29 August 2013

Chickpea and Butternut Squash Salad

So last night I made some amazing food. Yep, it was delicious. And healthy. And delicious. My sweet friend, Rachel, came over for dinner, and she was willing to be a genia pig for my kitchen experiments. I based this off of a salad that I had while on vacation in Florida. The beverage that is in the pitcher was also a new recipe I tried, and it was super delicious, but I want to mess with it a little more before I post a recipe for it.

Chickpea and Butternut Squash Salad
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 can chickpeas, drained
red onion, to taste, thinly sliced
6-8 grape tomatoes
Olive oil
Sea Salt
Mixed Greens

Toss the butternut squash and the chickpeas with some olive oil and sea salt. Place on a foil covered baking sheet and bake at 350* for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until butternut squash is tender. While that is baking, heat some coconut oil in a small fry pan with a touch of honey and saute until onion is soft. If you prefer the stronger onion taste, you can forgo the sauteing and just put raw onion in. 

When the squash mixture is done, place the tomatoes in the oven while you prepare the salad. Toss the squash mixture with the onion and a little sea salt and cayenne pepper. On the plate put a bed of mixed greens and top with a generous amount of squash mixture. Top with warm tomatoes and drizzle with basil-cilantro dressing.

Basil-Cilantro Dressing
Olive Oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 bunch cilantro
1 handful fresh basil

Fill container about halfway with olive oil. Finely chop basil and add to olive oil. Cut off the top portion of the cilantro bunch and finely chop. Add to the olive oil. Add juice of 1 lemon. Shake and add more lemon juice to taste. Let this sit for at least 6 hours before you use it to let the flavors combine. Shake well before use.

11 July 2013

Blueberry Bonanza

The farmer's market had beautiful, fresh blueberries. They went home with me, and they became two very lovely blueberry tarts. I had a request for the recipe for the first one I made, so I thought I would just include both of them here.

Blueberry Tarts

Shortbread Crust (for 2 tarts):
1 cup butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour

To make the crust:

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the flour and mix until combined. The crust will be crumbly. Press into two fluted tart pans and bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool before filling.

Mascarpone Filling:
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream (I didn't measure)
1 package (8 oz.) mascarpone cheese, softened
scant 1/2 cup sugar (I think this could actually decrease or be left out entirely)
freshly ground nutmeg

For the Mascarpone filling:

Beat the whipping cream with the sugar and spices until soft peaks form. Add in the mascarpone and beat just until combined. Spoon into crust and top with blueberries. Drizzle the top with honey and allow to chill for a couple of hours in the fridge. 

A friend of mine recently found out that she needs to cut dairy out of her diet, and so I made a tart that she could enjoy because the first one I made the filling was almost entirely dairy. 

Lemon Filling:
1/4 - 1/2 cup honey (I didn't measure)
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. tapioca flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 lemons, juiced
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 egg yolks, beaten

To make lemon filling: 

In a medium saucepan combine honey, flour, tapioca flour, salt, water and lemon juice. You could also zest the two lemons and add the zest. Whisk together and cook over medium heat until it boils and starts to thicken. Add in the butter and stir until it melts. Pour a small amount into the egg yolks, whisking continually, and then pour the yolk mixture back into the pan and cook over medium-low heat until it thickens. Pour into the crust and place in the fridge to cool. Top with blueberries.

21 March 2013

veggie quinoa soup

Well, it's the second day of Spring here in Missouri, and this is what it looks like in my backyard:

I know, it's kind of depressing. Missouri, I moved south so I wouldn't have more Winter. Lame.

So this day called for some soup. It's packed with good for you veggies, and a touch of quinoa for some protein and goodness. I just kind of threw this together, so no real recipe, and I'm sadly lacking in pictures, but here goes.

I started with a small onion in a big pot with some olive oil. I added a giant sweet potato all diced up (and I do mean giant. If you can't find a giant sweet potato, I suggest using two smaller ones).

To this I added 3 carrots and 4 stalks of celery that I sliced. I put in one container of veggie broth (4 cups?). Then I threw in a head of broccoli florets. I added some cayenne, turmeric, curry powder, cumin, ground ginger (I was going to use fresh, but sadly mine had gone bad), cinnamon, crushed red pepper flakes, dried basil, and chili powder.

I added a large can of diced tomatoes and about half of a small can of tomato paste. Then I filled the diced tomato can with water and added that. Then I put in 1 cup of quinoa.

