Thursday, June 25, 2020

Zucchini Muffins

I can't believe I've never baked with zucchini. We love zucchini and I use it a lot in savory recipes like Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries, Zucchini Corn Pizza, Cheesy Zucchini Rice, zucchini fritters, on skewers, in summer pastas, etc. But this was my first time baking with it.

Zucchini muffins

The result? So good!! None of us could taste the zucchini. Now, I'll admit this is not exactly the healthiest recipe. If you're looking for a healthy way to get your kids to eat veggies, this isn't it. But they were delicious and a great way to use up zucchini that was past its prime.

The original recipe said it would yield 12 muffins. I got 15. I'm also not one to measure certain ingredients so I probably had more than 2 cups of shredded zucchini.

Zucchini Muffins
As seen on Land O Lakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 medium (2 cups) zucchini, shredded

Heat oven to 350. Put paper baking cups into 12 (or more) muffin pan cups; set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in bowl; mix well. Combine butter and eggs in bowl; stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Stir in zucchini.

Use an ice cream scoop to fill prepared muffin pan cups three-fourths full with batter. Bake 22-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan; remove to cooling rack.
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Thursday, June 11, 2020

Tired of warm beer at parties? Enter the NewAir Beer Froster

This post is sponsored by NewAir. I received a Beer Froster in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Hi folks. Steve here with a guest blog post. Sadly, alcohol doesn’t agree with Sarah (more often than not she’s left battling a nasty migraine) so I’m our household’s official subject matter expert on all things alcohol. When the good folks at NewAir offered us an opportunity to try out their Beer Froster beer fridge, I offered to write the product review.

Bottom line: I’d recommend this whole-heartedly to anyone who’s ever had to suffer through warm beer at a party. Friends don’t let friends drink warm beer, right? But party planning can sometimes be a mad rush to get ready and mistakes get made.

(Remember parties? Those were fun. Hopefully we’ll be entertaining safely again soon but we’ll definitely be out of practice).

I’ve been there; I’m sure you have, too. You get to the party, or worse, you are the host of the party and you see the beer sitting in a tub of ice. Maybe not even submerged in the ice - sitting on top like it’s being merchandised in a store. Then your friend reaches in and hands you a Trojan brew. You have your doubts, but the bottle or can is cold to the touch. So you pop the top and take a swig only to be greeted by beer the temperature of warm chicken broth that had been sitting in the August sun since about a half hour before you arrived.


Well, enter the Beer Froster! This product holds 125 cans. I’m a bottle guy and I got more than 50 bottles in there. Perfect amount for a party. You hit the Turbo button and the compressor on this baby runs a cool 24 degrees for an hour, getting your beer nice and cold. It takes away the shame and stigma of serving less than ideal beer to family and friends.

If you’re like Sarah and the ultimate planner, just remember to hit the Party button when you wake up and the compressor runs a good 6 hours at 24 degrees for a slower chill down. This also helps ward off those friends who stand there with the door open taking 10 minutes to choose a beer. There’s even a handy light that you can activate from the outside so you can easily see the selections through the glass front door.

The Beer Froster is true to its name, though I will offer some pro tips if you should decide to add this little wonder to your man cave or kitchen. First, arrange the shelves for optimum storage. It’s designed for cans, but bottles require a little care to load in properly. Also, allow for about 24 hours for the fridge to get to a cool 24 degrees the first time you turn it on. The last point, and this is my only criticism of the appliance, is that the compressor does emit an audible hum that some may find distracting. After experiencing the low hum we made the choice to locate the fridge in our basement instead of the kitchen just because we are overly sensitive to noise. Your mileage may vary.

All in all, the Beer Froster certainly lives up to its name in helping to insure the beer you are serving, or enjoying alone, is crisp and cold. In my heyday I used to go to this bar that touted the “Coldest beer in Trenton (N.J.)” and it was. Often you got served a beer that had frozen solid and they had to swap it out for a new one. I haven’t had a colder beer since then, until this beauty came into my life.

