Sunday, December 29, 2013

Most Popular Recipes of 2013!

This year, I thought it'd be fun to see what the most popular recipes were. It's interesting to compare our favorites with those recipes that have picked up tons of traction out in internetland. Sometimes they match up - and sometimes they don't!

Notice a theme? Copycat recipes are a HUGE hit it seems!

{click the picture to be taken to the recipe!}

10. {Arby's Copycat} Apple Turnovers

9. Blackened Chicken and Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

8. Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Dip

7. Crockpot Chex Mix

6. Chocolate Chip Vanilla Pudding Cookies

5. {Panda Express Copycat} Sweetfire Chicken

4. Chicken Piccata Pasta

3. Power Muffins with Blueberries, Oatmeal, and Greek Yogurt

2. Deviled Egg Pasta Salad

And the most popular recipe of 2013 is...

Mexican Rice!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Honey Sesame Chicken

One of the first things we did when we moved here was seek out recommendations for the best local Chinese place. We both love Chinese and I could seriously eat it weekly (or daily...). Some friends recommended a place right around the corner from our house that was owned by a sweet Chinese couple who's been serving up great food for 20+ years. Unfortunately, health issues recently forced them to close their restaurant and move back to China.

We've since tried a couple other places but none are as good :(

So what's one to do?

Make it at home instead!

This Honey Sesame Chicken is - no lie - restaurant quality. Actually, since you get to to choose your chicken, it's probably better than most restaurant versions. It's sticky, and sweet, and tender, and everything it should be.

I know this is a two-step recipe that requires browning the chicken on the stove first but I promise it's worth it. I'm all about baked chicken dishes but let's face it; baked does not give you that crispy exterior that we all know and love.

This sticky sweet chicken is awesome served with steamed rice! 

Honey Sesame Chicken
For the chicken:
4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
1 cup cornstarch
3 eggs
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil

For the sauce:
3/4 cup honey
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon cornstarch
sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and season with salt and pepper.

Add 1 cup cornstarch to a shallow bowl. Slightly beat the eggs in a second shallow bowl. Individually dip the chicken pieces into the cornstarch and then into the eggs. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. As they finish browning, add them to the prepared baking dish.

In a medium bowl, whisk the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and 1 tablespoon cornstarch until well combined. Pour this sauce over the chicken and bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes so the chicken is well coated in the sauce. 

Serve hot.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ham and Cheese Sliders on Hawaiian Rolls

Who posts sandwiches this close to Christmas?

This girl.


Because I know we're going to be racing from event to event the next week or two and more times than not, bringing a dish with us to share. Or, we're all simply too exhausted to cook a real meal but totally fine with throwing some easy sandwiches in the oven.

And one can only make so many Gingerbread Oreo Truffles, you know?

{eating them is a different story!}

These sandwiches have gone around the blog world (and Pinterest) probably three times already but I'm always late to the party. Y'all, they are darn good. And if I were at a party, and these were sitting on the food table, I'd hover that table like nobody's business the entire night hoping no one noticed that I had downed half the dish. The butter/mustard/sugar sauce seeps into the bread and kicks up an ordinary slider into something so, so much better.

We had these for dinner one night and loved them but they'd especially be good for a crowd since they are inexpensive, easy, and transport well.

You could switch out the meat and cheese to your preference as well! 

Ham & Cheese Sliders on Hawaiian Rolls
12 Hawaiian sweet bread dinner rolls, split in half
1/2 lb thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 lb thinly sliced Swiss cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp poppy seeds, optional

Preheat oven to 350. 

Evenly distribute the ham and cheese among the rolls and make sandwiches with each. Arrange them all in a 9x13 pan.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire, and poppy seeds. Bring to a boil and then pour over top of the sandwiches. 

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops are browned and the cheese is melted. Serve warm.

Source: adapted from Plain Chicken 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Crockpot Tequila Lime Turkey Chili

Can you believe we're less than 10 days to Christmas? Crazy, right? Here in Charlotte, we got a few sprinkles of snow back in November and nothing since - just lots of liquid snow! It has been quite chilly, however, so I've been pulling out recipes for all things warm and comforting.

This chili was originally posted a few years ago and it deserved a revisit. The chili itself is a fairly standard tomato based recipe but the beauty comes in adding some crisp brightness with the lime and tequila. It's SO good - and we love the Tex Mex twist on a standard winter dish like chili!

The best part? It's another great crockpot recipe! Who doesn't love coming home to dinner already finished?

As written, it doesn't have much spice to it but you could always up it by throwing in more chipotle in adobo. 

