m&m cookies!

i found myself in a baking mood late last night.  the result?  m&m cookies!  this recipe has been in my recipe book for ages, and whenever i flip past it i always wonder how i obtained it.  there’s no author, no web url, nothing.  just ingredients and instructions written on a piece of college-lined notebook paper.

regardless of how and when i got it, i decided they would make the perfect labor day weekend treat.  rather simple, this recipe makes a bucketful of cookies that would be great for a crowd, the office, or even a college football tailgate (go dawgs!).

ingredients

1 cup shortening (like crisco shortening, not oil or butter)

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 1/4 cups plain flour

1 bag of m&ms (12 ounces, anymore and you’ll have more candies than batter!)

instructions

cream together the shortening and sugars using an electric blender.

add the vanilla and the eggs and beat until mixed.

in a separate bowl, mix the salt, baking soda, and flour.  then, slowly incorporate into egg mixture with blender.

using a spoon (not the mixer!) fold in the m&ms and stand back at take a look at what a beautiful thing you’ve made.

the cheeriest cookie batter there ever was!

the cheeriest cookie batter there ever was!

dollop the cookie batter on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees fahrenheit.  let cool before storing.

then!  because you have extra batter and what to be a little cray on a friday night, make one giant cookie the size of your face!  🙂

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coconut curry shrimp

earlier this week i was looking for an easy weeknight recipe that would satisfy and also provide tasty leftovers for lunch the next day.  well, phillip and i struck gold with a coconut curry shrimp recipe that had been hiding in my recipe book.  to no surprise, it actually originated from fellow food blogger ree drummond, and the unarguable fact that this recipe is delicious should also not be a surprise.

i got done prepping all the ingredients when phillip walked in the door just in time for cooking and assembling.  our walk the moon album was spinning on the record player while he prepared the shrimp and sauce and i finished up the rice and got the table set.

we sat down and dug in, remembering exactly how good this meal is.  phillip was almost speechless between bites!  this recipe is quick, delicious, and filling.  it doesn’t take many scoops of rice and shrimp and sauce to satisfy your taste buds and your hungry stomach.  as usual, i pretty much doubled up on the garlic and the curry because who doesn’t like a little punch at the end of each bite.  also, don’t be afraid to go a bit spicier since the coconut milk will definitely sweeten the dish considerably.  enjoy!

i promise this looked way fancier in my fine china at home.

i promise this looked way fancier in my fine china at home.

vegan week day 3 – i dreamt about cheeseburgers

yes, cheeseburgers were dancing around in my dreams, bumping into me on the sidewalk, creeping over my dinner plate, brokenhearted that i’d abandoned them.  such a horror that i woke up drenched in a nervous sweat!  okay, that’s not entirely true.  i didn’t dream about cheeseburgers last night; i actually had visions of tofu slices!  okay, that’s a lie also.  i honestly don’t remember last night’s dreams.  all i remember is i slept very well and awoke refreshed and ready for the day.  perhaps that’s because i decided to forgo my typical 4:30 a.m. workout.  yes, that was definitely a good choice.

anyway!  day three came and went like any typical wednesday did.  i had some cherries for my morning snack and then craisins on a log in the early afternoon.  interesting how some of my vegan selections seem to remind me of my childhood…

for lunch i had reheated veggie taco bowl, and it definitely hit the spot.  also, i think i made all my coworkers jelly (that’s short for jealous, just fyi) because it smelled so good.

