Tzatziki Sauce

Want to make some Tzatziki for your dish?  You’ve come to the right place!

  • 3 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice or juice of one lemon
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 large English cucumber (minced)
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill or 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped *
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

* 1 tsp dried dill or 1 tsp mint can be substituted if you do not have fresh on hand

Combine all ingredients by gently folding them together.

Let rest for 30 minutes to the flavors to combine.  It will be good in the fridge for a couple of days, but it will accumulate liquid.  Just drain the liquid each time before gently re-folding the mixture and serving on your favorite Greek dish.

(Chicken) Souvlaki

Souvlaki is a grilled meat, typically on a charcoal grill, that is served in or on pita bread.  Think of them as the Greek version of kabobs.  It’s delicious and I highly recommend it!  I use a George Foreman grill because I don’t have a real grill (yet) and it still tastes delicious, so give it a try.  I haven’t tried it, but I think a skillet would also work.
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Marinade
  • 1/2 cup Olive oil
  • 3 tbsp Lemon juice
  • 2 tsp Oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic (diced) (approximately 2 tsp)
  • 2 lbs chicken

Everything Else

  • Pita bread
  • Onion (raw)
  • Tomato (raw)
  • Cucumber (raw)
  • Cilantro
  • Lemon to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional: wooden skewers (if using a real grill)

Combine ingredients for marinade in a sealable bag (I used a 1 gallon freezer bag).  Cut up chicken into large(ish) chunks (about 1 inch) and put into freezer bag.  Seal bag (try to get as much air out as possible) and mix well so all chunks of chicken are covered.  Let sit in fridge for at least 5 hours (or overnight for best flavor).

Heat up grill (or skillet or George Foreman grill) when ready to cook.  If using a regular grill, make sure to soak wooden skewers in water for a couple of hours and grill like kabobs.  If using a George Foreman grill or skillet, only cook a couple of pieces at a time (I did 7-9 pieces on the George Foreman grill, so they weren’t crowded, and I’d recommend about that in a skillet).  Do as many rounds as possible to cook all of the chicken pieces (I put the pieces already cooked in the oven on a metal pan at 225ish to stay hot while I cooked the rest).

While the chicken is cooking (or before, depending on how good you are with multi tasking), chop up about 1/4 of a cucumber (half the slices), 1/4 of a tomato (decent sized chunks), 1/8 of an onion (bite sized pieces), and about 1 tsp of cilantro per person.

Plate and serve.  Add salt and lemon to taste.

If your pita bread has pockets, stuff the pockets with a combination of the cilantro, cucumber, tomato, and chicken; add salt and lemon, and eat like a pita sandwich.

Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala

I really love Indian food quite a bit …  I could probably eat it daily.  I was excited when I found the crockpot chicken tikka masala recipe, and even more excited when I took my first bite.  It’s delicious!  I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I did.  🙂

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  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken diced into 1-1.5 inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (can substitute plain Greek yogurt)
  • 1 can of peeled crushed tomatoes (28-29oz)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper (depending on spice preference)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • Chopped parsley or cilantro for garnish

Mix all of the ingredients up to (and including) bay leaves in your crockpot.  Make sure it is well mixed and that the chicken is well coated.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours).

20 minutes before you’re ready to eat, mix heavy cream and corn starch in a bowl.  Mix into your crockpot and stir until well mixed and let cook for another 20 minutes to thicken.

Serve hot over rice or quinoa.

Recipe originated from Recipe for Two.

(Unsweetened) Bacon Corn Bread

 

I decided to try my hand at corn bread.  I opted for the unsweetened cornbread that’s said to be more of the Southern tradition.  The recipe was quite delicious and I’ll definitely make it again.  Next time, I’ll try sweetened, too.

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  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/4 cup bacon grease *
  • 2 tbsp butter

* An option for this is to use melted butter instead of bacon grease.  It’s up to you!  The bacon grease adds some good flavor, but it does make it salty.  If you use 1/4 cup butter instead, add 1 tsp of salt.

Preheat oven to 450.

In a 10-inch skillet or 10-inch oven-safe pan, start cooking your bacon.  Keep an eye on it as you get all the other ingredients together and mixed.

Mix cornmeal, flour, and baking powder in a medium or large bowl.  In a separate (smaller) bowl, mix buttermilk, milk, and the egg.  Once combined, add in the baking soda.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Crumble your bacon into the wet mixture and then immediately slowly pour the bacon grease into the mixture, stirring until just combined.