Crockpot Tequila Lime Turkey Chili
1 slice sandwich bread, torn into pieces
2 Tbs milk 
1 lb ground turkey
salt and pepper
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 large onion, minced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds remove, minced
2 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp dried
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 14.5-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup tequila, plus more as needed
2 Tbs low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp minced chipotle in adobo
1 tsp grated lime zest
1 Tbs fresh lime juice, plus more for serving
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

For serving:
fresh cilantro
Pepperjack or cheddar cheese
sour cream
diced avocado
tortilla chips

Mash the bread and milk into a paste in a large bowl using a fork. Mix in the ground turkey, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. (this keeps the turkey moist during the long cooking time)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the onion, bell pepper, and jalapeno and cook until they are softened, 5-7 minutes. Add the chili powder, tomato paste, garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook an additional 3-5 minutes.

Stir in the turkey and cook, breaking up any large pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, scraping up any browned bits. Transfer the mixture to the crockpot.

To the crockpot, add the diced tomatoes with their juices, beans, 3 tablespoons of the tequila, soy sauce, honey, and minced chipotle. Cover and cook on low until the turkey is tender, 4 to 6 hours.

Turn off the slow cooker and allow the chili to settle about 5 minutes. Use a large spoon to skim the fat off the surface. Stir in the remaining tequila, lime zest, lime juice, and cilantro. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper, tequila, and lime juice as desired.

Source: Pink Parsley


Don't forget to enter these great giveaways from Christmas Week! 
  • Magimix by Robot-Coupe 3200XL 12-Cup Food Processor package - enter HERE {ends today!}
  • Le Creuset Revolution Utensil Set - enter HERE
  • $100 gift certificate to Freund Container and Supply - enter HERE 
  • Swissmar Charmant Collection 5-quart Rectangular Roaster - enter HERE
  • $250 gift certificate to Freund Container and Supply AND copy of "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays" - enter HERE

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peppermint Mocha Tart

Welcome to Day #5 of Christmas Week, a multi-blogger event co-hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Jen from Juanita's Cocina! Each day we will be celebrating the holidays with a different set of Christmas-themed treats, as well as a fabulous Christmas giveaway. We hope you enjoy this fabulous event.Tune in each day starting Monday, December 9th and ending Saturday, December 14th.


It's no secret that I'm a Starbucks addict.

Yes, yes, I know that that's incredibly cliche to say... but it's true, as sad as it is.

In order to not completely break my budget {or perhaps so I can justify this pricey habit...}, I stick with iced coffees. Trenta iced caramel coffee with light soy, to be exact. It's $3.73 with tax. That's not so bad, right? With a gold card, you get a free drink every 12 purchases. When I get my free drink, I don't go for the cheaper iced coffee. Oh no, I go for the largest seasonal espresso drink they have at the time. In December, that is often a peppermint mocha.

Man alive are they DELISH! Y'all have ordered one before, yes? It's like Christmas in a cup.

Since the people of Instagram rejoice when the holiday red cups arrive at Starbucks, I knew I had to do something Starbucks inspired for #ChristmasWeek. Christmas in a cup became Christmas in a tart pan. Ha.

This tart is easy to pull off, impressive, rich, and pepperminty with a hint of mocha in the background. You'll be so impressed with yourself and anyone who is lucky enough to snag a slice will think you're a genuis.


Yeah, I know a piece of my crust broke off. I totally did it on purpose.  

Peppermint Mocha Tart
For the crust:
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:
1.5 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup coffee beans, crushed with rolling pin
3 teaspoons peppermint extract, divided
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
14 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate (64%-72%), chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Finely crushed peppermint candy for garnish, optional

First, make the crust: Combine the powdered sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until well combined and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, pulsing between additions until well blended. Add the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and salt and pulse to blend. Form the dough into two balls and flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 1 hour. *this can be done up to 5 days in advance

Preheat the oven to 350. Roll out one dough disk on a lightly floured surface until it's 1/8 inch thick round. Reserve the second disk for another tart or recipe. Transfer the round piece of dough to a tart pan; press into the bottom and up the sides. Trim until it's flush with the edge of the pan. Using a fork, piece the dough all over the bottom of the pan. 

Bake until it appears dry and begins to pull away from the sides, about 15-17 minutes. Let cool completely. *this can be made 1 day ahead and kept in an air-tight container

Now to make the filling: Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the crushed coffee beans and 1 teaspoon peppermint extract and remove from heat. Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain the cream and discard the coffee beans. Return the cream to the saucepan and add the corn syrup. Return to a simmer over medium heat. 

