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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 | 159 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

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

... Read the rest of double chocolate banana bread on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to double chocolate banana bread | 363 comments to date | see more: Bananas, Chocolate, Everyday Cakes, Photo

02 Mar 07:37


01 Mar 11:23

Rainy day excerpt: Best Women’s Erotica 2014

by Violet Blue

I hope those of you who have read my new book are enjoying it, and each of its vivid, arousing, and complex time-capsule stories. But if you haven’t picked up or borrowed a copy of Best Women’s Erotica 2014, I hope you do and that you love it as much as I continue to, three months after publication. (I keep revisiting the stories, and am still stunned by the talent and richness imparted by the authors I got to work with).

The unbiased, independent review by Peep Scoop managed to both win my admiration as an editor by unpacking the male characters in Best Women’s Erotica 2014, but also won my attention as a new fan of their reviews with a writeup that is a compelling and clever read on its own.

What I like about collection as a whole, is how many of the women demand what they want and aren’t afraid to speak their own truths, define their own boundaries, and get what they want—while remaining vulnerable enough to easily identify with.

“Monsoon Season” tickles the part of me who is obsessed with the paperboy scene in A Streetcar Named Desire (the play, not the film). Not for narrative similarities but for the arrangement of power. An older woman and her young submissive and feelings and age and all the things that both tend to complicate our relationships and provide the tension which makes them so sexy all at the same time.

What struck me overall were the male characters in Best Women’s Erotica 2014. Where insecure, “I’m-so-broken-and-tormented-please-fix-me-but-you-can’t” male archetypes abide in mainstream romance and erotica, BWE offers male characters who are assured, curious, vulnerable, and mindful. They also manage to escape the bland generalizations that sometimes occur when authors try to create good, feminist male characters. Some are submissive, others dominant, some blending these designations, others trying new things, speaking up for what they want but feel ashamed about. These characters make for a really refreshing read. (…read more,

Sex blog Kinkly recently published a story from the collection, Nyotaimori. It seems like a perfect treat on this rainy day (it’s -finally- raining here in San Francisco, buckets). Even if it’s not raining where you are, I recommend snuggling up under the duvet today with this sublime little treat. Pretend it’s raining, pretend the rug is lava, just imagine any reason at all to lose yourself into Rose De Fer’s exquisite short story, and I promise you won’t regret it:

I am lying as I have been trained. On my back, perfectly still. My knees are bent, my legs open and rotated out to the sides by 180 degrees. My feet are pressed together, sole to sole. Red silk ropes bind my ankles and wind gracefully around my knees to where they are fastened underneath the table, keeping me open, exposed. My arms are crossed in the small of my back and bound beneath me. The position forces my back to arch, pushing my chest up and out.

I feel like a butterfly, pinned and displayed for a discriminating collector. A connoisseur. They have given us all Japanese flower names and I am secretly pleased with mine: Oniyuri. It’s the word for tiger lily, my favorite flower.

The table beneath me is warm, but the food presented on my naked skin is not. A rainbow of sashimi is fanned across my belly: salmon, tuna, mackerel and yellowtail. Across my ribs is an array of sushi. Between my breasts are cuts of eel, drizzled with rich teriyaki sauce. And carefully arranged around my nipples are clutches of salmon roe, the eggs vibrant and bursting. Soft purple orchids frame my sex, and in the diamond formed by my spread and angled legs is a painted flask of warm sake.

I breathe slowly, shallowly, so as not to disturb the presentation of food. The smell is intoxicating and I long for a bite of fish, the tingle of ginger and wasabi on my tongue. But for now I am merely a decoration, an attractive display for the artfully arranged delicacies. In other rooms, other girls are bound as I am, their bodies serving the same erotic aesthetic. From somewhere I can hear the melancholy notes of a shamisen being played by one of the hostesses.

I feel the cool touch of Ayame’s fingers as she gently lifts the flask from between my legs. My body heat has warmed the sweet wine and I close my eyes, listening to the soft splash as she fills each guest’s cup. The sleeve of her silk kimono brushes my skin as she moves past me. When she is done she replaces the flask, pressing it firmly up against my sex.

(…read the whole story,

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01 Mar 05:01

The Weekend Dish: 3/1/2014

by Michelle

Happy Saturday, and Happy March!

As the saying goes, it appears as though March is going to come in like a lion this year. We’re supposed to get a bear of a storm tomorrow and Monday, and I won’t lie… I’m going to hunker down with my fleece blanket and enjoy what will likely be the last big snow of the year. I absolutely love the whole notion of “seasons” and love living somewhere that gets to experience all four in totality. As a result, I totally embrace each and every one of them, including the blustery cold and snow storms. Stay safe and keep cozy if you’re getting bad weather this weekend!

As always, you’ll find a recap of what was posted to the site this week as well as some bookmarked recipes from other blogs. Enjoy!

On Brown Eyed Baker This Week

Fluffernutter Milkshake – A recreation of a fantastic milkshake that I had at a local burger and shakes joint. Peanut butter, marshmallow creme, Nutter Butters and vanilla ice cream!

Fluffernutter Milkshake

Double Vanilla Ice Cream Cake – My Chief Culinary Consultant’s birthday cake, complete with a chocolate fudge frosting.

Double Vanilla Ice Cream Cake | #recipe

Paczki (Polish Doughnuts) – I celebrated Fat Thursday with traditional Polish paczki – jam-filled doughnuts rolled in powdered sugar.


8 Favorite Mardi Gras Recipes – A roundup of my favorite recipes on the site for celebrating Mardi Gras; Fat Tuesday is right around the corner!

8 Favorite Mardi Gras Recipes

Friday Things – Puppy snuggles, Buzzfeed quizzes, the Oscars, not playing with Barbies, and a few more things…

Friday Things

Most Viewed Post This Week: Top 10 List: Favorite Cupcake Recipes

Most Pinned Post This Week: Paczki (Polish Doughnuts)

Most Facebook Shared Post This Week: Guinness, Whiskey & Irish Cream Cupcakes

Most Emailed Post This Week: Guinness, Whiskey & Irish Cream Cupcakes

Most Tweeted Post This Week: Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

What I Bookmarked This Week

Recipes and posts from other blogs that I thought looked especially delicious and that I thought you would like, too:

Beignets Tiramisu with Chocolate Ganache (Half Baked Harvest)
This is a show stopper of a dessert if I’ve ever seen one. Absolutely stunning presentation!

Big Soft M&M Cookies (Pinch of Yum)
I firmly believe that everyone needs at least one “big soft” cookie recipe in their arsenal; this one looks fantastic. Plus… M&Ms!

Coconut Cake (Cooking Classy)
Such a beautiful cake for springtime and a perfect Easter dessert.

Pina Colada Cheesecake (Blahnik Baker)
This cheesecake has me daydreaming about the beach :)

Roasted Mushroom and Gruyere Toasts (Two Peas and Their Pod)
Total comfort foods. Sometimes you just want some toast and melted cheese. (At least, sometimes I do!)

Have a delicious weekend!

26 Feb 05:01

Paczki (Polish Doughnuts)

by Michelle

Paczki [Polish Doughnuts] | #recipe #FatTuesday #MardiGras

I first heard of paczki last year around the beginning of Lent, and noticed them at the grocery store around the same time. I did a little digging and found that they are Polish pastries similar to a jelly doughnuts and that they are traditionally made and eaten on Fat Tuesday and Fat Thursday, which I didn’t even know existed! Apparently, Fat Thursday is a traditional Christian feast marking the last Thursday before Lent. Traditionally, it is a day dedicated to eating, when people meet with friends and family to eat large quantities of sweets, cakes and other meals forbidden during Lent. I couldn’t really find anything that spelled out a discernible difference between Fat Tuesday and Fat Thursday, except that it seems certain regions and religions tend to celebrate one or the other. The concept is definitely the same – indulge as much as possible right before Lent!

Now, back to the paczki… The difference between these and a basic doughnut is that paczki are made with a very rich, sweet yeast dough consisting of eggs, butter and milk. Sort of like a brioche doughnut, only better, if you can imagine!

Paczki [Polish Doughnuts] | #recipe #FatTuesday #MardiGras

I made a mental note of paczki last year and definitely wanted to make them when the time rolled around again, and here we are! Tomorrow is Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday is just around the corner. Let’s get frying!

Paczki [Polish Doughnuts] | #recipe #FatTuesday #MardiGras

When I started to poke around for recipes, I called my grandma (who is 100% Polish) to see if she had a recipe for paczki. Sadly, she did not, but said that her mom used to make them. Bummed, I started Googling “paczki recipe” and then got smart and revised it to “grandma’s paczki recipe”. I wanted something really authentic and I found more than a handful of recipes originating with someone’s grandma. While all of the ingredients were the same, the quantities and methods varied from recipe to recipe, so I hacked together what I thought sounded delicious and started on my way.

Paczki [Polish Doughnuts] | #recipe #FatTuesday #MardiGras

The most traditional paczki recipes call for filling the doughnuts with fruit preserves or prune butter, while others said their grandma never used a filling. Some say they must be rolled in powdered sugar, while others say they had always been rolled in granulated sugar. I did a batch of each: filled/powdered, filled/granulated, unfilled/powdered, and unfilled/granulated. For the filled ones, I did half raspberry and half apricot preserves.

