Tag Archives: cookies

Easy potluck pasta bake

Today was my first day of physical therapy after my knee surgery, and man was it harder than I thought it would be! I knew that working on getting my bend back would be hard, but I didn’t think trying to straighten my leg all the way would be as painful as it was. I spent over two weeks in this lovely thing…

…so my knee couldn’t bend, but it wasn’t totally straight either. So it’s kind of in this weird limbo spot where I can’t straighten it or bend it all the way! It’s a little sore since I worked the muscles in that leg more today than I have in a month, but I’m just glad that it’s slowly on the mend. I can handle some pain now if it will get me back to doing yoga! And I can’t wait to try yoga for the first time without having the knee pain that the tumor was causing. I’m hoping within the month I’ll be able to go!

Anyway, I wanted to post the recipe for the pasta bake that I mentioned yesterday. It’s really easy and completely customizable to whatever you have on hand or want to throw in it!

Potluck Pasta Bake
Adapted from Italian Food Forever 

Start by cooking your choice of short pasta. I went with just over a half box of whole grain rotini.

Then, choose what you want to put in the casserole. We used the 1 1/2 cups of diced ham suggested in the recipe. For veggies, we had a bag of frozen broccoli and a bag of frozen chopped spinach that were both almost empty, so we thawed those…

…and my sous chef chopped everything up!

While he was chopping, I sauteed 1/2 cup of onions and 2 garlic cloves in 3 Tbs of butter. Then I whisked in 3 Tbs flour and 3 cups of 1% milk until the mixture was smooth. Next, add your choice of cheese. We chose 8 oz. of shredded cheddar. Add salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp. of oregano. Put the pasta back in the pot and all your chopped components.

So colorful!

Pour cheese sauce into pot and mix everything together. Transfer to a baking dish and top with  1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (I used panko) and 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese. Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Then remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until the top is nice and brown and crispy.

We love brown crunchy edges in this house!

This was a great dish – and I think it was even better reheated the next day! I always think that casserole type things, including baked mac and cheese, are better reheated – why is that?!?!

Things I will change next time I make this:
– Add more veggies.
– Use either a combo of different cheeses or try something other than cheddar. The cheddar was great, just not super flavorful. I think maybe some gruyere or fontina would’ve been awesome in this.
– Use less breadcrumbs. I followed the amount in the recipe, but it didn’t evenly brown on top because I think I piled the crumbs too high in some spots.
– more garlic! Because the more garlic the better. 🙂

Overall, very easy, was able to use things we had on hand, and totally customizable!

After eating this for dinner the other night, I promptly pulled this out of the freezer.

Yep. That’s leftover cookie dough from these bad boys. The coconut lime were the boyfriend’s favorite so I made a mini batch for us. They were just as good the second time around! You’d think I’d be trying to lay off the sugar after the holidays. But no. I don’t believe in deprivation. If I want sugar and don’t have it, I get grumpy. 🙂

Do you make casserole-type dishes often? Do you have a favorite or do you just throw in what you have in the kitchen? 

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Amazing holiday cookies

I hope everyone has been having a great holiday season! I know I’m kind of late in the game here, but I wanted to post the two cookie recipes I used as Christmas gifts because they were such a hit. And they aren’t “Christmas cookies” by any means – definitely suitable year-round!

I did a trial run of these the weekend before my surgery, and then spent the Friday before Christmas at my parents’ house making them. I may have overdone it by being on my feet all day – I was so sore that night – but the result was worth it! These babies have been getting rave reviews.

Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies

The only prep-work for these is to toast the coconut and zest the lime. To toast the coconut, just spread an even layer of coconut flakes on a plate and microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, for about 2-3 minutes. DO NOT just put the coconut in the microwave for 2 minutes and walk away. It will burn. I literally stand there and watch it. It should come out a nice golden brown.

Next, zest a lime. I made sure to get every tiny little section of peel for maximum limey flavor. 🙂

Then, it’s your typical sugar cookie recipe. It yields a light, fluffy, delicious batter. I DARE you not to try the batter after the coconut and lime aromas start wafting through the air.

Then, roll the batter into tablespoon-sized balls, roll them in sugar, and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. The edges should be golden and the tops will start to crack a little. Top with coconut flakes if desired.

My Dad literally ate about 10 of these over the span of about 30 minutes. The flavors are just perfect. Definitely a cookie I’ll be making again and again!

Get the full recipe here.

