Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Container Store!!!

I want to start posting about some of my favorite stores and other kitchen essentials that I love!
For my first "Precious Products" post, I want to talk about my most favoritest place...'s so pretty in there...

They conveniently started doing wedding registries after I was already married. *sigh* I WILL be registering there for a baby registry someday. Some of my most favorite and talked about things I own are from The Container Store and I plan on getting many, many more. I am specifically going to talk about my favorite items that are to-go food containers (it's a food blog, duh) but I could go on and on about other items I love from there. 

The first is my coveted to-go cereal containers. The bottom of them has a freezable gel to keep your milk cold and the top is for the dry cereal. It comes with a detachable spoon that folds up and pops on to the top!
...I have 4 of these...

I eventually want to get this cereal dispenser for all the cereal we keep in the house too:

Other similar items are these:

I also LOVE these items for salads and snacks with dips:

Are you interested in eco-friendly solutions for sandwiches? Look no further!

There is so much more that I can talk about, but that would be an even longer list. This is a good start for to-go products. You can save a lot of money and calories by making your own lunch for work and school. These are all reusable so no more plastic bags! Yay! For a comprehensive list of all their "to-go" products, go to this link. If you have the ability to visit a Container Store location, I highly recommend it. They will have even more options like pasta steamers! What? Do it if your cool. You know you want to!

Watermelon Feta Salad

Now that the weather has been getting so perdy, I have been craving salads and other hot weather food. Finally!! Soups and casseroles are not friendly to my booty, at least not the way I make them! I only wish that more fruits were in season right now. I swear someone got wind that I wanted a fresh peach and decided to make them impossible to find! Grrrr. 

In an effort to not waste one bit of a watermelon I purchased, I made Watermelon Feta Salad, Watermelon Kiwi Pops, and Watermelon Burgers this week. I'll tell you about the pops and burgers later. For now, it's all about salty and sweet Watermelon Feta Salad. I love the combination of strong crumbly cheeses with sweet and sour fruits. You will most definitely see more combinations like this during the upcoming months.  

Watermelon Feta Salad
from The Novice Chef

2 pounds seedless Watermelon, sliced into rounds
1 cup crumbled feta
2 large shallots, sliced
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Balsamic Glaze, for drizzling

Toss feta and sliced shallots together. Lay down a slice of watermelon. Top with the feta/shallot mixture. Add a little fresh ground pepper and a pinch of salt. Drizzle on balsamic glaze.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Garlic Lover's Pizza

MAD MEN IS BACK ON!!!! I'm so excited to go back to watching my close, personal friends Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks. Of course, that is what I wish they were. 

Besides Jon Hamm being freaking hilarious, 

I may have a small lady crush on Christina Hendricks...

I didn't get to watch the two hour premier last night, so Happy Hubs and I will be watching it tonight. Don't tell me, don't tell me, don't tell me what happens! 

My good friend Renee is the one that convinced me to start this blog and I am so happy I did. Her blog is and you should all check it out when you get a chance. She blogs about food and her beautiful hand-painted glasses and tiles. Here are some I have my eyes on:
They will be mine. Oh yes, they will be mine! 

You can find those and other items on her Etsy page at

I thought it was appropriate to try one of her delicious looking recipes and this one looked extra-yummy. Garlic Lovers Pizza! WHAT?? I'm a garlic-lover!! Gimme gimme!! Due to Happy Hubs not being a fan of tomatoes (crazy man) I substituted roasted red peppers into this delish-dish.

Garlic Lovers Pizza

for the roasted red peppers
2-4 Red Peppers
for the crust
3-1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup beef stock
1/4 cup butter
1-1/2 tablespoons dried minced onion
for the pizza
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
5 (or more) freshly grated garlic cloves
Roasted Red Peppers
1 log fresh mozzarella cheese
dried or fresh basil and oregano 

1. In a large bowl, combine 3-1/2 cups of flour, yeast, garlic powder, dried basil, dried oregano, dried thyme, black pepper, salt, and sugar. More flour may be necessary later.

2. In a small saucepan (over low heat) heat the water, beef stock, butter, and onion until the butter is just melted. Allow to cool slightly so that you can comfortably stick your finger in and not be burned.

3. Add the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients in the large bowl and mix until moistened.  Stir in enough remaining flour (if needed) to form a soft but not sticky dough.  Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.

4. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.  Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 1 hour).  When dough has fully risen, punch down and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes.

5. While the dough is rising, preheat your broiler. Core and seed the peppers and cut them into thick strips. Place a sheet of foil on a large baking sheet and place the pepper strips skin-side up. Broil until the skin is completely black (about 10-20 minutes, checking every 2 minutes or so). When the pepper skins are completely black, take them out of the oven and quickly put them in a small plastic bag to steam for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, peel the blackened skins off the peppers and save the yummy roasted peppers to the side for topping the pizza.

6. After the dough has risen, add approximately 1 tablespoon cornmeal or bread crumbs to the surface of your baking pan or pizza stone and using your hands, flatten the dough out, on top of the corn meal, into whatever shape you wish.

7. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and pre-bake the crust for approximately 10-15 minutes.  This is a thick crust so the pre-baking of the untopped crust is definitely something you'll need to do. After the initial pre-baking, take the crust from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Using your fingertips, lightly dimple the top of the crust to form little wells.

8. Using a pastry brush, and being liberal, brush the olive oil (gently) on top of the crust.  Next, peel and grate the garlic and (gently) spread it over the crust, along with the olive oil.

9. Slice your mozzarella cheese into 1/4" thickness.  Starting with the roasted red peppers, arrange them on top of your crust making sure to cover as much or surface area as possible. Next, layer on the fresh mozzarella cheese however you choose and sprinkle the top with additional basil and oregano. 

10. Increase your oven temperature to 400 degrees and slip your pizza into the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the cheese is browned and bubbly.

*note: Renee has a lot more how-to photos of this recipe on her blog you can look at.

P.S. Happy Hubby said this may be his favorite pizza I have made! Holla!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Blueberry White Chocolate Blondies

Today I bought these:
...and now my feet are happy...

Then I made these:
...and now I am just plain giddy...

Earlier in the week, I made these!
I had some extra blueberries and I always have white chocolate chips. So, when I saw this, I knew I had to make them. They were so good I got a hug from someone I work with!

Blueberry White Chocolate Blondies

2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 eggs
1 Tb. vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour + 1 Tb. for blueberries
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cups blueberries (can be frozen)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Measure both sugars and the butter and melt together until the brown sugar is mostly melted. (You can do this in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or on stovetop.)

3. Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and lemon zest together.

4. Add the melted sugar mixture and stir.

5. Then add the eggs and vanilla—stir well.

6. Press the mixture into a greased 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle the white chocolate chips over the top.

7. Then toss the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour and sprinkle them over the top.

8. Bake for 45-55 minutes and a toothpick comes out clean.

9. If the edges of the blondies start to get dark, loosely tent a piece of foil over the top of the pan.

...yummy, gooey, yummy, gooey, yummy, gooey...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Balsamic Baked Tilapia

I promised you a quick tilapia recipe and here it is! This is on my regular menu rotation, alternating with the Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi recipe. This one is fantastic over salad greens, rice, or pasta. I wanted to make a sweet potato pasta with some extra I had but I got half way through the recipe when I realized the sweet potato mush was moldy...sad face... So I threw in some parmesan and made an accidentally delicious garlicky alfredo. I am not including that here because I am not sure it can ever be replicated and I don't remember what I actually did.  But the tilapia itself is shma-mazing!

...I swear there are two pieces of fish in this yummy looking mess...

Balsamic Baked Tilapia

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 (8 ounce) fillets tilapia fillets
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese

  • 1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  • 2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook onion and red pepper in the oil until onion is tender and golden, and peppers are slightly soft, about 10 minutes. Stir balsamic vinegar into the vegetables; season with salt and pepper.

  • 3. Rub tilapia filets with 2 teaspoons olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place fillets in a small baking dish, and top with the balsamic onion mixture. Sprinkle fish evenly with blue cheese.

  • 4. Bake in preheated oven 15-20 minutes until fish flakes easily. Serve atop salad greens, rice, or pasta.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Blueberry Lemonade Pops!

I am becoming obsessed with making popsicles (which btw, I am not allowed to call them because it is a brand name). I can be expecting more "ice pop" molds in the mail with a powered citrus juicer soon! Happy Hubs is no longer my power juicer. Don't worry, he still has two important jobs to keep him busy: cheese shredder and getting stuff down from high shelves. I can only carry my step ladder so many places.

