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Happy Friday, friends! How have you been lately? This week just flew by, and we’re gearing up to have the warmest weekend in what feels like years. I can promise you I’ll be spending my fair share of time outside.

I think it’s time for another round-up of recipes I’ve worked on lately from around the web, don’t you think? Here are a few of my favorites:

Chia Seed Pudding with Raspberry Compote from Tasteseekers Kitchen (pictured above)

White Russian Cereal Cocktail Bars from Tasteseekers Kitchen

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Roll French Toast from Pillsbury.com

Double-Stacked Cinnamon Roll Cake from Pillsbury.com

Bunny Monkey Bread from Pillsbury.com

Ham and Cheese Sliders from Pillsbury.com

Have a great weekend! I’ll be back Monday with a recipe you don’t want to miss!

Madison

 

Summer Chopped Salad | Espresso and Cream 3
Lately Joe and I have been eating warm-weather foods despite our unseasonably cold temperatures. It’s our way of willing summer to come sooner rather than later, and busting out of the monotony of cold weather eating. A few weeks ago we just decided to heck with it, let’s bust out the grill and the salads and the smoothies and just start eating the way we do during the summer. Not only does it taste refreshing, but I seem to have forgotten just how easy it is to cook dinner when the grill is involved.

I’ve mentioned it before, but the most wildly popular recipe on Espresso and Cream is my Autumn Chopped Salad. I guess you could call this salad a follow-up to that recipe with a fresh summer twist. It’s not a diet salad by any means, it’s just plain old delicious. I tend to pride myself on being able to turn people who hate salad into people who love salad with recipes like this.

SummerChoppedSalad | Espresso and Cream

Crisp lettuce pairs perfectly with salty bacon and super sharp cheddar cheese, creamy avocados and juicy cherry tomatoes. Even if the weather never gets any warmer (and I have my doubts) I’ll have this salad to remind me of what summer feels like.

Summer Chopped Salad | Espresso and Cream 2

BLT Summer Chopped Salad
 
This is an adaptation of one of the most popular recipes on the site, my Autumn Chopped Salad. If you’re looking for a fresh, summer salad that works as a side dish or entree, this is your answer. It’s easy to pull together and packed with flavor. I guarantee it can make even the biggest salad-hater into a salad-lover.
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2 to 3 entree, 4 to 6 side

Ingredients
  • 6 to 7 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 6 strips bacon, crisp-cooked and crumbled
  • 1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 2 oz extra sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
  • ⅓ cup poppy seed dressing
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinaigrette

Directions
  1. In large bowl, combine the lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, avocado and cheddar cheese.
  2. In small bowl, stir together the poppy seed dressing and balsamic vinaigrette and drizzle over salad. Toss to coat. Serve immediately.

 

Birthday_Cake_Oats_1

As much as I love variety and change in some aspects of my life, like my work and my workouts, I really crave routine in some aspects of life. Take, for example, breakfast. I eat oatmeal or oat bran for breakfast every single morning. To me, it’s the perfect morning meal. But at the same time, I get bored with the same old oatmeal every morning. It’s good to mix things up every now and again.

I mentioned a month ago that I bought a box of Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip cake mix. I realize it’s totally not very “foodie” to admit this, but I’ve been finding a lot of ways to put that box of cake mix to use in everyday life. Probably not the healthiest or most important skill, but considering that the box has lasted over a month, I don’t think I’m doing too much damage in the health department.

One of my new favorite treats is to stir a little bit of dry cake mix into my morning bow of oatmeal. Something about doing so feels completely indulgent, without being overly sweet or putting me into a sugar coma. If you’re looking for a way to make your morning a little more fun, I would highly suggest giving this a try!

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Birthday Cake Oatmeal
 
Prep time

Total time

 

I make this oatmeal when I’m craving something a little more like dessert without totally indulging in a breakfast pastry or something similar. I keep a box of Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip cake mix around in case the craving strikes.
Recipe type: Breakfast
Serves: 1

Ingredients
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup milk (I like 2% but you can use whatever milk you prefer)
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 packets stevia or 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip cake mix
  • Peanut butter, if desired

Directions
  1. In small saucepan over medium heat, combine the oats and water. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until much of the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Add milk, vanilla, stevia and salt to oats and stir until well combined; stir in the cake mix and cook 1 to 2 minutes more or until oats are your desired thickness. Top with peanut butter, if desired.

 

photo (8)
Hello, hello! I took a little blogging break, did you notice? It wasn’t really a planned blogging break, but it seems that life turned into a perfect storm of events, getting sick, being incredibly busy at work, and feeling a little creatively burnt out, mandating a break from structure and the constant push to churn out great recipes and content week after week.

One of the questions I get most frequently is where I find the time to maintain a blog while also having a full-time job as a food editor and a thousand other things on my plate. Most of the time it feels effortless because I’m bursting with ideas I want to share beyond the scope of the recipes I develop at work. But sometimes it’s quite the opposite.

