Oatmeal Cookie Granola

22 Nov IMG_6722

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So I realize to many, granola is not the most exciting thing. To those people I say, you need to try THIS granola.

Now, I’ve posted a previous granola recipe on here (which I still thoroughly enjoy and still recommend), but this is granola with a different sort of twist – sweet and kicked up a notch, with different crunch, different flavors (hello again, browned butter) and CHOCOLATE. Yes, there is chocolate in this granola and I know it shouldn’t be my favorite part as at the heart of it all, granola is supposed to be “healthy-ish” (right?!)…but it is. I’m not even sorry about it.

I made this a few weeks back and our apartment smelled soooooooo good. I would make this solely to make my apartment smell like THAT again. If for nothing else, make this to infuse your home with smells of cookies, oatmeal, and browned butter.

Gah.

So. Delish.

Ironic choice of words (and still true words) as this recipe is from Seriously Delish, the cookbook I’ve raved about a few times (the Baked Oatmeal from a few posts back is from here too). I want to make just about every recipe in this cookbook, so this will NOT be the last time you read about it on this blog. Jessica wrote a masterpiece that has the right amount of creativity, taste, coziness AND her hilarious commentary throughout; it’s the perfect cookbook compliment to her blog How Sweet Eats. I’ve read Seriously Delish cover to cover a few times. (P.S. is that weird? I read cookbooks cover to cover. Ok, ok. Yes, that’s weird. Please reserve your judgment.)

So about that granola…

…here we go, in a recipe adapted from Jessica’s recipe in Seriously Delish.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 c old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 c slivered almonds (other nuts would work great – pecans or walnuts, etc.)
  • 1/2 cup whole flaxseed (you can do ground flaxseed too)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, browned
  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c  – 1/2 c semi-sweet mini chocolate chips (sprinkle in as much extra chocolate-y ‘sweet’ as you want!)

How to Make:

This is super simple guys, you can whip it up in no time. Whether you do this the morning you plan to enjoy it for breakfast (it’s excellent with some Greek yogurt) or make it the night before.

Before you start mixing, preheat your oven to 325 and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Set the cookie sheet away for now and locate a large bowl. Now to mix!

In said large bowl, combine the oats…

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…slivered almonds…

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…flaxseed (and I went with whole flax seeds to add some extra texture and crunch, but you can use ground flaxseed if you prefer too)…

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…brown sugar…

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…cinnamon…

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…sprinkling of salt…

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…then stir that all together and set aside. On to the liquids!

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The liquids will all get poured into a saucepan over low heat. Start with the honey…

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…then the coconut oil…

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…and then vanilla.

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Before adding in the butter, you want to brown this up. In a separate small saucepan, melt down the butter over medium/low heat, whisking continually until wonderful brown flecks appear on the bottom of the pan.

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Once it’s at that point, remove from heat and pour it in with the rest of the liquids.

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This liquid concoction smells like HEAVEN right now. Take a moment to take a deep breath in and savor that.

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Sigh.

Ok, now all that’s left is to mix up those liquids in with the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to mix everything and ensure all of the dry ingredients are coated.

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Spread this out on the parchment paper and pop it in the oven. Bake for 3o minutes, stopping to stir at the 10 min, 20 min and 25 min marks. Stir again at the end when you pull it out. The granola should be golden brown and have succeeded in filling your kitchen with delicious smells. (See the pics below to see how this darkens over the cooking time.)

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But wait! As you recall, we have one last ingredient to add in…mini chocolate chip time.

Let the granola cool for a bit before sprinkling the chocolate over the top. To cool, I used the parchment paper to lift the granola out of the pan and set the parchment paper on the counter. Once the granola has cooled for about 15 minutes, I sprinkled the mini chocolate chips throughout the granola and let the chocolate melt a bit (as the granola is still warm). But, I let the granola cool for an hour or two with the chocolate chips.

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I just scooped this it into Tupperware to store. It’s been delicious on ice cream for a sweet and crunchy dessert or mixed with Greek yogurt for a fancy (but easy) breakfast. It’s also great all by itself for a snack.

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Hope you guys give this a try, let me know what you think! And definitely encourage you to get creative and add any other little tidbits to the granola (ideas: spices [nutmeg], nuts [pecans or walnuts], dried fruit, etc.).

To print off this recipe for easy reference in the future, click here

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Thanksgiving Giveaway – Winners Announced!!

16 Nov

The time for the Thanksgiving Giveaway has opened and closed, and it is now the 12:01 – 12:17 PM time slot, so it is tiiiiimmmmeeeee to announce who has won! (We may have recently watched Lion King in this apartment so any time I write “It is timmmeee!” please say this to yourself in your best Rafiki voice. Cool. Thanks.)

We had 77 entrants vying for the chance to receive a box o’ goodies (can I just say how awesome it is to have 77 of you following?!? You guys are the BEST!!).

Drumroll………………………………

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Winner #1: Andi Moody

Winner #2: Ellen Nieman

Winner #3: Cyndi Billings

CONGRATS!! THREE CHEERS!! HUZZAHHHH!!!

