Strawberry-Nutella Pop-tarts

I'm a little bit sad that I don't get to make things like this all the time anymore.  It used to be all I did.  On my days off from work, I would go to the grocery store, grab ingredients and make multiple baked goods that I had been thinking about or eyeing for a while.  My days aren't filled with free days to bake up new things anymore.  Now they are filled with sounds of 2 little boys' feet running wild around the house, screams of happiness when they get excited about something, and demands to eat, be held or be accompanied into their play tent.  But there is an occasional day that I do have to myself while the boys are at daycare, housework is all caught up with, or the boys play happily with themselves in the playroom next to me, where I can actually make these things happen in my kitchen again.  

I love Nutella.  I like it on toast, and I like it by the spoonful.  It's also delicious with strawberry jam inside of a flaky crust.  I wish this recipe would have made a bigger batch, because these treats were gone quickly.  What I really want to do is make a huge batch of all different types of flavors, freeze them, and then I would have them whenever.  Now it's just finding the time to do that is the problem.  Maybe one day!

Strawberry-Nutella Pop-tarts

1 egg yolk
1 tsp water
1 recipe for double pie crust (I used THIS one, and I made it the day before)
6 heaping tsp Nutella
6 tsp strawberry jam/jelly
2 large strawberries, sliced into hearts
coarse sugar

Preheat oven to 350, and prepare a non-stick baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat.  In a small bowl, whisk together the water and egg yolk.  set aside. 

Get out your pie dough, and roll it all out, pretty thin (think pop tart thin!).  Cut out 2.5 in by 3.5 in rectangles (I just eyeballed mine, and used a pizza cutter for straight lines).  You should get about 12 rectangles.

Cut out a heart shape in the middle of 6 of the rectangles (if you have a heart shaped cookie cutter-perfect.  I did not and had to freehand it.).

On each of the remaining rectangles, spread the nutella, leaving about 1/2 in around the edges, and then spread the strawberry jam overtop.

Place a heart-shaped slice of strawberry on top of the jam, in the center of the rectangle, and top with the pie dough that has the cutout.  

Seal the edges together with the prongs of a fork, and brush with the egg/water mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack.


Goat Cheese Mashed Sweet Potatoes

We eat a lot of sweet potatoes in my house.  I mean A LOT.  Most of the time they are just baked, chopped up and roasted or made into french fries.  This time, I made regular mashed sweet potatoes, but added in some goat cheese.  The goat cheese gave the sweet potatoes a little bit of tanginess.  I made them and took them to our cooking club meeting, and everyone loved them!  

Goat Cheese Mashed Sweet Potatoes

3 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into cubes
1/2 cup (or more) of half-and-half
1/2 stick butter
2 oz goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pot until they are soft and able to be pierced with a fork.  Drain and return to the pot or a big bowl.  Heat together the half-and-half with the butter in the microwave until the butter is melted.  Add the butter/half-and-half mixture to the sweet potatoes, and combine with a mixer until smooth.  Mix in the goat cheese until well combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


Sweet Potato Ravioli with Kale Pesto

My junk food loving husband claims that he hates kale.  I love kale, and since it's super good for you, I'm always trying to sneak it into dishes so that he may not notice, like he's a 5 year old or something.  I was pretty sure I had succeeded.  He ate a whole serving without a complaint.  When he was done eating, I said, "So you know that had kale in it!"  He was like, "Yeah, I know.  I could taste it.  But I didn't want to be mean and not eat it.  And it tasted OK in this dish."  So I guess I won on this one?  

I love anything sweet potato, and have been wanting to try sweet potato ravioli for a while.  I don't have a pasta roller, and really didn't have time on this particular day to make and roll out my own pasta for ravioli, so I just used store-bought wonton wrappers.  They worked just fine.  

Sweet Potato Ravioli with Kale Pesto
Adapted from TheFirstMess

For the sweet potato filling:
1 medium sweet potato, baked until very soft (425 degrees for 30-45 mins)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper

for the kale pesto:
1/2 bunch kale leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

1 pkg wonton wrappers

For the filling:
scoop out the sweet potato flesh into a food processor.  Add in the pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Process until all combined.  Set aside.

For the pesto:  
Put the kale, garlic, pine nuts, 2 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in a food processor.  Process until all combined.  With the food processor running on high, pour in the remaining olive oil, until the pesto is a smooth paste consistency.  

To assemble the ravioli:
Put about a tablespoon of sweet potato filling into the center of a wonton wrapper.  With a brush (or wet finger), wet the edges of the wonton wrapper, and top with another.  Using a fork, press the edges together all around.  Repeat until filling and wrappers are gone.

To cook:
Boil water in a large pot.  Once boiling, drop in the filled ravioli and cook for about 5 minutes, until the wrappers are softened. 


Chocolate & Potato Chip Cookies

It has arrived again!  The Food Blogger Cookie Swap.  I participated in this event last year, and it was so much fun.  I love thinking of a creative new cookies that other foodies like myself might enjoy.  And the best part is that you get PACKAGES in the mail!  Who doesn't love getting packages?  And then you open the package and get to eat what's inside.  So. dang. awesome.  Last year I made fun little Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cookies.  This year, I decided on Chocolate & Potato Chip Cookies.  I am a sucker for sweet and salty things together, and while at first thought potato chips in a cookie might sound strange, and then covered with chocolate may even sound more strange, I assure you, it's delicious.  Buttery soft cookies with crispy pieces of saltiness, half covered in sweet chocolate.  I hope those that received these cookies from me enjoyed them!

Here are the cookies that I received:

Chocolate Crack Cookies from Melanie of Melanie in the Middle - I don't think this is the actual name of these cookies.  I didn't get anything with the package that had the name of them on it, so I made up a name for them.  They were chocolatey, crispy and super yummy! Thanks Melanie!

