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Seattle/Tacoma area, Washington, United States
Thank you for visiting! We are Amanda, Tiffany, Lauren H, Lauren F, Danielle, Lisa, Meagan, Teresa, Emily, Cassie, & Bea. We are a group of women ranging in age from 27-32. 2011 marks the 5th Fall season of us getting together weekly, on Thursdays, to make dinner for eachother, talk about our kids, marriages, jobs, weddings, homes, weekends and so on. We travel as far North as Kirkland and as far South as Graham to visit each week...that's a total of nearly an hour of driving (not counting traffic), so that should show you how dedicated we are to "the cause" of having some girl time each week. A few of us are mothers and have planned our weddings. Our group also includes a dietitian, wine distributor & a few teachers ranging from elementary to high school. We are here to share our favorite recipes, update you on our girl talk each week, answer questions from experience and review products for companies and share our takes on them for the women out there just like us. Please feel free to contact us with topics you'd like us to cover or questions you may have. Our group e-mail is ThursdayGirlsNights@gmail.com Thanks again, The Girls

Monday, June 10, 2013

Maple Salmon & Mint Ice Cream Pie


Cassie hosted all of us last week and made a delicious salmon dinner. A must share for sure. I can't wait to make this for my husband...he loves his fish dishes, and I'm positive my little one will love it as well.

Maple Salmon
(recipe & photo courtesy of allrecipes.com)


INGREDIENTS:
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound salmon
DIRECTIONS:
1.In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper.
2.Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish, and coat with the maple syrup mixture. Cover the dish, and marinate salmon in the refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once.
3.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
4.Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake salmon uncovered 20 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork.



Cassie served a green bean casserole and salad along side this simple yet delicious salmon dish.
And now for the grand finale...This dessert was amazing and with only 3 ingredients, how can you go wrong? Just take a look at this photo and try not to drool...

Mint Chip Ice Cream Pie
(courtesy of realsimple.com Photo courtesy of thediningroom.ie)



Ingredients

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the chocolate and cereal until the cereal is completely coated. Transfer to a 9-inch springform pan. Press the mixture into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Freeze just until firm, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Spread the ice cream in the prepared crust and freeze, covered, until firm, for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.


Enjoy!
-AK

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Aaaand We're Back...with Chicken!

Wow, that year went by crazy fast! I haven't even had time to log on in months, but after doing so today and seeing we've surpassed 10,700 views as just a fun girls' weekly get-together is pretty amazing. I mean we have made some seriously great food between the 10 of us and we love that we can share it all with you. That being said...

I had all the ladies (and a few new lil babes...see we've all been busy) over last week...without further ado THIS is what we enjoyed.

Double Crunch Honey-Garlic Chicken
(recipe & photo courtesy of nlrockrecipes.com as found on Pinterest)



4  large boneless chicken breasts
 

Place the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and using a meat mallet, pound the meat to an even 1/2 inch thickness. Alternatively, you can slice the breasts by placing them flat on a cutting board and using a very sharp knife to slice them into halves horizontally.

Sift together:
(see notes below; modified slightly from original recipe)

2 cup flour
4 tsp salt
4 tsp black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground thyme
2 tsp ground sage
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper 



NOTE: This flour and spice dredge mix is sufficient for two (or 3) batches of this chicken recipe. You can store the leftover mix in a Ziploc bag in the freezer for the next time you make this recipe...and there will be a next time. (Note - I put half of this season mix into panko bread crumbs for my final dredge.)

Make an egg wash by whisking together:
(modified slightly from original recipe)

2 eggs
4 tbsp water

Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then dip the meat in the flour and spice mixture. Dip the breast into the egg wash and then a final time into the flour and spice mix, pressing the mix into the meat to get good contact. (Note - I used panko breadcrumbs for my final dipping to make sure the chicken had a good crunch. I tried both ways and preferred it with the panko.)

Heat a skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola (or coconut) oil covering the bottom. You will want to carefully regulate the temperature here so that the chicken does not brown too quickly. The thinness of the breast meat practically guarantees that it will be fully cooked by the time the outside is browned. I find just below medium heat works well. I use a burner setting of about 4 1/2 out of 10 on the dial and fry them gently for about 4 or 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.

Drain on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before dipping the cooked breasts into the Honey Garlic Sauce. Serve with noodles or rice.


