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I am so happy you stopped by Cupcakes & Kale Chips to check out what is going on in my home, my life, and especially in my kitchen!  If you are already a fan, welcome back! If you are a new visitor and want to see more of my eats and sweets and treats, I would love for you to subscribe via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or RSS Feed.

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Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf, and a verrrryyy quiet weekend

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf with mushroomsI was totally lazy yesterday afternoon while The Bug was napping.  And all evening, after he went to sleep.  I should have been folding laundry.  Or cleaning up the kitchen.  But instead I started writing a blog post, perusing Facebook, and catching up on My Fair Wedding and Sweet Genius on my DVR.  And why was I feel totally OK with this?  Well, The Bug was napping.  My tummy was full from gobbling up some leftovers of Friday night’s dinner (after I had already had lunch.  And a cake pop.) while I was photographing it for this blog entry.  And The Hubby was away until Sunday afternoon, so I knew I had all night and a good portion of Sunday to do the piddly tasks.  Other than the sound of The Bug snoring over the monitor, the house was very quiet.  Almost unnerving how quiet it was.  Today, for some reason, the quiet is nice and appealing.  Maybe because now the chores are done, and it is a damp, dreary day, perfect for staying inside.

So anyway, dinner Friday night.  So good!  As I mentioned, I was picked at more of it straight out of the fridge.  And, since The Hubby wasn’t home, I just finished it off for dinner.  The Bug happily devoured a broccoli and cheese omelet (with ketchup naturally).  I’m wasn’t sharing my leftovers.

I love Jessica’s How Sweet It Is blog.  Her photos are amazing (something I aspire to), and she cracks me up regularly.  You would think by the name that her blog would be all about desserts.  Well, she does have some A-MAZ-ING desserts.  But oftentimes, it is her savory recipes that catch my attention.  Like this Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad.  Mushrooms, asparagus…  mmmmm!!!!  My favorites.

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf from top

I scoured my grocery store and could not find the jasmine brown rice.  I guess I could have bought regular jasmine rice, but I bought a bag of millet on a whim awhile ago.  Millet is a grain that looks similar to couscous or maybe even kinda like barley, but it is gluten-free.  I have been trying to figure out a way to make it that wouldn’t freak out The Hubby.  Put a new dessert or a new meat dish in front of him, and he is all over it.  A new vegetable or grain – well, that is usually perceived as me trying to force “crunchy” health foods on him.  But this was good.  Real good.

Asparagus and mushroom miillet pilaf leftoversI used some dried cranberries instead of the dried cherries, and tweaked the amounts of other ingredients, since I was making a larger portion.  And I used vegetable broth instead of chicken.  I’m sure either way would be great, but with the veggie broth, this is a nice vegan meal.  And if you aren’t vegan, try it with some shrimp, like we did on Friday night, or sprinkled with a little goat cheese, as I did on Saturday night.  Or eat it straight out of the fridge, cold.

The Hubby liked it, despite his lack of love for asparagus and mushrooms, and The Bug ate his portion.  Though honestly, he was more interested in devouring seven or eight shrimp – go figure, normally he won’t touch shrimp.  Ugh, the eating habits of toddlers!

I definitely want to try it with the brown jasmine rice, just as Jessica made it.  But I think that’ll require a drive to Whole Foods, which, sadly, is not too convenient.  And I still have that bag of millet, or I am thinking it would be good with quinoa, to, to amp up the protein.  Mom, can’t wait for you to try it – this is what I am making on Good Friday!

And since it is so quiet, I need some conversation, even if it is “virtual”.  So tell me what you think of this recipe, answer the questions below, or just say Hi.  I’d love to hear from everyone who is reading, so we can get to know each other!

Are you lazy or productive when your significant other is away?  What are you favorite spring vegetables or fruits?

