Kitchen Concoctions

Friday, August 28, 2015

Almond Toffee Crunch Smoothie Bowl

Looking for a quick post workout snack or filling and healthy breakfast to make you “feel gooder”? Well this Almond Toffee Crunch Smoothie Bowl is delicious, creamy and packed with protein... perfect for breakfast or a mid afternoon snack! 

Ahh... it feels so good to be settling back into a normal routine. The summer is my busiest time of year for my full time work, not to mention wanting to have a little summer fun in the sun, makes for a super busy time of year!

This summer was especially busy, as I was out of town (for both work and play) for a total of over a month! But with a new school year, brings an opportunity to settle down a bit, but mostly to get back to a more organized routine. Uhh... I love routines, and organization, and schedules!

Despite my busy summer, one thing that I started incorporating back into my “normal” routine was exercising. And let me tell you, it was the best thing ever! I used to be consistent about my workout schedule, but the last few years, as I took on more life responsibilities and transitioned into a freelance contractor, I struggled to find balance and make time for regular exercise.

But the past few months, as I have tried new things (who knew I would love barre so much!!) and made a point of exercising at least 3-4 times a week, has left me feeling renewed, energized, and overall just feeling great!

In addition to exercising regularly, I have been making a conscious effort to eat better and eat small little meals throughout the day, to help me from getting hangry or over eating when I do sit down to a meal. This is especially important in the mornings or after I workout. Fruit, yogurt, smoothies and protein bars are my favorite breakfast and post workout snack options because they are quick and easy.

That is why I was happy to discover these new ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple nutrition bars. They come in four flavors, like Almond Toffee Crunch, Bing Cherry and Almond, Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk and Roasted Cashew and Dark Chocolate, and use real ingredients that you can actually see in the bar. These bars are super convenient to grab and take with me when I am headed out the door for a busy day or when I head to my favorite workout class.

In addition to nutrition bars and fruit, I recently discovered smoothie bowls. These smoothie bowls are becoming quite the thing and I love them! They are a thick and creamy smoothie (my favorite) topped with, well whatever you want... fresh fruit, coconut flakes, nuts, granola or often for me, chopped up nutrition bars for added flavor, protein and crunch! My latest smoothie bowl flavor combination was inspired by the ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple Almond Toffee Crunch nutrition bar. A cold and creamy smoothie, made with frozen bananas, almond butter (another one of my favorite things), almond milk and pure maple syrup and then topped with all sorts of delicious, crunchy things!

What is your favorite post workout snack? Please share in the comments below!

Almond Toffee Crunch Smoothie Bowl
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Serves: 2

A creamy almond and banana smoothie bowl topped with fresh bananas, almonds, and crunchy protein bar bites. 

Smoothie Bowl:
1 large banana, sliced and frozen
2 tablespoons almond butter
½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
1/3-½ cup almond milk

½ large banana, sliced
1 tablespoon coconut flakes
1 tablespoon raw almonds
1 ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple Almond Toffee Crunch nutrition bar, diced

Combine all smoothie ingredients in a blender. Blend on high until smooth and creamy, adding additional milk to reach desired consistency. Pour into a large bowl and top with desired toppings. Serve immediately.

Looking for a quick breakfast or post workout snack, check out ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple nutrition bars, made with simple ingredients that taste good and make you feel gooder! Don't forget to check out this special offer to help you save big on your next box!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Grilled Steak with Corn and Green Chile Relish

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Stubb's Sauces and Marinades. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Savor the last few weeks of summer by firing up the grill and whipping up this Grilled Steak with Corn and Green Chile Relish, full of fresh summer flavors! 

I think it is safe to say that pretty much the entire country is back in school this week. For those that teach and work in the education system or have kiddos returning to school, when August rolls around and the start of a new school year pops up on the calendar, the lazy days of summer officially come to an end.