 
Honey Garlic Sauce In a medium saucepan add

2 tbsp olive oil
3 – 4 cloves minced garlic

Cook over medium heat to soften the garlic but do not let it brown. Add:

1 cup honey
¼ cup soya sauce (low sodium soya sauce is best)
1 tsp ground black pepper

Simmer together for 5-10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Watch this carefully as it simmers because it can foam up over the pot very easily.
 
I served this over rice with asparagus that I drizzled with olive oil, Johnny's seasoning, fresh minced garlic and pepper.
 
Until next time - Enjoy!
 
-AK


Monday, July 9, 2012

Browned Butter & Myzithra Pasta

First I'd like to share some exciting news. Tiff has finally made it officially public that she & Austin are having a baby!!! A BOY for that matter - in November. Emily and Bea also found out they are both working on their second baby girls. So many babies! It's going to be a great rest of the year with all the new little ones being passed around while we talk food, mom stuff and that first real glass of wine after pregnancy. We can't get enough...of any or all of those things. 


I hosted most of the girls at my house for this menu and some wine that paired really well with the Cacao bar that Teresa brought for us to snack on afterward. The girls liked the wine (Red Roan by Tagaris Winery) so much that I had my mother-in-law pick us up a case to split between us all. It is half off on Wednesdays (only $13)...how can you pass that up? Thanks Jane - you're the BEST! :) Tagaris is my husband and my new favorite winery in TriCities. They have amazing food as well as a few award winning wines. I signed up for my first wine club...just today actually. I already get milk & organic produce delivered...why not wine a few times a year too? I highly suggest checking them out next time you're over in TriCities. www.tagariswines.com 


Ok, back to our menu. Browning butter - It's an easy way to take a recipe that calls for butter up a notch in flavor and complexity. Just by cooking the butter a few minutes past the melting point results in the milk solids in the butter browning, and creating a wonderfully nutty aroma. It's fun to do with butter-based sauces, baked goods that call for melted butter, or with pastas such as the dinner I made for the girls on this particular Thursday night. Just be sure to keep your eye on it while cooking...it's pretty easy to go from browned to burnt. Directions below. It should look like this once it's done...






1 Heat a skillet on medium heat. Add the butter (sliced so that the butter melts more evenly) whisking frequently. Continue to cook the butter.



2 Once melted the butter will foam up a bit, then subside. Watch carefully as lightly browned specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan (after approximately 5 mins). The butter should have a nutty aroma. Remove from heat and place on a cool surface to help stop the butter from cooking further and perhaps burning.

Use browned butter immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for future use. I always make more than I anticipate on using for dinner. It's so nice to have it stored away in the fridge for my next craving.

(photo courtesy of lifesabrosia.com)
I served spaghetti noodles with a choice of toppings: chicken, garlic sautéed mushrooms, fresh basil, red pepper flakes & the show stopper cheese....MYZITHRA! The combo of this cheese with the browned butter could be compared to...well, wine & chocolate is the first thing to come to mind.  I served it with a spinach salad with crimini mushrooms, red peppers and our favorite Uncle Dan's Ranch Dressing. Also with streamed broccoli with...you guessed it, more browned butter and Myzithra. If you've been to The Old Spaghetti Factory before it's easy to tell where this menu was born. I really only modified it with the choice of toppings. I love recipes that are easy to customize...they're great for picky kids. Oh, wait, no...it's me that's picky.

Hope you enjoy this one!
AK




Monday, June 25, 2012

A Pike Place Market Inspired Menu


Caroline hosted, for the 1st time in many years, at her new place. She took a hiatus for a few years in Texas, but as everyone originally from here knows, the NW has it all...so of course she moved back! With a peek-a-boo-view of the sun setting on Puget Sound, we enjoyed a lovely dinner. Care is a Seattlite at heart so naturally she put together a menu inspired by what Pike Place Market has to offer. So next time you're visiting the market, pull up the menu from tonights post and you can make your very own...best part is, we'll tell you how to throw it all together.

Enjoy!

