Monday, April 29, 2013

Buddy Birthday Cake


Happy 11th Birthday Buddy!  I can't believe Buddy is already 11 years old, it felt like yesterday when I first brought him home.   The recipe for Buddy's Birthday Cake is similar to last year's birthday cake but with a few modifications.  Somehow I think Buddy knew this cake was for him because he wouldn't leave me while I was in the kitchen baking it.  Ellie was of course right by Buddy's side!  Buddy also got a new frog toy - it is his favorite one (he's been getting a new one once or twice a year for birthdays/holidays).  I decorated the cake with Old Mother Hubbard dog biscuits and Zuke's mini natural dog treats and frosted with plain greek yogurt.  I used peanut butter in a plastic sandwich bag with a corner snipped off to pipe Buddy and 11 on the cake.  Overall this was another hit with Buddy and Ellie - they loved it! 




Here is a snapshot of Buddy's fun times in the last several years, he's such a lucky dog!  


Buddy Birthday Cake

Ingredients
1 egg
¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon greek yogurt
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda

Optional Frosting:
plain greek yogurt
peanut butter


Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda.

In a small bowl, mix together wet ingredients

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir in carrots.


Pour cake batter into an 8 inch or 9 inch round baking pan.  You can use a similar sized baking dish/pan of your choice.

 
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  Allow to cool before frosting.


For the frosting – Spread the yogurt over the cake.  I put some peanut butter in a plastic sandwich bag and snipped a corner of the bag to use for piping on the cake. (Flip cake from pan onto plate to easily frost the bottom of the cake.)

Feel free to decorate with extra shredded carrots, dog biscuits, or your dog’s regular kibble.


Store in refrigerator until ready to serve. 

Buddy ate the toppings first! 

 
 Doesn't this cake look good enough to eat and not just for dogs?  LOL



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Baked Potato Wedges


I think the title of this recipe explains itself, Baked Potato Wedges.  I admit I nearly spelled wedgies instead of wedges as I was typing up this post.  LOL  I can't believe I haven't made these baked potato wedges before because its so easy and delicious.  You really should try seasoning them with old bay spice too - it's a Maryland thing to season your fries (and anything else) with old bay.  Bay fries are amazing and I also sprinkle old bay on my corn on the cob too!  Try it sometime.  It was a Meatless Monday meal this week so I served these baked potato wedges with an avocado salsa topped veggie burger (Morningstar Spicy Black Bean Burger).  Enjoy!      


Baked Potato Wedges

Ingredients
2 large russet potatoes
olive oil
salt
pepper
old bay spice (optional)


Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Scrub potatoes clean, no need to peel them!  Cut potatoes in half lengthwise, and then cut each half into thirds.  If the wedges are long, you can cut them in half too.

Place potato wedges onto a baking pan.  Drizzle potatoes with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat the wedges.

Arrange potatoes in a single layer, cut side down.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes and flip potatoes to the other cut side.  Bake additional 15 to 20 minutes.  The potato wedges will be browned and crisp on the outside and tender inside.

Season with additional salt and old bay spice if desired.


Serves 2 to 4.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce


This is my new favorite way to make asparagus!  The balsamic butter sauce is so good!  I came across this Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce from allrecipes.com.  I was a little unsure of it at first but the sauce is wonderful.  It has just the right amount of saltiness with the soy sauce and the balsamic vinegar was sweet and tangy.  I did use a pomegranate flavored balsamic vinegar and it was fine.  Overall a really easy vegetable side dish to prepare.  I made the sauce while the asparagus was baking.  I think I will try the balsamic butter sauce with green beans next because I can see it being great with other veggies.  Enjoy!



Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Ingredients
1 bunch of fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
cooking spray


Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup.

Lightly coat asparagus with cooking spray.  Season with salt and pepper.


Bake asparagus for 12 minutes or until tender.


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In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter with soy sauce and balsamic vinegar.  Stir to mix well.


Pour sauce over baked asparagus.

 
Serves 2-4.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins


I realized I haven't baked anything in awhile and I had to use up a couple of very ripe bananas.  I came across a Banana-Walnut Muffins recipe from Rachel Ray's magazine.  Here is the official recipe since I did change it up with what I had.  Overall the muffins were good, moist and I even like the walnuts in it.  I don't typically add nuts to many baked goods but the walnuts were good in these muffins.  I added in the chocolate chips because any baked banana goodies I make has to have chocolate of course.   I brought these banana walnut chocolate chip muffins to work to share with my lucky coworkers.  Enjoy! 



Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins

Ingredients
¾ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour (or use all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup walnuts, chopped
½ cup chocolate chips
1 cup mashed banana (2 ripe bananas)
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1 egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a muffin pan with baking liners.

In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, remaining ½ cup sugar, baking powder, salt, remaining ½ teaspoon cinnamon, walnuts and chocolate chips.