I let this boil and then simmer for a while, letting the quinoa cook and the veggies get softer. After letting this cook for a while, I tore up a bunch of kale and added it in. Let it cook a little longer and voila! Dinner!

I would serve this with biscuits or cornbread, but sadly I am out of milk, so I had to settle for some saltines instead. Enjoy!

Oh, and I was featured over at my friend Hannah Cole's blog because back in September I did the cupcakes for her wedding with a little help from my cupcake Elves: me mum and the lovely Stephanie Grace over at Gracie's Bakes.  

02 November 2012


I am a bread lover. One of my favorite things about traveling is going new places and checking out the bakeries because they always have something different in their cases than we do here in America. Bread is something that is global. Every nation has their own specialties. In England it is scones (our American version is actually quite different). In Mexico it is tortillias (they are consumed with every meal!!). In India one of the breads is Naan. I haven't visited India personally, so I'm not sure how well this version will line up with what they actually consume, but I enjoyed preparing and eating it.

I made this with an Indian dish called Chicken Tikka Masala (which I will hopefully post a recipe for soon.) I think we even took all the silverware off the table and made everyone eat with their fingers and their naan. It was a fun and cultural evening. This recipe came from a cookbook I have simply called Bread written by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 package active dry yeast
4 Tbsp lukewarm milk (I used almond milk)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp greek yogurt
1 egg
2-3 Tbsp melted butter, for brushing

Combine the yeast and milk and set in a warm place for 15 minutes.

 Sift together the salt and flour in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, the egg, oil and yogurt to the flour mixture.

Mix until it forms a soft dough. Then turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Allow to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. While it is rising, preheat the oven to its highest setting (at least 450*F) and place 3 heavy baking sheets in the oven to heat.

After the dough has doubled in bulk, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide into 3 pieces and shape into balls. Roll each ball into a teardrop shape about 10 inches long and 5 inches wide. (This is a rough size. I for sure do not measure when I am making something. I just roll it out.) You want the dough to be about 1/4 to 1/3 inch thick.

Place the naan on the hot baking sheets and bake for 3-4 minutes or until puffed up. Remove the naan from the oven and cover with a towel. Once all the naan have baked, turn the broiler on high and place the naan under the broiler for a few seconds or until they are slightly brownish. Keep wrapped in a towel to keep warm and brush with butter before serving. 

You can also make these into smaller dough pieces, but I liked serving it this was so that we had to tear off pieces from it during dinner. It was a very Biblical moment of breaking bread with my brothers and sisters. Enjoy!

31 October 2012

real lemon bars

Remember when I was telling you way back when that I was craving a really good, tart lemon bar? Well, I decided to make up my own recipe because all the ones I came across were just to much sugar and not enough lemon for me. So here is my real lemon bar recipe.

Real Lemon Bars
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Optional: lavender and lemon zest
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 Tbsp flour
juice and zest of 2 lemons (part of the zest could be in the crust)

Preheat oven to 350*F. Cream together butter and sugar.

Add 1 cup flour and lavender/lemon zest if using them. Add second cup flour.

Press into a lightly greased 9x13 pan.

Bake at 350* for about 14 minutes or until light golden brown.

While the crust is baking, mix together all the ingredients for the topping.

Look at that beautiful crust!

Pour the topping over the crust and bake at 350* for about 15 minutes. Watch it carefully because the topping will burn very easily. If it looks a little runny that is okay as they will set more as they cool.

Enjoy your tart slice of lemon-y goodness!

29 October 2012


I have a special love for Greek things. I'm not sure where exactly this love came from because my family is not Greek. I have never been to Greece (although it is on my list of top places I would like to go next). I think it is because my name is Greek in origin, and I love my name. I don't remember the first time I had tatzaki sauce, but I feel in love with it. It has a slightly tangy flavor along with the freshness of cucumber. I always think it is perfect for summer, but I will eat it any time of the year. I serve this sauce with Greek food as well as with Chicken Tikka Masala which is an Indian dish, but I like the way the flavors combine. You could also serve this with pita bread as an appetizer or dip at a gathering.

1/2 cucumber, chopped into small cubes
1/4 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 cups plain yogurt (I use greek yogurt)
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp paprika, to garnish

Combine all the ingredients and garnish with the paprika. Cover and allow to chill for at least an hour, but honestly the longer you let it sit the better the flavors will mingle and combine and be delicious. 

26 October 2012

chocolate "crack" cookies

I have two kinds of crack cookies that I make. One is ginger molasses crack and the other is chocolate crack. Why do I call the crack cookies? Well, because you just can't stop eating them. It is nearly impossible once you have had one you have to have another. Especially fresh out of the oven these are irresistible. My recipe is adapted from Alice's Tea Cup's recipe.

