Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Harissa Chickpeas with Potatoes & Greens (and a really awesome lemon tahini sauce)

I feel comfortable in the kitchen.  I feel confident in my ability to make a meal I will enjoy and one that my kiddies will probably enjoy a little less.;)  It's a place that feels safe to me and where I have a sense of being in control.

Almost two weeks ago, I was asked to serve as a Relief Society teacher in church.  Standing in front of a group of adults teaching a lesson or leading a discussion is as far away from my comfort zone as I can possibly imagine.  It makes me feel extremely uncomfortable.  To say that I'm terrified would be an understatement.  I've shed more tears in the last 10 days then in the last year of my life. 

I read there are many reasons why we prefer to stay within our comfort zone. "We may be afraid of failure, of making mistakes, of looking foolish; we may worry about what other people might think or say; we may not think we're good enough."

Um, yes to all of the above. 

Stepping out of my comfort zone is creating a boat load of discomfort.  I'm being pulled and stretched in ways that feel unnerving and beyond uncomfortable.  In accepting this calling, I'm opening myself up to making more mistakes that I can imagine, fumbling, and being vulnerable all in front of a group of people (yikes).  But, I know that stepping out of what feels comfortable to me can create a space in my life for growth.  President Nelson said, "Faith in Jesus Christ propels us to do things we otherwise wouldn't do."  I completely dislike all the growing pains that I'm feeling right now, but I'm choosing to have faith that in the strength of the Lord and through his grace (strength and enabling power), I can accomplish all things (even teaching Relief Society).  Without faith in him, I honestly don't think I could do this (it's that scary to me).  I know he is on my side and that gives me a sense of comfort and strength.  I know that all this pulling and stretching will help me become who he knows I can be and I'm willing to walk that path with him (hopefully to somewhere awesome).

Harissa Chickpeas with Potatoes & Greens (and a really awesome lemon tahini sauce)

Lemon Tahini Sauce

1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water (+ extra if necessary)
Zest of one lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove of garlic, finely minced or grated with a microplane
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium bowl or glass pint jar, whisk together the tahini, water, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Once seasoning and consistency are to your liking, set aside.


1 1/2 pounds baby yellow potatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon za'atar (I use this recipe)
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Cut the potatoes in half (or thirds if bigger) and transfer them to a large baking sheet.  Toss them with olive oil, za'atar, salt, and pepper.  Place potatoes in the oven and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden brown, flipping once at the halfway mark.

Harissa Chickpeas

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/8-1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes (I used fire-roasted)
1/4 cup water (+ extra if necessary)

In a deep skillet over medium heat, toast the cumin, coriander, and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a rough powder and set aside. (If you don't have a spice grinder, use the same amount of ground cumin, and coriander).

Place the skillet back on the heat and add oil to the skillet.  Add onion to the skillet and saute until translucent and soft, 3-4 minutes.  Add the garlic and ground spices and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the chickpeas to the skillet and stir to coat the chickpeas.  Add the crushed tomatoes and water to the chickpeas and stir to combine.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring the harissa chickpeas to a low boil, lower heat and let the chickpeas simmer for 15 minutes, adding more water if necessary.  You want the chickpeas to be saucy, not soupy.

To Serve

4 big handfuls of chopped greens (I used kale (don't forget to give your kale a quick massage) and spinach)
Olive oil
Fresh lemon juice
Extra za'atar

While chickpeas are simmering, toss the greens with the olive oil, lemon juice, a few pinches of za'atar, salt, and pepper.

To serve, divide greens, chickpeas, and potatoes among plates (I plated my greens and chickpeas side by side and nestled the potatoes in between).  Top with lemon tahini sauce and a couple pinches of za'atar.