In the same skillet you cooked the bacon in, add 2 tbsp of butter and melt over a medium-high heat.  Once hot, pour your corn bread mixture into the pan and cook on the stove for 1 minute (this will give you nicely crisp edges).  After 1 minute, transfer to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!

This recipe originated from The Pioneer Woman.

Balsamic, Garlic, and Butter Bread (or Best Appetizer Ever)

I had this once at a restaurant and loved it so much that I went home to replicate the recipe.  It is delicious!  I especially love using this on my homemade bread, but that recipe will come later.

This recipe is very easy and has won over even someone who doesn’t usually enjoy garlic or balsamic vinegar.  Try it, you’ll love it!

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  • roasted garlic
  • whipped butter
  • reduced balsamic vinegar
  • loaf of French bread (or 1-2 bagettes)

Roasting Garlic

  • 4-5 garlic bulbs/heads
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

An hour ahead of time, preheat your oven to 375.  Cut off the tops of your bulbs of garlic so that the garlic is exposed and put all five cloves (root end down) on foil that is long enough to wrap around everything.  Drizzle a hearty amount of olive oil over all of the bulbs and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Wrap your bulbs in the foil (and maybe also place it on a baking pan so in case it leaks, it won’t be on your oven bottom) and place in the oven for 45 minutes.

When the garlic is done, remove from oven and let it cool before trying to remove the garlic cloves.  Removing the garlic cloves is as simple as grabbing the bottom of the bulb and gently squeezing out the cloves.  They’ll be mushy and delicious.

Whipped Butter

  • 1/2 pounds of butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup milk

In the meantime, using a blender, mix the softened butter and milk together until light and fluffy.  This will take about 10 minutes and might splash milk everywhere, so be prepared.

Reduced Balsamic Vinegar

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar

While the garlic is cooking, and after you have whipped the butter, grab a small sauce pan and pour in your balsamic vinegar.  Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil, and then reduce heat so that it simmers for another couple of minutes (3-5).  Remove from heat and let cool.

Final Product

Take your French bread (toasted or untoasted — it’s up to you) and spread some whipped butter on top.  Next, take a roasted garlic clove and spread it on top of the butter.  Lastly, dip your bread in the reduced balsamic vinegar.

Now take a bite … and enjoy.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever (from the New York Times)

I’ve seen the claim multiple times that the New York Times has the best cookie recipe — ever.  I decided to try it myself.  I made the mistake of making a double-batch, which almost killed my mixer, but I will say that I did not regret any of the (many, many) cookies that I stuffed in my mouth.  These are amazing.

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For the ingredients, you will need BOTH cake flour and bread flour.  It’s very important to measure out the amount of both exactly, so I’m using weight instead of measuring cups.

  • 8 1/2 oz cake flour
  • 8 1/2 oz bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 10 oz light brown sugar
  • 8 oz granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 20 oz bittersweet chocolate chips, at least 60 percent cacao content
  • Sea salt

In a medium bowl, mix / sift together both flours, the baking soda, the baking powder, and the salt.  Set aside for now.

With a mixer and paddle attachment, combine both sugars and butter until creamy and light, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, until well mixed.  Add vanilla.  Lower speed of your mixer and slowly add in the dry ingredients.  Mix until just combined, about 5-10 seconds.  Mix in your chocolate chips until just combined.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-36 hours.

When you’re ready to bake your cookies, preheat your oven to 350 and line a baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper.

* There are two options below for making your cookies.

1.  The original recipe for this calls to make your dough 6 1/2 oz and to only put 6 balls of dough per baking sheet.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown (but still soft).  It will make 18 cookies total.

2.   I was making these for two parties, so I instead used a tablespoon to scoop out my dough and put 12 cookies per baking sheet.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown (but still soft).  It will make ~5 dozen cookies total.

With my double batch, I ended up getting ~10 dozen cookies!  Thankfully, most of them went to two separate events and they were devoured very quickly.  I got some excellent compliments about these cookies and I highly recommend them!

This recipe originated from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Apple Nachos

As mentioned previously, I’ve recently come into a love of peanut butter.  And even more recently, I discovered how amazing peanut butter and dark chocolate tasted.  And then peanut butter, dark chocolate, and cinnamon!  It was from that epiphany that I decided to create some apple nachos.

