The Baker Upstairs: August 2015

8.31.2015

30 minute meals

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I love a good 30 minute meal! Who doesn't, really? While I'm totally willing to spend a few hours working on a luscious and decadent dessert, when it comes to our dinners, thirty minutes or less is the norm. There are so many fantastic options that are ready in such a short time! Here are some of my favorites from my blog. I hope you'll try them too!


These wraps are so quick and easy to make, and packed with flavor! They are one of my favorite quick meals and the kids love assembling their own wraps. 


These enchiladas have been a staple in our family for as long as we've been married. They are my husband Geoff's favorite, and I think he would eat them for dinner every night if he could. :)



These tuna burgers are a fun twist on burger night, and they are delicious and healthy too!



A fun twist on an old favorite, this gnocchi mac and cheese is smooth and creamy and delicious! It was a huge hit with the kiddos!



This soup is one of my very favorite meals, and I love that it's good for you too!



This meal is a great way to get the kiddos to eat some veggies. Who can say no to broccoli with cheese sauce? Yum!



These tostadas are phenomenal when made with homemade refried beans (I keep some in the freezer just for making tostadas) but they're great with canned beans too!



I've been eating this since I was tiny and it is one of my go-to comfort foods. Simple, filling, and packed with protein!



These wraps are some of my favorites, and I love the combination of buffalo sauce, gorgonzola, ranch, and crisp lettuce. Yum!



The sauce in this pasta dish is so delicious, I just want to eat it with a spoon! This is another one that is a favorite with my kiddos.



This fresh and delicious salad is full of juicy berries and chicken, and topped with the most delicious candied almonds. Love it!



I love this fun twist on tacos, and the double layer quesadilla taco shells are amazing!

8.28.2015

huckleberry hand pies

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A few weeks ago my little family took an awesome vacation to Portland, Oregon. We had the best time (seriously, I think it was my favorite vacation ever) and I'm excited to share some of the fun things that we did and the amazing food we ate here on the blog! One of my favorite parts of our trip was the day we drove out to Hood River/Mount Hood and visited a few farm stands. There's something pretty amazing about sun ripened fruit fresh from a farm stand. I had never tried fresh huckleberries before, and even though they were a little on the expensive side, I knew they had to come home with us! Look at these beauties:


We enjoyed some of the huckleberries just on their own and found them to be incredibly flavorful and tart but delicious. I managed to bring home a whole carton without any major calamities befalling them (which was pretty amazing considering the eleven hour drive), and set to work making up a recipe to utilize them. These huckleberry hand pies are delicious and easy to make, and allow those delicious little huckleberries be the star!


You could definitely use homemade pie crust for these, but that is one skill I have not yet mastered, so I stuck with the grocery store variety this time around. I love how adorable the little pies turned out! I will take a mini dessert over a full size dessert any day.


My husband thought the huckleberries were still a little tart (he has more of a sweet tooth than I do) so he solved that problem by topping his pie with fresh whipped cream. I have to admit, it was a pretty delicious addition. If you would like the huckleberries to be sweeter, feel free to add more sugar to the filling mixture. Either way, they're delicious and beautiful too!


Huckleberry Hand Pies

1 package refrigerated pie crust (2 crusts)
1 1/2 cups fresh huckleberries, rinsed and dried (blueberries would also work)
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons sugar, plus additional sugar for sprinkling
pinch of salt
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water

Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment. Roll out the pie crust and cut each crust into 8 circles (I used a 3 5/8" round cutter). In a medium bowl, toss the huckleberries with the flour, sugar, and salt until coated. Spoon about two tablespoons of huckleberries onto 8 of the pie crust rounds. Cut vent holes or slits in the remaining eight pie crust rounds. Place a vented piece over the top of each huckleberry piece, and use a fork to crimp the edges, sealing in the huckleberries.  Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining pies. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg white and water. Brush over the prepared pies, then sprinkle each pie with sugar. Bake 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool before serving.


