Tuesday, July 26, 2016

SeparAide - Revolutionize How You Use Your Slow Cooker

My loyal readers are well aware that I utilize my slow cooker quite regularly. In the cooler months of the year when my family is super busy and always on the go, the slow cooker is my go-to for ensuring that I have home-cooked, wholesome meals ready at day's end for my family. In the warmer months, my slow cooker allows me to keep my oven off (and kitchen cool) while still cooking up some of my family's favorite comforting dishes.

I was recently introduced to an exciting new product, the SeparAide. It is a kitchen-grade silicone slow cooker strainer that will revolutionize that way that we use our slow cookers. I am working with SeparAide™ to share their concept with folks who love cooking and those who often turn to their slow cookers when preparing meals for their families.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Chocolate Crunch Mocha Mini Trifles

If you're looking for a simple-to-prepare dessert that is loaded with decadent chocolate and rich coffee flavor, these Chocolate Crunch Mocha Mini Trifles might just be your ticket to indulgent bliss. There are so many wonderful textures and flavors layered up in this dessert. Coffee-infused vanilla pudding and crushed chocolate sandwich cookies collide with chunks of moist chocolate cake in this magical treat. Smooth whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles finish off the layers in this crowd-pleasing dessert.

I love mini desserts. They are so much fun to serve and even more fun to eat. I shared my Black Forest Mini Trifles with Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream with you just before Christmas last year. This dessert is quite similar in terms of preparation and presentation. I utilize a store-bought cake mix and boxed pudding mix here to make my time (and mess) in the kitchen less. I do make my whipped cream from scratch, but, of course, you could use a store-bought frozen whipped topping if you want to hasten things even more during prep time.

Note that I do recommended assembling these, at least, a few hours in advance - even better if it can be the day before. However, I recommend waiting to add the chocolate sprinkles until shortly prior to service ... especially if presentation is important to you. The sprinkles can "bleed" into the whipped cream if placed on the trifles too far in advance.

Yields 8 mini trifles.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lemon Cake Mix Puppy Chow

I think most of us know (and love) traditional Puppy Chow ("Muddy Buddies"). I've made several versions of the original throughout the years. Since we are in the middle of summer (and lots of hot temps) right now, I was pondering trying a more "refreshing" version. The flavor of lemon immediately came to mind.

Using a lemon cake mix makes this recipe so super simple. In just a matter of like, five minutes you can be enjoying this addicting, sweet Lemon Cake Mix Puppy Chow.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Mandarin Orange and Spinach Pasta Salad {with Teriyaki Dressing}

I am so excited to share this recipe with you because it's just such a delicious twist on basic, traditional pasta salad. It may sound odd to have a pasta salad with sweet components, but I promise you that every single ingredient comes together so beautifully and cohesively. The dressing alone is so incredibly, insanely good and addictive. (I seriously cannot wait to try it brushed and glazed on grilled chicken.) Forget about ho-hum pasta salad. I believe that this recipe will really surprise you and become a favorite during these warm summer months.

I am sure that you could easily make this a more-complete meal by serving some grilled shrimp or chicken on top of the salad. But, I have been simply enjoying this as a light lunch all throughout the past week. It seems to keep well for several days in the fridge, so I've found myself munching on it quite a bit. I've made it twice now in the past two weeks. I just can't seem to get enough.

Once again - you'll flip over the dressing. It begins with a base of store-bought teriyaki sauce. (I prefer Kikkoman Teriyaki Baste & Glaze.) Vinegar, a little sugar, some neutral oil and a few spices are whisked in to make what becomes a killer sauce. It gets poured over and tossed with pasta, spinach, Mandarin orange slices and a few other perfectly-paired up ingredients. The result is a unique, healthful, fresh and vibrant pasta salad that I hope you'll really come to love.

