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Buford's Easy Peanut Butter Dog Cookies

Buford’s Easy Peanut Butter Dog Cookies

Our puppy Buford loves his peanut butter.  He often refuses to eat his food unless there’s a little bit of peanut butter mixed in with it.   These cookies are the perfect way to mix in a little bit of that flavor he loves without the slop that goes with feeding peanut butter to a dog with giant cheeks.  They are also very excellent treats for being a good dog 🙂

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If you’ve had a dog with big cheeks, or even a bushy beard, you understand what I’m talking about when I say “slop”.  Whatever Buford eats or drinks stays on the generous surface area of his lips, cheeks and face.  Those substances are ready and willing to be smeared on whatever his head comes in contact with including your pants, shirt sleeves and especially chairs at the dinner table.   Peanut butter is a tad bit gooey-er than the average substance and it does not come out of clothes very easily.  Don’t ask me how I know.

 

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THOU SHALT NOT TOUCH MY COOKIES.

 

Rather than just cut off the messy peanut butter gravy train, I’ve kept stirring it into his kibble.  He has trained me well.  Also, I am a sucker for a pouty dog face.  But I digress.  These cookies are the perfect compromise: Buford gets his peanut buttery goodness without sharing it with the rest of us.  After the cookies are cooled, I put half of them into a sealed container to use as treats.  The other half is placed into a large zipper storage bag and pounded with the flat side of a meat mallet until they are pretty well pulverized.  I put these in a separate sealed container and sprinkle the crushed cookies on Buford’s food for the week.  I use about a tablespoon of these “sprinkles” on each dish of food, which roughly works out to a light coating across his whole food bowl.  Peanut butter makes Buford almost as happy as tennis balls … shout out to my good friends at Kong for these supper rugged squeaky balls that survive months even with the beating my two give them.

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These cookies are also a wonderful alternative to the treats you buy at the pet store.  Even the “all natural” ones have some ingredients that I can’t identify, and I really don’t care for how many of them smell.  With only four ingredients,  all of which I would eat, I can feel good about making a healthful choice for my pooches.  I usually break one cookie in half, and give one side to Buford and the other to his brother Finnegan.

 

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Finnegan and Buford guard the oven while their cookies bake.

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“Mom I think they are done!”

 

The first peanut butter cookie recipe I tried had far less peanut butter in it and yielded a softer cookie.  Here in South Florida, where it is almost as hot and humid as an Amazon rainforest most of the year, those cookies had a shelf life of only a few days.  They would get green and fuzzy before my two big boys could polish off a batch.  So, after a good bit of tinkering, I have a crunchier and peanut buttery-er cookie that lasts much longer.

 

And if you’re in the market for more make-at-home canine goodies, check out our most popular recipe – Scoobys Organic Stew for Dogs

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Buford’s Easy Peanut Butter Dog Cookies

Buford’s Easy Peanut Butter Dog Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cup hot water

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, raise oven rack slightly above the middle of the oven.
  2. Mix all ingredients together. Batter will be thick and sticky. (I use my stand mixer)
  3. Grease 2 or 3 cookie sheets, and put a half cup of wheat flour into a small bowl to use in next steps.
  4. Using flour on your hands if necessary, roll batter into 1" balls. Place 2" apart on cookie sheets.
  5. Dip a fork into flour and push down on each ball twice to make an "x" and flatten each ball to 1.5" or 2" across.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cookies will be hard.
  7. Cool completely on wire rack and store in airtight container for up to two weeks.
  8. You may wish to crush the cookies and make "sprinkles" out of them using a zipper storage bag and the flat side of a meat mallet; keep these in the fridge in a covered container for up to two weeks.
  9. Batch yields 6 dozen cookies.
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Here are the bloopers from my photo shoot with Buford.  This dog is way too cute!

 

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Quick and Easy Fresh Herb Butter

Quick and Easy Fresh Herb Butter

Quick and Easy Fresh Herb Butter is the perfect topping for so many things!   This versatile weeknight staple does double duty at my house as a vegetable topping as well as a delicious spread on a fresh baked roll.  It is also quite lovely on biscuits, which I happened to have sitting on the counter while I took the pictures for this post.  YUM.

