Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Watermelon Frozen Yogurt (No Ice Cream Maker Required!)

OK, stay with me: watermelon + ice cream. It's a winner, but you're skeptical. I get it. I've been there.

Cookout, a renowned milkshake and burger place in North Carolina, serves a watermelon milkshake every July. When I first saw it advertised, I thought there's no way that can be good. But oh was I wrong. I finally tried it and it was amazing. So refreshing!

Since I made coffee frozen yogurt awhile ago, I wanted to try another kind. Watermelon frozen yogurt for everyone!

Notes: I had watermelon juice that I used for this recipe. When I buy watermelon, I cut it out of the rind into small pieces. It makes it easier to eat, but of course that means I have juice and pulp left in the bottom of the rind. So, I saved the juice and the pulp for this recipe.

If you don't cut your watermelon this way, just reserve some pieces and chop them up really small until you have a little over a cup. You have to blend the yogurt and watermelon anyway, so it will become juice when you blend it. Just be sure you strain any seeds out before you mix it with the yogurt.

A little bit of fresh mint in here might be nice if you're feeling fancy.

I use a glass loaf pan for my freezer-safe dish. It works well. The handles help when you need something to help you hold the dish in place while you stir.

The only downside of this recipe is that it takes constant attention for 2-3 hours. But on a lazy weekend day when you're hanging out in the house anyway, you can manage. Other than that, it's super easy.

Store the yogurt uncovered in your freezer.

2 cups vanilla Greek yogurt
1 cup sugar
1 cup watermelon juice


Blend juice, sugar, and yogurt together either with a blender or with an immersion blender. Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe dish.

Freeze for 2-3 hours. Every 30 minutes, whisk or stir the mixture to break up large ice crystals. Starting out with a whisk will work well, but you'll need to switch to something sturdy as it starts to freeze.

Once the mixture has the consistency of ice cream, scoop and serve. Enjoy this refreshing (and unexpected) combo!

Spinach Stuffed Shells

I make lasagna often, but stuffed pasta less so. I had planned to make a spinach lasagna this weekend, but I was reading something online and someone mentioned stuffed shells. I thought, have I ever even made stuffed shells? I think this is actually the first time. It definitely won't be the last.

Notes: I might leave the mozzarella cheese off next time. I think it might over power the spinach/ricotta a bit.

I would use a thicker sauce for this. I used one that was a bit thin and most of it sank to the bottom of the baking dish.

You can mix the spinach and ricotta ahead of time and leave in the fridge until you're ready to assemble everything.

Be careful not to boil the shells too long. They'll finish cooking in the oven. You don't want them to fall apart on you while you're trying to fill them.

1 box of jumbo shells pasta
1 15 oz. container of ricotta cheese.
1 ball fresh mozzarella
1/2 a bunch of fresh parsley
3-4 cups baby spinach
2-3 garlic cloves
1 egg
1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

Directions: Heat the oven to 400.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the shells to al dente according to the directions.

While the oven is heating and the water is boiling, chop the spinach and parsley. Mince the garlic. Beat the egg in a medium bowl. Add in the spinach, parsley, garlic, and ricotta. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.

When the shells are done, remove them from the water using a slotted spoon or something that helps you drain the water off. Put them on a baking oiled sheet to cool slightly.

Pour some of your marinara sauce into a 9x13 baking dish. Fill each shell with the ricotta mixture (they hold about a large teaspoon of filling). Place them opening-side up in the baking dish. Slice the fresh mozzarella and lay the slices on top of the pasta.

Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Lime and White Chocolate Bars

Do you love the flavor of key lime pie, but not the work it takes to make one? Well, have I got a solution for you. These bars are a great alternative.

Notes: I made these to take to a cook out earlier this summer. I think they're a great summer dessert. They're also a little different---not the same old cookie or brownie.

I modified this recipe only slightly. I have no key limes. I've only seen them in my grocery store a handful of times. Maybe they make a huge difference, but if they do, I can't taste it.

The first time I made these, I drizzled melted white chocolate over them. It was good, but frankly the white chocolate chips are much easier and just as delicious.

