Macadamia Lemon Bars

The latest recipe swap covered my favorite topic: dessert. I’ve never met a dessert I didn’t like.

I was really pleased about my assigned recipe from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles. I’ve had lemon bars on my to-make list for quite some time, but they always get bumped in favor of something chocolately. This was the perfect opportunity to finally try them out!

These were just as good as I was imagining and I really loved the addition of the macadamia nuts. Another check on my cooking bucket list thanks to the recipe swaps!



Macadamia Lemon Bars
(from Christine’s Kitchen Chronicles)
Makes an 8×8 pan of bars

For the crust
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/4 c. macadamia nuts, finely chopped

For the filling
1 c. sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2 eggs
3 T. lemon juice
2 t. lemon zest
2 t. macadamia nuts, chopped
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.  Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir togetherthe flour, powdered sugar and melted butter until well combined .  Stir in the nuts.  Press the crust mixture into the bottom and 1/2″ up the sides of prepared baking dish.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly browned.

In another bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Beat in the eggs, lemon juice, and lemon zest until light and fluffy.  Pour the filling over hot crust and sprinkle with nuts.

Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned and the center is set.  Cool completely on a wire rack.

Dust with powdered sugar and cut into bars.  Chill until ready to serve.

You can see the rest of the yummy desserts made as part of the swap below. Thanks to Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting!


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Bloody Mary Steak with White Cheddar Horseradish Mashed Potatoes

The latest recipe swap hosted by A Taste of Home Cooking was themed “special occasion”, which naturally meant I was going to make it for Valentine’s Day. Obviously, it was a bit more time intensive than our usual Thursday dinners but, hey, hubby deserves a nice dinner for dealing with all of my crazy!

This recipe comes from Cheese Curd in Paradise.  She also has a mushroom topping for the steak – since we’re not mushroom fans I skipped it, but if that’s your thing it’d be a great addition. We were especially fond of the mashed potatoes!


Bloody Mary Steak with White Cheddar Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
(from Cheese Curd in Paradise)

Bloody Mary Steaks
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 white onion, diced
2 T. sliced green olives
3 T. chopped pickles
1 T. pickle juice
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 T. hot sauce
5.5 oz tomato juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cumin
1 T. celery salt
1/2 t. dill seed
2 lb. beef tenderloin, cut into individual steaks


Whisk together all ingredients besides steak. Place the steaks in a large ziplock bag and pour in the marinate. Allow the steaks to marinate 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Flip the bag at the halfway through.
Pre-heat your grill. Remove the steaks from the bag and discard the marinate.  Grill steaks over medium heat until the reach desired temperature.
Horseradish & White Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
3 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 stick butter, at room temperature
2 T. prepared horseradish
3/4 c. grated sharp white cheddar
2/3 c. milk
3 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 t. black pepper
1 T. salt
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add potatoes and cook until they are easily pierced with a fork. Drain water and move the potatoes to a mixing bowl. Add milk, butter, cream cheese, horseradish, cheese salt and pepper. Mash together until well combined.

Check out the other dishes featured in the Special Occasion Swap in the linkup below!


Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches

I was assigned Cookaholic Wife for the latest blogger’s choice recipe swap. I made Nichole’s Chocolate Chip Muffins for the last swap, so this time I wanted to pick something a little different. With all of the holiday craziness in full swing, a quick dinner seemed like the perfect idea.

These sandwiches involve about five minutes of prep the night before and then less than fifteen minutes start-to-finish after they’re finished marinating. Some nights, that’s about all I can handle. And, these were awesome!

Thanks Nichole! And, as always, thank you to Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking for hosting!


Hawaiian Chicken Sandwiches
(from Cookaholic Wife)
Serves 6

1 large can pineapple rings
3 T. soy sauce
3 T. brown sugar
1 T. Dijon mustard
6 thin chicken cutlets, cut in half
6 slices provolone cheese
6 whole wheat buns

In a large bowl, whisk together the juice from the pineapple, soy sauce, brown sugar and mustard. Add the chicken, cover and refrigerate overnight.

Discard marinade and grill chicken over medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway, until cooked through. Add pineapple and cheese and leave on the grill to melt.