Brown Sugar Cookies with Maple Glaze

The combination of brown sugar, cinnamon, and Karo syrup make these cookies moist, chewy, and super flavorful. The first time I made these I followed the directions and used dark Karo syrup, and for the Christmas batch I used light Karo syrup. They were just as good, the color was just slightly lighter (pictures below are from the dark Karo syrup batch). So either will work fine.

Just a warning – this batter is VERY sticky. I rolled the cookies by hand and my hands were completely covered after rolling three cookies. I’m assuming it’s from the Karo syrup.

The recipe makes these cookies giant, but I made them a nice small size.

The maple glaze totally makes this cookie. It’s just powdered sugar, maple extract, a splash of milk, and Karo syrup. This is also super sticky. I recommend piping it through a bag. When I made the first small batch, I just drizzled it on with a spoon. That works too. 🙂

Get the full recipe here.

And since I just made small batches of these the first time around, I’ve got batter all ready to go in the freezer! It’s perfect since it’s just me and the boyfriend at home – I can make a small batch of 1/2 a dozen cookies or so and save the rest for later.

I also tried out Martha Stewart’s Foolproof Holiday Fudge recipe. It was really simple and came out great. Tasted like the real thing! I didn’t end up making fudge for gifts though since I feel like a lot of people do. I wanted to make something different. But if you’re looking for an easy fudge recipe this one’s great.

Did you do any baking this Christmas or receive any particularly yummy homemade gifts? 

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Kitchen/blogging hiatus

Sooo, I haven’t really posted since Thanksgiving. Maybe you thought I was one of those people who started a blog and then gave up on it shortly after starting it. But I swear, I want to keep blogging. I’ve missed it! And I’ve thought of writing every day.

But here’s the thing. Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I had a health scare. I’ve had knee pain for years and just ignored it, because it wasn’t that bad. But earlier this year, I started doing yoga. And I LOVED yoga. But my knee pain was a hindrance, so I finally went to the doctor. After a normal x-ray and six weeks of physical therapy with no improvement, I went to get an MRI.

They found a BIG tumor in my knee, right at the joint where my knee bends. And then we had to wait a week to see an orthopedic oncologist, not knowing anything else. We basically spent a week thinking I might have cancer. It was the slowest, weirdest, scariest week I think I’ve ever had.

But the specialist knew right away from looking at the MRI that it was benign. It was a rare type of tumor that starts in the joint lining. They don’t know what causes it. And mine, because it was so large, had probably been there for years. It had actually started eating away at my bone.

So two weeks ago today, I had surgery to remove the tumor and get a bone graft for the section that had been invaded. It’s been a slow recovery. I’ve literally left my apartment twice since the surgery. It is really hard to get around. I’m in a full leg immobilizing brace. I can hobble around on it a little, but leaving the apartment means involving the crutches which are cumbersome and exhausting to use.

Anyway, sorry for the long story. Basically, I really can’t be on my feet for more than 10 minutes or so at a time. So I can’t cook. I could have done a few fluffy blog posts but it’s kind of been a roller-coaster past few weeks and I just haven’t felt like writing something sub-par. It’s just one of those times where real life gets in the way. 🙂 But more importantly than missing a few weeks of blogging, I’m healthy, healing, and tumorless, and couldn’t be more grateful for that.

The weekend before my surgery, I tried out some recipes that I plan on baking and using as Christmas gifts. The boyfriend and I leave for Boston on Thursday to be with our families for Christmas, and I’m hoping my mom will be my helper in the kitchen so I can get these done. So get ready for posts on…

these…

these…

and these.

I’m guessing I won’t post while I’m back East. There is just too much to fit in for the few days we’re there. But I will definitely be back at it after the holidays. I just wanted to write something to say this isn’t an abandoned blog!

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, relaxing holiday!

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More inspiring sweets!

Here are some more lovely treats from around the web! (All originally found through Pinterest.)

Andes Mint Cupcakes

S’mores Cookie Bars

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Cinnaburst Bread

Salted Caramel Brownie Bites with Salted Caramel Buttercream

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Malibu Pina Colada Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

Which treat is most mouth-watering in your mind? 

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Inspiring sweets

Pinterest really is a great place to get inspired. It’s where I came across all of the below desserts. Some are inspiring to me simply because of the way they’re photographed. Others are truly outside-the-box recipes. Enjoy!

Cake Batter Truffles

Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies

Pumpkin Ginger Custard

Strawberry Whipped Cream Frosting

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Cookies

Inside Out Caramel Apples

Pink Lemonade Pie

Blue Velvet Cupcakes

Homemade Butterfingers

Chocolate Wasted Cake

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Coconut Truffles


Which of these do you want to try making, or just eating? 🙂 

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