Rainbow Rice Krispie Treats

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Shout out to all the moms out there who have their kids duped into thinking the Rice Krispie treats they make them are such labors of love. (I’m trying to be you one day!) Best joke ever – Rice Krispie treats certainly are delicious, but SO EASY to make! (Don’t worry if you were fooled; I’m sure your mom would labor over a hot stove any day for you…) We adapted these for spring with bright colors, only varying from the original Rice Krispie Treat recipe a tad!

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We’re bringing these treats to our work spring potluck lunch, but they’re perfect for any spring gathering or just to have around the house as you welcome spring with it’s beautiful flowers and warmer temperatures! Also, Easter is fast approaching and if you want an easy dessert, sure to please the adults and kids alike, here you go!

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Rainbow Rice Krispie Treats

Ingredients: 
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups mini marshmallows
  • 1 cup spring colored (pink, green, yellow) mini marshmallows
  • 4 cups Rice Krispies
  • 2 cups Fruity Pebbles
Instructions: 
  1. Melt butter over low heat in a large pot.
  2. Once the butter is melted, pour in the first 4 cups of marshmallows. Stir, still over low heat, coating the marshmallows with butter and continuing until they are completely melted.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the colorful marshmallows and cereals.
  4. Grease a 9×13 glass pan. Pour the mixture in and press down (with a greased spatula or wax paper over your hand) until smooth.
  5. Allow to cool and then cut and serve!

 

Spring Pasta with Brie, Ham, and Peas

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Photo credit for this and those below to Matt Riley – UVa Sports photographer, via Facebook

Who doesn’t love spring? Flowers blooming, weather warming up, and March Madness! Ally loves March Madness every year, but this year was extra special. She, along with all the rest of the Cavalier faithful, had incredibly high hopes for redemption for this year’s team. And they DID IT! Monday night, way past our bedtime, the Virginia Cavaliers won the NCAA men’s basketball title game!

Since Ally made/ate this pasta on game night, we definitely have to document it, so she can superstitiously eat it for years to come. I’ve had the idea of making a light sauce with melted Brie floating around in my head for awhile now and am pleased how this turned out. It’s simple enough for a weeknight (or while nervously pacing, waiting for a championship game to start…) and light enough to welcome spring, despite what you might assume from the ingredients. It’s also a great use for leftover ham! By thinning out the Brie, you end up just lightly coating the pasta, so it doesn’t eat like a heavy Mac n cheese or something similar.

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Spring Pasta with Brie, Ham, & Peas

Ingredients: 
  • 1 tsp neutral oil
  • 8oz ham, chopped (leftover or otherwise already cooked)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups (dry) bowtie pasta
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 4oz Brie cheese, rind removed
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 2 large basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
Instructions: 
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over low-medium heat. (If you have some fatty pieces of ham, you may be able to skip this step.) Toss the ham and minced garlic into the pan and cook until ham is warmed and garlic is fragrant.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a large stockpot of water to a boil and cook pasta per instructions. Drain and set aside.
  3. Remove ham to the side for the moment. Whisk the Brie and chicken stock together; lower heat if needed. Allow these two ingredients to come together over the low heat for the next approximately 5 minutes. Stir in the peas at this time as well.
  4. Return the ham to the pan, along with the pasta. Toss together to coat the pasta with the Brie sauce. Top with pepper and salt as needed.
  5. Serve, topped with fresh chopped basil.
Dinner for two!

Trip to Austin, TX

 

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This past week, we’ve been eating our way through Austin, Texas. We went on this fun trip with about a dozen other family members, to watch Ally’s cousin Townley swim in his final collegiate meet for the University of Texas. Townley is an amazing swimmer – he swam for Team USA in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and even won a gold medal! (Ally does not share his athletic genes unfortunately…) The NCAA swimming championship was a new, fun experience for us and was a great excuse to check out Austin – neither of us have been there before and Ally hadn’t previously been to the whole state of Texas!

As usual for our blog, we’ll focus on the food! We went fairly traditional/touristy when we were in Austin, but everything was delicious! Of course, we had some breakfast (and dinner) tacos, BBQ, and everything meat!

On our first night, we went alone on a dinner date to Contigo, which was recommended by our favorite Texas natives. We didn’t take any pictures here, but the food was delicious and the portions Texas-sized! The chicken liver mousse from the charcuterie menu was spectacular, topped with smoked maple syrup and chopped pickled green beans. This is a combination I certainly would never have thought of, but it was amazing!