Paczki [Polish Doughnuts] | #recipe #FatTuesday #MardiGras

My Chief Culinary Consultant and I taste tested all of them and both came to the conclusion that the unfilled ones rolled in granulated sugar were the bee’s knees. Jelly doughnuts were never my thing, so I wasn’t surprised that I preferred the unfilled ones. As for the sugar coating, both tasted good, but I love the crunch of granulated sugar on the outside of a doughnut. So hard to beat it!

If you’re planning to celebrate Fat Thursday tomorrow, or Fat Tuesday next week, you neeeeeed to make paczki part of your menu!

Paczki [Polish Doughnuts] | #recipe #FatTuesday #MardiGras

One year ago: Sesame Chicken and Macadmia Nut, Coconut & White Chocolate Blondies
Two years ago: Beer Battered Cod and Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding)
Three years ago: Grilled Fish Tacos and Fig, Date and Almond Granola Bars

Paczki (Polish Doughnuts)

Yield: About 20 to 24 paczki

Prep Time: 2 hours

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

Traditional Polish paczki - yeasted doughnuts filled with fruit preserves and rolled in sugar, popular on Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday.


2 cups whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees F
4½ teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
¾ cup + 1 pinch granulated sugar, divided
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 egg
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1¼ teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Peanut oil, canola oil or lard, for frying
Fruit preserves, for filling
Powdered and granulated sugars, for coating


1. Pour warm milk into bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it has become bubbly.

2. Add 2 cups of flour to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter forms. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot for 30 minutes. The mixture should have risen and be very bubbly.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolks until pale yellow and frothy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla extract and salt, and whisk until combined and smooth.

4. Attach the dough hook to the mixer, add the egg mixture to the dough and mix on medium-low speed until mostly combined. Add the melted butter and mix to combine. Gradually add 3 more cups of flour to the mixture and continue to knead until a very soft dough comes together. (It will not clean the sides of the bowl or form a ball; it will be rather slack and a bit sticky.) If necessary, add up to another 1 cup of flour, a spoonful at a time, until the dough forms.

5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.

6. Remove the dough from the bowl and turn out onto a floured work surface. With your fingers, push down the dough into an even layer. Sprinkle flour on the dough and roll it out to ½-inch thickness. If the dough doesn't hold its shape and springs back, cover with a damp towel and let rest for a few minutes and try again.

7. Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out rounds of dough. Transfer the dough rounds to parchment-lined baking sheets. Gather scraps of dough and again roll out and cut until you have used up all of the dough. Cover the baking sheets loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, heat at least 1½ inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or deep skillet (I used a 12-inch cast iron skillet) over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Carefully lower about six paczki into the oil at a time (be sure not to over-crowd the pan) and fry until the bottom is golden brown. Carefully turn them over and continue to fry until the other side is golden brown. Use a spider strainer or slotted spoon to remove them to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Allow the oil to come back to temperature, then repeat until all of the paczki have been fried.

9. Allow the paczki to cool until you are able to handle them easily. Using a filling tip, pipe fruit preserves into the sides of the paczki, then roll in sugar. The paczki are best the same day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

20 Feb 05:01

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

by Michelle

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake | #recipe

Anyone who grew up in the 1980′s has at some point consumed a cookie cake, am I right? They definitely weren’t the typical go-to for birthday cakes, so when they made an appearance, everyone was insanely excited. One of my aunts, in particular, had a definite thing for them, so anytime one of my cousins had a birthday, I knew we would be eating cookie cake. It’s amazing how one gigantic chocolate chip cookie can incite so much giddiness in a bunch of kids. I have a feeling it’s less about the cookie, and more about the notion of something different and out of the ordinary. That is the same reason I still love cookie cakes as an adult!

I haven’t had one in years, but within a week’s time, I had a reader email me to ask if I had a recipe for one, and one of my best friends texted me to ask me the same question. It felt like the universe was trying to tell me that it would be a good time to make a chocolate chip cookie, so I obliged.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake | #recipe

I immediately thought of my favorite chocolate chip cookie that doesn’t require the dough to be refrigerated (thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies), but they tend to be a bit on the ooey and gooey side. While that’s absolutely perfect for cookies, it wouldn’t work as well for a “cake” that needs to be sliced and served. After slightly increasing the flour and adding playing around with baking powder and baking soda, I had a perfect combination of flavor and sturdiness.

You could serve this plain, with ice cream, or decorate the top with some buttercream icing for a party. Or you could do what I did – keep slicing off a little sliver at a time until it’s ALL.GONE. When it comes to food, I’m definitely still a kid at heart.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake | #recipe

One year ago: DIY: Homemade Nutella
Two years ago: Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
Three years ago: White Chocolate-Coconut Brownies
Four years ago: Oven-Fried Onion Rings with Dipping Sauce
Six years ago: Chicken and Dumplings
Seven years ago: Maple-Hazelnut Oatmeal

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Who doesn't love a throwback chocolate chip cookie cake?!


2¼ cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with a round of parchment paper; set aside.

2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and sugars together until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Turn the dough out into the prepared cake pan and use your fingers to press into an even layer. Bake until the cookie cake is light golden brown and the outer edges have started to harden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and plan the pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Use a metal spatula to loosen the sides of the cake from pan, then turn it out and place on a serving plate or platter. Serve or decorate as desired. Leftovers should be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 5 days.

19 Feb 05:01

Cheesy Lasagna Bolognese

by Michelle

Cheesy Lasagna Bolognese | #recipe #pasta

So far this week, we’ve talked legendary meat sauce and fresh, homemade pasta. Now I’m throwing the two together, along with a béchamel sauce and lots of cheese, and turning it into a fabulous lasagna.

I have a confession. It wasn’t until a short time ago that I found out there was a difference between regular lasagna and lasagna bolognese. In my estimation, most “regular” lasagna recipes include layers of ricotta filling, along with sauce and some mozzarella cheese. By contrast, lasagna bolognese does not use ricotta, but instead layering noodles with a chunky meat sauce, a béchamel sauce and some additional cheese.

As it turns out, I spent the better part of my life eating lasagna bolognese. On the Sundays that my grandma served up lasagna, it never, ever had ricotta cheese in it; in fact, I was surprised the first time I had lasagna somewhere other than my grandma’s and I found ricotta! Her lasagna was a simple layering of whatever sauce she had simmered that particular day, noodles, and lots and lots of cheese. We all loved it and happily devoured it. While I will gladly eat a lasagna with ricotta, I have a large soft spot in my heart for lasagna made without it, especially when I found out this sans-ricotta version usually includes a creamy béchamel sauce. Be still my beating heart… This lasagna was made for me!

Cheesy Lasagna Bolognese | #recipe #pasta

I was all sorts of inspired after seeing a recipe for this extra cheesy classic homemade lasagna over on Half Baked Harvest. I seriously wanted to jump through the screen and eat lasagna for days on end. I used her cheesy béchamel sauce and paired it with my father-in-law’s meat sauce, homemade pasta, and lots of cheese!

It made a perfect Friday night dinner and I gobbled up the leftovers for days. While you can certainly make this with store-bought lasagna noodles, there is such a difference in the taste and texture of fresh, homemade pasta. It just melds right into the sauces and the cheese; pasta perfection.

Cheesy Lasagna Bolognese | #recipe #pasta

I wish I could have served this up to my grandma; I have no doubt she would have finished every last bite.

Don’t forget to grab a fresh loaf of crusty Italian bread to serve alongside the lasagna. I couldn’t imagine a pasta dish without a fresh piece of bread to wipe up all of the leftover sauce on the plate :)

Cheesy Lasagna Bolognese | #recipe #pasta

One year ago: Jewish Rye Bread
Two years ago: Creole Shrimp and Grits
Three years ago: Blueberry Bagels
Four years ago: Pumpkin Scones with Spiced Glaze
Five years ago: Ham and Split Pea Soup
Six years ago: Almost Fudge Gateau

Cheesy Lasagna Bolognese

Yield: About 8 servings

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

A wonderfully cheesy lasagna made with alternating layers of meat and béchamel sauces.


For the Béchamel Sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups milk
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup shredded provolone cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

5 cups your favorite meat sauce
1 pound lasagna noodles (fresh or store-bought)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided


1. Make the Béchamel Sauce: In a medium saucepan placed over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour turns light brown and emits a nutty aroma. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Once all of the milk has been incorporated, whisk in the nutmeg, and allow the mixture to come to a simmer. Once simmering, cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat, and add the shredded provolone a handful at a time, stirring until it melts. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper, then set aside and let cool to warm room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

3. Assemble the Lasagna: Spread 1 cup of the meat sauce on the bottom of a 9x13-inch pan. Place noodles in a single layer on top of the sauce (if you are using store-bought lasagna noodles, this should be 3 noodles; if you made fresh pasta, you'll probably use 2 sheets and can cut to fit as needed). Spread 1¼ cups of the meat sauce over the noodles. Drizzle one-quarter of the béchamel sauce over the meat sauce. Sprinkle ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese over the béchamel sauce.

4. Place another layer of noodles on top of the cheese. Top with another 1¼ cups of meat sauce, a quarter of the béchamel sauce, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and ¼ cup shredded mozzarella.

5. Place another layer of noodles on top of the cheese. Top with another 1¼ cups of meat sauce, half of the remaining béchamel sauce, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and ¼ cup shredded mozzarella.

