Roasted Tomato Salsa

I love salsa. I’ve been known to polish off a single container of salsa, by myself, in a matter of hours. Numerous dinners have been ruined by me snacking on chips and salsa. I’m the first to reach for it when we’re out at a Mexican restaurant, and I’ll normally end my meal by — you guessed it — eating more chips and salsa.

While I’ll eat salsa pretty much in any form (chunky, restaurant style, verde, black bean…), I’m incredibly picky about the quality. I like my salsa freshly made; that junk in the jars doesn’t do it for me. My favorite store-bought salsa is Garden Fresh Naturals, a Michigan-made product that was recently purchased by Campbell Soup (and I swear, Campbell people, if you mess with my salsa, we’re gonna have an issue).

When it comes to restaurant salsa, though, there’s good, there’s great, and then there’s Red Mesa. Continue reading


Buffalo Chicken Spring Rolls

Do you think buffalo wings/sauce tastes better in Buffalo, NY? Is there a place (likely multiple places) that boast that they have the best wings in Buffalo, or that they are “home” to the original recipe for buffalo wings? What makes Frank’s Red Hot the most popular buffalo-flavored hot sauce on the market? (Hint: it’s not because they are located in Buffalo, NY, if that’s what you’re thinking… I checked… New Jersey! You’re welcome.)

These are the kind of thoughts I have while I make buffalo-flavored anything. My love affair with buffalo sauce is fairly recent, but now I buy Frank’s Red Hot by the jumbo bottle. Unfailingly, Boyfriend will eye the unnaturally orange substance in the grocery cart and ask, “Don’t we have some of this?” Most of the time, the answer is yes. But that’s not the point.

And now, an ode to buffalo sauce.

Oh, buffalo sauce. You mean so much to me. You make bland things taste good again. You are good on so many different things, which is why that Frank’s slogan, “I put that **** on everything,” is totally relatable (except for that time I tried to make buffalo cupcakes. That didn’t turn out so well. But I don’t blame you, buffalo sauce). You are a staple in my pantry, fridge, and backup kitchen storage shelving. My Pinterest page is full of the magic you inspire. I scoff when a search for buffalo turns up a picture of a wooly beast. Buffalo sauce… I love you.


Ahem. Ok. Now that you’ve slogged through that nonsense, you should be fully prepared for the mind explosion I’m about to impart on you. It’s buffalo. It’s Chinese food. It’s delicious.

I like this recipe for many reasons. First, you guessed it…the buffalo sauce. Second, the rest of the ingredients are also readily available, and the recipe is fairly easy to make while appearing to others like you might have studied the delicate spring roll rolling methods of an Asian grandmother (is that racist? I really didn’t mean it to be. Asian grandmother’s are awesome!). Third: baked not fried. No oily mess. Total awesomeness. Boom, new slogan for ovens.

I promise I’m not drunk.

Buffalo Chicken Rolls
Recipe Adapted from Can You Stay for Dinner?
makes 12-14 rolls

12-14 egg roll wrappers (you can find these in the refrigerated section of your grocery store near the salads and tofu)
1 cup cooked and shredded chicken (I used a rotisserie chicken and had about a cup left over)
2/3-1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 cup dry cole slaw
Small bowl of water
Nonstick cooking spray

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees; spray a wire rack set on top of a cookie sheet for optimal crispness (a cookie sheet on its own will also work)
  2. In a small bowl, stir chicken and hot sauce until well coated
  3. Place one egg roll wrapper on a clean work surface so one corner is pointing toward you
  4. Begin by placing one tablespoon of the broccoli slaw on the diagonal of the bottom corner of the wrapper
  5. Place 2 tablespoons of shredded spicy chicken evenly on top of the slaw
  6. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the blue cheese crumbles over the chicken
  7. To fold: Fold the bottom corner over the stuffing mixture so that it covers it completely, so the tip of the corner now points to the center of the square wrapper. Fold over the left corner, followed by the right, so that you now have formed an envelope. Roll the wrap upward one time, leaving the top left corner open. Wet your index finger in the small bowl of water and press to moisten the top left corner. Now fold that down on top of the filled roll, sealing it like you would an envelope.
  8. Spritz the bottom of the roll with more cooking spray and place on baking rack or cookie sheet
  9. Repeat with remaining rolls
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the rolls crisp and turn a light golden brown



Dessert Dip Recipes and a Cubicle Photo Project

I haven’t mentioned it in a while, but church is going really well. I have really been enjoying going to the services each week, and everyone has been so welcoming and friendly. We are looking into membership  as well as the pre-marital (!!) process.

Another great thing that has come out of church is a group of neighbors that get together a couple times a month to eat dinner together, get to know one another better, and discuss the Bible in a very relaxed environment. Being fairly new to actively participating in religion, I still have a lot of questions, but I am learning and growing, and I think it’s been very good for Boyfriend and I, as well as our relationships with our good friends and neighbors.

