Monday, August 19, 2013

Things You Must Try

During my hiatus, I haven't used my fancy camera one time.  Part of that is my frustration with not being able to quickly master it and part of it is just taking a much needed break.  As I tell my children, sometimes if you go away from something for a while, when you try again it's suddenly easier.  It's like clearing your brain, if you will.  I'm hoping that will happen with my photography skills.  I do know I don't practice often enough.  Again, something that I preach to my children almost daily.  Man this parenting thing sure does teach you a lot of what you're not doing as an individual!

Even though I don't have my own pictures, I've provided a link to the original photo to give proper credit.  Original pictures or not, I had to share some of our favorite recipes from the last couple of months.  There's a little something for everyone, I hope, so be inspired to try something new!

Let's start with dessert first, shall we?  I made this cake for my mom's birthday and it's one of my all-time favorites (and I've made a LOT of cakes!).  The only part I don't like is that you have to put the cake in the refrigerator to help set the whipped cream frosting in between the layers.  I just don't like the way the fridge dries out the crumb and makes it a little less moist, but even still the flavors of the cake make you forget about the texture of the cake.  She suggests Valencia oranges and after trying them, I second that suggestion. Navel oranges just don't have the powerful sweet orange taste like the Valencia ones.  She also talks about various butters and I used an Irish butter to give some extra richness to the cake.  Just don't use the cheap stuff and you should be good.  I didn't get a chance to do the fancy icing technique because I don't do artificial colors, but you should still watch her video of how she achieves such a beautiful pastel swirl.  It's almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.  
Orange Party Cake with Whipped Orange Frosting
via Sweetapolita

For a slightly healthier meal, might I suggest this BLT Chopped Salad with Corn, Feta & Avocado.  Seriously, it's everything I love all wrapped up in a giant bowl.  It's got both the crunch of the bacon and corn, as well as the creaminess of the avocado and feta.  Summer on a plate!

BLT Chopped Salad
via How Sweet It Is
Another delicious salad is this Thai Chopped Chicken Salad.  I omitted the edamame, but even without it was very filling and hearty.  I missed where the peanut sauce was supposed to be different from the dressing, so I just piled them all together in a mason jar and shook away.  I can't say what they taste like apart, but it's mighty tasty all blended together.

Thai Chopped Chicken Salad
via Taste and Tell
If you want to channel your inner-90 year old granny, this recipe for Homemade Chicken 'n' Dumplings is the way to go.  Seriously people, this is where it's at.  I have been dreaming of this big bowl of goodness ever since I made it nearly a month ago.  I made it as a surprise for Wes since he often feels our meals are too healthy (is there such a thing?!).  We were both pleasantly surprised how authentically awesome these dumplings were.  Now don't get discouraged that these are from scratch.  As Jenna points out, from start to finish this entire dish takes about 30 minutes.  You couldn't even park and get waited on at Cracker Barrel in that amount of time.  Plus as a bonus, you know what's in it (or not in it).  

Homemade Chicken 'n' Dumplings
via Eat, Live, Run
For a few vegetarian and vegan options, the next 4 are incredible!  I honestly couldn't pick a favorite because they're all great in their own right.  The French Onion Burger from the Curvy Carrot is full of flavor and one of the "meatiest" veggie burgers I've ever made.  It holds together well and doesn't smoosh into 100 pieces when you take the first bite.  The boys didn't even know it wasn't a traditional burger.  I served them on a pretzel roll from Trader Joe's and I'm now in love with those buns!  I'm a sucker for anything with caramelized onions, so this one had my name written all over it.  I couldn't lift the picture from her site.  Smarty pants!   

Wes requested a Bahn Mi type sandwich one week and even added that it could be vegetarian.  Not one to ignore a good challenge, I set off to find the best recipe.  And boy did I?!  There are many components to this sandwich, just as there are for a traditional Bahn Mi, but each one is an integral part of the overall goodness of the sandwich.  The mushroom pate would be great on a burger.  The only modification I'd make in the future would be to halve or even third the pickled vegetables.  They do keep for up to a month, but I had difficulties finding other uses for them.  I did enjoy the Daikon, as this was the first time I think I'd ever had one.  Crusty bread is another must to help absorb some of the wetness from the pate and veggies.  We went the egg route, as opposed to the tofu.

Vegetarian Bahn Mi Sandwich
via The Chubby Vegetarian
Another vegetarian meal that I would bet you wouldn't miss the meat is this hearty Chickpea Crockpot Pie with Biscuit Topping.  If you haven't noticed by now, we like bread.  Really it's me and I've passed on my affection to everyone else since I'm the cook.  These biscuits, although vegan, are the bomb!  I think the moisture from the crockpot helps a lot, as does the creamy broth and veggies sticking to the underside of each bite of the biscuit.  It's a match made in heaven.  Everyone was asking for seconds and were fighting for the leftovers.

Chickpea Crockpot Pie with Biscuit Topping
via Peas and Thank You

The last recipe may be a bit of a stretch for you.  Just trust me, it really it quite tasty.  Your kids will love that they get to eat a waffle and you'll love that said waffle is packed with nutrients.  Again, don't let the laundry list of ingredients overwhelm you.  Most of them are spices and all together it only takes about 30 minutes to prepare.  The cauliflower gets chopped up, so the mouths you are feeding are none the wiser that they're actually eating something healthy.  Honestly, I think I liked this one more than Wes, but he's funny on the texture of his food.  He needs some crunch in every meal and, well, this meal is lacking in that department.  He also doesn't like anything with the word "sloppy" in it because he said it automatically sounds unappealing.  I guess I see it.  The boys and I loved it though.

Cheesy Cornbread Waffles with Cauliflower Lentil Sloppy Joes
via Keepin' It Kind

Phew!  I'm hungry now.  Doing a big post like this makes me realize just how many meals have come out of my kitchen in the last 3 months.  Which one are you going to try first?  That is if you're not in a food coma by now!



  1. It's 9:15 and you have me dreaming about lunch already! Too bad my ham and cheese on a sandwich slim will pale in comparison to any of these recipes : ) We do something similar to the BLT salad you posted - I call it "big salad night" and we will clean the fridge and use it as an excuse to add grilled shrimp or chicken leftover from another meal, not to mention our farmers' market veggie finds - I love having fresh corn to roast and add to the salad, not to mention the avocado - yummm!! I can't wait to try your Thai chicken salad, looks delish!

  2. The BLT salad looks great! Glad to see you back.

  3. The BLT salad and Thai Chicken Salad both look delish! I have never tried Chicken & Dumplings. I'd like to but I'm hesitant to make them because I have no idea how they're supposed to look and taste. I've never seen them on a menu but it sounds like I need to make a trip to Cracker Barrel to try them so I can make them. :)