Place the chocolate in a large bowl and pour the hot cream mixture over top. With a spatula, slowly stir to melt the chocolate and combine it with the cream. When it's about halfway incorporated, start adding the butter a few pieces at a time. Add 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract, mix, and taste for preference. Add more if desired, 1/2 teaspoon at a time (I ended up adding 2 teaspoons). Mix until the ganache is completely blended.

Pour the ganache into the tart crust and smooth the top. Garnish with crushed peppermint and let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours before cutting into wedges and serving. 

Source: adapted from Bon Appetit

Visit all the other Christmas Week Peeps for more Holiday Baking Goodness:


Today's #ChristmasWeek giveaway comes courtesy of Freund Container & Supply.  Freund Container & Supply has been helping build businesses since 1938 as the largest distributor of glass bottles, containers, and wholesale packaging supplies online.  Freund offers over 5,000 items in stock every day, 98% same day shipping, and low-price guarantees.  Take a look at Freund’s wide selection of jars, tins, bottles and vials for all your crafting and food related needs!  

Today's winner will receive one $250 Freund gift certificate, as well as one copy of "The Pioneer Woman Cooks:  A Year of Holidays".  To enter, read the details and use the Rafflecopter below!

***This giveaway is for one $250 gift certificate to Freund Container & Supply, as well as one copy of "The Pioneer Woman Cooks:  A Year of Holidays".  Gift certificate is a one-time use certificate and must be used in its entirety; any leftover monies on the gift certificate will be forfeited.  This giveaway is open to both US and Canadian residents. However, it should be noted that due to current International shipping rates, any Canadian winners will pay higher shipping costs for orders. ***

***Disclaimer: This gift certificate is being provided by Freund Container & Supply, while the cookbook has been provided by Juanita's Cocina. #ChristmasWeek bloggers have not received product or been compensated as a part of this giveaway.***

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sugared Grape and Phyllo Tart

Welcome to Day #4 of Christmas Week, a multi-blogger event co-hosted by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Jen from Juanita's Cocina! Each day we will be celebrating the holidays with a different set of Christmas-themed treats, as well as a fabulous Christmas giveaway. We hope you enjoy this fabulous event. Tune in each day starting Monday, December 9th and ending Saturday, December 14th.


Have you ever baked or roasted a grape? Yeah, me neither... until now. And y'all, it's so good! The sweetness really intensifies and the skin softens quite a bit - plus they are really pretty when baked into something! Perfect for the holidays.

And I think we can all agree that phyllo dough is the bombdiggity. I mean, it's thin, flaky, crispy dough. Hello?! 

This 4 ingredient recipe is so easy it's ridiculous. You just brush a layer of phyllo with butter (!), sprinkle with sugar (!), and top with another layer. Repeat 5 times, top with grapes, and bake. 

The result is a thin, crispy, easy to eat sweet treat topped with fruit and therefore healthy. 


Sugared Grape & Phyllo Tart
6 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed according to package directions
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 teaspoons sugar
1 cup red seedless grapes

Preheat oven to 400.

Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on a baking sheet (keep the other sheets covered). Carefully brush the entire surface lightly with butter. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over the butter and then top with another sheet of phyllo dough. Brush the new sheet with butter, sprinkle with sugar, top with another phyllo sheet, and repeat. With the last sheet, butter it lightly before arranging the grapes on top. Dot each grape with some butter and then sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar over the entire top.

Bake until crispy and golden, 13-15 minutes. Let cool slightly before cutting into squares. Serve warm.

Source: adapted from Martha Stewart's Dinner at Home

Visit all the other Christmas Week Peeps for more Holiday Baking Goodness:


    Today's #ChristmasWeek giveaway comes courtesy of Swissmar. Le Cordon Bleu has been a worldwide leader in gastronomy and hospitality for over 100 years and are widely considered the guardian of French culinary technique. Swissmar now combines this culinary expertise with their own knowledge and brand recognition to introduce this fantastic new line.

    The Le Cordon Bleu ceramic ovenware from Swissmar are all freezer safe, oven safe, dishwasher and microwave safe. The French-inspired Charmant Collection 5 qt. Rectangular Roaster has scalloped edges and is beautiful enough to go straight from oven to table! To enter to win a Swissmar Roaster, read the details and use the Rafflecopter below!

    ***This giveaway is for one Swissmar Charmant Collection 5 qt. Rectangular Roaster (winner's choice of color:  blue, yellow, red, or white)! This giveaway is open to Continental US residents only. When the contest concludes, the winner will be chosen by random draw. The winner will be notified through e-mail and they will have 3 days to respond or another winner will be chosen.***

    ***Disclaimer: This giveaway is being provided by Swissmar.  #ChristmasWeek bloggers have not received product or been compensated as a part of this giveaway.***

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