Recipe slightly adapted from The First Mess

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cherry Almond Muesli

I am an early riser, a morning person, and a "I can get so much done when everyone in my house is still asleep" kind of person.  I don't love the beeping sound of my alarm that pulls me from a warm bed or the fact that I can see stars through our front window as I wonder downstairs blurry eyed, holding my toothbrush (with toothpaste on it) and my running shoes.  But, there is something in me (stronger than the alarm clock) that pulls me from my bed.  I love/crave what I'm able to accomplish early in the morning.  I love knowing that on Tuesdays my kiddies will make their way downstairs at 7 am and the only sign that I made cookies that morning will be the brown craft boxes sitting on the counter and the lingering smell of peanut butter cookies.  I love knowing that when we sit down for scriptures before school that my exercising is done for the day (the less time that I have to think about doing it, the better!).  I love being able to fix breakfast for my kids and I love packing their lunches.  Just kidding!  I really, really, don't like packing lunches, but I keep on doing it day after day.  Another reason I love getting up is to eat breakfast.  Sometimes when I'm lying in bed at night, I think about what I want to eat for breakfast the next morning.  I know, I'm kind of weird, but eating makes me happy and thinking about what I'm going to eat makes me happy too.  This Cherry Almond Breakfast Cereal (Muesli) from A Couple Cooks new cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking has been my go to breakfast since their cookbook showed up on my doorstep.  I get excited thinking about eating it!  I love that it's just crunchy enough, isn't overly sweet, and when I eat it with milk, it's like the best cereal ever!  I keep a bag of it in the freezer so when I eat it with milk, it's extra cold and I love it!  

Cherry Almond Muesli

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup whole almonds, roasted and salted
1 cup dried tart cherries
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup pepitas, roasted and salted
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.

On a baking sheet, spread out the oats evenly, then place the coconut in an even layer over the top of the oats.  Bake 7 to 11 minutes, watching closely.  The coconut can go from golden brown to burnt in seconds (I'm speaking from experience).  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

While the oats and coconut are toasting, chop the almonds and dried cherries.

In a small bowl, combine the maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and kosher salt.  Heat for 20 seconds in the microwave until just warmed through.

In a large bowl, combine the toasted oats and coconut, almonds and cherries, pepitas, and the maple-vanilla spice mixture, and stir to thoroughly combine.  Pour the mixture back onto the baking sheet and spread into an even layer.

Ok here's something kind of funny.  As I was reading the recipe over while I typed this, I realized that once you spread the mixture into an even layer, you are supposed to allow the muesli to dry for 10 minutes on the baking sheet.  Well, I thought that you were supposed to allow the muesli to dry for 10 minutes back in the oven.  I just called my sister Stephanie to ask if she put the muesli back in the oven when she made it and no, she did not put it back in the oven, she obviously read the directions better than me.  Well, we both loved it, so either way (drying in the oven or on the counter), it's going to be awesome and you're going to want to eat it every day for breakfast.

Serve cold from the freezer with really cold milk.  Soooo good!

Recipe slightly adapted from Pretty Simple Cooking

Friday, October 27, 2017

Honey Cardamom Caramel

The smell of this caramel cooking smelled familiar to me and the first taste reminded me exactly why.  This is one of the things I love about food (or in this case honey cardamom caramel).  I love how it can evoke memories and take you back to a place you haven't visited in awhile. 

Every Christmas, my Grandma Pinegar makes honey candy.  Honey, cream, and sugar cooked together, then pulled and pulled and pulled until it can be pulled no longer, then cut into bite size pieces.  Each piece is then wrapped in small squares of wax paper.  (I have yet to try making honey candy after a taffy pulling incident that happened at my 8 year old birthday party at the Lion House that left me unsure about my pulling abilities. Just ask my mom. Hahaha!)

Those little wax paper wrapped honey candies show up every year in our Christmas goodie bags and are always a special treat.  I remember being young and hiding mine in a special spot so no one would steal mine.  I remember rummaging through my bag filled with empty wax paper wrappers hoping to find just one more piece of honey candy hidden in the wrapper aftermath that filled my goodie bag.

Along with the memory of the candy came memories of family, chicken dumplings and broccoli salad, a nativity scene, a white stocking, and simple primary songs about the Savior's birth.  Memories of my Grandma wearing her long red dress with a green necklace, peppermint ice cream with hot fudge on top, and giant elf ears and Santa hats.

It's magical to me how something as simple as a honey caramel sauce can carry with it a goodie bag of memories filled with so much joy and love and of course...honey candy.

