Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beer Bread

Someone asked me if I had a good beer bread recipe and I had this one that I have used in the past.  When I was asked about it, I realized that I just had to make it again - power of suggestion?  Yeah, it exists.

I had forgotten how easy Beer Bread is to make - Miss Sunshine even helped me with it.  While I TOTALLY love to bake, it was a nice break to make something that didn't require me to haul out all my major counter appliances!!  This just required a bowl and a spoon. :-)

Disclaimer: I suppose I'm not real acquainted with different types of breads, as I'm not a big fan of them.  I made this beer bread and really liked it.  However, I've never had any other beer bread so I have nothing to compare it to!  I hope it tastes like what it's supposed to taste like!  Regardless, it's still good :-)

Beer Bread
Original Recipe by Alton Brown

Nonstick spray
8 ounces all-purpose flour
4 ounces whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill (omitted by me this time)
4 1/2 ounces sharp Cheddar, grated
12 ounces cold beer, ale or stout
1 to 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, optional

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Coat the inside of a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with the nonstick spray and set aside.

Whisk together the all-purpose flour, wheat flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and dill in a large mixing bowl. Add in the cheese and stir in the beer just to combine. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the sunflower seeds, if using.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 210 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 45 to 55 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the loaf to a cooling rack for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Chef’s Note: decrease salt to 1 teaspoon instead.  Add shredded cheddar on top during last 5 minutes of baking, if desired.

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy
Enjoy and live with gusto!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ham and Potato Skillet

This is one of my kids' favorite leftover ham recipes - I haven't made this in years!  They were happy to see this one return to the dinner table last night :-) 

What I love about this is that it's so flexible, just throw in what ever sounds good to you and how ever much you want.  I usually do ham, brocolli, potatoes and cheese and tend to stick with just that - but, I challenge you to be creative!  Ha!

Ham and Potato Skillet
Original Recipe by Kitchen Groovy

Leftover ham, cut up and chopped - roughly 2 cups
1 package hash browns - I use Southern Style (diced potatoes)
Cheddar Cheese - roughly 1 cup

Cook hash browns according to package directions. 

In a separate skillet, cook up ham and brocolli - just long enough to cook the brocolli.  Cover so the brocolli steams and cooks faster.  Stir occasionally to keep ham from sticking to pan and burning.

Once everything is cooked, toss cheese into the hash browns and stir.  Stir in ham and brocolli to combine. 

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Chick and Egg Cupcakes

I did it!!!  I was able to successfully make an Easter related recipe and post it before the actual holiday!  If you don't mind, I'm going to give myself a little pat on the back!  :-)

I found this recipe on the Food Network website - and thought they were really cute.  Little Miss Sunshine LOVED them - no surprise there! 

The original recipe had its own frosting calling for Marshmallow Fluff. I'm not a big fan of "Fluff", but made it anyway to see if this particular frosting would help the overall cupcake look better.  I honestly think a simple buttercream would work just the same, or even a store bought frosting would be fine - just make sure you mix in the food coloring (I used a neon blue food coloring which are on the store shelves now due to the holiday).  I thought the frosting was horrible, and it turned hard after a short period of time.  Not a fan of that!

What ever Easter means to you, regardless how you celebrate, I hope this cute little dessert will help make your day a special one!

Chick and Egg Cupcakes
Original Recipe from Food Network Kitchens

1 vanilla cupcake, recipe follows
White frosting + blue food coloring
Green coconut grass, recipe follows
6 small candied malt balls (2 yellow, 2 pink, 2 white)
1 yellow chick peep
White Airhead candy

Frost a cupcake with fluff frosting. Press a circle of coconut grass on top. Nestle the malted eggs on top of the grass. Gently press the peep onto the center of the grass. Cut the white Airhead into a 1/2 oval shape; trim one side so it has a cracked egg jagged edge. Place egg next to chick.

Vanilla Cupcakes:
2 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup cupcake tins with paper liners. (To avoid cupcakes sticking if they overflow slightly, lightly spray the tops of the pans.) Put tins on a baking sheet. Set aside.

