Irish Cream Brownies

Once again, a recipe that is intended for St. Patty’s Day but is totally delicious any day of the year.  Since we used Guinness in the pretzels, I only found it appropriate to use Irish cream in our dessert.  (Sorry, I didn’t use whiskey in anything.)  We happen to have a few bottles of Bailey’s and I’m thinking they’re from early morning tailgates in the fall when spiking your coffee is the only way to drink when it’s freezing outside and 7am on a Saturday.  What’s funny is I ended up making these brownies at 6am on a Saturday because that was the only time I had a free moment to bake.

These brownies are absolutely delicious and I found that they paired beautifully with a piping hot cup of coffee – kind of like spiking your coffee but a little more refined.  Y’all know I love a fudgy brownie and these do not disappoint – so don’t overcook them!  The recipe is insanely simple and much better than any boxed brownie (though I’m not judging if you go that route!).  If you want to make getting the brownies out of the pan even easier, line it with parchment paper so you can just lift the baked and cooled brownies out of the pan.


And almost a week later, I think I’m done recapping our St. Patty’s Day menu.  Now to start thinking about our next holiday – Easter!



Almond-Coconut Chicken Satay

Over the past six weeks I haven’t been cooking as much, especially during the week.  But on the weekends I’ve been trying to cook when possible because I truly love being in the kitchen.  The key these days is meals that I can prep in advance during a nap and then are easily thrown together once the little one is down for the night.

Last Friday we thoroughly enjoyed almond-coconut chicken satay with a glass of wine before tucking ourselves into bed before 9pm.  Throughout the day I prepped here and there – cutting the chicken into chunks, slicing the veggies, and mixing together the marinade.  I marinated the chicken a little longer than the recipe instructed – probably a few hours – and I highly recommend doing that, if possible.  The marinade is where all the flavor is:  almond butter, coconut milk, lime juice and red curry paste (a current obsession of mine).  Some of the marinade is reserved for serving with the grilled chicken.

The one thing I didn’t do until the last minute was dress the cucumber salad because I didn’t want it to become soggy.  I like crisp cucumbers.  The cucumbers and bell peppers are dressed with lime juice, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.

Once the chicken is grilled, serve along side the cucumbers and bell peppers and a sprinkle of chopped almonds.


And while I miss being in the kitchen during the week, I wouldn’t trade baby snuggles for anything in the world because I know one day she won’t want to snuggle with me.


Family-Style Meatball “Fondue”

Is anyone else dragging this AM?  I’m not sure if the time change is to blame or having a 6-week baby…  Either way, I’m ready for bed and it’s not even lunch time.  Despite the sleepy eyes over here, I’m determined to have a great week.

But rewind – how was your weekend?  Ours didn’t go quite as we anticipated but we had a wonderful weekend as a family of three.  We had a low-key evening in on Friday night and then on Saturday we had a family day-date!  Tacos and an adult beverage for the win.  I think BG is starting to change her schedule on me but I’m okay with it if that means more sleep at night.  I’m trying not to stress myself out over a “schedule” but it’s hard because I thrive on schedules.  And on Sunday we had the laziest of days and instead of pizza we switched it up with family-style meatball “fondue.”  I keep wanting to type “fundue” – which is appropriate because it was a FUN way to eat.

The meatballs are made with lean ground beef (the recipe called for turkey but we switched it up), grated zucchini, chopped onion, oregano, salt, pepper and an egg.  There’s no breadcrumbs so it will seem a little “loose” but I promise they firm up in the oven.  The meatballs are baked until cooked through.

While the meatballs are cooking, it’s time to make the sauce.  Sauté the mushrooms and garlic in a little olive oil and then add in marinara (Newman’s Own is my favorite) and a little water.  Simmer about 5 minutes and then add in the meatballs once they are done cooking.  Gently mix to coat the meatballs and then top with mozzarella.

Finally, broil the whole skillet to melt the cheese and serve with toasted baguette on the side.


Such a delicious dinner.  And while I missed our tradition of pizza (we’re already planning this Sunday’s pizza) I can’t say I didn’t love these saucy meatballs.  And the mushrooms were fantastic on a piece of baguette.

I hope you all have a great week!


Banana-Walnut Bread

Remember how I used a “secret” oil a couple of weeks back to make a delicious pasta dish?   Since walnut oil isn’t an oil I come across in recipes often, I was excited that in the same issue of Cooking Light there was a recipe for banana-walnut bread using walnut oil.  Muffins and bread are something I like to keep on hand for Big Guy to have in the morning for breakfast.  And while Big Guy couldn’t detect the walnut oil, he did say that the bread was extra “nutty.”

To start the recipe, soak raw oats (I used old fashioned oats) in buttermilk (I used milk mixed with vinegar) for 10 minutes.  While that is soaking, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, and salt.

Next make your streusel topping:  brown sugar, oil, walnuts (I actually used pecans), cinnamon, salt, raw oats and flour.  I love banana bread with a streusel topping.

Once the oats and buttermilk have soaked, add in mashed ripe bananas (the key to ALL banana breads), vanilla, eggs, brown sugar, and walnut oil. Once mixed, this is spooned into the loaf pan and then topped with the streusel before being baked.

I can’t even describe how amazing the house smelled while this was cooking.


Look at the edges on that bread.  I love a little crunchy edge from the caramelization of the sugar.  This bread is fantastic straight out of the oven or store at room temperature and warm before eating.  Big Guy made his a little more decadent and filling with a smear of cashew butter.