Kitchen Sink Cookies from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk - These cookies had all kinds of goodies inside them...coconut, nuts, dates, and oatmeal maybe?  I don't remember what all was in them, but I remember that they were delicious!  Thanks Jenni!

Reese's Monster Cookies from Jennifer of Peanut Butter & Peppers - Reese's pieces, M&Ms, chocolate chips...can't go wrong with any of those things.  Soft little cookies with bits of candy.  Awesome!  Also, Jennifer sent a little coffee giftcard with her cookies.  So sweet!  Thanks Jennifer!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012

Can't wait until next year!

in the meantime, here is my cookie recipe:

Chocolate & Potato Chip Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp coarse salt
4 cups coarsely crushed salted potato chips, divided
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

4 oz chocolate
2 Tbsp butter 

Preheat oven to 375.  Beat the butter and both sugars together until fluffy.  Add in the vanilla and eggs and beat until just combined.  Add flour, baking soda, and salt and beat on low until just combined.  Stir in 2 cups of the chips and all of the nuts.  

Roll the dough into 2 inch balls.  Roll dough balls in the remaining potato chip pieces to coat.  Place cookies on a non-stick baking sheet (or whatever method of non-stick baking you like to do).  Bake until golden, about 12-15 minutes.  (The original recipe said 18-20 minutes...but they would have burnt for that long in my oven.  Just keep an eye on them!)  Let the cookies completely cool.

Once cookies are cooled off, melt the chocolate and butter in the microwave or in a double boiler.  Dip 1/2 of each cookie into the chocolate and allow to dry and harden.


Turkey Quesadillas with Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

This is a great way to use leftover turkey from thanksgiving in a way other than the common turkey sandwiches.  These quesadillas were so good!  turkey meat, cheese and cranberry sauce with chipotle peppers mixed in!  It may sound a little strange, but it's really good. The heat of the peppers mix in really well with the sweet cranberry sauce.  I served these alongside some mashed sweet potatoes, in which I also mixed in some of the chipotle pepper sauce.  Also very delicious!

Turkey Quesadillas with Chipotle Cranberry Sauce
adapted from confectionsofafoodiebride

Leftover pulled/chopped turkey
traditional cranberry sauce
1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
cheese of your choice

Mix together the cranberry sauce and chipotle peppers.  On one half of an open tortilla, add turkey, cheese and chipotle cranberry sauce.  Fold tortilla closed and fry in a skillet until cheese is melted and tortilla is browned.  

Super quick, simple and delicious!


Pumpkin and Thyme Mac & Cheese

I saw this recipe for mac & cheese with a can of pumpkin mixed in a while ago on this blog and thought it sounded awesome.  So I made it, and it was awesome.  The boys liked it as well!  Pumpkin is also surprisingly nutritious.  It's full of Vitamins A, C and E, and also has fiber and a bunch of antioxidants.  It also added to the creaminess and earthiness of this mac and cheese.  Definitely a good seasonal twist on a traditional recipe.  

Pumpkin & Thyme Mac & Cheese

2 cups milk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground cloves
1 lb dry fusilli pasta (can substitute elbow macaroni)
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons minced thyme
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 ounces smoked gouda, shredded
1 ounce white extra sharp cheddar
salt and pepper to taste
lightly toasted/buttered panko breadcrumbs

1. Place milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium saucepan and stir together. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil add a generous amount of salt (2½ – 3 tablespoons) and then the pasta.
3. Boil pasta for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente, stirring occasionally. Drain pasta and set aside.
4. Melt butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Sprinkle flour over melted butter and whisk together. Allow mixture to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in thyme.
5. Whisk pumpkin-milk mixture into flour mixture and continue to whisk until fully incorporated. Allow mixture to simmer until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, 3 to 4 minutes.
6. Place shredded cheese into a mixing bowl and toss together with lemon juice.

7. Stir cheese into the b├ęchamel sauce and stir until cheese just melts. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and gently stir pasta into the sauce, ½ cup at a time until all of the pasta has been added and is fully coasted in sauce. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately. 


"Chicken" Fried Tofu

An exciting outing for me is going to Trader Joe's and/or Whole Foods.  I don't get to go to either of them very often, since they are on the opposite sides of town from where we live.  The Kroger down the road is just much more convenient and cheaper to buy the bulk of our groceries at.  But there are the occasional times that I get the chance to go to one of the most awesome grocery stores.  The last time I went to Whole Foods, I took the boys with me.  After shopping for a bit, we had lunch at store as well. Whole Foods has a lot of vegan/vegetarian friendly foods, and one of the things that the boys and I ate there was "chicken" fried tofu.  The boys loved it, and I was a fan as well.  It really did taste like fried chicken, with a little bit different texture.  I searched some recipes online and found a pretty good copycat recipe.  I made these for dinner one night at home, and they were awesome! 

"Chicken" Fried Tofu
from whiskflipstir.com

1 14-oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
2 cups double strength chicken-flavored vegan broth (I used THIS kind)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup flour
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp poultry seasoning (I used goya)
1/2 tsp dried garlic
1/2 tsp dried minced onion
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Cut tofu into squares or strips.  Place tofu in a shallow pan and cover with the broth.  Soak at least one hour, and up to overnight, in the refridgerator.  After tofu has finished marinating, Stir together the flour, yeast, and spices in a bowl.  Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Remove tofu from broth and roll each piece around in the flour mixture until covered.  I did a second breading also...dunk again into the broth, and then again into the flour/spice mixture.  

Place tofu in hot oil and fry until brown and crisp on all sides (about 2-3 minutes per side).  Remove from oil and set on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.  

Serve and enjoy!    


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