8.26.2015

blueberry almond coconut granola bars

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It's back to school time! Every year around this time, I start racking my brain for healthy snacks to give the kiddos when they come home from a long day of school. I know eventually I'll fall into the lazy trap of just letting them graze from the fridge, but at least at the beginning of the school year, I like to make an effort. These blueberry almond coconut granola bars make the perfect after school snack! They are pretty much just packed with goodness. I love the crunchy almonds and flax seeds, the sweet blueberries, and the chewy coconut and oats. They take only a few minutes to mix up, and are incredibly easy to make!

Blueberry Almond Coconut Granola Bars

3 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons flax seeds
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoons coconut extract
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, flour, coconut, brown sugar, salt, flax seeds, almonds, and blueberries. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the coconut oil, honey, coconut extract, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and toss to coat. Press the mixture into the prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool, then slice into bars.

adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod


8.24.2015

gnocchi mac and cheese

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If your kids are anything like mine, they can't get enough mac and cheese! I make most of our mac and cheese from scratch, and I love it that way. It doesn't take any longer than making a boxed mix, but it tastes so much better! I love making my own creamy cheese sauce and tossing it with pasta. I saw gnocchi mac and cheese on another food blog a while ago, and just barely got around to making it. We had just come home from vacation and the kiddos were starving, but we had almost nothing in the house to eat. I did have a random package of gnocchi in the cupboard and some milk and cheese in the fridge, and voila! A delicious and filling meal that was ready in about fifteen minutes. I love the pillowy little bites of gnocchi and the creamy, cheesy sauce. Lately I've been adding a little dijon mustard to my cheese sauce, and I love the flavor that it adds. Yum! This is definitely one to make again.

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

1 pound prepared potato gnocchi (I got mine at World Market)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard

Prepare the gnocchi according to package directions, then drain. While the gnocchi is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour to form a paste. Cook 2-3 minutes, until lightly golden and slightly translucent. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Allow the sauce to thicken, then slowly add the chicken broth, continuing to whisk constantly. Simmer until the sauce has thicken slightly. Remove from heat and add the salt, pepper, cheese, and mustard. Whisk until the cheese has melted. Return to heat and add the cooked gnocchi. Stir to coat the gnocchi with sauce and cook until heated through. Enjoy!


8.21.2015

the best oven fried chicken

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It's funny, but I can still remember the first time I ever had KFC. I was five and we were on vacation in Montana visiting my mom's relatives. We decided to go for a drive in the mountains and have a picnic, and my great aunt purchased some KFC to bring with us. We drove along an incredibly narrow canyon road (not even wide enough for two cars) and I could feel how tense my mom was, probably because my great uncle was barreling along at a speed well over what seemed safe to us. Anyway, we made it safely to our picnic site, and I remember that fried chicken being the most delicious meal I had ever eaten. It may have been that I felt as though I had just had a brush with death, but I can still remember (27 years later) how tasty that chicken was!

This oven fried chicken has that same great KFC taste, but with a few extra advantages. First of all, it's homemade, which in my book always tastes better. Second, it's baked instead of fried, which means it's a little healthier while still being just as delicious. And third, I can make it while wearing my comfy pants and never have to leave the house. That's a total win in my book! The coating gets nice and crisp in the oven while the chicken stays tender and juicy, and the combination of seasonings is delicious. This is definitely a new favorite recipe!
Oven Fried Chicken

3 chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 2-3 strips each
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons paprika

Preheat the oven to 400. Place the butter in a large baking dish (I used a 9 x 13 pan) and place it in the oven to melt. Combine the flour, salt, seasoning salt, pepper, and paprika in a ziplock bag and toss to mix. Add the chicken and toss to coat all the chicken pieces. Remove the baking dish from the oven and place the chicken pieces in the melted butter, making sure the chicken pieces are not touching or overlapping. Return the baking dish to the oven and cook 10-12 minutes. Flip the chicken using tongs and return to the oven to cook an additional 10-12 minutes on the other side. When the chicken is cooked through, remove the baking dish from the oven and move the chicken to paper towels to drain any excess grease. Serve immediately and enjoy!

recipe via The Recipe Rebel


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