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04 Dec 14:38

decadent hot chocolate mix

by deb

decadent hot chocolate mix

Here is how I’ve made hot chocolate for most of my life: heat some milk in a saucepan, add a bit of unsweetened cocoa and sugar and whisk. Form lumps. Be unable to break up lumps. Get frustrated, try again, this time slowly slowly slowly whisking milk into cocoa and sugar, hoping to form something of a cocoa roux. Heat mixture until steamy and drink merrily, trying to ignore faint background of chalkiness. Hooray for cocoa?

what you'll need, except maybe not marshmallows
grind it up and you're done

Until this week, that is. This week, I saw a recipe for a homemade hot chocolate mix in this month’s Cook’s Illustrated that had my undivided attention because it wasn’t just cocoa and sugar but ground chocolate and vanilla and salt and and and… I mean, how bad could it be? What was the worst that could happen — we’d have to warm up with several cups of hot cocoa in a single week in the name of recipe testing? I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: sometimes, this job is the worst.

homemade hot chocolate

... Read the rest of decadent hot chocolate mix on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to decadent hot chocolate mix | 233 comments to date | see more: Chocolate, Drinks, Photo, Snack, Winter

13 Nov 12:04

Great Marriage Quotes

by Corey

“To love someone deeply gives you strength. Being loved by someone deeply gives you courage.”
— Chinese Philosopher Lao Tzu

“You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.”
— Sam Keen

“Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.”
— Joanne Woodward

“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet to see who they really are.”
— Will Ferrell

“I didn’t marry you because you were perfect. I didn’t even marry you because I loved you. I married you because you gave me a promise. That promise made up for your faults. And the promise I gave you made up for mine. Two imperfect people got married and it was the promise that made the marriage. And when our children were growing up, it wasn’t a house that protected them; and it wasn’t our love that protected them – it was that promise.”
— Thornton Wilder

“A happy marriage is the union of two good forgivers.”
— Robert Quillen

“Marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.”
— Joseph Barth

“There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage.”
— Martin Luther

“Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century.”
— Mark Twain

“Many marriages would be better if the husband and the wife clearly understood that they are on the same side.”
— Zig Ziglar

“Marriage is a mosaic you build with your spouse. Millions of tiny moments that create your love story.”
— Jennifer Smith

“Nowadays it’s hip not to be married. I’m not interested in being hip.”
— John Lennon

“A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time.”
— Anne Taylor Fleming

“More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse.”
— Doug Larson

“One advantage of marriage is that, when you fall out of love with him or he falls out of love with you, it keeps you together until you fall back in love again.”
— Judith Viorst

“Ultimately the bond of all companionship, whether in marriage or in friendship, is conversation.”
— Oscar Wilde

“As for his secret to staying married: ‘My wife tells me that if I ever decide to leave, she is coming with me.’”
— Jon BonJovi

“You come to love not by finding the right person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly.”
— Sam Keen

“Love is not something you feel. It is something you do.”
— David Wilkerson

“The goal in marriage is not to think alike, but to think together.”
— Robert C Dodds

“When a wife has a good husband it is easily seen in her face.”
— Goethe

“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”
— Thoreau

“What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility.”
— Leo Tolstoy

“The great secret of successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters.”
— Sir Harold George Nicolson

“A great marriage is not when the ‘perfect couple’ come together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences.”
— Dave Meure

“Love at first sight is easy to understand; it’s when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.”
— Sam Levenson

“Happy marriages begin when we marry the ones we love, and they blossom when we love the ones we marry.”
— Tom Mullen

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
— Theodore Hesburgh

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”
— Mignon McLoughlin

“I first learned the concept of non-violence in my marriage.”
— Gandhi


Great Marriage Quotes is written by Corey from: Simple Marriage

06 Nov 21:53

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples

by Beth M

I just made a dessert the other day, but when I saw fresh apples on sale, I couldn’t resist. I’ve wanted to make slow cooker baked apples for quite some time, so I finally went for it. SO glad I did.

These amazing slow cooker stuffed apples are a great alternative to apple pie because you don’t have to bother making a crust. Plus, their single serving size helps you stop at one instead of reaching for that second slice… We’ve all been there. I used very little sugar and probably could have even lightened up on the butter, making them fairly healthy compared to most desserts. Want to make them vegan? Just substitute the butter with cold coconut oil and you’re good to go!

Bonus: This will make your house smell better than any limited edition holiday air freshener or jar candle.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples -

4.8 from 4 reviews
Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $4.56
Cost Per Serving: $0.91
Serves: 4-6
  • 4-6 medium apples $2.19
  • 1 cup rolled oats $0.17
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.06
  • 1 tsp cinnamon $0.10
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger $0.05
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves $0.05
  • ⅓ cups chopped walnuts $1.30
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter $0.64
  1. Cut the top half inch or so off the top of the apples. Use a spoon or melon baller to scoop out the core of each apple, leaving the bottom intact.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and walnuts until well mixed. Cut the butter into chunks, then work it into the oat mixture until crumbly.
  3. Stuff the oat and butter mixture into the cavity of each apple. Nestle the apples into the slow cooker in one layer, place the lid on top, and cook on high for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the apples are soft.
  4. Once the apples are soft, carefully lift them from the slow cooker and serve immediately (as is, topped with ice cream, or whipped cream).
The filling is enough for 4 to 6 apples, but you’ll need to choose how many based on how many will fit in your slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples - BudgetBytes.comSlow Cooker Stuffed Apples -


Step by Step Photos

Whole ApplesStart by choosing your apples. For any dessert, it’s nice to have an apple that has at least a little tartness to contrast with the sweetness of the other ingredients. For this particular dessert, it’s nice to have a red or partially red apple for visual appeal. I chose these cortland apples because they are red and were on sale for $0.99/lb. Luckily, they were also a little tart, so they worked perfectly. The filling for this recipe will be enough for about four to six apples, but you need to decide how many to make based on how many will fit in your slow cooker. I knew four would fit and bought a fifth just in case. The fifth apple fit, but it was a tight squeeze.

Cored ApplesCut a little off the top of each apple (maybe a 1/2 inch?) then scoop out the core with a melon baller or sharp spoon. Leave the bottom of the apples intact to keep the filling inside.

Oat FillingTo make the filling, combine 1 cup rolled oats, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and 1/3 cup chopped walnuts. Stir them together well.

Oat Filling MixedCut four tablespoons of cold butter into chunks, then add it to the oat mixture. Work the butter into the oats until it forms a crumbly mixture, like this.

Stuffed ApplesStuff the crumbly oat mixture into the cavity of each apple.

Apples in Slow CookerNestle those bad boys into your slow cooker (in a single layer), place the lid on top, and set the cooker on high. Cook for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until your apples are soft.

Cooked Stuffed ApplesAfter about 1.5 hours I peeked through the lid on my slow cooker and saw that my apples had puffed up like popcorn. Very cool! I don’t know if that’s just due to the variety of apple I used, but they were light, fluffy, and soft like apple sauce. Every other recipe I saw for slow cooker baked apples suggested four hours on high, so I was surprised to find mine so soft and thoroughly cooked through at 1.5 hours. But hey, I can’t complain about them being done super fast! Carefully lift the apples out of the slow cooker and into bowls. I found that scooping them out with two spoons worked  best. They’re going to be extremely soft and they can fall apart if you’re not careful.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples - BudgetBytes.comThey’re amazing with a little scoop of cold vanilla ice cream. It’s just like apple pie à la mode!

Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples eatenOoops. I couldn’t wait. The skin is delicious also, BTW.

The post Slow Cooker Stuffed Apples appeared first on Budget Bytes.

24 Oct 19:39

Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew

by Beth M

Woah. Just, WOAH. I’ve never smelled anything as lovely and drool inducing as the scent in my house the day I made this stew. It was absolutely incredible. It had me checking the clock every 15 minutes to see if it had been four hours yet. I couldn’t wait to lift the lid and take a quick taste.

Unlike most slow cooker recipes where you just dump in the ingredients and press go, this Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew is a little more involved, but well worth it. Browning the meat before it goes into the slow cooker caramelizes the proteins and adds a depth to the flavor that you simply can’t get just by letting it boil away in the cooker. It also toasts the flour so you don’t get that gluey flour flavor in the final thickened stew.

To flavor the stew, I went with a combination similar to my favorite soy-Dijon combo. I added a little soy and Dijon to the sauce, but kept the ratios low so they didn’t dominate. If you’re not a fan of Dijon, don’t worry. The final product does not taste at all like mustard or Dijon, it simply has a deeper, more complex flavor because of it. Trust me.

Lastly, I’m listing the serving cost per cup so that you can decide your serving size. If you eat the stew solo, your serving will probably be more like a cup and a half, but many people serve stew over rice or egg noodles, which will further stretch your dollar. Considering how expensive the beef was, the overall recipe stayed very affordable. Win!

Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew

Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew -

5.0 from 22 reviews
Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $14.08
Cost Per Serving: $1.41
Serves: 10 cups
  • ½ lb. (4 medium) carrots $0.55
  • ½ sleeve celery $0.65
  • 1 medium onion $0.36
  • 2 lbs. red potatoes $1.00
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced $0.32
  • 1½ lbs. beef stew meat $9.06
  • Salt and pepper $0.05
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour $0.04
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.30
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard $0.24
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce $0.06
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce $0.10
  • ½ Tbsp brown sugar $0.02
  • ½ Tbsp dried rosemary $0.15
  • ½ tsp thyme $0.05
  1. Dice the onion and slice the carrots and celery. Wash the potatoes well and cut them into one inch cubes. Place the onion, carrots, celery, and potatoes into a large slow cooker.
  2. Place the stew meat in a large bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add the flour and toss the meat until it is coated. Set the floured meat aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Sauté the garlic in the hot oil for about one minute, or until soft and fragrant. Add the floured meat and all the flour from the bottom of the bowl to the skillet. Let the beef cook without stirring for a few minutes to allow it to brown on one side. Stir and repeat until most or all sides of the beef pieces are browned. Add the browned beef to the slow cooker and stir to combine with the vegetables.
  4. Return the skillet to the burner and turn the heat down to low. Add the beef broth, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rosemary, and thyme to the skillet. Stir to combine the ingredients and dissolve the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Once everything is dissolved off the bottom of the skillet, pour the sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker.
  5. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours. After four hours, remove the lid and stir the stew, breaking the beef into smaller pieces as you stir. Taste the stew and adjust the salt if needed. Serve hot as is, or over a bowl of rice or pasta.

Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew - BudgetBytes.comRosemary Garlic Beef Stew -

 Step by Step Photos

Carrot Onion CeleryStart by chopping your vegetables and getting them into the slow cooker. I used 1/2 of a one pound bag of carrots (about 4 medium), one medium yellow onion, and half of a sleeve (or bunch) of celery. 

Red PotatoesI also used about two pounds of potatoes. Wash the potatoes well, then cut into one-inch cubes (no larger). I like to leave the skin on for more color and texture.

Chopped Vegetables in Slow CookerPlace all of your chopped vegetables in the slow cooker. 

Beef Stew MeatI picked up this package of beef stew meat, which is about 1.5 pounds. This is supposed to be the “dollar stretcher”, but it’s still $5.49/lb.! I stretch my dollars with vegetables, thank you very much. Anyway, this stew meat still had bones in it, so watch out for that.

Season Stew MeatPlace the meat in a large bowl and season liberally with salt and pepper.

Stew Meat and FlourThen add 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour and stir to coat. The flour will thicken the stew and when it browns in the skillet, it will also create a nice caramelized flavor.

Sauté GarlicMince four cloves of garlic and sauté them with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat for about one minute, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. A thick heavy skillet that isn’t non-stick will work best for browning the meat. I used cast iron.

Brown MeatAdd the prepared meat and all of the flour from the bottom of the bowl. Let the meat brown in the skillet. Browning won’t happen if you stir a lot, so let it cook for a few minutes before stirring, then stir once and let it cook some more. Once the meat is browned on all sides (it won’t be cooked through), add the meat to the slow cooker and stir it to combine with the vegetables.

Browned Beef DrippingsReturn the skillet to the burner and turn the heat down to low. It should be crusted with flour, garlic, and meat drippings. That’s where the flavor is, so we’re going to dissolve it into a sauce.

Deglaze the PanAdd 2 cups beef broth, 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 Tbsp worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 Tbsp dried rosemary, and 1/2 tsp thyme to the skillet. Stir the sauce over low heat until it is well combined and all of the crust has dissolved off the bottom of the skillet. 

Stew Ready to CookPour the sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker, place the lid on top, and cook on high for four hours.

Cooked StewAfter four hours it will look like this and smell so good that you’ll probably be going out of your mind! The beef is super tender and the juices have melded beautifully with the vegetables and rosemary Dijon sauce.

Stirred Beef StewGive the stew a good stir to mix it up and break up the tender beef pieces as you go. This will distribute the thickened flour and the whole stew will get a bit thicker and lighter in color. Taste the stew and adjust the salt if needed. 

Rosemary Garlic Beef StewServe the stew as is or spooned over a bowl of hot rice or pasta. THIS will keep you warm and full on cold winter or autumn days!

The post Slow Cooker Rosemary Garlic Beef Stew appeared first on Budget Bytes.

27 Oct 23:39

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites

by Beth M

So many of you asked about the pretzels pictured in my How To Start a Food Blog post, that I decided to do a spin off for you (the original pretzel tutorial is for a different website and I’ll be sure to post the link just as soon as it’s live). It’s the same dough, but cut into cute little pillows and tossed in butter, parmesan, and garlic. YUM.

These little pretzel bites are a fun appetizer for parties, served with toothpicks and a variety of dipping sauces. You can even customize the flavor coating to suit your tastes (cinnamon and sugar anyone?). If you don’t want to make your own dough, you can use a store bought frozen bread dough instead. The defining step that makes pretzels a pretzel is the baking soda water bath. The alkaline bath gives the pretzel the thick, chewy skin and that slightly bitter “pretzel” flavor.

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites -

4.7 from 6 reviews
Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $1.71
Cost Per Serving: $0.71
Serves: 16 (about 8 pieces each)
  • 1 cup warm water $0.00
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast (or one ¼ oz. envelope) $0.19
  • 2 tsp sugar $0.02
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, divided $0.45
  • ½ tsp salt $0.02
  • ¼ cups baking soda $0.11
  • 1 large egg $0.21
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan $0.41
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • ⅛ tsp salt $0.01
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.03
  • 1½ Tbsp butter
  1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in one cup of warm water. Let sit for five minutes, or until it is frothy on top. Meanwhile, stir together two cups of the flour and ½ tsp of salt in a large bowl.
  2. Once the yeast water is frothy, pour it into the bowl with the flour and salt. Stir the ingredients together until they form a shaggy ball of dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes, incorporating an additional ½ to 1 cup of flour as you knead.
  3. After the dough has been kneaded for 8 minutes, it should be smooth, elastic, and will spring back when poked with a finger. Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover lightly, and let rise for one hour or until double in size.
  4. Once the dough is double in size, punch the dough down, turn it out onto a clean surface, and flatten it into a disc. Cut the disc into 16 equal sized wedges. One by one, roll each wedge into a long rope, about ½ in diameter (about 18 inches long). Cut the rope into one inch sections, and place them on a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment and lightly misted with non-stick spray (you’ll need two sheets to fit all the pretzel bites).
  5. Let the pretzel bites rise for 30 minutes, or until soft and pillowy. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, carefully addd ¼ cup of baking soda (it will fizz and bubble furiously for a moment, so be careful).
  6. Add 15-20 of the pretzel bites at a time to the boiling baking soda water and boil for about 90 seconds, or until puffed and a few begin to crack. Stir lightly as they boil to make sure all sides of the pretzel bites contact the boiling water. Remove the boiled pretzel bites with a slotted spoon and let drain on a wire cooling rack. Repeat in small batches until all of the pretzel bites are boiled.
  7. After the bites have drained for a few minutes, return them to the prepared baking sheets. Whisk together one egg with one tablespoon of water. Use a pastry brush to liberally brush the egg mixture over the boiled pretzel bites. If you want to make plain pretzel bites, sprinkle with coarse sea salt after brushing with the egg wash.
  8. Bake the pretzel bites for 15-17 minutes, or until deeply golden brown and shiny. Allow the pretzel bites to cool for a few minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, stir together the Parmesan, garlic powder, salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. In a separate small bowl, melt the butter in the microwave (microwave for 20 seconds, then stir until completely melted).
  10. Place the baked pretzel bites in a large bowl and pour the melted butter over top. Toss to coat. Add the parmesan topping and toss to coat again. Serve immediately.

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites - BudgetBytes.comParmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites -

 Step by Step Photos

Combine wet and dry dough ingredientsIf you want to make your own dough (instead of using a store bought frozen bread dough), dissolve 2 tsp (or one 1/4 oz. packet) of active dry yeast and 2 tsp sugar in 1 cup of warm water. Let the yeast mixture sit for five minutes, or until it becomes frothy on top. Meanwhile, stir together 2 cups of all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl. Once the yeast mixture is frothy, pour it into the bowl with the flour and stir to form a shaggy ball of dough.

Risen DoughKnead the dough for eight minutes, incorporating an additional 1/2 to 1 cup of flour as you go. After kneading for 8 minutes, it should be soft, elastic, and should spring back when poked with a finger. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover loosely, and let rise for one hour or until it is double in volume (like the picture).

Cut Dough Into PiecesPunch the dough dough, turn it out onto a clean surface, and cut it into 16 equal sized wedges. You can make each of these wedges into a pretzel, or cut them into pretzel bites…

Cut Pretzel BitesTo make pretzel bites, roll each wedge into a long rope, about 1/2 inch in diameter. Cut the rope into 1 inch sections.

Risen Pretzel BitesAs you cut the pieces, transfer them to a baking sheet covered in parchment and misted with non-stick spray. You’ll likely need two baking sheets to hold all of the pretzel bites. Let the pretzel bites rise for about a 1/2 hour, or until they’re soft and pillowy.

Baking Soda BathBegin to preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, carefully add 1/4 cup of baking soda. Be careful when adding the soda because it will fizz and bubble furiously for a second before settling down into a simmer.

Boil Pretzel BitesAdd about 15-20 pretzel bites to the boiling water at a time and let boil for about 90 seconds. Stir gently with a slotted spoon as they boil to make sure all sides of the pretzels touch the baking soda water. The pretzels will puff up quite a bit in the water and may even crack open (that’s a good thing).

Drain Pretzel BitesAfter 90 seconds, remove the boiled pretzel bites from the water and let drain on a wire cooling rack. They may deflate a little as they drain and cool, but they’ll puff back up again when baked. Repeat this process until all of the bites have been boiled.

Pretzel Bite Egg WashAfter the bites have drained a few minutes, transfer them back to the prepared baking sheets. Whisk together one egg with one tablespoon of water, then brush liberally over the surface of the pretzel bites. If you want plain pretzel bites, sprinkle with coarse sea salt after the egg wash. The egg wash gives the pretzels that classic shiny, deep brown pretzel appearance.

Baked Pretzel BitesBake the pretzel bites in the preheated oven for 15-17 minutes, or until they are deep golden brown. Let them cool for just a few minutes after baking.

Parmesan ToppingIn a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper. Stir to combine. In a separate bowl, melt 1 1/2 Tbsp of butter.

Toss with ButterPlace the baked pretzel bites in a large bowl, pour the melted butter over top, then toss to coat.

Toss with ParmesanAdd the Parmesan mixture and toss to coat again.

Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites - BudgetBytes.comServe the  yummy bites immediately. I’ve had these sitting out on my counter all day and they have stayed surprisingly crunchy! 

Got any flavor ideas? Share them in the comments below! :)

The post Parmesan Garlic Pretzel Bites appeared first on Budget Bytes.

20 Oct 04:01

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

by Michelle

Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs - The easiest, most flavorful ribs you'll ever make at home! | #slowcooker #recipe

Homemade ribs are one of the few things that have truly intimidated me in the kitchen. I have saved countless recipes for barbecue ribs, but all of the hands-on time, plus precise grilling temperatures and placements, left me feeling less than motivated to tackle them at home. I mentioned to you on Friday that I’ve been trying to make more use of my slow cooker, and last week while I was making my grocery list, I asked my Chief Culinary Consultant if there was anything in particular he’d like for dinner. He suggested some type of meat in the slow cooker, so I started poking around for ideas. I threw out some new ideas, and when I mentioned barbecue ribs, he immediately got excited. Ribs it was!

Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs - The easiest, most flavorful ribs you'll ever make at home! | #slowcooker #recipe

I ended up mashing together a number of different recipes before I came up with my game plan. A lot of the recipes I found called for simply throwing the ribs into the slow cooker with a bottle of barbecue sauce; however, many of those reviews stated that the meat lacked flavor. So, I decided a rub was in order. Done.

The next hurdle was figuring out how to eliminate a fatty, soupy sauce if the ribs cooked down, releasing juices and fat into the barbecue sauce. Some recipes recommended par-cooking the ribs in the oven to help with this, but that seemed to defeat the purpose of having an easy, throw-it-together-in-10-minutes type of meal. I opted for cooking the ribs sans sauce for the first seven hours; between the rub and layers of onion, the meat was wonderfully flavored. Then, the accumulated liquids were drained out, the ribs returned to the slow cooker with the barbecue sauce, and cooked for an additional hour. I was positively thrilled with how this method worked out.

The resulting ribs were literally falling off the bones, and were bursting with sweet, smoky and slightly spicy flavors. We enjoyed the ribs exactly how they came out, but if you prefer a stickier, more caramelized coating of barbecue sauce on your ribs, you could place them on a foil-lined baking sheet once they are done in the slow cooker and broil them for a few minutes.

Now that we’ve had these ribs, I don’t feel like I need to master the on-the-grill version anymore. These could not be simpler or have a better texture and flavor! If you’ve been intimidated by making ribs at home, this recipe is your answer. Served with my favorite mashed potatoes and cole slaw, we were definitely going back for seconds!

I have a feeling this is going to be a weekly request at this house ;-)

Crock-Pot BBQ Ribs - The easiest, most flavorful ribs you'll ever make at home! | #slowcooker #recipe

Three years ago: Salted Caramel Popcorn, Pretzel & Peanut Bars
Four years ago: Pumpkin, Cinnamon Chip & Pecan Granola Bars
Five years ago: Potato Rosemary Bread
Six years ago: Wendy’s Copycat Chili
Seven years ago: Soft Pretzels: Part II

Slow Cooker BBQ Ribs

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours 15 minutes

The absolute easiest way to make ribs!


3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 pounds baby back ribs, back membrane removed, cut into sections to fit the slow cooker
2 large yellow onions, sliced
1 cup water
1 (40-ounce) bottle barbecue sauce (your favorite)


1. In a small bowl, whisk together the paprika, brown sugar, salt, black pepper and cayenne. Rub the spice blend evenly over both sides of the ribs.

2. Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. Place a layer of sliced onions on the bottom. Alternate layers of ribs and onions. Pour the water over the top of the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours; the meat should be extremely tender and falling off the bone.

3. Using tongs, remove the ribs to a large plate. Pour off all accumulated liquid and the onions. Return the ribs to the empty slow cooker and pour the barbecue sauce over top, turning the ribs so they are evenly coated. Cover and cook on low for an additional 1 hour. Cut and serve!

19 Oct 23:28

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

by Beth M

Ever since I discovered how delicious pasta is when cooked in broth instead of water, I’ve been experimenting with all sorts of different ways to play up this simple trick. By simply changing up the add-ins, you can have an endless number of quick one pot or one skillet dinners for busy week nights. This Bacon Spinach Pasta with Parmesan is my latest quick skillet obsession.

Bacon, spinach, and Parmesan are not exactly the least expensive ingredients on the planet, so you do have to be a bit careful with this one. I used a half package of bacon and froze the rest for later use. To save on spinach, I skipped the salad sized bags and got a jumbo bag of “cooking spinach”. The big one pound bag was only 20 cents more expensive than the smaller salad sized (9oz.) bags and almost twice as big. I’ll enjoy the extra spinach as salads and freeze some in smoothie packs. Frozen spinach can be used in a pinch, but make sure not to get “chopped” frozen spinach because it will be in a million tiny little pieces. You can use other greens, like collards, mustard, or kale, but because they’re quite a bit more sturdy, they’ll need to be sautéed down with the onion in the beginning. Parmesan really does top off this dish and make it grand, but you can lighten up on it if you’re strapped for cash. Parmesan is very flavorful, so a little goes a long way.

If you want to beef up this dish a bit, you can add a rinsed and drained can of white beans, or sauté some mushrooms with the onions. A few red pepper flakes would be nice in here, too, although I like red pepper flakes on just about anything!

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan -

4.8 from 18 reviews
Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $4.65
Cost Per Serving: $1.16
Serves: 4
  • 6 oz. bacon (1/2 12oz. pkg) $1.84
  • 1 small onion $0.36
  • 2 cups chicken broth $0.30
  • ½ lb. pasta $0.64
  • ¼ lb. (3-4 cups) fresh spinach $0.96
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan $0.55
  1. Cut the bacon across the strips into one-inch sections. Sauté the bacon in a large skillet until it is brown and crispy (no extra fat needed). Carefully pour the fat off into a bowl, leaving about one tablespoon in the skillet.
  2. While the bacon cooks, dice the onion. Once the bacon fat is drained from the skillet, add the diced onions and sauté until they are soft and transparent. Allow the moisture from the onions to dissolve some of the browned bits off of the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Add two cups of chicken broth to the skillet and dissolve off any remaining browned bits of bacon drippings from the bottom of the skillet.
  4. Finally, add the pasta to the skillet, place a lid on top, and let the skillet come to a boil over high heat. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Give the skillet a quick stir to loosen the pasta from the bottom every five minutes or so, replacing the lid quickly each time. After 15 minutes the pasta should be tender and most of the broth absorbed. There should be a little bit of thick, saucy broth remaining in the bottom of the skillet.
  5. Add the fresh spinach to the skillet and stir until it has wilted into the pasta. Turn off the heat, sprinkle the Parmesan over top, stir to combine, and then serve.

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan -

 Step by Step Photos

Cut BaconCut 6 oz. (1/2 of a 12oz. package) of bacon into one-inch strips. The second half will be frozen and used later. I love adding a little bacon to soups and other dishes because it adds a LOT of flavor. Or who knows, maybe I’ll just use the leftovers for an impromptu weekend brunch.

Fry BaconSauté the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until it’s brown and crispy. I didn’t add any extra oil to the skillet because the bacon is fatty enough that it releases quite a bit of grease and does not stick. Once the bacon is crispy, pour off the fat into a separate container, leaving about 1 tablespoon of fat in the skillet (for flavor, of course!). When the poured off fat is cool, save it in the refrigerator to add flavor to other dishes, or if you’re not the bacon grease type of person, scoop it into the garbage. Just DO NOT rinse it down your drain.

Dice OnionWhile the bacon is cooking, dice one small onion.

Sauté OnionAdd the onion to the skillet and sauté until it is soft and transparent. The juices from the onion will begin to dissolve the browned bacon bits from the bottom of the skillet. If you want to keep your bacon extra crispy, remove it from the skillet before adding the onion, then stir it back into the pasta at the very end. The grease and browned bits on the bottom of the skillet will still add a lot of flavor to the pasta as it cooks.

Chicken BrothAdd two cups of chicken broth to the skillet. Stir well to dissolve the last of the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

CampanelleThis has to be my favorite pasta shape. It has a lot of texture, but isn’t too heavy. You could really use just about any pasta, though. I used 1/2 pound, or half of this box.

Uncooked PastaAdd the dry pasta to the skillet and place a lid on top (it’s okay if the broth doesn’t completely cover the pasta). Turn the heat up to high and let the skillet come to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Every five minutes, give the skillet a quick stir to loosen the pasta from the bottom. Replace the lid quickly each time so that it continues to simmer.

Cooked pastaAfter about 15 minutes, the pasta should be tender and most of the broth absorbed. There should be a bit of saucy broth left in the bottom of the skillet.

Baby SpinachOnce the pasta is cooked, add about 1/4 pound (or 3-4 cups) of fresh spinach to the skillet. Stir the spinach into the pasta until it wilts. Finally, sprinkle the Parmesan over top, give it a quick stir, and then serve! (sorry, there was a knock at the door at this point in the recipe and apparently I forgot to take photos of the last two steps!)

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan - BudgetBytes.comAnd then it will look like this! Like I said, I probably should have sprinkled a little red pepper or even freshly cracked black pepper over the top just to take it up a notch, but honestly, it’s bacon… I was already dazzled!

Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan -


The post Bacon and Spinach Pasta with Parmesan appeared first on Budget Bytes.

02 Oct 04:01

Chocolate Lover’s Cheesecake

by Michelle

Chocolate Cheesecake | #recipe

I have been borderline obsessed with cheesecake for a very long time. I was in high school when I started requesting a cheesecake when my mom would ask what kind of birthday cake I’d like. I could always take or leave regular cake, but I swooned over cheesecake. My love for it has only grown since then, and I’ve enjoyed sampling and baking a wide variety of cheesecake recipes over the years. For as many as I’ve made, I had yet to find a fabulous, go-to chocolate cheesecake recipe. I was surprised at how many of my staple baking cookbooks didn’t have a recipe for one. I finally came across one, and if you love chocolate, you are going to looooove this!

Chocolate Cheesecake | #recipe

This is the first cheesecake I’ve ever made that is mixed completely in a food processor; it was nice and quick, but if you don’t have one, you could absolutely use an electric mixer instead.

It probably goes without saying, but this baby is rich. Like, whoa rich. If you’re sensitive to dark chocolate or rather rich desserts, I would recommend substituting semisweet chocolate for the bittersweet chocolate, and possibly skip the ganache topping to tame it down a bit.

Chocolate Cheesecake | #recipe

I chose to eat a small sliver of this topped with whipped cream, but you could also use this as a base for all sorts of toppings and add-ins. I used a similar version to make the black forest cheesecake last year, and I think the possibilities of a fantastic chocolate cheesecake base are absolutely endless.

If you’re a fellow cheesecake fanatic, you absolutely need a chocolate cheesecake in your arsenal, and I can’t think of a better version!