Very excited to concoct boxes for these folks and send off my ‘Thanks!’ / by ‘Giving’ boxes to each of you. I will be emailing each of you to confirm your mailing address and what you would like baked and sent to you!

And with that….the third round of the S&B Giveaway series is complete! Well, sort of. I have to bake / make / create / pack / mail everything now. But that’s the fun part, second of course to the moment you all get when you open your package and enjoy the boxes o’ treats.

As I did last time, I’ll do a post on the Giveaway boxes’ contents so you’re able to see the lovely goodies and get excited for the next one. I would love to do another one around the end of the year, as a final holiday season Giveaway. This one may just be two winners but would likely have more contents in the boxes, we shall see.

With that – wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday! I’m off to the dog park with Luke to run around with our puppy Winnie (I’ll have to show you a picture of her in a future post, she’s ridiculously cute and loves to hang out around my feet while I’m in the kitchen) before football this afternoon.

Cheers!!

Thanksgiving Giveaway!!

14 Nov

As promised, it is time! Giveaway time that is. Now for anyone new to the S&B Giveaway concept, it’s pretty darn simple. And you can win some pretty awesome treats, delivered right to your door via mail and baked with love and some funky dance moves from yours truly. There have been two past Giveaways and you can read about the lucky winners and their boxes o’ winnings here and here.

S&B Thanksgiving Giveaway:

Who/Why: Because it’s the time of year when we all take a step back and think about all of the various blessings we have to be thankful for, I want you all to know how thankful I am for YOU. This blog would just be an awkward food-picture filled diary without you all to read, comment, like, try out recipes and keep the dialogue a two-way street. It’s the best when one of you tell me that you’ve made a recipe and  you / your family / your friends etc. enjoyed it. To show you all my appreciation, there will be THREE lucky winners!!!

What: A fun-filled box of goodies could arrive at YOUR door. It will cost $0. And there will be enough treats in your box to share with family and friends OR if you must, you could hoard it all for yourself. But c’mon, it’s the holidays and show your love for others with a little sharing. :)

What will be in said box?

  • YOU GET TO PICK! You get to pick something from the blog OR you can get creative and make a request! The only guidelines are that your choice must be ok being outside of a refrigerator (cookies/muffins/snacks/cupcakes…all great for mailing) so that when your box arrives, the contents are edible.
  • A spatula to add to your kitchen. I’m excellent at picking out fantastic, colorful (and durable) spatulas. Promise!
  • As with the previous Blog Giveaways, other fun surprises will likely find their way in. Don’t think anyone will be upset about that.

How: Entering the Giveaway is easy…all you must do is be a Follower of the blog!

  • If you’re already a Follower, then congrats you are already entered to win! Three cheers!!
  • If you’re not already a Follower, then click the Follow button in the upper right corner of the blog, follow the prompts (you’ll receive an email and need to confirm from that email) and become an official Follower to be entered. Becoming a Follower means that you’ll get an email each time I post in the future. This is also how I’ll clarify the details of the package and the mailing address with the winner as I get to see a list of all Blog Followers’ email addresses.
  • The winner will be selected through use of a random number generator where each person will be assigned a number and the RNG will do the rest. Equal chance for all! But TRIPLE the opportunity for you all with THREE BOXES!!

When: The Giveaway entry period will end Saturday, November 15th at 11:57 PM (CST) [because random numbers are more fun]. I’ll announce the winner in a post Sunday sometime between 12:01 PM and 12:17 PM. Mark your calendars!

Those are all the details, friends. It’s my way of saying thanks and providing some delicious treats to three lucky readers.

Ready, set, GO!!!

Crockpot Applesauce

9 Nov IMG_6943

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Folks, before I dive in, I wanted to share some fun thoughts I have about sprucing up the blog. First, I want to infuse more creativity into what I post for you all (the “buttons” side of the blog, which is supposed to more about the crafty things and creative things I do outside the kitchen). I also wanted to create an easier way for you all to follow a recipe step-by-step instead of having to scroll the whole blog post to see each step. Don’t worry, I’ll continue to do my usual documentation of capturing photos as I go, but I also will now create a little recipe card summary for you all! I hope to make these creative and different for each recipe – all hand written by me! I hope this will make it event easier to replicate any of the recipes and have fun in your own kitchen, experimenting and producing delicious food. It will also allow some more creativity to hit the blog so it’s not ALL food ALL the time. Please let me know what you think about this! I love hearing from you, and I want to make this blog a place that you enjoy coming to, reading and having a chuckle…and then be inspired to go make something! Leave a comment below about the recipe card idea and if you think this would be something neat to go back and include as updates on all the old blog posts! 