Here's a good tip for getting lots of juice out of your lime: roll it on the counter and press down on it with your palm while you roll. It should yield more juice that way.

When you zest the lime, you can use a microplane. Try to make sure you just take off the green part and not the white part underneath (it's bitter).

1 heaping cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of one lime (about a full teaspoon)
Juice of one lime (about 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Directions: Heat oven to 350.

Melt the butter in the microwave. Whisk it together with the brown sugar (or mix with the paddle attachment of your stand mixer). Stir in the egg, vanilla, and lime juice.

Stir in the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, and zest) until the batter just comes together. The fold in the white chocolate chips.

Line an 8x8 glass baking dish with foil and grease the foil. Pour the batter in and bake for approximately 20 minutes until a test comes out clean and the center looks dry.

Cool for about 5 minutes (or to room temperature). Cut, serve, and enjoy!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Bangers 'n Spud

In 2006, we went to London with Scott's parents. It was a great trip. Of course we had some great pub food, including bangers and mash. I was craving baked potatoes the other day, so I thought why not make a bangers and mash stuffed spud? And so bangers 'n spud was born.

Notes: This dish would be Q.E.D. if you made the potatoes in the microwave. As it stands, though, it's pretty simple. And it only has three ingredients. So, you've got the E. and the D. of Q.E.D.

If you can't find pre-cooked chorizo, you can use kielbasa or andouille. Or you could use fresh chorizo and just increase the cooking time.

This recipe severs 4 people or it will give you a night of leftovers for two people.

4 baking potatoes
1 lb pre-cooked chorizo sausage
1/2 bag frozen peas


Heat the oven to 400. Rub a small amount of butter on the outside of the potatoes and season with salt. Prick them with a fork, wrap them in foil, and bake for 1 1/2 hours.

Before the potatoes finish, heat a non-stick skillet on medium. Dice the sausage and add it to the pan. Cook until the edges start to brown. Add in the peas and sautee for just a few minutes until the peas are thawed and heated.

When the potatoes are done, slice them open and fluff with a fork. Spoon the sausage and peas into the potato. Serve and enjoy!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Slow Cooker Cheerwine BBQ Chicken

BBQ chicken is one of the best ways to make chicken if you ask me (frying is the other).

Also, if you're asking me, Cheerwine is the best cherry-flavored soda.

Why not combine them and make Cheerwine BBQ chicken? Again, if you're asking me, this sounds like a perfect plan.

Notes: Of course, not everyone has access to Cheerwine since it is the legend of North Carolina. Dr. Pepper makes a great replacement. It won't have the cherry flavor, but it will still be good.

This recipe deviates from my standard use of slow cookers in one way: I typically hate slow cooker recipes that call for cooking something ahead of time. What's the point?! The slow cooker is supposed to do ALL the work for you as far as I'm concerned. Given that, if you wanted to skip the heating of the sauce and the marinating, be my guest. Just melt the butter and whisk in the brown sugar. Then stir all the sauce ingredients together in the slow cooker before you turn it on, add the chicken, and set it. I'm sure it would be just fine.

That said, marinating the chicken kept it nice and moist. So, if you have time, you might as well do that step.

We used spicy ketchup and hot sauce, so ours was nice and spicy. Spicy ketchup isn't something people typically keep on hand, so I left it out.

2 lbs chicken breasts
1 tablespoon butter
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup Cheerwine (see notes)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Hot sauce to taste


In a sauce pan, heat the butter until it melts. Cook the garlic for a couple of minutes over medium heat. Add in brown sugar and stir continuously until it looks wet and soft. Add in Cheerwine and stir. Stir in ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt, onion powder, and paprika. Bring the mixture to a boil and then remove from heat and allow it to cool.

Once the sauce cools, pour it over the chicken breasts and marinate in the fridge over night (see notes).

In the morning, rub a little oil in the slow cooker just to help prevent the chicken from sticking. Put the chicken and the marinade in the slow cooker. Cooker for 8 hours on low.

30 minutes before you want to eat, take the chicken out of the cooker and shred it. Return it to the sauce and finish cooking.

Serve with your favorite BBQ sides (and a Cheerwine to drink!) and enjoy!