Dinner for community group is potluck style. The host and hostess take care of the main dish and offer up general ideas for what others can bring (bread, salad, appetizer, dessert, etc). Group is big enough that no one couple has to make a ton of food — and we have so many great cooks in our circle that no one ever leaves hungry. We have had some seriously good meals, great company, and enlightening conversation.

This week I grabbed the desert course knowing I would have most of the afternoon Sunday to create something fabulous. I combed Pinterest and my starred blog reader items, and one thing that kept popping up were dessert dips and dessert [cream] cheese balls. I’ve wanted to try a couple of these at some point, but I just couldn’t decide which ones…so I made 4!

In order of my preference, I made lemon cheesecake, brownie batter, red velvet cake, and cookie dough dips. I adored the lemon and brownie. The red velvet was pretty thick and very rich. The cookie dough, while it was the favorite for some, just didn’t taste as good as real cookie dough (unlike the sinful  cookie dough brownies, with edible cookie dough that is to die for).

I served the dips in these cute little rectangle bowls I got from Home Goods for so cheap, alongside a big dish of graham cracker sticks, animal crackers, and Nilla wafers. They were a big hit, and no one had seen a dessert quite like mine.

In other news, I wish I could tell you all that my new job has gotten better/easier/more fantastic and I’m the happiest person ever right now, but that is not quite the case. I’m still working with my life coach, E, on exercises that will make me reaffirm my ability to do this job and stop pulling my cuticles apart due to anxiety.  One of the things I did on my own, and mentioned in a previous post, is hang some happy quotes on the wall of my cubicle. I took the decorating one step further this week and hung a clothesline-style photo display.

Why yes, I did get this idea from Pinterest... Why do you ask?

Now, when I am doing my calming breathing and tension relieving exercises, I can look up at the pictures of Boyfriend and Brady, smile, and know that I am loved.

Super cheesy, but it’s working, for now.


Recipe: Fruit and Nut Wrap

In keeping with my New Year’s resolution to eat healthier during the week, I have made a concerted effort to eat breakfast on a regular basis. Additionally, keeping a lot of fresh fruit and veggies in the house has been awesome – I love having fruit on my cereal and side salads with nearly every meal.

These breakfast wraps are a kind of copycat recipe from a coffee shop on campus. I used to study in this coffee shop all the time when I was an undergrad – loved it here, even though it always had a slight wet socks smell to it…

Anyway, I have been consuming these wraps nearly every day for the past two weeks, and I am just beginning to consider switching up the ingredients to give myself some variety (I’m definitely a creature of habit in that I can eat the same thing day in and day out for a few weeks straight). Also, these are great for a breakfast on the go, if you are accustomed to eating in your car or at your desk.

Today's breakfast, served computer-side.

Fruit and Nut Wrap
Makes 1

1 flour tortilla
1 Tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp Neufchatel cheese (or just plain ‘ol cream cheese)
1 Tbsp fresh granola (the small bits work best)
3 medium strawberries, sliced
½ banana, sliced

  1. Spread the peanut butter and cream cheese across the center of the tortilla
  2. Sprinkle granola on top of PB and CC (I recommend not doing this part ahead of time [as in, if you like to make your breakfast the night before] as the granola will get soggy)
  3. Lay sliced fruit on top of granola
  4. Roll up like a burrito, wrap in plastic wrap, ready for travel


30-by-30: Crème Brûlée

Only a few days into the new year and I am already way ahead of accomplishing my 30-by-30 goals in 2012! (If you’ll remember, I didn’t manage to get any of them under my belt in 2011, but 2012? Rock on.)

Boyfriend gifted me a crème brûlée set for our anniversary, complete with kitchen torch (FIRE!) and ramekins. After a few iffy attempts to get the torch going, we were finally able to impress our neighbors with some mad flambéing techniques.

The actual process of making the crème brûlée custard was relatively easy. And even though I almost managed to burn the cream, they turned out absolutely delicious, better than some restaurant-made desserts I have had in the past.

I’m so happy to say I have accomplished one of my culinary 30-by-30 goals, and get to share the recipe with you! Grab your torches!


Crème Brûlée

Recipe adapted from the BonJour Crème Brûlée set
Makes 4 individual servings

1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp fine (regular) sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/3 cup turbinado sugar for topping


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees; while the oven is heating, prepare a pot of boiling water
2. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine creame and 2 Tbsp sugar
3. Cook, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appears around the edges of the pan, about 5-6 minutes
4. In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla until smooth and light
5. Pour hot cream mixture into egg yolks, a little at a time, beating continuously until well blended
6. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl
7. Divide mixture among four 4-oz ramekins
8. Arrange ramekins in a baking pan and fill pan with boiling water to halfway up the sides of ramekins
9. Loosely cover pan with aluminum foil and carefully place on middle shelf of preheated oven (be really extra careful! Lots of hot things going on here)
10. Bake until custard is just set, about 25 minutes (again, be extra careful taking these babies out of the oven)
11. Chill for 2-3 hours
12. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top of each dish, tilting and shaking to coat custard completely
13. Using a kitchen torch, move the flame continuously over the surface of the ramekins in a circular motion until the sugar melts and becomes golden brown and bubbly
14. Serve alone or with fresh berries; can be refrigerated for later use

Recipe: Turkey Meatloaf “Cupcakes” with Mashed Potato “Frosting”

As the holiday break came to a close, I found myself wanting to hang on to some of the comforts of being holed up in the house, sacked out on the coach in my sweatpants for long periods of time, with little to plan or worry about. I wanted comfort, and on Monday night that came in the form of food.

