Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Panera Mac & Cheese

It is no secret that I am kind of obsessed with making different varieties of mac and cheese.  The latest recipe I tried was a copycat recipe for Panera's mac & cheese.  I have had some serious cravings for their mac & cheese in the past, so I'm pretty pumped I can make this at home whenever I feel like it.

Panera Mac & Cheese
1 lb pasta shapes, such as shells
4 Tbsp unsalted butter 
1/3 cup flour
2 1/2 cups milk or half-and-half
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 - 2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp hot sauce
4 oz white American cheese, finely chopped
8 oz white cheddar cheese, shredded

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente.  Drain well.  Return to the stockpot off the heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Stir in the flour and cook until light golden brown, whisking constantly, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.  Slowly whisk in the milk until no lumps remain.  Stir in the salt, mustard, and hot sauce.  Lower the heat to medium and continue to cook the sauce, stirring frequently, until it bubbles and thickens, about 6-8 minutes.

Remove the sauce from the heat.  Stir in the cheese a handful at a time, mixing until fully melted before adding more. Once all the cheese has been added and the sauce is smooth, pour the sauce over the pasta in the stockpot.  Mix well until the pasta is fully coated in the sauce.  Serve immediately.

source: recipe from annie's eats

Monday, July 30, 2012

Which Olympic Sport is your Favorite?

Are you watching the Olympics?  Caleb and I are super into it; we've been staying up late each night watching it because we just can't tear ourselves away from the TV!  My favorites are swimming and gymnastics, but I really enjoy watching all of it!  There's such emotional element to the Olympics; watching the athletes win and break records and congratulate each other.  Which event is your favorite?

Happy Monday!

(images via nbc olympics)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Coconut Seven Layer Bar Ice Cream

My favorite Christmas cookie that my mom makes every year is the coconut seven layer bar.  So it's no surprise that is also my favorite ice cream flavor at Ben & Jerry's.  They only serve it in the scoop shops, so I decided to try to re-create it on my own.  I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, and you can be sure that you will find me with a bowl of it tonight in front of the Olympics opening ceremony.  Hope you have a great weekend! 

Coconut Seven Layer Bar Ice Cream
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 can (15 oz) coconut cream, such as Coco Lopez

Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisk in the sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended, about 1 minute more.  Pour in the cream and milk and whisk to blend. Add the coconut cream (be sure to discard the waxy disk) and blend well together.  Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer's instructions.

After the ice cream begins to stiffen, but before it is actually done, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup of each of the following:
semisweet chocolate chips
butterscotch chips
sweetened coconut flakes
graham cracker crumbs
chopped pecans

Continue freezing until the ice cream is ready.  Transfer to containers and place in the freezer until ready to serve.

source: coconut ice cream recipe from Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream & Dessert Book

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

5 Things I'm Excited About This Week

1. It's my birthday week!  My birthday is Saturday which means I have declared this my birthday week.  I love anticipating my birthday and I like making my birthday an excuse for everything.  (i.e. having a bowl of ice cream last night...because it's my birthday week!)

2. The Olympics!  Duh!

3. Our sunflowers!  They finally popped out over the weekend and they are so pretty.  

4. A DIY frappuccino recipe!  Everything I make from annie's eats is amazing so I'm excited to try this recipe out!

5. Tomatoes!  Caleb and I aren't that good at keeping plants alive, but our tomato plants are doing so well!  They are huge and finally some of the tomatoes are turning red!

What are you excited about this week?  Happy Tuesday!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Chicken Salad with Orange Cranberry Vinaigrette

Chicken salad is one of my favorite summer dinners: it's easy to throw together but it's so fresh-tasting and flavorful.  I made this version based off of one I had at a friend's bridal shower.  The orange cranberry vinaigrette really heightens the flavor of the dried cranberries and keeps the chicken salad nice and moist.  Happy Friday!

