Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Apr 18 Wednesday

Spiced Beef with Sweet(ie) Po-tay-toes

There aren’t many recipes that my favorite (and only) sister can claim to have taught me. Growing up, her specialties were 2 lb microwave brownies and a concoction of carrots, tofu and Italian dressing in a food processor. Yes, she is older. Two crows feet older to be exact. I still want to be her when I grow up. She snagged the good looks and big boobs out of the gene pool. I got the culinary skills and hammer toes.

Clearly I got robbed.

Yet this meal I owe all to her. She introduced this gem to SuperHub and I on a trip to Texas a few years ago. She had discovered it in an issue of  Real Simple and was eager to share.

Ladies and the sparse gentleman who happened to read this far, I present to you, the tastiest meal on the planet.

Bonus: It’s EASY.

To be honest, when she first described this slow cooker dish, it didn’t put a giddy in my hitch. Yet, when I walked into her house and smelled the spicy aroma that hung heavy on the air, I was sold.

This is the sort of dish that you make for people you want to impress. Or just because it’s Tuesday and you have everything on hand and it sounds good.

Not only is it beautiful, it’s a perfect medley of flavors that compliment one another and surprise you with each bite.

Go on, make it. You can thank my sister too.

What you need:

2 or 3 Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Red onion, chopped
1 – 28 oz Can of tomatoes (diced, chopped or whole…You choose!) with juice
1.5 – 2 lbs. Lean sirloin or roast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 Cup dried apricots, halved
2 teaspoons Ground Ginger
2 teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Pinch of salt

1 – 15 oz. Can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 (or more!) Handfuls of fresh spinach

1 or 2 boxes of Near East Roasted Garlic & Olive Oil Couscous

Combine the sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beef, onion, apricots and spices well. Pour into a slow cooker and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4 hours. One hour before serving, add the spinach and chick peas. Prepare the couscous according to the packaged directions and serve as a base to the dish.

Survey says!

Me: “Love love love. I don’t normally enjoy the food I make this much after preparing it but WOW. This is one of my favorite foods.”

SuperHub: “It’s good. I could do without the sweet potatoes.”

 Kids: “Can I have another yogurt?”

Friend: “This is the best Katy Brown dish I’ve EVER had. It’s WONDERFUL. I need just one more bowl. Just in case. Just to test it to make sure it really is that good.”


Add This 2 Comments Post by Katy
Feb 28 Tuesday

Thin Minty Cupcakes

Sometimes it’s acceptable to have a cupcake for breakfast. And then lunch too.

No judging people.

Related: I have a tiny little Daisy Scout shacking up under my roof. She is cute, bubbly and selling cases of cookies. Including Thin Mints.

Also related: Things around my house have been a wee bit hectic since the start of the new year. Cleary. I have been asbent. My apologies. I’ve missed you all.

As my bestie would tell you, it’s clear that life is returning to a healthy balance around these parts. I am cooking and baking again. That is what I do when life is normal(ish). I feed the world.

And today I am feeding the world (and myself) Thin Minty Cupcakes.

These little bundles of wonderfulness came to be because A) I have too many Thin Mint cookies within a 6 foot vicinity of my kitchen B) I am hormonal and C) Someone special deserved cupcakes today.

After researching chocolate mint cupcake recipes for longer than I care to publicly admit, I settled on three different components. The batter recipe is basic enough that I had everything in my pantry. A Thin Mint truffle center and a Dark Cocoa Mint Buttercream. Dooood. Done.

Finger lickin’ DONE.

You will need: 

A Girl Scout to sell you cookies

1 1/2 Cup Flour
3/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
1 1/2 Cups White Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Eggs, room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk (I added 1 T white vinegar to 3/4 Cup milk, let stand for 5 minutes)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter
3/4 cup warm water
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Thin Mint cookies for the bottoms of the cupcakes and to garnish

Thin Mint Truffles
25 Thin Mint cookies, crushed (I used a Ziploc bag and a rolling pin)
1 package 1/3 Less Fat Cream Cheese, softened

Dark Chocolate Mint Buttercream
1 Cup Butter, room temperature
1/2 Cup Crisco
Dark Cocoa Powder, to taste
Vanilla, to taste
Powder Sugar
Evaporated milk, 1-4 Tablespoons until desired consistency is reached
Mint extract, to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 Degrees.

Place your cupcake tins into your pans and put one Thin Mint cookie into each tin. Eat two cookies for good measure.