Serves 4 - 5.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Chili Lime Chicken Taco Salad

Summertime means lots of salads in the Joyously Domestic household. We eat salad quite regularly as our full meal when temps get up in the eighties and nineties this time of year. Some of our favorites are my Berry "Peachy Keen" Grilled Chicken Salad Bowl, my Easy Vegetarian Taco Salad, my Moroccan Quinoa and Bulgur Salad and my Mexicali Loaded Salad Bowl with Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing . I always buy a plethora of fresh produce each week and like to keep the ingredients for many of my go-to salads on hand. So, it's a breeze to whip up quick, light meals for us on busy weeknights ... or when we're being lazy on the weekends and don't want to put much effort into dinner.

This particular salad includes some killer grilled chicken that has real amped up flavor. I like that a couple of chicken breasts stretch to feed several people, so it's a pretty inexpensive salad to toss together. For this salad, I like old-school iceberg lettuce for the base. I, then, arrange the taco salad toppings that my family prefers on top. We serve this with fresh-cut avocado, lots of sour cream and hot sauce alongside. And, don't forget the nacho, corn or tortilla chips ... they are the cat's meow, so-to-speak, crushed atop the salad at time of service.

Simple. Flavorful. Inexpensive. A perfectly refreshing, healthful and bountiful salad for those nights when you don't want anything too heavy for dinner, yet something delicious and satisfying is in order.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Cool & Creamy Vegetable Party Dip

I almost feel silly posting this recipe because it is just so darn simple. But, maybe that's a good thing and even more reason to share it with you. I think we all are constantly on the look-out for quick, no-fuss recipes that we can prepare with simple ingredients and little prep. This is totally one of those recipes. A raw vegetable platter is an ideal dish to take along to parties and it's something healthy that guests can nibble on all throughout the event. This dip, also, is something to keep on hand throughout the week in the fridge to dip fresh veggies into when cravings for a snack hit.

I keep washed, prepped vegetables in the fridge pretty much on a constant basis. I can grab fresh, raw veggies throughout my busy day without having to stop to wash, trim or cut up anything. And, I like some type of a dip alongside. Sometimes it something simple like, some carrots and celery plunged into peanut butter. Other times, my dip of choice is some version of hummus. And, when I'm in the mood for something creamy, I turn to this dip. It's full of flavor and is so much better than any store-bought dip out there.

NOTE: This is, also, fantastic to dollop atop corn or zucchini fritters. And, if you substitute 4 ounces of room temperature cream cheese for half of each amount of the mayo and sour cream, it makes a great spread for crackers or crisp pita.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Smooth and Creamy Potato Soup

I have shared with you a few different potato soup recipes here on the blog. I make many variations like, my Ultimate Loaded Baked Potato Soup, my Sweet Corn, Potato and Sausage Soup with Kale and my Ham and Potato Chowder with Homemade Croutons. And, even though I really have never met a potato soup that I didn't like, there are some that I favor and seem to make time and time again. This recipe is one such recipe. I first began making this soup after seeing a version of it made by Ree Drummond. The smooth, blended aspect of her recipe appealed to me. I think so many of us are used to thick, chunky versions of potato soup. This recipe is just a tad bit different and one that I fell in love with after my first spoonful. It, for some reason, feels lighter than typical potato soup (even though it is finished with cream) and it's a soup that doesn't feel heavy even when eaten during these warmer spring/summer months. It feels almost velvety on the tongue and is just so dang luxurious-tasting.

This recipe is an uncomplicated one, but one that is built upon layers of flavor. Onions, carrots and celery are the vegetable combo that is the soup's foundation. Once diced potatoes are added and simmered in chicken stock, the soup is thickened a bit with a flour and milk mixture. Then, the soup is blended to the smoothness of your preference (I like mine mostly silky-smooth with just a few tiny bits of vegetables remaining). The whole thing is finished with cream and served with the garnishments of your choice.

Note that this soup reheats wonderfully and in my opinion, is even better the next day.

Yields 6 - 8 servings.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Easy Vegetarian Taco Salad

Simple meals are a lifesaver on busy days in our house. With a hubby gone for his job about seventy hours a week right now, my blogging work and the kids' extra-curricular activities, things can get pretty chaotic. Still, we try to sit down as often as possible - around the table - to enjoy a meal together. This Vegetarian Taco Salad is often a go-to for us. I can, literally, whip it up in like, fifteen minutes (or less) and it's filling enough to satisfy my crew. We are big on loaded salads and loaded rice/grain bowls in our house. They just seem to come together quickly and simply when life gets crazy. (Some other favorites? This ONE and this ONE.)