In a small bowl, combine banana, yogurt, and egg.  Stir in melted butter.

Stir banana mixture into flour mixture until combined.


Fill each lined muffin cup with batter.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.


Bake for 18 to 20 minutes.  It is done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry.



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Mediterranean Chicken Salad


I had the best Mediterranean Chicken Salad at Restaurant Mez (one of my previous birthday eats).  I knew I could recreate this salad at home and I did it!  I literally have been making and eating this salad daily.  To make things easier, I prep all the ingredients ahead of time (like the grilled chicken).  This has been the perfect salad for all the warm weather we've been getting in DC because I haven't felt like cooking any hot meals for dinner lately.  This is not only a beautiful salad, its absolutely delicious and healthy.  I love the red wine vinaigrette with this salad especially since that is how they serve it at Restaurant Mez.  Enjoy!


Mediterranean Chicken Salad

Ingredients
1 bag of salad mix  (I used romaine or spring mix.)
2 chicken breasts, grilled and sliced into bite-site pieces
¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
¼ cup fresh mozzarella cheese, bocconcini (small balls)
½ pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 seedless cucumber, sliced and quartered
1 apple, diced (I used a fuji apple.)
Red wine vinaigrette (or your favorite salad dressing)
½ cup whole wheat croutons (optional)


Directions

Combine ingredients in a bowl.


Toss salad with red wine vinaigrette (or your favorite salad dressing).


Serves 4.


Friday, April 12, 2013

Easy Indoor Grilled Chicken


I admit that I am afraid to use the propane grill that my building has for everyone to use.  My solution is this Calphalon Unison Nonstick 12-Inch Round Grill Pan, which I received as a Christmas gift this year.  I love it!  It makes cooking this Easy Indoor Grilled Chicken actually easy!  Haha!  If only I was paid to endorse this pan but unfortunately that is not the case.  I have been making this chicken ahead of time so I can have it ready for salads, specifically a Mediterranean chicken salad (next recipe to be posted) that I've been eating almost daily for meals now.  If you love to grill outdoors, that will give a nice char to the chicken.  Enjoy!


Easy Indoor Grilled Chicken

Ingredients
Chicken breasts
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


Directions

Drizzle a little olive oil on each chicken breast to lightly coat. 

Season each chicken breast with salt and pepper.


Heat a nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat.


Grill chicken for 4 minutes on each side or until cooked through.



Allow chicken to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.  This will prevent the chicken from drying out. 


Note:  If making ahead of time, refrigerate and store in covered container for up to 3 days.  I usually cook and cube the chicken and store for salads during the week.



Thursday, April 11, 2013

Red Wine Vinaigrette


The weather in DC has been beautiful all week and I've been walking the dogs for 2 miles every day after work.  I do have to admit my AC wasn't turned on the last few days (its a main switch in my building) and it was super hot in my apartment so I've been MIA.  Luckily it got turned on this morning and I can finally be comfortable again.  I have to share this Red Wine Vinaigrette, it is my new favorite salad dressing!  It is best to use a really good extra-virgin olive oil, not the cheap stuff.  I usually have at least 2 different olive oils; a cheaper one for cooking and a good one for salad dressings or dips.  That is a little tip for a great salad dressing in case you were wondering.  Not only is this red wine vinaigrette super easy to make, you don't even have to stir it.  I put all the ingredients in a glass jar and shake it up to mix - don't forget the lid before shaking haha!  I love this dressing with my other new favorite salad, a Mediterranean chicken salad (pictured below and recipe to be posted soon too).  Enjoy!




Red Wine Vinaigrette

Ingredients
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients.

You may also place all ingredients in a glass jar with a screw-on lid.  Tighten lid and shake it up before serving.


Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days if not serving immediately. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Baked Avocado Eggs

 
I have seen eggs baked in avocados featured in so many food blogs and I finally tried it.  I made these Baked Avocado Eggs just last month for St. Patrick's Day breakfast so I am way behind on this post.  It is super easy and definitely better than I expected.  The avocado is creamy and the egg is silky, but the melted cheese on top is crispy, giving a slight bite.  I used a shredded swiss cheese but you can use whatever you have at home.  Top with a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce and these Baked Avocado Eggs were perfectly delicious.  So overall a great, simple dish and you can serve this at a brunch and pretend to be fancy haha.  Sorry I'm way behind on blog posts these days, but I'm trying to keep up, enjoy!



Baked Avocado Eggs

Ingredients
1 avocado
1 egg
shredded cheese
salt and pepper


Directions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  (I used my toaster oven.)

Crack egg in a small bowl and whisk.


Slice avocado in half and take out the pit.

Place avocado halves on baking pan.   Pour eggs in each avocado half.


Top with shredded cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.


Bake for about 15 minutes.


Note:  You can place an egg in each avocado half if you scoop out some of the flesh of the avocado so the egg won’t overflow.  I just split an egg instead.