Process sugar and butter in a food processor until very creamy, scraping sides as needed, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the eggs and yolks, one at a time, pulsing after each addition. Add the milk, water, and vanilla and process to blend.
Whisk both flours, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients, in 3 batches to the wet, pulsing, and then scraping batter off the sides of the processor as needed after each addition. Process until the batter is very smooth and pourable like pancake batter, about 2 minutes.

Evenly pour the batter into the prepared cups, filling them 3/4 of the way full. Bake until the cakes are just firm and spring back when gently pressed, and the tops are golden, 18 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly in tin, and turn out of tin when cool enough to handle. Cool cupcakes completely on a rack before frosting.

Yield: 24 cupcakes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 30 minutes
Ease of preparation: easy
Yield: 3 3/4 cups

Coconut Easter Grass for Cupcakes:
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 to 2 teaspoons liquid green food coloring
1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid yellow food coloring

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place a mesh rack on top, if available.
Put coconut in a shallow bowl. While tossing with a large spoon, add food coloring drop by drop until the desired color is reached. A little more green than yellow makes a pretty grass color. Add a few tablespoons water to moisten the mixture and help disperse the color evenly. If the color is too dark, add additional water, as needed, to dilute to the desired color. Drain the coconut in a sieve or strainer.

Spread the coconut in an even layer on the rack, or directly on the lined baking sheet. Place in the oven until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. Use immediately, or store in covered container for up to 3 days.

Cook's Note: Food coloring can be messy and can stain your skin. To prevent this, wear latex gloves. You may find it easier to color the coconut in a large zip top plastic bag, tossing it to color evenly.

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life" - John 5:24a
As we celebrate Easter, may you be blessed in mighty ways!! 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Dinner - Blog Cop Out!

So - as I write this post, I am hoping that I am in good company with what I'm about to share. 

I attempted to make Easter cupcakes yesterday afternoon.  They didn't turn out quite how I was hoping. . . I know the cupcakes will still end up being good -IF, and only IF, you follow the recipe!  Unfortunately, I did not.  I think I was juggling too many things at one time, and I ended up putting in 1 C too much of flour.  Sigh.  So, while the cupcakes turned out fine for everyone else - I could tell that they were too heavy for a cupcake.  For something so relatively simple, how did I muck that up?  Well, let's see -

We had our exterminator here, and the cable guy here yesterday.  I had to still taxi my kids here and there for their after school activities, plus laundry, respond to emails and address my day to day to do list.  Oh yeah, and when I went to pick up my daughter from softball practice, she wasn't at the field she was supposed to be at and I had to try to "get in her mind" for a minute and think where she might be.  You would think she'd pick up her cell phone when I call, but because I absolutely HAD to talk to her, of course I can't seem to get a hold of her.  This may not seem like anything that you can't handle (I know there are a lot of super moms out there!), but I think my mo-jo was just off today.  Not sure why.  Maybe a new moon?  Or, maybe this is a normal thing for our house - remember the fire in the oven when I wasn't home??  Geez!  We truly are a travelling circus.

So - I read a lot of blogs and the authors are so great about planning ahead and blogging about a recipe just in time for a major holiday . . . like, ummm . . . Easter.  Me?  No, of course not!  I like to cook, then blog about my experiences as I cook.  Plan ahead for a holiday?  No.  Not me.  Maybe this rookie blogger will get better as time goes on. 

So - I'm copping out.  I'm not posting any recipes that will help you prepare for Easter.  Sorry!  However, I despise stressing out about anything - and I refuse to become slave to anything!  But, I am not leaving you high and dry - that is also something I absolutely despise! 

Here are recipes for you to review that will hopefully help you prepare for your Easter feast - all from blogs and websites that I go to on a regular basis.  I hope you enjoy their website as much as I do!

And, if I get my act together - I will post my super cute Easter cupcake recipe :-)

Easter Main Courses
Grilled Lamb Chops with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic - That Skinny Chick Can Bake!
Tangerine Glazed Easter Ham - Tyler Florence & Food Network

Easter Sides
Roasted Asparagus with Grated Parmesan - Kitchen Groovy
Three Cheese Potato Gratin - Kitchen Groovy
Buttery New Potatoes with Parsley - Drick's Rambling Cafe
Orange and Honey Roasted Carrots with Candied Pecans - Simply Healthy Family

Easter Desserts
Peeps On A Pond - My Kids Eat Candy
Strawberry Rhubarb Crumb Bars - Ryan Bakes
Chick and Egg Cupcakes - Kitchen Groovy (recipe to come, I promise!!)