And we did manage to take a few pictures on some of our meals and treats! See below:

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Voodoo donuts! Selim can’t pass up a donut sampling!
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Ridiculous breakfast sandwiches, pastries, and coffee from Sour Duck
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Texas BBQ at Stubb’s BBQ

Ballpark Stuffed Peppers

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This isn’t the first time we’d tried a riff on stuffed peppers around here. I loved our last creation – Chicken & Couscous Stuffed Peppers, probably because I like anything with pearl couscous. This variation goes pretty much the opposite direction and is stuffed full of rice, cheese, and the American classic – hot dog. Think of it like a reverse loaded hot dog! A delicious, messy ballpark hotdog, stuffed inside a pepper instead.

We use Stadium/Ballpark mustard in our recipe (and pretty much anytime we need mustard). It’s a Cleveland thing – a mild brown mustard that has been used at the Cleveland Indians ballpark for decades. Apparently there’s a controversy about it – here’s the story. When Selim moved to the Mid-Atlantic, he was mildly appalled that he couldn’t find it in stores and that I had never heard of this miraculous substance. I was a bit skeptical, but he was right. Stadium mustard is definitely a family favorite for both of us now. We bring home a few bottles of Bertman’s every time we go to Cleveland.

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Ballpark Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients:
  • 3 large bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 3 hot dogs, chopped
  • 1 tbsp mustard (see above for our favorite)
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 cup + cheddar cheese
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Prepare the rice – in a small saucepan, cover rice with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. After it’s boiled, reduce heat to low and cover until water is absorbed & rice fluffy.
  3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp of oil over medium heat. Add the onions and toss with the oil. Then add the hot dogs to the dish and cover. Continue cooking for 10 minutes, until the hot dog pieces have crisped up a bit and the onions are soft and fragrant.
  4. Once cooked, stir the onions and hot dogs into the rice, along with the cheese, mustard, and hot sauce.
  5. Stuff the rice mixture into the peppers.
  6. Place the peppers upright in high-edged oven-safe dish. Add a thin layer of water to cover the bottom of the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Serve topped with an additional sprinkle of cheese if desired.
Serves 2.

Cypriot Carnival Bourekia

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Happy Mardi Gras (Carnival, Shrove Tuesday, etc)! Here in the US, we associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans’ celebrations alone. But this week I reminded myself that not everyone celebrates with beads, King Cake, Cajun food, and exposed breasts. So I looked into worldwide traditions, with the hopes of picking a different dish to make tonight. (I wanted a surprise for Selim when he came home from work, so I was looking for his favorite foods and flavors!) I learned so much – pretty much every country with healthy Catholic or Orthodox Christian traditions has their own celebrations. In my browsing, I decided I should definitely have been born in Cyprus. There, Carnival is a two week celebration – the first week is “Meat Week,” or Kreatini, which is the last week eating meat is allowed until Easter. The second of the weeks is “Cheese Week,” or Tyrini, which leads right up until Ash Wednesday. Cheese week!? A whole week for eating cheese?! How did I not know about this until now?

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Tonight we made these Cypriot sweet fried cheese pastries called bourekia. (I’ve also seen the spelling pourrekia, I’m not sure the difference, other than just translation into the Latin alphabet?) To be truly authentic, they should have Cypriot anari cheese inside, but given that isn’t entirely readily available in the US, the internet assures me that unsalted ricotta is an acceptable substitute. The rosewater and cinnamon take the cheesy filling and make it sweeter and full of the flavors of the greater Middle East and Mediterranean. I’m still mildly terrified of frying things, despite our recent forays into frying (Southern Fried Chicken & Shrimp Beignets), but we jumped head-first into our first fried treat tonight! Good thing we have our Culinary Bucket List to keep motivating us.

I’m not going to lie, these were good, but not perfect. I’m happy enough with the result to share, but I need to work on the dough. I’m not 100% content with that. The filling however… Perfect! Sweet, but not overly sugary, with a delicious blend of flavors. The hint of rosewater is excellent!

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Cypriot Carnival Bourekia

(Adapted from this publication from Toni Buxton & the Cyprus Tourism Organisation)
Ingredients:
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water (+ more if needed)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp rosewater
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
  • Oil, for frying
Instructions:
  1. Mix together the four, oil, and salt. Knead together, adding small bits of a cold water if needed to create a smooth dough ball.
  2. Wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, stir the cinnamon, sugar, and rosewater into the ricotta cheese.
  4. After the 30 minutes, roll out the dough and cut out circles. Use the base of a glass to stamp them out. You want the dough to be fairly thin – mine were somewhere between 1/8th & 1/16th of an inch.
  5. Spoon a small dollop of the cheese mixture into the center of each circle. Brush water on the edges of the dough circles and fold over into half-moons. Crimp edges together.
  6. Heat the oil in a heavy, tall-sided pot to 365 degrees. Fry the bourekia in batches, taking care not to crowd the pot, for 3-4 minutes.
  7. Remove them to a paper towel to drain and dry. Dust with powdered sugar prior to serving!