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the danger struck, though, when my coworker andrew brought back a whole parcel of cookies for the office.  everyone was commenting, “mm, how tasty!”  “ah, these are great!”  i had to look away as everyone delicately unwrapped them and took delicious bite after delicious bite without me.  i wouldn’t say my will to resist was crumbling, but those treats definitely reminded me how much i am looking forward to saturday when i can indulge in all my favorite eats once again.

as for dinner this evening, we didn’t get too formal.  phillip had his company’s first kickball game of the summer (woohoo!) and i kind of lounged around watching law & order: svu once i got home.  after finally peeling myself off the sofa (i’d already seen that particular episode countless times), i got to baking.  i do enjoy cooking, but i’d say baking is much more of a passion for me.  another friendly recommendation, i whipped up a batch of vegan lemon poppy seed scones from the lovely i love vegan pair of brittany and william.  i’ve actually never made scones, so i wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the recipe seemed straightforward and i was itching for something to satisfy my sweeter baked good tooth.

after letting the scones cool and generously drizzling them in glaze, i could hardly wait until phillip got home so we could try some.  don’t they look delectable?

well, if looks could kill, then how these scones tasted would send you to heaven and back.  i was incredibly happy with the biscuit-like texture, the light fluffiness, and the bright lemon flavor.  as phillip and i sat munching them at the dining room table, i couldn’t help but be impressed by myself (and the recipe).  i mean, these scones are slap-your-mama good.  they’re almost so good that i might eat a second scone right now and then another in the morning for breakfast.  no judging!  😉

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spicy pasta salad!

with the cool breeze in the atlanta air these days, the mood struck me suddenly and i was craving pasta salad.  sure, i could hop into disco kroger and pick up a pint of the premade stuff, but with plenty of time on my hands, i decided to bust out a tried and true spicy pasta salad recipe.  now, when i pulled up the ingredients and directions from my cookbook, my handwriting gave no clue as to where the recipe originated.  after a quick search, though, i found out it was another classic from ree drummond.

the good news?  now i don’t have to type out every measurement and step.  the better news?  i still feel compelled to post all the pictures of me making this dish!  for your viewing pleasure, here is me at work in my little kitchen.  🙂

cook up some pasta.

next, measure out half a cup of mayo.  throw it in a mixing bowl.

pour one fourth cup of whole milk and then add it to the mayo.

get yourself four tablespoons of white vinegar and marry it up with the mayo and milk.

to the mix add the salt and some peppa and adobo sauce!

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whisk it all up.

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next?  chop up some tomatoes.  the grocer didn’t have red grape tomatoes, so i went with cherry tomatoes and just chopped ’em a little finer.  also, it was a very happy coincidence because these hokee tomatoes come from right down the street in forest park, georgia.  cool!

next you’re going to cube up some gouda.  i won’t judge if you consume any awkwardly shaped or sized pieces on the spot.  i’d be lying if i said i didn’t do that exact thing myself.

now, we’re almost done, i promise!  in your bowl, toss together the gouda, tomatoes, cooled pasta, and dressing.  then, use all your self control not to take a bite – it’s not ready quite yet!

okay, the final step is to grab a whole bunch of basil and chiffonade it.  “chiffonade” is technically a noun, but as a verb, it means to stack all your basil leaves…

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…roll them up…

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…and then use your knife to thinly slice it all.  just like that you’re a chiffonade pro!

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take all that lovely basil and incorporate it in with the pasta mix.  this salad will be sure to please at home, at a picnic, at a bbq, just about anywhere that pasta salad is welcome.  the dressing isn’t overwhelming and has a nice kick from the adobo that provides great flavor.  as with all pasta salads and potato salads of this sort, letting it sit overnight makes for a greatly refreshing snack the next day.

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get ‘dis cashew chicken

earlier this week i decided to whip up some dinner for phillip and me.  i wasn’t terribly interested in any of the tried-and-true recipes from my cookbook (although they all have a special place in my heart), so i took to the world wide web in search of something good.  i didn’t have to look too far or too wide to find this delectable cashew chicken recipe from the pioneer woman.  this dish was so tasty that phillip barely said a word to me in between bites; compliments to the chef!  feel free to put the chicken on a bed of rice or noodles, whatever tickles your fancy.  the brown rice we had was a great base for the rich flavors of this sauce.  my only comment?  do be careful to not add too much salt; the ingredients you are using will be sure to take care of that for you.  🙂

roasted tomato bisque – fancy!

