Saturday, March 31, 2012

Baked Tilapia with Flaky Topping

Picture before baking.

4 Tilapia filets
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp butter, melted
zest of 1 lemon + slice into wedges for serving
1-2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf italian parsley
s&p to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Season fish with salt and pepper.  Place on greased baking dish.  Combine panko, melted butter, lemon zest and parsley.  Top fish with topping.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Serve with lemon wedges.

More Bluebonnets

Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter Classroom Favors

Another great find from Eighteen25.  These girls are so creative and I LOVE that their printables are all free.  Find the bunny toppers here and the peep toppers here.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Make Ahead Sunday: Spaghetti and Meatballs

I make many different kind of meatballs (chicken/fennel, turkey/spinach, etc), but the classic is always a favorite.  Such a great make ahead meal because every part of it freezes beautifully. 


  • 1 pound ground sirloin (mixture of ground beef and ground veal is ideal but sirloin will do if you can't find veal)
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 3/4 c panko breadcrumbs soaked in 1/2 cup milk for 5 minutes
  • 1/3 c Italian flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
  • 3/4 c freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 onion (or shallot) finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (about 1/2 - 1 TBSP each)
Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all ingredients.  Roll into small balls.  I like mine to have about a 2 inch diameter so you get about 28 of them. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for approximately 30 minutes.   Freeze and bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes to reheat or serve over pasta with marinara sauce immediately.


In the summer when we have tomatoes in our garden, I make this marinara sauce to freeze so we can have it year round.  Of course, feel free to use jarred marinara. 
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups tomatoes (chopped and seeded)
1 bay leaf
2-3 Tbsp butter
10 leaves fresh basil (chopped)
In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the celery, carrots, and 1/2 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about more 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaf, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper, to taste. Add butter and stir.  Sounds weird, but it thickens in and gives it a velvetty finish.  Add basil.  Cool then add half the mixture to a blender or food processor and puree.  Combine with the remaining half.  Enjoy or freeze.

Texas Bluebonnets!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring To Do List

There are so many fun things to do this time of year.  I've started making checklists to make sure we don't miss out on any of them (OCDC, I know!).  Right click on the image to save.  I use an 8x10 frame and cross them off with a dry erase marker as we do them.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gorgonzola and Arugula Beef Wellingtons with Broiled Tomatoes, Parsley-Dill Potatoes and Broccolini Spears

  • 2 pounds small red or baby Yukon gold potatoes, cubed
  • 4 pieces beef tenderloin, 1 1/2 inches thick
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, plus 1 tablespoon
  • Sprinkle all-purpose flour
  • 1 large sheet frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted
  • 1 cup arugula, chopped
  • 8 ounces gorgonzola, crumbled
  • 1 egg beaten with a splash of water
  • 2 vine-ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup Caesar style flavor large croutons
  • 1/3 cup flat leaf italian parsley leaves (divided)
  • 1 large bundle broccolini, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.

Put the potatoes in a \sauce pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, salt the water and cook the potatoes 10 minutes then add the brocolini and cook another 5 minutes.  Remove brocolini and set aside.  Drain potatoes and put them back into the hot pot with the butter, the dill and the half the parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and smash slightly to combine.

Meanwhile, pat the meat dry and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle a little oil into medium skillet and wipe it around with a folded paper towel. Add the beef and brown over medium heat, until it becomes a deep reddish brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the beef and brown for about 2 minutes more. Turn off the heat, then remove the meat to a plate and reserve.

Sprinkle flour on work surface and roll out dough a little, then cut into 4 pieces. Pile a little arugula on each piece of dough, top with crumbles of cheese and some meat. Wrap the dough around the filling and cut a small vent in the top of each parcel. Cover a baking sheet with parchment, arrange the parcels on the baking sheet and brush them with the egg wash, using a pastry brush. Bake until deep golden, about 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the parcels rest.

Put the broiler on high.
Arrange the tomatoes on small baking sheet and season them with salt and pepper, to taste. Process croutons and half of the parsley until course to form a breadcrumb mixture.  Sprinkle the crumbs on the tomatoes and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil. When the broiler is hot, put the tomatoes in the center of oven and broil until bubbly and the crumbs are brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Serve each beef parcel on plates with a broiled tomato half, a few potatoes and a couple of spears of brocolini.