As always, enjoy and LIVE with gusto!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

My hubby and I have been training to run longer distances - we are not "runners" by any stretch of the imagination.  But, it's one way for us to spend time together and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  Currently, we are training for our first 10k race - we are very excited about it! 

We probably run about 4 times a week, and I have realized that what we consume throughout the week affects whether we have a good run or not.  Let me emphasize - we are not crazy health nuts (not that there is anything wrong with that).  We do believe in moderation for everything, including things that health nuts probably would swear off.  But, I love to eat good food - I definitely carry a "sinners and saints" type attitude toward eating.

I also believe I am becoming more aware of what I am putting into my body in terms of sodium, artificial flavors and sugar content.  Which is why I believe in homemade SO much - I am in control AND I have full knowledge of what my family is consuming. 

I love granola bars - but I even remain quite skeptical of anything commercial that is labeled "healthy".  When you actually read the ingredients, alot of times it's far from healthy.  So, when I came across this recipe for homemade granola bars - I couldn't resist.  It would provide great fuel as we train and increase our running distance, as well as just finding a good ole' healthy snack.  Win-win.

Homemade Granola Bars
Original Recipe by Ina Garten "Back to Basics" Cookbook, page 242

2 C old fashioned oatmeal
1 C sliced almonds
1 C shredded coconut, loosely packed
1/2 C toasted wheat germ
3 T unsalted butter
2/3 C honey
1/4 C light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 C chopped pitted dates
1/2 C chopped dried apricots
1/2 C dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter an 8 x 12" baking dish and line with parchment paper.
Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned.  Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.
*Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
Place the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture.  Add the dates, apricots, and cranberries and stir well.
Pour the mixture into a prepared pan.  Wet your fingers and lightly press evenly into the pan.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until light golden brown.  Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares.  Serve at room temperature.

They were SOOOO good!  My daughter ended up bringing them to school with her lunch, as well as my hubby - so now the pressure is on to make more for them!!  But - once you make these, you'll realize there is NO pressure because they are super easy.  :-)

Chef's notes:
- I used a 9x13 dish instead of an 8x12.
- I omitted the dates - I just don't care for them.
- I used both regular dried apricots and organic.  My advice - go organic!  They taste way better!!
- I found they were a bit crumblier than I preferred, so I will continue to "play" with this by possibly adding more honey and butter (seriously, that won't do any harm, right?)
- The first time I made this, I forgot to turn the oven down and they ended up slightly burnt.  Instead of tossing, I broke it up into crumbly pieces, and I'll eat it over plain vanilla yogurt.  I don't believe in wasting ANYTHING!!

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Italian Wedding Soup

Just because it's spring doesn't mean we will always have the best weather.  It's always a mixed bag of beautiful sunny days, cold, damp rain, or a good heavy dumping of snow.  I'm glad that what we have dealt with for the last two days was just cold and windy versus a heavy dumping of snow.  I think we're past that - but I suppose Mother Nature is not to be tested!

I think this soup was absolutely perfect for a cold, windy day - it was hearty and just right for taking the chill out of the ole' bones. 

A couple of thoughts swirling around my head - I used a whole box of pasta rather than just 1 cup.  There was so much left over - a great thing for our family since we rarely have enough to actually make it to a second day.  But I noticed there wasn't much broth left over to accomodate another day's worth of soup.  Being that it was pasta, meatballs and spinach leftover and not much broth - I thought it would be delicious to make a creamy, gooey cheese sauce to mix it in for leftovers, then bake it similar to a mac n cheese dish.  Sound yummy?  Unfortunately, I'm a bit of a wimp in cold weather, and I never made it to the store to pick up what I needed to create this.  So, I just added more chicken stock and we had soup again.  No complaints - it was still delish.  SO, there you have it.  If you're feeling adventurous, you should try it and report back to me!

