Pan Charred Green Beens with Manchego, Lemon and Almonds.jpg

Pan Charred Green Beens with Manchego, Lemon and Almonds

While the new year officially begins in January, it really doesn’t feel new until Spring. As the snow melts and small green shoots begin to emerge, it feels like a new start. Spring replaces the white and gray of Winter with color. When I think Spring, I think green.

So in that spirit, I want to share my new favorite way to make green beans. I found the idea in the April 2014 Cooking Light magazine. Keith Schroeder chars the green beans in a hot pan, then adds butter, vinegar, tarragon and salt. I changed the recipe up, but kept the method. The beans stay crisp but the flavor and color from the char is delicious. The lemon and butter make a light tart sauce and the Manchego and almonds make it feel really decadent. Also, it only takes about 10 minutes to make so it is a great, easy side dish.
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Coconut Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins

Coconut Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins

So my sister and I made lipstick the other day. She found the “recipe” on Pinterest and we decided to give it a try. We ended up in the kitchen until the wee hours of the night concocting lipstick color after color. It was really fun!

One of the initial reasons I agreed to the whole endeavor was that it required coconut oil, an ingredient I have always wanted to try but had never gotten around to. Let me just tell you I have been cooking with the stuff nonstop ever since.

I wanted a muffin recipe that used coconut oil and coconut milk. Since I am new to the oil I didn’t want to just wing it. I found one on twopeasandtheirpod.com and was thrilled because there is not a bad recipe to be found on that site. I was not dissapointed. These muffins were so light and airy, with a subtle coconut flavor that I may have missed amidst all the berries had it not been for the toasted coconut on top to remind me. Gosh writing this post is making me want to whip up another batch.

20140204 211241 Coconut Blueberry and Cranberry Muffins
Recipe adapted from twopeasandtheirpod.com
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Chicken & Waffle Sliders with Sriracha Maple Syrup

Chicken & Waffle Sliders with Sriracha Maple Syrup

I am a complete sucker for mini food. I firmly believe that any gathering can be improved by miniature treats. Meatballs are cool. Tiny meatballs on a toothpicks are so cool. Crab cakes are great. Tiny crab cakes are so great. Don’t get me started on mini desserts. Sliders are the king of mini foods. And this chicken & waffle version is my new favorite slider.

So this recipe takes just about every short cut possible. If you are the ambitious type, you could certainly make your own waffles, fried chicken and/or slaw. However, if you find yourself needing a last minute Super Bowl snack (or just want something easy), this one is for you. And please don’t skip the Sriracha Maple Syrup. It is so crazy good, and it elevates these sliders to something really special.

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Spinach and Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts.jpg

Spinach and Roasted Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

So the internet is awash with salads. I will be the first to admit that salads can be a little on the tedious side. I have found that the ideal salad must contain something crunchy, something creamy, something sweet and something tangy. If you hit all these categories you will not have a boring salad.

I used a combination of red and gold beets. I like to roast peeled, whole beets in aluminum foil with olive oil, salt and pepper. I know some people prefer to peel them once cooked but I am impatient and always burn my fingers that way. Either way works.

My favorite time to make this dressing is when your jam jar is almost empty so you can just pour all your ingredients into the jar, close and shake. Anything to save a dirty dish!
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Lobster Mac and Cheese.jpg

Lobster Mac and Cheese

New Years is, in my opinion, the perfect holiday to follow up Christmas and Thanksgiving. First we reflect and give thanks for all the blessings in our lives, and celebrate our traditions and family. Then we look to the future year and all we hope to accomplish and experience. I also find that having New Year’s Eve to look forward to dulls the sadness of having to wait 365 days until Christmas.

In that spirit, I bring you a dish that combines a favorite comfort food with a celebratory indulgence. Cozy Mac and Cheese gets fancied up with a mix of Gruyere and sharp white cheddar, some flavor boost from shallot and garlic, big chunks of buttery lobster and a crunchy parmesan-panko topping.
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Pecan Shortbread Bars.jpg

Pecan Shortbread Bars

I love cooking with my little sister. We cooked Thanksgiving together this year and it was such a blast. There were some bumps in the road. I won’t go into those because it might undermine your confidence in my cooking prowess. I will say that a very important dish may have been cooked upside down and we didn’t notice until we went to test for doneness and couldn’t find the breasts. But at the end of the day it all worked out and everything was delicious. Also, a Thanksgiving where nothing goes wrong would be boring, right? The highlight for me was these pecan bars.