Adapted from an original recipe by Rachael Ray.

Grilled Pesto Chicken

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

  • 1 cup basil leaves

  • 1 clove garlic (chopped)

  • 1/2 cut flatleaf italian parsley

  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

  • 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano

  • 1 lemon , zested

  • 3-4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Combine all ingredients (except olive oil) in the food processor.  Pulse while slowly streaming in olive oil until smooth.  

    Butterfly chicken breasts and add 1-2 Tbsp pesto per breast, season with additional s&p and extra olive oil (if desired).  Grill over medium heat (7 minutes first side, 5 minutes second side).  Freeze remaining pesto in ice cube tray for later use.  Great with pasta, combined with mayo on sandwiches, in soups, etc.

    Breakfast: Crustless Quiche w/ Leeks, Goat Cheese and Brie & Banana Granola/Nut Muffins

    Crustless Quiche w/ Leeks, Goat Cheese (Source: Rachael Ray)


    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 4 leeks--dark green parts discarded and stems quartered lengthwise, cut into thin, 2-inch-long strips, then rinsed well and drained
    • Coarse salt and white pepper
    • 4 eggs
    • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1/2 cup milk
    • A few drops hot sauce, such as Tobasco
    • A few drops worcestershire sauce
    • 8 ounces brie, rind trimmed, cut into 8 equal pieces
    • 3 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced


    1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees . In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat until frothy and brown around the edges of the pan; remove from the heat. Stir in the leeks and return the pan to medium heat; season with salt and pepper. Cook until the leeks are slightly tender but not soft, about 3 minutes. Spread on a baking sheet; refrigerate.
    2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, add the eggs, whisking to break them up. Crumble in the goat cheese and whisk until the mixture looks fairly smooth; season lightly with salt and pepper. Whisk in the cream, milk, hot sauce and worcestershire.
    3. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish. Fill it evenly with the chilled leeks, then pour in the egg mixture. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and layer the brie pieces on top. Bake again until the quiche is slightly browned and just set, 10 to 15 minutes. let cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Slice into 8 even squares and top with the scallions.

    Banana Crunch Muffins Source:  Brandy's Baking
    Ingredients:3 cups all-purpose flour
    2 cups sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    3 large eggs
    3/4 cup whole milk
    2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
    1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2 bananas)
    1 cup medium-diced ripe bananas (1 banana)
    1 cup small-diced walnuts (optional)
    1 1/4 cup granola

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the melted butter and blend. Combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, and mashed bananas, and add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Scrape the bowl and blend well. Don't overmix.

    Fold the diced bananas, walnuts, and 1 cup of the granola into the batter. Spoon the batter into the paper liners, filling each almost to the top. Top each muffin with remaining 1/4 cup granola. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool slightly, remove from the pan, and serve.

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    St. Patrick's Day Meal

    Fish & Chips served with some fun mint brownies and green milk, of course!

    Chocolate Mint Brownies
    You can find the brownie recipe here.
    For the fish, I follwed the exact same recipe as I posted below for the chicken tenders except I omitted the parmesan and used only panko breadcrumbs (1 1/2 c). I used Dover Sole for the fish and served with tarter sauce (mayo mixed with dill relish).
    Roasted Potato Wedges
    1 1/2 Idaho potatoes per person (assume 6 for this recipe)
    Sea salt and pepper to taste
    4 sprigs fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
    1/4 cup olive oil
    Wash potatoes. Cut potatoes in half then fourths then eights in the shape of a wedge (widest part being the skin). Coat potatoes in oil, rosemary and s&p. Place on a baking sheet skin side down (with the skinny inner potato fully exposed). This allows the potatoes to get really crispy. Bake on 450 for 40-50 minutes. Serve immediately.

    Happy St. Patrick's Day

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012

    Fun St. Patrick's Day Printables

    Check out these fun, free printables!