Serve on whole wheat rolls.

Here’s what the rest of the bloggers selected to make for this round of Blogger’s Choice:


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Refried Beans

The latest recipe swap theme was side dishes – which is an area I often struggle with. Salad and raw veggies are our go-tos. After working out a main dish, I never have the drive to round out the meal with much more.

I was super excited when I got assigned this recipe, since Tex-Mex meals are increasingly common around here. I was even more excited when I realized the recipe originated from Elly Says Opa. Elly’s Black Beans are one of the few sides I do make regularly, so I knew this would be a hit.

The recipe calls for cooking up two strips of bacon so you can use the grease as flavoring. I always save the grease when I cook bacon so I just used 1 T. of the reserved fat. Either works fine

Not only are these delicious, but they’re super quick which makes them a great side dish option. This is absolutely a new staple in our rotation!


Refried Beans
(as seen on A Taste of Home Cooking, adapted from Elly Says Opa)
Serves 4 as a side

2 strips of bacon (or 1 T. bacon fat)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 t. ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or 1½ cups cooked pinto beans)
1 c. chicken or veggie broth, divided
1/4 cup salsa
Shredded cheese and sliced scallions, for garnish (optional)

If using bacon, heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat and cook until crisp, being careful not to burn. Remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the pan. (Reserve the bacon for another use.)

If using bacon fat, heat fat in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Add the onion to the pan and cook until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add in the garlic, cumin, cayenne and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the beans to the pan. Pour in about 2/3 cup of the broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a light simmer. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the beans are soft enough to mash easily.

Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the salsa, and mash the bean mixture as desired. For a chunkier texture, use a fork or potato masher. For a smoother texture, pulse the mixture in a food processor. Add additional broth for a lighter texture if needed. Top with shredded cheese and sliced scallions and serve.

Here are the side dishes swap participants made:

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Happy Recipe Swap day! I missed the last swap because we were travelling, so I was happy to jump back in to the latest round of Blogger’s Choice. For this round, I was assigned Brianna’s blog – Oishii Food. Oishii means “delicious” in Japanese and the blog was started when she spent some time in Japan. While there are plenty of recipes from other cultures too, I thought it was appropriate to pick a Japanese one.

Gyoza are pretty much the Japanese version of potstickers. And, since I have such a soft spot of potstickers, I knew I’d love these. As daunting as they look, they’re relatively easy to put together and absoltely delicious. I’m still working on getting the perfect fold down, but if you want to see some really beautiful Gyoza, click on over to Brianna’s blog!


(very slightly adapted from Oishii Food)
Makes at least 4 dozen

For the Gyoza:

3 c. cole slaw mix
2 green onions, chopped
1 T. coarse salt
1 lb. ground pork
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. white wine
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. cornstarch
1 package wonton wrappers (10-12 oz.)
1/4 c. vegetable oil

For the Dipping Sauce:

4 T. Soy sauce
4 T. Rice vinegar
1 t. Sesame oil
1 T. Agave nectar
1 t. Chili-garlic sauce
Salt & Pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl, toss the cabbage with the green onions and salt. Let stand 10 minutes and then rinse and drain in a collandar. A handful at a time, sqeeze as much liquid out of the cabbage as you can and transfer to a large bowl.

Add the pork, pepper, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, white wine and sesame oil to the large bowl. Mix thoroughly with cabbage mixture.

In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with two tablespoons water. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment. On the center of each wonton wrapper, place 1-2 teaspoons of pork and cabbage filling. Dip your finger in the water-cornstarch mixture and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Take one corner and fold it over to the opposite corner to make a triangle – seal the edges by pinching together.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, but not sizzling. Place enough gyoza in the skillet to cover the bottom, but don’t stack them. Cook until they’re browned where touching the pan. Add 2/3 cup of water to the skillet and cover tightly. Let steam for 5 minutes, adding more water if it evaporates before 5 minutes are up. Cook until the water is evaporated and they’re nicely browned on the pottom. Remove from pan and repeat until all gyoza are cooked.

To make the dipping sauce, whisk together all dipping sauce ingredients. Taste and adjust as needed.

