Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Broccoli Cheddar Pockets

I found these on a whim last week while desperately searching for something new and easy to try for dinner. We grabbed ingredients on the way home (thank you, premade bread dough), and within an hour were pulling these out of the oven. A few bites later, Dan the Man declared these broccoli-cheddar pockets had made it to his top ten list of favorite meals.

Of course if you had time you could certainly make your own dough from scratch, but I was pleased with these results. We brainstormed future fillings like pepperoni and mozzarella, ham and cheddar, or spinach and feta.

Based on a recipe from

Ingredients (makes 8 pockets)

  • 3-4 small broccoli crowns, chopped into small pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 8 oz grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 Tbsp sour cream
  • small handful fresh chives, chopped
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing (vegetable oil spray works fine too)
  • All-purpose flour, for dusting
  • 2 (11-ounce) tubes refrigerated French bread dough
  • 1 large egg
  1. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and cook 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool; pat very dry. 
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Brush or spray baking sheet with vegetable oil.
  3. Mix broccoli, cheddar, sour cream, and chives in a bowl until combined. Squeeze the mixture together to compact it.
  4. Use a little bit of flour to lightly dust your work surface.
  5. Cut each tube of dough into four pieces. Roll each piece out and fill with broccoli mixture. Fold and secure each pocket, then place seam-side down on the baking sheet.(Check out these excellent step-by-step photos if you have never made these before!)
  6. Beat egg in a small bowl. Add 1 Tbsp water and mix well.
  7. Brush each pocket with egg wash. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese

Whenever I used to make macaroni and cheese, the boys in my family would cover it with hot sauce. Once sriracha came into our lives, it became the new mac and cheese topping. It sort of bugged me until I accepted that they just loved spicy food.

So I am sure you can imagine how excited I was to try this recipe when I stumbled upon it. Thank you to Budget Bytes for this lovely recipe to which my family is now addicted!


  • 1 lb cut pasta (spirals and penne are both good here)
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 oz cream cheese (1/2 brick)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 oz can sliced jalapenos
  • 4 oz can diced green chiles
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Once pasta is added to boiling water, begin cheese sauce. Heat medium-sized stockpot over medium heat. Add milk, cream cheese, and Parmesan. Whisk until cream cheese has softened and mixture has combined.
  3. Turn heat to low. Add sour cream, jalapenos, and chiles, continuing to whisk until combined. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Once everything is done cooking, turn heat off. Drain pasta. Return to its own pot. Pour cheese sauce over top of pasta. Stir well. Add shredded pepper jack cheese and stir well until pepper jack has melted. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Garlic

This recipe comes to me from my friend Vickie, who is an Italian cooking pro. (Happy birthday Vickie!) We were discussing greens such as Swiss chard, and what to do with them. Her recommendation? A simple, yet flavorful way to get a serving of veggies into your meal when you are sick of salad.

This recipe works with any type of greens, such as spinach or kale but the texture is best with Swiss chard because their large stems provide a good crunch without being too bitter.

• 1 bunch fresh Swiss chard (I used green chard)
• 3 Tbsp olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
• sea salt

1. Wash chard thoroughly and chop up.
2. Heat large frying pan over medium heat.
3. When pan is hot, add olive oil and garlic. Sauté for one minute, just enough for the garlic to flavor the oil.
4. Add half the chard and cook, stirring almost constantly.
5. As there is room, add another handful of chard. Keep stirring to coat new chard with oil.
6. Continue this process until all chard has been added. Stir and keep cooking until all chard has wilted and turned dark green.
7. Pour into serving dish. Season with sea salt and serve hot.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pretzel Dogs

As I described to the boy working at my local grocery store's checkout line, this week is "epic dinner week" in our household. You are seeing the results of Day 1.

I tried taking a shortcut on the pretzel dough, which was a total disaster. My bread machine came with a recipe for pretzel dough, but it turned out extremely dry and looked like a science experiment gone horribly wrong.

I went back to the drawing board and used a more traditional dough recipe as suggested in the blog What Megan's Making. Thanks to my stand mixer, it was a lot less work than I anticipated and the dough came out perfectly.

I recommend making these the day you are planning on eating them, although the dough could be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge in a Ziploc bag.