Italian Wedding Soup
Original Recipe by Ina Garten "Back to Basics" cookbook, pg. 72-73

3/4 lb. ground chicken
1/2 lb. chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 C fresh white bread crumbs
2 tsp. minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 T chopped fresh parsley
1/4 C freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1/4 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
3 T milk
1 extra large egg, lighly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 T good olive oil
1 C minced yellow onion
1 C 1/4" diced carrots (3 carrots)
1 C 1/4" diced celery (2 stalks)
10 C Chicken Stock (Ina calls for homemade chicken stock)
1/2 C dry white wine
1 C small pasta such as tubetini or stars
1/4 C minced fresh dill
12 oz. baby spinach, washed and trimmed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork.  With a teaspoon, drop 1 - 1 1/2" meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper (you should have about 40 meatballs.  They don't have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned.  Set aside. 

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large, heavy bottomed soup pot.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6-8 minutes, until the pasta is tender.  Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until spinach is just wilted.  Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan cheese.

I used a fork to mix together all the meatball ingredients, and also a small ice cream scoop to form the meatballs and transfer to the pan - I didn't even get my hands dirty!!  BONUS!

Soup in a pot!

The End Result: a soup with so much oomph - it will have you wanting more.

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wild Mushroom-Cheddar Burger

I have to tell ya, Bobby Flay knows his stuff.  I love his cooking - it's a bit labor intensive, but if you're willing to put in the love, it's totally worth it.  I have his cookbook "Burgers, Fries & Shakes" cookbook - and I haven't found anything that wasn't delicious. 

Hubby and I made this one last week when the weather was beautiful and we couldn't help but hear our grill calling out to us.  We couldn't ignore it. 

The only feedback I have on this particular burger is the fact that the mushrooms have to be chopped.  Disclaimer - this is only my opinion!  But, I think next time, I can still achieve the exact same result for my tastebuds if I did NOT chop all those mushrooms.  Next time, I'm leaving them sliced.  You decide what you want to do!  :-) 

Also - I decided to actually make the Chipotle Ketchup and I'll tell ya, it was well worth it.  This I would not compromise on - it was A.W.E.S.O.M.E. and absolutely defined the burger. 

Wild Mushroom-Cheddar Burger
Original recipe by Bobby Flay's "Burgers, Fries & Shakes" cookbook, pg. 66

2 T olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
12 oz. assorted mushrooms (such as cremini, lobster, chanterelles, and stemmed stiitakes), chopped
1 small shallot, finely diced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck (80% lean) or ground turkey (90% lean)
1 1/2 T canola oil
4 slices sharp Cheddar Cheese
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted
Chipotle Ketchup (recipe follows)

Chipotle Ketchup
1 C ketchup
2-3 T pureed canned chipotle in adobo (depending on how spicy you prefer it)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Whisk together the ketchup, chipotle, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  (I actually threw all of it in a small food chopper to make it as smooth as possible.)  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.  The sauce will keep for 1 week in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

For the burgers:
1. Heat the olive oil and buter in a large saute pan over high heat until almost smoking.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the shallot, season with salt and pepper, and cook until the mushrooms are golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the thyme and parsley and transfer to a bowl.
2. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions (about 6oz. each).  Form each portion loosely into a 3/4" thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb. **  Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.
3. Cook the burgers, using the canola oil and topping each one with a slice of cheese and a basting cover during the last minute of cooking. 
4. Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and top each burger with chipotle ketchup, if using, and a large spoonful of the mushrooms.  Cover with the bun tops and serve immediately.

** Why make this deep depression in your raw burger?  As you cook your burgers, they will naturally raise in the center.  By pressing in the middle, you will avoid the "football round" shaped burgers.

Seriously, need I say more??

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Monday, April 11, 2011

BLT Salad AND Winner Announced!!

It's the start of a brand new week!  The grass is "greening" up and spring is finally here! 

Those are just a couple of reasons why I decided to make a BLT salad :-)  My hubby loves iceberg lettuce.  I'm not a fan at all - I prefer spinach over iceberg any day of the week.  However, we agree that I'll eat iceberg and he'll eat spinach as long as both are set on the table every now and then.