Honey Cardamom Caramel

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups honey
3/4-1 teaspoon kosher salt (start with 3/4 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

In a large saucepan combine the cream, honey, salt, and cardamom over medium heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.  Continue to cook caramel until it reaches 235-240°F.  Transfer caramel to a heat resistant container and let cool slightly (or to room temperature if not using right away).  Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.

We use this caramel for apple dipping.  I'm sure it would be delicious over ice cream, but we just love it so much with sliced honey crisp apples.  You could leave the cardamom out, but I've made this numerous times (always using the cardamom) and everyone loves it just the way it is.

Recipe and instructions (slightly adapted) from Food 52

Friday, September 15, 2017

Birthday Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches

We celebrated Todd's birthday this past Tuesday.  He doesn't get into celebrating his birthday the same way I like to celebrate mine.  I plan my birthday celebration a couple weeks before my actual birthday and Todd is the, zilch, nada.  We had burgers for dinner (a bacon blue cheese for the birthday boy) and then continued the celebration at the golf course.  Preston made me hit a few shots just so he could get a good laugh and Noah is certain that he only needs his 5 and 7 iron to play the game.  Stella was driving the cart with me riding shotgun and Todd riding on the back of the cart.  She took a really sharp turn that nearly tipped the cart on its side and left Stella swinging out the side of the cart hanging onto the steering wheel for dear life.  After we stopped and the cart was still in an upright position, I started laughing and couldn't stop.  I just kept seeing Stella in my mind swinging outside of the cart.  Poor Stella on the other hand was in tears.  We finished the night off brownie ice cream sandwiches, a lovely rendition of Happy Birthday, and an episode of Last Man Standing.  Happy Birthday Toddy boy!  We love you!!

Birthday Brownie Ice Cream Sandwiches


1 cup unsalted butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour


3 cups of ice cream (more or less depending on how thick you want the ice cream layer)

Preheat oven to 325°F.  Butter 2 8-inch square pans.  Line the bottom and sides of the baking pans with parchment paper with the parchment overhanging opposite sides a bit.  Lightly grease the parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate over low heat, stirring until full melted.  Remove pan from the heat.  Add the sugar and stir well.  Add the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder, whisk until blended.  Whisk in the salt and flour until batter is smooth.  Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and spread it evenly.  Give the pans a few quick bangs on the counter to release any air bubbles.  Place pans in oven and bake until a toothpick comes out clean.  This will take about 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.  Once cool, remove the brownies from pan and chill on wire rack in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.

Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with plastic wrap. Next, line the bottom (again) and the sides that aren't covered with another piece of plastic wrap.  You are essentially making a plastic wrap sling.  This will make it easier to wrap up the brownie and ice cream.

Place one of the cooled 8-in brownies, top side facing down, in the bottom of the plastic wrap lined pan.  Working quickly, cover with ice cream.  Use a spatula to smoosh down the ice cream and smooth it out on top.  Place the second 8-inch brownie top side up on the ice cream and press down a little (not too much or the ice cream will squish out).  Leaving the giant ice cream sandwich in the pan, wrap the ice cream sandwich up with the plastic wrap sling and place in freezer to freeze until firm, about 4 hours or overnight.

Remove ice cream sandwich from pan and place on cutting board.  Remove plastic wrap and cut into quarters.  Cut quarters into strips or squares.  Serve immediately.  (Oh and a little ganache and flaky salt never hurts!)

I have two favorite brownies and these are one of them.  I have yet to do a side by side taste test to determine if there is a clear winner.  I make these most often because they are so quick to make.

Brownie recipe slightly adapted (and doubled) from Delancey: A Man, a Women, a Restaurant, a Marriage

Saturday, September 9, 2017

My Beehive Pizza

I'd probably say that my two favorite foods are pizza and hamburgers.  (I kind of feel like a little kid when I say that. Haha!)  If I'm going out for pizza, my favorite place is Pizzeria 712.  Todd and I usually share the sausage pizza with roasted peppers, but right now they have a corn pizza with leek soubise, bacon, and ricotta that is definitely one of my seasonal favorites.  I also love their speck pizza and I always order a side of arugula to pile on top.  For a burger, hands down, Habit Grill.  It's cheap and it's the burger I always crave.  An added bonus is that Habit fries are always hot (the sweet potato ones are my favorite).  When you have the choice between ketchup or fry sauce for your fries, which one would you choose?  I like ketchup for regular fries and fry sauce for sweet potato. Picky, picky.

