Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Butternut Squash and Bacon-Herb Cream Cheese Tart

Homemade is Better, Mom-made is even better!!! My awesome mother-in-law sent us home with dinner tonight and she sent me the recipe to post it on the blog. This recipe gets 5 stars from us! My mom gets 1,000,000 stars for awesomeness. Thanks for contributing to Homemade is Better!
Recipe from Rachel Ray
Contributed by Donna (AKA Mom)



Butternut Squash and Bacon-Herb Cream Cheese Tart
Serves 6
INGREDIENTS
6 slices good quality smoky bacon (cook 2 more if you tend to snack when you cook)
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons each chopped parsley and thyme
2 cloves garlic, pasted or grated
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Salt
6 tablespoons cold butter, diced plus 2 tablespoons butter for filling
4 to 5 tablespoons ice cold water
1 pound butternut squash (1/2 medium squash), thinly sliced in half moons
Pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 large or 2 thin leeks, trimmed and sliced
2 Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apple, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons sage leaves, torn or coarsely chopped
1 egg, beaten with a splash of water for an egg wash or use buttermilk, to brush pastry
PREPARATION
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Bake the sliced bacon on a slotted pan until crisp. Remove to cool then chop.
Place softened cream cheese in a bowl and combine with parsley, thyme, garlic. Transfer half the cream cheese to a food processor to use in the dough. Add bacon to the cream cheese left in the bowl and stir to combine.
To the cream cheese in the food processor bowl, add the flour, a teaspoon of salt and cold, diced butter. Pulse to combine into small crumbles then, with dough setting on, pour ice water through feed tube to form a pastry dough. (I place about 1/4 cup cold water in my cocktail shaker with ice and shake a few times then strain into the dough to make sure water is super cold.) Remove dough to pastry board and turn a few times to form a smooth disc; wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat a very large skillet over medium heat and melt butter, about 2 tablespoons. Add butternut squash and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add leeks and apples, and cook to soften a bit, 10-12 minutes. Add torn sage leaves to the mixture.
Working on parchment paper, roll out dough to a large, round, thin layer. Spread the bacon and herb cheese over the center of the dough, leaving a couple of inches of border. Top the cheese with an even mound of butternut-apple mixture. Fold the dough up and pinch over every few inches to form a galette or rustic-edged crust. Brush with egg or buttermilk and transfer to baking sheet (I left parchment paper under Tarte), bake 30 minutes. Add more wash and bake 10 minutes more. Cool a few minutes to set and transfer to serving plate. 
Slice and serve with crumbled smokey Blu Cheese or Feta Cheese, drizzle with Honey. 

Serve with small green salad with cider vinegar dressing alongside.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chocolate Chip Craisin Muffins

These muffins are crazy good!

Who doesn't love Craisins?! 
They're so good. 
I love to put them in salads, 
trail mix, or just eat them by the handful.

When I was at the grocery store yesterday
and my four-year-old dragged me to the bakery
to ask politely for a cookie, 
I had my eye on these cranberry muffins...
But we all know, Homemade is Better!

So today I decided to whip up a 
small batch of tasty homemade muffins.

Chocolate Chip Craisin Muffins

Makes 6 regular size muffins

Ingredients:
1 cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/8 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Egg
3/8 cup Milk
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 cup Chocolate Chips
1/4 cup Cherry Craisins

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Grease pan and dust with flour.
  3. Mix flour, baking powder, salt
  4. In a separate bowl whisk sugar, eggs, milk, oil, vanilla
  5. Fold in flour mixture.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips and craisins.
  7. Fill muffin cups.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes.
  9. Let cool in pan for 4 minutes.
  10. Remove from pan and cool on baking rack.

ENJOY!







Monday, October 6, 2014

Pinterest Review: Baked Chicken, Potatoes & Green Beans

I love Pinterest, don't you? 
This recipe is kind of famous on Pinterest.
I've seen it so many times, 
and every time I tell myself, 
I have to try that!
Well, tonight I did! 

So here's my review:

This Pinterest recipe receives a 

9.4 out of 10 

Based on the following categories:
10/10 for Difficulty 
Really it doesn't get much easier than this:
  1. Wash, Peel and Quarter Potatoes
  2. Season Ingredients with Italian Dressing Packet
  3. Arrange in Casserole Dish and Top with Pats of Butter
  4. Cover with Foil and Bake at 350 for One Hour.