despite the fact that it feels like the best of spring right now in georgia, i wanted a meal that was comfy and cozy for this december night.  i was fully prepared to just make breakfast for dinner (because late twentysomethings are allowed to do that still), but i reasoned with myself that something a little more substantial would probably satisfy my appetite a bit better.  i looked far and wide through my cookbook and online and finally came across this roasted tomato bisque recipe by chef jeff mauro of the food network.  his focus is typically sandwiches, but a good sandwich can always be accompanied by a good soup.  the more the merrier!

this recipe is very straightforward, and after following the instructions, i can testify that they are accurate and true.  the roasted vegetables in the oven will bring wonderful smells to your kitchen as will the soup as it simmers on the stove top.

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i paired my steaming bowl of bisque with a rich and savory white cheddar grilled cheese.  but wait.  what would this lovely dinner be without the perfect glass of wine?  incomplete, that’s what!  i couldn’t go wrong with a bottle of green fin white table wine direct from the local trader joe’s just down the road.

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the soup has the slightest kick to it because of the crushed red pepper, but it is divine.  by some miracle, i managed to not oversalt it, which is always the key with a good soup.  as i took bite after bite, i was prepared to eat the entire pot until i remembered i’d probably have a stomach ache afterwards.  there is such thing as too much of a good thing!  this recipe is an absolute must if you are a soup lover, so go get that immersion blender and sherry and get to work!  Živjeli, moji prijatelji!

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vegetarian chili – slow cooker style

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it felt like phillip and i had done an awful lot of eating out lately, so last week i let the crock pot whip up my new favorite dish:  vegetarian chili with sweet potato.  the recipe comes from the always trustworthy real simple.  yes, they did it again with a hearty meal full of deep flavors and rich in nutrients.  well, it was rich in nutrients until i suffocated my bowl with a mound of shredded cheddar cheese and a generous dollop of sour cream.  no judging!

but really, this one is a keeper for sure, and with the cooler months making a delicate entrance this season, i’m betting it will be a repeat before too long.

amy’s spicy asian shrimp with rice noodles

last week my friend amy posted a recipe for spicy asian shrimp with rice noodles on her facebook wall.  the picture looked divine, so i sweetly insisted she give me the recipe right away!  she kindly obliged, admitting that she actually thought of this dish all on her own.  i asked if, after making it, i could post it on the blog, and she gladly agreed.  thanks, girl!

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before i get to the actual recipe itself, though, let me introduce miss amy.  it was a hot august afternoon back in 2006 when amy and i met at band camp for the university of georgia redcoat marching band.  yes, we were both band geeks in the absurdly lame mellophone section, and although we may have refined ourselves in the many years since, i think we will always have a bit of a music nerd tendency in us.  we spent our fall semesters side-by-side as we cheered on the georgia bulldog football team through some dismal losses and glorious victories.  i guess it’s not always about the outcome but the experience and journey, right?  sure.  whatever will help your championship-less heart heal, kels.

what else did we do?  oh, yeah, we (and larissa and justine!) danced around my freshman dorm room like crazy ladies who belonged in an asylum.  those were the good ‘ole days when brumby hall was an all-girls dorm, when homework only took me a couple of hours, and when all was right with the world.  ah, where did the days go?

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before getting this post together, i asked amy if she remembered the video we were watching when we were going out of our minds that night.  her memory almost escaped her, but then she saved the day by recalling it was this video:

now, why were we so obsessed with this video?  i have no idea!  all i remember is that we watched it probably 20 times in a row, laughing just as hard the last time as we did the first.  it’s one of those videos where you think it’s hilarious but then you show it to a friend and their level of laughter response is not nearly through the roof as you would expect it to be.  that, honestly, happens to me quite often.  i find myself slightly embarrassed and then remember that i don’t care, that if i think it’s funny, i’ll watch it over and over again until my sides hurt with stitches.

for example, this video usually gets a decent laugh, but i remember having tears in my eyes when i saw it the first time.

