Thursday, March 26, 2015

Whipped Feta

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I make absolutely no excuse for my LOVE of cheese.  Cheddar, gouda, the undisputed king of cheese - Parmesan, soft cheese and of course stinky cheese.  I could go on and on making this into a Forrest Gump moment but I'll spare you that speech.  Currently, I have a new favorite…whipped feta.
Oh my goodness!  It's so easy to make, goes with just about anything you are serving as an appetizer and stores beautifully in the fridge for several days. Of course, I have more things to say about my love of cheese but instead, I'll just share the recipe…you'll be happy I did.
Whipped Feta
6 ounce block feta cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
1–2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
  • Place feta, cream cheese, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil salt and red pepper in a blender or food processor.
  • Pulse until cheese broken up then blend until smooth about 3 minutes.
  • Spoon into a bowl and dress with additional olive oil and red pepper flakes.  Serve with pita chips, crackers or chilled vegetables.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken

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This past weekend I combined some of my favorite things!  My crock pot, lemons, garlic and chicken. I'd made an early morning run to the grocery and picked up a whole chicken (cut up) that was on sale plus several other items.  At that point I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with the bird but knew I could turn it into something special.  Since I had the whole day ahead of me, I decided my trusty slow cooker would be the way to go so I gathered my other ingredients and started cooking.
This dish came together rather quickly and results were incredible.  The chicken was moist, full of flavor and there was delicious broth from all of the lemons and garlic.
After removing the chicken from the pot, I strained off the rich liquid and with the addition of some flour, butter, salt and pepper made some gravy which I served over a steaming scoop of rice.  After all my years in the kitchen, this principle still holds true for me …simple food cooked with love shared with family and friends is total joy.

Crock Pot Lemon Chicken
1 whole chicken - cut up
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 lemons cut into thick slices
3 garlic bulbs - tops cut off to expose cloves
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and brown in hot pan working in batches.  
  • Place all but 3 to 4 lemon slices on bottom of crockpot along with garlic bulbs. 
  • Layer chicken on top of lemon and garlic.  Gently pour over stock. Place remaining lemon slices on top of chicken and sprinkle on thyme.
  • Set slow cooker to low and cook for 6 hours.
  • When done, remove chicken from pot and strain broth.  
    • For gravy, melt 2 tablespoon of butter in a pan.  Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour and cook until golden brown.  Slowly pour in flavored broth and continue to whisk until smooth.  Cook on medium heat until gravy is thickened, stirring constantly.  
    • Serve chicken and gravy over rice, noodles or creamy grits.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Carrot Cake

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Since it's Friday and the first day of Spring, I decided we should celebrate with cake!  I made this super moist, rich carrot cake that includes pineapple and coconut. What?  Well, let's not stop there…it also has a buttermilk glaze and it topped off with a sour cheese icing.  With every bite of this cake you can taste the sweet pineapple along with tender carrot all wrapped up in delicious cake.

I hope that you'll take some time this weekend to celebrate spring no matter what the weather is in your part of the world. It's been a long, nasty winter and I think we all deserve a sweet treat so, I'm grabbing a big slice of carrot cake and a cup of coffee ~ cheers friends!
Carrot Cake

2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs - room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup butter milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated carrot
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple - drained
1/3 cup flaked coconut
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease and flour a bundt pan.  
  • Stir together first 4 ingredients.
  • Beat eggs and next 4 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth.
  • Add flour mixture, beating at low speed until blended.
  • Fold in carrot, pineapple and coconut.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.
  • Drizzle buttermilk glaze over cake and cool in pan for 15 minutes.
  • Gently remove cake from pan and continue to cool on wire rack.
  • Pour cream cheese icing over cake.  Slice and serve.
Buttermilk Drizzle

1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Bring first 5 ingredients to a boil in a large heavy bottom pot at med-high heat. 
  • Cook, stirring often for 4 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.
Sour Cream Icing
4 tablespoons butter - softened
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla1/2 teaspoon lemon juice1/4 teaspoon salt2 2/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • Using a hand mixer, cream butter, sour cream, vanilla and lemon juice until smooth.
  • Gradually add confectioners sugar.
  • Add salt and mix until smooth.
  • Pour icing around top of cake allowing it to run down the sides.
Original recipe from Southern Living, October 1997

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Chocolate Energy Balls

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It's that wonderful time of year again friends for spring sports.  My guy plays lacrosse (or LAX) and we are excited at the opportunity to get outside and have some fun.  We are getting geared up for a busy weekend with 4 games in 2 different cities so I've got to be organized.  One of the most important things I try to have ready for my player is lots of water and healthy snacks.
I took the best of some of the "energy ball" recipes that I've seen on the web and came up with just the right combination of flavors for a power packed treat.  With only four ingredients this is a snack that makes Mr. Lacrosse and his mama really, really happy!
Chocolate Energy Balls
1/4 cup oats
15 - 16 pitted dates
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder.
1 tablespoon honey
  • In a food processor, pulse oats until finely chopped. Remove and set aside.
  • Add dates to processor and chop into very small pieces.
  • Add oats, chocolate and honey to dates and process until mixture forms a ball.  If mixture is not coming together add a small drizzle of honey and pulse again.
  • Using a small scoop, measure out mixture and roll into balls.
  • Store in airtight container in refrigerator until ready to enjoy.