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This Herb Butter whips up easily in a few minutes.  You can swap the fresh garlic for the chopped garlic in the jar, and I generally use frozen parsley.  I’ve got a bin in my freezer that has maybe ten different herbs in it so I’ve got the good stuff available without buying a whole package of basil or thyme every time I need a teaspoon of it.  Parsley is one of the herbs that I keep in there, and if you take kitchen shears to the top of the frozen bunch of parsley, it shaves off in tiny pieces in mere seconds.  No additional chopping required.

And in case you wanted to make your prep even easier, you can use the handy “half stick” packages from Land O Lakes.  Just put it in a bowl and let it soften.  No cutting a stick of butter, getting your fingers all greasy while wrapping the rest of it up, and then having it get lost in your produce drawer.  That tiny package just saved you a few precious minutes, and on a weeknight, that can make all the difference.

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The fresh garlic and parsley give this buttery spread such a glorious flavor that you won’t even notice that there’s no salt in it.  If you or anyone you cook for is watching their sodium, side dishes are a challenge.   If you’re able to spend a ton of time in the kitchen every night, you can put together sides that are as tasty as they are low in salt.  However, if you’re in a hurry, the salt is really hard to avoid.  Any of the super convenient frozen vegetable packages that come with sauces or seasonings are loaded with it.  One of my favorite veggies is lima beans, so I get the plain ones in the super convenient steamer bag and then put this herb butter on top of them.  Such an easy alternative to the processed sauces and seasonings!

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This spread, made with butter and three other ingredients you can pronounce, gives you lots of flavor without salt or other mysterious ingredients.   It keeps in the fridge for about five days so if I make some up on Sunday or Monday I’ve got plenty left for later in the week.

 

Quick and Easy Fresh Herb Butter

Quick and Easy Fresh Herb Butter

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter (half stick, salted or unsalted)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • pepper to taste (I use ten turns on a four peppercorn grinder)

Instructions

  1. Put butter in a small bowl and let it soften for a few minutes; mash with back of spoon to spread it out in bowl.
  2. Add garlic, parsley and pepper.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Serve immediately or cover and store in fridge for up to 5 days.
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Enjoy!

HERB BUTTER LONG PIN

Fiesta Black Bean and Corn Dip

Fiesta Black Bean and Corn Dip

On a camping trip years ago, my friend Alicia brought out a bowl of  Guy Fieri’s Black Bean Salad and some tortilla chips to share.  Besides being delicious, it was pretty healthy too.  And – speaking selfishly – the best part was that it had no dairy in it!  Appetizer dips and even your standard barbecue side dish salads are always a challenge for me because of my dairy intolerance since most of them have cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, or some combination of those very tasty ingredients.  I asked for this recipe right away, and have made some version of it probably fifty times since then.  I’ve taken to serving it as a dip, rather than a side dish type salad, but it is so tasty that you can easily serve it either way.

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The key modifications that I’ve made to the revered Mr. Fieri’s recipe are removing the tomatoes and adding more pineapple, cilantro and cumin.  Living in Florida, you get used to having tropical fruit in all kinds of dishes on a regular basis.  A can of crushed pineapple gives you a ton of flavor, no fat, and absolutely NO chopping or sticky mess all over your counter.  The cilantro provides an herby freshness to accompany the pineapple, and the additional cumin lends some savory flavor that was provided by the tomatoes in the original recipe.

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This easy and very tasty dip is a camping staple for us.  Much like Alicia did, I now make this dip at home before we leave on the camping trip.  The best part of preparing these munchies ahead of time is that makes for an instant happy hour when you get it out of the fridge at your campsite because you don’t have to do anything but put it out on the table with some chips, grab yourself a nice cool beverage, and put your feet up.  It also gives the flavors time to combine which really makes it even better.

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Truthfully, this Black Bean and Corn Dip is a monumental pain to make at a campsite.  I’ve made it in my camper a couple of times and it takes, no joke, at least twice as long because chopping this number of fresh herbs and vegetables with one knife, a small cutting board, and less than two square feet of counter space is not the easiest thing to do.  And never mind the space that fresh herbs take up in a small camper refrigerator.  Fresh cilantro is a critical ingredient in this dish, and I can hear my husband yelling to me as he tries to figure out how to fit a week’s worth of groceries into a dorm size fridge: “Do you really need all of this green stuff?”  The moral of the story is a stackable container of already made dip takes up a lot less space than its ingredients.