This is my sisters incredible (and much requested) pecan bar recipe. They are adapted from a recipe from Smitten Kitchen (always a good bet). I can’t sufficiently describe how amazing they are. The pecan layer seeps a bit into the buttery shortbread crust and magic happens.

This recipe makes a ton of bars, despite being about half the size of the original recipe. I also recommend cutting them fairly small because they are very rich.

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Leftover Stuffing Baked Eggs.jpg

Leftover Stuffing Baked Eggs

Do you still have leftover stuffing? Have you had pie for breakfast 2 days in a row? Do you need to eat something without gravy? If you answered yes to any of these questions, try these baked egg cups.

Stuffing is the perfect baked egg base. The outside gets crunchy and it holds its shape. I like to add some leftover creamed spinach between the stuffing and egg because it helps keep the egg from soaking into the stuffing. You can use any leftover vegetables you have, mashed potatoes or skip this step entirely.

Make these in large muffin tins for a crowd or in ramekins for single servings, or in a large skillet for a family style presentation.

20131130 125418 Leftover Stuffing Baked Eggs
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Leftover Cranberry Sauce Ideas.jpg

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Ideas (and Easiest Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe)

Thanksgiving is hands down the biggest day for home cooking in the US. We lovingly plan and prepare countless delicious dishes from scratch. Then we open a can of cranberry sauce and try to plate it into something that looks remotely appealing, knowing no one will actually eat it (or will only eat it out of duty to tradition). This is the way, until recently(I used the canned stuff here), I had always treated cranberry sauce. There is another way.

20131124 092351 Leftover Cranberry Sauce Ideas (and Easiest Homemade Cranberry Sauce Recipe)
Not only is cranberry sauce the easiest thing to make for Thanksgiving, it can be made the weekend before and refrigerated. A few days for the flavors to develop only makes it better. And did I mention it is actually delicious? Like so delicious it will be gobbled up on the big day (with many impressed exclamations of “you made cranberry sauce?!). It is fresh and tart, with only half the sugar the back of the bag recommends. It is also sweetened by fresh orange juice and zest, and lightly spiced with a cinnamon stick.

If you do have any leftovers, please use them to top cheesecake. The tart freshness highlights the creamy richness of cheesecake, much like a tart cherry topping. Or put some inside your post turkey-day leftover sandwich. Or on toast. Or swirled into oatmeal. It really is delicious. You might actually find yourself wanting cranberry sauce more than one day a year.

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Thanksgiving Leftovers Egg Rolls (Baked).jpg

Thanksgiving Leftovers Egg Rolls (Baked)

If you are anything like me, you have already started planning your Thanksgiving menu. I am currently involved in a pretty heavy debate with my sister over what green vegetable to serve. But I think we should take a step back to remember what is really important about Thanksgiving: the leftovers (JK mom, it is family of course).

Thanksgiving leftover recipes range from the obvious (sandwich) to the overly fussy and work intensive. Who wants to dirty a bunch more dishes after Thanksgiving? I love these egg rolls for a couple reasons. One: they only require one additional ingredient (egg rolls wrappers). Two: you can use any ratio of turkey-stuffing-gravy-mashed potatoes-cranberry sauce to fit the leftovers you have. Three: egg rolls freeze so wonderfully you can store these until you get that Thanksgiving craving and pop them right into the oven or fry them up.

If you have never made egg rolls before, do not be daunted. They are easier than they look.

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Sweet Potato Chip Dessert Nachos.jpg

Sweet Potato Chip Dessert Nachos

It seems like every other day someone wants me to watch a “the game”. Since this is a safe place I will freely admit that sports are not my thing. Sports snacks, however, are my thing.

I first found sweet potato chips by accident. They were hiding out in the far end of the snack isle where all the strange snacks are hidden (chocolate covered soy nuts and tofu jerky), where I was looking for some salsa. There I found sweet potato chips lightly dusted in cinnamon. Salsa forgotten, I grabbed a bag. They are crazy good. When I needed an easy sweet game day treat, I knew I had to use these chips.

These nachos are more of an idea than a recipe. I drizzled the chips with melted chocolate (chocolate chips melted in the microwave for 30 seconds to a minute) let them heat up in the oven until warm, then piled on chopped strawberries, toasted coconut and a healthy (read:unhealthy) dollop of caramel gelato.

Other topping ideas: mini marshmallows or a drizzle of melted fluff, honey, nuts, caramel, whipped cream, ice cream…you really can’t go wrong here.

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