NewAir is offering readers 20% off the Beer Froster! Use code SARAH_BATES at checkout.
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Thursday, May 28, 2020

Sheet Pan Kielbasa, Potatoes and Veggies

I'm very late to the sheet pan dinner craze but this is one that will be on rotation forever. I've already made it twice and it's just so, so good.

Sheet pan

I love that you can make this however you want with whatever veggies and meat you want. It's a one-pan meal that hits all the right notes with minimal cleanup.

Sheet Pan Kielbasa, Potatoes and Veggies

1 package (14-16oz) precooked sausage or kielbasa cut in half lengthwise and sliced into 1/2" half-moons
1 medium onion (red, white, whatever you have), cut into bite sized pieces
2 broccoli crowns, separated into florets
1 small head cauliflower, separated into florets
1/2 lb red potatoes, peeled and cut into small, bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper, or to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or mozzarella, Monterey Jack, colby, whatever you want)

Preheat the oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with a couple sheets of aluminum foil.

Combine the sausage, onion, broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes in a large bowl. Season with the oil, paprika, onion and garlic powders, dried thyme, salt and pepper. Mix well. Dump onto the baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Put sheet pan in the oven.

Roast for 25 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and test to make sure the potatoes are fully cooked (use the tip of a knife). If they aren't, put back in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. Once the potatoes are cooked through, top with the shredded cheddar cheese and put back in for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.
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Thursday, March 05, 2020

Indian Butter Chicken

Added another Indian dish to my repertoire last night. Woohoo!

Indian butter chicken

This Indian Butter Chicken was so darn good. I combined the cooking method from my standby Chicken Tikka with the ingredients in For the Love of Cooking's Butter Chicken. I ended up doubling the sauce because (1) we love extra sauce and (2) I didn't see the point in saving less than half a can of coconut milk. Dump it all in!

My family absolutely loved this, which is saying a lot because they're big fans of my chicken tikka and kind of hate when I insist on trying new recipes. What can I say, I like variety.

Indian Butter Chicken
Combo of Hunt, Cook, Eat and For the Love of Cooking

3/4 cup full fat plain Greek yogurt
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces

4 tablespoons butter
2 15oz cans diced tomatoes, pureed with a blender (DON'T use tomato sauce)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 can full fat coconut milk
salt, to taste
Fresh cilantro

Basmati rice
Naan bread

Whisk the yogurt, lemon juice, fresh ginger, minced garlic, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper together in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the chicken and marinade in a single layer on a baking sheet and cook for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the pureed tomatoes and sugar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cooked chicken with all the accumulated juices (don't omit that!) to the sauce and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Taste and season with salt, if needed.

Serve over basmati rice with naan for soaking up the sauce.
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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Apricot and Mustard Baked Chicken

This Apricot and Mustard Baked Chicken has quickly become one of our favorite weeknight meals. The baking time is a bit long (longer than the original recipe states) but it's almost completely hands-off. The flavor is truly fantastic - the perfect combo of sweet and savory.

To blog

I like to serve this with mashed potatoes and a veggie (lately it's French cut green beans), but it would be equally good with rice.

Apricot and Mustard Baked Chicken
Slightly modified from Jenny Rosenstrach

6 to 8 skin-on chicken pieces (thighs or drumsticks)
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/4 cup water
Leaves from 6 sprigs fresh thyme, minced

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Line a baking sheet with plenty of foil. This is key because the glaze is sticky and you don't want to spend the evening scrubbing the baking sheet. Place a piece of parchment paper over the last layer of foil. This is also key because the chicken won't stick to the parchment the way it will stick to the foil.

Place the chicken on the lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, whisk together the jam, mustard, water, thyme, and a little salt and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and allow to get slightly syrupy. Transfer to a 2-cup glass measuring cup to make it easier to pour.

