Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

These. Are. Lethal.  So lethal, that instead of carrying mace around Chicago, I'll just throw these around. 

You know I don't bake.  I mean I never bake.  But these are so easy and so delicious that I just had to do it. My Aunt Deb and Uncle Mike send Christmas Cookies each year and these are the first I go after.  Plus, I was thinking a lot about my Nonnie Connie lately and I remember making these with her and when had left over pie crust from Thanksgiving.  They are so flaky and buttery and DELICIOUS.
Get prepared pie crust of your liking.  I like Pillsbury.  Next, take 2-3 tablespoons of room temp, unsalted butter and smear all over the pie crust.

Next, sprinkle sugar and cinnamon all over the top.  I usually do 1 teaspoon of cinnamon per 1/2 cup of white sugar, but you can totally add more cinnamon if you'd like.  Lastly, I sprinkle just a touch of sea salt on it.

Roll up the dough...

...and cut the dough with a sharp knife.

Bake according to the pie crust package instructions. I baked mine for 12 minutes at 450 degrees.  Just cook until nice and golden brown.

I love how these look.  They look crazy.  Like they should be at the Mad Hatter's tea party. 

Oh yeah...did I mention how delicious they are?
Stay hungry!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mini Deep Dish Pizzas

Sorry for the brief delay in tasty treats but I am BACK in ACTION and hopefully it was worth the wait. Actually, I'll just tell you.  It was totally worth the wait. 

One of Charlie's favorite treats is sausage deep dish pizza.  We don't order it often, mostly because I can't eat for an entire week after eating one slice.  A perfect solution?  Little bite size versions.  All the flavor, none of the guilt.  Oh yeah.  I'm also lying...about the no guilt part.   

Roll out some pizza dough and make little squares.  A pizza cutter works well here...a regular knife would work well too. 

Most Chicago places have butter crust.  So, instead of spraying the mini muffin pan, I greased the pan with butter.

I precooked the crust for 8 minutes at 425 to ensure it would get nice and crusty.  Then, I put in a cube of mozzarella, a dollop of raw spicy sausage and then topped it with marinara and Parmesan cheese.  Seems like an odd order of toppings - but that's just what they do in Chicago.

Cook for another 8-10 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown. 

Mmmmmm these were YUMMY and SO fun.  I'm going to play around with the crust.  I might try croissant dough or biscuits next time.

Hello there cute stuff. 

Mini Deep Dish Pizza Recipe: 
1 Can of Pillsbury Pizza Crust (all I could find - fresh crust is better)
1/2 Lb of Raw Spicy Sausage
1 Cup of Mozzarella, Cubed or Shredded
3/4 Cup of Marinara Sauce
1/4 Cup of Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbs of Butter

Preheat oven to 425. Cut dough into small, 1 inch pieces.  Grease mini muffin tin with butter.  Put dough in the muffin tin and pierce with a fork a couple of times so it doesn't puff up too much while precooking.  Precook for 8 minutes.  Place a cube of mozzarella cheese in the center of the dough, top with a dollop of raw sausage.  Push the sausage down a bit.  Top each piece with a tablespoon of marinara sauce and then top with a sprinkle of Parmesan.  Cook for another 8-10 minutes or until crust is extra crispy.

Stay hungry!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Lunatic at the Farmers' Market

I don't know where you're from, but it is pouring (POURING!) here right now.  It started this morning ten minutes into my Stroller Strides class and continued to come down like crazy.  After our soggy workout, Will and I came home and resumed our regular schedule of napping, eating, napping, and eating.  It was somewhere around three o'clock when I remembered that today is my small town's weekly Farmers' Market.

I don't know what came over me, but I thought about all of the farmers who had grown produce, harvested produce, and schlepped produced to the market this afternoon just to be greeted by an empty street and a bunch of rain.  Finding myself unreasonably worked up about vegetables, the plight of the local farmer, and the state of American agriculture, I bundled Will in his carseat, dug out my raincoat, checked to make sure I had cash, and drove downtown.

I covered Will's carseat, popped it onto the stroller, pulled up the second rain cover, covered him with a blanket for good measure, and headed towards the stands.  (I noticed one of the women selling veggies taking a photo of me with her cell phone.  "Please don't be sending that to Child Protective Services," I thought.)