10/10 for Ingredients

There are a total of FIVE tasty ingredients.
  1. Chicken
  2. Red Potatoes 
  3. Green Beans
  4. Italian Seasoning 
  5. Butter

10/10 for Time

This takes about 5 minutes to prep and bakes in one hour.

6/10 for Healthy. 

Butter and I have a love/hate relationship.
Alternative-
Substitute "Smart Balance" or an olive oil spread 
and serve a side salad in lieu of rolls or bread. 

10/10 for "Hubby and Kiddo Approved"

I received an enthusiastic 
"Yes! Make this again" from the whole fam.

There you have it folks, 
I hope this review has been helpful. 
I do suggest giving this recipe a shot, 
if you like tender flavorful chicken, 
perfectly cooked potatoes packed with flavor,
and juicy green beans that even the pickiest eaters will eat.
All-in-all it's a good "meat & potatoes" dish 
for those busy fall weeknights.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Homemade Street Tacos

Sure you could stand in line for 30 minutes
for some tasty street tacos... 
OR,
You could let your slow-cooker do all the work 
and serve up a plate of 
shredded pork tacos
and fresh salsa right at home. 

Here's what you'll need

One Boneless Pork Roast (Butt)

For the Rub 

Cumin, 
Ancho Chili Powder
Cinnamon
Ground Cloves
Paprika
Oregano
Red Pepper Flakes
Onion Powder
Garlic Powder
Salt & Pepper 

Mix spices in a bowl
Rub all over the roast
Slow-cook for 8 hours
Shred 
Then put all the shredded meat 
back in slow-cooker to 
soak in all those tasty juices.

For the Salsa

Rotel 
Onion  
Chopped cilantro
Cumin
Ancho Chili Powder
Salt & Pepper
Sugar
Lime

Puree half of the rotel 
and  the onion
in the food processor
Mix with all the other ingredients
(I only puree half of the rotel because
I like chunky salsa.
So if you prefer smooth salsa, 
puree it all.)
*Season to taste*
I strongly encourage you 
to try alternative citrus juices,
Orange Juice 
is one of my family's favorites.
Also add any fresh ingredients you like
Pineapple is a huge hit in our house too.
You really can't go wrong with salsa so be courageous!
Let it chill in the fridge until serving.

Don't Forget

Corn Tortillas
Shredded Cheese
Lettuce, Tomatoes, Onion
Sour Cream

Build your tacos just like they do at the food truck.
Heat corn tortillas on a griddle or comal.
Add shredded pork,
Top with shredded cheese, 
lettuce, tomatoes, onion, 
sour cream and salsa.
Enjoy!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Anna's Famous Fish Tacos


Normally I don't like to brag,
but I make the BEST fish tacos.
Seriously, these fish tacos are kind of a big deal.
I probably shouldn't even be sharing the recipe,
but since it got leaked a few months ago when my 
mother-in-law shared it with family on the east coast,
I figure I may as well share it with the world.

But I should warn you,
once you try these fish tacos
you will never be happy with
any other fish tacos because
none even compare to these.

And here's why:
It's all in the sauce.
Say it with me,
"It's all in the sauce!"

The Sauce

Just stock up on everything in this picture
because you'll be making this sauce again and again.

1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
1/2 cup Sour Cream 
Juice of 1 Lime(not pictured)
1 can diced green chiles 
*or minced jalapeno if you like it hot
1 teaspoon minced capers
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper  
*adjust based on how hot you like it
Mix everything together
Chill for 30 minutes

Now for the fish, 
there are two versions.
First ask yourself,
Do I feel like being good or being really bad?

Healthy version

The healthy version is simple,
Just cut fish into strips,
*Preferably boneless, skinless Cod 
Season/marinate for 15 minutes 
*Marinade: Lime, Cumin, Additional seasoning to taste, Olive oil 
Wrap in heavy duty foil 
*Coat inside of foil packet with nonstick spray
Grill for 10 minutes until fish is cooked/flaky

Not-so-Healthy version

Beer-batter:
Combine  1 cup flour, 2 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 
Blend 1 egg and 1 cup beer 
Quickly stir  egg/beer mixture into dry ingredients.

Dip fish into batter and deep-fry until crisp and golden brown.
Drain on paper towels.

Tortillas

I prefer these blue corn tortillas:

Fry them to make them crispy or just warm them
You can also use regular corn, flour, whole wheat, low-carb, etc...