However, here in Texas and I am sure with most other states, the summer heat will live on for weeks to come. That is why it is so hard for me to say goodbye to summer. While I love the more consistent schedule the school year brings (hopefully this means I can get back on track with everything from blogging, to working out, to general household chores and errands); I am greatly disappointed to see the lazy days of summer, all the fresh summer produce, and the impromptu summer BBQs with friends come to an end so abruptly.

But despite the fact that the summer fun is quickly fading into the steamy horizon, we still have several more weeks of summer “officially” on the calendar plus football season BBQs and tailgating to look forward to!

Since I am not quite ready to say goodbye to summer, I have a few more recipes I am exited to share with you in the next few weeks to help you all enjoy the last of that summer produce. One summer veggie I love is fresh, sweet summer corn. Those plump juicy kernels, fresh off the cob, just screams summer to me! I also love that the end of summer brings Hatch chiles! Yes, my friends, I am going to add to the Hatch chile frenzy with today's recipe and a few others I hope to share in the weeks ahead... at least until the brief Hatch chile season comes to an end. I guess for me, that will signal the official end of summer!

So fire up the grill and make this Grilled Steak with Corn and Green Chile Relish! This meal is so easy that it would be prefect for a lazy Labor Day or for a busy school night the first week of school! The steak is simply marinated in Stubb's Chipotle Butter Injectable Marinade then grilled to a perfect medium rare (use your indoor grill pan if it is too hot outside or to save time) and then topped with a fresh, creamy and mildly spicy Corn and Green Chile Relish. Since Hatch chiles are only available for a short time, this recipe for Corn and Green Chile Relish uses Stubb's Green Chile Anytime Sauce to add that special hatch chile touch to a simple summer dinner that can actually be made year round! 

Grilled Steak with Corn and Green Chile Relish 
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 20 minutes Wait Time: 1-24 hours Cook Time: 8-10 minutes Serves: 4

Juicy, tender chipotle marinated steak topped with a spicy corn and green chile relish. 

For the Chipotle Steak:
2 pounds flat iron, flank or skirt steak (or other preferred cut of steak)
½ cup Stubb's Chipotle Butter Injectable Marinade

For the Corn and Green Chile Relish:
4 ears of corn (about 2 cups)*
2 large Roma tomatoes, diced
1 small red onion, diced
1 Hatch chile, jalapeno or Serrano pepper; roasted, seeds removed and diced*
2 tablespoons Stubb's Green Chile Anytime Sauce
1 large avocado, diced
¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
¼ cup cotija cheese

For steak: Place steak in a large plastic baggie or food storage container. Pour ½ cup Stubb's Chipotle Butter Injectable Marinade over steak, making sure steak is completely covered. Place in refrigerator and marinate for 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat grill to high heat and oil grill grates. Remove steak from marinade and grill steak over high heat for 4-5 minutes per side for medium rare. Once cooked to desired doneness, remove steak from grill and transfer cooked steak to a plate. Cover steak with foil and allow steak to rest for 10 minutes.

Thinly slice steak, against the grain, and serve topped with Corn and Green Chile Relish and crumbled cotija cheese

For Corn and Green Chile Relish: Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Remove silk from each ear of corn. Place ears of corn in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Allow corn to soak for 15-20 minutes.

Remove corn from water; shaking off any excess water. Place corn on preheated grill. Close grill cover and grill corn for 15-20 minutes, turning every 5-8 minutes, or until kernels are tender.

Allow corn to cool for 5 minutes. Once corn is cool enough to handle, remove husk. Cut kernels off cob and place corn kernels in a large bowl. Add diced tomatoes, red onion, Hatch chiles and Stubb's Green Chile Marinade. Carefully fold in diced avocado. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve relish over grilled steak and top with crumbled cotija cheese.

*NOTE: Fresh corn can also be steamed to save time. If not in season, substituted thawed and steamed frozen corn.