This summer we've eaten pizza a lot, A LOT.  Todd and I went to Pizza Nono in Salt Lake a few month back and ordered a pizza called the Beehive.  This pizza is my version of the Beehive.  It's topped with Calabrese, pickled jalapenos, and a drizzle of honey that makes it just about perfect.  Someday in my dream backyard, I will have a pizza oven, but until then, a pizza stone on my grill and a quick trip under the broiler before serving makes my pizza dreams come true.  (Oh and I've been using Alexandra Cooks peasant pizza dough recipe from her cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs.  The dough comes together in minutes and makes having pizza for dinner a cinch.)

My Beehive Pizza

Dough: (This recipe (I doubled it) is the best and comes from the cookbook Bread Toast Crumbs by Alexandra Stafford)

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 cup lukewarm water


Tomato sauce
Fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks
Pickled jalapenos
Finely grated Parmesan cheese

In large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast.  Add the water.  Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix until the liquid is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky ball.  If the dough seems dry, add water a teaspoon or two at a time (you want it to be sticky).  Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has nearly doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center.  Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the dough into a round ball.

Once the dough has risen, using two forks divide the dough into 3 equal portions.  Spread flour on a clean surface.  Using the forks lift (or just kind of scoop out) each portion of dough onto the floured surface.  With floured hands, shape each dough portion into a ball, using the pinkie-edges of your hands to pinch the dough underneath the ball. Let the dough balls rest for at least 20 minutes without touching.

Place a baking stone on a 4-burner gas grill right in the middle.  Turn the grill on and heat on high (all burners) for 20 minutes with the lid closed.  Once the grill has preheated for 20 minutes, turn the two middle burners to low.

While the grill is heating, place a piece of parchment paper on an upside down baking sheet (I use 3 baking sheets with a piece of parchment on each upside baking sheet, one baking sheet for each dough ball.)  With floured hands, gently stretch outward.  Then with the back of your hands, stretch the round more, using additional flour if needed.  Be careful to preserve the pockets of air trapped in the dough.  Place dough on parchment-lined baking sheet and stretch more if necessary (this is always necessary for me).  Repeat with the remaining dough balls.  (I like to trim some of the excess parchment around each pizza before I put it on the grill.)

Spread each pizza with a thin layer of sauce, calabrese, fresh mozzarella, pickled jalapenos, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky salt (if you want).  Slide the parchment paper with the pizza onto the grill.  The parchment paper makes it easy to get the pizza on and off the baking stone.  Bake until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown on the bottom. 

Ok, here's my trick (It's actually not really a trick, but I think it makes the pizza extra delicious by giving the air bubbles on the crust and the cheese some good char marks).  Before you start cooking your pizza, preheat your broiler.  Once the pizza is nearly finished on the grill (it's ok if the cheese hasn't reached it's full melty goodness potential, the broiler will take care of that) pull it back onto the upside down baking sheet and slide the parchment paper out from underneath the pizza (you don't want it to catch on fire under the broiler....not good).  Place pizza under the broiler and cook until the cheese is bubbly and the crust has some char marks.  Remove from oven and sprinkle pizza liberally with grated parmesan and a drizzle of honey over the entire pizza.  Slice and Serve.

I know this may seem a bit lengthy, but I promise once you do it a couple times, you'll be a pizza grilling pro.  You'll learn how your grill heats and whether or not you need to adjust the grill temperature.  Have fun with the toppings and remember that more toppings isn't necessarily better.  Go for simple!

Oh and here's the recipe for my favorite tomato sauce.  It takes just a few minutes to throw together and always makes more than I need so I freeze the extra in 1/2 cup portions in baggies.  This is awesome because it makes pizza night even easier.

