April 23, 2015

Moroccan Quinoa and Bulgur Salad

We all know that salads can get boring. The iceberg. The shredded cheese. Maybe a slice or two of cucumber. And, don't forget that creamy, bottled dressing. I try to think outside of the box, so-to-speak. I like to use fruits in my salad. I almost always include nuts and seeds in my salads. And, I really prefer to prepare my own dressing.


Also, it's okay to not always have the mindset that the bulk or centerpiece of a salad has to be lettuce or other leafy greens. I love using grains and pastas as the base for a salad. Here, I've used a quinoa and bulgur mix. Using just quinoa works great, too, for this recipe. Couscous is typical in Moroccan cuisine, so that would probably sub in well, also.


The vinaigrette is ultra simple to prepare, yet very complex in flavors. You'll be pleasantly surprised at the warmth of ground cinnamon, ground cumin and ground ginger in this dressing. And, you'll certainly savor the brightness of the orange and lemon. The fresh mint in the salad is really important, so try not to skip it. And, the reconstituted dried cherries and raisins lend a sweetness that truly makes this salad shine.

What is wonderful about this salad, too, is that it is actually marvelously better after it chills out in the fridge overnight. So, it's a great make-ahead. It's perfect to have on hand for your upcoming work week or to serve at a summer gathering.

Serves 4.

April 10, 2015

Citrus & Ginger Fish en Papillote {Fish in Parchment Paper}

This is one of my favorite methods for making fish. It is a light, healthy and quite simple recipe. The packets can be made a few hours in advance and there is minimal cleaning up to do after dinner. I've made Fish en Papillote many ways throughout the years, but I really love the flavors and simplicity of this version. This pairs well with a salad, rice or quinoa.


The simple cooking liquid that is used within the packet is, also, amazing for drizzling atop the fish after cooking. So, I always reserve a little for time of service. The liquid not only adds a huge bolt of fresh flavor and brightness to this recipe, but it keeps the fish ultra moist (no oil or butter is even needed in this recipe).


The concept here is simple. Stack up the veggies and fish on top of a piece of parchment paper. Add in a little of the citrus and ginger liquid. Seal tightly and bake. My children love that these are individualized ... so they can help make their own packets.

Yields 4 servings.

March 25, 2015

Giveaway from Enviroboards by Sunlife Brands

With spring upon us, I've been so thrilled to start enjoying some of my warmer-weather favorite foods and recipes. I've been dreaming of Grilled Asparagus, fresh melon (Margarita Watermelon Wedges, anyone?) and my Sonoma Chicken Salad. This past weekend, the kids helped me with lots of chopping when we made another of my spring/summer faves - my "Veggie Overload" Pasta Salad.


I was recently given the opportunity to try out Sunlife Brand's new Enviroboards. When I first set my sights on the set of three flexible cutting boards, I fell in love with the colors. But, most of all, I fell in love with the ease of use of Enviroboards and the knowledge that I can more-safely prepare food for my family.


Enviroboards are a new style of cutting boards that are made from natural ingredients. They are BPA free and FDA approved. They offer a cool icon labeling feature (one for fish, one for meat and one for produce) ... helping to protect against cross-contamination.

February 05, 2015

Loaded Slaw Salad with Asian Sesame Ginger Dressing

Ahhh. It feels so good to be back to blogging. Between the remodeling of the home we took possession of just before fall, oodles of kids' activities, a computer wiped out by several nasty viruses a few weeks back and the complete malfunction/demise of my (needed-to-be-replaced-anyway) camera, it's been a while since I've brought a new post your way here on JD.


But, my sweet hubby recently surprised me with the camera I had been drooling over for the last year. I love it, but will admit that I am so incredibly overwhelmed by it and really don't have the slightest clue as what I'm doing with it. I plan to spend a big chunk of my time in the future weeks watching lots of video tutorials and doing tons of research on this thing. And, I'm gearing up for enormous amounts of practice to get the hang of taking better pics.

November 10, 2014

Banana Chocolate Chip Cookie Mini Muffins

Let me start this post with a disclaimer. These mini muffins are dangerous. Seriously. I have to make myself step away from these, turn off the kitchen lights and practically strap myself to the living room couch to keep from devouring like, the whole batch!
 

(Don't say I didn't warn ya!)

Let me fill you in on the "backstory" of this recipe. My mother is the Cookie Queen in our family. She is constantly making batches upon batches of various kinds of cookies on a weekly basis. Her freezer is always stocked full of upwards of five varieties at all times. I walk a slippery slope when I visit her as it is beyond difficult to refrain from trying and "retrying" all the different types that she keeps on hand.

However, I have always had a favorite - her Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies. And, I'm not alone. I think they're pretty much the most-loved cookie by all my family members on that side - kids and adults alike. (It would not be a lie if I said that some of the adults in my family have even been known to hoard them away from our kids if we bring any home with us.)

My children love, love, love those darn cookies just as much as I do. They, also, adore those little packets of mini muffins from the store - especially the chocolate chip kind. They remind us so much of my mom's Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies (even though the store-bought muffins have no banana in them).

So, I set out to take her recipe for our favorite type of cookie and convert it to make these mini muffins.

Worked like a charm (and then some). The result is a super soft muffin that is loaded with banana flavor and tons of chocolate-y goodness. These aren't your typical dense muffin. They are almost sponge-like ... in a good way!

Holy moly, friends ... get your butts up and make them as soon as humanely possible. (Sorry - was that a little too bossy?)

