Sunday, March 31, 2013

White Leek Soup

I guess I should really call this recipe Potato-Leek-Pear Soup but it seemed too lengthy. To help "sell" this soup to my toddler I called it: pear soup. Call it what you like, this recipe is so unique, so easy, and so delicious. I know it is a bit "out there" but we tried is last week and ate every last spoonful. Yes, my family ate soup with leeks and enjoyed them! I got this recipe from reading the book "French Kids Eat Everything" (if you have kids you should read it). I guess most babies in France eat leek soup as one of their first foods, and here I was, 29 and not sure if I had ever tried a leek. I will certainly be making this recipe again and I will now be on a mission to try cooking in other ways with leeks.

White Leek Soup

1 c. potatoes, peeled and diced small
2 c. leeks, washed and sliced white part only (about 6 leeks)
1 1/2 c water
2 pears, cored, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. honey or pure maple syrup
Pinch of salt
Dash of nutmeg (optional)

In a sauce pan, add potatoes, leeks and water and simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add the chopped pear and simmer an additional 2-3 minutes. Drain but reserve the liquid! Add honey/syrup to vegetables and blend. Add reserved liquid to the vegetables a little at a time until you get the consistency you like. I used about 1/2 of the remaining water and my consistency was close to apple sauce. Add in salt and nutmeg.

Optional: Serve with a little tab of butter on top.

Key Lime Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. For that reason I only bake cheesecake when I am with my extended family so I am not able to eat the whole thing by myself. This weekend I made this key lime version and it was so easy and so delicious. I love the top layer of glaze that gives it that key lime pie feel. Make this cheesecake for your family...or yourself. : )

Key Lime Cheesecake


1 pkg graham crackers, crushed
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 sugar

In a medium bowl combine crushed graham crackers, butter and sugar. Press mixture into a pie pan. Set aside.


2 pkgs cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp grated lime zest
2 Tbls fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

In a large bowl or stand mixer beat cream cheese, sugar, lime zest, lime juice and vanilla until smooth. Add in eggs and mix until just combined. Pour cream cheese batter into unbaked graham crust.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cool for 1 hour before topping with glaze.

Glaze Topping

1/4 c sugar
3/4 Tbls cornstarch
1/4 c water
2 Tbls lime juice
In a small sauce pan whisk all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil and stir for 3 minutes. Let cool for 15-20 minutes and then pour over baked cheesecake. Refrigerate 3 + hours.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mac & Cheese & Peas

I made this recipe for Vaida's first birthday party specifically for the little kids that were invited but I remember many of the adults enjoyed it just as much. Why wouldn't they? It's cute ditalini pasta covered in gooey, buttery, cheese sauce. Oh, and the peas are added to make it "healthy". : ) Actually, I often stir in the frozen peas at the dinner table to help "cool off" the pasta quickly for Vaida. The cheeses I used tonight were just the ones I had on hand. You can use any one or combination of cheeses that you like; just be sure to use a block of cheese and shred it by hand for the best results!

Mac & Cheese & Peas

2 c ditalini pasta (or elbow)
1 tsp salt
1/2 c shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 c shredded gruyere cheese
1 Tbls butter
1/4 c cream or half & half
1/3 c frozen peas

Fill a sauce pan half-way up with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt and pasta to the boiling water and cook according to box instructions (about 10 minutes) or until al dente. Drain pasta and return to sauce pan. Add cheeses, butter and cream and stir until all of the cheese is melted. Add frozen peas and serve immediately.

Berry Sauce (for Yogurt)

Yogurt with strawberry sauce
I am pretty excited about this recipe. I think I have mentioned that I follow 100 Days of Real Food and love that I can get a little bit of information at a time from blogger, Lisa Leake. I certainly do not follow all of her rules (she cooks 100% unprocessed - pretty impressive!) but I have made small changes that fit our family and this berry sauce is now one of them. We eat a lot of yogurt in our house. Ryan packs it for lunch almost every day and Vaida eats Greek yogurt on a daily basis since we can't get her to eat a lot of meat (Greek yogurt has 45% of your daily protein). Leake pointed out on her blog that yogurt should only be made from 2 ingredients (milk & active, live cultures). I took a look at the Yoplait brand in our fridge and was surprised to see 10 ingredients listed. Since then I have been buying a bulk container of plain, Greek yogurt which is healthier and a whole lot cheaper than the individual cups. Then we top it with this delicious berry sauce using real ingredients. It is so easy. It took Vaida a few times to get on board with this new yogurt but now she asks for it and loves to stir in the sauce to change her yogurt to purple or red. So far we have tried strawberries and blueberries - tomorrow I will make a raspberry sauce!
Note: You could use this sauce on top of ice cream, pancakes, and/or mixed in Cream of Wheat or oatmeal.