I saw a recipe in my brand spanking new Food Network magazine that came last week, and I had to give her a try.  However, the recipe in the magazine looked delicious, there was more prep involved so I decided to just make a super simplified recipe of my own.  You really can't go wrong with this one!

BLT Salad Wedges
Recipe by Kitchen Groovy

1 head of iceberg lettuce, cut into wedges
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 C grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 bottle Ranch dressing

Set lettuce on a plate and assemble - it really doesn't get any easier that that!!

Now, isn't that a refreshing and pretty salad??!!  Even for someone like me who doesn't fully appreciate iceberg lettuce, that is something I can get behind!!  And, my kids liked eating it with their hands (as if it was a tortilla chip). 

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Now - onto important matters!!  The winner of my latest Favorite Thing is . . .

Lizzy!!!  Congratulations to you! 

And thank you to all who left comments, became followers, shared it with friends - and frankly, for just reading my blog each day which gives me so much encouragement to keep writing and sharing!  You guys are the bestest!!

It so happens to be that Lizzy is also the author of a wonderful blog - That Skinny Chick Can Bake!  You should definitely check out her website, too :-) 

Lizzy - please send me your address so you can receive your jewels ASAP!! 

Also, a HUGE thank you to Jennifer Allen from Stella and Dot who is graciously supplying this absolutely beautiful necklace.  I encourage you to check out her website so that you can also shop for a necklace just like it - OR find something that you absolutely cannot live without!  Remember, Mother's Day is right around the corner and this is the PERFECT place to shop!  Really, you don't have to leave the comfort of your own couch to shop!!!  Click here to visit her fabulous website!

Have a fantastic day and as always - enjoy and live with gusto!!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fried Pickles

It's Friday!  It's Friday!! 

I have a friend who used to celebrate "Fried Fridays" - this meant that if she ate healthy all week long, she would reward herself with something utterly and sinfully delicious and of course, fried.  While I am not disciplined enough to do it (after all, I'm an ice cream addict), I love the idea of "Fried Fridays".  So - here is my little contribution to that concept :-)  I tried these for the first time last summer while travelling cross country, and I fell in love with this appetizer.  It may completely yuck some of you out - but trust me, it's delicious!

Also - there is still time to enter and win the groovy Stella and Dot necklace!  It's my latest favorite thing!  Click here to leave a comment under my "Giveaway" post  The winner will be drawn on Sunday and announced on Monday!! 

Fried Pickles
Recipe courtesy of Food Network
Recipe adapted by Kitchen Groovy

3/4 C cornstarch, separated
1 egg
3/4 C milk
1/2 C cornmeal
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper, to taste
canola oil

In three different bowls, place the following:
Bowl 1: Place 1/4 C cornstarch
Bowl 2: Beat 1 egg, 3/4 C milk, and a pinch of cayenne pepper
Bowl 3: Mix 1/2 C cornstarch, 1/2 C cornmeal, 2 tsp. paprika, salt and pepper

Dip pickles in each bowl starting with Bowl 1.  Fry in 2" of 375 degrees canola oil until golden, about 3 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and serve with ranch dressing.

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Peanut Butter & Honey Pancakes

Good Wednesday to you!! 

I love peanut butter and bananas together.  It's one of my favorite "comfort" foods.  But, it's not really a comfort food since it's pretty healthy for you, shhh . . . don't say that too loud. 

So last night, I was craving something different for breakfast and thought - why not peanut butter pancakes?  Then I thought, why not add honey to it?  And add bananas on top?

So - here is my little creation. (granted, I will give credit to the little internetty web thing where I looked at several pancake recipes, which enabled me to come up with my own recipe)

Also - Don't forget to leave a comment under my Giveaway posting to win a super fantabulous Stella and Dot necklace!  But, you must be a follower AND leave a comment to win!!  Enter here!!