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The same goes for my Easy Game Day Guacamole which I attempted to make in the camper once (and only once).  I ended up having to mash the avocados with my hands since my masher mysteriously went missing and I ended up with avocado all over the door handles because I didn’t want to wash the avocado off my hands inside the camper because of the, ahem, delicate plumbing that you need to keep all manner of food waste out of.  It wasn’t pretty.  Keep it simple and make both of these ahead of time.  You and the folks you’re sharing them with will be glad you did 🙂

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Fiesta Black Bean and Corn Dip

Fiesta Black Bean and Corn Dip

Ingredients

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can super sweet niblets corn
  • 8 oz can crushed pineapple (drain excess juice)
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno, seeds removed and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup diced green onions
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 3 T honey
  • 1 T salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • Juice of half of a lime

Instructions

  1. Combine ingredients in a bowl, stir well.
  2. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Keeps beautifully for a few days in the fridge.
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Enjoy!

 

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Peanut Butter Truffles

Peanut Butter Truffles

What’s not to love about truffles?  They are cute, they travel in large groups and their middles are always a delicious surprise.  I’ve been experimenting with different truffles over the last few months, and if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you know that we’ve tried a variety of them including cookies and cream, s’mores and – just last weekend – brownie peanut butter truffles.
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The brownie peanut butter truffle had the peanut butter on the outside as part of the shell and the drizzling.  Mr. Happy and Yummy just loves him some peanut butter so I’ve spent the week trying to figure out how to get more peanut butter into that truffle without turning it into a standard peanut butter ball.  I decided to make the center out of peanut butter cake, and add peanut butter to that so the cake crumbs would stick together.  Now you have a truffle center with nothing except peanut butter. Oh happy day!
The amazing cake that I used is “Killer Peanut Butter Cake” by The Daring Gourmet.  You can find the recipe here Killer Peanut Butter Cake  Wow did this cake live up to its name!
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I dunked these peanut butter centers into melted Hershey’s milk chocolate bars as well as melted milk chocolate.  I’ve given quantities for both of them in the recipe sufficient to cover the whole batch of truffles in one type of chocolate.  All you need to do is pick the one which has the flavor you prefer.  If you like dark chocolate, do dark chocolate chips.  The important thing is that you enjoy eating them when they are done.
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It is worth noting that this recipe is fairly labor intensive.  I’ve grown to love rolling and dunking truffles, it is very meditative for me.  You do the same thing over and over, all the while admiring the very fine work product you’re churning out.  I also  believe strongly in quality control so sampling your product is not only suggested but it is very much encouraged.
Peanut Butter Truffles

Peanut Butter Truffles

Ingredients

  • 1 "Killer Peanut Butter Cake" baked in 9x13 pan by The Daring Gourmet
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 cup creamy Jif peanut butter
  • 6 cups milk chocolate chips (or 20 Hershey bars)