6. Place the final layer of noodles on top of the cheese. Pour the remaining béchamel sauce over the noodles and sprinkle with the remaining ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and ¼ cup shredded mozzarella.

7. Cover the lasagna with a piece of aluminum foil that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake, covered, for 1 hour. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Note: This lasagna can be assembled, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days before baking. It can also be frozen for up to 1 month. If the lasagna was cold, bake it covered for an additional 15 to 30 minutes, checking to ensure it is heated the whole way through.

[Recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest]

17 Feb 23:39

One Pot Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff

by Beth M

Guess what time it is? Comfort-food-o’clock!

This is yet another “better than the box” meal. It’s like hamburger helper stroganoff, but homemade. And guess what? It’s still super fast, easy, and requires only one pot.

I used half ground beef and half mushrooms just for fun (the beef was actually less expensive per pound than the mushrooms), but you could do all mushroom or all beef if your heart so desires. If you’re doing a vegetarian version with all mushrooms, you can use mushroom or vegetable broth to replace the beef broth.

So, let’s just get straight to it because I’ve got some delicious, creamy, and savory noodles waitin’ for me in the kitchen!

(please excuse the blurry pics, it was super dark and rainy the day I made this.)

One Pot Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff

Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff

4.7 from 30 reviews
One Pot Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $6.21
Cost Per Serving: $1.55
Serves: 4 (about 1 cup each)
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.24
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • ½ lb. ground beef $1.94
  • 8 oz. fresh button mushrooms $1.99
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.01
  • 2 cups beef broth $0.30*
  • 8 oz. wide egg noodles $0.90**
  • ⅓ cup sour cream $0.67
  1. Mince the garlic. Add the garlic and butter to a large pot or skillet and sauté for one to two minutes over medium heat, or until the garlic is soft and fragrant. Add the ground beef and continue to sauté until it is fully browned.
  2. While the beef is browning, slice the mushrooms. Once the beef has browned, add the sliced mushrooms and continue to sauté until they are soft. Add the flour and sauté for about two minutes more. The flour will coat the bottom of the pot and this is okay.
  3. Add the beef broth to the pot and stir to dissolve the flour off of the bottom. Add the uncooked egg noodles. Place a lid on the pot and allow the liquid to come up to a boil. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and allow the pot to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the noodles are soft and most of the liquid has been absorbed (keep the lid on while simmering). You’ll need to stir every few minutes to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Make sure the liquid is simmering the entire time. If not, increase the heat slightly.
  4. Once the noodles are tender, stir in the sour cream. Serve hot.
*I use Better Than Bouillon brand soup base to make broth instead of buying canned or boxed broths.

**Using regular pasta instead of egg noodles may produce different results. Egg noodles are not quite as thick or heavy as regular pasta.


Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff


Step by Step Photos

Garlic and Butter

Begin by sautéing 2 cloves of minced garlic in 2 Tbsp of butter until soft (1-2 minutes). You can use a large pot or large skillet, as long as it is big enough to hold all of the pasta AND has a lid (the lid will be used later).

Brown Beef

Next, add the ground beef and continue to sauté until it is fully browned.

Slice mushrooms

While the beef is browning, slice the mushrooms. At my local grocery store they sell 8 oz. packages of whole or sliced mushrooms, both for the same price. I prefer to slice my own because the pre-sliced variety are too thick and you’ll get more mushroom pieces if you slice them thinner.


Once the beef is browned, add the mushrooms and continue to sauté until they are soft. Once the mushrooms are soft, add 2 Tbsp flour and continue to sauté for one to two minutes more. As you’re stirring and cooking, the flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pot. This is A-OK because it will dissolve off in the next step. Just make sure the heat is not so high that the flour begins to burn. That is bad.

Beef Broth

I know I sound like a big commercial for Better Than Bouillon, but it really is the best thing ever. It stays good in the fridge for almost forever and you can mix up as much or as little broth that you need at any given time. For this recipe, I mixed up 2 cups of broth.


Add the beef broth to the pot and stir until all of the flour is dissolved off of the bottom of the pot.

Uncooked Noodles

Add 8 oz. of uncooked wide egg noodles. Egg noodles have a different texture than regular pasta, so if you try to substitute regular pasta, you may get slightly different results. Place a lid on the pot and allow the broth to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 10 minutes (with the lid in place), or until the noodles are tender and have absorbed most of the liquid. You’ll want to stir every few minutes to keep the pasta from sticking. Make sure the broth is simmering the whole time. If it stops, turn the heat up just a tad.

Cooked NoodlesAnd after about ten minutes, the pasta is fully cooked. If you notice in the previous picture, not all of the pasta is submerged in the broth. That’s okay because the lid traps the steam and helps cook the portions that are not submerged. Plus, stirring every few minutes makes sure that everything gets good exposure to the hot liquid. 

Sour Cream


Lastly, stir in 1/3 cup sour cream until the whole deal is nice and creamy and delicious. I used light sour cream because I barely notice the difference between regular and light, but I wouldn’t suggest using fat free.

Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff

And now it’s ready to devour! I added some chopped parsley just for the photo… brown pasta isn’t all that visually appealing, but once you taste it O.M.G!

The post One Pot Beef & Mushroom Stroganoff appeared first on Budget Bytes.

13 Feb 18:55

chocolate peanut butter cheesecake

by deb

chocolate peanut butter cheesecake

This birthday cake was assigned to the side of the family whose dessert preferences can be roughly summarized as chocolate + anything else, but if that “else” were cheesecake, coffee, peanut butter or raspberries, all the better, thank you very much. Non-chocolate desserts are regarded politely, like curiosities at a zoo; perhaps something another family might enjoy? Their dessert formula can be thanked for all sorts of archive wonders, such as the Chocolate-Caramel Cheesecake, Double Chocolate Layer Cake, Espresso Chiffon Cake with Fudge Frosting, Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake, Double-Chocolate Torte, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake and Cappuccino-Fudge Cheesecake.

melted butter into chocolate crumbs
using a measuring cup to press in crumbs

And now this, too, which is like the last two cakes got together and made an even better version of themselves for the next generation. If you remember seeing this in the 2013 year-end roundup, it’s true, I did make it over six months ago, but nothing about summer through early winter screamed a cake that looks like a Reeses peanut butter cup to me. A blizzard on the day before Valentine’s Day? I say that since we’re inside anyway, bring it on.

ganache-whisking ombre

... Read the rest of chocolate peanut butter cheesecake on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to chocolate peanut butter cheesecake | 260 comments to date | see more: Celebration Cakes, Chocolate, Peanut Butter

12 Feb 05:01

French Silk Chocolate Pie

by Michelle

French Silk Chocolate Pie | #recipe

I have had French silk pie on the brain for ages, but I kept hitting a roadblock on way to making it. Are you ready for this? You will absolutely, positively think I’m insane. For some reason, I had such a hard time getting past the combination of pie crust combined with chocolate. Am I nuts or what?! It seems as though I’ve compartmentalized desserts in my brain, and pie crust was reserved for things like fruit, pumpkin and pecans. Chocolate, on the other hand, was reserved for… everything other than pie crust? Seriously, I know it makes zero sense. However, the only chocolate-based pie I’ve made before (chocolate cream) had an Oreo crust. I just wasn’t sold that chocolate and traditional pie crust were a good combination.

Clearly, I was wrong. Very, very wrong.

French Silk Chocolate Pie | #recipe

As it turns out, buttery, flaky pie crust makes an absolutely phenomenal vessel for the velvety smooth chocolate filling. Truth be told, I could have eaten this pie filling with a spoon and just said to heck with filling the pie crust and letting it chill. I did purposefully leave a little leftover in the bowl so I could scrape it up with my finger ;-)

The other issue I had with all of the French silk pie recipes that I saw online was that most of them used raw eggs without any sort of tempering to bring them up to a safe temperature. I balked at this. I’m not one to shun from a few beater licks of raw cookie dough, but I just couldn’t get past completely raw eggs as the end product. I was thrilled when I saw this filling recipe from Cook’s Country that calls for heating the eggs to a safe 160 degrees F as part of the recipe. It helped appease my raw egg neurosis and the final product turned out so silky smooth that I can’t believe it lost anything to its raw counterpart.

French Silk Chocolate Pie | #recipe

I went from eyeing the pie crust/chocolate combination with a skeptical eye, and ended up trying to hoard the entire pie for myself. Lesson learned. Never second-guess anything when it involves pie crust or chocolate. I do believe that the silky texture of this pie is best enjoyed when served at room temperature, so if you have chilled the pie, I would let it sit out for 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

Please tell me I’m not the only one with crazy food combination issues!

French Silk Chocolate Pie | #recipe

One year ago: Red Velvet Poke Cake
Two years ago: Red Velvet Ice Cream
Three years ago: Conversation Heart Sugar Cookies
Four years ago: Creme Brûlée
Six years ago: Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

French Silk Chocolate Pie

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Prep Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes

A recipe for the classic French Silk Pie.


For the Pie Crust:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into ¼-inch slices
¼ cup solid vegetable shortening, chilled, cut into 2 pieces
2 tablespoons vodka, chilled
2 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into ½-inch pieces


1. Make the Crust: Process ¾ cups flour, salt, and sugar together in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process for 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining ½ cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes (or up to 2 days).