Mix softened cream cheese and crushed Thin Mints in a small bowl, using a hand mixer. Roll into 1/2 balls. Resist the urge to eat the balls. Place on a plate and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mix your dry ingredients, whisk well and set aside. Add the eggs, buttermilk, oil, water and mint extract. Beat, on low speed, for 1-2 minutes until batter is no longer lumpy.

Pour a bit of batter over each cookie, then place a cream cheese truffle in the center of each tin. Continue pouring batter over the truffle until the tins are 2/3 full.

Bake for 20-22 minutes until the top of your cupcakes spring back when touched.

Remove from the cupcake pan immediately and allow to completely cool.

To make the frosting: Mix the softened butter and Crisco with a mixer until well blended. Slowly add the dark cocoa, powdered sugar and evaporated milk, alternating until you reach the desired constancy. Add the mint extract and a hint of vanilla. Beat one more time to combine well.

Spoon the frosting into a pastry bag or Ziploc bag and snip the corner.  Frost each cupcake and then top with a piece of Thin Mint cookie to garnish.

Dive head first into the cupcake.

Survey says:

Me: Nom nom nom. Milk please. Gulp. Ahhhhhhhhh. The crunch mint base is the perfect finish. And oh the creamy center with a hint of crunch. 

SuperHub: Wow. That’s good. And I am not a huge mint fan. But that was good. Can I have another?

Sam: I don’t like the frosting. Can you scrape it off? I like this Mommy!

Add This 1 Comment Post by Katy
Jan 11 Wednesday

Brown Sugar Chicken (Dew This!)

Happy new year!

The start of the new year is like a blank notebook, a fresh workout routine or a stiff pair of black yoga pants. Anything is possible.

And then comes February. And Girl Scout Cookies.

Unrelated: By far, my most popular recipe has been Brown Sugar Chicken.

It’s super easy, crazy tasty and kids will actually eat dinner when it is served. Without complaints. Seriously.

While in a pinch, I happened on an improvement that has made this delectable dish, even more delicious. Yes, it is possible. I will bet you my 6th pair of black yoga pants that you will agree.

Instead of using Sprite or 7-up in the recipe, I used Mountain Dew. Once I used diet. Once I used throwback. (And I don’t even like Mountain Dew.)


Dew it.

You won’t regret it. That box of Thin Mints on the other hand…


Add This 7 Comments Post by Katy
Oct 27 Thursday

Opa! Hummus Plate

My neighbor can parent three children, file court documents, pour a fantastic margarita, bake bran muffins, design and create a Halloween costume from scratch, simultaneously with one arm behind her back.

Oh and she makes the most amazing little plate of goodness I’ve ever had the pleasure of dipping a pita chip into.

Bonus: It’s pretty. It’s (almost) too pretty to eat. Almost.

MK spreads hummus on a plate, tops with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions (optional), feta and kalamata olives. She serves it with pita chips and let me tell you, it’s goooooooood. I recently spent the better part of an hour hunched over the plate, nibbling and raving about how amazing it was. I won’t tell you that when I ran out of pita chips, I ate it with my fingers. Because that would be disgusting.

It would be great served as a light lunch, appetizer or to impress your friends with a bottle of wine.

And it’s so easy, I bet you could make it with one hand behind your back too.

Add This 4 Comments Post by Katy
Sep 15 Thursday

Green Tomat-OH! Muffins

Tomato, toe-mah-toe, muffin, muff-ah-toe.

Fall is rearing it’s beautiful orange head around these parts which means two things: It’s time to light my FAVORITE apple scented candles and I regularly attempt to warm the house up, on frosty mornings, by making fresh bakery. And ooooooh those frosty mornings have arrived.

Last evening, upon hearing warnings of hard frost, the kids and I ventured out into our tomato garden to pluck every last piece of fruit that summer had forgotten. All told, we have about 30 lbs of beautiful green tomatoes just waiting to fulfill their little destinies. (Note: Over attachment issues recognized.)

Bound and determined to use these buggers, I got busy researching recipes to put the fruit to good use.

For today, I settled on muffins. Tonight for dinner, I am going to serve sauteed green tomatoes and onions alongside a slow cooker breakfast casserole that is currently cooking itself.

Back to the muffins…

I made two batches. And thank goodness I did. The first batch was made sans baking soda and anyone who knows a good muffin, knows you need baking soda. They smelled good, but nothing quite like the second batch.

I used chopped green tomatoes & dried cranberries in one batch, pureed green tomatoes in the other. I loved them both. The larger chunks of tomatoes threw off my munchkin taste tester, so we went ahead and called them Dr. Seuss muffins.

She ate three.

The flavor is reminiscent of a spice cake, with a slight sweet, slight bitter finish. They are wonderful alongside coffee.