Freshly roasted Hatch chiles add a great pop of flavor to this dish, however, when not in season a jalapeno or Serrano pepper can be substituted. To roast the chiles, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat the broiler. Position a rack 4 to 5 inches directly below the heating element of your broiler. Arrange the chiles in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Place the chiles under the broiler and roast until the skin is charred and blistered, about 3 to 5 minutes. Using tongs flip roasted chiles over and roast for an additional 3 to 5 minutes on the opposite side. Once completely roasted, remove the chiles from the broiler and place them in zip top plastic bag or heat-safe bowl. Close the bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let stand for 10 to 15 minutes. Once chiles have cooled, remove chiles from the bag/bowl and peel away the charred skin. Continue with recipe as directed. 

Serving Suggestion: Serve steak as directed with relish with a side garden salad or with warm tortillas and a side of rice and black beans.

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Creamy Green Chile Pulled Pork Enchiladas
Hatch Chile, Potato, Bacon and Corn Chowder
Tex-Mex Burgers with Guacamole
Grilled Chicken Suiza Sandwiches
Southwestern Crab Cakes with Green Chile Aioli

Disclosure: I am in a working relationship with Stubb's Sauces and Marinades. This recipe was developed by me for Stubb's. This sponsored blog post was written by me on behalf of Stubb's. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Because of sponsors like Stubb's I am able to continue to bring you all the content I feature here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Thai Chopped Salad in a Jar {Plus 5 Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling}

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. AD #RoadTripHacks #CollectiveBias #Randalls 

When traveling it is often hard to stick to a healthy life style. However, with these five tips, plus a delicious Thai Chopped Salad in a Jar, you can have fun on your vacation while maintaining a healthy lifestyle! 

I have mentioned this before but, the travel bug bit me at an early age. Even though I come from a large family, when I was a kid, we were blessed to have opportunities to travel all over this great country and abroad. Since we had such a large family, this usually meant many family road trips. 

While many kids loath road trips, the hours on end in a car without TV or video games (at least that's how road trips were way back then, LOL!), I loved it! I loved playing road trip games with my siblings, blowing through books on my lengthy summer reading list, enjoying special road trip snacks and seeing the world around me pass by.

To this day, I still love hitting the open road and seeing the beauty that surrounds us! This year especially has given us the opportunity to take a few fun and exciting trips together as a family, and I have also been busy traveling a lot for work. And while I will always thrive on the adventure traveling brings, sometimes being on the road and away from home can be hard. Not being on a normal routine, not sleeping in your own bed, and eating out a lot can make you tired and exhausted. That's why I decided to share some of my best tips for staying balanced and eating at least a little bit healthier while traveling (because let's, be honest, part of the fun in traveling is enjoying a special meal or treat).

5 Tips for Eating Healthy While Traveling: 

1. Pack Road Trip Snacks: Not only can road trips snacks and meals be very expensive when traveling, they are often not the best for you. So for road trips, I always pack a cooler and a lunch box full of snacks and meals we can conveniently enjoy on the road. This does take a little prep beforehand, but luckily I have a Randalls store right around the corner that has many convent snacks like, Quaker Popped Mini Rice Snacks, Wheat Thins Reduced Fat, Planters Peanuts and Quaker Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, that are perfect for road trips. Other healthier snacks that also travel well, are grapes, bananas, carrot and celery sticks, hummus, cherry tomatoes and bottled water. In addition to snack foods, if we are going on really long road trips, like 6+ hours, I also pack sandwiches or salads in a jar (like the Thai Chopped Salad I am sharing below) so that we don't have to worry about finding a place to stop for lunch on a long deserted Texas highway.

2. Stay Somewhere with a Kitchen: While I admit, that I don't necessarily want to cook while I am traveling, renting a condo, cabin or hotel room with a full kitchen is super convenient. Having access to a kitchen, or at least a microwave or mini fridge while on vacation, gives you the option to prepare homemade meals and forgo eating out your entire vacation. When we went to the beach earlier this summer, our condo had a full kitchen, so we on cooked breakfast (fruit, yogurt, eggs) and lunch (salads, sandwiches, etc.) at our condo and then enjoyed a meal at a local restaurant at night. Even if you don't have a full kitchen, having a place, like a cooler or mini fridge, to store healthier and convenient snacks and breakfast foods is really helpful.