Want to see what else was made for the Blogger’s Choice swap? You can see what all the participants cooked up below:
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Granola Cookie Bites

Happy Recipe Swap Day! The theme of this swap was Blogger’s Choice and I was introduced to Delicious Meliscious. Delicious is right! I was drooling looking through her pictures and couldn’t narrow down my choices at all so I bookmarked her blog for when I had more time to dive in.

And then the next day, we had a cookie emergency. I went to pull out a cookie to have with my lunch and realized we were all out. Oh no! (Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to!) I immediately thought of the granola bites Melissa made and called just as good as an oatmeal cookie. Since they’re no-bake, they would rectify the cookie emergency quickly.

I was really happy with how these came out. They’re the perfect little grab-and-go sweet and require minimal effort.


Granola Cookie Bites
(from Sally’s Baking Addiction, as seen on Delicious Melisicious)
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen

2 1/4 c. old fashioned oats
1/2 c. yellow cake mix
1/2 c. light corn syrup (or honey)
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix together oats, cake mix, corn syrup and vanilla until all of the oats are well coated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Refrigerate for two hours or until mixture is stiff and sticks together easily. Roll into balls.

Return to fridge until ready to serve.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Bread Pudding

It’s recipe swap day again! This time the theme is desserts and I got Carrie’s White Chocolate Bread Pudding to make. I didn’t plan to adapt this very much – I was just going to size it down for the two of us and lighten it up a little. And then I opened my pantry and saw the Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel bar from Godiva I’ve been saving for something special.

Salted caramel chocolate bread pudding? Sounded like a winner to me.

This was so good. A definite indulgence but so worth it.

If you don’t want to splurge on a Godiva bar, you could use 4 oz. of regular milk chocolate or white chocolate instead.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Bread Pudding
(adapted from via Carrie’s Sweet Life)
Serves 2

2 hard rolls
3/4 c. + 2 T. non-fat half and half, divided
1 large bar of Godiva Milk Chocolate Salted Caramel, divided
1/4 c. low-fat milk
2 T. sugar
1 egg
1/4 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 275F degrees.

In a double boiler, melt together half of the chocolate bar and 3/4 c. half and half. Pour into a separate bowl and wipe out the double boiler.

Also in the double boiler, whisk together the milk, sugar, egg and vanilla until just warm. Pour into chocolate mixture and stir to combine.

Add the bread to the bowl and toss to coat all of the pieces. Let sit for a few minutes so the bread absorbs all of the liquid, tossing again if necessary.

Place the soaked bread in a greased baking dish. Cover with foil.

Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

After you remove the foil, melt the remaining chocolate and half and half in the the double boiler. Drizzle over baked bread pudding. Serve warm.

Want to see what other bloggers made for the swap? Click here for a list:

Honey-Lime Chicken Enchiladas and Green Enchilada Sauce

For the latest Blogger’s Choice recipe swap, I was assigned Prevention RD. Her blog is awesome and it’s not just me that thinks so – Nicole recently announced that she’s writing a cookbook based on her blog. How cool is that!

The hardest part of this swap was settling on just one recipe. I decided on these because, as much as I love enchiladas, I’d never made them with a green sauce.  Nicole used canned enchilada sauce but mentioned in her post that next time she would try making it herself. My garden is currently over-flowing with tomatillos so I decided to make these a totally-from-scratch endeavor. The recipe I used for green enchilada sauce is below. You can see the recipe I used for the tortillas here.

These are probably my favorite enchiladas to date. The honey lime works so well and gives it a really light, summery feel. Hubby and I totally fought over the leftovers!

Honey-Lime Chicken Enchiladas
(from Prevention RD)
Serves 5 (2 enchiladas each)

5 T. honey
5 T. lime juice, from 2-3 limes
1 T. chili powder
1/2 T. cumin
1/2 t. garlic powder
12 oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
10 flour tortillas
1 1/2 c.  Colby/Monterrey Jack blend, shredded, divided
2 c. green enchilada sauce (recipe below)
1 c. fat-free half & half

In a medium bowl, whisk together honey, lime juice, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Add cooked, shredded chicken and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or several hours) to marinade.