Blueberry Lemonade Pops
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
4-6 lemons (enough to squeeze 1 1/2 cups of juice)
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1 cup of blueberries

1. Boil lemon zest, water, and sugar until the sugar dissolves.

2. Strain the boiled sugar water into the lemon juice to eliminate the zest. Stir. (add more sugar if you want it less tart)

3. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

4. Slice blueberries in half (or keep them whole). Add to the lemonade mixture by hand when it reaches a slushy consistency.

5. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze for at least 4 hours. Makes about 10 ice pops.

*note: I freeze it in the ice cream maker so the fruit doesn't sink to the bottom. You can pour the juice into the molds and still make yummy ice pops without added colors and flavorings like you would find at the store.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

...back to my AWESOME week!

Happy Hubs and I celebrated both our one year wedding anniversary and our eight year anniversary! How did we ring it in at midnight you ask? With Taco Bell Dorito Tacos of course!! How else would you celebrate one year of wedded bliss?

And yes we went twice in one week...

Then we celebrated one of our two day festivities at Texas de Brazil where you spend lotsa money to have men in gouchos hand you endless supplies of meat until you burst. Then, since you only ate meat, you are suddenly hungry again two hours later. But, it was worth it. They didn't have my favorite Grape and Gorgonzola Salad at the buffet though...sad face...

The next day we saw Blue Man Group!! Sooooooooooooo much fun!

Then, I made this:

I can proudly say this is not only a "Happy Hubby" recipe. It is also a "Happy Sister-in-Law" recipe too! Yay! It also turned into a Happy-Lunch-the-Next-Couple-of-Days recipe. Which is always a bonus too. They would have preferred it without the peppers. I say, "bring on the peppers!" I'll enjoy them while they push them to the side of the plate.

Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

13.25 oz. box Pasta (shells, penne, or rotini)
1 lb. cooked chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 small bell peppers, red and yellow, seeded and diced
1 bunch chopped green onions, divided
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup GOOD blue cheese dressing
1/2 – 3/4 cup Buffalo Hot Wing Sauce
3 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used my 7-year aged cheddar, of course)
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Boil the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  3. Add the cooked chicken, chopped bell peppers, 3/4 of the green onions, and 2 1/4 cups of shredded cheese to the baking dish. Mix well.
  4. Place the garlic, cream cheese, blue cheese dressing and 1/2 cup hot wing sauce in a food processor. Puree until smooth, taste and add another 1/4 cup hot wing sauce if needed. Pour over the pasta and toss.
  5. Mix the remaining 3/4 cup cheese and the Panko together. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta, then sprinkle with the remaining green onions.
  6. Bake until golden, approximately 30-40 minutes. there anything better than crunchy-topped baked mac & cheese? I think not...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cold Sesame Noodles

I am such a lucky lady! Happy Hubs and I had a very good week.

First, Happy Hubs got to spend a long two nights working his abs from constant laughter with one of his best friends, Dane, making this...

The first night, I got to watch classic All That and Kenan & Kel while they did that. Awwwwwwwww, here it goes!!! 

The next night, I got to catch up with an old friend and watch Hook! Very nostalgic week so far.

I can't believe this movie is 21 years old! Maggie Smith looks about 25 years older than she does now! Did you know that there is a scene in this movie where George Lucas and Carrie Fisher are kissing on a bridge? And Jimmy Buffett, Gwyneth Paltrow, Glenn Close, and Phil Collins are also in this movie?! And where has Robin Williams disappeared to?!? I want to watch Flubber...

This week, I also made one of Happy Hubby's favorites. It's one of my favorites too because it only takes about the amount of time to boil pasta. You can usually find Cold Noodle in most Chinese restaurants as an appetizer. I have changed it around based on what is usually in my kitchen but I have included a link to the book I adapted it from which adds stuff like chopped peanuts and Szechuan preserved veggies. We like it better with carrots instead of cucumbers, I don't like warm and soggy cucumbers. Did I mention I serve it hot? It usually doesn't make it to cold, or lukewarm for that matter. But, because it is so good cold, I try to make extra for lunch the next day. The book also has a recipe for Hot Chili Oil to add, but I usually just sprinkle some red pepper on top. And, yes, I do use peanut butter for this recipe. I don't have Asian Sesame Paste in vast quantities like I do peanut butter. I have actually found that many Asian restaurants use peanut butter too. So, HA!