3. Find the Nearest Grocery Store: Since we try to always plan to prepare at least a few of our meals or snacks while traveling, I always look up the local grocery stores while I plan our trip. This is helpful when booking our hotel so that we can choose a hotel that has a grocery store located near by. This is not only helpful to shop for groceries but in case we need to pick up any forgotten travel necessities. When looking up local groceries stores, I always try to locate stores that I am already familiar with so that shopping in a new location is less stressful. Luckily, not only does Safeway and Albertsons have a nifty store locator you can access online or via your cell phone, they have a large selection of banner stores nation wide. So while I am used to shopping Randalls when I am at home, I can find another Randalls, Tom Thumb or other Safeway store, while I am out on the open road!

4. Research Local Restaurants: So being a foodie, for me this tip has a double purpose. I am a firm believer of eating locally as much a possible when I travel. Since I love good food, and enjoy being inspired by food and flavors I get to experience all over the world, this is very important to me. Not only do I thoroughly research the local restaurants of our vacation spots, to find the absolute best restaurants possible, I also take time to look over the menu. While I do like to enjoy special treats and indulgent meals while on vacation (who doesn't?), I try to balance these special treats with healthier options as well. For instance, when I was recently out of town for a week on business, I chose a lighter meal for lunch (like a salad or lean protein and veggies) since I knew dinner would be more indulgent with steak, pasta and maybe a dessert or two. Already having an idea of where I would eat and what I would order made me not only feel better, but allowed me to plan and enjoy a few special treats!

5. Drink Plenty of Water: We all know we should be drinking plenty of water each day, something that is much easier to do at home than on the road. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy a soda or two or occasional happy hour while on vacation. Just remember to drink at least one water for every specialty drink and have plenty of bottled water on hand for outdoor vacations, like camping, the amusement park or beach, where you will be in the heat and sun all day long.

I love salads in a jar for quick, convenient and healthy on the go meals! These salads can be made 2-3 days in advance and due to the specific layering of the ingredients, don't wilt or get soggy. Salads in a jar are great for when you want to pack a cooler full of snacks and meals to take on a long road trip, to stock in your mini fridge at your hotel, or for simply grabbing when you rush out the door for a busy day at work. I love this Thai Chopped Salad for all the crisp veggies, plump edamame, crunchy peanuts and creamy, yet spicy peanut dressing. While this salad is hearty enough without any meat, feel free to add some grilled shrimp or chicken for added protein.

I've shared some of my travel tips, now I want to hear yours! Please share your best travel tips in the comments below! 

Thai Chopped Salad in a Jar 
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 20 minutes Yields: 4 jars

A refreshing chopped salad with a spicy peanut dressing conveniently packaged in a jar for an easy, on the go lunch! 

1 batch Thai Peanut Salad Dressing (recipe below)
1 (8-ounce) package shredded cabbage
3 large carrots, shredded
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 large cucumber, diced 1 cup shelled edamame beans
1 (6-ounce) container Planters Chili Lime or Chipotle Peanuts
3 green onions, chopped
1 (5-ounce) package O Organics Baby Romaine

4 (24-ounce) glass jars with a lid

Divide the dressing between four 24-ounce jars. Divide the remaining salad ingredients into four equal portions. Loosely layer the salad ingredients into the the four jars in the order they are listed, with the lettuce and green onions at the top; leaving at least 1-inch of space at the top of the jar.

Seal the jar and refrigerate for up to 2-3 days. When ready to enjoy, shake the jar vigorously to mix the ingredients and dressing. Salad can be eaten directly in the jar, or poured into a bowl or onto a plate.