Yogurt with wild blueberry sauce

Berry Sauce

¾ c frozen berries
2 Tbls pure maple syrup
¼ c water
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a light simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with hand immersion or countertop blender.
Use immediately or store in the fridge for later.

Note: This doesn't make a huge batch so feel free to double recipe if needed. One batch seems to be enough to flavor one 32oz tub of yogurt.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Blueberry Bread

On a blizzardy Monday morning in March, a little baking was required to warm up our kitchen and living room. I found this recipe online and it looked pretty healthy but it did call for white sugar and white flour, so I boldly made two alterations and a little pure maple syrup and whole wheat flour later, we had delicious and nutritious blueberry bread. As a side note, I have found a great all-purpose flour that is unbleached and 30% ultra-grain so it has more whole grains and double the amount of fiber in it as regular all purpose flour. If you look in  your grocery store's baking aisle I am sure you will be able to find something similar.

Blueberry Bread

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose four
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c rolled oats
-Combine above dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

1 c real maple syrup
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (I used half a cup of each)
2 eggs
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp vanilla

-In a large bowl whisk above wet ingredients until smooth. Mix dry ingredients into wet and stir until just combined.

1 c frozen wild blueberries
1 tsp all purpose flour
-Sprinkle flour over blueberries and toss until blueberries are coated. Gently fold blueberries into the batter. Do not over mix! Pour in a greased bread pan.

Bake at 375 for 50-55 minutes. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes and then remove loaf and let cool on a cooling rack.

Original recipe found:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Baked Maple-Dijon Chicken

Here is another Pinterest recipe I found this week and gave a try. The sauce was really unique and the chicken was flavorful and moist. Of course I tweaked it a little, and added chicken broth and a bit of cream because I was worried the sauce would be too mustard-y without it. The end result was delicious, tangy and just the right amount of sweet. Since Vaida ate two servings of this chicken dinner it is a winner in my book!

Baked Maple-Dijon Chicken

3-4 chicken breasts
1/2 c Dijon mustard (do not substitute)
1/4 c Real maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbls rice wine vinegar
1/2 c chicken broth
1 tsp fresh parsley or rosemary
1 Tbls heavy cream
1 tsp corn starch

Line an 8x8 pan with two layers of tin foil. Place chicken breasts on foil and set aside. In a small bowl whisk mustard, maple syrup, salt, pepper rice wine vinegar and chicken broth. Pour mixture over chicken and bake uncovered at 450 for 40 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan and transfer to a plate. Quickly whisk corn starch, cream and parsley/rosemary into the sauce that is in the pan and return the chicken to the sauce to serve. We served with mashed potatoes.

Recipe adapted from Table for Two. Original recipe:

Monday, March 11, 2013


This meal is a Vossen original; meaning I had ingredients for tacos but didn't feel like making tacos, so made up this casserole/hotdish/mexi-lasagna creation instead. Considering that I was talking on the phone while throwing these ingredients together, I think it turned out pretty good. I love the cream cheese added to the taco meat. We served this with chips, sour cream and guacamole and we ended up dipping our chips in the hotdish too. It was super easy to make and I made it early in the day and put it in the fridge so all I had to do at dinner time was pull it out and bake. I found these frozen herb cubes at Costco the other day - they are awesome! I bought a pack of basil, cilantro, garlic and parsley cubes and I think they will be handy to have in my freezer for times that I don't have fresh herbs on hand. See my picture below of my new find. : )


1 lb ground beef
salt & pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 frozen garlic cubes)
2 tsp cilantro, minced (or 2 frozen cilantro cubes)
4 oz cream cheese
1 pkg taco seasoning
2/3 c water
1/3 c Ortega taco sauce
2 large whole wheat flour tortillas
1 c monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, shredded
3-4 Tbls black olives, sliced
green onion, chopped (optional)
sour cream (for topping)