How to assemble Fish Tacos

This may seem silly,
it is kind of a no-brainer.
So feel free to stop reading now.
But, whenever I serve these to a crowd, 
which I have done dozens of times,
this always happens:
A guest walks up to the assembly line, 
stares at the ingredients with an expression of 
bewilderment across their face and asks 
"Okay, how do I do this?"
As if they've never made a taco before in their lives!
Dear Family and Friends, I'm sorry for publicly shaming you for your lack of taco-building skills. I love you all! 

Taco-Building 101
Grab a tortilla
Sprinkle some cheese on top
Place a few pieces of fish on
Sprinkle with cabbage/coleslaw mixture
Top with a big heaping spoonful of sauce
Then add whatever else you're into:
Avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion, salsa, you name it.
I prefer to keep it simple.
Now just eat and repeat!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Baked Caprese

Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil and Balsamic Vinegar, doesn't that sound like a match made in heaven? Add it to the top of garlic ciabatta bread and now I am drooling! 

The other day Mr. Q and I had a late lunch date at our favorite Vietnamese restaurant and so when dinner time rolled around we were still pretty stuffed. The kiddos did their usual homemade pizza Friday night ritual, but later I decided to whip up this amazing late night snack just for the two of us.

Baked Caprese


This is so easy to make, yet it looks fancy and tastes amazing, 
so I thoroughly recommend serving it up as an appetizer 
to wow your guests at your next dinner party! 

Here's what you'll need: 

Ciabatta bread 
butter
garlic
mozzerella 
balsamic vinegar
tomatoes
basil

Instructions:

Cut your bread in half. 

Since we weren't all that hungry I saved half of my baguette 
but if you're feeding a larger crowd use both halves 
or double the recipe if needed. 
Just know that you'll need about 8 oz. cheese and 1 large tomato per half loaf. 

Next mix softened butter and minced garlic and spread it over the bread.

Then sliced Mozzarella and place it on top. 

Bake the bread @ 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil on the stove, then let it simmer for 5-7 minutes to reduce. 

Slice tomatoes and chop basil.

Take the bread out of the oven, top with tomatoes, basil, and drizzle with balsamic reduction. Cut into slices. 

Enjoy!

This was adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

And We're Back...

Dear Fellow Foodies,
I would like to offer my sincere apologies for my recent unexplained absence. 
My family and I have been dealing with the loss of a family pet, college finals for me, start of a new school year for the kiddos, and tons of work at the office for Mr. Q. Sadly we have not been eating as much homemade meals as we would have liked, nor have I been taking the time to capture the tasty stuff that has been going on in the kitchen lately. But I am back now, (mentally and emotionally) and I am craving some quality time in the kitchen. There's going to be a lot of great new stuff posted, starting today. So stay tuned!

--Anna Q

Monday, August 11, 2014

Blueberry Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Swirl

This morning two brown bananas on the counter were 
just begging to become banana bread...
But I was also in the mood for cheesecake, 
(I'm basically always in the mood for cheesecake)
So I came up with this Blueberry Banana Bread 
with Cream Cheese Swirl.
(The blueberries were just sort of an an afterthought 
and probably the best idea ever!)

Here's what you'll need:

1 EGG
1/2 CUP BROWN SUGAR
1/4 CUP VEGETABLE OIL
1/4 CUP APPLE SAUCE
1/4 CUP LITE SOUR CREAM
2 TEASPOONS VANILLA
1 CUP BANANAS (MASHED)
1 CUP FRESH BLUEBERRIES 
1 CUP FLOUR
1/2 TEASPOON BAKING POWDER
1/2 TEASPOON BAKING SODA
PINCH OF SALT

And for the Cream Cheese Swirl 

You'll need:

1 EGG
4 OZ. CREAM CHEESE
1/4 CUP SUGAR
3 TABLESPOONS FLOUR

Directions:


Preheat oven to 350, grease and flour loaf pan.
Combine egg, brown sugar, oil, apple sauce, sour cream and vanilla
in a large bowl with a wire wisk until smooth.
With a spatula fold in the rest of the bread ingredients.
Pour 2/3 of the bread mix into the loaf pan. 
(See: Step One)
Next mix cream cheese swirl ingredients until smooth.
Pour cream cheese mixture on top of bread mix in loaf pan.
(See: Step Two)
Then carefully pour the remainder of the bread mix 
over the cream cheese layer.
(See: Step Three)
Bake 45-60 minutes until toothpick is inserted in center 
and comes out clean.
Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes.

Then cool another 20 minutes on wire rack.
   Enjoy!