3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. On a floured work surface, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate and gently ease the dough into the pie plate. Leave any dough that overhangs the plate in place, wrap the dough-lined pie plate loosely in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Trim the overhang to ½-inch beyond the lip of the pie plate. Tuck the overhang under itself (the folded edge should be flush with the edge of the pie plate). Crimp the dough around the edges. Wrap the dough-lined pie plate loosely in the plastic and refrigerate until the dough is fully chilled and firm, about 15 minutes.

5. Line the chilled pie shell with a double layer of aluminum foil, being sure to cover the edges as well, and fill with pie weights. Bake until the pie dough looks dry and is pale in color, about 15 minutes. Remove the foil and the weights and continue to bake until the crust is a deep golden brown, 8 to 12 minutes longer. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack and let the crust cool completely, about 1 hour.

6. Make the Filling: Pour the heavy cream into a large mixing bowl and whip on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to whip until stiff peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer the whipped cream to a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.

7. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 50% power in 30-second increments, stirring after each, until completely melted and smooth. Set aside.

8. In a large, heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and water. Beat the mixture on medium speed until pale yellow and thick, about 5 minutes. Set the bowl over a medium saucepan filled ½-inch of barely simmering water over low heat, and warm the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 160 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove the bowl from the heat and beat the mixture on medium speed until it is light and fluffy and cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.

9. Add the melted chocolate and vanilla extract to the cooled egg mixture and beat until incorporated. Beat in the butter, a few pieces at a time, until well combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Scrape the filling into the pie shell and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours. Serve with fresh whipped cream. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 3 days.

(Recipe adapted from Best-Ever Recipes)

08 Feb 16:46

Sausage and Kale Skillet

by Beth M

Hooray for quick skillet dinners! This one is so fantastically easy that it kind of feels like cheating. Between the Italian sausage and marinara sauce, the dish has all of the seasoning built in, so you don’t even have to measure out any extra herbs or spices. You’re pretty much just heating it all together and then it’s ready to eat!

You can bulk this recipe out further and probably make about 6 decent sized servings by stirring in some cooked pasta (I’d use 1/2 lb. dry), or by spooning this mixture over a bed of rice. It’s a pretty filling mix of ingredients, so I just skipped both and ate it plain. Not a fan of chickpeas? White beans would probably be pretty awesome in this, too.

Want to try a vegetarian version? I think sautéed eggplant or mushrooms would be a great replacement for the sausage, but you’ll want to add a teaspoon or so of Italian seasoning blend to make up for the lost spices. You’ll also need a little olive oil to sauté them in. I really can’t wait to try it with eggplant!

Sausage & Kale Skillet

Kale & Sausage Skillet

4.9 from 7 reviews
Sausage and Kale Skillet
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $6.02
Cost Per Serving: $1.51
Serves: 4
  • ½ (19 oz.) package Italian Sausage $2.25
  • 1 bunch kale $0.99
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas $1.00
  • 1 cup marinara sauce $0.88
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella $0.90 (sale!)
  1. Squeeze the sausage from the casings into a large skillet (freeze the remaining links for later use). Cook the sausage over medium heat until fully brown. Break the sausage up into pieces as it cooks. It’s okay if it sticks to the bottom of the skillet a little as it cooks.
  2. While the sausage is cooking, remove the woody stems from the kale, then slice it crosswise into thin strips. Rinse the kale well, then add it to the skillet. Stir it into the sausage and continue to cook until it is fully wilted (this happens within a few minutes).
  3. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Add the chickpeas to the skillet and stir to combine. Pour the marinara sauce over the skillet, then top with the shredded cheese. Place a lid on the skillet and let it simmer until the cheese is melted (about 5-10 minutes).


Kale & Sausage Skillet

Step by Step Photos


This is all you need for this super quick skillet! I used only half of the sausage (the rest went in the freezer), half of the cheese, and about half of the jar of marinara. I used Lacinato kale (or dinosaur kale) because that’s what I had on hand. You can definitely use curly kale in its place with no modifications.

Brown Sausage

Squeeze half of the sausage into a large skillet and cook it over medium heat until fully browned. I didn’t add any extra oil to the skillet because sausage has quite a bit on its own. It’s okay if some of it sticks to the bottom of the skillet, it will dissolve off later.

Remove Stems

For most kale, the stem is super tough and woody, so you’ll want to remove them (especially for curly kale). Just take a sharp knife and run it along the stem to cut it out. Then, stack the leaves and cut across into thin strips.

Chop Kale

This particular bunch of kale had really soft stems, so I didn’t even bother removing them. Stack the leaves and cut across into strips. This will be slightly more difficult with curly kale because it’s so fluffy, but you can still do it. It’s easiest if you cut each leave into two long pieces when removing the stem. After chopping the kale, make sure to rinse it really, really well.

Wilt Kale

After the sausage has browned, stir in the kale. Continue to cook and stir until the kale has wilted. This happens pretty fast. It’s okay if the kale is still a little wet from rinsing. The water will turn into steam and help it wilt, plus it will help dissolve the browned bits of sausage off the bottom of the skillet.


Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then add them to the skillet.


Pour the marinara over top… (you can stir it in, if you want).

Melt Cheese

Lastly, sprinkle the shredded cheese over top, cover it with a lid, and let it simmer until the cheese has melted.

Kale & Sausage Skillet

And now it’s ready to eat! It may not be the prettiest dish in the world, but OMG is it ever flavorful and filling!

The post Sausage and Kale Skillet appeared first on Budget Bytes.

04 Feb 13:34

Passionate living to a passionate marriage

by Corey

marriagepassionDesigning the marriage or life you want involves risks.

But the motivation for marriage design is different than the motivation for life changes.

If you’re over-weight and miserable, you may not like it but you are still stuck with that body. If you’re miserable in marriage you can discard the other “body” easier than your own. Which makes it seem like change and improvement is only a loss of (insert your spouse’s weight here) away.

Fact is, changing partners is likely not going to improve your situation for the long haul.

It’s interesting to me how often we humans will settle on things in marriage (and life) when if we we’re honest with ourselves we would realize we’re actually settling and not living fully alive.

Why is it so easy to settle?

This answer can all be summed up with the phrase “fear of the unknown.”

Designing life or a marriage involves unknown. But it may not be what you think.

It may not be quitting your job to travel the world. Or figuring out a way to work a few hours a week in order to live anywhere.

Life and marriage design also happens when one parent decides to stay home with their children, when a middle-income family moves out of the city to a small rural town in the mid-west so they can retire earlier, when a family downsizes their home in order to live below their means, or when a person finds their call working a “regular” job in order to provide for their family and fund the activities they really enjoy.

It happens every time an entrepreneur starts a business.

It’s starting a consulting company so you can work 20 hours per week and make 35k per year instead of 50 hours a week for 80k (and using the free time to sleep in and exercise).

Put simply, marriage design doesn’t necessarily mean you dream up and create some exotic lifestyle that would be the envy of all those around you.

It’s designing and then living the life you choose!

Life is choice.

It’s a foundational belief.

You don’t like something going on in life, work to change it.

But I just want to be happy.

Another pitfall that comes up is when people say “they just want to be happy.”

You hear it all the time.

Ask a random co-worker or family member what they want out of life and you’re likely to hear this response.

The problem:

seeking happiness is too vague and too relative.

Seeking a life filled with happiness is largely impossible. It’s chasing the wind.

First, nowhere in life are we promised happiness. The Declaration of Independence (for American readers) only allows for the pursuit of it. And another source many people around world follow, the Bible, never talks about happiness in this manner. In fact, the Bible says God is more concerned about your character than your happiness (Ecclesiastes 7).

And second, our likes and dislikes change too frequently. What you thought would make you happy, once obtained, doesn’t.

Our tastes seem to change so often because they are constructed, in part, by those around us.

We compare ourselves to others all the time. I do it too. What are they driving, wearing, watching, owning?

This is probably the number one plague on marriage and life design.

What will other people think if I do this or that? What would my spouse say if I told them I wanted to try this or that?

Instead of seeking happiness, what if you designed life and marriage to be exciting?

What excites you is a better question. Spend some time working on this question and you can uncover more of your core. And…

Living from your core is the way to radical growth and lasting passion.

Be it in marriage or in life.

To help get you started, here are two tools to use:

1. Get a more accurate view of where you are in life.

Many people have no idea where they are in life. They go through the day lost in routine and roles. You may be one of them. Did you know that humans are the only mammal that when lost, speeds up! Perhaps this accounts for the fast paced society we all live in. All other mammals in the mammalian kingdom will stop, sit down and get their bearings before they proceed.

In order to do this, a great tool is the Wheel Of Life.

This gives you a gauge as to how satisfying the areas in your life are currently and can help you uncover where to begin working first.

After you’ve discovered how smooth your wheel of life is, take the steps to begin working on the areas that need improving.

2. Sort out your core values.

The second tool is The Value Sort.

This takes about 20 minutes of your time. But at the end of the process you’ll have the top 4 or 5 values for your life. All that’s left is living life more in line with your core values.

Let me know what you discover in the comments.


If you’ve been stuck in your marriage and life, I invite you join us for Unstuck - which begins February 17thJoin before February 9th to save $50 off the price.