Ingredients (this can easily be made vegetarian)

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 - 115 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour would work if you don't have bread flour)
  • package of 10 all-beef franks (regular sized, not the longer bun-length style) (for vegetarian alternative, use vegetarian hot dogs!)
  • vegetable oil spray (not needed if you have a Silpat baking mat)
  • water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda OR 2 Tbsp malt diastatic powder
  • 1 egg white, whisked until bubbly/foamy
  • more kosher salt, for topping

Directions (if using stand mixer)
  1. Set up your stand mixer with the dough hook.
  2. In the bowl for your stand mixer, combine water, sugar, and yeast. Let sit for 3-5 minutes until mixture begins to foam.
  3. Add salt, melted butter, and 3 cups of the flour. Mix on medium speed, adding the 4th cup of flour slowly and letting the flour incorporate into the mixture. If needed, add the final 1/2 cup of flour. You are looking for the dough to be a little sticky but not wet and gooey. Another indication that you have a good ratio of flour to moisture is that the dough has collected around the dough hook in a cohesive ball. 
  4. Place dough in a new, clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour.
Once dough has risen...
  1. Place a large stockpot of water, about 2/3 full, on the stove. Add baking soda (or, if using, malt diastatic powder) to water and bring to a boil.
  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Prepare cookie sheet by either spraying with vegetable oil OR placing a Silpat baking mat on the cookie sheet.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pretzel dough until it is a large rectangle about 1/2-inch thick. Cut into 10 thin strips. (If you have extra dough, you can use them to make regular pretzels)
  5. Wrap each strip around a hot dog, pinching at both beginning and end to seal them. I like them with the ends showing, but you can completely encase the hot dog with dough if you desire.
  6. Once water is boiling, turn down to medium heat. Drop 5 of the pretzel dogs in and let them cook for about 30 seconds - they should be floating.
  7. Remove pretzel dogs with slotted spoon and place on baking sheet. Repeat with the final 5 pretzel dogs.
  8. Brush each one with egg white and sprinkle salt on top.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes (checking frequently starting at the 12 minute mark) until golden brown. Remove and let cool about 10 minutes.
  10. Enjoy with mustard, cheese sauce, or any other desired toppings.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Dressing

I have been doing some creative problem solving in my kitchen recently. I loved this salad dressing that I had at a friend's house but he isn't one to work from recipes. So I did some experimenting to create my own version!

If you have never roasted peppers before, it is simple and brings out a wonderful flavor.

  • 2 small red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed
  • 1 bulb garlic (you will use about 5 of the cloves, once they are roasted)
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp spicy brown (or Dijon) mustard
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp plain (or vanilla) yogurt
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Roast the garlic. (Click here for garlic roasting directions.)
  3. Roast the peppers. (Click here for pepper roasting directions.)
  4. Combine peppers, 5 cloves of garlic, and all other ingredients in a small food processor. Blend until smooth.
  5. Serve immediately. Dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I first enjoyed greyhounds at a friend's wedding and have been making them at home ever since. But the best version I've had yet was using freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Thanks to Dan the Man, I have this excellent recipe to share with you. It is a great way to use up those citrus fruits sitting around your house.

  • ice cubes
  • 1 ripe grapefruit, juiced
  • 1-2 shots premium vodka

  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice.
  2. Add vodka and juice of one grapefruit.
  3. Stir well and serve immediately.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sweet Potato & Brown Rice Risotto

 I was intrigued by this beautiful Beet Risotto on, but by the time I got around to making it, my beets had gone bad. Instead of tossing the idea, I totally revamped it using a sweet potato left over from a previous recipe. 

This recipe is perfect for those who have dairy sensitivities or are vegan. This risotto is a lot different than my normal risottos: it is creamier and a little sweeter (because of the coconut milk), and definitely better as a side dish than a main dish, but tastes great as leftovers. I encourage you to give it a try if you are looking for a fun twist on risottos.