I should mention that I'm an impulse shopper at the best of times.  I have about 40 pairs of Anthropologie earrings to prove it.  Now factor in the rain dripping down my neck and creeping into my sneakers with the fresh, tasty treats in front of me and the cash burning a hole in my pocket.  I was basically like a contestant on Supermarket Sweep, but pushing a stroller instead of a shopping cart.

(I PROMISE he was actually warm and dry)

Twenty minutes later, I loaded Will and several bags of food into my car and braved the downpour home.  "What did you get?" Jesse asked as he helped me bring stuff into the house.  "I'm... not sure," I realized.

Once inside, we opened up the now-soggy paper bags and surveyed the bounty.  It was as if I had blacked out while rushing to support my local farms and instead of waking up with a terrible headache, I ended up with a bag of peaches, three ears of corn ("why three?" you might ask.  fair question), a bag of cherries, a loaf of ciabatta, some cherry tomatoes, THREE different types of cheese (great success!), two eggplants, a bunch of kale, one lone cucumber, and a small bar of goats milk soap (???).  All in all, a pretty good haul.

After putting everything away, I was scanning my Facebook feed and realized that the iPhone-camera-happy farmer wasn't reporting me, mom of the year, to the authorities but instead had uploaded a photo of us to their page.  Greeeeeat.

Just another adventure in local eating!  Stay hungry and stay dry!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Homemade Garlic Breadcrumbs

Something I've been focusing on during maternity leave is cutting down on our wastefulness.  Take, for example, this little project.  My family came to visit the weekend before last and I bought a big loaf of Italian bread to make garlic bread with.  The weekend got busy and everybody brought food and even a carb lover like me had to admit that garlic bread wasn't necessary.  So I bagged up the bread, put it in the fridge, and figured we'd make sandwiches with it the next week.  But we never did and by this weekend I just had a bag of super stale bread.  Instead of tossing it (directly into Fred's mouth), I decided to make breadcrumbs.  It's a quick little endeavor that uses up stale bread and ensures you have tasty, homemade breadcrumbs for future recipes.

I used:

stale bread
olive oil
salt & pepper
herbs of your choice (I went with Herbs de Provence)

I turned the oven on to 350 degrees and then cut the bread into chunks and put into my food processor along with two cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of Herbs de Provence, and a few shakes of salt & pepper.  It all depends on how salty, garlicky, and herby you want your breadcrumbs.  I put the food processor on pulse and let in a small stream of olive oil (a tablespoon or two) while they chopped into a fine crumb.

Using a silpat-covered baking sheet, I spread the crumbs out into a thin layer and popped into the hot oven for 15 minutes, mixing them up every 5 minutes so all crumbs had a shot at being toasted.  I let them cool once out of the oven and then stuck into a mason jar for future use.  

They're perfectly flavored and will be great in any recipe that calls for breadcrumbs.  Here are a few Hardly Housewives favorites:

Stay hungry!

Monday, July 22, 2013

We Split a Cow

Which vegetarian has two meat-based posts in the last week, 20 pounds of beef in my freezer, and two thumbs?  This girl.  (Am I supposed to post a picture of me pointing to myself with my thumbs here?  Sorry.  Just a picture of 20 pounds of local, humanely raised beef).

My brother's friend Mary (from ReThink & this post) emailed me a month or so ago about splitting a cow with her.  Or, more accurately, splitting a quarter of a cow.  Mary and her husband are committed to eating local, non-processed foods as much as possible (something Jesse and I are also working towards) and found a local farm that sells pasture-fed, antibiotic and hormone free meat.

Although I've been a vegetarian for 21 years, Jesse enthusiastically eats meat and I haven't been able to convert him yet.  I'll spare you my vegetarian propaganda (this isn't that kind of blog), but I will say that  I would rather Jesse eat meat that was raised humanely than your run-of-the-mill supermarket factory farm meat.

I think I'll start with beef cubes and a simple crockpot recipe.  Any ideas?

Oh, and my portion came with a bone for one lucky Basset Hound.  Since Fred always steals Tillie's treats, I think I'll give this to her first since Fred will inevitably take the bone and hide it anyway.

Stay hungry!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Hardly Housewives Featured on The Kitchn!

WOW.  What an honor.  Caitlin and I LOVE The Kitchn.  It's an amazing and inspiring,  food, entertaining and all things kitchen blog that we've been following for awhile now.  We are so honored that they featured our Prosciutto and Cantaloupe Salad in their post: 10 Undeniable Reasons You Should Put Melon in Your Salad.

