Sunday, June 30, 2013

Coconut Shrimp Cake Sliders with Mango Salsa & Avocado Smear

So you take this delicious, tropical, summery combo of fruit and add a kick of spice.

Then you pair it with a coconuty shrimp cake... and because avocado is darn tasty, you add a smear of it to your bun.

And the result is a delicious dinner, that's not only restaurant quality but also not too bad on the calories! I can promise that these will be on our menu again soon!

Psst - don't be intimidated by the long ingredient list. The salsa can be made ahead of time (which I actually prefer so the flavors meld!) and it all comes together very quickly. This was a weeknight meal for us!

Coconut Shrimp Cake Sliders with Mango Salsa & Avocado Smear
For the salsa:
1.5 cups diced mango
1 cup diced fresh pineapple
1 cup diced fresh papaya
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup minced cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Pinch of salt

For the shrimp cakes:
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 large egg
1/4 cup minced cilantro
Salt and pepper
Coconut oil, for cooking

To serve:
1 avocado
Slider buns

To make the salsa, combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the shrimp cakes, add shrimp to the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. To the bowl, add 3/4 cup coconut, garlic, lemon zest, egg, cilantro, salt, and pepper. Stir the mixture with a fork until well combined. Form the mixture into patties (sized to fit your slider buns). Add the remaining coconut to a shallow bowl. Gently coat the prepared patties in the coconut.

In a large skillet, heat 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the cakes to the pan and cook, turning once, until they are golden on both sides and cooked through. This only takes about 4 minutes total.

Slice the avocado in half and scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. With a fork, roughly mash it.

To serve, smear some avocado on one side of the bun, add a shrimp cake, and top with salsa.

Adapted from Annie's Eats

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Coffee addict, signing in (Keurig K10 Mini Plus Review + Hot Mocha Java Recipe!)

In our office, only two of us (out of nine!) drink coffee.  I know what you're thinking... what is wrong with these people!? I wondered that, too, when I first landed here and learned of this great tragedy.

While I've been advocating for months that a coffee shop on site would be a great investment, I doubt that will happen anytime soon (read: never going to happen). So, for just two coffee drinkers it doesn't make sense to brew a pot of coffee.

Imagine my excitement when Staples offered to send me a Keurig K10 Mini Plus Single-Cup Coffee Brewer  to review. I knew exactly where that baby was going - my office.

My office has been in transition since I started but it's finally coming together (only took a year!). The new Keurig is the icing on the cake, as far as I'm concerned, and now it's a space that I look forward to working in.

Now, I have a coffeemaker that makes GREAT coffee within arms reach! The Keurig Mini Plus holds enough water for a single cup of coffee. Now, some might find that annoying but for an office machine it's perfect! Who wants water sitting for days on end, not being used when you're not in the office? Yuck. 

It's also small, lightweight, and perfect for a desktop! I have mine temporarily on a cheap end table and there is still room leftover for a K-Cup carousel, mugs, sugar, creamer, etc. so it would definitely fit on just about any desk.

You can brew three different sizes - 6 oz, 8 oz, and 10 oz. When you order this model, it comes with a 6 K-Cup variety pack. And of course, there are a bajillion K-Cups out there to choose from.

Look how pretty and shiny it is?

Now you know I can't post about coffee without a recipe! If you want a twist on your usual cup of joe, give this one a shot. Chocolate + cinnamon + coffee = delicious!!

Hot Mocha Java
1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup cream, half n half, or milk
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 K-Cup

Place chocolate and sugar in mug. Brew your favorite K-Cup into mug and let stand for 30 seconds before stirring until chocolate and sugar melts.

Add cream and cinnamon and stir well before serving.

Source: adapted from

Full disclosure: provided me with these products for review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are strictly my own. Feel free to shop their entire line of coffee makers online.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Chicken Piccata Pasta

Have we talked about capers yet?

I think they are lovely little bites of salt and therefore, one of my favorite ingredients. I. love. salt. Jason, for some reason, is not as taken with them but will usually humor me and eat around them.