Recently, our seventeen-year old daughter had her first prom. What a fun experience. As her mom, it was so cool for me to help her find just the right dress, assist in planning her hair-do, help hunt for the perfect pair of shoes and spend the day helping her get ready for the big night. This salad is what the rest of the family had for dinner after she headed out the door that evening. (Ya know, once the whirlwind of craziness died down and this mom could catch her breath a bit.)

I tend to keep the ingredients for this salad on hand so that I can toss this together when I'm short on time or things are hectic. Since we are huge fans of Mexican food, taco salads go over well. I do sometimes include some grilled chicken, but more often than not, I serve this vegetarian-style. A drained can of chili beans lends some spice and protein here. And, I usually keep cooked rice in the freezer just for dishes such as this one. I just season it up a bit with some ground cumin and a little salt for this salad. And, yes, I know ... nacho cheese chips. A somewhat unhealthy-ish inclusion to an otherwise healthful salad I suppose. But, golly dang .. they kind of "make" the salad if you ask me. So, I would probably just go ahead and throw them in there if I were you. Afterall, Y.O.L.O! (Shhhh! Don't tell my kids I just typed that. I embarrass them enough and I'm told that Y.O.L.O is so like, three years ago or something.)

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Ultimate Loaded Baked Potato Salad

With grilling season and summer gatherings right around the corner, I thought I'd share my recipe for one killer of a summertime side dish. Potato salad is pretty much a staple at most warm-weather get-togethers. {I actually love potato salad so much that I make it two or three times a month from spring until fall.} I've taken the traditional potato salad and given it one heck of a make-over. It's quite the upgrade actually. Here, we've, basically, got the working parts of a potluck favorite combined with everything we all love about a loaded baked potato.

The result of this marriage is something pretty darn amazing. I start with baking the potatoes instead of boiling them. Once removed from the oven and cut into chunks, the potatoes then get a good dousing of vinegar while they are still warm. (I use the vinegar trick for any potato salad recipe that I make. I think I learned it from watching Emeril years ago. He said that he considers potatoes "most vulnerable" while they are still hot and more easily "accepting" of the vinegar.)

For the dressing, a little sour cream is incorporated in with the mayo for the perfect tangy zip and to mimic those flavors found in loaded baked potatoes. Crispy bacon, lots of scallions (or chives) and shredded cheese get folded in for the perfect "bang" in this firecracker of a potato salad.

Yields 8 - 10 servings.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

I've been eating a good deal less meat and embracing more of a plant-based diet in recent months. I've not necessarily went all-out vegetarian, but I don't eat much meat on a regular basis. So, I've begun to get more and more creative with swapping in veggies, grains or the like for meat in my favorite dishes lately. (I've recently fallen in love with lentils in place of ground beef in Sloppy Joe Sandwiches, for example.) Since I adore the flavors of Buffalo chicken, I thought I'd take a run at modifying the standard utilizing a little creativity involving cauliflower.

The verdict: I'm like, totally addicted. I could not shovel these little cauliflower bites into my mouth fast enough while I was testing this recipe. I, honestly, did not feel as if I were missing out on anything. In fact, I pretty much prefer this recipe now over using chicken.

The buttery, perfectly-spicy wing sauce is right there in the forefront of each bite followed by the cool relief of creamy blue cheese dressing. And, of course these have to be served with crisp, refreshing celery sticks ... following suit in honor of the original.

I will say that because these bites are baked and not fried, don't expect as crisp of an outer texture on the cauliflower pieces as you're probably used to with Buffalo wings. (I'm sure these could be deep-fried once battered if you're so inclined.) And, although it does take ten minutes or so to dip each little floret into the batter individually before baking, this recipe is a very simple one and comes together quite easily.