The Baker Upstairs: July 2015

7.29.2015

pesto cranberry chicken salad croissants

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Another easy recipe for you! These pesto cranberry chicken salad croissants make for a simple and delicious meal that's ready in just a few minutes. I love serving this chicken salad on croissants because it makes me feel fancy, but it's great on bread too. The pesto adds so much great flavor, and I love the contrast of textures with the cranberries, chicken, and walnuts. This is always a family favorite and one that I make often. Yum!

Pesto Cranberry Chicken Salad Croissants

2 cups shredded chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
2/3 cup light mayo
3 tablespoons fresh pesto
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
4 croissants
lettuce leaves

In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken, mayo, and pesto. Add the cranberries and walnuts, and stir to combine. Slice each croissant in half lengthwise and layer a lettuce leaf, then scoop on 1/4 of the chicken salad. Enjoy!

7.22.2015

eggs and tortillas

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I'm sure you can tell from the dearth of posts on the blog this month, but life is just plain crazy lately! My husband is finishing things up with his last semester of nursing school, which means lots of clinical hours, tests, papers, projects, and presentations. I'm still trying to get the hang of my new job, and due to when I started and the needs of the unit, I ended up with a two month stretch of night shifts. A few weeks in I was having so much trouble sleeping (and becoming so sleep deprived) that I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Awesome, right? (Not!) It doesn't help that the kids are out of school for the summer and have all kinds of energy. All day long. My doctor and I brainstormed some strategies together and I was able to cope with my night shifts, but I really haven't had a lot of energy for much of anything else lately. Anyway, this week I finally switched back to day shifts for a while, and I'm starting to feel like a human being again. It's kind of amazing, actually! :)

While I've been trying to survive my work schedule, my husband Geoff has been picking up the slack and cooking a lot lately. Now that my schedule's a little easier to handle, I'm trying to ease myself back into the swing of cooking (at least on the days I have off from work) and it helps to have easy recipes like this one that I can pull out when I need them! I know I should probably come up with a fancy name for it, but eggs and tortillas is what I always called this dish when I was growing up, and the name just stuck. My mom has been making eggs and tortillas for breakfast (and often dinner too!) for as long as I can remember, and it is one of my favorite comfort foods. It's simple and filling, with plenty of protein to give you energy and keep you full. You can dress it up with salsa, sour cream, sliced avocados, jalapeƱos, green chilies... you name it! My kids love it with just cheese mixed in. It's the perfect meal for a night when you're exhausted and have pretty much nothing in the house. Yum!

Eggs and Tortillas

1 tablespoon oil
6 corn tortillas, cut or torn into pieces (I usually use a pizza cutter and slice them into sixths)
6 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheese (cheddar and monterey jack are my favorites)
additional toppings of your choice: salsa, sour cream, sliced avocados, jalapeƱos, green chilies, etc.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the tortillas to the skillet and stir to coat them with oil. Cook until lightly browned and crisp. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the salt and pepper. Pour the eggs over the crispy tortillas and turn gently with a rubber spatula until the eggs are nearly cooked. Sprinkle the cheese over the eggs and tortillas and cook until melted. Enjoy!



7.09.2015

Irish apple cake

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Okay, I'll admit it. I've been holding out on you with this post. I actually made this amazing Irish apple cake months ago for St. Patrick's Day, and I am only just now getting around to posting it. It's a shame that it has had to wait so long! Still, though, I think this is a perfect time to post it. I love simple sweet cakes during the summer, and it's also the perfect dessert for early fall, when I usually have apples coming out of my ears.


There's something so wonderful and delicious about a lightly sweetened cake full of fresh fruit and topped with just a dusting of powdered sugar. I also love that all the ingredients are simple and easy, which means you probably have everything you need to make this cake right now!


Now, if you're making it for a special occasion, you can totally dress it up like I did with warm delicious caramel sauce and pile on the freshly whipped cream. But it's also delicious (and probably a little more calorie-friendly) just as it is. Either way, it's sure to be a hit!