Chocolate Cheesecake | #recipe

One year ago: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal Crumb Bars
Two years ago: Maple-Walnut Ice Cream
Three years ago: Noodle Kugel
Four years ago: Russian Pound Cake
Six years ago: Homemade Pierogi

Chocolate Lover's Cheesecake

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 hours

An Oreo crust is topped with a chocolate cheesecake filling and chocolate ganache.


For the Crust:
24 Oreo cookies
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

For the Filling:
32 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
4 eggs, at room temperature
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled to lukewarm

For the Topping:
¾ cup heavy cream
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon granulated sugar


1. Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan.

2. Blend the cookies and sugar together in a food processor until the cookies are finely ground. Add the melted butter and process until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press the crumb mixture evenly onto the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

3. Make the Filling: Blend the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder in the food processor until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, about 30 seconds. Add the eggs one at a time, blending for 10 seconds each. Add the melted chocolate and blend to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl once. Pour the filling into the crust and smooth the top.

4. Bake the cheesecake until the center is just set and the top looks dry, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the sides of the pan. Place the cake in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 8 hours, or overnight.

5. Make the Topping: Stir the cream, chocolate and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth. Cool until slightly warm and pour over the center of the cheesecake, spreading to within ½-inch of the edge. Chill for at least 1 hour.

6. Run a thin knife around the sides of the pan and remove the pan sides. Transfer the cheesecake to a serving platter. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature before serving. The cheesecake can be prepared up to 3 days in advance; cover with foil and store in the refrigerator.

(Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit Desserts)

11 Oct 13:39

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken

by Beth M

Ooooh wow, my house smells like a spice market!

While working on a freelance project this week, I came across this Five Spice Chicken cooked in a rice cooker, and it looked so good that I decided that I had to try it out myself, except in a slow cooker because I don’t yet own a rice cooker.

I fell in love with five spice powder last year when I was writing my cookbook, where I used it to make a quick spice rub for pork chops. It’s a heady combination of anise, cloves, cinnamon, and other spices that have both sweet and savory appeal. You can add it to just about anything for an instant boost of intoxicating flavor. I bought my five spice powder at my regular grocery store in the ethnic food aisle, but I’ve also seen it among more expensive spices in the spice aisle.

I changed up Daily Cooking Quest’s original recipe a bit by adding a little soy sauce and brown sugar to the five spice blend and cooked it for our hours in the slow cooker, which left the meat fall off the bone tender. After the meat spent four hours stewing in the spices, I finished it off with a few minutes under the broiler to get that nice brown crispy skin.

I paired the chicken with my favorite Yellow Jasmine Rice and had a meal fit for a queen! I’m going to be experimenting with a salad to go along with the two this weekend, so stay tuned!

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken -

5.0 from 5 reviews
Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Author: Adapted from
Total Cost: $9.39
Cost Per Serving: $0.94 per piece
Serves: 10 pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced $0.16
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, grated $0.22
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.04
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil $0.26
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce $0.20
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.06
  • 2 Tbsp 5 spice powder $0.60
  • 4 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces $7.22
  • 1 medium onion $0.36
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine** $0.27
  1. To make the spice rub, combine the garlic, ginger, vegetable oil, sesame oil, soy sauce, brown sugar, and 5 spice powder in a small bowl. Stir until combined. (Grate the ginger using a small holed cheese grater, or mince with a knife.)
  2. Rube the spice mixture all over the chicken pieces, getting between the skin and meat whenever possible.
  3. Dice the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour the rice wine over the onion, then layer in the chicken pieces. Make sure the chicken pieces are closely packed in the cooker. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours.
  4. After four hours, the chicken will be very soft and tender. Use tongs to carefully remove the chicken from the liquid in the slow cooker and place them on a baking sheet. Adjust your oven rack so that the top of the chicken will be 5 inches from the broiler (the broiler’s heat element is usually on the roof of your oven). Broil the chicken on high for 5 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crispy. Keep a close eye on the chicken while it’s under the broiler because every broiler is slightly different and it can burn quickly.
**If you don’t have rice wine or can’t find it, you can use a dry white cooking wine or chicken broth in its place.

 Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken -

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken - Budgetbytes.comPictured with Yellow Jasmine Rice.

Step by Step Photos

Five Spice Rub

First make the five spice rub by combining 2 cloves of minced garlic, about 2 inches of fresh ginger (grated on a cheese grater or minced with a knife), 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp of brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp of Chinese five spice powder.

Five Spice and Sesame OilFor reference, here is the five spice powder that I used and the toasted sesame oil. This really isn’t the best five spice powder, but it works. I found it in the ethnic foods aisle at my local grocery store, but you can sometimes find it among the fancier spices in the spice aisle. Toasted sesame oil has a deep brown color and a VERY strong, toasty aroma. If it’s clear, it’s not toasted.

Chicken PiecesI used four pounds of chicken pieces, which was 6 drumsticks and four thighs. I could have bought a split chicken and had two breasts, two thighs, two wings, and two drumsticks for the same price, but I preferred the thighs and drumsticks.

Seasoned ChickenCoat the chicken really well in the spice rub. If the skin is lifting in some parts, try to smear it between the skin and meat.

Onions and WineDice one yellow onion and add it to the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour two tablespoons of rice wine over the onions. If you don’t have rice wine, you can use a dry white wine or even a little chicken broth. The liquid helps make a flavorful steam to infuse the chicken.

5 spice chicken in slow cookerLayer the seasoned chicken in the slow cooker, making sure the pieces are tightly packed. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on high for four hours.

Cooked 5 Spice ChickenAs they cook, the chicken pieces will give off quite a bit of moisture. The chicken stews in the liquid and becomes super tender and juicy. YUM.

5 Spice Chicken ready to broilBut, you don’t want the skin to be soggy, so carefully lift the chicken pieces out of the slow cooker using tongs. Place the chicken pieces on a baking sheet (I used cooling racks on top of the sheet, but it wasn’t really necessary). Adjust your oven rack so that the top of the chicken will be about 5 inches away from the broiler.

Broiling 5 spice chickenSet the broiler to high and broil the chicken for about 5 minutes, or until it’s deep brown and a little crispy. Watch the chicken closely, because it’s easy to burn things under the broiler (plus, every broiler is just a bit different).

Broiled 5 Spice ChickenAnd then you have gorgeous brown, flavorful, and tender chicken! I ate one right out of the oven… couldn’t wait!

Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken - Budgetbytes.comAs mentioned earlier, I served this with my Yellow Jasmine Rice. A perfect pair!

The post Slow Cooker 5 Spice Chicken appeared first on Budget Bytes.

19 Aug 04:01

Zingerman’s Black Magic Brownies

by Michelle

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies | #recipe

A couple of weeks ago, a reader, Wendy, asked me on Facebook if I had ever made Zingerman’s Black Magic Brownies. I had to admit that I’d never heard of them! They are apparently one of the most raved about recipes to come out of Zingerman’s, a conglomerate of food stores in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area. Midwest Living magazine has declared this recipe one of the top 20 recipes of all time. High praise, indeed. So far as I can tell, there are two versions of this brownie – Magic Brownies, which include toasted walnuts and Black Magic Brownies, which omit the nuts. While I love walnuts in baked goods like banana bread and date nut spice bread, I don’t really appreciate them in things like brownies or fudge. The Black Magic version was it! Wendy was sweet enough to email me the recipe, and gave me the a-okay to share it with all of you. Thank you, Wendy!

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies | #recipe

I measure pretty much all brownies against my beloved Baked brownies, and these might be the first to really stack up. They’re very dense, but just a smidge less fudge-like, and just a bit more cake-like (due to the long beating of the eggs and baking powder), although not cakey, if that makes sense. I actually think that these are the perfect compromise between completely fudge-like brownies and cakey brownies. I hate cakey brownies, and while I’ll always eat a fudgy brownie, sometimes it can be too much. The black magic brownies are fantastic middle ground.

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies | #recipe

The recipe calls for cutting these into 15 squares (which are described as “wallet-size”), and that’s pretty huge. I did this for the photos so you could see the true size, but next time I would probably cut them into my usual 24, which I think makes for a little more reasonably sized brownie.

So, to recap, love, love, love these brownies! They rank a close second, near tie, with the Baked brownies as far as I’m concerned. I think you’re going to love them!

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies | #recipe

One year ago: Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes
Two years ago: Shrimp Nacho Bites
Three years ago: Zucchini-Pineapple Cupcakes with Orange Sour Cream Frosting
Four years ago: Chewy, Chunky Blondies
Five years ago: Dulce de Leche Cheesecake Squares
Seven years ago: American Apple Pie

Zingerman's Black Magic Brownies

Yield: 15 enormous brownies or 24 regular-size brownies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 25 to 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

The famous brownies from the Ann Arbor, Michigan food shop. The original recipe calls for 1½ cups of all-purpose or cake
flour. I used equal parts of both, but feel free to experiment with what you have on hand.


13 tablespoons (184 grams) unsalted butter
6½ ounces (184 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
¾ cup (90 grams) sifted all-purpose flour
¾ cup (85 grams) sifted cake flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups (397 grams) granulated sugar
4 eggs
1¼ teaspoons vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan and line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; set aside.

2. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate, stirring constantly, until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.

4. In a large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer on high speed for 5 minutes, until lemon-colored and fluffy, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add cooled chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined, then give it a final stir by hand with a rubber spatula. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.

5. Bake until brownies appear set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack. Cut the brownies into squares and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. The brownies can also be frozen (wrapped individually and placed in a resealable freezer bag) for up to 2 months.