When I think of chicken piccata, I immediately think of capers. Often, chicken or veal piccata is served at Italian restaurants alongside a good helping of pasta. You know what's even better than that? Tossing the pasta with the basic components of a traditional chicken piccata dish and serving it up - in 30 minutes or less.

We loved this dish - even my non-caper loving husband. It's lemony, buttery, creamy and perfect for a busy weeknight!

Chicken Piccata Pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 lb boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
2 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth or stock
1 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 pound penne pasta, cooked to al dente
salt and pepper

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and the chicken. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown until lightly golden and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Add shallots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Add flour to shallot mixture, whisk, and allow to cook for a minute. Whisk in the wine and cook for 1 minute. Whisk stock and lemon juice into sauce. Stir in the capers and parsley. Once the liquid comes to a bubble, stir in the remaining tablespoon of butter and season with salt and pepper. 

Return the chicken to the pan and heat through, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in cooked pasta and serve. 

Source: Adapted from Lisa's Dinnertime Dish and Rachael Ray

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Easy and Inexpensive Volunteer Appreciation Gifts

Anyone involved in non profit organizations know just how crucial volunteers are! VBS ended yesterday and  we had a GREAT week - all thanks to the hard work of a staff of volunteers who gave no less than 15 hours of their week (and most many, many more than that!). While none of them are doing it for the credit, I never want them to go without thanks - both verbal and otherwise.

Since many of us work with volunteers in various capacities, I thought I'd pass on the token appreciation gifts I did in case you're looking for inspiration. All the sayings can easily be tweaked to fit your particular need :)

It's been such a 
to have you as a volunteer!

For this, you could use any "treat" you'd like. I picked up a couple of cases of individual size bags of M&M cookies at Sams to use.

Thank you

These were small bags of gummy bears:

I ordered these from Amazon: 72 small bags for $20

 Thank you for 
at VBS this week!

These were small bags of Jelly Belly jellybeans:

I also ordered these from Amazon (I'm a Prime addict!): 80 bags for $23

On the last day, we had the ice cream truck coming so my volunteers were already getting a sweet treat so I opted for a non-food item: a mix tape, er, CD. Yup, just like middle school :)

I chose 15 of my favorite songs of faith and burned them each a CD. I designed a CD label with our VBS logo and put them in an inexpensive sleeve with a tag. The only supplies you need are the blank CDs, white paper sleeves, and labels to custom print. Be careful when purchasing the labels and pick up ones made for laser printers if you're printing them on a big copier. It would not go over well in the office if you tried to run inkjet labels through your laser printer! 

Thanks for
our week!!

In case you're curious, here is the playlist. I love a variety of genres and am a big believer that one doesn't have to listen to solely "Christian" music to find rich lyrics full of spiritual meaning. Since I had teenagers through retirees volunteering, I included a variety so there was something for everyone (I hope!). 

1. "The Outsiders" by needtobreathe
2. "Broken Wings" by Flyleaf
3. "Dancing in the Minefields" by Andrew Peterson
4. "Awake my Soul" by Mumford & Sons
5. "Cut" by Plumb
6. "Take Me There" by Watermark
7. "Like a Child" by Jars of Clay
8. "Betty’s Diner" by Carrie Newcomer
9. "Never Alone" (acoustic version) by Barlow Girl
10. "Restored" by Jeremy Camp
11. "Song and Dance" by The Normals
12. "Lay Em Down" by needtobreathe
13. "Rest Easy" by Andrew Peterson
14. "Saving Grace" by Flyleaf
15. "Roll Away Your Stone" by Mumford & Sons

Hope this helps inspire your next volunteer appreciation gifts!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad #Surprise Recipe Swap

It's time for another recipe from the Surprise Recipe Swap! Each month, I'm assigned a food blogger to try a recipe from. This month, I was assigned Dawn from Spatulas on Parade. Dawn is an empty nester who began food blogging shortly after her youngest left home. And, she's from North Carolina!