This blog came about purely as a fun way to document the trials and adventures in the kitchen. I learn by doing and I love learning by finding other bloggers, cookbooks, cooking shows, etc. and trying out the fun foods I see on these blogs, cookbook pages or on the TV. I don’t always put my own twist on things (sometimes the original just doesn’t need any changes!), but I do always try to show you where I found the delicious recipes so you too can find some new places to go and read more about other tasty food concoctions you could try. I am doing my best to be more adventurous in the kitchen than when this blog started a few years ago. If I want to try my own twist on something – whether to be original and innovate or just because I don’t have all the ingredients something calls for – I will! Look forward to seeing more and more of those creative spins on recipes in the future blog posts coming to your computer/phone/iPad screen. 

Finally, last exciting thing I wanted to share with you guys…I think it’s a great time for another S&B Giveaway!! It’s been a few months since the last one, and with the holidays approaching – it just seems like a great way for me to say THANKS to my blog readers! I’ll post more details about the Giveaway later this week, but all you need to do to enter is to be a follower of the blog. Details to come, but get excited!

Alrighty, enough already. Let’s get to the applesauce! Don’t forget to scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe card that you can use to follow this as you make your own applesauce!

This recipe is adapted from Chocolate, Chocolate and More (a place I will HAVE to get more delicious recipe ideas, particularly for my sweet-tooth husband).

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Ingredients:

  • 7-8 apples (we had a variety from the apple orchard, but most were Courtland apples)
  • 2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp Aztec seasoning (this is a specialty spice that Luke and I are currently obsessed with – gives a little extra ‘zing’. But if you don’t have it and your grocery store doesn’t have it, you can leave it out.)
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 3/4 c. light brown sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp lemon juice

How to Make:

This is super simple, guys. The beauty of a crockpot is it does all the hard work for you and the bonus – you get a kitchen that just smells DELICIOUS all day. Hard to top that!

First, chop up the apples into small bite-size pieces. Once all your apples are chopped, throw ‘em into a crockpot.

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Now, grab your spices and brown sugar. As you measure, just dump these right on top of the apples. Simple, right?!

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Last, measure the lemon juice and sprinkle that over the top of everything.

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Last, use a big spatula to thoroughly mix all the spices/lemon juice/apples. Then, on goes the lid, set your crockpot on low and cook for 7-8 hours.

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I let mine go a bit longer than 8 hours which cooked things down even more (which I love). If you want less mushy applesauce, lean towards the 7 hour or even less. It’s all up to you!

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I love applesauce cold, it’s a great snack and it’s the perfect Fall-spiced food to have at this time of year. However, you can also serve this up warm! It would be great on porkchops (warm) and also would be great with some crunchy granola (cold). Regardless how you serve it, you can store this easily in mason jars.

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Here’s the helpful recipe card to assist you in your applesauce making! Cheers!

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Baked Oatmeal

2 Nov IMG_6640

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This baked oatmeal is the perfect, cozy breakfast on a chilly day and the sweetness of the raspberries is a wonderful compliment to the warm, cinnamon-y oatmeal (apparently I’m on an unintentional raspberry kick). However, lots of other fruits can easily be used instead – I would love to try fresh peaches the next time they’re in season! And I’ve used blueberries for this as well and it was just as tasty. We may try apple next, as we have a plethora of apples from a recent apple orchard visit. 

Now, before we dive into the ins and outs of making yourself baked oatmeal, I first have to say that before this attempt, I had never had baked oatmeal and didn’t really know what about oatmeal would even require baking. I grew up with the delicious Quaker Oat instant packets that required a few minutes in the microwave and “ta da”, oatmeal! I associated oatmeal with – “instant”. Effective marketing, Quaker Oats.

So, when I opened my Seriously Delish cookbook (from one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Jessica, over at How Sweet Eats) and I saw this recipe, I knew it was moving up to the front of the recipe queue. For starters, Jessica talks about HER love of Quaker Oak instant oatmeal! Ha! A kindred spirit! And the recipe looked like one that would be the perfect recipe for a fall day and well, tis the season. I was sold.

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This does take a little planning, but I promise you that it’s not a difficult breakfast to whip up for you, you and a roommate/spouse or even for a big group! I made this the first time for my husband and I and then proceeded to make it again a week later for Luke’s family. For the second attempt I used steel-cut oats and blueberries and the twist resulted in just as delicious oatmeal but with a bit more texture.

Enough about the ‘why’ of baked oatmeal, let’s get to the ‘how’!

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe that Jessica provides in her cookbook and I can’t wait to continue to experiment with this in the future. Possibilities are endless!

Ingredients:

For the oatmeal:

  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (I’ve also done this with steel-cut oats and it’s super tasty, but has more texture than the normal oats route, so just know that in advance. But I definitely encourage you guys to try this too! If you’re like us, you’ll just go with what you have in the cupboard.)
  • 1/2 cup loose packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup chunky applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup fresh raspberries

For the topping:

  • 2 Tbsp browned butter
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut milk
  • 2-3 Tbsp slivered almonds

How to Make:

If you’re anything like Luke and I, before you start making this breakfast you’re going to pour yourself a big, steaming cup of coffee. It’s the best way to make this recipe, I promise. While you’re sipping that java, preheat your oven to 350.

