Author Archives: Nick

Sweet, Savory, and Simple Apples

Written by Nick -

Apples

Everyone loves a classic apple pie in the fall, but summer is a time for apples too! They’re a great way to sweeten some muffins or add a bit of crunch to your summer salads. Best of all, for most of the country, it’s apple picking season right now. So, experiment a bit and enjoy apples from summer to winter.

Smoked Poultry Salad with Chocolate Dressing Recipe

Smoked Poultry Salad with Chocolate Dressing

Crunchy apples go great with smoked turkey. This salad has a sweet and smoky taste and a fresh crispness. The recipe calls for Golden Delicious apples, but I’ve enjoyed this salad with all types of apples.

Apple Bran Muffins Recipe

Apple Bran Muffins

Try these apple bran muffins to kick-start your morning. I like to keep them around for an afternoon snack too.

Pumpkin Apple Butter Recipe

Pumpkin Apple Butter

This spread is great on a piece of toast for a quick breakfast, but if you’re adventurious, try it as a sandwich spread. A little pumpkin apple butter turns a simple grilled cheddar cheese sandwich into a gourmet, restaurant quality, sandwich.

Apple-Cranberry Cobbler Recipe

Apple-Cranberry Cobbler

A classic dessert, the Apple-Cranberry Cobbler takes only 10 minutes to prepare. It’s a great treat after a summer BBQ, try it with a scoop of DREYER’S® or EDY’S® SLOW CHURNED™ Vanilla Ice Cream.

If you’re looking for more apple desserts, take a look at our Apple Desserts recipe collection on Meals.com. It’s chock-full of sweet apple recipes.

Flag Day Cookies

Written by Nick – 

Stars and Stripes Cookies Recipe

Flag Day seems to sneak up on me every year. I’m always unprepared and missing out on all the amazing Flag Day traditions, like… hanging a flag and … uh… New tradition! Stars and Stripes Cookies! Now, I might not “celebrate” Flag Day. I’m not sure of many people who really go out of their way to celebrate Flag Day, but I will take any excuse to make some sugar cookies. Plus it’s a great day to test out some upcoming 4th of July recipes.

I’m not a baker. Not even close. I contribute to the blog as an everyday guy in the kitchen, trying to make something better than I did yesterday. And I’m definitely learning my way around the kitchen. I even got a nice stand mixer for all my doughy kneads (I know it’s a bad joke, but I couldn’t resist).

Every once in a while I see a recipe that seems too good to be true. Using refrigerated cookie dough and cookie cutter to make star shaped cookies. Sounds like a recipe right up my alley. Make a simple icing with food coloring do a little decorating and you’ve got some fancy cookies.

Now it’s time for the debate. Can I call these homemade? I think so. I made the shapes, I made the icing, and I did the decoration. What do you think?

Debate aside, these cookies were easy, looked great and most importantly tasted delicious. I used Flag Day as a 4th of July test run and I’m sure going to be whipping these up again in a few weeks.

Stars and Stripes Cookies Recipe

Note: I’m no photographer but thought I’d share how my cookies turned out. Even an amateur can make a festive treat.

Stars and Stripes Cookies

Ingredients for 24 cookies:

Directions:

PREHEAT oven to 325° F.

SPRINKLE flour onto work surface. Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness, using additional flour as needed to prevent sticking. Cut into star shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to ungreased baking sheets with spatula.

BAKE for 10 to 14 minutes or until light brown around edges. Smaller cutters and sharp edges tend to produce darker cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 1 minute; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Pipe, spoon or spread red, white and blue icing onto cookies to create stripes.

FOR EASY COOKIE ICING:
COMBINE 1 cup sifted powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon milk and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract in small bowl. Stir in additional milk, a teaspoon at a time, until desired consistency. Set aside one-third of icing. Divide remaining icing between two bowls. Add red food coloring to one bowl and blue to the other; stir well.

Related Recipes:

Patriotic Fruit Pops Recipe NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Stars and Stripes Cookies Recipe
Patriotic
Fruit Pops
NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE®
Stars and Stripes Cookies

Bachelor in the Kitchen: Simple Pasta for Two

Written by Nick – 

Spicy Beef & Sausage Ravioli with Zucchini and Peppers Recipe

I enjoy cooking, but cooking on the weekday for two people (I live with my brother) can be a challenge. There are always leftovers and you’re stuck eating taco meat 20 different ways (this example is not usually a problem with me – I love all things taco).

Lately we’ve resorted to a simple pasta dish. Just pick your favorite Buitoni pasta, add sauce, easy. I wanted to try something new and was looking for inspiration on meals.com. I found a few recipes and this Spicy Beef & Sausage Ravioli with Zucchini and Peppers caught my eye for a few reasons; I was in the mood for sausage ravioli (that helps), I love zucchini but don’t often cook with it, and we always have red peppers on hand.

So, like the genius that I am, I went to the store and picked up half the things I needed, some extra things I didn’t, and a lot of things I don’t know what I’m going to do with. When I got home, I looked at the recipe and realized… I needed to improvise. Luckily there are a few simple pasta dishes on meals.com and I just made a collection of them all.