I am anxious to try this recipe in mini loaves.

Then it’s time to whip up some green tomato pickles and fried green tomatoes. Food tastes better when it’s grown with love. And when you know it’s fulfulling it’s little food destiny.

You will need:

3 Cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Cup white sugar
1 Cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 Eggs
1/2 Cup vegetable oil
1/2 Cup applesauce
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 Cups chopped, or pureed, green tomatoes
Dried cranberries, optional but highly recommend!
Raw sugar, for dusting on top before baking

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin cups into muffin pans.

Chop or puree your green tomatoes. If you are pureeing them, be sure to drain the excess liquid through a strainer.

Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk well to combine. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl and then slowly add to dry mixture. Use a hand mixer, on low, until the batter comes together. The batter is very thick. Add the cranberries and stir well.

Scoop batter into muffin tins, filling each 2/3 the way full. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Place in your preheated oven and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center of a muffin clean.

Remove from muffin pans and allow to cool completely on cooling racks.


Tomato, toe-mah-toe, I could eat these ah-lot-oh!

Add This No Comment Post by Katy
Sep 06 Tuesday

World’s Finest Brownies

Every year, my kids sell World’s Finest Chocolate to raise money for their school. We love our school. And we love chocolate. These two things pair well together in this instance.

Earlier this year, I heard a rumor about the caramel filled candy bars being used in brownies. IN BROWNIES. So it should not surprise you in the slightest that as soon as we tore open our chocolate cases, I snagged three caramel bars and sprinted to the kitchen. Or the bathroom and locked the door for a quiet snack, but I digress.

Note to You: I have had some ridiculously amazing brownies in my life. All of which, have been made by other people. This pan of ooey gooey caramely goodness is a strong contender for the best pan of cellulite-inducing calories ever. Forever and ever, amen.

You will need:

2 Brownie mixes (oil, eggs and water as directed on package)
3 World’s Finest Chocolate caramel filled candy bars (or Caramello chocolate bars)
1 Cup Self Restraint – My local grocer was all out so when I accidentally fell face first in the pan, I had to eat my way out. This ingredient is optional.

Mix one brownie mix, as directed on package, and pour into a well greased 9 x 13 pan. Break the caramel candy bar into pieces and strategically place on top of the brownie batter. Mix another entire brownie mix, as directed on the package. Gently pour the second batter batch over the first. Spread to cover chocolate pieces and pop into a 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. Cool completely before slicing. This is nearly impossible.

The thing about these itty bits of goodness, is that all guilt is erased by the fact that you’re doing a good deed by supporting your local schools. You’re doing something GOOD for others by making these brownies. And eating them.

Add This 14 Comments Post by Katy
Jul 05 Tuesday

Shrimp + Watermelon Salad

There are few things I love more than a cool, crispy, flavor-filled summer salad. Consumed in the warm sunshine, along side the aroma of sunscreen, freshly mowed lawns and served with an icy cold (adults only) beverage, summer salads are like eating happiness, one bite at a time.

Thankfully, one reader of mine thinks the same way. Kirsten is the mother of three (adorable) boys and knows how to mix up a mean bowl of summer love. I am forever grateful that she thought to pass this recipe along and look forward to rewarding her with a batch of cookies.

Or a margarita.

Or both.

Before you read the recipe ingredients, open your mind. OPEN YO’ MIND!

Like anything worth celebrating, it’s the finished product that is important, the way everything comes together in the end. Separately, each ingredient is good. Mixed together, just so, the ingredients become one giant party. In a bowl.

And who doesn’t love a good party? (In your mouth. HEY OH.)

Shrimp & Watermelon Salad

1 lb. Shrimp (Peeled, de-veined, cooked and cooled. I bought a bag of frozen cooked shrimp, defrosted and snipped off the tails)
4 Cups watermelon
1 Medium red onion
1/2 Cup Fresh cilantro
2 Jalapenos
2 Avocados
Juice of 2 limes
1 Tablespoon Honey
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

Chop and de-seed the jalapenos. Add to a large bowl. Do not touch your eyeball. Even after you’ve washed your hands. OUCH. Now, cut up the watermelon, onion, cilantro, and avocados and add to the bowl, stirring well to mix.  I used a melon baller and made my melon into little balls. It was fun and pretty, but chopping it, any style, would be great.

In separate bowl, whisk honey, lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Pour the dressing mixture over the chopped mixtures and toss gently.  Set aside for 10 minutes for flavors to meld.  Serve cold or at room temperature.

Note to You: I added the juice of an additional lime to keep the avocados green longer. If you only have one lime, that would do just fine. Also, I served it with sliced homemade bread. Instead of licking the empty bowl, I sopped up all the juices. Purrrr.