Chocolate Crack Cookies
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips (this isn't a repeat)
Raw sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350*F. Combine the flour, cocoa, soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt the first cup of dark chocolate chips in the microwave (you can also use a double boiler on the stove top) being careful to make sure you don't burn the chocolate. Use a mixer to cream together the butter and sugar. On low beat in one at a time the chocolate, eggs, vanilla extract and dry ingredients. Mix until fully combined and smooth. Mix in the second cup of dark chocolate chips by hand. Scoop out dough and place on a non-stick cookie sheet. Sprinkle tops with raw sugar and bake in the oven for about 10-15 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet for just a little bit and enjoy! Try not to eat them all at once!    

25 October 2012

salted caramel chocolate cupcakes

I found this recipe on pinterest. Yes, I do have a pinterest, and yes, I do actually make recipes that I find on there. I love these cupcakes because they are just heavenly. Salted caramel, chocolate and did I mention salted caramel. Yum!

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs (you could easily substitute applesauce here)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup sour cream
2/3 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350*F. Begin by creaming together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time and then the vanilla, beating well.

In a separate bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking soda. Add this mixture alternately with the sour cream, mixing on low until just combined. Mix in the water.

Pour batter into cupcake liners* and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Allow the cupcakes to cool while you make the salted caramel filling. This is the salted caramel recipe that I use, although you will find a different one on the original cupcake recipe.

Then cut little divets in the top of the cupcakes using a small, sharp knife. Pour the salted caramel sauce into this divets.

Top with salted caramel cream cheese frosting.

Salted Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/2 stick butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
salted caramel sauce to taste

Beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in butter until smooth. Add in powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until smooth. Beat in salted caramel.

These cupcakes are so delicious. I'm serious. My mouth is watering right now as I am thinking about them, and I'm thinking it has been too long since I last made them. Please make and love! :)

*A helpful hint that my sister shared to help with pouring cupcakes is to use an  ice cream scoop. It is super easy and all of your cupcakes come out very uniform.

21 September 2012

salted caramel

I am obsessed with salted caramel. I love it. I crave it. I keep a jar in my fridge at all times. I especially love how easy it is to make. Now the first time I tried, I did not succeed, but I have since made several perfect batches of salted caramel, and I feel quiet comfortable with it. This is my favorite recipe I have found, and I don't think it's a coincidence that it's from a blog called Brown Eyed Baker. I was meant to find it. We were meant to be together. It's a beautiful friendship we have going on.

Salted Caramel
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon sea salt

Start by putting the sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat, and whisk as it begins to melt. The sugar will form little clumps, just keep whisking. When the sugar has melted stop whisking and just swirl the pan. You want all the sugar clumps to melt down before you proceed. Be careful to watch it though because it will burn very quickly. When it has achieved a nice caramel color and all the sugar clumps are melted, add the butter in and whisk as it combines. It will bubble up, so be careful and make sure you use a big enough pan. Then add the cream slowly. Again it will bubble, whisk until smooth. At this point I leave it on the heat for just a little while. Then remove from the heat and add the salt. Honestly, I don't measure the salt. I just add salt and taste until it achieves the amount of salty-sweetness that I desire. Besides it gives me a chance to make sure it is perfect. 

Again, don't get discouraged if you don't get it the first time!! Just keep trying! Because trust me, the result is well worth the effort!

17 September 2012

Pumpkin Lovin'

Please, try these today. They are amazing! And you will love me forever for telling you to make them. A sweet friend who is getting married and moving out of the country in 3 weeks came over tonight so we could have a baking date one more time. I saw this recipe and wanted to try it, so I thought this would been the perfect opportunity to try it out. It's super easy, and you should have everything to make them in your pantry.

Pumpkin Poppers 
(Because you will want to pop them all in your mouth) 
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup pumpkin
1/2 cup milk (I used almond milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves and stir to combine. 

In a separate bowl combine oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin and milk and whisk. 

Pour the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients and mix until combined. 

Fill a mini muffin tin cups until almost full. Bake about 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a little bit.

Melt 1 stick butter. In a separate bowl combine 2/3 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp. cinnamon. Dip the poppers in the butter and then in the cinnamon/sugar mix and try not to eat each one you dip. Enjoy!!

P.S. I finally got an SD card reader, so there will be blog posts in the near future whenever my life calms down enough for me to post some.