(photo source)

Passionate living to a passionate marriage is written by Corey from: Simple Marriage

30 Jan 17:12

garlicky party bread with cheese and herbs

by deb

garlicky party bread with herbs and cheese

My mother’s standard party donation is a boule of pumpernickel bread with the center scooped out and filled with a spinach dip that includes water chestnuts because, of course. The sides are cut into fingers that remain attached at the base (as “severed fingers” would be unsettling, yes?) and can be torn off when the urge comes to swipe one through the center. The urge will come often, so I try to position myself in any room that the boule is not. Nevertheless, I hadn’t considered that there were other approaches to party bread until I came upon this 1998 recipe for one in Taste of Home, the belly full of dip forwent for a multi-pronged attacked of butter, cheese, scallions and poppy seeds, all toasted until melted and crisp.

what you'll need (i skipped the proscuitto)
cut your loaf like this

But why stop there? You could pretty confidently argue that you’ve happened upon a lucky series of life choices when you get to spend half an hour on a Wednesday morning at Whole Foods debating what you’d like to put on your party bread in addition to butter and cheese. There was so much to consider! I considered rarebit-ing it, with a boiled mess of butter, beer, mustard powder, paprika, cayenne, Worcestershire and a scattering of cheddar that I might dream about tonight. I wondered if we ought to go French, with gruyere, shallots and herbes de provence or style it like an American baked potato, with chives and bacon, sour cream and cheese. And then I realized that I’ve never once covered garlic bread on this site and was suddenly filled with purpose and couldn’t wait to get home and start playing in the kitchen.

someone asked if I use a garlic press. yes, I do!
butter. sea salt. so much garlic.

... Read the rest of garlicky party bread with cheese and herbs on

© smitten kitchen 2006-2012. | permalink to garlicky party bread with cheese and herbs | 139 comments to date | see more: Appetizer, Bread, Photo, Snack

22 Jan 16:00

Delicious Dishes You Didn't Know You Could Make in a Slow Cooker

by Alan Henry

Delicious Dishes You Didn't Know You Could Make in a Slow Cooker

You’ve probably heard about slow cookers, and how they can save you time and money in the kitchen. Most people use them for slowly simmered soups, stews, and broths, which is great—but did you know you can make cheesecake in your slow cooker? What about barbecue ribs? Let's talk about some unexpected, delicious meals that are surprisingly slow cooker-friendly.



22 Jan 05:01

Black Forest Cheesecake

by Michelle

Black Forest Cheesecake by @browneyedbaker ::

Over the holidays, I enjoyed a couple of weeks off, and during that time I set a few goals for myself. I wanted to start the new year off on the right foot, and getting myself organized was far overdue. My goals were: (1) Clean up my email inbox; (2) File away all of my recipe clippings from magazines; and (3) Organize my side of the office. I’m happy to report that, as of last week, I managed check everything off of my list.

As I worked on task #2, I sifted through stacks and stacks of recipes that I had ripped out of magazines over the coarse of the last year, I came across not one, not two, but multiple recipes for black forest cheesecake. I’ve apparently had chocolate, cheesecake and cherries on the brain. Suddenly, I was craving a black forest cheesecake, but as I looked through the recipes I had saved, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with any of them. I decided to concoct my own version, and I have to say… this is utterly fantastic. Hands down, one of the best cheesecakes I’ve created. (Although really, I don’t think I’ve disliked a single cheesecake that I’ve made.)

Black Forest Cheesecake by @browneyedbaker ::

When I set out to make this recipe, I realized that I hadn’t ever made a basic chocolate cheesecake. Totally unfortunate, right?! They’re so good! I ended up adapting an Epicurious recipe for the chocolate cheesecake, and then finished it off with a homemade cherry pie filling topping. Since cherries aren’t in season here right now, I used frozen cherries, but you could certainly use fresh if you have them available to you.

Black Forest Cheesecake by @browneyedbaker ::

To say that this cheesecake was phenomenal would be an enormous understatement. I am 100% partial to cheesecakes with an Oreo crust, pretty much no matter what the cheesecake flavor is. Add to that a very tall chocolate cheesecake, a thick border of cream cheese-spiked whipped cream frosting, and then, of course, the cherries. Everyone who had this was absolutely enamored with it.

Black Forest Cheesecake by @browneyedbaker ::

This is rich, make no mistake, and it’s worth savoring every single bite. Grab a cup of coffee and be sure to linger over a piece of this cheesecake.

This cheesecake should be a lesson to me to keep myself organized going forward!

Black Forest Cheesecake by @browneyedbaker ::

One year ago: DIY: American Cheese
Two years ago: Chipped Ham BBQ Sandwiches
Three years ago: S’more Nut Bars
Six years ago: Perfection Pound Cake

Black Forest Cheesecake

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 12 hours

Creamy chocolate cheesecake on an Oreo crust, topped with sweetened whipped cream and homemade cherry pie filling.


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

For the Cheesecake:
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1¼ cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 eggs, at room temperature

For the Cherry Topping:
24 ounces frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed
¼ cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the Whipped Cream:
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch round springform pan; set aside.

2. Make the Crust: Process the cookies and sugar in a food processor until ground into fine crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse until the mixture is evenly moistened. (If you do not have a food processor, you can place the cookies in a zip-top bag and crush into crumbs with a rolling pin, then transfer to a bowl and stir in the sugar and melted butter.) Press the crumb mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake until the crust is set, about 8 minutes. Set on a cooling rack while the filling is prepared.

3. Make the Filling: Place the chopped chocolate in a metal bowl and set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Remove bowl from the saucepan and allow chocolate to cool to room temperature.

4. Meanwhile, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar and cocoa powder together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl before adding another. Add the cooled, melted chocolate and beat until just combined. Using a rubber spatula to give it a final mix (the batter will be on the thick side) and pour the filling over the crust, smoothing the top into an even layer.

5. Bake until the center just barely wiggles when moved and the top looks dry, about 1 hour. Cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen. Transfer the cheesecake to the refrigerator and chill, uncovered, overnight.

6. Make the Cherry Topping: Drain off ¼ cup of juice from the thawed cherries and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the cherries (and any remaining juice), sugar and salt over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches a boil, about 5 to 10 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the reserved cherry juice and cornstarch, and add it to the cherry mixture. Stir constantly until thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and chill until ready to use, at least 1 hour.

7. Make the Whipped Cream: On medium speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixer with the whisk attachment until smooth and completely combined, about 3 minutes. Slowly add the heavy cream, scrape the sides of the bowl, then increase speed to medium-high and whip until stiff peaks form.

8. Finish the Cheesecake: When ready to serve, remove the sides of the springform pan and place the cheesecake on a serving platter. Using a pastry bag with a decorating tip, pipe a border of whipped cream around the top edge of the cheesecake. Spoon the cherry pie filling into the center. Garnish with chocolate shavings, if desired. Leftover cheesecake can be stored, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

31 Dec 05:01

The Best of Brown Eyed Baker in 2013: 20 of My Favorite Recipes

by Michelle

The Best of Brown Eyed Baker in 2013: 20 of My Favorite Recipes

Yesterday, I shared my annual roundup of the 10 most popular recipes on Brown Eyed Baker that were made during 2013. While many of those on that list were my favorites, there were also a ton of recipes that I fell in love with this year that didn’t make the cut. I want to share my personal favorites with you that weren’t on the previous list, so I put together this follow-up roundup, which features 20 of my favorites from 2013 – 10 sweet and 10 savory. It was agonizing to pare this list down; there are so many more recipes I want to include! (Please note the three honorable mentions at the end, as well!) These are the recipes that I made over and over, tried to hide from others, and cried when they were gone. Enjoy browsing the list, and feel free to share any recipe requests for 2014 in the comments below!

 (The recipes are listed in chronological order, January through December.)

Savory Recipes

1. Soft Pretzels

Soft Pretzels

2. All-American Beef Chili

All-American Beef Chili

3. Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese

4. Guinness Beef Stew

Guinness Beef Stew

5. Coconut Shrimp with Mango Dipping Sauce

Coconut Shrimp with Mango Dipping Sauce

6. Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

Buttermilk Biscuits with Sausage Gravy

7. Veggie Pizza Appetizer

Veggie Pizza Appetizer

8. Pesto Chicken Salad

Pesto Chicken Salad

9. Frito Pie

Frito Pie

10. Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

Sausage Cornbread Stuffing


Sweet Recipes

1. Buckeye Brownies

Buckeye Brownies

2. Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Chocolate Sugar Cookies

3. Six-Layer Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Filling & Malted Chocolate Frosting

Six-Layer Chocolate Cake with Toasted Marshmallow Filling & Malted Chocolate Frosting

4. Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Buckle

5. Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

Toasted Coconut Dark Chocolate Chunk Ice Cream

6. Apricot Cream Cheese Babka

Apricot Cream Cheese Babka

7. Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

8. Cinnamon Babka

Cinnamon Babka

9. Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

10. Pumpkin-Gingerbread Trifle

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Honorable Mentions:

It was incredibly hard to narrow down these lists, so here are a few more runner-up recipes from the short list!

Strawberry Pimm’s Cup Cocktail

Strawberry Pimm’s Cup Cocktail

Thin Crust Pizza

Thin Crust Pizza

Frozen Brownie Sundae

Frozen Brownie Sundae

Do you have any recipe requests for Brown Eyed Baker in 2014? Share them below!