Here we are on The Kitchn!!

Check it out and stay hungry!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Gift of Good Food

A quickie post today because I'm exhausted and it's about 100 degrees outside.  This is the kind of day where I want to split my time between my cool, air conditioned bedroom and our pool.

Recently we've been buying food for friends and family during gift-giving occasions instead of more traditional gifts.  Most people I know seem interested in cutting down on the stuff they're bringing into their house and so we've buying them tasty treats instead of ties or jewelry or dishes or whatever.  It started with my dad (some local porkchops for his birthday, a pair of t-bone steaks for Christmas).  This weekend, speaking of steaks, we bought some for my meat-loving neighbor (along with some aged cheddar) for her surprise 50th birthday party.

Wrap it up simply and serve up a gift that won't end up as closet clutter!  Stay hungry!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Avocado, Black Bean, & Corn Salsa

I have no words for this salsa.  Besides FREAKING AMAZING.  Our friend Cori brought it over for our Super Bowl party this year and I couldn't stop eating it and thinking about it the next day. It's so light, so refreshing, so flavorful.  I can't describe it.  Just make it.

Start by adding all of the salsa ingredients in a big bowl.  Make sure you rinse your black beans in a strainer before adding them.

Next, make your dressing.  Olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and garlic powder.  Shake until all of the sugar dissolves.  Pour it all over the salsa and toss lightly. Serve immediately, or let it chill in the fridge for an our or so.

Serve with some scoop tortilla chips so you can shovel the good stuff into your mouth as effectively as possible. 

I made this twice for two parties in the past two weeks and both times this salsa vanished. Mainly because I was shoving it into my mouth...but others helped too.  In fact, I witnessed a party goer (later on in the evening) grab a handful of the salsa and shake it into his mouth like popcorn.  As a cook, those are the moments I live for.

Avocado, Black Bean, & Corn Salsa Recipe
2 Cans of Black Beans, 15 oz each
2 Cans of Sweet Corn, 11 oz each
2 Jalapenos, finely diced (optional)
2 Avocados, diced
2 Bunches of Green Onions, chopped
4 oz of Feta, crumbled
1/2 Cup of Olive Oil
1/4 Cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
1/8 Cup of Sugar
1/4 Tsp of Garlic Powder

Drain and rinse both the corn and black beans well.  Shake off any excess water.  Add the jalapenos (I leave the seeds in), avocados, green onions, and feta.  In an air tight container, add the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sugar, and garlic powder and shake until sugar completely dissolves.  Add dressing to salsa and toss.  Serve with tortilla chip scoops and watch it fly out of the bowl.

Stay hungry!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Ethel (the Tree Cat) Makes the "Daily Cute"

Remember when I was talking about the oft-tree-bound Methyl last week?  Well, she charmed some friends of ours by killing a snake in the backyard this past weekend... and made's Daily Cute.

For more photos of her sleeping on the changing table, click through here...

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Chicken Salad and Bacon Lettuce Wraps

There was this place by our condo called Steve's.  They recently closed down.  Most likely because they were WAY over priced and it took an hour to get a sandwich, but their chicken salad OH their chicken salad...amazing.  

Charlie and I would often pick up their chicken salad and eat it like a dip with chips.  I've been craving their chicken salad for a few weeks now and finally broke down and made it myself.

But this time...I went one step further.  I added bacon.  And a little lettuce boat to eat it with.  It didn't work so well eating it with my bare hands.

Anyway, pull apart your chicken. I like using rotisserie chicken because it's very flavorful and moist and most of the work is done for you.  Add the Hellman's mayo, Miracle Whip, celery, and onion.  Work all of the ingredients together with your hands, finely pulling apart the chicken so it's nice and creamy.  Add more Hellman's to taste.  Now, for the record, I would rather die than use Miracle Whip.  HOWEVER, I know they used both Miracle Whip and Hellman's in the chicken salad at Steve's.  So in order to be true to the recipe that we love so much, I caved.


You know how I got the recipe?  I was at the deli waiting for my sandwich and I heard them talking about the ingredients.  Yup.  I eavesdropped a recipe.  I admit it.

This was so good, I ended up making the recipe three times THREE TIMES in one weekend. Yup, that good.