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Add 1/2 c. green enchilada sauce to the bottom of a 9″x11″ baking dish and spread out to coat the whole bottom.

Stir half of the cheese into the marinated chicken. Divide chicken mixture between 12 tortillas. Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.

Whisk together half and half and remaining enchilada sauce. Pour evenly over the enchiladas.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Green Enchilada Sauce
(from Our Best Bites)
Makes about 3 cups

1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 large onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and membranes removed
3/4 lb. tomatillos, husked and quartered or halved
1/4 c. cilantro, coarsely chopped
3/4 t. Kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper
3/4 t. cumin
2 c. chicken broth

In a large saucepan, heat oil until shimmering and then add onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine tomatillos, green pepper, jalapeno and cilantro. Blend until smooth. (If it’s not blending well, add some of the chicken broth to help smooth things out.)

Add tomatillo mixture to cooked onions and stir in cumin, salt and pepper. Simmer for about 30 minutes, until sauce is reduced to about 3 cups.

BLT Hot Dogs

The latest recipe swap theme was “Too Hot to Cook”. We’re lucky enough to have central air, so it’s very rarely too hot for me to turn on the oven. More likely, when the warm weather hits in force, I’ll get lazy and not want to stand over the stove.

This meal is really perfect for days like that. I’ll admit I wasn’t really sure how well this would go over, but the fresh lettuce and tomatoes, something I wouldn’t normally put on a hotdog, really gave it a nice, fresh taste. As an added bonus, my husband fastly prefers his hot dogs microwaved so this meal took just about five minutes to put together, start to finish.

BLT Hot Dogs
(from Tastetastic Voyage)
Serves 1

1 Hot Dog
1-2 slices Bacon, cooked
1 Hot Dog Bun
1 t. Mayonnaise
1/4 c. shredded lettuce
2 T. chopped tomatoes

Cook hot dog as desired. (We microwave ours!)

While the hot dog is cooking, spread mayonnaise inside hot dog roll.  Pop in a 350 degree oven for 2-3 minutes, until outside of the bun is lightly toasted and mayonnaise is melty. (Optional, but this step totally makes it for me!)

Place shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes inside the toasted bun. Wrap the cooked hot dog with bacon and add to bun.

Homemade Manicotti

One thing I love about doing recipe swaps is that I often end up with recipes I wouldn’t have picked out on my own. I’ve had homemade pasta on my to-make list for a while, but I’ve been treating it as something of a pipe dream – something I’d get to on some lazy Saturday when we’re snowed in and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand.

Instead of getting the perfect storm, I got a recipe that involved homemade pasta for this round of the recipe swap – vegetarian recipes. I’ll fully admit I was nervous about this – not only was it way out of my comfort zone, it was something I’d have to pull off on a weeknight after work because of our schedule. Eeek!

All of my worrying was for naught, though – these were incredibly easy, even for a weeknight. It took a few tries to get the noodles the right thickness, but once I got the hang of it the process moved along quickly.

If you have “make homemade pasta” on your cooking bucket list, this is a great recipe to start with!

Homemade Manicotti
(from Simple Gormet Cooking with Dawn)
Serves 6-8

For the noodles:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. milk
3 eggs
Dash of kosher salt

For the filling:
1 1/2 lbs. ricotta cheese
1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus additional for topping)
1 egg
1 T. minced fresh parsley
2 c. spinach leaves (optional)
1 jar pasta sauce

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Whisk flour, milk, 3 eggs, and salt in a bowl until smooth.  Pour about 2-3 tablespoons into a hot greased frying pan and spread to a 5 inch circle or smaller.  Cook over medium heat until set-do not brown.  The top will be slightly doughy.  Repeat with remaining batter, making about 18 crepes.  Stack crepes between wax paper and set aside.

Pour half of the sauce into an ungreased baking dish and set aside.

Saute the spinach with a dash of salt in an ungreased saute pan until wilted, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

For the filling, combine the cheeses, egg, parsley, and spinach.  Spoon about 3-4 tablespoons into each crepe.  Roll or fold up and place the crepes over the sauce.  Pour remaining sauce over the top.

Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and serve.