Monthly Archives: February 2013

Review of February 2013

Review of February 2013

I’ve decided that at the end of each month I’m going to list my top most viewed posts of the months, just in case you missed something.  I’m also going to start posting my 10 favorite links to various websites I’ve found over the past month, from recipes I really want to try, to crafts I want to make too.  Most of these are things I’ve found on Pinterest (warning, it’s highly addictive), SO MANY GOOD IDEAS!  So without further ado, here is my first list of the month in review – browse and enjoy!

My Top 3 Most Viewed Posts of the Month

  1. Salmon with Brown Sugar and Pepper – a super simple yet tasty recipe for dinner   brown sugar pepper salmon
  2. Pesto Pasta with Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper – hearty, delicious, healthy pesto pasta with squash and peppers
  3. Banana Bread with Yogurt – Moist, spongy, and yummy!                                                           bbkbananabread


My Top 10 Favorite Links of the Month

  1. First, this sounds like the perfect sandwich (from Damn Delicious) for breakfast, lunch, dinner, midnight snack, anytime really… bacon, avocado, tomato, egg, how could you go wrong?

    From Damn Delicious

  2. Then there are these Thai Beef Lettuce Cups (from Family Fresh Cooking)

    From Family Fresh Cooking

  3. And Veggie Pot Pie Pasta, (from Kitchen Treaty) a great new twist on a classic

    From Kitchen Treaty

  4. Lime and Soy Glazed Chicken (from Ranting Chef), I want to try this for dinner

    From Ranting Chef

  5. Homemade chocolate dipped granola thins (from Vanilla Sugar Blog), perfect for snacking

    From Vanilla Sugar

  6. Plus delicious Samoas Brownie Parfait with Salted Caramel Sauce (from Country Cleaver) my favorite Girl Scout Cookies made even better, yummmyyyyy!!!

    Samoas Brownie Parfait with Salted Caramel Sauce -

    From Country Cleaver

  7. And these Salted Milk Chocolate Almond Caramel Corn Cookies (from Keep It Sweet Desserts) sound absolutely amazing (I realize the link is from January, but I just found them and they look too amazing not to share with you)

    Sweet & Salty Party Cookies

    From Keep It Sweet Desserts

  8. This map necklace (from Happy Hour Projects) is gorgeous and I really want to make one.

    From Happy Hour Projects

  9. And these earrings (from Delightfully DIY) are so pretty!  I have a slight obsession with earrings, and I might have to make these to add to my collection.

    Delightfully DIY: Vintage Inspired Pearl Earrings

    From Delightfully DIY

  10. Last, but certainly not least, make yourself a pretty blood orange mimosa (from What’s Gaby Cooking) and relax 🙂

    Blood Orange Mimosas

    From What’s Gaby Cooking

Feel free to share your favorite links from the month in a comment!


Pesto Pasta with Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper

Pesto Pasta with Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper

I love pasta and am always trying to find new ways to fix it.  Today’s recipe is one inspired by Rachael Ray’s Pepita Pesto Pasta with Roasted Squash.  It’s a delicious pasta with roasted butternut squash, and a pesto that doesn’t have any nuts.  This time around I made a few changes to the original recipe which calls for pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and jalapeño or serrano peppers in the pesto.  I didn’t have any pumpkin seeds, so I just omitted them, and I decided to use a roasted red pepper in place of the jalapeño.  I also added roasted red peppers to the pasta.  This pesto is absolutely delicious, and would also be fantastic on chicken and veggies if you’re trying to cut down on carbs.

pesto pasta with squash and peppers

First you put 3 red bell peppers in the oven to roast, take them out, put them in a plastic bag, let them cool,  peel of the skins, and remove the seeds.


blackened rp

peppers in bagpeppersdone

Then you peel a butternut squash, cut it into bite size chunks, and bake it.

roasted squash

While the squash is roasting you make the pesto, it’s super simple.  Toss some cilantro, basil, and parsley in a food processor with Pecorino Romano cheese, one roasted pepper, garlic, lime juice and zest, a roasted red pepper, and olive oil.