Thai Peanut Salad Dressing 
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Yields: approximately 2 cups 

A creamy and spicy peanut salad dressing. 

¼ cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey*
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (or ¼ teaspoon dried ginger)
¼ teaspoon each black pepper and kosher salt
2 teaspoons chili or hot sauce
¼ – ½ cup olive oil
3-4 tablespoons water

Combine all ingredients, except oil and water, in a large blender. Blend for 30-40 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down sides. Turn blender on low speed and slowly drizzle in enough oil until combined. Blend in water until desired consistency is reached. Taste and adjust seasonings to preference. 

Dressing can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

*NOTE: For a vegan salad, substitute maple syrup for the honey.

Albertsons and all Albertsons banner stores, including Safeway, Randalls, and Tom Thumb, are hosting "The Best Road Trip Ever" sweepstakes. They want to not only help you stock up on road trip essentials, like Quaker Popped Mini Rice Snacks, Wheat Thins Reduced Fat, Planters Peanuts, and QUAKER Chewy Chocolate Chip Granola Bars, but want to know your tips, tricks and hacks for having "The Best Road Trip Ever". Click here to share your Best Road Trip ever for a chance to win big!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bourbon Peach Pie

Nothing is more southern than sippin' tea and eating pie on a hot summer day. This version of classic peach pie is taken up a notch with another popular southern flavor! 

It seems like every fellow blogger is in some sort of blogging funk. That they are “just not feeling it”. That they are too busy or too exhausted. That they lost their mojo and that is the reason their blog is lacking in content. And I totally get it! Blogging is a ton of work. Creating recipes and crafts (or other content), photographing said recipes, editing photos, typing everything up and sharing, sharing, sharing. Which all can be SO exhausting, making you feel uninspired and not wanting to blog.

But I have never felt this way, in fact, the only thing that I have suffered from is not having enough time to do everything I want to do with this blog, you know because I have to work to pay my bills and a house to maintain. Other than that, every time I get a chance, I am doing things for this blog. I love getting in the kitchen and creating recipes and I love playing with photo props and my camera to take photos of my creations. But getting the opportunity to sit down and edit said photos and actually find a peaceful moment to write, like really write (like write the way I was taught back in college), well that is a rare opportunity.

Oh and then there is the fact that I am my toughest critic, and only want to share the absolute best, so even if a recipe is perfect the first time, I test and retest it, fine tuning each little ingredient and measurement. Or retaking photo after photo and maybe hitting delete a million times on some less than witty story that I have written.

Like, let's take today's recipe. I first made this pie last summer. I remade it again towards the end of summer to photograph it. Then when I had a moment to share it with you all it was September and peach season was long gone. Then I made this pie again this year, since peaches have been utterly amazing, and decided I didn't like last year's photos and wanted to retake the pics. And if I am being honest, I am still not completely happy with these photos but the more time I spend agonizing and editing the photos the more I don't even want to share. You see... it's not just simply cooking, picture taking and writing that goes into this blogging thing... LOL! (Random: Just heard on the news that LOL is so old school now... oy vey).

Anyways, this peach pie is so good that I have to share it., despite the fact the photos aren't exactly how I want them. This Bourbon Peach Pie simply, screams summer in the south. It is packed, yes PACKED, with fresh Texas peaches (I guess Georgia peaches would work too, wink. Wink.) and a hint of sweet, robust bourbon (another straight from the south, like sippin' on sweet tea, sort of thing).

One Year Ago: Texas Dirt Cake (Peanut Butter Icebox Cake)
Two Years Ago: In Season: Zucchini
Three Years Ago: Cake Batter Rice Krispie Treats
Four Years Ago: Crock-pot Lemonade Chicken and Broccoli and FYI: Flour Types
Five Years Ago: Blueberry Sorbet
Six Years Ago: Danielle's Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Bourbon Peach Pie
Printable Version
Prep Time: 30 minutes Bake Time: 60 minutes Serves 8

Classic southern peach pie, with a hint of bourbon. 