PIKE PLACE PASTA BAR

Apps
  • Sliced bread
  • Olive oil (I served garlic and original)
  • Balsamic (I served vanilla fig)
  • Prosciutto wrapped asparagus (recipe below)
  • Beechers cheese and crackers

Dinner
  • Pasta: A few options like penne & macaroni (short pasta holds up longest)
  • Sauces: Pesto, meat sauce, Alfredo (recipes below)
  • Salad and dressings
  • Toppings: peas, sundried tomatoes, olives, artichokes (for salad and pasta)


Prosciutto Asparagus
Ingredients:
Asparagus (go for thicker if possible)
Prosciutto: 10-12 pieces thinly sliced 
Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper
Balsamic 
Olive oil

Steps:
  • Trim the ends off asparagus
  • Cut proscuitto into 1 inch strips
  • Start at top of asparagus spear and wrap prosciutto around to the end
  • Place on foil lined baking sheet
  • Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Bake at 415 for 8-12 minutes (depending on thickness) until prosciutto is crisp
  • Place asparagus on platter and drizzle with balsamic and freshly shredded Parmesan


Pesto Recipe
Making pesto is all about individual preference. I like to mix up the herbs used based on what is fresh and available, but the basics are always cheese, garlic, olive oil an herb and nuts. 



Ingredients: 
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil - depending on consistency preference (for dip use less, for sauce use more)
1/2-1 cup shredded parmesan cheese  
1/2 teaspoon of chili pepper flakes (optional but nice kick)
1/4-1/2 cup nut option
2-3 cups herb option

Nut Options About 1/4-1/2 cup or to taste of your choice
-Pine nuts
-Almonds
-Walnuts 

Herb Options About 2-3 cups fresh of any of the following (or combo)
Parsley
Mint
Basil 
Spinach
Kale 

Ragu d'Anitra (meat sauce adapted from Serafina restaurant chef)
Ingredients:
6oz smoked bacon 
1/2 Lb veal
1/2 Lb ground beef
1/2 Lb sausage 
3/4 C chopped onion
1/2 C chopped carrot
1/2 C chopped celery
2 bay leaves
2 Tb chopped Italian parsley
1 Tb dried porcini 
2 Tb tomato paste
1 C red wine
1 spring rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 C heavy cream (milk ok too)

Steps:
  • In a large pot/dutch oven saute vegetables (carrot, onion, celery) in oil until softened (3-5 min)
  • Add meats, parsley, salt and pepper and simmer for 35 min
  • Add wine, porcinis, rosemary and tomato paste and simmer for 2.5 hours
  • Add heavy cream, check seasonings and serve over pasta

Until next time...
-AK

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Not Your Average Sloppy Joes

As much as I like to think I am a culinary wizard, Teresa always amazes me with her adventurous nature and fun creations in the kitchen. We had bread with homemade butter to snack on as she whipped up the Sloppy Joe topping.  I even have the super easy directions to share...who would have thought?


"Why should you prepare butter at home? Simply because it is much healthier than the processed butter you are so used to eating. It contains natural, and not processed, fats that are healthy for the body, and ought to be an important part of our diet. It is also free of additives such as excess salt and other chemicals, that are used to flavor processed butter. Homemade butter is a rich source of fatty acids, healthy cholesterol, and important vitamins." (Buzzle.com)



Homemade butter

Heavy cream
In food processor or mixer whip cream. Will become whipped cream, continue to process. Emulsion will break and solids will start to form.  Pour off non-fat butter milk and flavor butter (herbs, salt, etc.)

How easy is that?? With our hearty and delicious dinner we had a Beet & Goat Cheese salad. The simple recipe is as follows...



Beet & Goat Cheese Salad

Beets & crumbled goat cheese over your choice of greens and covered with your favorite white balsamic vinaigrette. If you're feeling particularly adventurous have some candied walnuts to sprinkle over the top.

Not Your Average Sloppy Joe

Serves 8-12

2# ground beef
3 tsp salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbsp canola oil
1 ½ large yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
2 tsp ground cumin
1.5 tsp chili powder
3.5 C chicken stock
4 tsp tomato paste
2 large ear yellow corn, kernels removed
4 plum tomatoes diced
½ c chopped fresh cilantro
ground black pepper
Avocado slices on top

Combine beef, salt and garlic, mix.  In large skillet over high heat cook meat thoroughly.   Heat oil in skillet and add onion and pepper. Cook for 2 mins stirring occasionally.  Add meat back to skillet.  Add jalapeno, cumin, chili powder.  Cook and stir for 1 min. Stir in stock and tomato paste and return beef to pan. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until liquid is reduced by half.  Remove from heat. Stir in corn, tomatoes, and cilantro.   Serve hot over toasted bread or pasta.


Recipe adapted from Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s Pure Flavor 125 Fresh All-American Recipes from the Pacific Northwest

And on to dessert...how do we have room for this??