Dawn has a ton of great looking recipes to choose from but I had to give this pasta salad a try. Since I am always on the hunt for easy, light, and healthy lunches to take to work, it seemed like the perfect choice. Lots of pasta salads end up heavy or really creamy so this Asian inspired twist was a welcome change. We both loved it! It'd be the perfect addition to a picnic, pot luck, or just a light dinner one day this summer (though we'll probably be taking it for lunch quite a bit in the coming months!).

I made a couple of small tweaks to her recipe - I used whole wheat pasta, threw in some fresh sliced mushrooms I had on hand, and took her advice and doubled the sauce amount (definitely the right choice!). I included those changes below.

If you're interested in joining a recipe swap, go here and check out the details!

Thanks, Dawn, for the great recipe!

Sesame Chicken Pasta Salad
3 cups dry pasta, cooked, drained, and rinsed with cool water
1.5 cups shredded or diced chicken (pick up a rotisserie chicken!)
1 cup thin sliced carrots
2 cups chopped baby bok choy  
1 cup sliced mushrooms
Ginger sauce (recipe below)

Toss all ingredients - including sauce - in a large bowl and mix well.  Chill for a couple of hours before serving. 

Ginger Sauce
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoon oil
4 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
4 teaspoons reduced sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger (a microplane works perfect!)
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl before pouring over pasta. 

Source: Spatulas on Parade

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Brazilian White Rice

Y'all... I love love love rice - any kind, any flavor, any style. Doesn't matter.

In a perfect world, all meals would be accompanied with rice.

So when I say that this is the BEST white rice I've ever tasted, it means a lot. This isn't your normal rice. Oh no. There is nothing bland or 'eh' about this rice. It's so good, you'll be wishing you just ate 4 big bowls of it for dinner and left behind the entree.

Instead of simply adding white rice to a pot of boiling water, you first brown the rice alongside onions and garlic and then you add the liquid. Such a simple tweak that pays off BIG.

Give it a try the next time you're serving up a side (or entree!) of rice!

Brazilian White Rice
2 tablespoons onion, minced
2 cups long grain white rice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups hot chicken broth (use the microwave and a glass measuring cup!)

Place the rice in a fine mesh colander and rinse thoroughly with cold water. Set aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the onion for one minute. Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic is golden brown. Add the rice and salt and cook, stirring often, until the rice begins to brown. Pour in the hot broth and stir. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer until the water is absorbed, 20-25 minutes.

Source: All Recipes

Monday, June 17, 2013

Stovetop Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

It wasn't that long ago that I turned my nose up to anything "buffalo" flavored.

I think I just assumed it'd be crazy hot and unpleasant. Of course, some buffalo flavor can be so hot it's unpleasant but I've found that most standard buffalo flavored items really aren't hot. They have some spice, sure, but it's just enough to make the flavor more complex and not enough to burn your taste buds off.

Frank's Red Hot is my go-to buffalo sauce but I've seen recipes out there online if you want to whip some up yourself. This recipe is all about quick and easy and making my own buffalo sauce sorta defeats that purpose  so I went straight for the bottled kind in my pantry.

Today begins one of the most labor intensive weeks of my year: Vacation Bible School. And with it means a huge temptation to eat out 3 meals a day, 5 days in a row -  which isn't good for my wallet or my waistline. Meals like this can be made so easily and quickly at home that you don't even have to call in for carry-out!

Stovetop Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
1/2 pound dried elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1/2 cup buffalo sauce (could adjust to taste)
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1.5 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta as directed. When finished, drain and set aside.

While pasta cooks, melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and garlic; cook for 5 minutes, or until onion is soft and translucent. Add flour and stir to coat. Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring often. 

Whisk in the buffalo sauce, ranch, and cheese and whisk until the cheese has melted. Reduce heat and add the chicken. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. 

Remove from heat and combine pasta with sauce.

