Blissfully Delicious

q browniesEvery Friday afternoon, I always wish that I can shut off the rest of the world, and just bake all weekends. No worries about errands, chores, or the ever-laundry baskets that seems to refill itself. Weekends are my best friends; when I get to pretend that I don’t have anywhere else to be other than home. I get to pretend that I’m living a simpler life, no meetings or emails to respond to – and I get to cook and bake what I want, and not have to worry about what menu that I should be cooking to for dinner, lunches to pack, ingredients that may go bad in the frig if I don’t use them up quickly. Yeah, those lemons hiding on the bottom of the produce drawer – I need to find something to use them up so they don’t go bad.
q brownies 2
Weekends are ideally spent baking that special loaf of bread for breakfast, or a new dessert recipe, maybe even layered cakes that I can just spend hours frosting and decorating. But since no layered cakes were baked this year (not even for birthdays), I thought to myself that I would make brownies instead. It’s relatively simple to prepare, and if I’m lucky enough that I get to try a new recipe like this brownie –then it’s like hitting a jackpot of insanely good, fudgy chocolate brownies. I mean, it’s a big deal – to have a reliable recipe that you can count on to deliver “Oh-wow, awesome brownie!” type of raves. After eating this brownie, I knew that I’m now a “fudgy” brownies camp versus the “cakey” camp. And this one, literally hit all of the requirement of what I would call an ideal brownie: very chocolaty, fudgy, full with walnuts, and with an extra special layer of white chocolate. Try it and I wish you a wonderful weekend free of chores and “to-do’s”! :)

phily cheesesteaks 2 I hope you guys had an awesome weekend and are ready for the week. I had a pretty good weekend, completely unstructured and got an opportunity to wind down. Well unstructured for my definition anyways :) We had the big rivals football game this past Saturday (between U of Iowa and the Iowa State), and I took advantage of the facts that most people were probably watching football by hitting the malls :) I was right though, the malls were pretty quiet, and I was successful in avoiding the crowds.  I got to pick up a few new work slacks for me and stocked up on clearanced summer clothes for the kids next year. It was really a win-win for us.
phily cheesesteaksOne of the things that I was able to try making this weekend is these yummy hot sandwiches. Cold weather always makes me think of hot sandwiches and homemade soups; and they’re so wonderful for quick suppers or weekend lunches, when I don’t have a lot of time to cook. I have been wanting to make these for about three years now, and of course, as soon as I made them, I regretted waiting this long to make them. They were so easy, delicious, and pretty quick to prepare. My hubby pointed out that he can easily eat two of these, so while this recipe states that it makes four sandwiches, it may only serve two :) In the future, I may add adding some green peppers and mushrooms so that I’d end up with five sandwiches, and it’s also a great way to incorporate more veggies into our meals.

wilted spinach
I have known my hubby for a little over eight years, and have been married for over six years. Yet, we just came to a realization recently that neither one of us is a huge fan of salads. You know, a little bowl of shredded lettuces with two slices of tomatoes and a drizzle of dressing next to my dinner plate. If I were to eat a salad, I would want it to be pretty fancy. You know: a big bowl of gorgeous butter lettuces, or spring mix, with lots of fancy trimmings (a handful of toasted walnuts or pecans, crumbles of fancy cheese, maybe dried fruit?), and definitely with a grilled chicken or salmon. Preparing them at home is another story – I feel like I can never get all of the ingredients used up in timely manner. So I tend to just not include salads. What I started doing then is finding way to prepare quick vegetable dish that we all can enjoy at home.
wilted spinach 2
This spinach dish is so simple, quick to prepare, and healthy. It takes probably five minutes or so to cook the spinach leaves down, or ten if you include the prep, but it really can’t get any simpler than this. This is the kind of dish that I’d happily gobble up on its own with a side of rice, had I been living alone without my husband and kids. As expected, my daughter refused to touch it. But the three of us gobbled this up in no time. We used a full recipe, and there was plenty for at least 4-6 servings. I didn’t really care for it once it was reheated, so next time I’d probably just make enough for one meal. If you haven’t tried this – I definitely recommend you trying it. This will give you an added option for your dinner menu.

beef taco bowlAs much as we love Mexican food at our house, whether it’s tacos, enchilada (vegetable or beef), or nachos, I just don’t cook them enough at home. I think a part of me is still a little gun-shy about making a good authentic Mexican food at home;  or should I say, not have a confidence to make them on my own. I feel like I just don’t know enough about the ingredients; or the spice mixture – and I end up just choosing something else for the menu.  The ones that I have made, like these enchiladas (vegetable or beef), have been pretty fantastic though, so I’m always trying to find something new that I can incorporate into the menu. In college, I used to just buy a couple packets of pre-made taco seasoning (yep, everyone has to start somewhere!), and call it good.
beef taco bowl 2This taco filling, however, changed my outlook on that. I decided to just give it a go; all using ingredients readily available in my pantry. I started making them at home as filling to homemade tacos! We even got fancy and fried our own homemade taco shells (which yes, needs to be blogged yet) using store-bought corn tortillas. This goes to our dinner rotation quite frequently, and we serve it to guests as well who love the authentic flavors of the filling. I mean, tacos are all about filling right? But my favorite way to serve it is even simpler: on top of yellow tortilla chips, shredded lettuces, cut tomatoes, shredded cheese and avocados. It saves so much time from standing over a stove and frying the shell one by one. I normally use a 6-quart slow cooker for this recipe, and it fills about halfway through the bowl. The filling also freezes wonderfully, so you can definitely make extra to stash in the freezer for a time saver. Enjoy!

rasp chiffon pie 2

Let me tell you, I haven’t been giving raspberries any love at all this summer. I have been talking and praising strawberries and blueberries left and right – but no raspberries. I have been day-dreaming about peaches; but with constant news on peach recalls this summer, I’ve been pretty gun-shy about buying peaches. I just don’t want to take a chance of buying peaches that I have to end up throwing away or taking back to the store. This pie though is such a perfect pie to highlight the gorgeous summer raspberries. It is creamy and light, full of that beautiful raspberry flavors with that delicious pie dough that instantly gives everyone a sense of comfort in every bite. And, every single slice is dreamy, I really couldn’t find a more perfect summer dessert.

rasp chiffon pie

The beautiful layers are extras, since it makes you look like you fuss all night to prepare it, and it looks like the type of desserts served at summer birthday parties, showers, or other celebrations. This pie and its layers remind of a dessert that I used to enjoy when I was growing up: it has a fruit layer, chiffon layer, and finally a willowy whipped cream. As a kid, it was so fun just taking my fork through each layer of the dessert to find different textures, flavors, and colors. So if you have any more summer gathering left, give this pie a try. Or save it until next spring, and treat your family to this beautiful pie.