Cook the penne according to package directions, reserve one cup of the cooking water before draining the pasta.  Then combine the pasta, pesto, and reserved water.

penne with pesto

Toss in the squash, and remaining roasted red peppers, top with extra Pecorino Romano cheese, and serve.

pasta and veggies on fork



Pesto Pasta with Butternut Squash and Roasted Red Pepper

Serves 4-6


3 red bell peppers

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 pounds butternut squash – peeled and cut into bite sized pieces


salt & pepper

1/3 cup each basil, cilantro, and parsley

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese + more for serving

2 cloves garlic – grated

1 lime – zest and juice

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 box penne pasta (I used whole grain)

– Preheat the oven to 450 ºF

– Place red bell peppers in the oven, turning every few minutes until all sides are blackened.  Remove from the oven, place in a plastic bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap, let cool for about 5 minutes, then peel, and remove seeds, cut into chunks

– Peel the butternut squash, cut into bite size pieces, cover with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and toss to coat.  Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until soft

– In a food processor combine one roasted red pepper, herbs, cheese, garlic, lime juice and zest.  While the food processor is on drizzle in olive oil until everything is combined

– Cook penne according to box directions, reserving 1 cup of pasta water before draining

– Return the penne to the pot, add the pesto and reserved cooking water, and stir to combine

– Stir the roasted butternut squash and two roasted red peppers into the pasta

– Serve the pasta, topped with the Pecorino Romano cheese


Salmon with Brown Sugar and Pepper

Salmon with Brown Sugar and Pepper

I absolutely love salmon, and the recipe I have for you today is the pretty much the easiest, and most delicious way I’ve ever seen to prepare it.  The first time I had this salmon was at my boyfriend’s house when his mom made it for dinner, and since then I’ve made it quite a lot.  You should make some tonight, I can almost guarantee it will become one of your favorites too!

brown sugar pepper salmon

The salmon itself only has 3 ingredients: salmon, brown sugar, and cracked pepper.

bsps ingredients

I use this cracked pepper blend from Wegmans, but rough cracked pepper of any kind would work.

cracked pepper blend

You just cover the salmon with brown sugar, sprinkle with the pepper, and put it in the oven.  It doesn’t get much easier than that.

covered raw salmon

This recipe really is delicious, the brown sugar caramelizes over the salmon and the spice from the pepper complements the sweet very nicely.  I like to serve it with a side of teamed veggies for the perfect dinner.

cooked bsp salmon



Salmon with Brown Sugar and Pepper

Serves 4


4 salmon filets (4-6 oz each)

no stick cooking spray or olive oil

8 tablespoons brown sugar

4 teaspoons cracked pepper

– Preheat oven to 400 °F

– Place salmon skin side down on a lightly greased baking sheet or casserole dish

– Cover the tops of the filets with brown sugar (about 2 tablespoons per filet)

– Sprinkle the brown sugar topped salmon with cracked pepper (about 1 teaspoon per filet)

– Place the baking sheet in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until salmon is done.

– Transfer to plates and serve





M&M Pretzel Treats for Valentine’s Day

M&M Pretzel Treats for Valentine’s Day

Regardless of your feelings on Valentine’s day (speaking of which, check out my friend Alyssa’s Vday posts) these M&M pretzel treats are the perfect combination of sweet and salty.  They’re a fantastic gift for a special someone, your best friend, mom, dad, brother, sister, or you, so do yourself a favor and make some tonight!

mmp tin

They really couldn’t be much simpler, you line a bunch of pretzels up on a baking sheet, top them with the chocolate disks, and then put them in the oven for a few minutes until the chocolate melts.

pretzels on sheet

Then you take ’em out of the oven and put an M&M on top and let them cool until the chocolate re-hardens.  It’s that easy!

with mms

I’ve been making these for every holiday for a few years now (just buy the holiday colored M&Ms and they work for any occasion).  Usually I use these white chocolate discs because I think they look prettier than regular chocolate and they’re really easy, but recently on Pinterest I’ve seen them made with Hershey’s kisses or hugs (which look super cool) where you just push down the tip with the M&M, and you can also use any color of candy coating wafers.

white chocolate disks

It’s also really easy to get fancy and jazz these up by decorating the chocolate disks with colored sugar or sprinkles when they come out of the oven.

mmpt with sugar

mmpt sprinkles

As you can see, they’re super super super simple and very easy to personalize.  Plus everyone I’ve ever given them to LOVES them, so make them now, you can thank me later.