oh, and then here’s another.  actually, now that i think about it, my mom and brothers always laugh at this one with me because we had a corgi growing up.  oh, sweet casper, we miss you so much!

another hit that caused me to fall off a cooler as i became victim to the silent laugh is bizkit.  i’ll admit, i’d had a few to drink.  thank goodness the cooler wasn’t tall and there was carpet on the floor!

this next one, warning, does have some explicit language.  however, i couldn’t help but include it!  credit for this video goes to my old roommates kellie and aja when we lived in alpharetta.  man, those were the good times!

and who can forget kittens inspired by kittens!!!  i love to quote this one and am unstoppable when i remember just how hilarious it is.

wait, is it interesting or embarrassing that most of these videos are animal-related?  to save face, we’ll say it’s interesting, although we all know that when someone says something is “interesting” they really mean they don’t approve or like it.  whatever!  this blog is mine, so i’ll post whatever funny videos i like!  God bless the internet!  (okay, i don’t mean that in the rude way it may have just come across.  please still like me!).

okay!  so, now that i’ve got all of that out of my system, shall we make some spicy asian shrimp with rice noodles?  sure, why the heck not!

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greensboro, nc – day 3

well, my final day in greensboro arrived early sunday morning.  i thought all the crazy fun had already passed, but what little did i know!  we had planned to go out for brunch, but seeing as how there was freezing rain steadily building up all around the house and our cars, we went nowhere fast.  good thing mary had stocked up on bread and eggs, because a homemade breakfast is just what the doctor ordered.

first things first on a lazy and relaxing sunday?  mimosas!  well, i take that back.  we didn’t have any orange juice, so we made ourselves some berry bellinis.  step one was to make a little berry puree to complement the champagne.  mary whipped out her blender and got a little raspberry-strawberry concoction going.  it’s silly how simple it was!

step two is to over pour the champagne so that it goes all over the cutting board and chopping block, wasting about a fourth of the bottle.  whatever!  we never said we were perfect, just a few friends trying to have a good time, and that isn’t too hard with champs and sweets.

i think at about eleven o’clock we finally started cooking actual food.  first up, sausages!  mary had a moment of inspiration and let me in on her sausage-cooking secret:  use a panini skillet of some kind, the ones with the ridges.  you can place those little sausage links right in between so they don’t roll all over the place.  your links will be perfectly browned and juicy, a great side to any breakfast dish.

wait, though.  what was our breakfast dish of choice that sunday?  eggs benedict!  this mary lady just does it all – homemade strawberry puree, eggs benedict.  man, was i spoiled this weekend or what?  mary got out her pioneer woman cookbook and turned to page 16 to find the eggs benedict recipe.  this particular recipe, to quote mary, is not particularly “figure friendly.”  i mean, there are two sticks of butter in the sauce alone.  good thing i’m not on a diet!  before we get there, though, let’s take a look at the adventure that was poaching the eggs.

i’m sure there’s some exact science to poaching an egg, but we kind of just went on memory and instinct for ours.  after the water came to a slight bubble, mike used a wooden spoon to get some good circulation going.  mary plopped that first egg into the water and, oh!  look at that!  that’s not what a poached egg should look like!  it looked like some weird mess caught up in an f5 tornado!

sooooooo, with that disaster, we dumped the water and started from scratch.  this time we brought the water to a very low boil, didn’t stir as quickly, and gently slipped the egg right into the water without causing too much of a commotion.  the white of the egg delicately fell in on itself, creating a little envelope for that yolk to cook perfectly.  ah, quite the success!

mary served them up on soft toast with generous spoonfuls of the hollandaise.  the sweetest breakfast ever served!  the egg was rich and helped cut out the overly sour lemon in the sauce.  now, the hollandaise calls for the juice of two lemons, but the lemons we were using were a bit larger, so i think we probably didn’t account for that.  i also thought the sauce was a touch too runny, but that’s just my opinion.  regardless, i sopped up all the yolk and sauce with my toast and didn’t leave a morsel on the plate.  a great adventure with a great result!