Grab a small baking dish or small casserole dish and spray it with Pam or whatever cooking spray you have in the cupboard. Set that aside for now.

Locate a large bowl and now begins the mixing and assembling of ingredients. First in are the oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Whisk it all together.

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Now, in a separate medium-sized bowl, whisk the coconut milk, applesauce, melted butter, egg and vanilla together.

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Pour the melted butter into the wet ingredients and then pour the fully mixed wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.

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Get all that?

Not too hard, right?

Last thing to do is grab your fruit of choice (we did raspberries, but as noted above, have also done blueberries and had this turn out just as delicious). Give the fruit a good rinse, chop them up if needed (like if using peaches, for instance) and then through ‘em in with everything else.

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Pour the oatmeal into a baking dish…

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…and bake this for 25 minutes or so, or until the top is turning golden. However, while this is baking, you have a second task!

Browned butter. What the heck is that?! It’s glorious. That’s all you need to know. And you’re about to have some on your oatmeal.

In truth, it’s just normal butter that’s been cooked up to just enough of a temperature that these wonderful brown bits form in the bottom of the pan start to meld with the melted butter and this new toffee scent from the butter is wafting into your nostrils.

I learned how to make browned butter from Jessica’s instructions in Simply Delish and it is pretty damn simple. You heat the butter over medium-low heat (I go lower so I don’t accidentally burn it) and you whisk and whisk and whisk until the previously mentioned little brown bits start to appear in the bottom of the pan. Once you see those, you’re golden! (Haha, pun fully intended). Remove this from the heat and keep giving it a few more stirs and then, it’s ready to use!

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I made only the 2 tbsp that were needed for the oatmeal, but you can always make a bit batch and store it for use down the road!

Once the baked oatmeal is done, pull it out and drizzle the browned butter over the top, drizzle the bit of the coconut milk too and then throw on the slivered almonds.

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This is sooooo yummy and it will be a wonderful breakfast. It’s got all these great flavors with the coconut milk mixed with the caramel-y browned butter, crunchy and nutty almonds, tartness from the fruit and that classic oat flavor that is at the base of why we all love oatmeal. Such a simple dish when you think about it, oats and liquid, but this recipe kicks it up a notch and in the best way.

We ate ours with a fantastic Spicy Maple Sausage that my husband whipped up. I can’t wait to share his recipe with you all in a future post!

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Hope you guys enjoy this as much as we did!

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Raspberry Scones

19 Oct IMG_6466

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I was always a bit hesitant about scones. They seemed like muffins’ dry and boring cousin. But that was until I met Luke, a man obsessed with scones. So I actually began ordering scones in restaurants and cafes and found that when done right, they can be AMAZING! My favorites were ones where there was fruit involved, blueberries or strawberries. And I figured, that it couldn’t be too hard to try to make some…

You know how when you get a new cookbook, there are just some recipes that jump out at you and you KNOW you have to try it?! Regardless of the time or the steps, sometimes the picture or the name of a recipe jumps out of the cookbook to me. I know which recipes these were for each of the dozen cookbooks I own (an example, Chipotle and Rosemary Roasted Nuts from Barefoot Contessa’s How Easy is That? cookbook). One of these such experiences was with The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (another fairly new favorite cookbook of mine, from the blog Smitten Kitchen) and her recipe for Whole-Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones.

I now had the perfect reason to make scones: I finally came to the conclusion these could be delicious, I could feed my husband a good portion of them (and earn some brownie points, perhaps) AND I had a great recipe to start from.

I made these the first time last Christmas, following the recipe to a ‘T’ from the cookbook. I loved them and thought they turned out incredibly moist and delicious. However, I wanted to make them again and put my own spin on them. Particularly, I wanted to experiment with using something instead of ricotta, as I don’t normally have that just ‘hanging out’ in my fridge.

So, this is my own spin on the recipe from Deb’s cookbook. I think the original recipe is great and highly encourage you guys to pick up her cookbook, flip to page 15 and give it a go. You can also try my twist on it below and see what you think!

I didn’t have whole-wheat flour on hand and used cottage cheese instead of ricotta, so the texture and taste of mine is slightly different. I personally loved the twist and will continue to make them this way in the future, especially as it means I likely could decide to make these and have everything I need on hand and not require any grocery store trips. However, making them with the original recipe gives more texture and makes them a bit thicker, due to the ricotta mixture. So it’s up to you!

Ready for scone-making? Here we go…

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter
  • 1 c. fresh raspberries (or insert in another fruit you want to use, blueberries or strawberries could be great!)
  • 3/4 c. skim milk cottage cheese
  • 1/3 c. heavy cream

How to Make:

First things first, preheat your oven (which I always seem to forget to do) to 425. Next, prep your baking sheet by lining it with a big sheet of parchment paper. My parchment paper loves to just roll itself back up in a ball so I set a drinking glass on each end to help keep it in place. Genius move, I know.