30 Dec 05:01

The Best of Brown Eyed Baker in 2013: The 10 Most Popular Recipes

by Michelle

The Best of Brown Eyed Baker in 2013: The 10 Most Popular Recipes

As 2013 winds to a close, it’s time for the annual roundup of the most popular recipes that were posted during the year. It wouldn’t be an end-of-year celebration without it! As usual, there were a variety of treats that made the list, but this was definitely the year of cake, cheesecake, DIY recipes and spicy dishes. I always look forward to putting this list together and uncovering which of the recipes were among the reader favorites for the year. So much fun! Enjoy the little trip down the foodie memory lane; perhaps you’ll even uncover a recipe you missed or forgot about it!

(View roundups from previous years here: 201220112010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.)

10. Homemade Nutella

DIY: Homemade Nutella

9. Oreo Cheesecake Bars

Oreo Cheesecake Bars

8. Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken

7. Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes

6. Homemade Baileys Irish Cream

Homemade Baileys Irish Cream

5. Snickers Cake

Snickers Cake

4. Better Than “Anything” Cake

Better Than “Anything” Cake

3. New York-Style Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberry Topping

New York-Style Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberry Topping

2. Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

And now, the most popular recipe posted on Brown Eyed Baker during 2013…

:: drum roll ::

1. Chipotle Chicken and Corn Chowder

Chipotle Chicken and Corn Chowder

Stay tuned… tomorrow I’ll be sharing a list of my favorite recipes from 2013 that didn’t make the list above!

What was your favorite recipe on Brown Eyed Baker during 2013??

28 Dec 23:08

Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs

by Beth M

The reign of sriracha is not over yet. The price for a bottle of this magic sauce remains stable at my local grocery store, so panic is averted for now.

I fell in love with chicken thighs a while back when I made the Maple Dijon Chicken Thighs. They’re super easy to cook, usually quite inexpensive, and always juicy and tender. For boneless, skinless chicken thighs all you have to do is add some sauce and pop them in the oven. A little while later you have an easy to eat and very delicious meat. That’s all I want—easy, delicious, inexpensive.

For this honey sriracha version, I’ve mixed up a marinade/sauce of the basic goodies: garlic, ginger, soy sauce, honey, and brown sugar. I used half brown sugar and half honey to cut costs, but if cost is not your concern, use all honey and no brown sugar. The end product is sweet, spicy, and full of flavor. Plus the thighs are tender and juicy as always. I’ve been eating this all week  over a bed of jasmine rice with a few florets of broccoli.  When I’m leaving for work in the morning I add all three to a container (the broccoli is frozen, from a bag in the freezer) and then they all reheat together in the microwave at lunch time. It’s the perfect little inexpensive and filling lunch!

Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs

Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs

4.8 from 12 reviews
Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $7.29
Cost Per Serving: $1.22
Serves: 6 (1 thigh each)
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (6 pcs) $5.98
  • 2 cloves garlic $0.16
  • 1 inch fresh ginger $0.11
  • 2 Tbsp sriracha hot sauce $0.17
  • 1½ Tbsp soy sauce $0.15
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar $0.11
  • 2 Tbsp honey $0.24
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar $0.03
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil $0.02
  • ½ cup water $0.00
  • 2 Tbsp corn starch $0.12
  • ¼ bunch cilantro (or green onions) $0.20
  1. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger into a bowl. Add the sriracha, soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, brown sugar, vegetable oil, and water. Stir to combine. Add the corn starch and stir until dissolved.
  2. Add the chicken thighs to a large zip top bag or a shallow dish. Add half of the marinade/sauce mixture to the chicken and toss to coat (be sure to stir the sauce before adding it to the chicken. The garlic, ginger, and corn starch tend to settle to the bottom.) Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Save the unused portion of the marinade for later.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the chicken and its marinade to a 8×8 inch casserole dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, basting the chicken with the juices half way through.
  4. While the chicken is baking, add the second reserved marinade (the half that wasn’t used with the chicken) to a small sauce pot. Bring it up to a simmer over medium heat while stirring. As soon as it reaches a simmer it will thicken into a nice glaze. Set the sauce aside.
  5. When the chicken is finished baking, spread the thickened sauce over each piece of chicken. Add fresh cilantro or sliced green onions and serve.


Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs

I like to add a few spears of broccoli to this dish to make a complete meal!

Step by Step Photos


Mince two cloves of garlic and grate one inch of fresh ginger on a small holed cheese grater. Add them to a bowl along with 2 Tbsp sriracha, 1.5 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar, 2 Tbsp honey, 2 Tbsp brown sugar, 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine.

Corn Starch

Add 2 Tbsp corn starch and stir until dissolved. 


Add half of the marinade mixture to a large zip top bag (or shallow dish) along with 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Toss to coat and then marinate for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Be sure to stir the marinade mixture well before pouring it into the bag because the garlic, ginger, and corn starch tend to settle to the bottom. Save the second half of the marinade for later.

Ready to Bake

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Add the marinated chicken thighs to a small casserole dish, along with all of the marinade from the bag. Bake for 30 minutes and baste the chicken half way through (either spoon the juices over top of each thigh or use a baster to squirt the liquid over top).

Thicken Sauce

Meanwhile, add the reserved half of the marinade (the half not used on the chicken) to a small sauce pot and bring it up to a simmer over medium heat. As soon as it reaches a simmer, the corn starch will begin to thicken the sauce until it becomes a nice glaze. Set the thickened sauce aside until the chicken is finished baking.

Baked Chicken Thighs

When they’re finished baking they look like this. Kind of naked, huh? That’s why we saved half of the sauce! :D

Sauce up Thighs

Sauce them thighs up! (Just use a spoon to spread some of the sauce over each thigh.)

Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs

Add a little greenery to freshen it up (cilantro or sliced green onions) and you’re ready to serve! Like I said earlier, I’ve been eating this in a bowl with jasmine rice and a little broccoli. So good—So easy.

The post Honey Sriracha Chicken Thighs appeared first on Budget Bytes.

24 Dec 05:13

Slow Cooker Sausage, Hash Brown & Cheddar Breakfast Casserole

by Michelle

Slow Cooker Sausage, Hash Brown & Cheddar Breakfast Casserole by @browneyedbaker ::

Merry Christmas Eve!

I wanted to share one more recipe with you before the holiday because I loved this so, so much last year. Growing up, we always, always, always went to church on Christmas Eve. My parents were big advocates of relaxing, lazy Christmas mornings. We could sleep in, take our time opening presents, my mom would cook breakfast, and we could hang out in our pajamas playing with our new toys until it was time to go to my grandma’s. There was no rush to hurry up and get ready for church, and I always loved that. As a grown up, I still love having relaxing, laid back Christmas mornings, and something warm for breakfast is an absolute must. I made this overnight breakfast casserole at my mom’s last year, and after we woke up and opened our presents, my mom, sister and I dug into the Crock-Pot for a wonderful warm breakfast that had cooked itself and was waiting for us!

Slow Cooker Sausage, Hash Brown & Cheddar Breakfast Casserole by @browneyedbaker ::

I had cooked the sausage, shredded the cheese, and sliced the onions early in the morning on Christmas Eve, and had just stored them in the refrigerator until later that night. Before bed, I layered everything together in the Crock-Pot, turned it on and went to bed. I woke up to such a delicious smell, and I couldn’t wait to eat. This turns out to be a massive baked omelet with layers of breakfast sausage, hash browns, cheddar cheese and green onions. The edges get a little crusty, and I would be lying if I denied standing over the Crock-Pot, picking off all of the crusty pieces and piling them on my plate. So good!

This is a great casserole, especially if you have particularly busy Christmas mornings and want a warm breakfast. It’s also great if you have lazy, relaxing Christmas mornings and just want more time to play with your toys instead of standing in the kitchen :)

Slow Cooker Sausage, Hash Brown & Cheddar Breakfast Casserole by @browneyedbaker ::

I wish you a wonderful, warm Christmas Eve with those you love.

One year ago: Bourbon Slush
Two years ago: Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts and Pimento Cheese Ball
Three years ago: Date, Coconut & Walnut Truffles
Five years ago: Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Slow Cooker Sausage, Hash Brown & Cheddar Breakfast Casserole

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 6 to 8 hours

Total Time: 8 hours 30 minutes

An easy overnight breakfast casserole that can be made in your slow cooker with layers of hash browns, cheese, and breakfast sausage.


32 ounces frozen shredded hashbrowns
16 ounces breakfast sausage, cooked and crumbled
6 green onions, finely chopped
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
12 eggs
¼ cup milk
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
Additional salt and pepper to season the hash brown layers


1. Grease the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Layer ⅓ of the hashbrowns on the bottom, then season with salt and pepper. Top with ⅓ of the cooked sausage, then ⅓ each of the green onions and cheddar cheese. Repeat the layers two more times, ending with the cheese.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the top of the hash brown, sausage and cheese layers in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (the edges will brown). Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

(Recipe adapted from Seeded at the Table)

24 Nov 18:51

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

by Beth M

I’m all about the quick skillet meals this week because, let’s face it, when you’re in the home stretch towards Thanksgiving, you don’t really want to cook anything… but you still gotta eat.

This quick skillet combines the vibrant flavors of basil pesto with tangy cream cheese to make a rich sauce that smothers the pasta, chicken, and broccoli. The pesto provides all the garlic and herbal flavor needed, so there’s no need to even dice an onion, mince garlic, or measure out herbs and spices—it’s already in the sauce! The whole dish cooks very quickly so you can have this one on the dinner table in about 30 minutes.