Source: Slightly adapted from Chocolate Moosey

Friday, June 14, 2013

Lemon Pull-Apart Rolls

I know the calendar says it's not quite summer yet but I think summer begins as soon as the kids get out of school (late May/early June) which means... it's summer! Summer, of course, comes with higher temps (and humidity) but here in the great state of North Carolina it also seems to mean RAIN! And lots of it! I'm so used to Texas drought like conditions (and water restrictions) that I can't quite get over the fact that our lawn is gorgeous, lush, and green and we haven't had to water it YET. Like, not once in 2013. 

Crazy, right?!

Okay, maybe just crazy for people who live in drier/hotter areas like we used to.

Summer is all about citrus and the most popular citrus of all is lemon. One of my favorite things about lemon is that it can go so many different directions. Sweet, savory, spicy - doesn't matter. It can be paired with just about anything and taste delicious!

These rolls are so simple, and so sinful, but worth the splurge especially if you're a lemon fan. Jason looooved these. They are very sweet so I ate one and gave him the rest. He was in heaven! 

Lemon + sugar + carbs = yum.

Lemon Pull-Apart Rolls
For the rolls:
12 frozen rolls, thawed but still cold
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Mix lemon zest with sugar. 

Cut rolls in half and place in a 9x13 inch sprayed baking pan. Drizzle melted butter over rolls and sprinkle with 1/2 of the lemon zest/sugar mixture. Spray down one side of a sheet of plastic wrap and cover the pan. Let rise until double in size. Remove wrap.

Sprinkle on remaining lemon zest/sugar mixture. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

While it's baking, combine the glaze ingredients and mix well. Drizzle over top of hot baked rolls. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sausage Quiche with Hash Brown Crust

I am not a morning person.

I'm actually just about the complete opposite of a morning person.

{unless morning means 1-3am}

I hit my stride around 11pm and can accomplish greatness in the late night hours. In contrast, I accomplish little in the morning and what I do... well, I often redo it later in the day when I am better focused.

{shall we now pause and ponder what this means for a minister who has Sunday morning duties?}

Since I'm up late, I tend to sleep late when I can. So on my days off, I'm rarely never up in time for breakfast. And on work days, I am racing out the door and am lucky to grab a cup of coffee!

But I love breakfast food (um, bacon! hello?!) so we often just have it for dinner and call it a day. However, recently my in laws came for a visit and not only are they morning people (just like my husband...) but there were big plans to build a fence so an early start was necessary.

And this is how I, Aimee, found myself up early on a Saturday making a real live breakfast. And since this was such a special occasion, I had to dig out a new recipe to try. I told my father in law that if it was awful, Mickey D's was right up the road...

Thankfully, there was no need to make a run for the yellow arches  because this recipe rocked! It was pretty much all the best parts of breakfast smushed into a tart pan and baked. Eggs, cheese, sausage, and hashbrowns. What else do you need? I served it alongside some fresh fruit and it was the perfect way to start a Saturday. Even if it was early :)

I snapped a quick picture before serving so just pretend it's garnished and styled. Heh. 

This is what it looks like, straight from the oven. Fork worthy, right?

Sausage Quiche with Hash Brown Crust
3 cups frozen hash browns, thawed
3 tablespoons butter, melted
16 ounces ground pork sausage
6 eggs, beaten
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 9" tart pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the hash browns and melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Press mixture into tart pan to form a crust. Bake for approx 20 minutes, or until golden.

Meanwhile, in a skillet brown sausage, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Drain well.

In another large bowl, combine the beaten eggs, cheese, cream, parsley, cooked sausage, and some salt and pepper. 

Pour the egg/sausage mixture on top of the baked hash brown crust. Bake for approx 25 minutes or until set.

Source: slightly adapted from Bellalimento

Monday, June 10, 2013

Indian Lemon Chicken

Let's just break this one down.

Lemon? Love it.

Indian food? Extra love it.

Being able to shove it in my mouth less than 30 minutes later? Winner winner chicken dinner!

So really, that's all you need to know about this dish. But I'll tell you more, in case you're on the fence.

It's bright, and summery, and bursting with Indian flavors. The ingredient list is short (and inexpensive) and it cooks up super fast. Plus, don't we all need another way to prepare boneless skinless chicken breasts?

