Author Archives: nancyc

Veggie Tortilla Pinwheels

Tortilla pinwheels are great for a summer snack or appetizer–they’re easy to make and, best of all, you don’t have to use your oven to make them! I try to make no-bake things on hot days to help keep things cool inside.

Let me just say that it does take a little practice to get nicely shaped pinwheels. The two most important things to remember are to roll up the tortillas tightly and refrigerate at least several hours. They’re much easier to slice and they keep their shape better when you do these two things.

VEGGIE TORTILLA PINWHEELS by NancyC

Makes about 4 dozen pinwheels

  • 1 (8-ounce) block of cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 1 (4.25-ounce) can chopped black olives
  • 1/2 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 (8-inch) or 5 (10-inch) flour tortillas (flavored or plain)

In medium-size bowl, mix softened cream cheese, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese until well blended. Add in chopped green onions, red bell pepper, green chilies, and black olives, blending everything together. Stir in parsley flakes, garlic powder, and salt and pepper to taste.

Spread mixture in a thin layer over one side of each flour tortillas. Roll tortillas up tightly, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight.

(You’ll probably have some extra cream cheese mixture left over–you may be able to make another tortilla roll with it, or save it to use as a spread on some bread).

Remove from refrigerator, remove plastic wrap, and place each tortilla roll seam side down. Cut into slices about 1/2″ thick (a small serrated knife works best for slicing). Arrange on a large tray or platter and serve.

Just about everyone loves these pinwheels, so you can’t go wrong making these for a potluck or party. Have you make tortilla pinwheels before?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me Monday

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Apricot-Honey Granola

This golden granola reminds me of summertime! The combination of chopped and chunky dried apricots and golden raisins taste great together. Apricot-Honey Granola has a lot of other good things that I often add to my homemade granolas: sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, wheat germ or flaxseed, and chopped nuts. It’s sweetened mostly with honey and a bit of brown sugar. You can serve it as a cereal with milk, in yogurt parfaits, or just as it is, for a snack.

APRICOT-HONEY GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 12 cups

  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 cups hulled, raw sunflower kernels (if using roasted, add them in after baking)
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups chopped dried apricots

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Line two 10×15″ rimmed cookie sheets or one 13×18″ rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, toss the oats, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, wheat germ or flaxseed, and chopped pecans; set aside.

In small microwaveable bowl, heat honey for 20 to 30 seconds to make the consistency thinner. Then, in medium size bowl, blend honey, brown sugar, olive oil, and salt, blending everything well.

Pour the honey mixture over the oat mixture and toss until the oat mixture is well-coated.

Spread this mixture onto the prepared baking sheet(s) and bake at 325˚F for 20 minutes; remove pan from oven to stir and  toss the mixture (for even baking). Return to oven and bake an additional 15 minutes, until granola is golden.

Remove from oven and add the golden raisins and chopped dried apricots to the mixture on the pan; toss to combine everything well. Let mixture cool completely on pan (the mixture will get crunchier as it cools), then store in a tightly-sealed container for 2 to 3 weeks.

When I make granola in the summer, I usually do it early in the morning, when it’s still cool. I try to avoid using the oven later in the day because my place gets so hot! But it’s worth making this yummy granola, even if you do have to get up extra early to do it! 🙂 Have you made any granola lately? What do you like to add to yours?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, Create with Joy.

10 Tips: Picking a Ripe Watermelon and Serving Ideas

Have you been enjoying watermelon this summer? It tastes especially good on really, really hot days–like the ones we’ve been having the past few weeks! And it’s good for you, too–I read that it’s high in vitamins A, B6, and C, and it’s also a good source of lycopene, which is good for your heart. And, since a watermelon has over 90% water, it helps keep you hydrated on hot days!

I’ve always managed to pick good watermelons–I don’t remember ever buying a bad watermelon. It doesn’t hurt to know a few helpful tips when you’re choosing one, so you might find these helpful the next time you buy a watermelon!