Mini Blueberry Pies

All Butter Double- Crust Pie Dough1/3 c ice water, plus extra as needed
3 Tbsp sour cream or greek yogurt
2.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for the work surface1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp table salt16 Tbsp unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into ¼ inch pieces and frozen for 10-15 mins

  • Mix 1/3 cup of the ice water and greek yogurt in a small bowl until combined. Process the flour, sugar and salt together in a food processor until combined. Scatter the butter pieces over the top and pulse the mixture until the butter is the size of large peas, about 10 pulses.
  • Pour half of the yogurt mixture over the flour mixture and pulse until incorporated, about 3 pulses. Repeat with remaining yogurt mixture. Pinch the dough with fingers, if it feels dry and does not hold together, sprinkle 1-2 T more ice water over the mixture and pulse until the dough forms large clumps and no dry flour remains 3 to 5 pulses.
  • Divide the dough into two even pieces. Turn each piece of dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 4” disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hr. Before rolling, let sit on counter for 10 mins. To make mini pies- roll out and use round cookie cutter. With dough cut roll to fit muffin pan. Fill with filling. Cut and roll second piece. Crimp edges and vent.

Blueberry filling

6 cups fresh blueberries
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and shredded 
¾ c sugar
2 T instant tapioca, ground
2 tsp grated zest plus 2 tsp juice from lemon
pinch table salt
2 T unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch pieces
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • Place 3 cups of berries in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Using a potato masher, mash the berries several times to release the juices. Continue to cook, stirring frequently and mashing occasionally, until about half of the berries have broken down and the mixture is thickened and reduced to 1 ½ cups, about 8 minutes. Cool slightly.
  • Adjust an over rack to the lowest position, place a rimmed baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place the shredded apple in a paper towel and ring dry. Transfer the apple to a large bowl and stir in the cooked berries, remaining 3 c of uncooked berries, sugar, tapioca, lemon zest and juice and salt until combined. Spread the mixture into the dough lined cups. Scatter the butter pieces over the top of the filling.
  • After placing top dough piece, crimp edges and vent. Brush with the egg white
  • Place on heated baking sheet and bake @ 400 degrees F until crust is golden, about 25mins. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, rotate and continue to bake until juices are bubbling and the crust is deep golden brown.

Thank you for hosting Teresa!

AK



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Skinny Baked Mozzarella Stix

Ugh...I hate being behind on postings of our Girl's Nights menus and gossip. I apologize to all 32 followers (ok, a bit of sarcasm there). Do us girls a favor and follow the blog so we know you care. It's an amazing journey I share with these girls and I need a little motivation to keep the postings up to date :) We love that we have somewhere to go to and retrieve these great recipes...and that we can share them with you. How do we have 5400 page views and only 32 followers? Maybe a stalker or 2...wow, we're flattered, really. Be like Nike and "Just Do It" :)

Ok, my rant is over and I have some AMAZING news to share. Emily & Bea join Cassie on the preggo home front. Congrats girls...This will be both girls second child...the family is growing!! We love it!

While at Em's about...ahem...a month ago we had taco salads (go ahead and use your imagination for this recpie). She served some yummy bites as an appetizer though that I feel the need to share. Skinny Baked Mozzarella Sticks. What's the old Wheat Thins catch-phrase..."Baked, Not Fried"? Recipe and photos courtesy of www.skinnytaste.com Here it is...



Servings: 12 • Serving Size: 2 pieces • Old Points: 1 pts • Points+: 2 pts*
Calories: 86.8* • Fat: 4.8 g • Protein: 7.4 g • Carb: 3.5 g • Fiber: 0.2 g • Sugar: 0.2
Sodium: 168.6

Ingredients:
  • 12 sticks part-skim, reduced sodium mozzarella string cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 5 tbsp Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 5 tbsp panko crumbs
  • 2 tsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • olive oil cooking spray

Directions:

Cut cheese in half to give you 24 pieces. Place cheese in the freezer until cheese is frozen. In small bowl, whisk the egg. Place the flour on another small dish. In separate bowl, combine bread crumbs, panko, parmesan cheese and dried parsley.


Dip the frozen sticks in flour, shaking off excess, then into the egg, then coat with the crumbs. Repeat this process with the remaining cheese placing them on a tray with wax paper. Place cheese back into the freezer until ready to bake (this is a must or they will melt before the crumbs get golden).