Cold Sesame Noodles

Sesame Sauce
3 Tablespoons Asian sesame paste or peanut butter
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons hot water
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

8 ounces fresh Chinese-style egg noodles (or linguine or spaghetti)
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion
1 cup carrot slices (1/4 inch thick)

1. To make the sesame sauce: In a medium bowl large enough to toss the noodles with the sauce, combine the sesame paste, soy sauce, water, vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, and salt. Stir to combine everything into a smooth, thick sauce.

2. Boil noodles until al dente.

3.  When the noodles are tender but still firm, drain well and place them in the bowl over the sauce. Toss well to coat the strands evenly. Add a little more hot water if needed to soften the noodles and spread out the sauce.

4. Add the green onion and carrots and toss one last time to mix everything well. Transfer to a serving dish and serve warm, at room temperature, or cold. Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes for a kick!

Stay tuned for more fun events this week...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Strawberry Cute-sicles (Clementine Popsicles)

There has been a lot of reading going on in the fart-box that I work at. We are extremely slow and I have officially run out of things to do. When I have stuff to do, I start at 10am and I finish at 11am (at latest). One can only clean glass so many times while there is no one getting finger prints on it.

So, I read Watchmen this week since it took Happy Hubby a very long time to read it and share the book. We both refused to watch the movie until we were both done with the book. We watched the movie and it was very well done and definitely highly recommended even though they changed the ending.

Then, being in a graphic novel mood, I read Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Boxset. This movie, we had seen. I had to read these graphic novels because the movie was so amazing. One graphic novel for each Evil Ex (6 books, 7 Evil Ex's. Read it to figure out the math.). Then I HAD to re-watch the movie because the novels were so good.

Then I read Bossypants by Tina Fey, whom I love! It's kind of aimed more towards women but I think a guy would also get a kick out of it. There is even a part where she thanks any man who buys the book and every women for not buying it but passing it to coworkers. I plan on getting the audio book for my next long journey, which I hope will be very soon.

I had an overwhelming amount of cuties in my kitchen that I did not want to go bad. I am eating them but they do not seem to be diminishing. I found a recipe to make sorbet with cuties and altered it to make popsicles. Happy Hubs said that it might just be his favorite dessert I have made? WHAT?!?!? "But it's so eeeeeeeasy!!!" as my mother-in-law would say. I also had some extra strawberries from the frozen yogurt I made and threw them in as well. For something with only 4 ingredients, I was incredibly flavorful and super refreshing! Now I am getting ideas for making this with other fruits.

Strawberry Cute-sicles 
adapted from

7 clementines or small tangerines (enough to make 1 1/2 cups of juice)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup of strawberries (quartered and sliced thin)

1. Finely grate enough zest from clementines to measure 1 teaspoon. Squeeze enough juice from clementines to measure 1 1/2 cups and transfer to a bowl.

2. Bring zest, sugar, and water to a boil in a small saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour through a very fine sieve into clementine juice.

3. Freeze in ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Mix in strawberries by hand after the juice is done freezing. Transfer to popsicle molds (or plastic cups with popsicle sticks) and put in freezer to harden (at least 4 hours). This recipe mad about 5 popsicles.

My, what straight teeth he has...

I need to get more popsicle molds...

Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi

This is one of my go-to recipes. I make it once every two weeks or so, alternating with my go-to tilapia recipe that I will share soon. I can make it in about the time it takes to make some fluffy white rice. The ginger glaze is so flavorful, it really enhances the rice. It's good for a quick dinner for after work and before my husband plays his sweet grooves. If you have not seen him perform, you really should (Mom and Dad). He is pretty sauce-some! Not that I am impartial or anything...

Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi

3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 4 (6 ounce) mahi mahi fillets
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1. In a shallow glass dish, stir together the honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ginger, garlic and olive oil. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper, and place them into the dish. If the fillets have skin on them, place them skin side down. Cover, and refrigerate for 20 minutes to marinate. (I usually flip them half way through.)

  • 2. Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove fish from the dish, and reserve marinade. Fry fish for 4 to 6 minutes on each side, turning only once, until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove fillets to a serving platter and keep warm.

  • 3. Pour reserved marinade into the skillet, and heat over medium heat until the mixture reduces to a glaze consistently. Spoon glaze over fish, and serve immediately.