After 30 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven and pour the sauce evenly over the chicken. Put back in the oven and continue baking for another 30 minutes. If you have a broiler, place the chicken under the broiler on the top rack so it gets golden and crispy.
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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Pioneer Woman's Lemon Pasta Pronto

The Pioneer Woman recently posted a video of herself making this recipe for Lemon Pasta Pronto on her Instagram stories. It sounded right up our alley so I printed out the recipe (fair warning, the recipe on the Food Network site doesn't include all the ingredients/directions).

To blog

Past experience has taught me that I can always add more lemon juice but I can't take it away so I was skeptical about using the juice of two lemons in this recipe. Sure enough, one was plenty.

We all LOVED this but I'm not sure I'll spend the extra money for the pancetta next time. Bacon would be just as good and a heck of a lot cheaper. I served this with an incredible beet, citrus and ricotta salad that I'll be blogging soon and it was just the thing to cut the richness of the pasta.

Lemon Pasta Pronto
Modified from the Pioneer Woman

Kosher salt
1 pound orecchiette
6 tablespoons butter, divided
1/2 lb pancetta or bacon, cut into bite-size pieces
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 lemons, 1 juiced and both zested, divided
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup panko
1 cup grated pecorino

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions.

While the water is coming to a boil, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the pancetta (or bacon) and cook until the fat starts to render and the pancetta gets crispy. Add the thyme, garlic and onions and cook until the onions soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the zest and juice of one lemon, the peas and half and half. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

In a small skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Add the panko and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the panko is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the zest of one lemon. Stir and then set aside.

Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet along with the pecorino. Toss together, taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. The original recipe calls for the juice of two lemons but a lot of people said it was too lemony. If you want more lemon flavor, add more juice. Remember, you can always add but you can't take away!

To serve, spoon some of the pasta into a bowl or on a pasta plate. Sprinkle some of the crispy panko on top.
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Thursday, January 09, 2020

Chicken Pizzaiola

This chicken pizzaiola is another one of those recipes that I've looked at countless times over the years and bypassed time and time again. Who knows why; it's not like it's a complicated recipe. My only note is to make sure you use plenty of pepperoni so you can really taste the flavor.

Chicken pizzaiola

Such an easy, delicious weeknight meal. I made my own quick pasta sauce but jarred would be fine, too.

Chicken Pizzaiola
From America’s Test Kitchen, modified from Pinch of Yum

3 cups of your favorite pasta sauce (or make your own, see note)
1 cup shredded Parmesan/pecorino cheese
4 large/6 small boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 ounces sliced pepperoni (see note)
1 cup sliced mozzarella
8 ounces spaghetti or other pasta

Heat the oven to 450. Spread pasta sauce into a 9×13 baking dish (I had 6 chicken breasts so I needed another small baking dish). Spread Parmesan/pecorino in a shallow dish.

Put one chicken breast at a time in a plastic food storage bag and pound to an even thickness. You don't want it too thin but it should be the same thickness throughout. Season all the chicken with salt and pepper, then coat with Parmesan/pecorino. Lay each piece of chicken on top of the sauce in a single layer. Bake for 25 minutes.

While the chicken bakes, cook pasta. Drain and toss with some olive oil to prevent sticking. Set aside until the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken from the oven and top each breast with a few slices pepperoni and mozzarella. Increase oven to 475 and bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.

Spoon some sauce from the baking dish into the pasta pot and toss to combine. To serve, put some pasta on a plate and top with a piece of chicken and some sauce.

1. It's really easy to throw together a quick pasta sauce. I usually just heat up a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (rinse the can with some water and add to the pan so you get all the sauce from the can) and season with plenty of oregano. I had half an onion in the fridge so this time I minced that up and sauteed it in oil with some salt and pepper before adding the crushed tomatoes.

2. I hate excess grease on my pepperoni so I put three layers of paper towels on a plate and top with a single layer of pepperoni slices. Top with two more layers of paper towels and microwave 15 seconds, then another 15 seconds (don't do 30 seconds before the pepperoni can burn). Blot the grease off with the top paper towel layers.
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