When ready to bake preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with oil. Place frozen cheese sticks on baking sheet. Spray the tops of the mozzarella sticks with a little more oil and bake in the bottom third of your oven until crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn and bake an additional 4 - 5 minutes watching them closely so they don't melt.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Low-Fat Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Dinner at Meg's a few weeks back was extra yummy. We obviously love our Mexican food.  I forgot to take notes as to our non-stop witty banter so you can ad lib for us here :)

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken was derived from www.SkinnyTaste.com (photo courtesy of a very popular blog, www.chef-in-training.com) Wow, how do we get to 5800 followers too? Not that it matters too much, we're seeing heavy traffic on our blog since Pinterest has come along. It's a win/win for sure. Here is your recipe...Delicious AND healthy!
CROCK POT SANTA FE CHICKEN

  • 24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste
Combine chicken broth, beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot.

Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.

Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.

Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred.

Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning.

Serve over rice (extra pts)
Servings: 8 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
Old Points: 3 pts
Points+: 4 pts
Calories: 190
Fat: 1.5 g
Fiber: 5.6 g
Carbs: 23.1 g
Protein: 21 g

Dessert was our choice of root beer or orange creamsicle floats. We wanted to relive our glory days :)
Enjoy,
AK

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup & Spinach Salad

While I'm waiting for a recipe from Meagan, I'll post our dinner & convos from this past week at my house. I've said it before and I'll say it again...hosting these girls is so much fun! I can't say that I don't stress about making dinner for 8+ people (not to mention for my husband and 2 1/2 year old little boy), but I am happy to say we have finally implemented a new system. The one to host dinner the week before is to bring dessert for the current week. Whew...one thing off my list...until next week :)


While I was putting the finishing touches on dinner I served a Baked Brie with candied walnuts, caramelized onions & apricot preserves. Sliced red grapes and sea salted water crackers along side. Sound familiar? If you have ever been to Purple Cafe & Wine Bar in Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland or Woodinville (www.thepurplecafe.com) maybe you were lucky enough to have tried this delicious treat. I was so excited when I found this wonderful blog with the actual recipe (http://northwestnoshings.com/2008/07/07/oozing-with-cheesy-goodness/), which was donated by Purple to an amazing cookbook called Pacific Northwest Wining and Dining: The People, Places, Food, and Drink of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia (by Braiden Rex-Johnson), which can be found on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Northwest-Wining-Dining-Washington/dp/0471746851/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334173258&sr=8-1


Here is the Brie recipe... (note, I wasn't in love with the walnuts so I used a recipe I found on allrecipes.com which is below)

Baked Brie with Candied Walnuts and Caramelized Onions
serves 2 to 4 as an appetizer


1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small white or yellow onion, very thinly sliced
pinch kosher salt
4 sheets phyllo dough
6 tablespoons clarified butter, melted
one 4-to-8 ounce wheel of ripe Brie cheese
1 ½ to 2 tablespoons apricot jam, or orange marmalade(note: stir or whisk jam/marmalade until is loosens enough to spread)
3 to 4 tablespoons Candied Walnuts (recipe follows)
Fresh fruit of your choice, such as red grapes, apple slices, or pear slices
Baguette slices or crackers

-Preheat the oven to 450F.
-Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the onion and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and golden., 25 to 30 minutes; adjust the heat if necessary so the onions don’t brown too quickly or burn. Set aside.
-While the onions are cooking, arrange the oven rack in the center of the oven. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
- Lay the phyllo dough on a clean, damp kitchen towel on a dry work surface and cover with another damp kitchen towel. Lay a sheet of dough on the baking sheet. Brush the dough lightly with melted butter. Place a second piece of dough across the first piece of dough to form a cross shape and brush lightly with butter. Place a third piece of dough diagonally over the cross and brush lightly with butter. Place the fourth piece of dough diagonally over the third piece of dough(to form a “x” shape) and brush lightly with butter.
-Cut the Brie horizontally through the middle to form a top and bottom layer.
-Place the bottom layer of brie in the center of the phyllo dough.
-Brush with the apricot glaze, and arrange 2 to 3 tablespoons of the onions and the Candied Walnuts evenly over the glaze. Cover with the top layer of brie.
 -Form a beggar’s purse by gathering all eight ends of the phyllo dough, bringing them together over the top of the brie, and pinching them together until the brie is totally encased in dough. Brush lightly with butter, place the phyllo package in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour before proceeding to the next step.
-Cover loosely with aluminum foil and place in the oven for 8 minutes.
-Remove the foil and continue baking for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the phyllo turns golden in color.
-Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving plate. Arrange the fresh fruit and crackers around the brie and serve immediately.