Next up: dry ingredients. Measure out the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt and whisk it all up together in a medium-sized bowl.

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Now, butter time. Grab your butter directly from the fridge when you’re ready for this step. Chop it up into little cubes and then drop those directly into your bowl of dry ingredients. As I lacked a pastry blender, I went with the finger-mixing method. Gently work the butter into the dry ingredients until the large butter pieces start to become little pea-size guys. The butter should be mixed in enough that the dry ingredients just look a bit more like a sandy mixture, kind of with a breadcrumb consistency.

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With whichever fruit you decided to use, throw it on a cutting board and chop it up a bit. Strawberries you’d want to definitely chop down into smaller pieces but blueberries and raspberries can just get a quick rough chop and be all set. Once you’re done chopping, throw the fruit into the dry ingredients.

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Last, but certainly not least, measure out and throw in the cottage cheese and the heavy cream. Stir everything together gently, ensuring all the dry ingredients are exposed to the wet ingredients, soaking up all the dairy goodness.

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Once it all starts to come together and look like dough, pour out the batter on to a floured surface (cutting boards work well for this). Get your hands good and floured up too, as this is a sticky dough and it loves to hang out on your hands. Add some flour to the top of the dough and work it into a square that’s about an inch high. Now, cut the square into 9 smaller squares and transfer each square to your parchment-lined baking sheet.

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Bake ‘em for 15 minutes or until the tops are just starting to golden up.

Sigh, they look and smell SO tasty, right?! Cool them for a few minutes in the pan, then move them to a wire cooling rack to fully cool.

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These are SUPER good when they’re still warm but they keep well in a Ziploc for a few days too. We loved having them on the counter to allow both of us to grab a quick breakfast on-the-go. They were also great for a snack or a little dessert at the end of the day. To be perfectly honest, they don’t last long on our counter as we both gobble them up pretty quick. I don’t even feel guilty about that, they’re so tasty and wonderful that we just can’t help ourselves.

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These got a big thumbs up from my husband, the scone-lover and I think you guys will REALLY love them too.

Highly encourage you guys to try these out and leave me a comment about how they go!

French Onion Soup Meatballs

8 Oct IMG_6608

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To carry on with delicious comfort fall foods, I have a main dish recipe that will blow the socks off your feet. Yes! Your socks will land in the other room and you won’t even care because you will be in the midst of devouring the most tender and savory meatballs.

Ok, so that may be a BIT of an exaggeration …a little bit…

But I can’t tell you enough how good these are so you must just trust me and make them yourself! Pleaseeee! And tell me how they turn out for you because I just know it’ll be a hit. A walk-off triple. Three and out for a rockstar defense. (Sorry, my husband’s coaching terms are rubbing off.)

Before we dive into meatball heaven here, I must disclose that I have a soft spot for meatballs. I don’t know what it is, but I think they’re one of my favorite comfort foods. I have favorite go-to recipes for tangy turkey meatballs with cranberry sauce  (one I’ve been meaning to share with you guys), another for BBQ meatballs that are great when you are sick and just want yummy, simple food and the ones I’ve shared with you here already – Spicy Turkey Meatballs, Barefoot Contessa style. Now I think I’ve stumbled into a fourth to keep in my arsenal of meatball go-to’s.

Now if you’re at all on the fence about meatballs (which, I’m sorry but I don’t QUITE relate), perhaps convincing you that these are like sinking your teeth into a delicious meat version of french onion soup, with the same drippy cheese and delicious cooked down onions. Except this…

…that cheese and onion that makes french onion soup SO good?!?

It’s INSIDE the meatballs!

Mind. Blown.

Right?!

So stay with me here, if you like anything I said above then all I can say is, you will love these babies. This recipe is adapted from the amazing recipe posted over at Cupcakes and Kale Chips. I cannot say how thankful I am for Brianne’s creation. My version is adjusted for ingredients we had in our kitchen and I note a few spots below that you could also experiment and make these your own.

Ingredients:

Onions / Filling (makes enough to stuff 15 or so meatballs, plus a bit extra):

  • 1 Tablespoon garlic infused olive oil (adds a little extra flavor, but normal olive oil works too)
  • 2 white onions, halved and sliced
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup beef stock or broth (whichever you have on hand)
  • ¼ cup red wine (I used Shiraz as I’m obsessed and it’s always in our kitchen)
Meatballs (makes 15 or so meatballs):
  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef (you could use ground turkey if looking for a healthier option)
  • ¼ cup oats
  • 1 Tsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped plus extra to sprinkle on top, at the end
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella (divide 3-4 oz into half-inch cubes for your meatballs – about 15 small mozz cubes – and slice up the remainder to place on top of the meatballs)
  • ½ Tbsp garlic infused olive oil (again, to add some extra flavor but normal olive oil will work too)
Meatball Sauce: 
  • 1 ¾ cup beef stock or broth (again, whichever you have on hand)
  • ¼ cup red wine (Shiraz for me again!)
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • S&P (to taste)

How to Make:

