Cinnamon

We love sweet potatoes. Fitting, as NC is a major producer in the US, and we get them in our farmer’s delivery twice a month.

This recipe for roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon and almonds hits the spot when you want something sweet, but still respectable for a dinner plate. Plus, it’s super simple.

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I’m having a big bowl for an afternoon snack while the baby naps. I’m hoping it will offset the fried chicken AJ is making for dinner ;)

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I should be more embarrassed that I keep posting unoriginal recipes, but I’m nine months pregnant and basically don’t care how the delicious food makes it to my plate.

In the spirit of self-awareness, I will admit that this recipe in particular is not the sort that we normally would make – ketchup is the main ingredient in the sauce, for goodness sakes – but I saw it on Pinterest and it struck my fancy.

So, here it is. Make your own baked sweet and sour chicken, eat it over some leftover rice from the Chinese food you ate yesterday (no judgment!) and enjoy.

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I made this exactly as written and plan to do so again and again. It was definitely on the sweet side with all that sugar, but it absolutely satisfied my craving.

Breakfast

Just popping in to share this recipe and to remind myself to make it again since it was so tasty.

We made these quinoa carrot breakfast bars basically as written, with a few changes:
- omitted nuts
- used lemon Greek yogurt
- didn’t use a full cup of honey
- forgot to add allspice
- swapped regular raisins for the golden raisins (gross) that the recipe calls for

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Nonetheless, a highly recommended snack, breakfast, whatever. I love the spices and the fact that the bars are not too sweet. They have a dense cake-like texture, which is perfect for on the go or to sit down and enjoy with a cup of coffee. Plus, freezable … make a big batch for later!

Stew

Every so often, you just want to make a dinner that works. Improv in the kitchen is a fine thing, but tonight I needed the mental break.

Enter, Pioneer Woman. I happen to think she is delightful, but will admit that only some of her recipes tempt me. This one for beef stew with beer and paprika was definitely one. I followed it as written, using AMAZING beef from Wilkerson Farms. Our cooking beer of choice was DogFishHead 60 Minute.

AJ came downstairs because he thought he smelled biscuits (not sure how?) and his sad face when he didn’t see any in the oven was enough to get me back in the kitchen. He went to run some errands for me, and I whipped up some biscuits to go with the stew.

BEST IDEA.

He is usually the dough/bread/biscuit maker in the house, but I think I did just fine on my own. This being my first biscuit experience, I did a quick google for some guidance. Again, I followed this recipe exactly. Super easy, super quick, and super delicious.

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The perfect biscuit for sopping up the stew liquid, which, by god, I think I could drink in a glass. Really great flavors in this bowl, you guys.

All around, a highly recommended meal.

Pierogi

Cheddar Potato Pierogi

Dough (makes roughly 8 dozen):
6 cups of flour
1.5 cups boiling water
.5 cup cold water
1 teaspoon oil

1. Sift the flour into a bowl.
2. Pour in the boiling water and stir with a fork. Cover with a towel for 5 minutes.
3. Pour in the cold water and stir with a fork. Cover with a towel for 15 minutes.
4. Add in the oil and knead for 5-10 minutes.
5. Cut the dough into 8 pieces and run through the pasta roller as follows. (Or roll by hand to desired thickness)
Twice on setting 1
Once on setting 2
Once on setting 3

Filling:
3.5 pounds of potatoes
1/2 large onion
8 ounces shredded cheddar

1. Boil the potatoes until fork tender.
2. Dice the onion and sweat them in a bit of butter.
3. Mash the potatoes with the onions and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Assembly:
1. Cut the rolls of dough with a 3″ biscuit cutter. Save the leftovers and roll them out for more pierogi pieces.
2. Fill the dough, fold over, wet the bottom edge of the dough slightly and pinch with your fingers. Finish the seal with a fork.

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To cook:
1. Boil in salted water until they float, plus a few extra minutes until soft.
2. Finish in skillet to lightly brown/crisp both sides, sauted with butter and onion.