We had this over rice (Basmati is awesome to use, if you have it) and I always ALWAYS have to serve naan bread alongside anything remotely Indian inspired. It's perfect for sopping up sauce! 

Indian Lemon Chicken
2 boneless/skinless chicken breast halves
2 tsp crushed ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp turmeric, divided
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt, to taste
1 cup yogurt
2 tbsp oil

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces and rub with 1 teaspoon turmeric and salt. Set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet and add chicken. Saute until slightly golden and almost cooked through. 

Add the crushed ginger and garlic; saute for a minute. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala, and paprika. Saute on medium heat until the oil separates from the sides. Add the lemon juice.

Lightly beat the yogurt in a separate bowl. Remove the skillet from the heat and mix in the yogurt.

Bring it back to the heat and stir until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat and cook another 2 minutes. 

Serve with rice.

Source: Soni's Food

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tres Leches Cake

So Jason's parents came to visit a few weeks ago, and guests always mean new people to try out recipes on. I know, I'm a great host...

I wanted to have a dessert on hand that we could dig into after dinner out one night. I tossed a handful of ideas to Jason knowing full well which he'd choose.

He lurves Tres Leches Cake and I've never made it.

{because I'm really not a baker}

{and because I can't trust myself with a full cake in the house}

{but let's blame it on the non-baking gene}

Just like I expected, he went for the Tres Leches Cake.

Do y'all know what Tres Leches Cake is? Probably so but just in case... it's a super light cake that is soaked - soaked, I tell you! - in three milks (duh.): evaporated milk, heavy cream, and the mother of all milks - sweetened condensed milk. Then you whip together more heavy cream in order to create an amazing layer of icing. Add a cherry and dig in!

To be honest, this really isn't difficult at all. Unless you want people to think it is, and then you have my permission to make it sound uber complicated.

It makes a full 9x13 pan of cake which is WAY TOO MUCH for us to have on hand. I think we all ate one piece and then it sat in my fridge, staring at me every time I opened the door. So soon after they left town, I attended a meeting and carted my remaining cake along with me.

{can we all just agree that meetings with cake are far superior to meetings without cake?}

Those in attendance were in agreement that this is darn good eating. Incredibly moist, delicious, and everything you want in a homemade Tres Leche Cake.

So, the moral of the story? 10 out of 10 taste testers agree that you should make this cake. And bring me a piece. 

Tres Leches Cake
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 eggs
1 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the icing:
1 pint very cold heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Liberally spray a 9x13 inch pan until well coated. Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. 

Separate the eggs. 

Beat the egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until the yolks are pale yellow. Stir in the milk and vanilla. Pour this mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold the egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined.

Pour into the prepared pan and spread to even out. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 

Turn the cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

In a small pitcher, combine the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream. Once the cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture, working to get it around the edges are much as you can. Allow the cake to absorb for 30 minutes.

To ice, whip 1 pint of very cold heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable. Spread over the surface of the cake, cut into pieces, and serve each piece with a maraschino cherry. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets

Whew, that's a long title! Have no fear, though, there is absolutely nothing complicated about this recipe - which is why I love it! It's actually one of those meals that is so simple, you wonder why you didn't think of it first!

Layers of spinach, feta, mozzarella, cream cheese, and diced chicken stuffed in between sheets of puff pastry. I mean, HELLO?!

This is what I would call a superfast (that's like "super fast" except said really super fast) weeknight dinner. It's about 5 minutes of hand's on time with 15 or so minutes baking time and then you're eating.

What it looks like, straight from the oven (excuse the nighttime photo op!):

It's probably no surprise to anyone that my favorite part was the crust...

Even non cream cheese and feta lovers (*cough*Jason*cough*) will happily scarf this down. Really. I promise. Though I will still think they're weird.

{who doesn't like cream cheese and feta?!}

Greek Spinach Feta Chicken Pockets
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temp
3/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken (pick up a rotisserie chicken!)
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Lightly beaten egg

Preheat oven to 400.