First thing that you’re going to get cooking is the onions. Halve and slice up the onions.
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After heating up the olive oil in a saucepan, add in the sliced onions, S&P and let it cook down and become fragrant for 15-20 minutes. Make sure to give this a stir with a spatula regularly to keep everything cooking.
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While your onions are cooking, start in on the meatballs. Mix ALL of the ingredients listed for the meatballs, except the mozzarella, together in a medium-sized bowl. Mix everything together using your hands or a spatula. Then, divide the meat mixture into 15 separate balls.
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Back to the onions, once they’re carmelized and looking GOOD, add in your thyme, letting it cook in with the onions for a few minutes.
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Then add in the wine and beef stock / broth. This is when it hits you…these onions are going to be out of this world. And why have you never thought to cook onions this way? What is it about red wine and beef stock / broth that makes onions smell and taste so darn good?! I do not know the answer to that, but I admit that I snuck quite a few onions from the pan while everything reduced down.
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Sigh, good stuff. Let the onions cook down until there’s not much liquid left in the pan. Then remove from heat and let it cool a bit.
While those onions are making your mouth water, it’s time to prep your mozzarella. Divide about 3-4 oz of the mozzarella block into 15 small cubes. Put these on to a plate or in a bowl. Next to your mozzarella pieces, place your meatballs. Once your onions are cooked down and cooled, add them to your assembly line. Add an empty plate to the end, where you can place your finished meatballs.
Now for the fun part! We are stuffing these meatballs, guys. And it’s an imperfect process and that is a-ok.
No stressing, ok?!
To stuff each meatball, take one of the meatballs and flatten it in the palm of your hand.
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 Grab a small handful of onions and place those in the middle of the patty.
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 Place one of the small mozzarella cubes on top and then gently pat the meat mixture around the stuffing to make it back into a ball shape.
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This doesn’t turn out perfect looking meatballs, onions might be visible and mozzarella might be visible and it’s ok! Guess what?! It makes everything melty and wonderful and it will taste the same darn way no matter what they look like. So have fun, and stuff all of your 15 meatballs!
Now for this next step, I used my cast iron skillet as it’s stove top and oven friendly. If you have one, I’d recommend you use it for this next step as it’s super simple. If you don’t have a pan that is both stove top and oven friendly, not to worry. You can start with a skillet and then transfer to a oven dish after. As you decide on your skillet / oven dish of choice, preheat the oven to 350.
Heat up a the olive oil in the skillet and place all 15 of the meatballs in, one by one. Brown them on all sides, flipping them to ensure they’re browned all over. And again, don’t worry if they break a part a little bit.
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Once the browning process is complete (and you’ve wiped that drool off your chin, because yes, these look and smell SO good at this point), mix up your sauce, whisking everything together. If you’re using the same pan from stove top to oven, then pour the sauce on top and carefully place in the oven. If you’re switching dishes, move your meatballs from the skillet to an oven dish and then pour the sauce on top before putting in the oven. Bake these delectable dudes for 15-20 minutes.
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While those are baking, slice up the remainder of your mozzarella cheese and chop up some extra parsley for the top of the meatballs.
After the 15-20 minutes go by, pull ‘em out and place the mozzarella on top. Pop ‘em back in and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Bake until the cheese starts bubbling and starts to turn golden.
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Pull the meatballs out, garnish with the remaining fresh parsley and serve it up to hungry people. These will disappear faster than you can even fathom. They are drippy, cheesy, flavorful meatballs. They will rock your world and warm your insides. They would be perfect alongside some fresh veggies and some bread or grain that will soak up the juices on your plate. Nothing should be wasted here, friends!
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I hope you guys give this a go. It’s a new favorite in our home and will be for decades (we’ve made it twice in the last two months)!!

Nowinsky Chili

20 Sep IMG_6245

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Chili is a staple of fall. I don’t care who you are or what you think about that, in my world, it just IS. And when my husband and I were musing about fall foods a few weeks ago, both of us had the “lightbulb” moment of…”let’s make CHILI!”.

Now, having a solid chili recipe in your arsenal is essential. It’s something that could vary a little bit every time you make it, but in theory, you still have the same overall chili outline.

I did not have a chili recipe that I could fall on without looking up something to get me started.

My mother in law has one. A GOOD one. One that the entire Nowinsky family knows and loves. One she tweaks every time she makes it, sometimes with steak and sometimes with ground beef. She had never even written it down until we probed her for the basic outline so that we could give it a try.

This is foolproof, guys. It really is. You put in meat, spices, beans, veggies and liquid…you let it slow cook for several hours…and it becomes chili. That’s the basic premise. And you get to use Bloody Mary mix. (A newfound favorite drink. De-lish!)

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It will also fill your entire kitchen with a chili aroma. That’s a bonus because let me tell you, the way it tastes will warm your insides and make you ooze happiness.

Ok, ok, that’s dramatic. But it WILL be good. And you WILL want to make it again.

We are diving in the chili-making process with a cannonball…here…we….

….GO!