Monday, March 16, 2015

My Best St. Patricks Day Recipes

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With the last name of Mullins, you know we'll be celebrating St. Patricks Day in my house.  I've put together a list of dishes that I make during the week along with some a few fun ideas.

This is my recipe for corned beef made in the crock pot.  Oh my gosh is it good and it looks like you all think so too since this dish has been pinned over 11,000 times!  I am so glad you like it…

I also make several loaves of Irish Soda Bread.

Of course we've got to have a little something special to drink and my homemade
Bailey's Irish Cream is just perfect to toast the day with.

Make sure you check out my Pinterest Board just for St. Patricks Day and all things Irish!

Lastly, I hope you have a wonderful St. Patricks Day and I leave you with this beautiful Irish Prayer ~

May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Orange Garlic Chicken Legs

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You know friends, from time to time, even the most motivated person needs a little inspiration. That's what happened to me last week when it came time to cook dinner for my family. Of course  I have my go-to list of recipe favorites but there absolutely nothing there that got me excited to get in the kitchen.  So, I decided to search a few blog sites from a couple of my friends to see what they'd been cooking.  I found all kind of good things from appetizers to main meals to desserts and seeing all that beautiful, delicious food got my creative juices flowing again…thank goodness!
I jotted down a few ideas then started "shopping my pantry" for ingredients.  For the items I didn't have on hand, I headed to my local farmers market then to the grocery to grab everything I needed. At that point I was ready to cook!  Here's one of the recipes I came up with and we enjoyed these sticky, flavor packed chicken legs last night.  I have to give a great big THANK YOU to my friend Leah who inspired my dish.  You can find her delicious chicken leg recipe here…

Orange Garlic Chicken Legs
8-10 chicken legs
1 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 cup orange marmalade
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic - minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (1/2 teaspoon if using dried)
2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • In a medium size bowl mix soy sauce and remaining 6 ingredients.
  • Place chicken pieces in a large zip lock bag.  Reserve 1/3 cup of marinade pouring remaining over chicken.
  • Place in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Line a baking pan with parchment or tin foil.  Fit all chicken pieces on pan and place in oven.  
  • Cook for 20 minutes.  Baste chicken with marinade and turn.  Cook additional 20 minutes.  
  • Baste chicken and turn once more.  Cook for 10 minutes or until chick is thoroughly cooked and browned.
  • Drizzle with remaining sauce and serve.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Tzatziki Sauce with Baked Pita Chips

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Big bold flavors in foods always pull me in.  I love the tart pucker of lemons, the fresh taste of herbs like rosemary, basil and oregano then there's always that unmistakable hint of garlic that can make a dish something special.  When you combine all these ingredients together, you know what happens…you feel like you've been transported to Greece or at least to your favorite Greek restaurant.  Unfortunately, I've never been to Greece but that journey is on my "must do" list.  In the mean time, I've decided the best way to enjoy the incredibly wonderful flavors of Mediterranean cooking is to learn how to make a few dishes myself.
I've started out my Greek adventure by making tzatziki sauce. This creamy condiment is often served with lamb or chicken on a pita with lettuce and tomatoes.  Some people refer to tzakziki as "cucumber sauce" because of the fresh crunch that the veggie gives to the dish.  All I know is this recipe is so simple and so delicious!  I made baked pita chips to serve along side but will also use it as a topping for roasted veggies.
One of the great things about tzakziki sauce is that you can make it ahead of time, store it in the fridge and guess what…the flavors just get better over time.  I made a beautiful bowl of sauce this morning and with friends stopping by later for drinks, it's going to be the perfect appetizer to serve. Enjoy friends…Opa!
Tzatziki Sauce
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 cucumber - peeled and seeded
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/2 lemon - juiced
1 teaspoon salt
  • Strain yogurt using a small mesh strainer & cheese cloth (can use paper towel) for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Grate cucumber and squeeze out any additional liquid (wrap cucumber in paper towel and squeeze with hands)
  • Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Cover and chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
    • garlic flavor will mellow after sauce is chilled.