Firstly, the zucchini I got, well I forgot it was supposed to be zucchini… oh well, eggplant it is. Then the basil I got, I didn’t get, so I used a bit of pesto instead of the olive oil and fresh basil. Finally the sausage ravioli I got, I thought that would go well with some lighter cheese tortellini too. Looks like we’ll be having some leftovers after all.

Below is the recipe as it was intended. But I’ll tell you what, my improvised recipe turned out great. So, try to experiment a little, pasta dishes can be so much more than just pasta with sauce. Adding some tasty vegetables is a nice way to mix it up and fresh crunchy red peppers gave the meal a real summery feel.

A side note, this meal looks really elegant. This “dinner for two” was me and my brother, but this would be a great “dinner for two” for you and a date. Buitoni offers some wine pairings on their website that can complete the “stay home date.”

Spicy Beef & Sausage Ravioli with Zucchini and Peppers

Ingredients for 2 servings:

Directions:

PREPARE pasta according to package directions, adding zucchini during last 2 minutes of cook time. Drain; place in large serving bowl. Add bell pepper and oil; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with basil before serving.

More Pasta Dishes:

Chicken & Four Cheese Ravioli with Peas and Basil Recipe Tortellini with Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomatoes Recipe
Chicken & Four Cheese Ravioli
with Peas and Basil
Tortellini with Pesto
and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

A Toast to Moms Everywhere – French Toast that is

Written by Nick -

Mother’s Day is the day of the year that you go out of your way to show your appreciation to your mom. In my household that meant a day of pampering, a day of chores, and a day where Mom could finally relax and Dad and the kids would take care of everything.

Obviously, you should let your mom know how important she is every day, but Mother’s day is the day of year that you need to go above and beyond. It’s not enough to say you care, but you need a CARD to say you care, you need FLOWERS and you need to make BREAKFAST. (Highlighting for all the kids and dads out there… don’t forget the CARD, FLOWERS, and BREAKFAST).

So growing up, Mother’s Day always started with us kids and my dad cooking brunch. Often times, we’d serve French Toast, my dad’s specialty and one of my mom’s favorite. French toast is a decadent breakfast and the perfect way to show your mom your sweet side. I’m grown up now and my mom is on the other side of the country, but I wish I could make her some French toast this Sunday. Hopefully my dad can handle the duties and pamper her. And hopefully, this year, the flowers show up on time.

You can find an entire French Toast recipe collection on meals.com.

Here are some of my favorites and some I can’t wait to try.

Stuffed French Toast With Fresh Berry Topping Recipe

Stuffed French Toast with Fresh Berry Topping

This Stuffed French Toast With Fresh Berry Topping recipe takes your favorite strawberry preserves mixed with creamy ricotta cheese to make a delectable filling. For this recipe, I would need to substitute another berry preserve, my mom is allergic to Strawberries (I know it’s horribly sad) but I’m sure it would work with whatever berry preserve your mother prefers.

Cinnamon Breakfast Toast with Orange-Rum Syrup Recipe

Cinnamon Breakfast Toast with Orange-Rum Syrup

This Cinnamon Breakfast Toast will become a family favorite! It is a great choice for brunch too! Oranges and rum are produced in Venezuela, so it makes sense that this version of French toast is served with scrumptious syrup flavored with these local gems. Cinnamon also infuses both the egg mixture and syrup. Serve with fresh orange slices for a special touch. To save some time, the syrup can be made ahead and warmed.

Honey Vanilla Crème Stuffed French Toast Recipe

Sweet Crème Stuffed French Toast

Sweet Crème Stuffed French Toast is an elegant twist on the classic recipe. This is a great recipe to make use of day old French bread you may have on hand. The orange marmalade and Sweet Crème Coffee-mate compliment each other perfectly.

Ovaltine French Toast Recipe

Ovaltine French Toast

Ovaltine adds a rich chocolate flavor to this classic recipe. Top it with maple syrup and fresh berries for a truly decadent morning treat.

Golden Sunrise French Toast Recipe

Golden Sunrise French Toast

Golden Sunrise French Toast will be a treat your family will love! The golden crisp goodness of this hearty morning favorite is made with thick-sliced French bread infused with a hint of vanilla and topped with fresh seasonal fruit – then drizzled with maple syrup for the perfect start to a special morning.

What’s your Mother’s day treat? Are you the pamperer or the pampered?

Tip: If your the pampered, feel free to forward this to the pamperers as a friendly reminder. You can use such strategic subject lines as:

  • The coy – “Don’t these recipes look delicious”
  • The sneaky – “Which of these is your favorite, I’m thinking of making something this weekend”
  • The obvious – “Don’t forget about MOTHER’S DAY – love mom” 

Grill Season: Marinated Flank Steak

Written by Nick – 

Marinated Flank Steak Recipe

This past weekend was the perfect weather to have some friends over and fire up the grill. As opposed to the usual burgers and dogs, I thought some steak would fit the bill. Flank steak is the perfect choice for entertaining. It’s a flavorful cut of beef and budget friendly, but it’s not known for being tender. So, finding the perfect marinade makes all the difference.