To freeze:
1. Boil in salted water until just floating.
2. Pull immediately and set into cold/ice water.
3. Leave to cool on lined tray.
4. Freeze on tray for an hour or two, then bag and store.
5. Frozen pierogi should be boiled until soft and then finished in a skillet. Dough is quite sturdy.

Protein

Earlier today I tried telling AJ that we should really try to cut down on our meat eating habits in 2012. He was understandably devastated, as culinary delights of the pork persuasion are some of our favorite things. But, the turning of a new year is nothing but an excuse/chance to rev up your engines and recharge your batteries. Horrible metaphors notwithstanding, it’s time to get real about being healthy. (Bonus points for being environmentally friendlier, too. Modern meat production is no bueno for our fair planet. Somethingsomething corn
somethingsomething.)

Tonight’s dinner was my one chance to convince him that we could be just fine without meat every few days or so. As every good story goes, we had some challenges: no time to stop at the grocery store and only an hour to cook, eat and digest before headed back out.

Pantry to the rescue!

We happened to have some fresh veggies on hand from last weekend’s cookathon, and a can of crabmeat that was in my Christmas stocking. (P.S. donate to your local food bank, please and thank you.) Looked like this was going to be a battle of Abby vs. crab cakes. I had never made them before, but I am happy to report they were easy and super tasty.

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I’m choosing to define “crab” as “not meat,” so hush. Even though it had eyes, as AJ points out. Just go with it.

The lazy man’s version of my recipe for posterity:

- Mix one can of crab with less than 1/4 cup of bread crumbs, same-ish of mayonnaise, small pieces of zucchini and pepper (mine happened to be orange)
- Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and a bit of pepper to your taste
- Heat skillet on medium to medium-high, with your choice of nonstick stuff (butter or oil)
- Roll the crab mixture into two balls and flatten to about, uh … 3/4 inch maybe? and plop into hot pan
- DON’T TOUCH THEM
- Cook for about 4 minutes on each side to make sure they are golden brown on the outside and cooked through

Serve with quinoa for an exceptionally bland looking plate.

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Trust us

I don’t have any pictures, because we ate it all, but here’s a recipe for a delightful Saturday night evening with friends:

1. The easiest and best pizza dough recipe you’ll ever find (doubled and set to rise before your guests arrive)

2. Toppings for three of our favorite pizzas (in order of layers as you put each together):

- olive oil, garlic salt, homemade basil pesto, sliced roma tomatoes, feta cheese

- oregano, pizza sauce, cooked hot Italian sausage (Giant Eagle’s brand is actually amazing, crumbled or diced), mozzarella

- same as above, but diced green peppers and onions instead of sausage

3. A pizza stone

4. Patience to wait 15 minutes for each pizza to cook

OPTIONAL: (but recommended) wine and Cranium

If you stop there, your party is sure to be a hit. Heck, I even added a salad to be fancy. But, if you really want to send it over the edge, use your last ball of dough for dessert pizza.

Yeah, that’s right.

Melt two (or, let’s be honest, three) tablespoons of nutella with your favorite peanut butter (we only can recommend Market District’s freshly ground honey roasted, which is pure heaven), spread it on the dough as a sauce, cover with sliced frozen strawberries, sprinkle with powdered sugar and bake as normal.

A perfect way to celebrate the end of a lovely evening.

Garlic Knots

Just a quick stop by to say you should make this dough.

As long as you get the water warm enough to activate the yeast, it’s basically impossible to mess this up. I made the garlic knots tonight (just as described at the Never Homemaker link above) and ate three of them before I forced myself to put the rest away. Don’t be alarmed – the pumpkin is not even noticeable. Especially if you get the garlic amount right. :)

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I saved half of the dough for pizza on Friday. I expect that will be just as airy and delightful as it was tonight. Maybe chicken pesto for the toppings? As if weekends weren’t enough to look forward to on their own …