just when we thought all the handiwork was done for the weekend, another surprise came our way.  we couldn’t get a truck to tow the mazda to the dealership for its bum tire, so mike, the hero that he is, put the spare on my little hatchback.  you never know what life will throw at you, but when you’re given lemons, you’ve got to make lemonade!  never stop learning, folks.  never stop learning.  🙂

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we pretty much spent the entire day in the kitchen, drinking and eating our way through the afternoon.  we had a hoot of a time reliving the weekend’s already wild happenings as the radio played.  all of a sudden, “king of wishful thinking” by go west came on and mary squealed, nearly scaring mike and i off our chairs.  “i love this song!  i just cannot control my body when i hear it!”  after listening and dancing to it, we pulled up the video online.  i think we love it now even more, but i’ll let you be the judge!

aaahhh, the early evening was suddenly upon us, so mary and i switched to wine for the rest of the night.  she’s a white wine lover and i’ve come to love red.  good thing she had plenty bottles of both!

more vino!

more vino!

even though we’d had a late brunch, our stomachs were starting to growl.  well, just what would we have for dinner?  mary had started a pork tenderloin in the slow cooker that morning, so after some serious thinking, we decided pulled pork sandwiches, mac’n’cheese, and brussel sprouts would be a great idea.  am i, right?  yep!

since the pork was already cooking, the brussel sprouts were up next.  i’m warning you now.  i took many unnecessary photos of pretty much the same thing over and over again.  i mean, i had enjoyed almost that whole bottle of red by myself at that point.  give a girl a break!  😉

mary had some red onion she needed to use up, so we figured we’d throw ’em in with the sprouts.  mary armed herself with her onion glasses, looking like a regular pro.  just check out those perfectly chopped chunks!

next we got the pan sizzling and browned the bacon (because bacon makes everything better) and softened the onions.  the kitchen started to smell divine, as i am sure you can imagine.

mary gave the brussel sprouts a rough chop and tossed ’em in with the bacon and onions.  it’s such a shame brussel sprouts get such a bad rap.  they just needed to be served with fatty bacon all this time!

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here is what brussel sprouts look like after you add salt…

after salt

…and here is how they look when you throw in some pepper…

after pepper

…and then after you add garlic powder…

after garlic powder

…and then when they’re all ready!

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we finally had everything ready, so we dug in and spent the rest of the night watching old home videos that mary’s dad mark had filmed at the 1996 olympics in atlanta.  ah, we were so young!

om nom nom.

om nom nom.

eventually we rinsed our plates, filled the dishwasher, and headed to our beds.  i cannot express enough thanks to mary and mike for a fantastic weekend, and my heart swells just thinking about how much i love these dear friends of mine.  without any plans written down, we let the days take us where they would, which was, as i had hoped it would be, a lot of fun.

phyllis’ breakfast strada

a chilly saturday morning in greensboro calls for a tried-and-true family recipe.  enter phyllis’ breakfast strada.  it’s all kinds of easy to make, so here’s the recipe for your cooking pleasure.  shine on, phyllis!

ingredients

2 lbs. breakfast sausage (like jimmy dean’s), crumbled, browned, & drained

8 slices of bread, ripped up into bite-size chunks

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

4 eggs

2 1/2 cups milk

3/4 teaspoon dry mustard

1 cup cream of mushroom soup (be sure to measure it)

1/2 cup water

directions

line 9 x 13 glass pan (no metal!) with bread chunks and sausage.

mix cheese, eggs, milk, and mustard and pour over bread mixture.  to quote mary willa, “make sure you use your hands to smoosh the liquid mixture down in the bread so it gets nice and soaked.”

cover pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.

add cream of mushroom soup to the water and mix together.  pour on top of casserole.

bake uncovered at 300 degrees fahrenheit for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  remove from oven and let stand and set for 5 minutes.