    Beer Labels from Benign Objects

    You've Been Pinched from I Should be Mopping the Floor

    I'm so lucky... from I Should be Mopping the Floor

    Cupcake Toppers from Anything But Perfect

    Monday, March 12, 2012

    Bran Muffins

    • 1 1/2 cups wheat bran
    • 1 cup milk
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
    • 1 egg
    • 2/3 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup raisins or walnuts (if desired)


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line muffin pan with paper muffin liners.
    2. Mix together milk and lemon juice and let stand for 5 minutes.  Mix then add wheat bran; let stand an additional 10 minutes.
    3. Beat together oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and add to buttermilk/bran mixture. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir flour mixture into buttermilk mixture, until just blended. Add nuts or raisins if desired.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins using ice cream scoop.
    4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
    Makes 12 muffins

      Sunday, March 11, 2012

      Make Ahead Sunday: Braised Pork Tacos

      • 1 boneless pork shoulder (4-5 pounds)
      • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
      • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
      • 2 yellow onions, cut into 8 wedges - remove root, but try to keep each piece together
      • 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
      • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano leaves chopped
      • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
      • 2 bay leaves, divided
      • 1 bottle Mexican beer (12 ounces)
      • 3 cups chicken stock
      • Juice of 1 orange + 1/2 cup orange juice (1 cup totoal)
      • 1 chipotle in adobo, seeded and finely chopped, plus 1 tablespoon of adobo sauce
      • 2 limes, juiced
      • pickled red onion (see recipe below)
      • Store-bought pickled jalapeño peppers or banana pepper rings, drained1/4 head red cabbage, shredded
      • Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
      • Corn tortillas
      • 1 avocado (sliced)
      • 1/2 cup cilantro (finely chopped)
      Pre-heat the oven to 325°F.

      Season the pork generously with salt and pepper, to taste, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Pat the pork dry with a paper towel. Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over high heat with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, two turns of the pan. Put the pork in the pot and evenly brown the meat all over (it will take about 10-12 minutes); remove the pork to a plate and reserve.
      Turn the heat down to medium-high. Add the onions, garlic, salt and pepper, to taste, oregano, one of the sliced peppers and two of the bay leaves and cook for 7-8 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the beer, scraping up the bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the chicken stock and orange juice. Add the reserved pork back to the pot (the liquid should come about two-thirds the way up the meat) and bring to a simmer. Cover and put the pork in the oven, turning the meat halfway through cooking, until the meat is very tender, about 2 1/2-3 hours. Remove the pork from the pot to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat apart with two forks.
      Simmer the braising liquid over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the chipotle and adobo sauce and the lime juice. Add the shredded meat and stir.

      To serve, wrap in corn tortillas and top with pickled onions, cheese, avocado, jalapeno, shredded cabbage, and cilanto.  Altered version of original recipe by Rachael Ray.

      Pickled Red Onion


    1. 1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar

    2. 1/2 cup sugar

    3. 2 small red onions, thinly sliced

    4. 1 tsp salt

    5. 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

    6. 2 bay leaves

    7. In a small saucepot, bring the white wine vinegar, sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 bay leaves to a simmer over low heat. Put the sliced red onions in a small sealable container. Carefully pour the hot liquid over the onions, cover and give the container a shake. You may need to lift the lid to release some of the pressure. Every now and then shake the container to mix the ingredients.
      Refrigerate to cool. Leftovers are great in salad.

      Borracho Beans (source: All recipes)

      • 1 pound dried pinto beans, washed
      • 2 quarts chicken stock
      • 1 tablespoon salt
      • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
      • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
      • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chopped stewed tomatoes
      • 1 white onion, diced
      • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers
      • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
      • 3 bay leaves
      • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
      • 1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro


      1. Soak beans in a large pot of water overnight.
      2. Drain beans, and refill the pot with chicken stock and enough water to cover the beans with 2 inches of liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Stir the beans occasionally through out the entire cooking process to make sure they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.
      3. Stir beer, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno peppers, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and cilantro into the beans. Continue to cook uncovered for 1 hour, or until beans are tender.
      4. With a potato masher, crush the beans slightly to thicken the bean liquid. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.               

      LEFTOVERS - Pork Chili
      Combine 2 cups of pork and sauce with 2 cup of borracho beans + 1 cup chicken stock + 2 Tbsp chili powder.  Let simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes.  Serve in bowls topped with cheese, fritos and chives.

      Friday, March 9, 2012

      St. Patrick's Teacher Gift - Free Printable

       Attach to scratch off lotto ticket with raffia.

      Here's a plain one you can save and print. Right click to save and paste in word (6 per page) to print.