Peanut Butter & Honey Pancakes
Adapted recipe by Kitchen Groovy

1 C all purpose flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/2 T sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg
1 C plus 4 T milk, plus extra to thin, if needed
1/2 C creamy peanut butter, melted
1/4 C honey
2 T oil
sliced bananas, if desired
chopped pecans, if desired

Preheat a griddle.  In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.  Slowly mix in egg, milk, peanut butter, honey and oil until combined.  Add a little extra milk if batter feels too thick.  Let mixture sit 5 minutes.  Melt butter on griddle and move around to coat entire griddle.  Pour about 1/4 C of batter per pancake to form 5" pancakes.  The batter will spread as it cooks.  Fill griddle w/o crowding pancakes.  Flip when air pockets start to pop on the top and a quick peak on the underside reveals a golden pancake.  Repeat with remaining butter and batter.

Serve with bananas and maple syrup.  Top with pecans, if desired.

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy and live with gusto!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cranberry Blondie Bars AND a Girly Giveaway!!

Good Mondy morning, my groovy foodie friends!  We are all officially on Spring Break as of today, and we are celebrating by having a Staycation.  I love staycations - we get to experience all the cool things that our hometown has to offer, we get to do the things we don't normally take the time to do and best of all - we get to come home and sleep in our own beds!!  (little known fact about me: I love, love, love my super comfy bed and I look forward to climbing in it every night!).

A couple of things on the docket: attend a basketball game, have a slumber party, go to a Diners, Drive Ins and Dives local restaurant with the kids. 

On to my GIVE-AWAY!!!  I would love to start giving away a few of my favorite things throughout the year - for no other reason but it being pure bliss for me to share what my favorite things are!  They may have to do with cooking, or not. 

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a Stella and Dot party in my home by my very dear friend, Jennifer Allen.  Have you heard of Stella and Dot?  If you have, then you know how fantastic this company is and how beautiful their jewelry is!  If you haven't - then I urge you to hang on to your seat and read on!

First of all, Jennifer is one of the grooviest women I know.  She is utterly passionate about seeing women succeed.  She has always been this way, which is one of the reasons why I love her so much.  Not only is she passionate about seeing women succeed, but she is passionate about everything she does - she is an amazing mama to her sweet 4 year old, Audrey, she is a Life Coach who loves to coach women to succeed in their own lives, she volunteers with me on our church leadership in a ministry that oversees moms of young children, and now she has added this super fun role onto her already stellar resume!  I am absolutely excited for her! 

What does this have to do with my blog?  Well, I have seriously fallen in love with this jewelry line - one of my favorite things - and I am giving away this beautiful "On The Fringe" Necklace!

Isn't she pretty?  This piece is delicate and lovely - you can wear it every day whether you are on the baseball field, or going to work.  I love how Stella and Dot has jewelry that applies to all ages, styles and personalities - it's truly trendy and relevant for all!  You know you want it!!  Check out the Stella and Dot website - their jewels are worthy of adorning yourself with!

How can you receive this amazing necklace??!!  I'm going to make this VERY easy for you!  Why work hard when you don't have to??  :-)

Post a comment for each of the following:
1. Become a fan of Kitchen Groovy on Facebook (or post that you already are a fan)
2. Become a follower via Google Connect (or post that you already follow)
3. Become a follower via Twitter - YES!  I'm on Twitter now!  User name: kitchengroovy
4. Share this on Facebook and/ or Twitter with all that you know! (then post that you have shared or tweeted about it!)


** US entries only please - sorry to my international foodie friends!

You will recieve one entry for each that you do - the more you do, the more likely you will win! 

The winner will be announced one week from today - Monday, April 11th!! 

Oh - how about a recipe?  I served these blondie bars at my party, and they were a sensation.  Remember those Starbucks Cranberry Bliss bars they sell over the holidays?  These remind me of those, and I'm really excited that I don't have to spend $3 every time for them!  I found this recipe from a local grocery store but I've tweaked it a little bit to make them my own :-)

Cranberry Blondie Bars
Original recipe by Byerly's
Adapted recipe by Kitchen Groovy

- parchment paper
3/4 C melted butter
2 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 C light brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C white chocolate chips
1/2 C craisins
1/2 C chopped pecans
- Cream Cheese Frosting (below)
1/2 C craisins, chopped

Line 13x9 baking pan with parchment paper, extending up over ends of pan.  In large bowl, stir by hand butter, eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined.  In small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder and salt; stir into butter mixture until thoroughly combined.  Add chips and pecans, stirring to combine.  Spread evenly into prepared pan; bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until top is shiny, cracked and light golden brown (25-30 minutes).  Cool in pan; lift bars out of pan with ends of parchment paper.  Frost with cream cheese frosting; garnish with cranberries.  Cut into bars.