5 cups peeled, thinly sliced peaches (about 7 medium peaches)
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
1 lemon, juiced and zested
¼ cup bourbon*
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 tablespoons each milk and granulated sugar or sugar in the raw, for crust
1 double batch homemade or store bought pie crust

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and lemon zest. Add the peaches and toss to combine. Add the lemon juice and bourbon, and toss until evenly coated.

Roll out half of the pie dough onto a lightly floured surface, rolling into a 12-inch circle. Press rolled out pie dough into a 9" pie pan. Pour the peach pie filling into the pie crust. Using a rubber spatula, and gently smooth the pie filling into an even layer. Cut the butter into small pieces and sprinkle evenly over the peaches.

To form the lattice topping, roll out the second half of the dough. Using a blunt knife or straight edge (like a pizza or pastry wheel) cut the dough into even, 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch wide strips. Layer the strips, one at a time, on top of the pie. Every other strip will be parallel with one another. Continue this process, weaving the strips of dough, until all the strips of dough are weaved on top of each other on top of the pie. Trim the edges of the pie dough strips flush with the dough of the bottom crust, which should be about half an inch over the sides. Fold back the dough from the bottom crust, lining the rim of the pie plate. Tuck the end of each lattice strip behind the dough along the rim of the pie plate and crimp to secure. Using a pastry brush, brush the crust with one to two tablespoons milk, and sprinkle with 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

Bake at 400 degree F oven for 30 min. remove pie from oven and cover with foil Then reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

*Note: 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract can be substituted for the bourbon.

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Other recipes you might enjoy:
How To Host a Summer Pie Social
Chocolate Pecan Pie
Hazelnut-French Silk Turtle Pie
Chocolate Bar Pie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse Pie 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Peaches 'n Cream Oatmeal

Peaches are at their prime during the warm summer months! Add them to your morning oatmeal, for a pop of fresh flavor, with this simple recipe! 

When I think of my dream home, yes, a professional kitchen, with a large walk in pantry, a large “farm” sink, big windows, with a skylight overhead and plenty of storage options, is at the top of my list. However, something I am always fantasying about is the large backyard my dream home would have.

Since I love to entertain, the perfect patio is very important to me. I dream of all the backyard barbecues we would host for friends and family. I dream of a large yard with plenty of shade for my pup. I dream of cute and functional patio furniture, that we would sit on as we enjoy our morning cup of joe and we listen to the birds chirp.

But mostly I dream of all the fruit trees we would have. Yes, plenty of fruit trees! Grapefruit trees, pear trees and trees filled with figs, plums and plenty of peaches, right there for the pickin'!

Yes, more than anything I wish and hope my future dream home has lots of room for fruit trees! 

While my home right now lacks any sort of trees, I do have a few friends and family members who are blessed with various fruit bearing trees. And I am blessed that they are so generous with their fruit! :)

Several weeks ago, before the 100+ temperatures rolled in, a friend of ours called us over to give us some plump, juicy peaches right off their tree. Texas is known for their peaches, but due to the drought the last few years, peaches have been slim pickin's. However, this year, with all the rain we have had, peach season has been the best it has ever been! And let me tell you, these little peaches, right from my friend's yard, were THE best peaches I have ever eaten!!

While we ate most of them in their pure, natural glory, I didn't want any of them to go to waist. So I threw some in smoothies and my morning oatmeal! This Peaches 'n Cream Oatmeal is sweet and creamy (with just a hint of cinnamon); perfect on a warm and humid Texas summer morning!

What is your favorite summer fruit? Share in the comments below! 