Ingredients:

  •  3 lbs ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp oregano
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 white onions, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 16 oz tomato juice
  • 16 oz Hair of the Dawg (or any other Bloody Mary mix)
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 6 (or so) dashes of hot sauce

How to Make:

First, it’s time to brown the meat. And not just the meat, we browned it with 1 Tbsp of each of the dried basil, Italian seasoning, oregano and chili powder.

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Yum.

While that’s browning, chop up your white onions and celery stalks.

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When the meat is mostly browned (my own technical term), add in your onions and celery and low that cook on low for about 15 minutes.

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Now, this makes a large batch of chili. So for us, we divided it amongst our largest stockpot and crockpot. But if you have a BIG stockpot, this will all fit nicely. If not, I do think splitting amongst two big stockpots or between your stockpot and crockpot, will work too. It did for us!

Now, take your meat/onion/celery mixture and pour into your stockpot/crockpot. Now, we get to add everything else!

Add in the tomato juice (not pictured in step format, but I promise it went in) and the Bloody mix, which adds a nice amount of spice (we like Hair of the Dawg…it’s sooooo tasty)…

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…and then the canned diced and peeled tomatoes…

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…and the chili and black beans…

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…add in 1 Tbsp of garlic powder….

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…and the remaining 1 Tbsp of basil, Italian seasoning, oregano and chili powder.

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Give everything a BIG stir and then, for a final touch of ‘zing’, add in some dashes of hot sauce (not pictured, but is an essential final step). We did about 6 dashes, but you can do more or less depending on your affinity for the condiment.

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Now, if you’re doing this as an all-day crockpot item, I recommend doing this is on low for 6-8 hours. The longer and lower heat, the better!

If you’re like us, and wanting to eat this for dinner and you’re making it early afternoon, you can easily do this in your crockpot on high for 4 hours.

Now, for the stockpot option, leave that on medium-low for a short cooking time of 4 hours, or on low for a long 6-8 hour batch.

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The good news is that this is flexible and you can tweak it depending on the time you have and the cooking method you plan to use!

When you’re ready, this is great to serve with a little sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, a sprinkling of your favorite shredded cheese and a big slab of cornbread. We really enjoyed dipping and eating our Beer Bacon Cornbread with this chili and it was perfect.

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So if you too are ready for fall foods, you want something to warm your insides and make your kitchen smell like heaven, you need to make yourself a big batch of Nowinsky chili.

You WON’T be disappointed!!

Beer Bacon Cornbread

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There is a large place in my heart for cornbread. In fact, it graces my Top 10 favorite foods (which I like to think is a hard category to crack) and I have a hard time finding a cornbread that I don’t want to eat. Do you feel me, people!?

What is it about cornbread that is SO good?! I personally believe it’s the savory and dense flavor, the cake-like texture and the fact that it’s an excellent dipping mechanism for soups (chili in particular).

As I’ve alluded to in some recent posts, Luke and I were craving a homemade chili and cornbread weekend to kick-start the fall season. I have had this cornbread recipe from How Sweet Eats as a Pinterest pin for a LONG time and was simply waiting for the right moment to try it out. This seemed like the ideal time to give it a go, especially as I’ve been really pumped about Jessica’s new cookbook and am anxiously waiting to dive into it’s colorful and drool-inducing pages.

(I have a slight cookbook obsession…umm…can’t help it.)

Before I dive into the details, can I just say two OTHER items that I really love – bacon and beer. And these are to be IN the cornbread?!

Heck yes, people! They are!

Jessica over at How Sweet Eats knows how to really spice up cornbread with all the perfect ingredients. My husband thought I was kidding as I asked if he wanted to try out Beer Bacon Cornbread. HA. Not kidding, just about to create the most epic cornbread ever.

No. Big. Deal.

Enough already, let’s do this!

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices thick-cut peppered bacon (just adds some extra zip to use peppered), chopped
  • 1 Tbsp bacon fat (leftover from your bacon fryin’)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup cake flour + 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (or you can use 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pastry flour, which I did not have on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of beer (we used a light beer but you could experiment!)
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 sour cream
  • 1/2 unsalted butter, melted down

How to Make:

Prepare for a delicious loaf of cornbread to come out of your oven, people. To make that a reality, preheat to 375 degrees and find your favorite loaf pan.

Now, my parents are firm believers in flouring pans for all breads and cakes and I must say, I swear by it too. To do this, spray the pan with Pam or another cooking spray and then drop a handful of flour into the pan. Working over your sink or garbage can, carefully turn the pan and pat the sides to spread the flour across all sides and the bottom of the pan. (The sound of my mom tapping the side of the pan as she floured it is a distinct sound that brings back memories. My mom made banana bread all the time. Seriously – ALL the time.)

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Before we dive into making the batter, gotta fry up that bacon! Use a skillet on the stove top and make sure to fry it up so it’s got a little crunch (at minimum). When the bacon is done, remove and set on a paper towel to absorb the grease and then leave the pan to cool as you’ll need a bit of the bacon fat later. Yes, we’re using bacon fat. You will love it. No complaints!