If you’re not into cream cheese, you can make this dish simply by substituting the chicken broth and cream cheese with a little half an half (1/2 cup or so). Just pour the half and half right into the skillet with the pesto and whisk until smooth. The sauce will be a little thinner, but it will have a distinctly creamy (and not so tangy) flavor. You may want to add an extra pinch of salt to make up for the chicken broth.

This can also easily be made vegetarian. Use a little extra broccoli, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and you’re good to go!

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli

5.0 from 7 reviews
Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $5.10
Cost Per Serving: $1.25
Serves: 4
  • 8 oz. bow tie pasta $0.63
  • 8 oz. frozen broccoli florets $1.15
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1 large (3/4 lb.) chicken breast** $1.50
  • ⅓ cup basil pesto $1.00
  • ½ cup chicken broth** $0.07
  • 4 oz. cream cheese $0.50
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. Once it reaches a full boil, add the pasta and continue to boil until the pasta is tender (7-10 minutes). Once the pasta is tender, add the frozen broccoli florets to the water with the pasta and continue to cook for 60 seconds. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, thinly slice the chicken breast. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add the sliced chicken, and sauté until it is no longer pink (about 5 minutes).
  3. Add the pesto and chicken broth to the skillet. Stir to combine and allow it to come up to a simmer. Add the cream cheese in chunks and whisk it into the hot liquid until a smooth sauce forms.
  4. Add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir to coat it in the cream sauce.
** I buy my chicken breasts in value packs when they are on sale and freeze them for later use. The chicken broth is made from Better Than Bouillon brand soup base, which is less expensive than canned or boxed broths.


Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli


Step by Step Photos

Boil Pasta

First, cook 8 oz. of pasta according to the package directions (boil for 7-10 minutes, or until tender).

Frozen Broccoli

Once the pasta is tender, add 8 oz. of frozen broccoli to the pot of boiling water and continue to cook for 60 seconds. It’s okay if the frozen broccoli cools the water so much that it stops boiling. The hot water will thaw the broccoli just enough. Drain the pasta and broccoli in a colander.

Slice Chicken Breast

Meanwhile, slice one chicken breast (3/4 lb.) into very thin strips. I usually slice the breast across the grain and then lay each slice on their side and slice the thickness in half, too. And then if the pieces are long, I’ll cut the length in half. You want a lot of little pieces.

Cook Chicken

Cook the chicken breast in a large skillet with one tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat until it is no longer pink.


This is the pesto that I use. It is usually stocked in the pasta aisle and it is usually at least a dollar less per jar than any other brand. This is a national brand and I’ve seen it in several stores, so be sure to check to see if it’s available in your area. It’s a very good price!

Pesto and Broth

Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and 1/3 cup pesto to the skillet with the chicken and then stir until they’re combined.

Cream Cheese

Let the broth/pesto mixture heat up and then add 4 oz. cream cheese in chunks (this is actually only 2 oz., I decided to add more after I took the photo). Whisk the cream cheese into the hot liquid until it forms a creamy sauce.

Creamy Pesto Sauce

The cream cheese will look a little chunky as you begin to whisk it in, but keep whisking and it will eventually create a nice creamy sauce.

Pasta and Broccoli

Finally, add the cooked and drained pasta and broccoli to the skillet and stir until it is all coated in the creamy pesto sauce.

Creamy Pesto Pasta Close

And that’s that! So easy! If you like ranch flavored foods, I think this tangy, garlicky sauce almost tastes ranch-like. So yum!

The post Creamy Pesto Pasta with Chicken & Broccoli appeared first on Budget Bytes.

10 Nov 23:43

Oven Roasted Greek Stuffed Pitas

by Beth M

One of my all-time favorite recipes is Oven Fajitas. It’s easy, flavorful, and healthy. So, I decided to try the same concept with different flavors. For this version, I chose Greek inspired vegetables (bell pepper, eggplant, tomato, and red onion), drenched them in a lemon-garlic marinade, then topped the whole thing with feta and fresh parsley after roasting. I added one thinly sliced chicken breast for a little belly-filling power, but this could easily be made vegetarian (add mushrooms, asparagus, or artichokes maybe?).

Although the mix needs about an hour to roast in the oven, the hands-on preparation is very quick. I’ve kept the leftover mix in the refrigerator all week and have really enjoyed eating the pitas every day for lunch. I package the filling in a separate container, heat it quickly in the microwave, and then stuff it into a pita just before eating. …and sometimes I just ate the filling with a fork, because why not? :)

I set the serving size to a half-round pita pocket. Each one of those servings came out to just $1.37, but even if I was so hungry that I ate two (which may or may not have happened…) it’s still less than $3! Win!

Oven Roasted Greek Stuffed Pitas

Greek Stuffed Pitas

4.2 from 6 reviews
Oven Roasted Greek Stuffed Pitas
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Total Cost: $10.95
Cost Per Serving: $1.37
Serves: 8 (one half-round pocket each)
  • 1 medium red onion $0.95
  • 1 small eggplant $1.71
  • 2 roma tomatoes $0.55
  • 2 medium green bell peppers $1.58
  • 1 (3/4 lb.) chicken breast $1.75**
  • 4 cloves garlic $0.32
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil $0.48
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice $0.13
  • ½ Tbsp dried oregano $0.15
  • 1 tsp salt $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.05
  • 4 oz. feta cheese $1.74
  • ¼ bunch fresh parsley $0.19
  • 4 whole pita breads (8 half-round pockets) $1.33
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the red onion and bell pepper. Cut the eggplant and tomatoes into one-inch chunks. Place the red onion, bell pepper, eggplant, and tomatoes into a large 9×13 inch casserole dish. Slice the chicken into very thin strips and then add to the casserole dish with the vegetables.
  2. Mince the garlic and add it to a small bowl along with the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and a generous helping of freshly cracked pepper (20-30 cranks of a pepper mill). Stir to combine then pour over the chicken and vegetables. Toss until everything is well coated in the dressing.
  3. Roast the chicken and vegetables in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, stirring once every 20 minutes. After roasting, top with crumbled feta and roughly chopped fresh parsley. Stuff the mixture into the pita pockets and enjoy warm.
**I buy my chicken breast when they’re on sale and save them in my freezer for later.


Greek Stuffed Pitas

Step by Step Photos


I know, I know… there are four tomatoes in the picture. I intended to use four, but quickly realized that would be WAY too much, so I only used two. I also used one red onion, two green bell peppers, and one eggplant. 

Cut Vegetables

I sliced the onion and bell pepper into strips, and the tomato and eggplant into one-inch cubes. Place them all into a large 9×13 inch casserole dish. Oh yes, start preheating the oven to 400 degrees. It needs to be HOT.

Sliced chicken

Slice the chicken breast into very thin strips. Remember, the smaller the pieces, the more pieces you’ll have, and the more chicken will be in every bite (instead of one big piece every now and then). And yes, my price for chicken is extremely good. I only buy chicken breast when they’re on sale (usually for about $2/lb) and freeze it for later. 


Mince the garlic and stir it together with the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, salt, and a bunch of freshly cracked pepper. Red wine vinegar would also be super good in this if you don’t have lemon juice.

Ready to Cook

Pour the marinade over the chicken and vegetables, then toss it all together until everything is very well coated. Transfer the whole thing into the oven and come back 20 minutes later…

20 Minutes

Give everything a good stir after 20 minutes to redistribute the juices and help some of the moisture evaporate off, then put it back in the oven.

40 minutes

Give it another good stir at the 40 minute mark, then back in the oven it goes…

60 minutes

And then after a total of 60 minutes you’ve got some nice brown roasting action. Yummm….

Parsley and Feta

Let it sit for just a minute as you roughly chop some parsley and crumble the feta cheese. Add it to the meat and vegetables and then give it quick stir.

Finished Greek Stuffed Pitas

And now it’s ready to stuff into pitas and devour!

Greek Stuffed Pitas

Ohhhh yessss….

The post Oven Roasted Greek Stuffed Pitas appeared first on Budget Bytes.

07 Nov 15:07

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust

by Jennifer McHenry

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Pretzel Crust | Bake or Break

I love baking all kinds of desserts, from cookies to cakes and a whole lot in between. But, cheesecakes are special. I can think of few things that are as simple to make yet as impressive to serve. Just the sight of a cheesecake garners much excitement and praise. Recently, Philadelphia Cream Cheese asked if I would like to make […]

04 Nov 05:01

DIY: Homemade Vanilla Extract

by Michelle

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract by @browneyedbaker ::

I don’t know about you, but I go through vanilla extract like water. A couple of years ago, I stopped messing around with the small bottles from the grocery store and started buying the 32-ounce bottle from King Arthur Flour. SO much easier than going to the store at least once a week for an insanely overpriced small bottle! I’ve finally taken it the DIY route and made my own, which is ridiculously easy. All you need are some good vanilla beans, your favorite bottle of vodka, and a little bit of patience.

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract by @browneyedbaker ::

Actually making the extract could not be easier. All you need to do is slice up some vanilla beans, combine them with vodka, place in a jar, and… wait. The mixture needs to sit for at least six weeks to be infused, but is even better if you stand to wait a little longer, say a few months. The smell of fresh vanilla extract is positively intoxicating!

When you’re ready to use the extract (or want to give it as a gift), simply strain it through coffee filters or cheesecloth and fill clean bottles (I bought 4-ounce clear Boston round bottles from You could even drop a couple of vanilla bean pieces into a bottle to keep the infusion going, if you’d like.