And the Survey says…

The kids wouldn’t touch it, but I was happy. MORE FOR ME.

SuperHub: “Oh wow! It’s not as bad as I thought it would be. I don’t like meat and fruit mixed. It’s got a good flavor though.”

Me: Noshing noises, followed by a giddy, delighted moan as I head back for more. And then back for more.

My mom: “Very, very, very good.”

Add This 6 Comments Post by Katy
Jun 13 Monday

Adults Only Cupcakes

Cops throw the best parties. And rather enjoy my bakery.

It’s true.

And if you’re lucky to have cop friends, you not only get to make your neighbors suspicious on various occasions when a squad car pulls into your driveway, you get to enjoy things like great stories about handcuffs while noshing on molten nacho cheese straight out of a bag.

Every year our friends (one of whom is a cop) throw a party to celebrate the acquisition of their Nacho Machine.

“This marvel of slightly aged engineering flawlessly maintains up to 18.8 lbs of synthetic nacho cheese at the delicious temperature of 137-142 degrees.”

And it’s beautiful.

Related: I am completely obsessed with Skinny Girl margaritas. Tis the season! I mean seriously. It’s summer vacation, no school, mama is here alone with three kids ALL day long. At the end of an emotionally (and physically) exhausting day, sometimes I just want a drink sans the effort. Enter Skinny Girl.

While putzing around my kitchen before the party, I decided to whip up a batch of margarita cupcakes. While I used Skinny Girl margarita, this recipe isn’t for the faint of heart. Or maintaining thin thighs. There is nothing skinny about these cupcakes. As with all good food (and drinks), it’s about moderation people. Do what I do, SHARE!

While I made this cake recipe from scratch, it was only out of necessity. I didn’t have a white cake mix on hand. In my humble opinion, boxed cake mixes work JUST fine. If you want to be fancy, do it this way. If you are a believer in Betty Crocker, like me, just substitute the liquid in the cake recipe with Skinny Girl margarita or any other pre-mixed margarita mix.

Margarita Cupcakes

You will need:

½ Cup unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
1 Cup sugar
2 Eggs, room temperature
Zest and juice of 1 lime
4 Tablespoons Skinny Girl
½ Cup buttermilk (I used 1/2 Tablespoon vinegar poured into 1/2 Cup skim milk, let stand for 5 minutes)
1½ Cups flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix your vinegar and milk to make “buttermilk” if needed. With a mixer, blend sugar and butter together for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add your eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Add the lime juice, zest and Skinny Girl. The batter will turn clumpy. That is OK! Scrape down the sides and blend again.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add slowly to the wet mixture, blending well.

Scoop batter, in even amounts, into liner filled cupcake pans.

Bake for 20-25 minutes (until golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean) and remove from oven. After 5 minutes, baste the top of each cupcake with Skinny Girl and move to cooling rack to cool completely.

Lime Tequila Butter Cream Frosting

1 Cup unsalted sweet cream butter, room temperature
3 Cups powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon lime juice
3 Tablespoons Skinny Girl
Zest of 1 lime
Pinch of coarse salt

With a whisk attachment, or hand mixer, whip butter until light and fluffy. Slowly add powdered sugar, lime juice, Skinny Girl, lime zest and salt. Add more sugar if needed until you reach the desired consistency.

Using a large plastic bag, with the corner snipped off, swirl frosting onto cooled cupcakes. Garnish with a lime wedge if you feel fancy! Or if you’re like me and want to mark the cupcakes with a fruit your kids won’t eat intentionally.

Store out of reach of children, if they last that long.

Seriously. These are ridiculously good. The idea of them is nearly as good as the frosting.


Add This 6 Comments Post by Katy
May 22 Sunday

Little Dood Chicken Nuggets

Today turned out to be nothing like I had planned in my head.

It was a fantastic day, but not the productive Sunday I was hoping for. And I am happy about that.

Mid-afternoon, a storm hit. Not just any storm, the kind that leaves you running to the nearest news outlet to make sure you aren’t going to blow away and end up in the land of Oz.

There is no place like home.

So homebound I was. And before long, it was nearly dinner time and my offspring were beginning to cluck in my general direction. Chicken nuggets. Chicken nuggets.

Note to You: Our kiddos go bonkers for chicken nuggets. Gack. We’ve all seen the footage of how processed chicken nuggets are squeezed out of metal machines like pink play dough are made.

Thankfully I had some beautiful boneless skinless chicken boobies defrosted and ready to fulfill their destiny.