I thought I would grill up some steak and serve it fajita style. It’s a great way to feed a group and everyone can customize to their liking. This Marinated Flank Steak recipe seemed like just the right amount of seasonings to stand on its own or work as tacos/fajitas. The recipe calls for marinating for 4 hours or overnight. I went a bit further and marinated it for two days. This was purely a timing consideration. I was cooking dinner Friday night and figured I’d prepare the marinade for a Sunday barbecue.

The flank steak turned out great. Although I served it as fajitas, everyone was eating it straight off the serving dish. I think this flank steak could easily work with a variety of meals, not just tacos/fajitas. It was very tender and flavorful. And because it’s already marinated, there is little prep-work for when your guests arrive.

So, if you’re grilling for friends and want to do something special, this flank steak is the perfect way to treat them to steak and stay on a reasonable budget.

Marinated Flank Steak

Ingredients for 4 servings:

Directions:

COMBINE water and bouillon in medium bowl; stir until dissolved. Stir in Juicy Juice, cilantro, lime juice, oil, oregano, chili powder, cumin and garlic. Pour into 1-gallon heavy-duty plastic bag. Add flank steak, squeeze out as much air from bag as possible. Marinate in refrigerator, turning steak occasionally, for at least 4 hours or overnight.

PREHEAT grill or broiler. Remove steak from bag; discard marinade.

Marinated Flank Steak Recipe

GRILL or broil using medium heat for 7 to 8 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Let steak rest for 10 minutes before cutting. Cut steak against the grain on the diagonal in thin slices to serve. Serve hot with warm tortillas, sliced avocados and fresh pico de gallo, if desired.

Marinated Flank Steak Recipe

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Seared Steak Salad with Balsamic-Shallot Reduction Recipe Asian Flank Steak Recipe
Seared Steak Salad with
Balsamic-Shallot Reduction
Asian
Flank Steak

Bachelor in the Kitchen: Dressing Up a Seasonal Favorite

Written by Nick -

Creamy Parmesan Romaine Recipe

I eat seasonally. Wintertime is for meat and potatoes, but when the sun is shining, I’m all for a fresh salad. Salad doesn’t need to be a side dish. It’s easy to “dress-up” with your favorite salad dressing and adding a bit of grilled chicken or any other favorite protein item makes it a filling meal. A salad is also a great way to get your recommended five servings of fruits and veggies. And it’s one of the simplest meals to make for one or two people, which is what I typically cook for. But, I think, the best thing about a salad is the constant variety you can create by adding new and interesting dressings with the seasonal veggies and fruits.

I’m lucky enough to live close to a fantastic green grocer. Not only do they have great, fresh produce, but shopping there takes out the headache of dealing with the crowds at the grocery store. Plus it helps you avoid the grocery store temptations. After all, salads should be healthy, but I can’t help adding bacon to my cart when I see it right next to the low fat ranch dressing…

You can add all the different veggies you want, but if you don’t have a unique dressing, salads can become stale and boring. So I’m always on the lookout for homemade dressing recipes. I like making dressings at home so I can constantly customize to my individual liking and then brag about my expert skills in the kitchen. Anyone can chop some lettuce and tomatoes and throw in a bit of store bought dressing, but when you have a“signature” dressing it’s worth showing it off.

I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try this creamy salad dressing, which uses NESTLÉ COFFEE-MATE Liquid Coffee Creamer! I didn’t follow the recipe for the salad, I like to pick out whatever looks fresh. In this case I mixed in some romaine, added some spinach, cherry tomatoes, red onion, avocados (since moving to California I add avocados to everything), and topped it all off with some grilled chicken. This dressing is a delicious, creamy mixture with a kick of pepper. Each tablespoon is packed with flavor, so don’t get too overzealous when adding to your salad. A little goes a long way with this dressing.

What’s your favorite way to dress up a salad?

Creamy Parmesan Romaine

Ingredients for 4 Servings:

  • 2 slices whole-wheat bread (about 2 ounces total), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup sliced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 3 tablespoons Original NESTLÉ COFFEE-MATE Liquid Coffee Creamer
  • 2 tablespoons fat free sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons BUITONI Refrigerated Freshly Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:

PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

PLACE bread cubes in single layer on large baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven; cool completely.

PLACE lettuce, cucumber and onion in large bowl; set aside.

COMBINE Coffee-mate, sour cream, mayonnaise, cheese, vinegar, salt and pepper in small bowl; stir until completely blended. Add to lettuce mixture; toss gently, yet thoroughly, to coat completely. Add bread cubes; toss gently.

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Tortellini Salad Italiana Recipe Chickpea-Spinach Salad with Avocados and Oranges Recipe
Tortellini
Salad Italiana
Chickpea-Spinach Salad
with Avocados and Oranges
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