  1. You may find the best selection at your local farmer’s market, since watermelons sold at grocery stores are often picked before they are fully ripened–once a watermelon is picked from the vine, it usually doesn’t ripen that much more.
  2. Look for a watermelon that has a uniform, symmetrical shape, smooth texture, and free of bumps, dents, and bruises–lumps mean the melon didn’t have a regular amount of sunshine or water while growing.
  3. Look at the skin of the watermelon-it should have definite dark and light green strips and should be dull rather than shiny–shiny means it’s not ripe (some grocery stores sell melons with skins that have been waxed, so this tip may not help in that case).
  4. Check the bottom of the watermelon (also called the “field spot” or “belly”)–you’ll want to see a creamy, buttery yellow color there–that means it’s ripe (you don’t want to see a white or light green bottom).
  5. A ripe watermelon should feel heavy for its size–pick up some watermelons that are the same size and compare their weight–the heaviest one is the ripest.
  6. If you tap the watermelon and it sounds hollow, that means it’s ripe. If it sounds dull, that means it’s under-ripe or over-ripe.
  7. A cut watermelon can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for 3 to 5 days.
  8. You can freeze watermelon chunks to use in smoothies (you won’t want to freeze watermelon for eating, though–the texture gets soft when thawed).
  9. You can freeze watermelon juice in ice cube trays to add to lemonade, ice tea, or punch.
  10. Make watermelon skewers by pairing watermelon chunks or balls with any combination of the following: large blackberries, strawberries, honeydew or cantaloupe chunks or balls, mango chunks, pineapple chunks, cucumber slices, banana slices, feta cheese chunks, pitted black olives, cherry tomatoes.

Have you used any of these tips yourself? Do you have any other watermelon tips of your own?

Sharing at Inspire Me Monday.

Basil Pesto

I’ve grown basil every summer for many years–sometimes in a garden, but lately in a large pot, since I don’t have space for a garden right now. I love making homemade pesto with my basil! It’s really easy to make and there’s nothing like cutting fresh basil from your own garden or pot to make it. What probably takes the longest time in making this recipe is picking the basil leaves off the cut stems…but even that task is enjoyable because you get to sniff the wonderful aroma of fresh basil while you’re doing it! Here’s a simple recipe I use…it’s a good starting point, and you can adjust the amount of certain ingredients (like the garlic, for example) to suit your taste. You can use a food processor or blender–a food processor probably works best, but a blender will work, too.

BASIL PESTO by NancyC

Makes 2/3 to 3/4 cup

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves. packed
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. pine nuts (I often substitute pecans or walnuts, because they’re less expensive)
  • Dash or two of salt, to taste (optional)

In a food processor or blender, add the basil, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic; blend or process until smooth (the mixture is on the thick side, so if you’re using a blender, you may have to stop the blender and stir with a spoon to help it along). Add the Parmesan cheese and nuts (and salt, if desired) to the basil mixture, and blend well. Spoon it out of the blender or food processor into a small bowl (or covered container if you’re going to use it later).

I mostly eat pesto spread on a thick slice of crusty bread. It’s also really good on the Asiago cheese bagels you can buy at Panera Bread or Atlanta Bread Company. If you’re a sourdough bread fan like I am, it’s good on that too!

Do you grow your own basil too? What do you like to make with it?

Sharing at Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me MondayFiesta Friday

Bacon Onion Mushroom Quiche

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I haven’t had much success with making homemade pie crusts. I know I need more practice, and just don’t seem to have the time. Which is why this quiche appeals to me, because I can use frozen pie crusts in it. If you are a good pie crust-maker, then you could use your own homemade crusts.

I also like this quiche because it has bacon, green onions and mushrooms in it. I take the easy route and use a pouch of real bacon pieces, but you can always fry your own bacon and crumble it. Or, if you’re not a meat-eater, you can leave out the bacon and add in some chopped tomatoes. So you can make this quiche the real easy way or make it a little more homemade, depending on how much time you have. Another great thing about this recipe is that it makes two quiches (you can halve the recipe if you just want to make one). Perfect for breakfast or brunch!