14 Aug 15:59

raspberry swirl cheesecake

by deb

raspberry swirl cheesecake

It’s been a little quiet around here this week and I bet you already know why: moving out is the easy part! Moving in, hoo boy. You walk into an empty new home with freshly painted walls and there’s nothing but possibility. You run from room to room, whee! Then your stuff arrives and the pristine landscape is forever compromised. The first boxes aren’t so bad: you prioritize bedding, toilet paper, toothbrushes and whiskey (um, just play along here.) The next few boxes are pretty doable too: glasses go where they always have, books go in bookcases and lamps go on tables. But then, eventually, you get down to the last six boxes and you look around and you realize that the closets, cabinets, dressers and shelves are all full so where does this go? Then, if you’re us, the great unraveling begins: how did we get to a place where we had so much stuff? I thought we were going to resist the siren call of consumption (says she who just purchased what can only be considered a luxury ice cube tray). How did I get to a place in my life where I had 125 cookie cutters, 9 shades of sanding sugar and cupcake wrappers in at least 7 patterns that I can neither bring myself to throw away or justify the space they will take up? The last 6 boxes take forever to unpack; you’ll be glad you prioritized the whiskey.

trying a new chocolate wafer
chocolate crumbs

So, right on top of all of this, something else happened: my husband — who has the audacity to look younger and more handsome every year — turned 40. If you heard me freaking out (just a little) over our move being delayed a week, it was because the one thing we were trying to avoid was having people over for drinks and then going out to engage in vodka encased in ice blocks and tableside-prepped chopped liver but 24 hours after moving, which is exactly what happened, and of course, it was no big deal and, if anything, forced us to make quick work of the first half of the boxes. Happy birthday, baby: don’t you feel young after a few days of moving furniture around and schlepping boxes?

new york state raspberries

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to raspberry swirl cheesecake | 132 comments to date | see more: Celebration Cakes, Photo, Raspberries

07 Jul 15:39

sticky sesame chicken wings

by deb

sticky sesame wings

On the very long list of things that I am convinced that other people do effortlessly while I typical flail and fail in the face of — dancing, running, walking from one room to another without forgetting what they were looking for — making dinner on a regular basis with a minimum of brow sweat and complaining is near the top.

roasty, roasty

It likely doesn’t help that I often spend my cooking hours chasing some very specific idea (a star! a pretzel-y pretzel!) of what I want to cook next, and that this item may or may not amount to dinner, leading to countless days when I realize at 5 p.m. that I have an incoming hangry preschooler and very little plan for what to feed us. A domestic goddess, I hope you never mistake me for.

i reduced the run-off, because, why not

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© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to sticky sesame chicken wings | 130 comments to date | see more: Photo, Poultry, Quick, Weeknight Favorite

26 Jun 04:01

Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream

by Michelle

Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream | #recipe

I can’t believe that it’s already the end of June and this the very first batch of homemade ice cream I’ve churned up so far this year! I’m way, way behind on my ice cream game. I’ve been eating fresh fruit by the boatload for the last month, and wanted to make an ice cream that took advantage of the awesome produce we have right now. I have had the Jeni’s ice cream book on my shelf for well over a year now, and had yet to make a recipe from it, so I turned there first. As soon as I stumbled upon the roasted strawberry and buttermilk version, I knew I was in business.

Get the Recipe:Roasted Strawberry & Buttermilk Ice Cream

© Brown Eyed Baker

25 Jun 04:01

Cheesy Portabello-Tomato Appetizer

by Michelle

Marinated and Baked Portobello-Tomato Appetizer |

Quite a few years ago (maybe 10!), we had a family cookout for 4th of July at my mom’s house and my aunt showed up with this appetizer. Even though it was gorgeous outside, we all huddled around my mom’s kitchen island and shoveled in baguette slice after baguette slice until the entire pan was empty. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I was not at all sorry for eating too much, or missing out on sunshine outside. I’ve thought about that appetizer ever since, and recently have been wanting to make it again, but was so bummed that I didn’t have the recipe. When I asked my aunt about it, she only vaguely remembered. Then, fate stepped in. I was going through old papers and organizing and there, from one of my very old recipe files that I kept, was the recipe.

Get the Recipe:Cheesy Portabello-Tomato Appetizer

© Brown Eyed Baker

12 Jun 14:00

The Essence of Fatherhood: 6 Simple Lessons

by zenhabits
By Leo Babauta

I’ve been a father for more than 21 years, and have 6 kids altogether, and have loved every messy minute of it.

And now I have a young brother who’s becoming a father this month, and is deeply scared by the prospect of fatherhood. He’s not sure if he’ll do a good job, worried he’ll fail.

I can tell him this: being a father is the scariest thing I’ve known in my life. All of a sudden, I was 19 and in charge of a fragile human life, so precious and dear but so flickering and easily put out. And I was completely unprepared — no class in school taught me what to do, and I had very few life lessons by that time.

It was the most terrifying experience ever. And it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.

More rewarding than getting married, than running an ultramarathon, than starting a successful business, than helping thousands of people change their lives through my example.

But to be honest, I sucked at it at first.

My biggest problem, apart from a dreadful lack of knowing what the hell I was doing, was a sense of entitlement. My child should do what I say, behave a certain way, grow into the person I want her to be. That’s ridiculous, I now know, but it caused me all kinds of conflict in the beginning.

I now see a father not as a shaper of clay, but a herder of cats. A father isn’t molding a child into the perfect ideal of a human being he’d like her to be … he’s trying to keep her alive, and feel loved, as she grows into whatever she already is.

So for young men who are becoming fathers, and young women becoming mothers as well (because there’s not much difference other than anatomy) … here are my thoughts on herding cats. Just know that I’ve violated all of these ideas repeatedly, and learned these lessons the hard way.

Your first job is to love them. And to be there for them. This is above all other duties. Of course, we need to keep them safe and fed and clothed and change their diapers — keep them alive — and that’s important. But let’s consider that the baseline — it’s not hard to keep a child alive into adulthood. Anyone can do it with a smidgen of effort.

What’s important is whether the child grows into an adult who is loved. This is trickier, because in our entitlement to having the child behave the way we want her to behave, become who we want her to become, we tend to push, to judge, to expect, to scold, to drive wedges between our heart and hers. But in the end, all of those things just get in the way of the main duty: to have her be loved.

If at the end of your life you can say that you were there for your child, and she or he felt loved, then you’ve succeeded.

Your example is more important than your words. We often tell the child to be considerate as we yell at him, and so he doesn’t learn to be considerate but to yell (only if he’s the more powerful in the relationship). When we punish, they learn how to punish and not whatever other lesson we think we’re teaching. When we put them on restriction, they aren’t learning to share like we think they are.

If you want the kid to grow up healthy, you should exercise and eat healthy foods. If you want the kid to find work that he’s passionate about, do that yourself. If you want the kid to read, then turn off the TV and read. If you don’t want the kid to play video games all day, shut off your computer.

A hug is more powerful than punishment. A hug accomplishes your main duty (to love), while punishment is the example we’re setting for the kid (to punish when someone makes a mistake). When a child behaves badly, this is a mistake. Are we adults free from mistakes? Have we never been upset, never behaved badly, never given into temptation, never told a lie? If we have done any of these things, why are we judging our child for doing them, and punishing her for them?

What’s more important than judging and punishing, when a child makes a mistake and behaves badly, is understanding. Empathy. Put yourself in her shoes. What would help you in that situation? Have compassion. Give a hug. Show how a good person behaves, though the example of a hug. And yes, talk about the problem, get them to understand why the behavior wasn’t so great, get them to empathize with the person they’ve hurt, but learning to empathize must start with your example.

Trust them. Let them take risks and fail, and show them that it’s OK to fail, it’s OK to take risks. Don’t give them the neuroses of being afraid of every little risk, of worrying constantly about safety, of making a mistake and getting punished for it. They will fail, and your reaction to that failure is more important than the failure itself. You must show them that the failure is just a successful experiment, where you learned something valuable.

If you trust them, they will learn to trust themselves. They will grow up knowing that things can go badly but trust that all will turn out OK in the end. That’s a trust in life that’s incredibly valuable.

Let them be who they’re going to be. You aren’t in control of that. You might care deeply about something but she doesn’t. You might think what she cares about is trivial, but that’s who you are, not who she is. Let her express herself in her way. Let her figure out things for herself. Let her make choices, mistakes, take care of her own emotional needs, become self-sufficient as early as she can.

Read with them. Play ball with them. Take walks and have talks with them. Gaze up at the stars with them and wonder about the universe. Make cookies with them. Listen to their music and dance with them. Greet them in the morning with a huge smile and a warm, tight embrace. Do puzzles together, build a robot together, get into their blanket forts, pretend to be a prince or a Jedi with them, tell them stories you made up, run around outside, draw together, make music videos together, make a family newspaper, help them start a business, sing badly together, go swimming and running and biking and play in the monkeybars and sand and jungle.

Each moment you have with your child is a miracle, and then they grow up and move away and become their own person and figure out who they are and get hurt and need your shoulder to cry on but then don’t need you anymore.

And so in the end, fatherhood is being there until they don’t need you to be there, until they do again. And it’s not a thankless task, because they will thank you every day with their love, their presence, their smiles. What a joyful thing, to be a dad.

10 Jun 18:15

Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes

by Beth M

I used to really dislike corn, but I think that’s because I never had it prepared in a decent way. Ever since learning to roast corn in my oven, I’ve kind of fallen in love. I don’t always have time to roast it, but frozen corn makes a great quick fix alternative. It still has all the sweetness and juicy snap of fresh corn, but with only a fraction of the prep needed.

These Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes are fast and full of flavor. The acidic tomatoes, rich butter, savory garlic, and sweet corn all balance perfectly to create a side dish that is has summer written all over it. You can eat it plain as a side, or scoop it over grilled chicken, or baked fish. This recipe makes four small side dish sized servings, but can easily be doubled or tripled, if needed.

Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes

Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes

5.0 from 1 reviews
Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $2.27
Cost Per Serving: $0.57
Serves: 4
  • 1 Tbsp butter $0.15
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes $0.89
  • ½ tsp dried basil $0.05
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper (15-20 cranks of a pepper mill) $0.05
  • ¼ tsp sugar $0.02
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels $0.93
  • handful fresh parsley (optional) $0.10
  1. Mince the garlic and sauté it with butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat for one to two minutes, or just until softened.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes (with juices) to the skillet, along with the basil, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir to combine and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the skillet to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until most of the juices have evaporated and the mixture has thickened.
  3. Add the frozen corn to the skillet (no thawing needed). Stir to combine and heat through (3-5 minutes). Taste and adjust the salt if needed. Sprinkle with a handful of fresh chopped parsley if desired.

Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes


Step by Step Photos

Sauté GarlicMince two cloves of garlic and then sauté with 1 Tbsp butter over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Sauté for 1-2 minutes, or just until the garlic has softened.

Diced TomatoesAdd one 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes. I used plain diced tomatoes, but you could use fire roasted, or tomatoes that are already seasoned with garlic and basil for more flavor.

Herbs and SpicesAlso add 1/2 tsp dried basil, some freshly cracked pepper (about 15-20 cranks of a pepper mill), 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp sugar. Stir the ingredients to combine, turn the heat up to medium, and let it simmer for about ten minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Simmered TomatoesYou want it to simmer long enough so that the juices are no longer watery. There is still some sauciness that will coat the corn with flavor, but it’s not really “juicy”. As you can see, when I drag the spoon through the mixture, it doesn’t run back into the empty space. It has reduced and thickened.

Add Frozen CornAdd 2 cups of frozen corn kernels (no thawing necessary), stir to combine, and heat through (3-5 minutes). Taste the mixture and adjust the salt if needed.

Sautéed Corn and TomatoesI added a small sprinkle of fresh parsley on top, but that’s optional.

Sautéed Corn and TomatoesSweet, savory, and Oh So Good!

Sautéed Corn and TomatoesIt’s great on its own, but it’s also fabulous spooned over some grilled chicken or fish! I put mine on top of my Blackened Tilapia. SO GOOD.

The post Sautéed Corn and Tomatoes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

09 Jun 04:01

Vidalia Onion Dip

by Michelle

Vidalia Onion Dip | #recipe

I have been sitting on this recipe for nearly 10 years now, yowza! A good friend of mine gifted me with this recipe back when recipe swaps (on actual written recipe cards) were all the rage. It’s been sitting in my binder of “appetizer recipes” ever since, and while organizing and purging this weekend, I realized that I’ve never shared it with you. Doh! If you’re a dip person (and, really, who isn’t?), then this is definitely going to make your day.

Vidalia Onion Dip | #recipe

As far as recipes go, this one couldn’t be much simpler. Only four ingredients, and the same exact quantity of each – 2 cups each of chopped Vidalia onions, mayonnaise, shredded Swiss cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Mix, bake, eat. I love the sweet bite of the Vidalia onions paired with the cheeses; it’s totally and completely addicting. Once you try it, you won’t be at all surprised by the fact that my Chief Culinary Consultant and I ate it for lunch yesterday. Yes, just dip and pita chips. Nothing else. Lunch. Done.

Vidalia Onion Dip | #recipe

The recipe as given to me says to serve with pita chips or breadsticks (I feel like the pita chips recommendation was so ahead of its time 10 years ago!), but this would also be fabulous with pretzels, tortilla chips or baguette slices. Basically, any and all carbs are welcome at this party.

Do you have a favorite simple staple recipe from ages ago? Feel free to share it in the comments below!

Vidalia Onion Dip | #recipe

Two years ago: Sausage, Mozzarella & Basil Stuffed Peppers and Hot Fudge Sauce
Three years ago: Grilled Corn
Four years ago: Blueberry Boy Bait
Five years ago: Pizzelles
Six years ago: New York-Style Crumb Cake

Get the Recipe:Vidalia Onion Dip

© Brown Eyed Baker

03 Jun 04:01

Grandma’s Roasted Potatoes

by Michelle

My grandma's legendary Sunday roasted potatoes | #recipe

I’ve talked quite a bit in the past about my grandma’s Sunday dinners. It was a tradition for our family growing up, and one that provided my sister and I, and our cousins, with so many wonderful memories. I have such vivid memories of many of the staple items she would make on Sundays, and potatoes is high on that list. Along with at least one type of pasta, meat, and salad, my grandma made roasted potatoes. They have since come to be known simply as “Grandma’s potatoes”. Most Sundays she would have to make two batches because they’d disappear so quickly.

There was nothing inherently fancy about these potatoes – my grandma would hold a potato in one hand and cut off pieces with a paring knife, throw some olive oil in the pan, a little bit of seasoning, and then put them in the oven until they were nice and crispy. I can’t tell you how many fights were had over that bowl of potatoes. Everyone seemed to pick through to get to the super crunchy, slightly burnt ones. More than a few hands were slapped in the name of finding the best potatoes.

My grandma's legendary Sunday roasted potatoes | #recipe

Those potatoes were one of the things that everyone missed the most once my grandma couldn’t cook anymore and eventually passed away. Since then, my sister has resurrected them and she does the best job of replicating them. Hers look just like my grandma’s – irregular shaped and all. She has made them on Christmas Eve for everyone to munch on while we wait for dinner to be ready, and for some random family dinners as well.

I was well past due to work on perfecting my grandma’s potatoes, and a couple of weeks ago I found myself craving them, so I got to work. My sister said that my grandma used gold potatoes and that they work the best, so I started there and used olive oil and the seasonings my grandma added, put it all under high heat and hoped for the best.

My grandma's legendary Sunday roasted potatoes | #recipe

I don’t think mine looked like hers (I have an aversion to holding and cutting in the air since my knife incident last summer), but oh boy, did they taste like hers! The baking time could vary depending on how thick or thin your pieces are and if your oven runs hot or cold. As you can see, my pieces are no uniform, so I just check them periodically until they get nice and crisp on the bottom and are golden on top.

I absolutely love recreating my grandma’s recipes, but I really do wish she were still here to make them. I’m sure she’s happy that her food traditions are still alive and well :)

My grandma's legendary Sunday roasted potatoes | #recipe

One year ago: Better Than “Anything” Cake
Two years ago: Fresh Fruit Tart with Pastry Cream
Three years ago: Creamy Cucumber Salad
Four years ago: First Birthday Party Smash Cake
Six years ago: French Chocolate Brownies

Get the Recipe:Grandma’s Roasted Potatoes

© Brown Eyed Baker

02 Jun 04:01

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

by Michelle

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | #recipe

There are few desserts I cherish more than a fabulous cheesecake. I fell in love with those dense, creamy desserts as a teenager and have been enamored with them ever since. I don’t really discriminate as far as flavors go – plain with fresh strawberries, pumpkin, or loaded up with things like Oreo cookies, Snickers bars, or peanut butter. I love them all and will devour each with abandon.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | #recipe

Last year, I found my favorite basic cheesecake recipe, and I have been wanting to replicate an easy version of a cheesecake bar for those times when it’s easier to cut them up and serve them for a more casual get-together. When I think of bar desserts, I always think of summer. Picnics and cookouts are the perfect reason to forgo the fancy plate and fork desserts for the simpler, handheld bar desserts.

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | #recipe

As we usher in summer (I can’t believe it’s June!), I thought a basic cheesecake bar with a swirl of seasonal flavor like strawberries would be fabulous. For these, I used a very basic cheesecake bar recipe and swirled in seedless strawberry jam. The perfect combination of flavors and a super simple bar for picking up and nibbling!

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars | #recipe

Two years ago: Black Bean Salsa and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Billionaire Bars
Three years ago: Fruit Dip
Four years ago: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
Five years ago: Cinnamon Raisin Bagels

Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake Bars

Yield: 16 bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 47 to 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Rich and delicious cheesecake bars with a swirl of strawberry jam.


For the Crust:
7 whole graham crackers, crushed (about 1 cup of fine crumbs)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt

For the Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
⅔ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons seedless strawberry jam


1. Make the Crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, allowing excess to hang over the edges of the pan; lightly grease the foil.

2. In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, flour and salt to combine. Drizzle the melted butter over the mixture and use a fork to mix it until the entire mixture is moistened. Turn the mixture out into the prepared pan and press into an even layer. Bake until the crust to starts to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until it is completely incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition until well combined. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter over the baked crust.

4. Using a spoon, drop dollops of the strawberry jam all over the surface of the cheesecake batter, then use a toothpick or skewer to gently swirl the jam into the batter. Bake until the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly, 35 to 40 minutes. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 3 hours. Lift the cheesecake out of the pan and slice into bars. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 3 days.

(Base cheesecake recipe modified from America's Test Kitchen Holiday Cookies 2010)

© Brown Eyed Baker

28 May 23:07

Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes

by Beth M

Have you ever noticed that the fewer ingredients a recipe has, the more elegant it seems? Lucky for me, that also usually means it’s pretty easy and, depending on the ingredients you choose, very inexpensive. This super simple baked egg dish is just that. Simple, elegant, inexpensive, and delicious.

This might seriously be the easiest “real” breakfast dish ever. All you do is layer the ingredients in a casserole dish, pop it in the oven, and take it out when it’s done. Then it’s ready to spoon over an English muffin, or serve with toast for dipping. If you want to impress someone for breakfast or brunch, MAKE THIS. (And hey, no one said that person you’re trying to impress can’t be you!)

Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes

This is also a great “sweep the fridge” dish. You can add all sorts of leftovers to the mix. Leftover artichoke hearts? Yes ma’am. A sprinkle of feta? Okey-dokey. Extra shredded chicken or sausage? Toss ‘em in there! Got a garden with fresh herbs? Oooh, you’re the lucky one. Sprinkle those fresh herbs over top and experience an extra fancy pants breakfast. You deserve it.

I only made four eggs because I failed to check my egg stash before I went to the grocery store, but with a couple slices of toast and maybe a little fruit, one egg per serving would be plenty. You could easily up the servings to two eggs per person by using eight eggs and only add about 20 cents per serving. If you want two eggs per serving, keep the other ingredients in the same proportions, but use eight eggs instead of four. The baking time may increase slightly. If you want to double the recipe for eight people, use a larger dish and double all of the ingredients and use either 8 or 16 eggs.

Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes

Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes


4.7 from 6 reviews
Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $3.40
Cost Per Serving: $0.85
Serves: 4
  • ½ lb. frozen spinach, thawed $0.78
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder $0.02
  • ⅛ tsp red pepper flakes (optional) $0.02
  • Salt and pepper $0.05
  • 2 medium Roma tomatoes $0.80
  • 4 large eggs $0.86
  • 2 Tbsp cream or half and half $0.24
  • ½ cup shredded cheese $0.63
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick spray or coat with butter. Thaw the spinach and squeeze out most of the moisture (no need to go overboard here, just make sure it’s not dripping).
  2. Cut the tomatoes into chunks and place them in the bottom of the casserole dish. Sprinkle the spinach over the tomatoes. Season the tomatoes and spinach with the garlic powder, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and some freshly cracked pepper (about 5 cranks of a pepper mill).
  3. Crack the eggs on top of the spinach and tomatoes. Drizzle the cream over everything in the dish, then top with the shredded cheese. Bake the dish in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the whites are opaque, but still soft and moist (they should jiggle slightly when you shake the dish). The exact cooking time will depend on the size and shape of your dish, so begin checking for doneness at around 15 minutes.
To increase the servings to two eggs per person, simply keep all of the other ingredients the same and add 8 eggs to the dish instead of four. Baking time may increase.

You can use any type of shredded cheese you like, although creamier cheeses work best.


Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes


Step by Step Photos

Thaw SpinachBegin by preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Thaw 1/2 lb. of frozen spinach, then squeeze out most of the moisture. I like to use the spinach that is frozen loose in a bag like this, rather than the kind that is frozen in a block. It is usually sold in 1 lb. bags, so I just estimate half of the bag.

Layer tomatoes and spinachCoat a 2 quart casserole dish (small, like an 8×8 inch dish) with non-stick spray, or smear it with butter. Cut two Roma tomatoes into chunks, then place them in the bottom of the dish. Lay the squeeze spinach over top. Season the vegetables by sprinkling 1/8 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional), 1/8 tsp salt, and a little cracked pepper over top (maybe five cranks of a pepper mill).

Add EggsCrack four (or eight) eggs over top of the vegetables. This size dish and this amount of vegetables could have easily handled 8 eggs, but I didn’t have that many left. Doh!

Cream and CheeseLastly, drizzle 2 Tbsp of cream or half and half over the dish and then top with 1/2 cup shredded cheese. The cream is really important here, so don’t skip it. It helps keep the whole dish moist and creamy. I may even be tempted to use 1/4 cup next time. I used an Italian cheese blend, but you could use just about any shredded cheese. Creamy cheeses (unlike the blend I used) are actually better, but this was still amazing!

Baked Eggs with Spinach and TomatoesBake the eggs in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes. The exact cooking time will vary greatly depending on the size of your dish and how many eggs you use, so just keep an eye on it after about 15 minutes. The eggs are finished with the whites have just solidified and turned opaque, but are still fairly soft. The yolks should still be liquid. If you giggle the dish, the eggs should wobble slightly.

Baked Eggs with Tomatoes and SpinachI scooped my egg and vegetables right onto a nice piece of bread and ate them like an open faced sandwich. SO DIVINE. This would also be amazing with an English muffin. THIS is how you make your day off special!


The post Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

15 May 04:01

The Best Twice Baked Potatoes

by Michelle

The Best Twice Baked Potatoes | #recipe

I’m sure I’m not alone when I tell you that I have been a huge fan of the potato, in all of its glorious forms, basically since the time I began eating solid foods. Roasted potatoes, French fries, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes… you name it, I’ll eat it and enjoy the heck out of it. At some point when I was younger, my mom surprised us with a “special” dinner that included twice-baked potatoes in place of regular ol’ baked potatoes. Oh my goodness! I tap-danced over the fact that I was essentially eating mashed potatoes in a baked potato. I loved it, and from then on, anytime I had a twice-baked potato, it felt extra-special and a little fancy.

The Best Twice Baked Potatoes | #recipe

My mother-in-law makes twice-baked potatoes fairly often and, oh my, they’re amazing. When I finally asked for the recipe, I realized why! They are loaded with all of the good stuff – butter, cream cheese, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and plenty of seasonings. I took the recipe and made just a couple of little tweaks of my own… I swapped scallions for chives and added bacon, because, well… I don’t actually need a reason to add bacon, do I?

Loaded baked potatoes meet mashed potatoes, and I could totally make a meal of just these and a salad.

Every night of the week.

The Best Twice Baked Potatoes | #recipe

Get the Recipe:The Best Twice Baked Potatoes

© Brown Eyed Baker

05 May 04:01

Queso Fundido

by Michelle

Queso Fundito | #recipe #CincodeMayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Are you celebrating today by drowning yourself in chips, salsa and guacamole? Maybe a margarita or two? All perfectly good options, I think. If you’re in a festive mood, but are unsure of what to make, check out my Cinco de Mayo roundup from last week, or… make queso fundido!

I can’t believe that it took until I was 33 years old to discover queso fundido. I mean, it’s a big pan of melted cheese with spicy sausage… How could this have not been on my radar sooner?

Queso Fundito | #recipe #CincodeMayo

It so happened that Ree and Gaby made this within a week of each other prior to the Super Bowl this year and I became obsessed with it. Traditionally, this is actually a flambéed dish (fancy!), believe it or not. I found a ton of different variations on this dish, and I finally threw together my own spin, complete with spicy chorizo sausage, jalapeños, and three different types of cheese. Pile it all into a cast iron skillet, bake it, then dig into the ooey, gooey, spicy cheesiness.

Grab a big bag of chips… you’re going to need them! Cheers!

Queso Fundito | #recipe #CincodeMayo

Get the Recipe:Queso Fundido

© Brown Eyed Baker

23 Apr 21:33

One Pot Sausage & Mushroom Pasta

by Beth M

I’m really digging these one pot pastas lately. It’s so nice to just cook everything in one pot and have less to wash (especially when you don’t have a dishwasher, like me!). Not to mention they’re super quick and cooking the pasta in the sauce/broth just adds so much flavor.

This one pot pasta is just slightly more involved than my “wonderpots” because I’ve added the step of browning the sausage before throwing all of the ingredients together in the pot. The few extra minutes needed to brown the sausage translates into a lot more flavor. This is a fairly basic “pasta with red sauce” recipe, but it’s definitely quick and easy, which is perfect for people with a small kitchen or just not a lot of time on their hands. If you want to make it a little more special, you can try adding in some other fun ingredients like: black olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, roasted red peppers, or a splash of cream to turn it into a creamy red sauce. The sky’s the limit, so have fun!

One Pot Sausage & Mushroom Pasta

One Pot Sausage Mushroom Pasta

5.0 from 3 reviews
One Pot Sausage & Mushroom Pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $9.23
Cost Per Serving: $1.15
Serves: 8
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 2-3 links Italian sausage $1.99
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 small onion $0.52
  • 8 oz. button mushrooms $1.99
  • 1 (28oz.) can crushed tomatoes $1.00
  • 1 tsp dried basil $0.10
  • 1 tsp dried oregano $0.10
  • 4 cups vegetable broth $0.52*
  • 1 lb. rigatoni $1.89
  • ¼ cup parmesan $0.41
  • handful fresh parsley (optional) $0.23
  1. Add the olive oil and sausage links to a large pot and cook over medium heat until they are browned on the outside and firm enough to slice into rounds. Remove the sausage from the pot with tongs, slice into rounds, then return them to the pot and cook for a few minutes more, or until fully browned.
  2. While the sausage is cooking, slice or mince the garlic and slice or dice the onion (depending on how big you want your pieces). Slice the mushrooms.
  3. Once the sausage is browned, add the crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, mushrooms, basil, and oregano to the pot. Stir to combine and to dissolve any browned bits off the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and pasta, then stir to combine. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and bring it to a rapid boil. As soon as it reaches a full boil, give it a stir, replace the lid, turn the heat down to low. Let the pot simmer on low for 15 minutes. Stir it every five minutes or so while it's simmering. Make sure it's simmering (bubbling) the whole time. If it is not, turn the heat up slightly.
  5. After 15 minutes of simmering, the pasta should be tender and most of the liquid should be absorbed. If there is still too much liquid, let it simmer without a lid for a couple more minutes. Stir in the parmesan and top with fresh chopped parsley, if desired.
*I use Better Than Bouillon brand soup base to make my broth.


One Pot Sausage & Mushroom Pasta


Step by Step Photos

Italian Sausage

I had some leftover Italian sausage in my freezer that needed to get used up, so that was the basis for this recipe. I had used half of this 19 oz. package previously and had the remaining 2.5 links left. You can use 2 links, you can use 3 links, or you can just use the whole package (5 links). It’s up to you!

Cook Sausage

First you need to cook the sausage a bit to make it firm enough to slice into rounds. Just put it in a big pot with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and cook over medium until it’s nice and brown on the outside (about 5 minutes).

Slice Sausage

Then remove it to a cutting board and slice it into rounds. It’s not completely cooked through yet, but that’s okay because it’s going right back into the pot…

Brown Sausage

Cook it a little more or until the sausage has browned and there is a nice golden coating on the bottom of the pot (that’s where the flavor is at!).

Slice Vegetables

While the sausage is cooking, slice your vegetables (1 small onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 8 oz. mushrooms). You can slice or dice the onion and slice or mince the garlic, depending on how big you want the pieces to be in the finished dish. They both cook down considerably, so I left them in slices.

Sauce and vegetables

Once the sausage has browned, add one 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes, the sliced onion, mushrooms, and garlic. Also add 1 tsp dried oregano and 1 tsp dried basil. Give this mixture a good stir to dissolve the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.

Broth and Pasta

Finally, add 4 cups of vegetable broth and one pound of rigatoni. Stir to combine.


Cover the pot and turn the heat up to high. Let the pot come to a full, rapid boil. Once it reaches a full boil, give it a stir to loosen any pasta that might be sticking, replace the lid, and turn the heat down to low. Let the pot simmer on low for 15 minutes, giving it a stir every five minutes or so.

Cooked Pasta

After 15 minutes, the pasta should be tender and most of the liquid should be absorbed. If it’s still too liquidy for you, just let it simmer for a minute or two without the lid.

One Pot Sausage & Mushroom Pasta

Stir in 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan to add a little body to the sauce, then top with some fresh chopped parsley (optional).

One Pot Sausage & Mushroom Pasta

Super easy! And who doesn’t love pasta with red sauce? WHO? (I know, now I’ll get someone who says otherwise in the comments… ;) )

The post One Pot Sausage & Mushroom Pasta appeared first on Budget Bytes.