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  • 1-2 apples
  • Peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  • Dark or milk chocolate chips
  • Cinnamon

I was extremely generous with the peanut butter and chocolate chips, but you can use less or more, depending on your taste.

Cut up the apple into smaller pieces (I sliced the apple, and then cut the slices in half) and arrange them on a plate.  Microwave peanut butter in a separate bowl (not the container!) until almost runny (about 30-50 seconds).  Drizzle peanut butter on your arranged apples, and then sprinkle cinnamon and chocolate chips on top.

Eat with fingers or a fork.

You’re welcome.

Chili Dog Sauce

My S.O. is from the midwest and he loves a restaurant called Tony Packo’s; they serve delicious chili dogs.  Unfortunately, that same restaurant does not exist in the pacific northwest and my S.O. frequently pines for one of those chili dogs.  I decided to give a copy cat recipe a try and it made some delicious topping for Polish sausages.  My S.O. said it was not Tony Packo’s recipe, but it was still damn good.  I think I’ll keep the recipe around!

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  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup onion (about 3/4 of a medium sized onion)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian Paprika*
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

* You can substitute regular paprika, or 1 tablespoon smoked paprika and 1 tablespoon regular paprika, but it won’t have the same depth of flavor.

Cook your ground beef in a large frying pan or a large saucepan until it’s cooked through and browned.  Drain the fat.  A really great cheat at this point is to run the ground beef briefly through a food processor to break it into fine, even pieces.  Otherwise, just try to break up the ground beef as small as possible.

Add the ground beef back to your pan and add your water.  Mix in everything else and stir well.  Simmer the mixture for at least 1 hour.  Serve on a hot dog or, in my case, over a Polish sausage.

This recipe originated from Big Oven.

Homemade (Honey) Peanut Butter

I have another secret … are you ready for this?

Up until VERY recently, I’ve hated peanut butter with a passion.  I don’t actually like peanuts, either, so I guess it’s not really surprising, but I was never able to make myself like it, even though my family loved it (and my sister used to carry a jar of peanut butter around in her purse — I’m not even kidding!)

However, I came across the following recipe for making my own peanut butter from scratch and decided to do so for my significant other.  As I was making it, I decided to taste test it.  And, whoa.

Seriously, whoa.

I ended up making this recipe every week for a while.  From there, I slowly developed a taste for peanut butter.  I still can’t stand the non-natural versions, but I can now just sit and happily eat a jar of natural peanut butter (with or without honey!)

This recipe converted someone who hated peanut butter.   It’s that good.

  • 2 1/2 cups of unsalted peanuts
  • 4 tbsp oil (peanut oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, or even vegetable oil — but NOT olive oil)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • salt to taste

Pour peanuts into food processor and grind until the mixture looks similar to wet sand.  Slowly add your oil and honey in small batches.  Between all of this, you will need to stop grinding, open the lid, and scrape the sides so that it all mixes well.  Once that is all mixed in, slowly add salt to taste.  (This is the best time to taste test!)

* For chunks of peanuts, chop up another 1/2 cup and mix in well (not with the food processor).

Store in the fridge in an airtight container.  Please note that this will harden a bit in the fridge, so when you want to eat some of your delicious homemade peanut butter, just let the container sit out for a few minutes before digging in.

This recipe originated from Simply Scratch.

Sweet and Spicy Sausage Over Rice

This recipe came from a friend and it is gooood.

  • 1 package of beef smoked sausage
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 – 1 package of taco seasoning
  • 1/2 jar of 18 oz apricot preserves
  • 1 cup uncooked rice / quinoa

Dice the sausage into thick circles, and then cut those circles in half.  Place in large pan on stovetop on medium high heat.  While the sausage browns, start the rice and get that simmering (2 cups water to 1 cup of uncooked rice / quinoa).

Once the sausage is browned to your liking, lower the heat and add the can of diced tomatoes.  Next, stir in the taco seasoning (start with 1/2 of package and add more to taste — the taco seasoning is what makes this dish spicy).  Add the apricot preserves in next, starting with a spoonful, and working your way up to 1/2 of the jar (again, add to taste).  Personally, I add in the full package of taco seasoning, and as close to half as I can get of the apricot preserves.

Stir well and let simmer until rice / quinoa is also done.  Serve the sausage mixture over rice / quinoa and enjoy!

This recipe can easily be doubled for lots of leftovers.