Frozen garlic & cilantro - super convenient!
In a large pan, brown ground beef and drain excess grease. Add salt/pepper, garlic and cilantro to the beef and cook over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add cream cheese, taco seasoning, water and taco sauce. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until mixture thickens. In a round casserole pan, spray with Pam cooking spray and place 1 of the large tortillas in the bottom of the pan. Spoon half of the meat mixture on the tortilla and then sprinkle half of the cheese on top of it. Add the next layer (1 tortilla, 1/2 the meat, 1/2 of the cheese). Top with black olives and bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes. Top with green onion if using. Serve topped with sour cream and/or guacamole. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sticky Wings

We love wings at our house. I actually am glad there is not a Buffalo Wild Wings in my town or we would be eating there every week I'm sure. I came across this recipe while googling sweet and sticky wings. This is the best wing recipe I have been able to pull off at home and I think it is the method  that is so awesome. I can honestly say I read the recipe through a few times just to be sure I was reading "spray the chicken with Pam" correctly. The sweet sauce is amazing, don't get me wrong, but I can't wait to try this recipe with other sauces and see if they come out just as great. 

Sticky Wings

1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c honey
1/4 c brown sugar
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 Tbls Louisiana hot sauce
2 Tbls grated fresh ginger
2-3 lbs chicken wings
3/4 c all-purpose flour
Pam canola oil spray
Mix soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, garlic, hot sauce, and ginger in a bowl until combined. Put the wings in a large bowl and pour 1/2 of the sauce over the chicken. Toss and refrigerate for 2 hours. Drain the wings well and pat dry with paper towels. Put the flour in a large ziplock bag. Add the wings, close bag and shake. The chicken wings should just be lightly dusted with flour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover half-sheet pan with foil, and spray well with Pam cooking spray. Place chicken wings evenly on the pan and spray the wings with Pam. Bake for 20 minutes, turn the chicken wings over, and bake for another 15 minutes. Brush remaining sauce over the wings and continue cooking another 20 minutes.
Recipe adapted from John Mitzewich

French Apple Tart

I absolutely love this recipe. It is "fancy" enough for company and with only 5 ingredients it is easy enough to make as a weeknight dessert. The pastry crust is light and flaky; the green apples are the perfect amount of tart; and the apricot preserves will make you wonder why you have never bought them before. Really this is the perfect dessert - let me know how your family likes it!

Baker's note: Parchment paper is a must for this recipe. Some butter and sugar will run off and burn black on the pan. Do not be alarmed - the tart will be fine. You will have to peel the parchment paper away at the end.

Apple tart assembled and ready for baking.

French Apple Tart

1 sheet Pepperidge Farms puff pastry (found in freezer section)
2-3 Granny Smith apples
1/2 c sugar
4 Tbls cold butter, diced small
1/3 c apricot preserves
2 Tbls water

Let puff pastry thaw out on counter about 1 hour before making. On a floured surface, roll out puff pastry so that it is roughly 10x14". Place dough on a parchment lined half sheet pan. Peel and core apples. Cut apples in half and then slice thinly. Arrange apples on dough. As you see in my picture, you will have to overlap the apples a little. Sprinkle apples with sugar and then dot with butter. Bake at 400 for 45-55 minutes. In a small bowl, mix apricot jam with water and heat in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Spoon or brush heated apricots over cooked apples and pastry. Loosen the tart and remove parchment paper so it doesn't stick. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten's "Back to Basics"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole

Potatoes topped with bacon - what's not to love?!
I grew up eating potatoes probably five days a week. My dad used to joke that it wasn't even a meal if potatoes weren't in the table. When you are feeding a big family, potatoes make the perfect side dish...they are inexpensive, can be prepared a hundred different ways, and they are a hearty, fill-you-up, option. When I was asked to bring a side dish to a friends house, these loaded mashed potatoes quickly came to mind. They can be prepared in advance and then heated through right before serving.
You will see that I used Yukon gold or yellow potatoes instead of a classic russet. We love the golden potatoes for their rich color, smooth texture and flavor.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

5 lb bag golden/yellow potatoes, peeled
2 bay leaves
4 oz cream cheese
2/3 c sour cream
5 Tbls butter
3-5 Tbls milk or half and half
1/2 bunch green onion, chopped
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and cut in bite-size pieces
1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Peel potatoes and place in a large stock pot. Cover potatoes with water and add bay leaves. Boil potatoes for 30-45 min until tender. Drain water and remove bay leaves. In a stand mixer add cream cheese, sour cream, butter, milk and potatoes. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Place mashed potatoes in a buttered casserole dish or 9x13 pan. Top with shredded cheese and cooked bacon. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with green onions.