Saturday, March 3, 2012

Savory Saturday: Kiwi Salsa

Is it really still winter? I'm definitely not used to this.  In Phoenix, the beginning of March is filled with beautiful 80 degree days... perfection.  In Portland? Rain. Cold. Repeat.  Since the weather isn't cooperating with my need for spring, I made a quick little salsa that did the trick.  Pair this baby with a margarita, some chips and guac and you'll think you're on a mini-vacation.

To bulk it up even more, I topped grilled salmon tacos with the Kiwi Salsa.  Good choice. Definitely take the time to fry up some corn tortillas - the crunch is a great contrast to the fish, fruit and guacamole.

Kiwi Salsa
Recipe adapted slightly from Jessica at How Sweet Eats 

4 kiwi, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, very finely minced (use 1/2 if you like it mild!)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
generous squeeze of fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients and stir gently.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  
Eat over tacos, with chips, or just by the spoonful!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thursday Things: Happy March!

Looks like I missed a couple of days of blogging, huh?  I promise I have a good excuse! I took the little boys back home to Phoenix for a long weekend trip to see their grandparents.  We had a fabulous time, and it really made me long to move our little family back there.  As happy as we have been in Portland/Vancouver... it just isn't the same as home, you know?  

This week, I have a bunch of wonderful things to share with you, starting with a super-duper cute music video by my favoritest singer in whole world.  Yes, I'm aware that favoritest isn't a word. But it should be, so I'm using it.  Not only is the song absolutely precious, but the video is so. stinkin'. sweet.  And, you know what?  JJ and her husband, Dave filmed this - in their own living room - in 3 days.  That is some seriously talent.  If you have never heard of JJ Heller's music, please take a second to check out her gorgeous songs via spotify, itunes, or youtube.  I hope you love this as much as I do!

Do you have a baby? I do! And he loves to eat. all. the time.  I know that feeding a baby isn't exactly rocket science, but any little gadget that makes mealtime easier is worth a try.  I'm usually on my own with the two boys at dinnertime, and trying to use both hands to feed Charlie makes it nearly impossible to feed myself. And feeding myself is darn important. This handy-dandy little spoon contraption is awesome and lets me do a one-handed feeding. Yippee! I get to eat my own dinner before it is totally lukewarm. Win-win!

And these? Even stay-at-home moms need cute shoes, right?  Even if they run the risk of getting covered in spit-up and baby food...

Source: via Laura on Pinterest

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday Treats: Flourless Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mmmm... cookies.  Oreos, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, macaroons.  There really isn't a cookie I've met that I haven't wanted to cozy up to.  This little gluten-free number is no exception.  Be warned: it is super rich and fabulously decadent, though it still has a light crunch from the egg whites.  Get yourself a big glass of milk to wash these babies down!

Flourless Fudge Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe from The Recipe Girl
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies

3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 to 4 egg whites, at room temperature
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line two baking sheets with lightly greased parchment paper (or use silpats). 

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients until well combined.  Whisk in 2 egg whites and vanilla extract.  Mix (I use a hand mixer) until just blended.  You want the batter to be brownie-like: a thick and fudgy consistency.  If it is too thick, add more egg whites, one at a time.  Do not overmix.

Spoon batter onto prepared baking sheets.  Bake approximately 14 minutes, until tops are glossy and beginning to crack.  Slide silpat/parchment paper onto wire racks.  Let cookies cool completely before removing from parchment paper.  The cookies will keep for about 3 days in an airtight container (if you don't eat them first!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Savory Saturday: Caribbean Black Beans and Rice

My husband is a pretty simple guy - give him some rice and beans for dinner, and he is a happy man.  Give him this amped-up version and he ends up cleaning the kitchen afterwards because he's so thankful (and let me tell you, that doesn't happen often!).  This recipe is super simple, fast, and easy to double.  I often make an extra portion so we have leftovers for another night of the week because we usually don't have a single bite left after the Mr. gets done with this meal!

Most of the ingredients are pantry staples in my house, which makes this a great weeknight meal.  If you don't happen to have fresh cilantro on hand, send someone to the store - it really makes this dish sing!  You'll thank me later, after you've had a bite and it starts singing an awesome Caribbean tune to you.  I love this meal served with a side of gooey quesadillas or a handful of tortilla chips, and leftovers make a delicious burrito filling.  So many possibilities!

Caribbean Black Beans and Rice
adapted from The Eating Well Rush Hour Cookbook

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup rice (I use brown basmati, but use whatever you have on hand)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 12oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into thin strips
1 bell pepper (whatever color you like!), cut into short thin strips
1/2 to1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
10 or so dashes Tabasco sauce
large handful of chopped cilantro

Combine stock and rice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer until rice is tender and stock has been absorbed.  (Time will depend on the rice you are using. My brown basmati rice takes about 25-30 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add all peppers and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes.  Add beans, vinegar and Tabasco sauce.  Saute for 1-2 minutes, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Stir in rice (or serve over rice) and add cilantro.  Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday Things

Oooo! My very first "Thursday Things" post!  I follow a handful of bloggers who have a similar weekly post, and I always look forward to reading them.  They are always full of fun ideas, things that I want to (and shouldn't) buy, and inspiration for projects.  

Things that I'm loving this week:

Being that this is the week of all things pink, red, and covered in hearts - I had to put this on my list! I mean, seriously! How darn adorable is that? Cupcakes are great.  Cupcakes in a jar?  Ah-MAY-zing!  Will you make me one? Please?