BACON ONION MUSHROOM QUICHE by NancyC

Makes two 9″ quiches

  • 2 frozen 9″ deep dish pie shells
  • 1 (3-ounce) package real bacon pieces (about 3/4 cup)–or substitute 3/4 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 5 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 (4-ounce) can sliced mushrooms (or mushroom pieces and stems), well drained
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Fiesta (Mexican style) Blend cheese
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups Half & Half (light cream)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
  • a few dashes of salt
  • a dash of pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. flour

Position your oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat oven to 375˚F. Remove the pie crusts from the freezer and let thaw for about 5 minutes. Prick the bottom and sides of the crusts with a fork to help prevent bubbles from forming in the crust as it bakes, and bake for 8 minutes. Remove pie crusts from oven–there may be some bubbles in the crusts, so just gently pat the bubbles down. After removing crusts from the oven, reduce heat to 350˚F.

In large bowl, combine the bacon, green onions, mushrooms, and cheeses; mix together and set aside. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, Half & Half, sour cream, salt and pepper, and flour. Add this mixture to ingredients in large bowl, and mix well. Then distribute mixture evenly between the two pie crust shells, put in the 350-degree oven and bake for 45 minutes or until set (I like to put the pie crusts on a large rimmed 13×18 baking pan while the quiches are baking–it’s easier to put them in and take them out that way). Also, you can cover the quiches with foil the last 10 minutes of baking if your crusts are getting too browned.

Note: The egg filling will be a little puffed up when you take it out of the oven, but it settles down as it’s cooling.

I like making the full recipe so I have two quiches–one to eat now and one to freeze for later! Do you enjoy making quiche and do you make your own crust or use pre-made crusts?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me MondayWeekend Potluck

Good Things

He crowns you will unfailing love and compassion like a king….

He fills you with good and beautiful things, satisfying you as long as you live.

PSALM 103:4–5 The Voice

Sharing at Inspire Me Monday.

Fresh Strawberry Bread

Fresh strawberries are the best! And I love making things with them too, whether it’s a smoothie or a baked treat. Like this Fresh Strawberry Bread–it’s so good and moist, and has lots of little chopped strawberry chunks in it that give it a great strawberry flavor. This quick bread is great for a summer breakfast or brunch, but it’s sweet enough that it can also work as a dessert, too.

Just so you know, the batter is on the thicker side. The loaves bake up with a nice slight rise and come out of the pan without sticking if you grease and flour your pans. Another nice thing about this recipe is that it makes two loaves! So you can share a loaf with someone, freeze it, or eat both of them up, which is probably what you’ll be tempted to do. 🙂

FRESH STRAWBERRY BREAD by NancyC

Makes 2 (9×5″) loaves

  • 3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup light olive oil or canola oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour two 9×5″ loaf pans; set aside.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt, blending well.

In medium bowl, blend the light olive oil, eggs, and chopped strawberries. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and mix everything until flour mixture is just moistened (do not overmix). The batter will be thick!

Divide batter into the 2 prepared loaf pans, spreading evenly in pans. Bake at 350˚F for 40 to 42 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a serving plate and cool completely.

I’ve only gone strawberry picking a few times, but I do want to try to do that more often. I usually buy my berries at farmers markets or the grocery store and thankfully, they usually have a good selection. Have you made any good recipes with fresh strawberries this summer?

Sharing at Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Watermelon-Mint-Lime Water

When hot weather comes around, I usually crave watermelon. It’s so refreshing and it’s good for you too. And I discovered that watermelon is also great for making flavored water! Combining chunks of juicy watermelon with fresh mint and tart limes makes a great-tasting summery drink! You just have to plan ahead a little, since you need to chill the mixture for 1 to 2 hours before drinking.