Cream Cheese Frosting
In a medium bowl, beat 3oz. softened cream cheese, 2 T softened butter, 1 tsp. milk and 1/2 tsp. vanilla with electric mixer on low speed until creamy.  Gradually beat in 2 C powdered sugar on low speed until smooth and spreadable.

Chef Note: I think I will replace the pecans with sliced or chopped almonds next time.  Feel free to play with this a bit to make it your own!

They were sensationally sinful and delicious!

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

Enjoy, live with gusto - and enter to win!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese AND An Award!!!

I have been trying to find various recipes that will help my super duper picky 14 year old teenage son.  I've mentioned before that his approved list of dinners are steak, pizza and chicken wings.  I know how much he loves chicken wings, so I thought I would try this recipe.  I've actually made it several times, and 3 out of the 5 family members love it.  Guess what?  My son is NOT one of them.  Heavy, heavy sigh.  But, just because he doesn't like it shouldn't sway you from making this dish.  Remember, he's picky.  He politely eats it, but he doesn't like it.  Regardless, I love him to pieces and will continue to search for recipes that please his palette. :-)

I will put forth the following disclaimer - this is a spicy dinner.  If you are feeding a family of young kids, or older ones who just don't like hot spicy food, I would definitely cut back on the amount of hot sauce used.  Actually, the hot sauce is added in 2 places.  If you want to make it less spicy, I would start by NOT adding it to the cheese mixture and go from there.  Otherwise, if you like hot and spicy, then this is for you!!

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Active Time: 35 minutes; Total Time: 1 hr. 15 minutes; Serves 6-8
Original Recipe from Food Network Kitchens

7 T unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni (or other fun pasta, I used campanelle)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 C shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ C hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)
2 T all-purpose flour
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 ½ C half and half
1 lb. yellow sharp cheese, cut into 1” cubes (about 3 ½ C)
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 C)
2/3 C sour cream
1 C panko crumbs
½ C crumbled blue cheese
2 T chopped fresh parsley

1.   Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9x13 baking dish.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes.  Drain.
2.   Meanwhile, melt 3 T butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add ½ C hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.
3.   Melt 2 T butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth.  Whisk in the half and half, then add the remaining ¼ C hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth. 
4.   Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni.  Pour the cheese sauce evenly on top. 
5.   Put the remaining 2 T butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted.  Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley.  Sprinkle over macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30-40 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Please click here for a printable version of this recipe - Kitchen Groovy

And now - for more fun news!!  I am incredibly honored to be given my 2nd award from a fellow blogger, Nami at Just One Cookbook.  Please check out her blog as it features many Japanese recipes - and for those of you who know me well, I absolutely LOVE Japanese food!!

This is called the "Sisterhood of the World Bloggers" Award - and I am humbled that my fellow foodie bloggers would think of me.  What I think is so fun about receiving and giving these awards is that it allows me to share a little bit about myself - and I love to share :-)

1. Organization is NOT my gift, but I insist the clothes in my closet are color coordinated.
2. I would much rather spend $150 on a pair of running shoes than a pair of cute boots, heels or sandals.
3. As much as I LOVE food, I have an unsophisticated palette - I have a hard time identifying ingredients in a dish just by tasting it :-)
4. I love the idea of "change".  It sounds like so much fun!
5. I hate giving kids baths - that has always been my hubby's task.  
6. I love musicals, and would spend all my free time watching them whether it's a movie or a live production.
7. I would much rather watch a slap-stick comedy movie than a romance or thriller.

Okay - my turn to nominate other amazing foodie bloggers!  Woot woot!  I love recognizing others!!  I am a follower of these bloggers, and I so enjoy reading the recipes they are cooking and their stories to go along with it.  Cook on, bake on foodie loves!

Please check out these wonderful blogs - they are sprinkled with stories and humor and loaded with great recipes that I only wish I had way more time to try all of them!

Enjoy and live with gusto!