Oh my heavens, this stuff is fabulous. I knew at first glance that I had to make it, and yesterday I finally did. My hands have never been smoother! It is super easy to throw together (I'll be posting a how-to in the next week or please click the link to the original "recipe") and smells delicious. A perfect hostess gift... or you can indulge yourself and keep it for YOU!

Pink. Pretty. Mint. Raspberries. What more could you ask for? What? A shot of rum? Well... okay! But only because you insisted.

What are you loving this week?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday Treats: Valentine's Day Edition

Snap, crackle, pop. Oh, yeah... a little throwback to your childhood (or mine. If you didn't have a cool mom who made you rice crispy treats, then I'm sorry).  Now, let's be honest - all the best desserts have gluten. Sad for my little family.  I'm a big fan of flour-laden cupcakes and cookies, but for the other two eaters in my house, I cook gluten-free.  Enter Valentine's Day: what in the world do you do when your kid goes to school and they have a dietary restriction?? Answer: you back lots of rice crispy treats.  You bake enough so the whole class gets them and your kid doesn't feel sad that he missed out on cupcakes... again.  Little side note: most rice crisp cereals DO have gluten (in the form of barley malt), so be a good label reader if you have food sensitivities.  I found a GF-version of Kellog's Rice Crispies at Fred Meyers (Fry's) and Whole Foods has a different GF brand, as well.  All you have to do to make them holiday-party ready is to toss a handful of m&ms on top before you smoosh the marshmallow/cereal mixture totally flat in the pan... throw a bunch of sprinkles on top, and the kids will love it!

Rice Crispy Treats

1/4 cup butter
6 cups marshmallows
8 1/2 cup rice crispy cereal
optional: m&ms and sprinkles

Melt butter in a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  When butter is completely melted, add marshmallows and stir constantly until mixture is totally smooth.  Add cereal and stir, stir, stir until it is mixed evenly.  Pour mixture into a lightly oiled 9x13" pan.  If adding m&ms, scatter them on top of mixture, then press mixture firmly into the pan, creating a smooth top.  
Helpful hint: use a piece of parchment paper to help you smoosh the mixture down so it doesn't stick to your hands.


Ohhh! Guess what?! You get TWO awesome (and super easy) recipes this week.  I obviously {heart} you.  Carter and I made these easy little treats for his lovely teacher.  Hopefully she's not weirded out by homemade treats like I was when I was teaching... 

Valentine's Day Pretzel Candy Bites

small pretzels (squares or traditional shape)
1 package of Hershey's Hugs (or kisses!)
1 package of m&ms - fun holiday colors preferred!

Preheat oven to 200.  Lay pretzels on a silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet (I made about 35 on one cookie sheet).  Place unwrapped Hug in the middle of each pretzel.  Pop into the oven for 3-4 minutes.  SET YOUR TIMER!  Seriously.  If you leave them even a minute too long, you'll have a pool of chocolate and it won't be so pretty.

Remove from the oven as soon as chocolate is soft enough to squish down when you press the m&m onto the top.  Once all m&ms are squished into their little chocolate nests, put the cookie sheet into the refrigerator until candies have completely cooled.  Remove cooled candies from cookie sheet and keep in an airtight container or eat right away!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Savory Saturday: Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

If you've been reading this blog for very long, you must think I'm a vegetarian.  I'm actually not.  Seriously, I have proof: my twitter name is @lauralovesBACON - but my husband is a wanna-be veg-head.  Due to his job (he has the arduous task of constantly taking people out to eat... he might do more than just that, but who knows what!), he has to eat meat occasionally, so when he's at home, he prefers to eat meat-free.  This was a HUGE transition for me.  I love me some burgers and fried chicken and bacon.  Preferably all on the same plate with a side of sausage.  So, when this whole vegetarian thing started, I was sort of at a loss for meals.  Thankfully, the internet is my friend, and I now have more veggie-focused meals than I could have imagined.  This particular entree is a definite favorite of mine.  I love enchiladas in any form, and the potato/black bean mixture makes them hearty and filling, but not heavy or greasy like enchiladas often are.  Even if you usually eat a hunk o' meat at every meal, you'll still love these... promise.

Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

originally adapted and posted by me on 

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, diced small
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 jar chili-verde salsa
1 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup frozen corn
1 (15.5 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 (12 ounce) package Mexican cheese blend (cheddar or pepperjack are also great)
2 (12 ounce) packages corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss diced potatoes together with cumin, chili powder, salt, and ketchup in a bowl.  Mix until potatoes are evenly coated with spices, then place on a lightly oiled baking dish.  Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, heat saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and saute bell peppers and onion until they begin to soften.  Add corn and continue sauteing for 2-3 minutes.  Remove from heat, then add beans and potatoes.  Stir well to combine.

To assemble: Spread a thin layer of salsa on the bottom of a 9x13 or two 8x8 baking dishes. Layer with corn tortillas, slightly overlapping.  Top tortillas with 1/2 of the bean and potato mixture.  Sprinkle liberally with cilantro and 1/3 of the cheese.

Add another later of tortillas, salsa, bean mixture, cilantro, and cheese.  Finish with one more layer or tortillas, salsa and cover with remaining cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes, until hot and cheese is bubbling.  Sprinkle with remaining cilantro just before serving.  Guacamole or sour cream on the side would be an excellent idea!