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Baked Oatmeal Muffins

It's that time of year again...
Back-to-School!
For us that means sack lunches, crock pot dinners, 
and quick and easy breakfasts.
The quicker and easier, the better!
But that doesn't mean it can't be homemade. 
Now this all goes without saying, 
but did you know...
breakfasts made at home with whole foods 
are much healthier, 
contain less sugar
and are much more affordable
than packaged store-bought breakfast foods. 

So before you pass out the PopTarts,
think about how much better you'll feel about
sending your kids off to school with one of these:


Baked Oatmeal Muffins


The perfect 
make-ahead back-to-school 
Breakfast-on-the-Go!

Here's what you'll need:

2 EGGS
1/4 CUP BROWN SUGAR
1/8 CUP COCONUT OIL (or veg. oil)
1/2 CUP APPLESAUCE
1 1/2 CUP COCONUT/ALMOND MILK (or reg. milk)
1/8 CUP PEANUT BUTTER
2 TSP. VANILLA
1/2 TSP.SALT
1 TBSP.CINNAMON
3 CUPS OATS
2 TSP. BAKING POWDER
1/8 CUP FLOUR
TOPPINGS: 
FRESH OR DRIED FRUIT, NUTS, CHOCOLATE, CAROB CHIPS, ETC... 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350
Spray or line muffin pan.
Mix eggs, brown sugar, and oil until smooth.
Add applesauce, milk, peanut butter, vanilla.
Mix until combined.
Mix dry ingredients separately.
Slowly mix in dry ingredients until combined.
Fill muffins 3/4 full. 
Top with fruit.
Bake for 30 minutes
(Bake mini-muffins 15 minutes)
Let cool. 
Store in airtight container.

Enjoy!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

No-Sew DIY T-shirts

I  found these easy no-sew 
D.I.Y T-shirt 
ideas on Pinterest 
So my daughters and I
gathered some old t-shirts
and created fun new shirts!

Here's How:

The first one is super simple
Just cut off the collar
and the cuffs of both sleeves.
Then cut a slit from top of the sleeve 
from the shoulder down.
Now take the cuffs 
and cut off the stitching.
Use the cuffs 
as string for the bows.
Pinch the top of the shoulder and the neck
and cinch it together in a bow.
Like this:

Next was my oldest daughter's
school t-shirt, 
which she wears as a
night shirt since it's a 
little too big.
But not anymore!

I started by cutting off the sleeves
in half oval shapes
creating a tank top.
Then I cut in triangles 
on each sides of the back.
Next I took some extra pieces
from a tank that I cut
(not pictured)
and tied bows 
around the middle of the back
and the shoulders.
Now she has a fun summer tank
which I think would 
be great as a swim suit cover!

For my youngest,
who is a little bit of a spitfire,
I decided to try the fringe bottom.
So I did everything 
exactly the same as the first t-shirt
but then I took it a step further
by cutting slits up the 
bottom of the shirt 
all the way around.
She loves her new fringe shirt
and the best part about it is 
this t-shirt had a hole at the bottom 
of the sleeve which is now gone!

This was a super fun and easy project.
For the first round we used old t-shirts that we 
didn't really care too much about.
Next I am going to try this
with some of my (mens) vintage comic book 
t-shirts to give them a "girly" look.
Will post more on that later.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas Verde

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas Verde 

Step One: Poach Chicken

Season Chicken with Cumin, 
Oregano, Cayenne Pepper, Fresh Ground Pepper
and whatever other seasonings you prefer
Place Chicken Breasts in a stock pot 
Cover with Chicken broth/stock
Add one lime cut in half
and half an onion cut in half
Bring to a boil.
Cover and reduce heat
Simmer 20 minutes
until chicken is fully cooked

Step Two: Mix Enchilada Filling

Shred chicken in large bowl
Add a big spoonful of cream cheese
and a big spoonful of sour cream
Half a can of green chile enchilada sauce
1 can of diced green chiles 
season to taste.

Step Three: Roll Enchiladas

Spoon 1/8 cup of filling in each tortilla
Roll enchiladas and arrange in casserole dish

Step Four: Top Enchiladas

Cover with remainder of enchilada sauce
Top with grated cheese

Step Five: Bake Enchiladas
Cover with foil
and bake at 375 degrees
for 20 minutes.
Remove foil
Bake for 10 more minutes

Enjoy!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Chicken Salad 3 Ways

 I love chicken salad
and I'm not talking about 
canned chicken and mayo
on a boring old piece of bread.
I am talking about 
beautifully poached chicken 
salad with the works! 