      Sunday, March 4, 2012

      Zilker Kite Festival

      Parmesan Chicken Tenders

      4 Chicken Breasts (sliced into 1 inch strips) or 2 lbs chicken tenders
      1 cup season breadcrumbs (pepperidge farm or similar)
      1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
      1/2 cup freshly grated parmesano reggiano
      1/4 cup finely minced parsley
      1 Tbsp sea salt or to taste
      1 Tbsp pepper or to taste
      2 eggs, beaten
      1/4 c water
      1 1/2 cups flour
      1/4 - 1/2 olive oil

      Arrange 3 small bowls for the following:
      1) flour + salt & pepper
      2) eggs + water
      3) breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley

      Dip chicken in flour, egg, breadcrumbs then place on a baking rack (spray with non-cook spray) on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes.  We served it with polenta with arugula & some fresh carrots from the garden.

      Make Ahead Sunday: Baked Rigatoni

      1 Tbsp Olive Oil
      5 garlic gloves (minced)
      1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
      Sea salt & ground pepper to taste
      28 oz can roasted crushed tomatoes
      4 cups water
      1 lb rigatoni (could use ziti or penne)
      1/2 cup heavy cream
      1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
      1/3 cup flat leaf italian parsley (finely chopped)
      1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
      3-4 oz goat cheese (crumbled)

      Saute garlic in olive oil one minute.  Add red pepper, tomotoes, water s&p and pasta.  Allow to come to a boil and simmer on medium heat for 18 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add cream, parmesan and parsley and stir to combine.  Pour into a greased 9X13 baking dish.  Top with mozzerella then goat cheese and top with a little more parsley.  Store until the night you want to serve.
      Bake at 375 (30 minutes covered, 15-20 uncovered until cheese is bubbly). Serve with a green salad.

      Saturday, March 3, 2012

      Spicy Cinnamon Brownies

      These were oh so yummy!!



      • Vegetable oil cooking spray, for greasing pan
      • One 21-ounce box brownie mix, such as Duncan Hines Chewy Fudge
      • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
      • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
      • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
      • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

      Chocolate Buttercream:

      • 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
      • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, such as Ghiradelli
      • 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
      • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
      • Ground cinnamon, for dusting


      For the brownies: Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-by-13-inch ceramic or glass baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Line the dish with a 15-inch-square piece of parchment paper, allowing the excess paper to overhang the sides. Spray the parchment paper with vegetable oil cooking spray.

      Blend together the brownie mix, eggs, vegetable oil, 1/4 cup water, cinnamon and cayenne pepper in a large bowl. Beat the mixture for 1 minute using an electric hand mixer on medium speed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted about 1-inch from the edge of the baking dish comes out clean, 25 to 27 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.

      For the buttercream: Place the cream and chocolate chips in a medium bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the pan and refrigerate until thick, 20 minutes. Add the butter and cocoa powder and beat the mixture on high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Spread the buttercream over the cooled brownie layer. Dust with the cinnamon and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

      Lift the brownie layer from the pan, using the excess paper for handles. Run a thin spatula underneath the brownie layer to loosen it from the parchment paper. Cut into 24 brownies and serve.

      Cook's Note: The buttercream can be made ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Allow the buttercream to come to room temperature for 30 minutes then beat until smooth enough to spread.
      Source: Giada de Laurentis (

      Thursday, March 1, 2012

      Our Photo Wall

      Here's another great Eighteen25 find the I love us canvas!  I ordered it from Canvas People - click here for a free 8x10 or $35 off plus free shipping. I ordered 11x14.  I also made the P at the bottom by covering a cheap wooden plaque from hobby lobby with some fabric and hanging the painted P onto the plaque with a nail.

      Pizza with Goat Cheese and Arugula

      Store bought pizza dough (I just used Pilsbury thin crust)
      ~4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
      Sea Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
      3-4 garlic cloves (minced)
      1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
      1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
      1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
      3 oz crumbled goat cheese
      1/2 cup mozzerella
      2 cups chopped arugula
      1 lemon
      Grease large baking sheet with 1 Tbsp olive oil.  Spread out pizza dough.  Top with 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, red pepper, oregano, garlic and s&p to taste.  Bake @ 400 for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with cheeses.  Bake another 10-12 minutes until cheese is bubbly.  Let cool slightly.  Dress arugula with remaining olive oil, juice of 1 lemon and s&p to taste.  Top pizza, cut into slices and serve.