Tomato Sauce

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Mix the crushed tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil together.  Add salt until the sauce goes from tasting blah to good (or as good as cold tomato sauce can taste...haha).

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pickled Jalapenos

Noah loves it when I make anything pickled.  He just loves the smell of vinegar.  Bahahaha!  He actually hates it and even the pickle lover in me doesn't love the smell of vinegar fumes wafting through our house.  I of course am willing to suffer through the smell because I love all things pickle-y.  Every summer I grow jalapenos in our garden just so I can pickle them.  So here's to a smelly house and lots of pickled jalapenos.

Pickled Jalapenos

15 jalapenos, stemmed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3-4 pieces orange zest cut from stem to end of orange. (If I can get a strip that long, it's a miracle.)
1 cup distilled vinegar
1 cup water
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt

Pack the jalapenos tightly in jar(s) adding pieces of the orange zest between the layers of the jalapenos.

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and kosher salt in a small saucepan. Drop in the garlic.  Heat over medium heat until sugar and salt have dissolved.  Pour the pickling liquid over jalapenos until covered.  Let cool to room temperature, then seal and refrigerate.

I like to use a little of the pickling liquid in salad dressings and will often add a splash when I make refried beans.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Chocolate Chip Scone Loaf

The summer before 6th grade, I moved into a new house.  I pretty much thought my parents were the worst for making me move and change schools.  To make matters worse, they were making move away from my best friend.  The best friend that I went with to the mall and classic skating.  The best friend that did the science fair with me every year and who was my siamese twin for Halloween.  The best friend who wore the other half of the best friend heart that dangled on a chain around my neck.  My parents, like any parents would, told me that I'd make new friends, but I wasn't convinced.

That same summer, before our big move, I went to 5th grade camp with the elementary school I had been attending and a few other schools.  A day into the camp, my best friend went home with a bad case of "homesickness".  I remember going back to my tent feeling sad and alone.  Little did I know that Heavenly Father was watching out for me and that soon I'd be introduced to a group of girls that would become my very best friends.

I remember standing in field with a big group of kids and a girl wondered over to me with a small group of girls standing a few feet behind her.  She asked me if I was the new girl moving into the purple house (yes, our new house was a purple-grey color) and then told me they'd bring me cookies when I moved in.

I'm not sure how out of all those kids, they knew it was me who was moving into their neighborhood, but I remember afterward feeling not so alone.

Those girls did bring me cookies when I moved in and they became my very best friends.... really the best friends anyone could ask for.  We've been through a lot together...A LOT (pretty much everything imaginable) and to this day I love them with all of my heart.

A few weeks ago, one of these best friends was visiting from Florida (the one that told me they'd bring me cookies).  As soon as I found out she was coming, a group text was sent out to all our Utah friends to plan on a girl's brunch at my house while she was here.

We sat around my kitchen table for 4 hours eating, talking, laughing, crying, and eating and laughing some more.  The time apart from each other may be months and in some cases years, but when we get together it's like we were never apart.  After everyone left, I sat in my kitchen with piles of dirty dishes, platters with crumbs of chocolate chip scone loaf and brown butter blueberry muffins, and a heart filled with so much love and gratitude for these amazing women in my life.

Chocolate Chip Scone Loaf

7-8 ounces marzipan, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons sugar + 2 teaspoons
3/4 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Homemade ricotta and vanilla bean honey, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Line a 8 x 4-inch loaf pan with parchment paper, allowing the parchment to hang over the edges on the long sides of the pan.

In a large bowl, toss together the marzipan and powdered sugar to coat. Add the chocolate chips and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar and pulse to combine.  Add the butter cubes and pulse until the butter is the size of peas.  Add this to the bowl with the marzipan and chocolate chips.

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, and extracts and add to dry ingredients.  Using a spatula or wooden spoon, stir until just combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf and spread it out evenly.  Sprinkle top with 2 teaspoons sugar (I used raw sugar) and bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Using the overhanging parchment, remove scone loaf to the rack to cool completely.  Slice with a serrated knife and serve with ricotta and honey.

I've made this without the marzipan and it was still incredibly delicious!

Recipe slightly adapted from Molly on the Range