One Year Ago: Chicken Bacon Ranch Stuffed French Bread
Two Years Ago: Strawberries 'n Cream Oatmeal
Three Years Ago: Cherry Balsamic Pork Chops
Four Years Ago: Hawaiian Rice
Five Years Ago: Black Cow Ice Cream Soda
Six Years Ago: Zesty Fried Meatballs with Red Pepper Sauce 

Peaches 'n Cream Oatmeal
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5-8 minutes Serves: 1

Creamy oatmeal topped with fresh, seasonal peaches and rich cream. 

1 cup milk (almond, coconut, soy, etc.)
½ cup water
¾ cup old fashioned rolled oats
1 small peach, deiced
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract 

1-2 tablespoons half and half cream
1 small peach, diced

In a medium sized sauce pan, combine milk, water, oats, diced peach, ground cinnamon, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

Lower heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and oats are tender. Serve immediately topped with half and half cream and additional diced peaches. 

Note: Fresh peaches are ideal, but frozen or canned could also be used.

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Strawberries 'n Cream Oatmeal
Blackberry Cobbler Oatmeal
Pear Crisp Oatmeal
Peach Crisp Oatmeal
Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Texas Frito Chili Pie

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. AD #AHugeSale #CollectiveBias #Randalls

A simple and classic Texas dinner that reminds me of home, this Texas Frito Chili Pie, with homemade Texas style chili, is the perfect dinner for a large get together or busy weeknight! 

Whoa! Can you believe August will be here in just a few days!?! I know I certainly can't believe it! Yeah sure, it physically feels like August is fast approaching, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees the past few days, but it doesn't “feel” like August is coming. You know what I mean!?!

But the reality is that August is almost here. The shelves at stores are being packed with school supplies and parents are rushing to not only squeeze in much needed shopping for new clothes, but maybe a last minute summer vacation or summer activity.

And I must admit, while I am hanging onto every single minute of summer, the onset of August and a new school year, always brings a flood of memories. Memories of pink lunchboxes and a new box of crayons, all while eagerly nervously anticipating a new grade at school with new classmates.

Another memory I have of starting a new school year is our annual “Back to School” dinner. For as long as I can remember my Mom took our entire family out to eat or made an extra special dinner at home for us to celebrate the start of a new school year. My siblings and I always looked forward to this special dinner because we rarely went out to eat and if one year we were celebrating at home, well we thought it was so cool that our Mom let us pick out what we would have for dinner.

If we were choosing, we usually picked Frito Chili Pie! I mean what kid doesn't love a meal that they are allowed to eat chips for the main course! With the arrival of August, I was recently reminded of not only this tradition, but specifically this meal, when I was recently at Randalls picking up a few things. I ran in to grab milk, but of course ended up getting a few other things as well! I noticed Randalls (and their family of stores) is having a huge anniversary stock up sale with many popular back to school food items, like Quaker oatmeal and cereal, Frito Lay chips and a variety of Pepsi and Mountain Dew sodas, all on sale. When I saw these items I immediately wanted make that Frito Chili Pie that I remembered so vividly from my childhood.

Frito Chili Pie is a classic southern dish, consisting of three basic things: Fritos corn chips (duh!), chili (duh!), and cheese. My Mom always made her's the classic southern way by using canned chili and baking her Frito Chili Pie in a large casserole dish. However, as I have gotten older I have put my own spin on this dish. I skip the baking, because who needs the extra step (and dirty dish) and I hate heating up my house because of the oven on a hot Texas day. I also crafted my own homemade Texas style chili (Texas style means no beans!) that I prefer. In my base chili recipe I always add about a cup of beef broth or tomato juice, but when I saw the Pepsi on sale at Randalls, decided to add it instead. After all, having soda with dinner was another “special occasion only” sort of thing and sweet treat that I loved as a kids. But don't worry, this substitution was perfect and the sweetness of the soda helped balance the heat that lingers after each bite!

Today I am sharing this go to family recipe as I anticipate our own back to school dinner that we will be having soon! Since I know many of you are partial to a baked Frito Chili Pie (like I had growing up), I have also included those directions in the recipe below.

What do you stock up on when you get ready to go back to school? Please share in the comments below!

