There was a time in my life when I had so much extra food in my freezer that it looked to an outsider that I was preparing for a zombie apocalypse. 😳 My intention was not to hoard food but to make efficient use of my time. I thought that preparing ridiculously oversized meals and freezing leftovers was a good idea but this practice quickly got out of hand. As you might imagine, it didn't take long before I had freezers that were absolutely stuffed to capacity and accessing anything behind the first layer of Tupperware containers, required the skills of a professional tetris player. 🤣
I've gotten out of the habit of freezing meals on a regular basis but there's no denying that there are times when a frozen meal saves the day. In anticipation of my kitchen remodel, I've started to tuck a few things away for the days when I don't have a working kitchen sink or countertops or even a floor to stand on. 😬 Knowing that I have a lasagna and a chicken casserole on hand, that I can just heat and eat during remodel months is easing some of the anxiety about this construction project.
Before I start boxing things up in my own kitchen, I get to go to South Georgia and practice my packing skills in my son and daughter-in-law's kitchen. It's amazing how you don't realize just how many things are stored in a kitchen until you have to think about packing everything into boxes. 😅 I love to organize, I love puzzles and I love kitchen stuff so this whole kitchen packing day should be a breeze. #famouslastwords 😅
Once all of the dishes, pots, pans, bowls and utensils are carefully packed into boxes, food preparation is going to become much more difficult. Paper plates and plastic silverware is going to be my saving grace. AND the meals that I made in advance and put in my freezer. After all, a microwave can be operated in the garage and hands can be washed in the bathroom. 😂 🍽 These chicken parmesan meatballs are the start of my freezer full of "picnic construction meals". They're so crazy good though - Im not sure I'll be able to wait until the end of September to break into this deliciousness.
Chicken Parmesan Meatballs
5 Tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 1/4 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
22 Ritz crackers
2 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds ground chicken
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
1 cup panko
1/4 cup fresh basil
Sprinkle 1/2 c. Parmesan and basil over meatballs before serving.
I served these chicken parmesan meatballs with a side of crusty Italian bread and a salad. I wasn't taking a stand against pasta - just short on time for a weeknight dinner. 🤷🏻♀️ I suspect that these beef-free meatballs would be equally delicious alongside a bowl of tagliatelle or cavatelli. Enjoy friends.
Summer weekends are for relaxing, recharging and resting ... unless you're a caterer. Then weekends constitute of 5am alarms and hours and hours spent in the kitchen. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy spending a weekend preparing food but I definitely look forward to Mondays when I can catch my breath - and a cup of coffee. 😅☕️
This weekend was as busy as they come but I did manage to sneak away to grab some produce from the farmers market. I must have needed a break from all of the sugar and butter because I was craving garden ripe tomato, juicy watermelon, fresh peaches and corn on the cob. 😂🍅 #Ilovethefarmersmarket
I have to say that as a food blogger who resides in the state of Georgia, I feel somewhat obligated to post summer peach recipes. 🍑🤣 Peaches are honestly, one of the best things about summer in the south. We have to put up with gnats, termites, armadillos and absurd heat and humidity but we also get to enjoy some of the most delicious summer produce grown in the Peach State.
This Peach and Burrata Salad is amazing. Burrata is a creamier, and dare I say - more delicious - version of fresh mozzarella. Add a generous sprinkling of fresh basil, some good quality prosciutto,a drizzle of olive oil and the very best peaches you can find and voila - a perfect summer salad.
Peach and Burrata Salad
2 large ripe peaches
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
8 ounce ball burrata
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Sprinkle basil over platter and drizzle with oil.
Arrange prosciutto over platter.
This recipe has an identity crisis. It's labelled as a salad but I'm not convinced that it falls under the category of "salad." It's an ideal summer side dish for any grilled meats or vegetables. And accompanied by a glass of white wine, it makes a perfect appetizer. I would even serve this fruit and cheese platter as a dessert course. So don't let the title fool you - this is so much more than a salad.
If 2020 taught me anything - it would be how to be an online shopper. Out of necessity, I mastered the art of finding what I needed online, ordering it, paying for it and then waiting for it to show up at my door. #thankyouamazonprime 😂Online shopping is a beautiful thing and up until last week, I'd probably boasted that over the last year, I'd become a fairly proficient online shopper.
And then this happened ...