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf (serves 4)

Adapted from Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad at How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

about 1 lb asparagus spears, woody stems removed, cut into 1-1 1/2 in pieces

Asparaugs and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Collage2 T olive oil, divided

1 c  millet

1 t kosher salt

2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1 shallot, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pint white or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)

1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Directions

1.  Prepare the millet as per the package directions, using stock instead of water.  I cooked mine in my rice cooker.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Toss the asparagus with 1 T olive oil, 1 t salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

3.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

4.  Add shallot and a little salt, and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

5.  Add mushrooms to the pan, and cook until nicely browned and soft, about 5-7 minutes.

6.  Add the garlic and dried cranberries, and cook for another minutes or so.

7.  Add the wine, and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.

8.  Toss the mushroom mixture with the roasted asparagus and millet, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Close-up

This recipe was shared with:

Lemony Chicken Foil Packets and Firing Up the Grill

The Bug at the Grill

It’s March, and I am grilling.  That never happens!  This has been the weirdest winter, and being somebody who is always cold and hates being cold, I am not complaining.  It would have been nice to have one good snowstorm, so that I could get a chance to play in the snow with The Bug, since he was not even walking last winter.  And since I spent good money on snow pants and boots, because if you don’t buy them in October, there will inevitably be a blizzard in December, at which time all of the snow pants and boots are gone, and you are left deciding on what swimsuit you want for the summer.  But that is neither here nor there.

Back to grilling.  The Hubby loves meat, especially grilled meat.  So sometimes, even in the coldest winters, he will go outside and grill a steak on a Saturday night.  He has even been known to dig a path through the snow to get to the grill.  Not me.  I wait until I can go outside in a tee shirt and flip flops before I am going to go outside of my nice, cozy kitchen to cook dinner.  Seventy degrees in March calls for cooking dinner on the grill.  So I threw together these tasty little packets, tossed them on the grill went inside to set the table, play with The Bug and say Hi to The Hubby.  Then 20 minutes later, dinner was on the table.

Lemony Chicken Packets Collage

If you don’t have a grill, don’t know how to use your grill, or, you know, live in North Dakota where it is too cold to grill, especially in March, you can always throw the packets in the oven.The Greek yogurt and lemon juice marinade give the chicken so much flavor, and help to create a little lemony sauce and some steam to cook the poatoes nice and soft, and the green beans still slightly crisp.

I didn’t get a picture, but The Bug was a fan!  Well, truthfully, he did not eat the beans.  Even when I put ketchup on them (yes, he is one of those kids who will eat anything with ketchup – but I do make my own.  I’ll get to that in another post).  For some reason, he will eat green beans at school, but at home, he won’t go near them.  Whatever.  Potatoes are always a hit, but he can be picky about meats.  And this chicken was so tender and flavorful that he devoured almost as much as I ate!  The Hubby isn’t the biggest fan of green beans, but he indulged me when I want them sometimes, and he thought they were pretty good.

IMG 4658

Don’t miss today’s Friday Fun!

Do you ever grill in cold weather?  What is your favorite thing to make on the grill?

Lemony Chicken Foil Packets with Parmesan Green Beans and Potatoes(serves 4)

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

1/4 c Greek yogurt (I use Chobani)

1 lemon

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or some dried thyme, I’d say about 1/4 t)

1 clove of garlic

2 t kosher salt, divided

freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. red potatoes, slice about 1/4 in. thick

1 lb green beans

1 T olive oil

1/4 c parmesan cheese

4T water

Directions

1.  Before making the marinade, zest the lemon before you cut it and squeeze it for the juice.

2.  Make the marinade by combining the Greek yogurt, the juice of one lemon, thyme, garlic, 1 t salt , and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl or plastic bag.

3.  Add the chicken breasts and let marinate for at least 20-30 minutes, but the longer the better.

4. Toss the potatoes, green beans, olive oil, parmesan cheese, 1 t salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the reserved lemon zest.

5.  Take four squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil, or a double layer of regular aluminum foil, and spray the dull side with olive oil or coking spray.

6.  Divide the potatoes and beans evenly between the packets. Or you could be as meticulous as me, and start with a layer of potato slices, then put the green beans on top.

7.  Lay one chicken breast on top of the potatoes and beans in each packet.

8.  Fold up the foil into pouch, and before sealing, at 1 T water to each packet.

9.  Put on a medium to medium-high grill for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and chicken is cooked through. (Or you could put it in a 350F oven, probably for about 25-30 minutes).

10.  Open up your packets and serve.

Enjoy!

