sugars, you need the fats. You’ve been warned. Your friend is on a diet? Too bad. Make this a cheat day meal.
- Cake Ingredients:
- 2 cups AP flour
- 1 3/4 cups white sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 12-ounce can Coca-Cola (I prefer Pepsi but for this, you need good ol’ Coke)
- 1 stick salted butter, room temp. and cubed
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows (I took jumbo size marshmallows and chopped them up)
- 2 whole eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13×9 in. baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and baking soda.
- In a large saucepan, bring the cola to a boil; cook 7-9 minutes or until cola is reduced to 1 cup. Stir in the butter, oil, and cocoa powder; return to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat; stir in the marshmallows until melted. Add to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.
- In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla until blended. Add to the flour mixture, whisking constantly. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Bake 30-35 minutes (33 did the job in my oven) or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely in baking dish on a wire rack (this took almost an hour and a half to completely cool so go run errands or something).
I tested it twice (see the holes?) because I refused to believe a cake so moist was done baking in under an hour
- Topping Ingredients:
- 2 cups sour cream
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- In a small bowl, mix sour cream, brown sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
- Frost the damn cake and pretend all that caffeine from that can of Coke is seeping into your bloodstream.
So moist, so good, so caffeinated (not really caffeinated but a gal can dream)
This is easily the most delicious cake I have ever made. It’s moist, filled with flavor (none of which is soda), and the topping adds a nice tart punch to it to cut some of the sweetness. Also no small appliances were harmed in the making of this baked good.
I’m a snacker. I love to snack while I’m at work. I love having something I can mindlessly grab and eat while I bang out expense reports and go through hundreds of emails. The problem is, the office vending machine is full of junk food snacks. The bodega downstairs isn’t much better. Sure, they offer some varieties of nuts and such, but everything else is chips (full of sodium) and candy (full of carbs and sugar). That’s why I decided to seek a better option. That better option ended up being NatureBox. I got 50% off my first box since I was a newbie and moving forward it’s roughly $20 a month to receive 5 snacks that are on the healthy side and are, surprisingly, tasty. Below is what I received for the month of May. My June box just shipped and I’m excited to give my new snacks a try!
- Coconut Cashews: These were my second favorite snack in May’s box of goodies. Cashews are one of my favorite things to snack on. These cashews were made even better by adding a hint of coconut flavor (it’s not overpowering). They’re also easy to snack on and they’re filling!
- Apple Cinnamon Crunch: These were my least favorite but they were still pretty tasty. This was a mix of peanuts and other goodies, all with a hint of apple flavor. I barely tasted any cinnamon, which was mildly disappointing. Easy to snack on but not something I would add to my NatureBox pantry ever again.
- Honey Crunch Crisps: These were my favorite! Crunchy snacks with the right amount of honey flavor. I could have easily polished off this bag in one sitting but then this snack would no longer be considered healthy so…
- Salt & Vinegar Veggie Chips: I’ve always been a fan of salt and vinegar chips. These were good but my main issue is the fact it’s the only bag that does not reseal. Meaning either eat all servings in one shot (and risk going over your calories for the day) or wasting the remainder of the bag. I ended up doing the latter, which was a disappointment.
- Asiago & Cheddar Cheese Crisps: I love asiago and I love cheddar. Hell, I just love (almost) all cheese. These were easy to snack on since the flavor punch was so strong and they were fun to crunch away on. I’m looking forward to receiving these again somewhere down the line.
What I saw when I opened the box
These are addicting!
Overall, this is a great subscription if you, too, are a snacker and are looking for healthier options. Some of their snacks are also available in select Target stores. I might not continue with the monthly subscription but it’s easy to “pause” the plan at any time and pick it back up again later. If you’re interested in trying out a box for FREE (yes, free!) click this link and try it out! Happy Snacking!