Here are three wonderful ways 
to serve up chicken salad:
In a wrap:
On a bun:
Over a bed of lettuce:

To poach your chicken 

You'll need:
Chicken broth
Half an Onion
Seasoning
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast

Put ingredients into a stock pot 
and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to low, 
and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Then let chicken cool.

While the chicken is cooling,
assemble "the works"
Chop fruit, veggies & nuts.

Suggested ingredients:

Green Apples, Red Onions, Celery, 
Carrots, Grapes, Walnuts, Pecans, 
Dried Cranberries, Dried Cherries, Raisins...

Next shred chicken.

Then whip up your dressing.
To cut back on calories use equal parts 
mayo and plain greek yogurt.
*I like to add about a spoonful 
of honey mustard.

Finally mix it all up and
season with dill weed, garlic powder
and fresh ground pepper.
Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Let's talk Breakfast

I admit, 
I used to skip breakfast all the time. 
Until I discovered all the benefits
of eating a healthy breakfast.
Then I realized it's actually really easy!

Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

Freezing your fruit ahead of time
makes breakfast a breeze!
Get my Purple Kale Smoothie Recipe Here:

This is my secret weapon for a 
guilt-free protein-packed breakfast:

Breakfast Taco

Caloric Breakdown:
5 Tablespoons of Egg Whites (42 Cal.) 
(Cooked with nonstick olive oil cooking spray)
1 Wheat & Black Bean Tortilla (100 Cal.)
Sprinked with cheddar cheese (approximately 60 Cal.)
Topped with a spoonful of Homemade Salsa (4 Cal.)
Total: 206 Calories
Add a piece of fruit 
and you've got a balanced breakfast!


Enjoy!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Welcome Home Cookies


I bake these cookies
every time my husband returns
 from a business trip.

Sometimes I think he goes on
fakes trips just so that I will make 
these cookies.

So I suppose they don't 
have to be "Welcome Home" cookies.
They could just be, 
"Here have a cookie" cookies
or "Nice shirt, here's a cookie" cookies
or even,
"It's Wednesday, lets eat cookies" cookies

All I'm saying is,
you have GOT to try these cookies!
*Preferably with a big glass of ice cold milk

Here's what you'll need: 

1 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 package of butterscotch instant pudding
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 cup cream cheese
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips

Step one: Cream together the butter and sugar
Step two: Mix in pudding mix, eggs, vanilla, and cream cheese
Step three: Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl
Step four: Combine dry ingredients and wet ingredients. 
Step five: Fold in chocolate chips
Step six: Cover and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour 
*or freeze for 15 minutes.
Step seven: Form round cookie dough balls 
and place on baking sheet. 
Step between 7 and 8: Eat cookie dough 
(or not, because it contains raw eggs and raw eggs are bad,
 or do because come on, it's cookie dough
 it's super yummy. Hey, it's your call.)
Step eight: Bake for 12 minutes
Step nine: Cool on baking sheet for 90 seconds
Step ten: Let cool on cooling rack
Enjoy!


Celebrating a birthday? 
Skip the cake!

Make these "Birthday Cookies"

Happy Birthday

Here's a stack of cookies!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Zucchini Meatball Sub


Meatball subs are kind of my weakness
 So when my kids begged me 
to make them last night,
I admit I got a little nervous. 
Since I've been pretty "good" lately,
I didn't want to let those
gooey meatballs 
lure me into eating way too much
like those little temptresses always do. 
So I improvised,
skipped the bun, 
and created a zucchini sub instead! 
I have to say, 
I think I actually prefer it this way. 

Here's the recipe:

Homemade Turkey Meatballs

One Pound Ground Turkey
One Egg
1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs
Half an Onion (Diced)
1/4 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan
Couple shakes of Worcestershire sauce
Splash of milk
Italian Seasonings
Garlic Powder
Red Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper

*I don't ever really measure seasoning.

So just be generous 

and you'll end up with tasty meatballs.


Mix everything in a large bowl.
Form your meatballs.
Place them on a baking sheet 
(After lining it with foil 
and spraying it down with nonstick spray.)
Bake in preheated oven at 375 degrees 
for about 25 minutes.

Of course you're welcome to make your own sauce
after all, Homemade is Better.
But I took the easy way out this time
and used a jar of whatever was in the pantry.

Now at this point go ahead 
toast your bun or hoagie
and serve it up old school

OR...

Skip the bun (and the carbs)
Grill up a few slices of zucchini instead.
Trust me, 
You won't even miss the bread!
Top with fresh parmesan. 

Enjoy!