Texas Frito Chili Pie 
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4-6

Homemade Texas style chili served on a bed of corn chips and topped with cheese, onions and pickled jalapenos! 

For the Texas Style Chili:
1 ½ tablespoon canola oil
2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large yellow onion, diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste 
1 (12 -ounce) can Pepsi (1 ½ cups)
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
½ tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon masa or cornmeal
1 (14-once) can diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

For the Frito Chili Pie:
1 (9 ¾-ounce or 19-ounce) bag Fritos Corn Chips (or 6 individual bags)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 large yellow onion, minced
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 (12-ounce) jar pickled jalapeno peppers

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat ½ tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add ground beef and cook for 5-6 minutes or until no longer pink; using a wooden spoon to break up meat as it cooks. Drain the cooked ground beef and set aside.

To the same pot, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add minced jalapenos and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour in Pepsi and stir until tomato paste has dissolved.

Return cooked ground beef to the pot. Stir in the spices and cornmeal. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes or up to one hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings, as needed before serving.

To serve, place corn chips in bowl. Top with a ladle full of chili. Top chili with desired amount of toppings including cheese, yellow or green onions and pickled jalapenos. Alternatively, Frito Chili Pie can be served directly in single serve Fritos chip bags.

Baked Version: Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare chili as directed above. Spread a thin layer of Fritos corn chips along the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Pour half of the prepared chili evenly on top of the corn chips. Top chili with half of the cheese. Top cheese with another layer of Fritos. Top second layer of chips with remaining chili and cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Allow chili pie to cool in pan for 5 minutes before serving. Serve topped as desired.

While I shopped Randalls' Huge Anniversary sale (going on from 7/29/15-8/11/15), check out what great deals are available at Safeway, Albertsons, Tom Thumb, or Amigos (or the Albertsons' banner store in your area)! Sales vary by store so be sure to click on each link to see what is on sale at your store!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Fish Tacos on a Stick with Taco Ranch Dipping Sauce {Kids in the Kitchen}

 These Fish Tacos on a Stick are not only fun but will have kiddos everywhere begging to help with dinner and asking for more! Just in time for #TacoTuesday

I had carefully planned out a summer's worth of kids in the kitchen recipes, activities and fun. I wanted to share recipes for rock candy and puddin' pops and all sorts of other cool stuff.

But then real life and work got in the way.

I had worked so hard to plan and prepare for my annual kids in the kitchen series, so this wouldn't happen, but despite my best efforts (I have a whole back log of photographed recipes on my computer) I haven't had time to actually sit down and edit all the pics and write the blog posts.

So here I am finally sharing one of said “kids in the kitchen” recipes!

These fish tacos on a stick are cute and fun. Not only that, they are so easy to make the kids could practically make them on their own! If you have real young kids, simply set out all the ingredients in bowls a and let them go to town assembling and dipping!

Fish Tacos on a Stick with Taco Ranch Dipping Sauce
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4

A fun and easy kid friendly twist on weekly taco night!

Fish Tacos on a Stick:
8 wooden skewers
4 breaded frozen fish fillets
4 flour tortillas
24 cherry or grape tomatoes
1 cup chopped iceberg lettuce
1 cup cubed cheddar cheese

Taco Ranch Dipping Sauce:
½ cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
½ cup ranch dressing
2 teaspoons taco seasoning

For fish tacos on a stick: Bake fish fillets according to package directions. Once thoroughly cooked, allow fish to cool slightly then chop into bite sized pieces.

Cut tortillas into 4-6 even strips. Fold tortilla strips in half.

Thread cubed fish, cut tortilla strips, tomatoes, lettuce and cheese in an alternating pattern onto skewers. Serve immediately with Taco Ranch Dipping Sauce.

For taco ranch dipping sauce: Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Serve immediately with fish tacos on a stick, or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Tacos inspired by Giveaway Overload, as seen on Pinterest 
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