These are amazing little treats. And, like I said - you'll have to restrain yourself from eating like, twenty of them.

P.S. It wouldn't be a bad thing if you just went ahead and doubled the recipe. They keep in the freezer amazingly well and are perfect to keep there on hand for company.

Yields 48 Mini Muffins

October 29, 2014

Autumn-Spiced Roasted Acorn Squash

One of the ingredients during fall that I cherish most is acorn squash. Of course, I relish all things pumpkin and apples during these autumn months. But, I find the simplicity of roasting acorn - or even butternut - squash this time of year to be something quite special.


One of my family's favorite ways to prepare acorn squash is to cut it in half and roast it with a little butter, nutmeg, salt, pepper and maple syrup. My Sweet Roasted Acorn Squash is always a hit and everyone loves grabbing a spoon and diving in to their own personal serving.

But, we, also, love it cut into slivers and roasted with various spice combinations and toppings. For this recipe, pumpkin pie-style spices get sprinkled onto olive oil-coated acorn squash wedges that get roasted to perfection and drizzled with a little real maple syrup. The crunch of a few toasted pumpkin seeds as garnish add a nice textural component.


This would be a beautiful and delicious addition to your Thanksgiving dinner table. The squash gets tender on the inside while taking on a slight char around the outer edges (my favorite part). The spices add a touch of warmth that definitely are reminiscent of the flavors associated with fall. And, the slightly-reduced pure maple syrup contributes just the perfect amount of sweetness.

October 21, 2014

My Top Twelve Cooler Weather Recipes

It's that time of year again - the time when most of us around the country are craving food that evokes feelings of warmth, sustenance and comfort. We're embracing life beyond refreshing salads, grilling out and sipping lemonade by the pool. We're seeking out new soup recipes to try, inspiration for incorporating pumpkin into our desserts, heartier breakfasts that'll really "stick to our ribs" and maybe some ideas for dinner that'll require us to get those ovens heated up.


Today I am sharing twelve of my personal favorite fall recipes from here on Joyously Domestic. There's a little something for everyone here - desserts, soups, pasta, slow cooker meals and a real favorite here on JD - Oven-Roasted Chicken and Potatoes.

Just click on the orange-colored title for each recipe and you'll be taken to the corresponding post.

October 14, 2014

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

I have a confession. My children sometimes sneak and eat jelly with a spoon straight from those little packets at diners while we wait for our food to arrive. You know the ones I'm talking about - those little jelly and jam packages that are all stacked up in the plastic, black caddies sitting atop the tables at some casual joints. Yes, those. With a spoon. Plain. Into their mouths.
 

Well, this practice has led to them now loving apple butter since apple butter is often one of the selections in the black table-top caddy. With an abundance of apples on hand recently, I set out to make apple butter at home in my slow cooker.

I used to make apple butter during my teenage years with my grandmother, so I knew the basics. After researching some various recipes online recently, I came up with something that I am now simply in love with. I've made two batches so far and plan to make up a bunch more once it's closer to the holidays for gift-giving to family and friends.

Since this recipe takes around eleven hours of cooking time in the slow cooker, I've found that it's easiest to cook the apples overnight. I get things going before going to bed and before lunchtime the following day, I've got apple butter made.

And, oh, the aromas that will fill your house are just intoxicating. You'll be tempted to grab a spoon and dive into the slow-cooked apples before you even blend them up. (Confessions Number Two:  I did just that.)

October 07, 2014

Spice-Kissed Sweet Potato Crunch

Calling all sweet potato lovers out there ... this is 'da bomb  sweet potato casserole - like, the one that tops all others in my opinion. It has the perfect balance of fall spices, crunch, creaminess and sweetness. And, it doesn't have to be made just on Thanksgiving ... it went great with our Slow Cooker Root Beer Pulled Pork Sandwiches recently and I often make it anytime I make a big Sunday ham dinner. (Baked ham and sweet potatoes go hand-and-hand in my book.)
 

And, now that it's cooling down here in Michigan, it's great to have my kitchen fill up with the scents of fall while this dish is baking ... the cinnamon and nutmeg bring about those aromas of fall for me.  And, that crunch topping is seriously dangerous!

This recipe yields a good amount ... probably enough for 8 - 10 servings as a side dish. So, if you're only wanting enough for a smaller crowd, you could easily cut the recipe in half ... just be sure to use a slightly smaller baking dish.

October 02, 2014

Sweet Corn, Potato and Sausage Soup with Kale

This is such an inviting, flavorful soup that couldn't be more perfect for these chilly fall days. This soup is hearty and filling. It'll really warm you up from the inside out. And, it's just as good (if not better) reheated, so this would be something super fitting if you're a person who likes to make up a large pot of soup for the week ahead. After all, some days there is nothing more comforting and perfect than being curled up on the couch with a coffee cup of reheated soup in hand, fuzzy slippers on our piggies, blanket-draped shoulders and the remote at our side.


My family found that we thoroughly enjoyed this garnished with some freshly-shaved Parmesan cheese on top. The sharp, salty notes in the cheese paired perfectly with the sweetness brought to the party by the corn.

The browned sausage lends a lot in terms of flavor to this soup, but it could easily omitted if desired. An alternative that I would recommend would be to garnish the soup with a little cooked, crumbled bacon at time of service.

NOTE: Fresh, chopped spinach can be added in place of the kale if desired. Chop either into the size pieces that you prefer. I like the kale roughly chopped, but it can be chopped a little finer if desired.

Yields 6 servings.