Now I just need to find a few more recipes using walnut oil…

Spicy Thai Red Curry Beef

Yesterday was a doozy – so I apologize for being MIA…

But today I bring to you one of my top five recipes from Cooking Light.  I’m tempted to give it the #1 spot but I’ve cooked so many things from Cooking Light that I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to aware any recipe the coveted top prize.

I know, it’s a bold statement but I hope that it encourages you to make this recipe.  It’s easy enough for a week night but impressive enough for a date night.  I actually paired a glass of wine with this dish – on a Thursday.  We’re living the wild life around here lately.

And did I mention it’s one-skillet?  Therefore, clean-up is a breeze.  So get all your ingredients assembled and get cooking.

The top layer of coconut cream (from a can of light coconut milk – don’t shake!) is brought to a boil along with the red curry paste in a skillet.  The rest of the coconut milk is added along with a little brown sugar, fish sauce (SO much flavor – don’t skip!), and red pepper flakes.  Bring that to a boil and cook for two minutes.  Add in your veggies – bell pepper and onion and simmer.  Next, add in your thinly sliced beef tenderloin.  Yes, it’s a delicious cut of meat and I rarely would want to cook such high quality beef this way but the end result is incredible and totally worth it.  (We were “gifted”this beef tenderloin and it’s by far the best beef tenderloin I’ve ever had – the marveling was perfection.)  Back to cooking…cook the beef about three minutes and then remove from the heat.

At this point, we’re going to brighten up the dish with some fresh elements – basil, lime juice and some salt.

Served over rice with a squeeze of fresh lime.


To my surprise, my wine and food pairing book suggested to serve a riesling with this dish.  I don’t keep a lot of riesling on hand but it also suggested a California chardonnay which I have plenty of.  I found a bottle that was described as a “cousin to riesling” and I felt compelled to open the bottle.  (Thankfully the weekend was so warm and a glass of crisp white wine here and there was just what I need to get through “mommy-ing.”)

Y’all, I can’t rave about this recipe enough.  It was savory with a little sweetness yet a hint of heat from the red pepper flakes.  And the curry married with the coconut milk made me oh, so happy.  And Big Guy was a huge fan because beef tenderloin + rice makes him extremely happy.

Unfortunately for y’all I’m not doing a lot of cooking this week.  A huge thank you to all the folks that have signed up to bring us dinner – it’s been such a treat to not have to worry about dinner (though cooking dinner remains one of my favorite things to do).

I’ll (hopefully) be back tomorrow with a 1-month update on Blakely Gray.  That is if I can type it without tearing up and mourning the fact that she’s growing so fast.  I swear, she’ll be wanting to date next week at this pace…


Pasta Aglio e Olio {pasta with garlic and oil}

Hi friends!  I’m here – just a little busy these days.  How was your weekend?  Ours was a good one – we ventured out as a family of three and survived.  Actually, I think we thrived and Big Guy might actually take us out in public again.  We made a stop at our favorite wine shop in Raleigh (a place where we knew few people would be early on Saturday) and stocked up on wine and olive oil.  Our next stop was sushi!  Mama was very happy filling her belly with all the deliciousness – though we did eat a little faster in an effort to avoid any mid-meal meltdowns.  We started Sunday slowly – well, as slow as you can be – when baby wants to eat, she wants to eat.  And enjoyed a walk with friends before my aunt arrived later in the afternoon.  It’s been so nice to have two extra hands to help today and I’ve definitely taken advantage of her being here (aka I went and got a manicure and I took a solo three mile walk).  I will be sad to see her leave tomorrow morning.

Enough about the weekend (that didn’t last long enough) – let’s back up even farther…to our Valentine’s Day dinner.  I went with something super easy (obviously) and a very short ingredient list.  Pasta is something we usually make from scratch when we eat it but that’s just not happening yet.  This meal mimics a classic Italian dish of pasta with a sauce made from garlic and oil but instead of olive oil, walnut is used for extra nuttiness.  The walnut oil is the key to this pasta so don’t skip it.  (I’ll share another recipe that uses walnut oil later this week.)  Along with the oil, lots of garlic, parsley, pecorino Romano cheese plus salt and pepper.


I really enjoyed the simplicity of this dinner yet the complexity of the nuttiness thanks to using a new-to-me oil.

Another idea for walnut oil: I really want to try it drizzled on avocado toast – I think it would be fab.


Steak, Feta and Olive Quesadillas

Another quick and easy dinner headed your way with this Mediterranean twist on the classic Mexican quesadilla.  All the quesadilla ingredients are mixed together to save time – there’s no layering or trying to make sure you save room for each element.

To make the quesadilla stuffing, cook the thinly sliced steak on the stovetop until browned.  Add in the spinach, cream cheese, feta and chopped olives.  Allow the mixture to cook for two minutes and then remove from the heat.

And just like that, you’re ready to make your quesadillas.  I used corn tortillas but you can use your favorite – whether thats flour or corn.  Spoon the filling on one tortilla and then top with another tortilla.  Cook until browned in a little oil and carefully flip.  Make sure not to overstuff your quesadillas!

The quesadillas are served with a side of greek yogurt for dipping.


And on the side, a simple cucumber and tomato salad with parsley, olive oil, salt, pepper and red wine vinegar.

I loved this spin on a dinner that is so common in many households.  The steak paired with the olives was so yummy and the cream cheese made it extra creamy and delicious.