Orange Cranberry Chicken Salad
4 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1 (5 oz) package dried cranberries
1 1/2 cups halved grapes
3/4 cup pecan halves, chopped
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
6 Tbsp Orange Cranberry Vinaigrette (I used Organicville), plus more for serving
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine chicken, cranberries, grapes, and pecans in large bowl and stir to mix well.  Add the mayonnaise and combine until evenly distributed.  Pour in dressing and stir until thoroughly combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Before serving, add additional vinaigrette to taste.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do or Don't: Detox Cleanse


I've been thinking about doing a health cleanse.  Have you ever done one?  I don't want to do the kind where you buy all that juice and survive on liquids alone - blech.  I need there to be a little more variety!  There are dozens of different "cleanse" ideas floating around the internet, so I don't know how to pick one!  Any suggestions?  Would you do a detox cleanse?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blackberry-Peach Cobbler with Praline-Pecan Streusel

As several of you requested, here is the recipe for the blackberry & peach cobbler we made over the weekend.  We picked up the blackberries and peaches at the farmers' market, and then it took less than 20 minutes to put this all together.  I think this would be delicious with any fruit combination you desire.  And since my dad taught me that any fruit-laden dessert is fair game for breakfast, this is best served all day long.

Blackberry-Peach Cobbler with Praline-Pecan Streusel
for the streusel:
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

for the filling:
4 cups peeled and sliced fresh peaches
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp flour
2 cups fresh blackberries

Prepare the streusel:  Stir together the brown sugar and butter in a large bowl; add flour and pecans, and stir until blended.  Let stand 20 minutes or until mixture is firm enough to crumble into small pieces.

Prepare the filling:  Stir together the peaches, sugar, and flour in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium, and boil, stirring occasionally, 6-7 minutes or until juices have thickened.  Remove from heat, and stir in blackberries.  Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch square baking dish.  Crumble streusel over hot peach mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

source:  recipe from Southern Living, July 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Weekend

Happy Monday!  I'm not quite ready to head to work for a long and busy day so let's relive the weekend!  Last weekend started out Friday morning at Chick-fil-A for Cow Appreciation Day!  Some girlfriends from work and I dressed up and went for breakfast and lunch (I was on major carb-overload by mid-afternoon).  I felt like my attempt at cow ears were channeling a little more playboy bunny rather than cow, but we got our free meals :)  Did any other Chick-fil-A lovers participate?!

Friday night Caleb's parents got into town to visit us for the weekend!  They hadn't been to see our new house yet so it was really fun showing them around and knowing they can picture us in our home now.  Friday night we sat out on our porch just talking, and then Saturday morning we went to the farmers' market.  The rest of Saturday Caleb and his dad worked on a project out back while my mother-in-law and I baked, went shopping, and got pedicures.  Sunday we went to church and out to lunch before they had to hit the road.  We had a great time and really just love having people in our home!  Hope you had a good weekend!

{Happy Cow Appreciation Day!}

{pretty flowers for our front porch}

{blackberry & peach cobbler}

{beautiful gladioluses we picked up at the farmers' market}

{fresh pedis}

{thanks for visiting! we love you!}

Friday, July 13, 2012

Blueberry & Cream Cheese Muffins

One of my favorite things to do on Sunday afternoon/evening is bake.  I love baking up a batch of muffins or a new bread to have on hand for breakfasts during the week.  As you're well aware, Caleb is a huge fan of baked goods for breakfast, afternoon snacks, and midnight snacks, so I love knowing that he's well-stocked!  These were delicious blueberry muffins, but what I liked best about this recipe was that these muffins have stayed incredibly moist all week! Happy Friday!  

Blueberry & Cream Cheese Muffins
7 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
just under 1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 pint blueberries
4 oz. cream cheese

Spray a muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.

In medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, oil, yogurt, vanilla, and eggs.  Sift flour and baking powder into a large bowl; stir in the sugar and salt, then make a well in the middle.

Pour the yogurt mixture into the flour well.  Lightly fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a rubber spatula until the mixture has just come together.  Pour in the blueberries, working them into the batter with the bare minimum of stirring (the mixture will look a little lumpy).

Spoon half the batter into prepared muffin pans.  Then dot about 1/2 tsp of the cream cheese on top of the batter in each half-filled muffin cup.  Add remaining batter to muffin pans, then add another 1/2 tsp of cream cheese on each muffin.  Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until golden.  Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a rack to let cool completely.

source: recipe adapted from Glamour magazine

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Charleston! Part 2

Aaand here is the other half of my favorite pictures from Charleston!  Seriously, I could have kept walking around Charleston taking pictures of all of the pretty colors and things that caught my eye.  What a beautiful place to visit! We're already thinking another visit in the fall is in order!  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Charleston! Part 1

I loved our time in Charleston!  Even though we went to the beach each day, we stayed in Charleston so that we could spend every evening there.  We arrived with no plans, which allowed us to eat what and when we liked and go wherever we felt like going.  Charleston is full of beautiful things:  old buildings, colorful houses, pretty flowers.