I wanted to order a chocolate mold to make some tools for cupcake toppers. Clearly I missed the fine print on the item description though because the unusually small chocolate mold that arrived, made the tiniest tools that I've ever seen. 👀😅 I'm pretty sure that these miniature chocolate tools would disappear completely into a pillow of buttercream on top of a cupcake. 🛠
When I finished laughing about the absurdity of the size of these chocolate tools, I requested a refund from amazon and within minutes, I had my money refunded and they told me that there was no reason to return the product. #thankyouamazon That was the point when I decided that I had to at least try the mini mold. I can't help but wonder what in the world anyone would possibly do with a chocolate hammer that's the size of a penny but who can resist making tools? 🤷🏻♀️
Clearly I need a little more help in the online shopping department. 😅 I obviously got a little too excited when I saw the mold for tools and scanned through the details a little too quickly. 😂The same thing happened when I saw this recipe for S'more Cookies. You can't blame me really. I mean, who wouldn't get excited about S'more Cookies? 💁🏻♀️
When I got all caught up in the excitement of making these amazing treats, I neglected to read through the whole recipe until it was way too late. I had no idea how many steps were involved in the making of these cookies until the process was already underway. 😬 I don't want to discourage you from making these because they're delicious - I just want to give you all the facts so that you don't jump into the recipe with the same reckless enthusiasm that I did. 🤣 They're just as scrumptious and delicious as they sound but they do require an investment in time.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz. heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup dark chocolate morsels
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup of prepared chocolate ganache
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
3 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Transfer mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe meringue on top of each cookie.
Use a butane torch to toast the meringue on each cookie.
Decorate with a square of hershey's chocolate.
Much like my chocolate mold order, my cookie making process didn't go off without a hitch. The first time I made these cookies, I couldn't get the meringue to stand up on its own. I made it 4 different times and it just wouldn't stiffen up. 😢 I was super frustrated so I decided to give up on my meringue and turn it into buttercream instead and pipe that onto my cookies instead. The buttercream S'more cookies were great but I still had to make the recipe a second time so that I could do it the way that it was intended - with toasted marshmallow meringue. 😋 Second time was a charm - all I can say is the less humidity in the air - the better the chance that your meringue will firm up.
I am so excited about getting a bigger panty in my kitchen - I can hardly stand it. Double the space means that I can store double the staples, right? I will say that having a small pantry has taught me to be super selective and evaluate every item that has to occupy valuable pantry space, before I buy it. It's also forced me to be super organized and some would say "borderline obsessive" about pantry storage. 🤣 Don't even get me started on how a misplaced peanut butter jar can send me into a frenzy. 🥜
When you bake as much as I do, there are some things that you just have to keep on hand. Most people have a bag or two of flour in their pantry - I store six at a time, in addition to a few boxes of cake flour, bread flour, self rising flour, semolina flour, gluten free flour, coconut flour and almond flour. 💁🏻♀️🍞Are you starting to see why pantry space is at a premium? 😂
Old fashioned, quick and steel cut oats also occupy space in my limited pantry. Why do I have 3 different kinds of oats, you ask? Just like flour, they all serve different purposes in different recipes. If you're an oatmeal lover - you know.
I find myself making more recipes out of pantry ingredients lately because I'm trying to empty it before I have to clean it out for the renovation. My theory is that the more we can eat now, the less I have to box up and remove from the space in September. 💁🏻♀️😂 I was originally drawn to these Strawberry Oatmeal Bars because they were a perfect way to use up some of my pantry staples. Then I realized that they were AMAZING! 🍓
Strawberry Oatmeal Bars
1 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ginger
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon milk
Bake 35-40 minutes at 375.
Drizzle glaze over bars.
Now I want to try these bars with all the different summer fruits. How amazing would this be with peaches or blueberries or raspberries? 🍑
Happy 4th of July (weekend)
This was most definitely a cart before the horse moment. (Or a cart before the dessert moment, in this case.) 🤣When I bought this bag last month, I had absolutely no idea what I was going to make with them - I just knew that I couldn't live without them.
Fast forward to 4 weeks later and still no great ideas about how to incorporate these little beauties into a 4th of July treat. So I did what any baker with bakers block would do (is that a thing?) - I sought help from my family. My daughter and daughter in law are both super creative, out-of-the-box thinkers and I knew they would come up with something amazing.
My only idea was to replace the chips in a chocolate chip cookie with these festive bits so when @aint_no_holly_back_girl sent me a video for a Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip recipe - I was super excited. I had never even heard of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip but now that I've been introduced - I think we're going to be best friends. 😂
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
⅓ cup butter, room temperature
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, room temperature
⅓ cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup powdered sugar
1 cup mini chocolate chips
Stir in mini chocolate chips.
My snack of choice to accompany this festive dip:
yogurt covered pretzels
chocolate dipped strawberries
powdered sugar covered donut holes
graham cracker sticks
lemon wafer cookies
chocolate chip cookie dippers
red and blue M&M's
star shaped rice crispy treats
So what are you going to serve with your Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip? Send me your pictures.
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