Parmesan-Truffle Potatoes

 

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Happy March! We hope this will be a great month for everyone. We’re really excited about March, because we closed on our house on the first! We’ve spent much of this weekend over at the new house, planning our renovations, picking colors, and generally being proud homeowners! We made these potatoes when we got home to accompany some meatloaf. They’re so easy – perfect for a quick weeknight dinner. The cooking time is about an hour, but your hands-on time is less than 10 minutes! Easy to put together, with just a few ingredients, and delicious! What else can you ask for??

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Parmesan-Truffle Potatoes

Ingredients:
  • 2 Russet potatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp truffle oil
  • 1 tsp truffle salt
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp granulated onion
  • 10+ turns fresh black pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice potatoes fairly thinly.
  3. Stir together the oils, salt, garlic, onion, and black pepper. Toss the potato slices with the oil mixture.
  4. Stack the potato slices horizontally in a glass baking dish and roast for 1 hour.
  5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Return for just another 2 minutes to melt the cheese.
Serves 2-4

Lamb & Chickpea ‘Tagine’

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Ok, so this isn’t a real tagine because, well, I didn’t make it in a tagine. I used the word in the title because it’s so evocative of the flavors and cuisine I was trying to cook tonight. I do really want a tagine one of these days, along with all sorts of other cool kitchen items I currently don’t have (I’m looking at you molcajete, fancy chopsticks, wok, Chinese soup spoons…) Using a dutch oven is a reasonable approximation, so that’s what we went with today.

We both love the flavors of the greater Middle East/Northern Africa. You may have noticed that if you’ve read more of our blog than just this post via Pinterest. I would venture a guess that dishes from that part of the world make up the highest percentage of our blog, as compared to other regions. Check out some of our other creations… they range from main dishes like Bahraini Chicken Machboos or Syrian Mini Meatballs (Dawood Basha) to Spinach & Feta Gözleme, to some of Ally’s beloved soups like Persian Spiced Lentil Soup or North African Wedding Soup, to delicious snacks like Muhammara and Spicy Feta Dip, and even Baklava! So many amazing and varied dishes! The flavors here tonight are incredibly similar to our Tangy Moroccan Meatballs, which is one of Ally’s favorite meals we’ve ever made and shared on this blog. The main differences between the two are the addition of the chickpeas tonight, which allows the dish to easily stand alone without the addition of another starch, and the obvious fact that last time we made meatballs, while this time we braised some tender lamb chunks. It’s also a bit spicier and a bit less tangy than the meatball dish. Some variety is good! Last note – this, like many other braised/stewed dishes is SO much better the longer you let it sit. Yay leftovers!

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Lamb & Chickpea ‘Tagine’

(Inspired by our previous recipe for Tangy Moroccan Meatballs and some additional internet browsing)
Ingredients: 
  • ~2 lb boneless lamb (shoulder, boneless leg), cubed
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 generous pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 1/2 cups beef stock (or lamb if you have access to it)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 can (16oz) chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • Fresh cilantro
Instructions: 
  1. Season all sides of the cubed meat generously with salt & pepper.
  2. Using a tagine if you have one, or a dutch oven if not (like us), heat the oil over medium heat on the stove top. Once hot, brown the meat on all sides and then remove to the side.
  3. Maintaining medium heat, add the onions, garlic, and carrots to the dish. Cook for ~5 minutes, until softened and becoming fragrant.
  4. Now stir in the tomato paste, tomato, and all of the spices except for the saffron. Cook for just a minute or two, stirring everything together.
  5. Now return the meat to the dish, along with the stock, lemon juice, and olives. Adjust the heat to bring to a light simmer with the lid on.
  6. Cook at that light simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is nice and tender.
  7. Remove the lid and increase heat to a more vigorous simmer. Add the chickpeas at this point. Cook for an additional 6-8 minutes with the lid off.
  8. Taste and add additional salt if desired (we added maybe a 1/2 tsp).
  9. Serve topped with torn cilantro and an extra squeeze of lemon if you’d like. Eat as a stew alone, though you could also put it atop couscous or rice.
Serves 4-6