M&M Pretzel Treats



White Chocolate Disks (or any color candy melts, or Hershey’s kisses/hugs)


Colored Sugar or Sprinkles (optional for decorating)

– Preheat the oven to 200 ºF

Line the pretzels up on a baking sheet

Place one chocolate disk on top of each pretzel

– Put the tray in the oven for a few minutes, until the chocolate is semi-melted

– Remove from the oven and immediately place an M&M on top of each disk

If decorating, sprinkle the sugar and/or sprinkles on top of the chocolate

– Allow the pretzel treats to cool while the chocolate re-hardens




Banana Bread with Yogurt

Banana Bread with Yogurt

Last week we had some brown bananas and a bunch of yogurt that was close to its expiration date so I decided to make some banana bread.  I’ve seen a bunch of recipes for muffins and cakes using greek yogurt in place of oil so I decided to give it a shot.  I modified my recipe for zucchini bread and made it into banana bread.  I also used blueberry kefir (a type of yogurt) so I guess technically this is blueberry banana bread.  You can stick with plain yogurt or experiment with different flavors, I think the blueberry banana is quite delicious!


First mash up the banana.

mashed banana

Combine all of the dry ingredients: flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda.


Then mix the eggs, sugar, and vanilla.


Stir in the banana and the yogurt/kefir.

And add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.


Place in greased loaf pans.


And bake for 45 minutes.


The bread is super moist, spongy, and delicious!  Notice there is now only one loaf… the dog decided he wanted some bread too so he pulled one off the table and ate it, I wasn’t very happy with him.

side view of bread


Banana Bread with Yogurt

Makes 2 – 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans

– Preheat oven to 350°

Mash 3 brown bananas with a fork

-In one bowl mix:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla

-In a separate bowl combine:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Stir bananas and 1 1/2 cups greek yogurt or kefir (I used 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt and 1 cup blueberry kefir) into the egg/sugar mixture

– Gradually add flour mixture to wet mixture, stirring after each addition

– Pour batter into greased loaf pans or muffin tins

– Bake at 350 degrees for 40 – 45 minutes for loaf pans or 15-20 minutes for muffins (the bread will be golden brown with cracks in the top when it is done)

White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

Today I want to share a recipe with you that my family absolutely loves – white chicken chili.  It’s creamy chili, full of chicken, great northern beans, and flavorful spices.

white chicken chili

A few years ago my extended family put together a cookbook of family recipes asking everyone to submit their favorite recipes (those are my great grandparent’s on the cover!).

White Family Cookbook

I absolutely love the book because not only does it contain old family recipes and dishes that have become a tradition at our gatherings or during the holidays, but I’ve also found a ton of interesting and delicious recipes that my relatives enjoy in their homes.  The cookbook is from my paternal grandmother’s (Nanny) side of the family.  She was one of eleven kids, so our family is very big and our family reunions always have upwards of 100 people in attendance.  I’ll probably be sharing several recipes from this book but one of my favorites is a recipe for white chicken chili that my dad’s first cousin’s wife (what a mouthful…), Betsy, submitted.  We made a few modifications to the recipe and my family makes this chili a lot, especially in the winter, and we usually double the recipe to make sure we have lots of left overs, it’s so good!  Next time you need to keep warm or just want a really yummy meal, make a pot of this chili!

wcc 2

First you cut up some boneless, skinless, chicken breasts into cubes, chop up some onion, and mince some garlic.  Then you throw it in a pot with some olive oil until the chicken is cooked.

chicken, onion, and garlic

Then throw in some great northern beans.

add great northern beansAdd some chicken broth.

add chicken broth

And some green chiles

add green chiles

And spices, cumin, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt & pepper.

add spices

You bring everything to a boil then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

wc chili

Then you turn off the heat, stir in some sour cream.


You can also add some heavy cream if you want to make it extra creamy.

add cream

Finally,ladle some into a bowl, top with some shredded Monterey Jack cheese, and serve!

wcc ladle

wcc cheese



White Chicken Chili

Serves 4-6


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 lb. boneless, skinless, chicken breasts – cubed

1 medium sweet onion – chopped

2 cloves garlic – minced

31 oz. canned great northern beans

15 oz. can chicken broth

8 oz. canned chopped green chiles

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

salt & pepper to taste

1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

shredded Monterey Jack cheese (optional for serving)

Place the oil in a large pot and cook chicken, onion, and garlic until chicken is done

Add the beans and stir

– Stir in the chicken broth

– Add the chiles and seasoning

– Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes

– Turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream and whipping cream (if using)

Serve immediately, topping with shredded cheese if desired