Instructions

  1. Prepare, bake and cool cake per recipe directions (from The Daring Gourmet)
  2. Once cake is completely cool, crumble with your hands into a large mixing bowl
  3. Add 2/3 cup peanut butter and combine by cutting into it with a butter knife, with a pastry blender or even using a stand mixer. Cake crumbles should be coarse and sticky.
  4. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment
  5. Spray nonstick spray on your hands and place a rounded tablespoon of crumbles into one of your hands; squeeze it tightly and then form into a ball shape. You can't really roll this filling but pack it together like you would make a snowball. Place each one on the parchment.
  6. Place cookie sheets in freezer for a half hour
  7. Prepare two large covered baking dishes or other shallow covered storage containers by cutting parchment to line the bottoms of them without sticking up on the edges.
  8. Remove one cookie sheet from freezer and melt half of the chocolate in the microwave by heating it for 30 seconds, stirring, and then heating in additional 15 second increments until chocolate can be stirred and all lumps are melted.
  9. Put each truffle, one by one, into the melty chocolate goodness. Use a fork to let the excess chocolate drizzle back into the bowl and place the dunked truffle on the parchment.
  10. After a whole pan is filled with chocolate dipped truffles, place it in the fridge uncovered.
  11. Repeat the chocolate melting and dipping with the second cookie sheet that is in the freezer. Place that pan of dunked truffles in the fridge uncovered, and take the first one you did out of the fridge.
  12. Place 1 cup peanut butter in a microwave safe dish, and heat for 20 seconds. Peanut butter should be liquidy but not steaming hot. Stir to combine it so that the texture is evenly thick.
  13. Cut a very tiny hole in the bottom corner of a zipper sealed plastic storage bag (sandwich or snack sized) and pour in the melty peanut butter.
  14. Seal the zipper bag and squeeze gently so the peanut butter comes out of the corner. Drizzle over the top of the truffles in whatever pattern makes you happy. If you'd like, you can add sprinkles, chopped peanuts or even a dollop of jelly if that's what moves you.
  15. When you've drizzled to your heart's content, cover that pan and put it back in the fridge. Take out the other drizzle free pan and do the same drizzle and topping bit to that one. Cover and put it in the fridge.
  16. Keep these bad boys refrigerated until right before you eat them. That will keep the outsides from getting sticky and runny.
  17. Invite some friends over because this recipe makes 4 dozen truffles!
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 Enjoy!
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Grilled Chicken Spiedies

Grilled Chicken Spiedies

What on earth are spiedies?  A “spiedie” is Upstate New York vernacular for an insanely delicious sandwich made from marinated and then grilled meat.  This recipe here is for chicken because I’ve honestly never met anyone that didn’t like a good chicken spiedie.
Lots of folks make spiedies out of lamb and venison but those meats are not my personal cup of tea.  So, chicken spiedies it is.
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 The good folks in Upstate New York are very serious about their spiedies.  There are a couple of prominent brands of spiedies and marinades that you can go and buy, but many folks have their own marinade recipes.  Everyone – and I do mean everyone – has an opinion on what kind of spiedies and which marinade they prefer.
There are also very strong opinions on what kind of bread you use. Some folks use Italian bread, while others use a bun.  I was brought up on Jimmy Roma’s Italian Bread and, in my humble opinion, there is no substitute for that unique taste or texture.  But in its absence, a hearty hoagie roll or thick sliced fresh-baked Italian bread will work.
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 The tomato salad is a very important part of spiedies in my family.  While the tomatoes are not a standard spiedie condiment, I was raised eating spiedies with the tomatoes.  There is no shortage of excellent tomatoes in the summer in Upstate NY and the sweet vine-ripened tomatoes are the perfect complement to the grilled meat.
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Spiedies require some planning ahead but the anticipation is definitely part of the fun.  They are perfect for barbecues because all of the hard work is done ahead of time so after your company arrives, all you need to do is string them onto
the skewers and toss them on the grill.  Quick and easy!
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 My hometown even has an annual festival dedicated to this most revered culinary achievement and it is actually coming up in a couple of weeks.  If you’re in the neighborhood of the Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally  you should definitely check it out.  But I digress…
The spiedies pictured here are the real deal, made by my Mom Kathy in Endicott, NY and served with my beloved Jimmy Roma’s bread.
I paired my spiedies with some very fine local Finger Lakes wine from Salmon Run which was a delightful accompaniment.
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Grilled Chicken Spiedies

Grilled Chicken Spiedies

Ingredients

  • Hoagie rolls or a loaf of fresh baked Italian bread, sliced thick
  • 3 lbs boneless chicken breast, cut into 1.5" cubes
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3 T chopped fresh basil
  • 4 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • 3 shakes of salt
  • 3 shakes of pepper
  • 1 T fresh chopped basil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T canola oil

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in large bowl
  2. Add all herbs and mix thoroughly (traditionally we do this with our hands to thoroughly coat the meat)
  3. Add oil and mix
  4. Add vinegar and mix
  5. Cover and place in fridge; marinate for 2-3 nights. Once a day stir the meat to better combine the flavors. If the marinade seems to have been "sucked up" by the meat, add 1/4 cup of oil and a 1/4 cup of vinegar and stir. This can be done daily.
  6. On the day you'll be serving the spiedies do the following...
  7. Make the tomato salad by combining tomatoes and following five ingredients (through canola oil) in a bowl; if you're not serving it within the half hour, cover and store in fridge until spiedies go on the grill.
  8. String onto metal skewers, putting 6 or 7 chunks of meat on each
  9. Heat grill to medium heat and place chicken on grill with the skewer handle hanging off the grill (this will keep it cool enough so you can turn them without burning yourself)
  10. Cook 5 minutes; flip skewers over and cook 5 minutes more.
  11. If needed, flip again and cook in 2 minute increments until done.
  12. Place a skewer's worth of meat into a roll or onto a piece of bread; top with tomato salad and enjoy!
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Enjoy!