Unfold sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Spread the softened cream cheese evenly over the pastry, leaving 1/2 inch edge all around.

Evenly distribute the spinach over half the sheet (width wise), still leaving the 1/2 inch border. Next, distribute the chicken, mozzarella, and feta on top of the spinach in the same manner. 

Fold over the pastry half without ingredients and press the edges together and seal well.

Place on a greased sheet pan and brush the top with egg. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cut into slices before serving.

Source: slightly adapted from Chef in Training

Sunday, June 2, 2013

So long, May!

Summer is finally here! For some of y'all, that means things slow down and take a much less hurried pace. In my world, it means things kick up a notch - and I love it! See, my primary work as a minister is with children and their families so summer means camps, VBS, trips, and special outings. It's crazy busy but so much fun.

Thanks again for following along each month and supporting my hobby! If you don't already follow me on Facebook or Pinterest, I'd love for you to!

Psst - don't miss the "things I've pinned" at the bottom! There is some great cooking going on in the blogosphere!

Here's what I shared in May in case you missed something along the way. Just click the picture to check out the recipe.

Just a month ago, we were talking about relief efforts for the small Czech community of West, TX located just north of Waco, TX where I attended seminary. To honor their heritage, and raise awareness, I joined with a few other Texan food bloggers in creating Czech desserts. Now y'all know I'm no baker but this Czech Poppy Seed Cake turned out beautifully and was delicious to boot!

May was my second month participating in a Surprise Recipe Swap and I had the opportunity to make this delicious and easy Shredded Mole Chicken. Thank you, Mr Crockpot, for making shredded chicken so easy! This chicken is perfect in anything Mexican inspired dish you're putting on the table for dinner. 

Also thanks to Mr Crockpot, we enjoyed some homemade Refried Beans - except without the need for lard, butter, or oil! These are a family favorite that we make quite often but the original recipe deserved an update and new photo. If you haven't tried them, do it soon! It makes a ton so it's like the gift that keeps giving - eat half, freeze half. Gotta love that!

We don't make or eat appetizers very often at home but I couldn't resist whipping up this Avocado Feta Dip after spotting a tub of feta in my fridge, just begging to be used up. What a great decision that was! It only takes 5 minutes to whip up and even less to devour. This dip screams summer to me and totally deserves a spot on your picnic table soon.

This Moroccan Stew was a surprise hit for us both. I knew we both liked Moroccan flavors a lot but I completely underestimated just how complex and delicious this recipe would turn out to be. While meatballs are included, this stew could also stand on it's own with just chickpeas.

If you're a fan of faux Americanized Chinese food (like I am!) you'll definitely want to give these Panda Express Copycat Chow Mein Noodles a try. Another recipe that cooks up fast (and a huge portion!) and goes with any of your favorite Chinese inspired dishes. Who doesn't love eating a big pile of noodles, am I right?

We're big on brunch so it made complete sense to try out this Crunchy French Toast one night for dinner. Y'all, the best french toast e-vah. Little bit more prep than a "normal" french toast recipe but the upside is that you bake it all at one time so everyone eats together. Sinful? Sure. Worth it? Absolutely.

My brunch related recipes didn't stop with french toast! Oh no, I took the delicious Funfetti Chocolate Chip Scone recipe from last month and adapted it to use strawberries instead for Strawberry Funfetti Scones. And actually liked it better. Ever made a scone before? Thanks to the cake mix, it's super simple and quick. And delicious. 

And rounding out the month is a large batch of these soft and delicious Chocolate Chip Vanilla Pudding Cookies. I tried them out on house guests and we all loved them! If you haven't jumped on the pudding cookie bandwagon yet, let this be your first experience with them. 

Some tasty treats I've pinned this month:
Homemade Spaghetti O's with Meatballs from Table for Two
Cheesy Tex-Mex Rice from The Kitchn
Lemonade Cake from Juanita's Cocina
Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing from Veggie Belly
Bacon Pralines from Tortillas and Honey

Happy June, y'all!

See Aimee Cook

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