These guys came about really by accident. The original meatloaf (side note: I despise that word) recipe called for them in mini loaf pans, but, since I didn’t have any of those on hand, I decided to go with my XL muffin tin. What the hey, I was feeling creative.

Along with the meatloaf I made mashed potatoes, and while the potatoes were cooking I thought it would be cute to make these into cupcakes!

Unfortunately Boyfriend quickly put the kibosh on my excitement by bluntly telling me he did NOT want mashed potatoes ON TOP OF his meatcake (better? No.), but they were a big hit on Facebook!

By the way, these are relatively healthy, so this is guilt-free comfort food!

I only have this one crappy picture because SOMEONE didn't think these were a very good idea...

Turkey Meatloaf “Cupcakes” with Mashed Potato “Frosting”
Adapted from recipes here and here.
Makes 6 large “cupcakes”

For the meatloaf:

1 small onion, diced
2 tsp olive oil
2 pounds ground turkey breast
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup ketchup + 4 Tbsp
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 large eggs
2 tsp dried marjoram

For the potatoes:

6-7 medium potatoes, cubed (I used redskins and didn’t bother peeling them)
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp low fat buttermilk
2 tbsp butter
salt to taste
dash of fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh chives


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat, add onion and saute until translucent
  3. In a large bowl combine turkey, onion, oatmeal, egg, ketchup, salt and marjoram
  4. Grease an extra large muffin tin and divide the meat mixture into the 6 cups
  5. In a small bowl combine remaining 4 Tbsp ketchup and Worcestershire sauce and brush onto each loaf
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes; let rest for 5 minutes before serving
  7. While the meatloaf is baking, put potatoes in a large pot with salt and enough water to cover
  8. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat
  9. Simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender
  10. Drain and return potatoes to the pot
  11. Add buttermilk, light butter and remaining ingredients and mash until smooth; season with salt and pepper to taste
  12. Get creative fashioning your potatoes on top of your meatloaf. Maybe even use some peas as “sprinkles”. Really go crazy with this.


Falling Off the Radvent Wagon…and Cookies!

I know. I’m sorry. I knew, in my heart, that this would probably happen. Attempting to write a post every day during the busiest month of the year probably wasn’t the best idea.

But, to make it up to you, I have today not one but two Christmas cookie recipes!

I, like many, have a set of recipes that I make each holiday season, specifically baked goods. I only make these things during the month of December, and, even if there are other recipes that make guest appearances, these are the ones I absolutely have to make each year, no excuses.

So first up we have cran-pistachio cookies. This recipe is originally from The Girl Who Ate Everything. I fell in love with these cookies the first time I saw them, and re-fell when I actually made them and ate them. Yum.

The second cookie is the festive cherry bite. I feel like people either love or hate maraschino cherries. I get that they are so ridiculously processed, but I don’t eat these things on anything except in these cookies. I won’t even eat the one on the toothpick in my fruity drink from Bahama Breeze. So get your fill here, kids.

I think my love for both of these cookies stems from the final steps in each recipe, specifically that you only barely cook them in the oven, and then let them set on the cookie sheet before stuffing them into your mouth. Gooey. Delicious. Don’t forget to save some for Santa.

I promise to make a concerted effort to pick up my Radvent slack starting tomorrow (now that I am done with finals, and nearly done with Christmas shopping and planning). Until then… Christmas Puppy.

Is Santa here yet?


Cran-Pistachio Cookies
Originally from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 pouch Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1 box (4 serving size) pistachio instant pudding and pie filling mix
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup dry roasted salted pistachio nuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl stir cookie mix, pudding, and flour
  3. Add melted butter and eggs and stir until incorporated
  4. Add pistachios and cranberries and mix well
  5. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet
  6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are just set and the bottoms are a light brown; do not overbake!
  7. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely; once cooled, store in an airtight container.

Cherry Bites
Family recipe
Makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 egg, well beaten
1 ½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 11oz jar Maraschino cherries, drained and chopped

  1. In a large bowl, blend together butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla extract
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and baking powder
  3. Gradually blend flour mixture into butter mixture
  4. Gently fold in chopped cherries
  5. Wrap mixture in wax paper and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  7. Once chilled, roll into small balls and baked on ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes until just set and the bottoms are a light brown; do not overcook!
  8. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely; once cooled, store in an airtight container.