 

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Vacations are for eating, right?

Vacations are for eating, right?

“Are you doing anything besides eating?”  I was asked this several times during our nearly two week vacation in California and Oregon as I shared pictures with family and friends.  Apparently there were more pictures of food than anything else.  Go figure.

For the record, we did an exceptional amount of hiking and I will admit to sampling many local wines.  And since the Happy and Yummy daughter is enjoying some quality time at sleep away camp, we were able to sit and do nothing several times which was utterly luxurious.

But back to the food.  Here’s a sampling of the truly marvelous culinary experiences we had.

 
Processed with VSCO with c3 presetFog Harbor Fish House, San Francisco, CA My husband and I had an outstanding lunch at The Fog Harbor Fish House on Pier 39. I loved my delicious Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Caesar Salad and enjoyed a little too much of the hot-from-the-oven sourdough bread. The service was excellent and the view from the restaurant was amazing. Highly recommended!

 

House of Nanking, San Francisco, CAProcessed with VSCO with c3 preset We had the most amazing meal at this restaurant and it was worth every penny! The owner came over to our table and asked if we trusted him to pick our food, which of course we said yes, and then the deliciousness started arriving.  Everything was very fresh and outrageously delicious. We started with a snap pea salad with fresh herbs and onions. Then the entrees landed on the table and, while I don’t know the exact names of all of them, the garlic fish and honey sesame chicken were amazing. The restaurant is small and loud, and it is tight quarters between the tables. Embrace the urban dining experience!

 

There’s a lot more to Willi’s than seafood – it has great variety and really big flavor everywhere on the menu.  In a four day stay in Healdsburg, my husband and I ate here three times. We tried more than half of the things on the menu and it was all delicious. Our favorites are the bacon wrapped scallops followed closely by the lobster roll. Both are glorious combinations of flavors! The short ribs and spinach salad with warm bacon dressing were also divine, and I guarantee you’ve never tasted anything like them. This is not your ordinary restaurant food – every dish is so much more. The service and atmosphere are both excellent, and during one dinner visit, we got talking with a couple of tables next to us and had a wonderful time. This is a “must do” restaurant if you’re in the area!

 

Healdsburg Bar and Grill, Healdsburg, CA  In a town where01c26fa7ce6df2fb6cdded4dcbffe8eb81e22af547 there are many higher priced restaurants, and no shortage of delicious food options for any palate, HBG stands out. The locals love eating at this place because it has everything you could want in a restaurant: great service, excellent food, and reasonable prices. It is very family friendly and you will get an excellent meal for a fraction of what you’ll spend at most other downtown restaurants. We enjoyed the HBG burger, BBQ pork croquettes, and garlic fries. All were absolutely delicious and nicely presented. I enjoyed an $8.50 glass of wine, by far the cheapest I had in four days here, and it was indeed a very nice glass of wine.  A marvelous overall dining experience!

 

Toadstool Cupcakes, Portland, OR  My fabulous cousin Jessica, who has extensive experience in the cupcake 0105502afa682ecb748a30e69f4a474eb56b146afdbusiness, suggested we visit Toadstool.  This place offers more than 50 flavor combinations of cake, creamy fillings and ganache toppings for your eating pleasure.   You order off a menu with pictures that explains all of the combinations, which – in my humble opinion – is utterly brilliant.  Little tablets are provided for you to make your selections so you can take just as much time as you need to contemplate such important decisions.  We really did enjoy all of the cupcakes we ordered but the carrot and chocolate dipped strawberry were the standouts in our box of deliciousness.