Once the bacon is cooled, chop it up into bite-size pieces.

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Now time to get the batter going. In your medium bowl or stand mixer, mix together the dry ingredients of cornmeal, flours, sugar, baking powder and salt.

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Once that’s all mixed together, you’ll grab a smaller second bowl to mix the milk (pictured below) and eggs (not pictured because I’m a moron) together, and then add into your dry ingredients. Add in the sour cream and the beer of choice (not pictured, but it did happen. Solemnly swear.).

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Last liquid to add is the melted butter and that bacon fat.

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Mix the batter until it’s all smooth and just before you finish, add in your chopped up bacon pieces. BEST PART. (Yes, you can sneak a piece or two. Who will know?!)

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Pour your batter into your floured pan…

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…and then pop the pan into the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. Use a toothpick or another wooden skewer to test the doneness (it should come out clean when inserted into the cornbread if it’s done).

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This had a BEAUTIFUL crust on it when it came out. Both Luke and I were ooohing and aaahing over how fantastic it looked and let me tell you, tastes even better!

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We ate ours with a big batch of our Nowinsky chili (coming to a future blog post near you) and it was perfect with something to dunk it with. It’s also really good with a little sweet butter spread on it. It has a tangy flavor and the sweetness of butter really compliments the tang of the bacon and beer mixed into the cornbread.

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Gosh, I don’t know how many other words to use to get you to want to try this, guys. It’s SO tasty!

It stays really great for a few days, but definitely do recommend you devour it quickly. We found that after 4-5 days, the bitterness of the beer came out. But hey, it makes the fresh baked bread REALLY good, so it’s totally worth it. Just make sure to feed it to lots of hungry folks and I have no concern that you will gobble this up right away.

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Happy cornbread making, friends!

Nutella Crispy Treats

14 Sep IMG_6276

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“Rice Krispies Treats” as most of us know the gooey and delicious marshmallowy, rice cereal bars…are in fact, tasty. But maybe a little boring? I’m posting this to bring you to a happy, happy place where the rice cereal and mallow squares you thought you knew, get turned upside down with a major chocolate explosion.

This treat can be made with any brand of chocolate rice cereal, but the key to making these addicting and wonderful is the combination of peanut butter and Nutella. OH MY. These will make you and everyone who has one, swoon.

How am I able to say this to you with confidence?

I’ve made these twice, and they’ve disappeared BOTH times within less than 24 hours. The latest occasion was Friday evening and when I returned home after a get-together with girlfriends with 4 remaining in the pan, my husband took the pan from me and 3 disappeared in the next 23 minutes. We compromised and split the last one. (Marriage is about compromise, right?!)

These take about 15 minutes to make (no joke kids, 15 minutes) and all you need is a stove top OR, a microwave would work in a pinch. I modified the recipe from Handle the Heat and I think you’ll love it!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 6  (or so) cups of chocolate rice cereal (any brand you want)
  • 1/2 cup Nutella (mounded scoop)*
  • 1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter (mounded scoop)*
  • 1 bag of mini marshmallows (10 oz)
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder

* I originally stated I added about 3/4 c. of Nutella and PB, but after remaking this recently, this was too much (I had eye-balled it and apparently guessed a bit high the first time I posted this) and resulted in treats that weren’t quite marshmallow-y enough to stick together. So instead, just mound out your scoop of both Nutella and PB, but not quite enough to do 3/4 c.

How to Make:

Alrighty people, here we go. First things first, you need a saucepan if you are going the stove top route. If you have only a microwave, then grab a medium-sized microwaveable bowl. The butter goes into your warming device of choice and melt that baby down.

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Now time to add in the good stuff. Add in your entire bag of mallows…

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…the Nutella…

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…and the peanut butter.

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You want everything to melt down smoothly. The only remaining lumps should be from the peanuts in the crunchy peanut butter.

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Once it’s all thoroughly melted and mixed, add in the 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder and stir that in.

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This extra bit of chocolate is what is going to make your bars GOOD. Not: good. But: GOOD. You feel me?!

Grab a large bowl (bigger is better as this part is a bit messy) and pour in the chocolate rice cereal of choice and then pour your mallow/chocolate liquid over the top.

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Spatulas work well for the next task which is to mix all of the cereal into the mallow/chocolate. Be patient, it takes a bit to get everything all worked in together. Once you have a big wonderful mass of chocolate goodness, you’re ready for the next step.

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Spray a pan with Pam or another similar butter/oil spray and then plop everything in. Use your fingers or the spatula to press everything into the corners and smooth out the bars. Let ‘em cool for about 10-15 minutes, which will harden things up enough to cut them.

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Divide these into big OR small bars, but regardless, know that folks will still come and pick from the pan and nibble continuously until they’re all gone. I think it’s the peanut butter, but these are just plain addicting and having one is near impossible.

Hope you make these for your next ‘quick and easy dessert’ occasion!

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