At this point, I kind of checked out. I was cooking dinner, making cookies, talking on the phone to my sister, filling sippy cups, measuring hail and all the while singing Stand by REM over (and over and over) in my head.

I swear to God if I had a reality TV show the title of today’s episode would have been Mrs. Multi-tasking Makes Nuggets.

All I can tell you is these little doods were finger lickin’ good. Like really good. And very messy. Which is why we have a dog. They are the perfect mix of buttery, crunchy and super duper moist. I ate mine slathered with honey mustard. The girls & SuperHub dipped theirs in BBQ sauce.

Alongside some whole grain pasta and watermelon, it was a nearly perfectly perfect meal.

You will need:

Boneless skinless chicken – cut up into bite size pieces
Panko bread crumbs
Butter – melted (just enough to lightly coat each piece of chicken)
Cooking spray

*Spices to taste:
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Chili powder

*I used Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning (Ingredients: Sea Salt, Mustard Seeds, Black Peppercorns, Coriander, Onion, Garlic, Paprika, Chilli Pepper.) If you want an Italian flavor, use a little basil. These little doods would totally rock smothered in Parmesan & mozzarella cheese, served on a bed of whole grain spaghetti with marinara.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and set aside. Melt your butter. Mix your breadcrumbs with desired spices. Mix well. Mix again. And again. Cut up your chicken boobies. Pat the chicken dry. One piece at a time, lightly cover the chicken with butter, then roll around in the bread crumbs, liberally. Place gently on your prepared cookie sheet. Repeat.

Bake your nuggets for 20 minutes, or until done, when there is no pink left in the middle and juices run clear.

Let them stand for a few minutes before serving, if you can wait that long.

Serve them up, Buttercup.

Add This 2 Comments Post by Katy
May 04 Wednesday

Das A Whole Lotta Taco Salad

Last night, my bestie Thomeister, called to chit chat about the day. Except this call was different. I was at the grocery store for a late night of gathering provisions to prepare, and serve, preschool snack in just 9 short hours.

And I was hungry.

Rule #1 of grocery shopping: Never go to the grocery store hungry.

During the conversation, she raved about this “Big bowl of already mixed up taco salad” and my ears perked up. I got goosebumps.

Clearly I am easy to please but come on, meaty, cheesy, spiciness all mixed up in a big bowl? Plus, it’s Cinco de Mayo week.

My cart seemed to steer itself to pick up the few items I hadn’t already thrown in my cart, as she told me what sorts of goodies I would need.

Sidenote: Driving a shopping cart, while on the phone is the domestic equivalent of impaired driving. It should be illegal but whatever. It isn’t yet so I stayed on course as best I could.

You will need:

Ground beef
Taco seasoning
Ranch dressing
Green onions

Canned black beans

*I bought Doritos Taco chips. PEOPLE, THEY BROUGHT THEM BACK! Upon arriving at my house today to supervise the compilation of ingredients, Thomesiter informed me that she was not a fan of said chips and highly recommends regular tortilla chips.

This recipe began at my house by preparing a pot of macaroni and cheese for my kids. Let’s be honest, there are some days we just want our kids to shut up and eat. No convincing anyone to try this or take 5 more bites.

Plus, I wanted to kick the spice meter up to Code Red. Hey oh!

Once you have the mac under control, brown your ground beef and drain well. Add taco seasoning and water as directed on packet. Throw into a big bowl. Chop up green onions, throw on top of meat. Throw in cheese and lettuce. Give a firm stir. Open the bag of chips, even if just partially and take the can of black beans to roll over the top. Roll, crush and teach those chips a lesson. We used about half the bag, it could get too salty if you use too many. Remember, you can always add more later.

Now it’s time to pour on some salsa, however much your pretty little lips can handle and then give a hardy squeeze of ranch dressing. Stir well.

If your taste buds agree, add an entire can of rinsed and drained black beans and fresh corn off the cob. Or a drained can of corn. Top with fresh chopped cilantro and meoooooow.

This would be an absolutely fantastic potluck or party food. Or football tailgate, which is how Thomeister discovered the magic that is A Whole Lotta Taco Salad.

Survey Says:

The kids gave their boxed macaroni and cheese six enthusiastic thumbs up.

SuperHub dove into his bowl of taco goodness before I was even done serving his portion. He quickly (and loudly) exclaimed “Oh yeah, that’s goooooood.”

I loved it. The complex flavor combinations were exactly what I was envisioning last night, as I heaped the ingredients into my grocery cart. The only thing missing was that pint of Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough ice cream…Um, I mean…What just happened?

Add This 17 Comments Post by Katy