 

S0132c6d5b952a9e47d0be593bdd2e5f9aa8b2502ecince the Fourth of July holiday was approaching when we visited the Jelly Belly Factory0155f8f48d444f229b67e14aec37cbfc8788e61ff8, I procured some patriotic jelly beans to celebrate in true Happy and Yummy style.

A big shout out to the good folks at The Lost Whale Inn where we enjoyed two nights of exceptional food and hospitality, and I spent quality time at this bar overlooking the beautiful grounds and the mighty Pacific Ocean.  My deep gratitude to the other guests who were intrigued by my smiley jelly beans, and to my husband for not eating them before I finished taking the pictures 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta with Roasted Squash, Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese

Pasta with Roasted Squash, Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese

Happy and Yummy is on vacation!  We are loving our first trip to California, and will head into Oregon next week.  At present, we are eating our way through San Francisco and we have indulged in amazing sourdough bread, incredible Asian fusion, and several servings of over-the-top delicious Italian food.  Follow along on our Instagram and Twitter (@happyandyummy) to see what we’re ordering up 🙂  While we’re busy sampling the local food and wine, I hope you enjoy this repost of one of my most favorite recipes.

 

Cheese and I have a love hate relationship: I love cheese, my digestive system hates it.   squash goat cheese bacon pasta-3I try to avoid cream, milk and most cow’s milk cheese products like the plague.  Through some miracle,  goat cheese and I get along just fine, so I use it wherever I can.  So long creamy pasta sauces …. until this recipe.

Years ago, I had dinner at my good friend Sue’s house.  She found a pasta recipe from  Giada de Laurentis using goat cheese.  Everyone – even the kids – enjoyed the fresh flavors and delicious creamy sauce.  I was so grateful that she took the time to look for a recipe that I could eat and made her entertaining preparation easy.

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Since then, I have repeatedly adjusted proportions, squash goat cheese herbs-0563 added ingredients, subtracted others and finally came to rest upon the recipe below.   I like to roast my veggies until they are nicely browned and you will see the crispy edges on the veggies in the pictures.  Tossing the onions and squash in olive oil, and the adding the fresh thyme, before pouring them onto the cookie sheet helps with the browning and coveted crispiness.  squash goat cheese herbs-0611The thyme also smells and tastes insanely delicious, in my humble opinion.  Buford, our 3 month old puppy, gives the basil – squash – thyme combination his seal of approval.

A word on the squash …  I have not had great experience with using frozen chopped butternut squash which seems to bake up pretty poorly with too much soggy and too little flavor.  Honestly, I’m not sure if the sogginess is due to the squash being chopped smaller or from the extra ice on the squash pieces from being frozen.  Either way I don’t recommend it.squash goat cheese herbs-0634

So, if you’re going to use fresh squash, I highly suggest larger chunks of between an inch and an inch and a half.  I have seen fresh chopped squash in the produce department of Wegman’s supermarket which is on the larger side and would be perfect for this recipe.

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Regrettably, this supermarket is not in the same state as the Happy and Yummy Headquarters, so I am left with the option of chopping raw butternut squash by hand when I want to make this dish.  I should tell you that hacking up a squash is an squash goat cheese bacon pasta-0903exceptional stress reliever.  Once it gets in the oven, you’re pretty much home free for a half hour before you have to do anything else.  Walk the dog, open the mail, pack the lunches for tomorrow, or sit down with a nice beverage and do absolutely nothing while your oven does the hard work.

This recipe makes a big pan that lasts a couple of days in my house.  It is a bit of an undertaking if you’re chopping the squash by hand but, I promise, this dish is worth the trouble.

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Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash, Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese

Pasta with Roasted Butternut Squash, Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • 8 cups butternut squash, cut in 1.5" cubes (two large squashes)
  • 3 cups chopped Vidalia onion (two medium-sized onions)
  • 2 T fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 30 turns Fresh Market salt and herb grinder
  • 10 turns mixed peppercorn grinder
  • 3/4 cup finely grated Asiago cheese
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked, cooled and crumbled
  • 12 ounces pasta of your choice (I like orecchiette)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  2. Place butternut squash and onion in large bowl; drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
  3. Add thyme, stir and pour onto large cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 45 minutes (tossing after 20 minutes) or until vegetables are cooked through and browned to your liking.
  5. When vegetables go into the oven, remove goat cheese from fridge. Cut into 8 round pieces and allow to soften on counter.
  6. Cook bacon and cool.
  7. When vegetables have about 20 minutes left, put water on to boil for pasta. Chop basil, and grate Asiago cheese. Crumble bacon.
  8. Cook pasta according to package directions, reserving 1.5 cups of cooking liquid prior to draining.
  9. After pasta is drained, place in large bowl. Add goat cheese and reserved water; stir until cheese is melted and liquid is uniformly creamy. Add ground herbs and pepper; stir to combine
  10. Pour into a deep 9x13 pan. Sprinkle basil over cheesy pasta.
  11. When vegetables are done, place them in an even layer on top of the pasta and basil.
  12. Sprinkle with Asiago and bacon.
  13. Serve warm. Leftovers reheat in the microwave nicely for a couple of days.
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Enjoy!
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Lee's Kale and Avocado Salad

Lee’s Kale and Avocado Salad

This special Kale and Avocado salad recipe comes from my good friend Lee, an avid organic gardener.   She has a very special touch with plants of all kinds, and grows some of the most amazing fruits and vegetables.  She also is a master in the kitchen and knows how to use simple, wholesome ingredients to make utterly delicious goodies.  This salad is most definitely one of those utterly delicious goodies.kale avocado lime salad-0162

 

kale avocado lime salad-4732The key to this salad is tearing the kale leaves off of the fibrous stems throughout the leaves and then massaging it once you’ve put the lime juice on.  This massaging helps kale avocado lime salad-4702transform the kale’s normally coarse and stiff texture into a much softer and more enjoyable texture.  Lee uses Russian Kale when she can find it, and my first time eating this salad it was made with the Russian Kale which I do highly recommend if you can find it as it is milder in taste and texture than standard kale.  You can also use baby arugula instead of kale if you want to be able to just dump the greens out of the bag and go.  The arugula also gives you a nice peppery taste too.

 

The assortment of flavors and textures in this salad is really quite remarkable.  You’ve got a little bit of everything in there and it blends together beautifully.  If you can muster the willpower, I do recommend that you let the salad sit out for 15 minutes or so to let the flavors settle in a bit before you and your fork dive in.

Enjoy!

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Lee’s Kale and Avocado Salad

10 minutes

10 minutes

2 side dish sized salads

Lee’s Kale and Avocado Salad

Ingredients

  • 3 cups kale, torn into bite size pieces, and with fibrous stems removed
  • 1 1/2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 turn salt grinder
  • 3 turns mixed peppercorn grinder
  • 1/4 cup chopped avocado
  • 2 T (heaping) craisins
  • 2 T (heaping) walnuts

Instructions

  1. Place kale in a bowl, pour on lime juice.
  2. Massage or scrunch up the kale with your hands until it is soft.
  3. Drizzle honey over top of salad; toss with a fork to distribute honey evenly.
  4. Add salt and pepper; toss again.
  5. Top with avocado, craisins and walnuts.
  6. Enjoy!
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Savory Shepherd's Pie

Savory Shepherd’s Pie

For a thousand reasons, Shepherd’s Pie was never appealing to me.   And as I’ve discovered, it isn’t terribly appealing to a whole lot of other people either.   And to those folks I say:  give it a try, you might be surprised.  Really deliciously surprised.

I didn’t grow up eating shepherd’s pie, I rarely cook with beef, and generally don’t eat white potatoes.  BUT … shepherd’s pie is easy to make, it is a whole meal in one dish and it reheats beautifully for days.  So in the interest of practicality, I modified this traditional dish into something I would eat and could add some variety to my otherwise pasta and chicken-dominated weekly menus.  I’ve added some savory seasonings to the meat mixture that is the bottom half of the casserole.  And you may recognize the mashed potatoes on the top from an earlier Happy and Yummy post Grandma’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

My nephew Sam has never liked the dish …. until he tried mine a few months ago.  His mom Susan made a Shepherd’s Pie from another recipe earlier this week and one bite was all the lad would eat.   So this week’s Happy and Yummy installment is for Sam, the biggest fan of my Shepherd’s Pie: may you, and those who cook for you, never be without this recipe.