IMG 4660 with text

This recipe was shared with:

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

Addicted to Recipes’ Scrumptious Sunday Link Party #4


Friday Fun! March 23, 2012

The Bug at the parkSome weeks I can’t wait until Friday, but this week, it is already Friday.  I wish I had a few more days in this week to get more stuff done.  I feel like I was super-busy, and yet accomplished nothing.  Well, not exactly nothing.  I mean, I haven’t killed the herbs that The Bug and I planted last week.  That, in itself, warrants a merit badge for me.  But the weather has been so nice that The Bug and I have spent a lot of time going for walks and playing in the backyard, which has left less time for me to interact with my fans and foodie friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other blogs.  I’ve missed you all, so make sure you leave me some comment love here or on my Facebook page. I’d love to hear what is new with everyone.

Growums sprouts

My friend, Kara, owner and awesome photographer at Kiwi Photography, recommended a book for me to learn how to actually use my $800 camera in something other than Auto mode.  But for some reason, that is not enough of a kick in the butt to start to get me over this hurdle.  So I started an online photography course this week.  Hopefully my photos will start to improve, and maybe get a few more accepted by Foodgawker, and at least one by Tastespotting, although general consensus is that this is all random (thank you, Three Little Piglets, and all of the commenters).  I am taking it through Ed2Go.  I used Ed2Go for an online course to learn how to use WordPress in order to start my blog, and it was really good.  I hope I learn just as much from this one.  They have online courses in a ton of different subjects.  Check them out if you want to learn something new.

My Shamrock Green Smoothie was a hit at home and in cyberspace.  I might have had a couple more after the one I had Saturday morning, and the folks at Finding Vegan loved it too.  Between that and the Chocolate Almond Banana Oatmeal that was on Foodgawker, I had a lot of new visitors and some new fans.  So exciting!

No pictures of any pretty salad for lunch this week.  I am writing this as I wait for my dad at the doctor’s office where he is having some tests done.  So I had a chocolate banana smoothie on the ride over, and am now eating an apple.  While wishing I were having the same salad as I had yesterday – romaine, apples, blue cheese, walnuts, and The Fountain Avenue Kitchen’s Maple Dijon Vinaigrette.  I had made some up for a side salad with the BBQ Apple, Bacon, and Cheese quesadillas I made for dinner earlier this week.  By the way, those were pretty good, so I’ll post that recipe soon.

Here are some things I was checking out out this week:

  • I had these on Sunday, made by The Half-Baked Housewife herself, and WHOA!!  Life-changing.  Or at lead Waistline-changing :-)  And she made cake pops.  Funfetti ones.  Can you believe this is the first time I’ve had a cake pop?!
  • I am so excited that The Purple Carrot has put together and April Foodie Photo Challenge!!  It has been so much fun!
  • I totally want to combine this Peanut Butter Magic Shell from Chocolate-Covered Katie and this White Chocolate Gorp from The Fountain Avenue Kitchen, and maybe use Chex to make it gluten-free.
  • Speaking of gluten-free, I really miss regular consumption of bread.  I think I may have to consider trying this one from How Sweet it Is.
  • I don’t know if it was the recipes, the amazing photos, or the colorful overabundance of SPRINKLES, but I desperately want one of these Double Doozies from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen or Funfetti Cupcakes for Two from Chocolate & Carrots.
  • Of course, if I am going to have dessert, I should stick with something grain-free and refined-sugar free Pumpkin Bars from The Nourishing Gourmet.
  • The Bug LOVES hummus and avocado, so I thing Two Peas & Their Pod’s Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich may have to be on the lunch menu soon.
  • I really enjoy the slow, attentive process of making risotto.  When I don’t have a two-year-old hanging on my legs.  I will make it occasionally, but Tastefully Julie’s idea for Microwave Risotto is genius.  I have heard of brown arborio rice, too – has anyone seen it or tried it?

I’ll be spending this upcoming rainy weekend indoors with The Bug, because The Hubby will be away overnight.  We may go to an Easter Bunny breakfast on Saturday, and hopefully make and decorate some Easter cookies for the Royal Icing assignment for First on the First.