I buy watermelon regularly throughout the summer and I grow my own mint in a large pot, so I had everything I needed to make this except for the limes. You can make it without limes, but I like the refreshing zing they add to the mix!

WATERMELON-MINT-LIME WATER by NancyC

Makes 1 large pitcher

  • 3 cups cubed watermelon chunks (cut in 1/2″ size cubes)
  • 4 sprigs of mint (a sprig is a stem with 6 to 8 leaves), lightly crushed or rubbed (to release flavor and scent)
  • 2 limes, thinly sliced (use organic limes or wash limes very well!)
  • 7 to 8 cups of water
  • 2 to 3 cups of ice

Add cubed watermelon, mint sprigs, and sliced limes to pitcher, then add water and ice. Chill for 1 to 2 hours to infuse flavors, then serve, pouring into ice-filled glasses. Tastes best the day it’s made.

It definitely does taste best the day it’s made, but you can finish drinking this flavored water up by the second day if you have any left over. It really is refreshing and more fun to drink than plain water! What do you like to add to your water?

Sharing at Inspire Me Monday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck.

Strawberry-Kiwi-Banana Smoothie

For me, summer is smoothie weather and I love having them for breakfast! It’s always fun trying out different flavors. Strawberries, kiwifruit, and bananas are a great combination, and this smoothie uses frozen banana slices to help thicken it and make it creamy. This smoothie is good and easy to make. And using a slice of kiwifruit as a garnish adds a nice colorful touch! Try this out for breakfast or for a healthy afternoon snack.

STRAWBERRY-KIWI-BANANA SMOOTHIE by NancyC

Makes about 2 cups

1 medium size banana, sliced and frozen

  • 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
  • 1 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
  • 1/3 cup plain or vanilla Greek yogurt (or substitute a dairy-free yogurt)
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup milk (you can use low-fat, soy, or almond milk)
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground flaxseed
  • Optional: a slice of kiwifruit for garnish

Add frozen banana slices, fresh strawberry slices, kiwifruit slices, yogurt, honey, milk, and flaxseed, if using, into a blender. Blend mixture for 1 minute or until smooth and creamy. Pour into a glass, add a slice of kiwifruit as a garnish, and enjoy!

This smoothie is a real treat and it’s nice that it’s healthy, too! I love making things with fresh fruit–especially strawberries! Are you a fan of strawberries, too?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

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The Easiest Sweet Cornbread

This cornbread is so good, you’d never guess it was so easy! If you’ve ever been to a restaurant called Tippins (as far as I know, there’s one in Kansas City, Tulsa, and Dallas) and had their delicious sweet cornbread, this recipe tastes a lot like that. It’s great with chili or just on its own, warm and served with honey butter.

A friend had told me about this cornbread recipe after I talked about how good the Tippins cornbread was. And when I made this for a potluck, everyone wanted the recipe. They couldn’t believe how easy it was. It’s made with a blend of cornbread mix and cake mix. I typically like to make things from scratch, but I do like to make this every so often. If you’re not crazy about baking with mixes, this recipe may not be for you. But it is really, really good, so you might want to make an exception and try this out!

THE EASIEST SWEET CORNBREAD WITH HONEY BUTTER by NancyC

Makes a 9×13″ pan

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease and flour a 9×13″ baking pan or line with parchment paper; set aside.

In large bowl, blend the dry Corn Muffin Mix and Golden Yellow Cake Mix. Add the eggs, milk, and water, blending everything well. Beat mixture for 2 to 3 minutes.

Bake at 350˚F for 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Remove from oven, cool for 10 minutes, then cut into squares and serve.

This cornbread tastes really good with honey butter! (see recipe below)

Note: You can make cornbread muffins with this batter if you prefer–baking time will be about 15 minutes.

HONEY BUTTER:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons honey

Mix softened butter and honey until well-blended; spoon into a small serving dish and serve with cornbread.

Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? If you need something quick and easy to make for a large meal or gathering, keep this cornbread in mind!

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