15 Apr 04:03

Strawberry-Pistachio Semifreddo

by Michelle

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo | #recipe #Easter

It’s Easter week! Depending on how early or late the holiday falls, it usually means I’m either still buried under blankets and half-hibernated, or I’m throwing open the windows and ushering in spring with open arms. We’ve had some fantastic weather here in Pittsburgh the last few days, which definitely calls for the latter. The appearance of warmth and sunshine also gets me in the mood for light and fresh desserts, and I can think of few things better than a dessert that combines fresh fruit and ice cream.

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo | #recipe #Easter

Semifreddo isn’t technically ice cream; it’s considered more of a frozen mousse, since it’s a combination of custard and whipped cream. However, frozen desserts are frozen desserts, and I can’t wait for my first big frozen custard with sprinkles this year. In the meantime, this dessert totally hit the spot.

A pseudo-custard is whipped until light and thick and then combined with soft whipped cream. Half of the mixture is combined with fresh strawberry puree, while the other half is folded into chopped pistachios.

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo | #recipe #Easter

I absolutely adore the combination of pistachios with fruit, and this frozen dessert highlights both the freshness of the strawberries and the flavor and texture of the pistachios. It really is spring perfection.

If you’re in the market for a light Easter dessert that is still full of flavor, I highly recommend this semifreddo. The best part is, you can make it days ahead of time and stash it in the freezer until you’re ready to serve it!

Strawberry Pistachio Semifreddo | #recipe #Easter

Get the Recipe:Strawberry-Pistachio Semifreddo

© Brown Eyed Baker

11 Apr 15:56

dark chocolate coconut macaroons

by deb

truffle-like dark chocolate macaroons

2014 has been mostly about the chocolate thus far, which is the kind of thing that happens when you outsource what-to-cook-next decisions to my husband and his Mini-Me. We bounced from Chocolate Hazelnut Linzer Hearts to Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake before landing on a Double Chocolate Banana Bread which, even a month later leads to the weekly “accidental” purchase of way more bananas that we’d ever eat, so we “have” to make more, no violins necessary. Thus, it would be easy to blame the boys in my family for what I did to an innocent coconut macaroon — that is, saddling it with not one but two types of chocolate, until it was intensely fudgy and brownie-like with an almost gooey center, seriously why aren’t you baking these yet? — but guys, this was all me.

grind the coconut
unsweetened chocolate wins

Because although I do not share my family’s perspective that if it’s not chocolate, it’s not worth eating, I feel adamant that if you’re going to eat chocolate, it should really, really taste like chocolate. And, pitifully, every chocolate coconut macaroon I’ve had, along with some other cookies that will no doubt cause you to storm out of here in disgust once and for all, failed this test.

dark chocolate coconut macaroon batter

... Read the rest of dark chocolate coconut macaroons on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to dark chocolate coconut macaroons | 177 comments to date | see more: Chocolate, Coconut, Cookie, Gluten-Free, Passover, Photo

10 Apr 20:07

The Science of Happy Relationships

by Corey

What do we know today about happy relationships?

A lot actually.

This infographic from the happiness training app Happify sums up several important findings from studies on what makes couples happy.

For example, happy couples have 5 positive interactions for every negative one, versus the 0.8 positive interactions for every negative one that divorced couples go through.

And how about this tidbit:

When it comes to strengthening your relationship, studies show the most crucial factor is how you celebrate your partner’s good news. In one study, people who did this 3x a day for 1 week increased their happiness and felt less depressed afterwards.

Here’s to becoming happier.


The Science Behind a Happy Relationship | Happify

The Science of Happy Relationships is written by Corey from: Simple Marriage

31 Mar 04:01

Brownie Pudding

by Michelle

Brownie Pudding | #recipe

When I’m in the mood for dessert (which, who are we kidding, is every night), 99 times out of 100, I want chocolate. Sure, if there’s leftover cheesecake or pie, I’ll totally eat that, but otherwise, I’m definitely a chocolate-for-dessert gal. The richer, the better, and if it’s something that I can throw vanilla ice cream on top of, well, that’s the icing on the cake. Enter this baked chocolate dessert that’s part brownie, part pudding and completely decadent.

Get the Recipe:Brownie Pudding

© Brown Eyed Baker

30 Mar 14:01

Parsley Pesto Potatoes

by Beth M

I don’t want to rub it in your faces, but here in New Orleans SPRING IS HERE! That means that I want a lot of bright, vibrant flavors.

These roasted potatoes with parsley pesto are about as vibrant as vibrant flavor gets. They’re a great side for grilled meats (because spring = grilling season!) or you can warm them up and top them with a soft boiled egg like I did for breakfast this morning. You could even stir in a bit of mayonnaise for a pesto potato salad type dish and serve it along side sandwiches. However you serve them, they’re a side dish that is seriously bursting with flavor thanks to the garlic, lemon, and Parmesan cheese.

I used my budget version of pesto for this recipe. Instead of fresh basil I used fresh parsley. Sure, the flavor is very different but it still gives it that nice pop of fresh green flavor. I also skipped the nuts and went light on the olive oil. The fresh garlic gives the pesto a really great spicy bite and the fresh lemon adds a tart zing. It’s a pretty bare bones version of pesto, but OMG, it still has tons of flavor! (you may want a breath mint afterwards, raw garlic can be harsh).

Parsley Pesto Potatoes

Parsley Pesto Potatoes

5.0 from 1 reviews
Parsley Pesto Potatoes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $4.84
Cost Per Serving: $0.81
Serves: 6 (1/2 lb. each)
  • 3 lbs. small Yukon Gold potatoes $2.29
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil $0.08
  • Salt & Pepper $0.05
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley $0.75
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled $0.16
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan $0.82
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (about ½ lemon) $0.35
  • ¼ tsp salt $0.02
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil $0.32
  • 1 Tbsp water $0.00
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the potatoes into one inch cubes. Place the potatoes in a large bowl and toss with the vegetable oil until well coated.
  2. Cover one or two baking sheets with foil and coat lightly with non-stick spray. Spread the potatoes out over the sheets so that they are in a single layer and not piled on top of one another (you may need two baking sheets if your sheets are smaller). Season lightly with salt and pepper, then roast in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown and crispy on the edges.
  3. Meanwhile, rinse the parsley with cool water and shake off as much excess water as possible. Tear the leaves from the stems and place them in the bowl of a food processor (it's okay if some of the stems get in, you don't have to be very precise). Also add the Parmesan, salt, lemon juice, and peeled garlic. Pulse the mixture until it is finely chopped.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and slowly add the olive oil through the chute while pulsing. Scrape down the sides again and add one tablespoon of water while pulsing. The pesto should be a thick, almost creamy texture at this point. Taste the pesto and adjust the oil, salt, and lemon according to your liking (depending on the size of your parsley bunch, you may need to adjust the other ingredients).
  5. Once the potatoes are golden brown and crispy, remove them from the oven and transfer them to a bowl. Serve the pesto spooned over top or toss the potatoes in the pesto until they are fully coated.


Parsley Pesto Potatoes


Step by Step Photos

Cubed Potatoes

Cut 3 lbs. of Yukon Gold potatoes into one inch cubes. You can use a different variety of potatoes, but I like the dense, waxy texture of Yukon Gold for this.

Seasoned Potatoes

Toss the potatoes with 2 Tbsp of vegetable oil until they are well coated. Spread them out over a baking sheet that has been covered in foil and lightly coated with non-stick spray. Make sure the potatoes are not piled on top of one another. You may need two baking sheets if your sheets are on the smaller side. Even though the potatoes are coated in oil, that thin layer of non-stick spray really helps to keep them from sticking. Trust me. Season them lightly with salt and pepper (just sprinkle some on top, no measuring needed). Roast these potatoes in a preheated 400 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Pesto 1

While the potatoes are roasting, you can make the pesto. Rinse one bunch of flat leaf parsley, then shake off as much of the water as possible. Pull the leaves from the stems and place them in the bowl of a food processor (I use this one). You don’t have to be super picky about getting the leaves off of the stem – it’s okay if some stems make it in the bowl. Also add 1/2 cup Parmesan, 2 cloves of garlic (peeled), 2 Tbsp lemon juice, and 1/4 tsp salt.

Pesto 2

Pulse that mixture until it is finely chopped. (OMG it looks so good already). Scrape down the sides with a spatula.

Pesto 3

Add 2 Tbsp of olive oil through the chute as you pulse. I wanted my pesto a little bit runnier, so I also added a tablespoon of water. You can add more oil if you’d like, but this method kept the cost down a bit. It also produces a sharper, more pungent flavored pesto. Oil helps mellow the flavors some.

Roasted Potatoes

After 45 minutes, the potatoes will be golden brown and crispy on the edges. Transfer them to a bowl.

Parsley Pesto Potatoes

You can either serve the pesto spooned over top like this…

Parsley Pesto Potatoes

Or toss the potatoes until they’re fully coated in the pesto. I had some leftover pesto, but it DEFINITELY won’t go to waste. You can use it as a sandwich spread, add it to an individual pizza, or just dip some things (anything) in it!

The post Parsley Pesto Potatoes appeared first on Budget Bytes.

17 Mar 16:33

double chocolate banana bread

by deb

double chocolate banana bread

I have a theory that Mondays are for repentance, for undoing whatever damages to your liver, psyche or saddlebags you’ve done over the weekend. They’re for getting back on the gym horse, resuming those eight daily glasses of water, and going to bed early. They’re for kale salad; they are not for chocolate cake. But, guys, those bananas that are one day from fruit flies are not going to eat themselves, and they must be addressed, which brings us to this.

what you'll need
mashed bananas

I joked earlier this year that I had a new mantra to address all future cooking indecisions: WWAE (What Would Alex Eat?), because my husband rarely chooses wrong. Thus far, it’s had spectacular effects: hazelnut-nutella linzer hearts, a chocolate-peanut butter cheesecake, and a dijon and cognac beef stew. (Don’t worry; my interests haven’t been fully occluded, see also: fennel and blood orange salad and stuck-pot rice — you know I can hear you snoring, right? — oh, right, and morning bread pudding with salted caramel.) And for years, he’s been angling me to put chocolate in my banana bread. “But why?” I’d demand to know. “Banana bread is perfect the way it is. Can’t there be one dessert that’s not improved by the addition of chocolate?”

melted butter

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02 Mar 07:37