  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (split use)
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 15 oz. can coconut milk (do not strain)
  • 2 cups medium- or long-grain brown rice
  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Heat medium size stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add oil, then garlic and onion. Cook until onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat slightly if necessary to avoid burning. Add sweet potato and 1 cup of the vegetable broth. Cover and cook until sweet potato has softened (pierce-able with a fork), about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low. Add vinegar, rice and coconut milk. Stir well. Cover and let cook, stirring two to three times, until most liquid has been absorbed.
  5. Add the other 2 cups of vegetable broth, stir well, and recover until most of the liquid has been absorbed and rice is cooked.
  6. Uncover, turn heat to low, and let rest of liquid cook off – about 2-3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sweet Potato Bread

I love dessert breads. They are a little less sugary tasting than cookies but just as satisfying to me. If you’ve tried my Honey Banana Bread, you may recognize this recipe – it is an adaptation.

For a different texture, try frying a slice of this in butter – it gets crispy and warm and delicious. It makes a great breakfast snack

  • 6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups grated raw sweet potato (one medium-large potato will do)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease loaf pan well, especially the bottom. Set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
  4. Add eggs, vanilla, and sweet potato. Mix until incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
  6. While stirring sweet potato mixture, slowly add flour mixture until all is incorporated.
  7. Pour batter into loan pan.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.
  9. Remove immediately from pan and let cool completely before cutting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Corn and Caramelized Onion Risotto

Normally, risotto is a main dish for our family. I love savory risottos like red pepper, sun dried tomato, or leek and lemon.

A few weeks ago, I decided to create a risotto that was meant to be served as a side dish. For that reason, you will find this dish is a little sweet - the onions caramelize in their own sugars, and the sweet corn adds a little crunch. Try pairing it with a simple but strongly flavored main dish, such as fish or steak, for a nice contrast.

·      2 onions, quartered and sliced
·      1 large clove garlic, minced
·      2 ears corn (or about 1 1/2 cups frozen corn)
·      salt and freshly ground pepper
·      2 cups Arborio rice
·      6 cups vegetable broth
·      1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (and more for serving)

  1.  Heat stockpot over medium-low heat. 
  2.  Add onions. Cover and cook until onions are caramelized. Stir every few minutes, adding a splash of water if onions start to stick. 
  3.  Uncover pot. Add garlic, corn, salt, and pepper. Stir well.
  4. Add rice, stirring constantly. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Pour in 1/2 cup stock and continue stirring. When stock is absorbed, add another 1/2 cup stock. Continue this process (and the constant stirring to avoid sticking on bottom of pot) until all stock is used and rice is cooked. Don't rush this part! It will take about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Turn off heat. Add parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas for the Soul

This recipe is a Dan-the-Man original. We bought all the ingredients for simple burritos but as evening came around, he felt the urge to create something a little sassier. His title for these beauties? Chicken enchiladas for the soul.

If you skim through this recipe, you will notice the 'soul' part comes from the fact that the chicken is slow cooked on your stovetop for about three hours. Don't try to circumvent this: it is really essential to developing the great flavor in this dish. Instead, pick a day when you have the whole afternoon at home so you can enjoy the process!

  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 4-5 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/4 cup Mexican spice blend
  • 2 cups water
  • good quality hot sauce to taste (optional but strongly recommended)
  • 1 can pineapple rings, juice strained
  • five 10" flour tortillas
  • 8 oz. shredded cheddar
  • salsa and/or sour cream, for serving
  1. Place a deep skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. As pan is heating up, add olive oil and cumin.
  3. Once cumin starts to sizzle, place chicken thighs in skillet. Sear thighs for about a minute on each side.
  4. Add red wine and stir well.
  5. Add Mexican spice blend, water, hot sauce, and pineapple rings.
  6. Cover skillet. Reduce heat to low.
  7. Let cook, undisturbed, for 3 hours.

To assemble enchiladas:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Strain chicken and pineapple. Return to skillet.
  3. Shred chicken with a fork.
  4. Warm tortillas in the microwave (about 20-30 seconds for the pile).
  5. On a clean surface, lay out your tortilla. Scoop some chicken-pineapple mixture onto the lower half of the tortilla. Sprinkle cheese on chicken, then roll up tortilla, burrito-style.
  6. Place each in a lightly oiled 13x9 pan.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees until cheese browns.
  8. Serve with salsa and/or sour cream for dipping. We enjoyed ours alongside yellow rice.