Sometimes all the great ideas I have floating around in my head end up getting poured into what I’m working on at work and I’m left out of ideas and inspiration for a time. Perhaps it also has something to do with March gloom, when winter seems like it will never end and we’ll be stuck eating root veggies forever. Are you with me, friends?

photo (9)

I always find that taking a little trip and trying some new foods refreshes my creativity. My work trip to Chicago couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m spending a long weekend with my co-workers in Chicago at the yearly International Association of Culinary Professionals meeting (IACP) and we’ve being eating our way through the city. We are half way through our trip so I thought I would do a little recap of where we’ve been and eaten thus far.

1. Chicago French Market 
The minute after we landed and dropped our bags off at the hotel we headed to Chicago French Market for lunch. It’s a great indoor market that has a bunch of food stalls where you can order a quick bite to eat. There’s also a small seating area to eat after you get your food. It was a fun place to go with a group because we were each able to order what sounded good to us and try a bunch of different foods.

2. Phoenix Restaurant, Chinatown 
My co-worker, Mary, lived in Chicago for five years so she led the charge on where we should eat on our trip. I’m certain I would never have ventured to Phoenix in Chinatown without Mary’s guidance. There’s certainly nothing impressive about the building or atmosphere, but the food was great! My favorite was the Moo-Shoo Vegetable, my standard order at any Chinese restaurant.

3. Eataly Chicago 
I’ve been to Eataly in NYC a number of times but the Eataly in Chicago is certainly worth a visit, too. It’s a huge, two-story building filled with everything Italian you could hope for. It also left me with a strong desire to return to Italy. Did I mention they have a Nutella bar?

4. Hot Chocolate
We didn’t actually go to Hot Chocolate, which I’ve heard is wonderful, but we did have the pleasure of taking an afternoon class about savory sweets with the chef of Hot Chocolate, Mindy Segal. She made us an apple pie with a smoked bacon fat crust and a chocolate cake that dreams are made of. If this is any indication of how good her restaurant is, I would highly recommend going. An added bonus: Mindy sent us home with a recipe for the chocolate cake. You better believe I’ll be re-creating it soon!

photo (7)

5. Lyfe Kitchen 
Lyfe Kitchen has five locations around the country but this is their only location in the Midwest. I loved the health-forward, casual approach to their menu, and it totally catered to all types of eaters including vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free eaters as well as meat-eaters. Plus, the entire menu lists calorie counts so you know what you’re putting into your body, and everything is under 600 calories max!

photo (10)

 

YogurtCoffeeCake_1The weekend is almost upon us! For some reason, Friday’s arrival just sort of ambushed me and I am having a hard time believing that it’s Friday. I guess that’s a good problem to have, much better than the week dragging by. We don’t have a whole lot on the calendar this weekend, which I’m totally excited about. A few dinners with friends and family, a couple of lazy mornings, and enjoying the warmer weather with the pups. Sounds pretty perfect to me!

At work I’ve been creating some really fun yogurt cake recipes. And while I can’t share the amazing recipes just yet, I did play around in my own kitchen with a completely different yogurt cake that’s delicious in its own right. My dedicated taste tester, Joe, was a big fan of this cake. Serve it as a coffee cake in the morning or as a dessert with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream. It’s not overly sweet, which both Joe and I loved. But I think the best part is how easy it is to make.

I hope that wherever you are the weather is getting warmer (and yes, 30 degrees totally counts as warm!) and you take some time to relax with loved ones. See you Monday!

YogurtCoffeeCake_2

Yogurt Streusel Coffee Cake
 
I love how easy this recipe is! You use the actual yogurt container to measure out all the sugar, oil and flour, meaning you don’t need to dirty measuring cups and you can throw the yogurt container away when you’re done. This coffee cake is easily my new go-to for easy, effortless entertaining. Perfect for breakfast, brunch of dessert.
Recipe type: Brunch/Dessert
Serves: 16 slices (2 cakes)

Ingredients
  • 2 containers (5.3 to 6 oz) Greek yogurt (I used a flavored raspberry Greek yogurt)
  • 2 containers sugar
  • 1 container oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 containers all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Streusel
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup old fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • Icing
  • 1 container powdered sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons milk

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, sugar and oil. Stir until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined. Beat in the vanilla.
  3. In medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, beating with a whisk or electric mixer until smooth, about 30 seconds.
  4. Pour batter into cake pans.
  5. In small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, oats and flour. Work the butter in with your fingers until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle streusel mixture on top of cakes.
  6. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost completely clean (a couple crumbs may remain because it’s a slightly moister cake.)
  7. Cool cake in pan 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of cake. Turn cake out of pans and cool on wire cooling racks.
  8. Whisk together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Drizzle over warm cakes. Serve cakes warm or cool.

 

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