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Savory Shepherd’s Pie

Savory Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs small red potatoes, washed and cut into 1" chunks
  • 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and whole
  • 1 c sour cream
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 shakes of cayenne pepper
  • 4 T butter
  • 1 lb extra lean beef (93/7)
  • 1 T garlic powder
  • smoked paprika
  • cayenne pepper
  • 2 T flour
  • 4 c mixed vegetables (I use frozen - a 1 lb. bag of corn, peas & carrots plus a 12 oz bag of edamame or baby lima beans - ends up being slightly more than 4 c)
  • 1 can (10.5 oz.) beef broth
  • 3 T ketchup

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, grease a deep 9x13 pan.
  2. Cover potatoes and garlic with water in large saucepan; bring to boil and simmer 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
  3. Drain, return to pot or stainless steel bowl; add ingredients from sour cream - butter and mash.
  4. Try not to eat all of the mashed potatoes before you get the pie assembled and in the oven.
  5. If using frozen vegetables, cook only until thawed (they will get cooked the rest of the way with the meat in the next step). Drain and set aside.
  6. Brown meat in skillet. When just cooked, sprinkle meat with a coating of garlic powder (1 Tbsp or more to taste), two generous shakes of smoked paprika and a shake (or two) of cayenne pepper. Mix well to combine spices with meat.
  7. Stir in flour, cook one minute. Add vegetables, broth and ketchup. Cook 5-10 minutes until well blended.
  8. Put meat mixture in pan, top with mashed potatoes. Bake 20 minutes or until bubbly around edges.
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Note: I turn the burners on for the potatoes, beef and vegetables all at the same time.  You can get the beef and vegetable done and in the baking dish before the potatoes are ready to be mashed.  While it bakes, you can wash the pots and pans so when the casserole comes out of the oven the kitchen is already cleaned up.  It reheats beautifully for a couple of days.
Enjoy!

 

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Piña Colada Angel Food Cake

Piña Colada Angel Food Cake

Angel Food Cake is a perfect summer dessert not only because it is light and fluffy but because it pairs beautifully with so many fruits. pina colada angel food cake-0998Pina Colada Angel Food cake is light, fruity, and certainly healthier than a lot of other dessert options.  It is a fan favorite at my house, and since it is so easy to make with only three shelf-stable ingredients, I don’t mind making it upon request because I can keep all of the ingredients on hand 🙂

This cake has the fruit inside, which makes it so much easier to take to barbecues and serve to a group out on a crowded patio.  And I’m a big fan of easy logistics when you’re entertaining: he fewer dishes, the fewer serving utensils, the less room you need on your serving table, and – finally – the fewer things you need to wash!

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If you’re taking this cake to someone’s house, all you need is a little spot in the fridge for your whipped cream of choice until it’s time to serve it.  With the fruit inside, and really no utensils needed once you cut the slice off the loaf, this is a super kid-friendly dessert.

pina colada angel food cake-0984I grew up putting fruit on top of angel food cake, especially strawberries and raspberries, but have also made chocolate angel food cake and my Grandmother’s favorite – pumpkin angel food cake.  I love this pina colada angel food cake because it tastes just like that tropical drink that so many of us love.  Take a bite, close your eyes, and imagine yourself on the beach with the palm trees swaying in the breeze.  Aaaahhhhhh….

Piña Colada Angel Food Cake

Piña Colada Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 box BettyCrocker angel food cake mix
  • 1 20 ounce can Done crushed pineapple
  • 3/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted
  • whipped topping of your choice

Instructions

  1. Heat oven and mix angel food cake per directions on box
  2. Gently fold in can of pineapple, including the juice
  3. Pour into three 8" loaf pans (Reynolds makes disposable ones which is what I usually use)
  4. Sprinkle 1/4 cup untoasted coconut down the middle of each loaf
  5. Using a flat knife, push coconut down into cake gently so none is exposed on top of loaf
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until top is browned and dry
  7. Cool completely
  8. Toast coconut by putting it on a small tray in your toaster oven, and toast on "light" until it is toasted to your liking. Do not leave toaster unattended - once it starts toasting, it goes fast!
  9. Serve with whipped topping and toasted coconut.
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The ingredients and the how to for the coconut placement into the baking pans 🙂

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Enjoy!pina colada angel food cake-4332

 

 

 

 

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