Irish Apple Cake

2 cups flour
1/3 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) butter, cut into pieces
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
2 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

for topping (optional):
powdered sugar
freshly whipped cream
salted caramel sauce

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a pie dish or 9 inch cake pan with cooking spray and set asideIn a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and sugar. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender or two knives, until the pieces are no larger than pea sized. Mix the egg and milk together, then pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Pat half of the dough into the prepared baking dish. Toss the chopped apples with the sugar and cinnamon and spread over the dough. Pat the remaining dough over the top of the apples (it's okay if it is imperfect, just do your best!). Bake 40 minutes, or until lightly browned on top. Remove and let cool slightly before topping.

adapted from Irish Traditional Cooking



7.02.2015

family pizza night!

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I'm sure you know this about us by now, but if there's one thing my family loves, it's pizza night! Between work, school, and activities, it seems like we are busy all the time, and pizza night is a great time to relax and enjoy some family time in the midst of all the chaos. We like to choose a fun movie for the kiddos and snuggle up together on the couch with pizza, popcorn, and root beer floats.

We were invited to try the new DIGIORNO pizzeria!™ thin pizza, and it was the perfect choice for our pizza night this week! It comes in four delicious varieties: Supreme Speciale, Primo Pepperoni, Spinach & Mushroom, and Margherita. Each pizza starts with a preservative-free crust that is drizzled with olive oil for extra flavor and topped with 100% real cheese, premium meats, and vegetables picked at the peak of ripeness. We tried the Supreme Speciale and Spinach & Mushroom varieties, and they were both delicious!


The pizzas bake right on the oven rack, which means the crust gets beautifully crisp, just the way I like it. I love the convenience of having pizzeria-style pizza ready in my oven in under twenty minutes! Less time in the kitchen means more time I can spend with my cute family. 


I know many families are busy like mine, so I wanted to share some tips that have helped us keep on track with spending time as a family.

1. Set aside the time. I know this sounds like a no brainer, but we used to kind of just fly by the seat of our pants and say things like, "Let's have a family movie night sometime this week." And guess what? Things always came up and it seemed like we never really got around to it. Now we choose a day and stick to it. Family time is a priority for us, and we don't let other distractions get in the way. We also have a rule that cell phones and electronic gadgets are put away during family time so that we can just focus on each other.


2. Get the kids involved. My kids absolutely love helping and feeling like they get to make choices. We let our kids take turns choosing which movie we will watch, and I let both girls help me in the kitchen as much as possible. My four year old is great at setting the table, washing fruit and vegetables, and gathering everyone to eat. My eight year old loves to make the microwave popcorn and is learning to use the pizza cutter (although her slices are often hilariously skewed). They love being a part of whatever I am doing and I love that many hands make light work.


3. Make it fun. While I still expect my kids to use good manners (chewing with their mouths open drives me up the wall!) we try to maintain a fun, relaxed atmosphere. The girls tell jokes (usually really awful knock knock jokes, which they love) and we all tease and giggle together. Our family nights are a great time to hear all about all the little things that make them tick. Lizzy will tell me about a friend at school that she loves to be silly with, or Abby will tell us about a comic book that she is writing. I love being able to just enjoy my kids as the funny, smart, creative little people they are.


DIGIORNO is so confident you’ll agree that new pizzeria!™ thin is delicious, that they are offering a “Love It Or It’s Free Guaranteed” refund. If for some reason you try the new pizzeria!™ thin and don’t like it, you can visit DIGIORNO.com for more information on how to receive a refund. DIGIORNO would love to hear what you think of the new pizzeria!™ thin on their Facebook page or on Twitter (@DiGiornoPizza) using the hashtag #YouBeTheJudge.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the recipe for those amazing root beer floats I made (hint: they have some pretty awesome secret ingredients)!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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