Chicken Salad and Bacon Lettuce Wraps 

1 Rotisserie Chicken, skin removed, meat pulled 
3 Piece of Celery, pureed in a food processor 
1/2 White Onion, pureed in a food processor  
1/2 Cup of Hellman's Mayo 
1/4 Cup of Miracle Whip 
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper 

Pull apart your chicken.  Add the Hellman's mayo, Miracle Whip, celery, and onion.  Work all of the ingredients together with your hands, finely pulling apart the chicken so it's nice and creamy.  Add more Hellman's to taste. Finish with freshly cracked black pepper.  Spoon into butter lettuce and top with thick cut pieces of bacon.

Stay hungry!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Firecracker Cake

Remember last week when I was all "patriotic-themed 4th of July meals are pretty corny"?  Well.  That was before I saw the "firecracker cake" on Pinterest.  Consider me eating crow.  Or, more accurately, eating cake.  A lot of it.  Because this was really tasty.

I should start by admitting that this is all boxed cake and canned icing.  Look away, Mom.  In my family, admitting you didn't bake from scratch is like when Jaisa's family reads that she used Jimmy Dean sausage instead of the good stuff.

With that said, it meant that the actual baking part of this was super easy.  I followed the cake directions, then split the batter into 3 bowls, and added food coloring to two of the bowls - blue & red.  Then I spooned the colored batter into a Bundt pan without any real pattern or design - I just wanted it to look like a delicious patriotic explosion when you cut into the cake.

Here it is before it went into the oven...

...and when it came out:

Then I melted my can of vanilla icing and filled 3 plastic zipper bags with the soft icing.  I made one bag red, one bag blue, and left one white, then cut a corner from each bag and went to town drizzling the colors back and forth across the cake.  I topped the icing with red, white, & blue star sprinkles.

The result: a perfectly patriotic (and simple to make) cake that everyone went nuts for.  Enjoy & stay hungry!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Watermelon Raspberry Bootlegs

I recently did a post on my all time favorite drink - bootlegs.  About two months ago, Charlie and I went to grab some Mexican and a few drinks.

I ordered a fresh watermelon margarita which was SO ridiculous good so I decided to combine two delicious things to make a more delicious thing - watermelon raspberry bootlegs yoooooo. 

Start by blending the fresh mint, raspberries, watermelon, and limeade concentrate. 


Prepare a vodka and soda or a gin and soda and spoon some of the fruit mixture on top. Garnish with a little extra fruit...

And kick back and relax because you are drinking something delicious my friend.  Stay hungry (thirsty)! 

Watermelon Raspberry Bootleg Recipe 

1 Can Frozen Limeade Concentrate 
50 Fresh Mint Leaves, stems removed
1 Cup of Fresh Watermelon 
1 Cup of Fresh Raspberries 
Vodka or Gin
Soda Water 

Blend the first four ingredients together in a blender or food processor.  Make a vodka and soda or gin and soda then spoon some of the blended mixture together.  Serve immediately and enjoy! 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Quick & Festive Ideas for a July 4 BBQ

Perhaps you're like me and are heading to a July 4 party later today and need to bring something.  I don't have a ton of time to cook.  I don't have time to find any specialty ingredients, especially since many stores will be closed today.  And I'm finding the "4th of July BBQ" ideas on Pinterest, well, pretty corny.  Here are some tried & true Hardly Housewives recipes that forgo the red, white, & blue sprinkles but keep the taste & the cheer, plus are easy to make and transport nicely:

Homemade Cranberry Salsa over Cream Cheese -  A crisp and tasty dish (& I bet nobody else is bringing anything with cranberries).  Goat cheese is a nice alternative to cream cheese here and the red and white colors make it festive!

Provoleta - You know at parties when people just stand around one dish until it's gone?  This is one of those.  You can prep it in advance and then pop it into the oven once you get to the party.  It seems kind of wintery but trust me when I say that people will eat it up (& you can feel smug that you were the favorite-appetizer-bringer).

Berry Trifle - Red, white, & blue without arranging the fruit into the shape of the American flag.  Plus cake & cream.  Yum.

Blueberry Pie - Nothing says summer like blueberry pie, especially to Mainers (& Mainers at heart) like Jaisa and me.  With or without a lattice top, it's a perfect party dish.

So whatever your plans today, stay hungry, stay homey, & have a very happy Fourth of July!