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract by @browneyedbaker ::

Homemade vanilla extract is such a perfect gift, not only for the holidays, but also has a hostess gift. There are tons of free printable labels online, as well, to spruce up your bottle.

With Christmas a little less than two months away, now is the perfect time to get started on some homemade vanilla extract!

How to Make Homemade Vanilla Extract by @browneyedbaker ::

Two years ago: Macaroni and Cheese Casserole
Three years ago: Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Four years ago: Perfect Scrambled Eggs
Six years ago: Peanut Butter Dog Treats

DIY: Homemade Vanilla Extract

Yield: 8 ounces

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 6 to 10 weeks

Making your own vanilla extract could not be easier! Grab some vanilla beans, your favorite bottle of vodka and get started!


8 vanilla beans
1 cup vodka


1. Slice the vanilla beans in half lengthwise. Using the tip of the paring knife or a spoon, scrape out the seeds and transfer to a small saucepan. Cut the empty bean pods into 1-inch pieces and add them to the saucepan.

2. Add the vodka, cover and cook over medium-low heat until the mixture is hot and steaming, about 2 minutes. (Do not open the lid while the pot is over the flame or the alcohol will ignite.)

3. Pour the mixture into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and let cool to room temperature. Cover with the lid and store in a dark place for at least 6 weeks (the longer, the better!), shaking the jar gently once a week.

4. Line a fine-mesh strainer with 2 coffee filters or 2 layers of cheesecloth, and place over a liquid measuring cup. Strain the vanilla through the filters, then transfer from the measuring cup to a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. The vanilla extract will keep indefinitely at room temperature.

01 Nov 09:00

Baked Chicken Tenders {Gluten-Free}

by Faith


When I worked at a pizzeria during high school, one of my absolute favorite things to eat on break was a chicken finger (aka chicken tender) sub with blue cheese. Of course, being a kid and running around like a banshee during work (that pizzeria was always busy!) meant there weren’t ramifications for eating such an indulgent meal now and then (read: more often than not).

Just one of the fun (haha!) aspects of growing up is the fact that you can no longer eat everything you want with reckless abandon and expect it not to take its toll.

I still like chicken fingers, but now I like them a little healthier.


How about baked instead of deep-fried, grain and gluten-free, and even better tasting than the original? Not to mention that this meal comes together in just 30 minutes, making it perfect to throw together on a busy weeknight. While the chicken is in the oven you can throw together a salad, cut up carrot and celery sticks, or get out the fixings to make homemade subs/sandwiches/heros/hoagies/whatever you want to call them. Serve them with something like Homemade Buttermilk-Herb Dressing for dipping and what more could you want?

Just a heads-up, for this recipe, freshly grated Parmesan cheese must be used instead of pre-grated. This is because when you grate the Parmesan (preferably on a microplane, which grates the cheeese so it’s very fluffy), it gives the cheese quite a bit of volume, and we need it to coat all the tenders…not to mention, the flavor of fresh-grated is so much better!


Baked Chicken Tenders {Gluten-Free}

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Baked Chicken Tenders {Gluten-Free}


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 large egg + 1 large egg white
  • 2 tablespoons milk (any kind you like)
  • 1/2 cup (65 g) almond meal
  • 1 oz (30 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb (450 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 3 by 3/4-inch strips


  1. Preheat oven to 425F; drizzle 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on a large baking sheet and spread it around.
  2. Lightly beat together the egg, egg white, and milk in a shallow bowl.
  3. Stir together the almond meal, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian herb mix, paprika, salt, and black pepper in another shallow bowl.
  4. Dip each chicken strip first in the egg mixture, letting the excess drain off, and then in the almond meal mixture, lightly pressing the mixture into the chicken.
  5. Arrange the coated chicken on the prepared baking sheet so they’re not touching; drizzle the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil on top.
  6. Bake until the chicken is lightly browned and fully cooked (there should be no pink in the center when you cut into it), about 15 minutes, rotating the pan once. (If your chicken is fully cooked and you want it more browned, you can run it under the broiler for a couple minutes – but watch it closely because it can burn fast!)
  7. Serve with salad and/or carrot and celery sticks, or use the tenders to make a homemade chicken sub/sandwich/hero/hoagie.


Serving Suggestion: Homemade Buttermilk-Herb Dressing is perfect for dipping!

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30 Oct 08:00

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon

by Iowa Girl Eats

***IGE will be moving servers on Thursday, October 31. It may take up to 72 hours to use the site as usual, including leaving comments/questions. Thank you for your patience!***

Call me crazy – go ahead, we’ll wait – but I always seem to forget about salmon as an easy dinner option, which is unfortunate because it really is the perfect protein. Quick cooking, full of essential omega-3 fatty acids, delicious, and fresh tasting. Did I mention it’s quick cooking?

Crispy Asian Baked Salmon is the definition of elegant and mouthwatering, yet it bakes in just 10 minutes. 10 minutes! It takes me longer to assemble my morning cup of joe! Between brewing a Costco-brand Breakfast Blend K-cup (which I will be enjoying for the next year because, well, Costco,) stirring in a splash of So Delicious Coconut Milk French Vanilla Creamer (so good) and fitting in a baby smooch or 600, it’s easily 15 minutes later before I’m enjoying my first sip.

Hollar if you hear me!

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

Anywho, Ben and I picked up half a wild-caught salmon at the aforementioned Costco a few weeks ago, which comes pre-skinned and ready to go. So convenient. I like to cut it into individual fillets then pop them in the freezer to thaw for easy, healthy weeknight meals.

One way I really like them is simply seasoned with garlic salt and pepper then sauteed and set atop a Caesar Salad. Another preparation I’m just dying over as of late is this here Crispy Baked Asian Salmon.

An Asian-inspired sauce including almond butter, soy sauce, mirin, lime juice, and garlic is slathered on top of a fresh salmon filet, topped with a sesame seed and panko bread crumb crust, then quickly baked until golden brown and audible crunchy. This preparation of salmon honest to goodness could not be easier or more delicious.

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

Finish with a drizzle of fresh lime juice and serve with roasted asparagus, which cooks at the same temp and time as the salmon, and dinner is on the table in 20 minutes. You’ll look like a gourmet chef but only we’ll know how easy this was to prepare!

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

Start by patting 4, 5-6oz salmon fillets dry with a paper towel then lightly season both sides with salt and pepper.

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

Next get the Asian-inspired sauce ready. Many of these ingredients are pantry staples – the only ones you might not have on hand are chili garlic sauce (I used China Bowl Select brand,) and mirin, which is a sweet Japanese cooking wine. If you can’t find mirin next to the soy sauce at the grocery store, you could sub in sake, reisling, or 2 teaspoons sugar dissolved in 1 Tablespoon hot water.

Feeling annoyed about buying an entire bottle of mirin for just one recipe? Use the rest in:

Kale Fried Rice 

Broccoli Beef

Kung Pao Chicken Burgers

Sizzling Asian Steak Salad

Yoshinoya Beef Bowls

That should do it!

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

Add the sauce ingredients including chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, ground ginger, fresh lime juice, garlic, almond butter (could use peanut butter,) and mirin to a bowl then stir until well combined. Let it rest for 5 minutes to thicken up.

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

While the sauce is thickening, make the crunchy crust that goes on top. Combine 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs with 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds, and 2 teaspoons each sesame oil and extra virgin olive oil in a bowl.

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

BTW, panko bread crumbs are crispy, airy bread crumbs that give foods an audible CRUNCH. So good – the’re my bread crumb of choice. : )

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

Ok. Slather the top of the salmon fillets with a scoop of the sauce…

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

Then spoon on the panko bread crumb mixture and smooth with the back of a spoon.

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

Bake for 8-12 minutes (depending on the thickness of your fillet) at 400 degrees, or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and salmon is cooked, then let rest for a few minutes and enjoy!

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon

Print this recipe!

Serves 4

4 salmon fillets (5-6oz each)
salt and pepper
1-1/2 Tablespoons almond butter (could use peanut butter)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 Tablespoon mirin
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, microplaned or minced
1/2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (I used China Bowl Select brand)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
fresh lime wedges, for squeezing


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil then spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a small bowl add almond butter, soy sauce, mirin, lime juice, garlic, chili garlic sauce, and ground ginger. Stir until smooth then let sit for 5 minutes to thicken.
  3. In another small bowl add panko bread crumbs, sesame seeds, sesame oil, and extra virgin olive oil. Stir until well combined.
  4. Pat salmon fillets dry with a paper towel then lightly season both sides with salt and pepper and place on prepared baking sheet. Dollop a quarter of the almond butter mixture on top of each salmon fillet then spread with the back of a spoon. Spoon a quarter of the panko bread crumb mixture on top of each fillet. Bake for 8-12 minutes or until panko bread crumbs are golden brown, and salmon is cooked through. Let rest for 3-4 minutes before serving with fresh lime wedges for squeezing on top.

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

I squeezed a fresh lime wedge over the top of my salmon, which was divine. The pop of citrus against the savory sesame-soy-almond butter sauce was incredible!

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |

About that asparagus – just toss trimmed asparagus stalks with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper then place on a foil-lined baking dish and bake alongside the salmon. Should be perfectly crisp-tender by the time the salmon is done. Enjoy!

Crispy Baked Asian Salmon |