Oooh, and guess what – you are going to get double posts today.  A new recipe is coming up later.  We had it for dinner last night, and I’ve gotten some requests for details.  But I’ll tell you, it involves maybe one bowl and no pots or pans or baking dishes!

Remember, if you like what you see here, I’d love for you to subscribe to updates by email, “Like” me on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter.  And tell your friends…

And here is the weekly question:

What are your plans for the weekend?  Cooking up anything special?

Enjoy!

Granola that’s Kinda Nutty (to power through business trips that are also kinda nutty)

Maple Nutty Granola yogurt parfait up closeWhen I was working, I had to travel to Europe several times, and once for two weeks to China and India.  And seriously, the best thing about many foreign hotels is their insane breakfast buffets.  These spreads catered to the breakfast preferences of many different countries and cultures, from eggs and bacon and potatoes, to waffles and pancakes and french toast, to knockwursts and bratwursts and whatvever-wursts, to congee and sushi and dumplings.  Now granted, I was traveling for business, so I did stay at pretty decent hotels.  But even the smaller ones all seem to know how to do breakfast right.  And one thing that always seem to have it a bowl of plain, thick yogurt, another of fresh fruit preserves, and yet another filled with granola.  More often than not, even with all of the other choices, I went for that – a little dairy, a little protein, a little fruit – just what I needed to power through the insane schedule that I usually had while traveling (one time involving 7 airplane flights in 10 days).

Back at home, the store-bought granola always left something to be desired for me.  Many seem to have a lot more sugar and fat than I am really looking for, not enough nuts and fruit, and way too much “filler”.  Plus, with finding out about my wheat allergy, I have to steer clear from granola that contains things like wheat and barley flakes, or even wheat germ.  So that is why I came up with this recipe.  It has a pretty high ratio of nuts and seeds to oats, a good amount of dried fruit, and just the right amount of sweetness, but without adding any refined sugars.  The only grain is oatmeal, and while I don’t need to seek out the gluten-free oats, this can be gluten-free if you purchase the gluten-free oats.   And it has a lot of different kinds of nuts.  I love nuts, and each one seems to have at least on particular standout nutritional stat, like walnuts for Omega-3′s, cashews for minerals and B-vitamins, and almonds for Vitamin E.  Here is a great source for lots of nutritional information about many different nuts and seeds.

Nutty Granola yogurt parfait

I love to eat this granola over plain yogurt with some chopped berries (or you can get all fancy and make parfaits), and The Bug likes it in any of the many yogurt combos I make for him (like this one).  But it is also good simply with some warm or cold milk (my new favorite is Almond Breeze’s Coconut Almond Milk, maybe with a little chopped banana.  I’ve also been known to eat it by the handful.

It also makes a nice gift.

Maple Nutty Granola Gift

And the great thing about granola recipes is that they really are a guideline.  Feel free to switch it up based on the nuts and seeds and fruits you love or have around.

Maple Nutty Granola Yogurt parfait

What is your favorite breakfast food?  Is there something you beeline for when you are at a buffet?

Maple Mixed Nut Granola

Ingredients

3 c oats (I use Quaker Old Fashioned Oats)

Granola in bowl1 c raw cashews, chopped

1 c chopped walnuts

1 c chopped pecans

1/2 c sliced almonds

1/4 c flax seeds

1/4 c sesame seeds

1/2 c pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

1 c unsweetened, flaked coconut

1/4 c water

1/4 c olive oil

1/2 c real maple syrup

1 t cinnamon

1 t vanilla extract

1 t kosher salt

1 1/2 c dried fruit (I like equal parts raisins, dried cranberries, and dried cherries)

Directions

Granola on pan1.  Preheat your oven to 250°F.  Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

2.  In a large bowl, combine the oats, nuts, seeds, and coconut.

3.  In a small bowl, combine the water, olive oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and toss until it is evenly distributed and moistened.

5.  Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes, or until dry and golden.

6.  Toss the dried fruits in with the granola mixture.

7.  Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

Enjoy!

Maple Nutty Granola closeup

This recipe was shared with:

A Little Nosh’s Tastetastic Thursday

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

I Heart Nap Time

What Makes You Say Mmmmm? Monday Linky

Nap-Time Creations