Dawn's Candied Walnuts

Ingredients

  • 1 pound walnut halves
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I omitted because it didn't seem relevant to the brie dish)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spread nuts in a single layer over a baking sheet. Roast for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until the nuts start to turn brown and the smell of roasting nuts fills the kitchen.
  2. Stir together sugar, cinnamon, salt, and milk in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat for 8 minutes, or until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage of 236 degrees F (113 degrees C). Remove from heat, and stir in vanilla immediately. .
  3. Add walnuts to sugar syrup, and stir to coat well. Spoon nuts onto waxed paper, and immediately separate nuts with a fork. Cool, and store in airtight containers.

Tomato Basil Parmesan Soup (originally found at http://utah.todaysmama.com/)

                                                      Photo by Clair Buys/BYU Magazine

Makes about 2 quarts (about 8 servings)

2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrots
1 cup finely diced onions
1 tsp dried oregano or 1 T fresh oregano
1 T dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh basil
4 cups chicken broth
½ bay leaf
½ cup flour
1 cup Parmesan cheese
½ cup butter
2 cups half and half, warmed (or skim milk if you’re trying to cut some calories)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

1.  Add tomatoes, celery, carrots, chicken broth, onions, oregano, basil, and bay leaf to a large slow cooker.
2.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5-7 hours, until flavors are blended and vegetables are soft.
3.  About 30 minutes before serving prepare a roux. Melt butter over low heat in a skillet and add flour. Stir constantly with a whisk for 5-7 minutes. Slowly stir in 1 cup hot soup. Add another 3 cups and stir until smooth. Add all back into the slow cooker. Stir and add the Parmesan cheese, warmed half and half, salt and pepper.  Add additional basil and oregano if needed (the slow cooker does a number on spices and they get bland over time, so don’t be afraid to always season to taste at the end).
4.  Cover and cook on LOW for another 30 minutes or so until ready to serve.


Cranberry-Avocado Salad with Candied Spiced Almonds and Sweet White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Courtesy of: http://thecafesucrefarine.blogspot.com/

I keep this dressing on hand at all times now. I've used it over a Chicken, Black Bean & Quinoa dish I threw together as well as a basic green salad. It's super versatile.


Ingredients for the dressing:
⅓ cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons poppy seeds
1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
½ teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried mustard
1 tablespoon minced sweet onion
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup white balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup vegetable oil
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil


Ingredients for the salad:
6 dinner size salads, 8 side salads

12 ounces baby spinach, arugula and/or field greens
1 small bunch cilantro, washed and dried, leaves removed whole from stems
2 medium avocados, peeled and halved
¾ cup dried cranberries
¾ cup Candied Spiced Almonds (recipe to follow)

Directions:
1. For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a pint sized glass jar and shake well to dissolve sugar.

2. For the salad, place greens and cilantro leaves in a large bowl. Add avocado and dried cranberries and about 1/4 cup of the dressing and toss gently. Scatter candied almonds over salad and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pass extra dressing at the table.

Candied Spiced Almonds


Ingredients:


5 cups sliced almonds, or a 1 pound package*
½ cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin*
1-1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika* - some smoked paprikas are quite hot, if you don't like "hot", just use 1 teaspoon and they will be mildly spiced.
1 teaspoon vanilla
sea salt

*The cumin and the smoked paprika give just a hint of mysterious, delicious flavor - even though these are savory spices, these almonds are still wonderful served with sweets like ice cream or yogurt.

Directions:
1. Place a large sheet of foil on a work surface. Spray with cooking spray or rub a teaspoon of oil over foil with a paper towel.

2.  Place sugar in a large non-stick sauté pan and heat over medium heat , occasionally tipping and swirling the sugar until it is all melted into a pale golden syrup.

3. Lower heat immediately and add butter, cinnamon, smoked paprika and vanilla. Stir until well combined and all butter is incorporated into the sugar syrup.

4. Add the nuts and stir gently to coat. Don't worry if you have some clumps of caramelized sugar - they will melt as you continue to sauté the almonds. Cover and continue to cook on low, stirring every minute or so until almonds are a delicious golden brown. Watch very carefully as they can go from beautiful to burned very quickly! Turn out onto prepared foil and sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Spread out on foil to cool.
We chatted a lot about our families this past week. From growing them to marriages and other relationships within our own families. Lauren has 2 boys, Aiden & Isaac; Emily has a girl, Ellie; and I have my son, Wyatt. We try to get the kids together once a week or everyother week...maybe we should keep the ball rolling on this whole girls group thing and create a moms group as well (maybe we already have)...

Enjoy the recipes!
AK