Dirt Pudding

Dirt PuddingDirt pudding is one of my guilty pleasures. It’s slightly addictive. And by slightly, I mean I purposefully put these in separate mason jars to stop me from sneaking a spoonful every time I passed the refrigerator. It’s a real life problem in my house. I mean, Oreos? Pudding? Cream cheese? Whipped topping? If you’re not with me there, I’m not sure we’re friends. Just kidding! Of course I’ll be your friend. But you WILL have some explaining to do.

Dirt PuddingI actually would usually make this dirt pudding layered in a large glass bowl. It’s beautiful to have the layers showing that way! It would certainly be just as delicious in a not-see-through serving dish but not nearly as pretty. And they say you eat with your eyes so I highly recommend making it pretty. PLUS, mason jars are perfect for desserts on the go! Bring this to a picnic and you’ll be the star.

Dirt PuddingTo be fair, pretty isn’t the same thing as perfect. The mason jars or a glass bowl might be pretty, but don’t get me wrong…I would call these less than perfect in execution. We’ll go with “rustic charm” or “homemade” for this one. It’s all in how you sell it. Yeah…

You could actually put the pudding mixture into a piping bag or zip top bag with the corner cut off and pipe it in the mason jars. That would have surely made less of a mess than what I made. Where’s the fun in that though??

Dirt PuddingRegardless of how “homemade” this pudding looks or what kind of container or bowl you serve it in, you will not be disappointed. This pudding is a sure win with any audience. Just be warned to hide it if you’re making it for yourself (or in my case for my husband and I). You may eat 10 days worth of calories in 1 sitting if you’re not careful. You think I jest? I wish! Just give it a try and see how serious I am.

Dirt Pudding
Serves 12
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Prep Time
20 min
Prep Time
20 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 small vanilla instant pudding boxes (3.4 ounce)
  2. 3 cups milk
  3. 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  4. 1 cup powdered sugar
  5. 1/4 cup butter, softened
  6. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  7. 12 ounces whipped topping
  8. 1 bag of Oreos, crushed
Instructions
  1. Whisk together the instant pudding and milk in a medium bowl for 2 minutes. Chill until set.
  2. Cream the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl. It is important to have the cream cheese and butter at room temperature or it will not mix well.
  3. Fold the pudding mixture and whipped topping into the cream cheese mixture.
  4. Layer the pudding, cream cheese, and whipped topping mixture with the crushed Oreos.
Notes
  1. I made 6 pint-sized mason jars with this process, but you can make more if they are smaller mason jars. I have also used a large glass bowl and is just as pretty!
Adapted from Just a Pinch Recipes
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Garlic Herb Smashed Potatoes

Smashed Potatoes

I’m not sure if I’ve confessed my love of potatoes to you all yet. Yes, it’s true. I love them. A lot. My love of potatoes is only rivaled by pizza and chocolate. I mean, to be in the pizza and chocolate bracket is pretty special. You don’t just get there by being “average”. No siree Bob. You have to be the best of the best of the best to get to the pizza, chocolate and potato category in my mind. You have to earn it.

Smashed Potatoes

You know that scene from “Forrest Gump” where Bubba lists all the ways you can make shrimp? My family used to joke with me that I’m like Bubba with potatoes…You’ve got boiled potatoes, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, twice baked potatoes, loaded potatoes, home fry potatoes, tator tots, scalloped potatoes, potatoes au gratin…I could keep going. You know I could. I’ll spare you and tell you about these amazing garlic herb SMASHED potatoes.

Smashed PotatoesFirst of all, these were a HUGE hit in my house. I loved them and Travis really loved them! Also, they were super quick and easy to make. They would be perfect for party since once they’re boiled and prepared, they could easily be baking away in the oven when your guests come. Then when you pull them out your guests will think you’ve been working all day. Only, the real secret is that you haven’t! Booyah.

Smashed Potatoes

Smashed Potatoes

The other great thing is that this recipe is ridiculously versatile. I happen to think rosemary and potatoes were meant to be together for all eternity. However, you could just as easily make this with whatever herbs or spices you have. The only requirement is that you share your favorite recipe with me so that I can give something other than rosemary a try. I like to be fair…I like it even better if someone else can attest to how delicious an herb combo is before I even try it. So get cookin’ and let me know!

Garlic Herb Smashed Potatoes
Yields 12
Boiled then smashed and baked, these potatoes are perfect for any simple dinner or party!
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
55 min
Ingredients
  1. 12 red potatoes
  2. 3 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 1 garlic clove, minced
  4. Dried or fresh rosemary, to taste
  5. Salt and pepper, to taste
  6. Chives, to garnish, optional
Instructions
  1. Bring salted water to a boil.
  2. Place potatoes in water and boil until the potatoes are fork tender, about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (start slightly before the potatoes are finished boiling).
  4. On a baking sheet, drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  5. Place the boiled potatoes on the baking sheet with a little room between each potato.
  6. Gently smash each potato using a potato masher.
  7. Brush the tops of the potatoes with the remaining olive oil.
  8. Sprinkle on garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
  10. Top with chives, optional
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Spinach Artichoke Cheese Ball

Spinach Artichoke Cheese BallI’m oh-so-sorry that it’s been awhile since my last post. These past couple of weeks have been filled with lots of activities including a long-awaited friend’s wedding in Pittsburgh (Yay for seeing friends from all around the country!!), an unexpected family gathering, and a surprise trip with my parents (surprise for them, not us) to a cabin in Ohio. All this among the general craziness of the last few weeks of the school year. Whew! Am I tired? Yes. Does a delicious spinach artichoke cheese ball make up for it? ABSOLUTELY!

Spinach Artichoke Cheese BallThis was a bit of an experiment that turned out wonderfully! I love spinach artichoke dip…love, love, LOVE. I also love cheese balls. There’s no other way to explain how this recipe came to be but that I love them both and wanted them at the same time. Hence, the spinach artichoke cheese ball.

Spinach Artichoke Cheese BallYou definitely need to refrigerate the cheese ball before serving if you want it to hold its shape. Otherwise you’ll end up with more of a thick dip. I’m totally cool with that too. Just giving you all a heads up so that when you choose not to read the recipe all the way through I’m not responsible for the fact that you have 5 minutes until the party and a cheese ball that’s more of blob. But hey, it would be a delicious blob!

Spinach Artichoke Cheese BallAlso, just as an FYI, it helps to chop the spinach and artichokes into small pieces. Even though they are cooked briefly, it will make scooping SO much easier if they are chopped up well. There’s nothing worse than a long string of spinach that just does not want to be scooped up with a chip. Okay, yes, there is probably something worse than that but I’m going for dramatic effect here. Plus, you might as well not find out so…chop, chop!

Spinach Artichoke Cheese Ball
Delicious spin on a traditional cheese ball
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
10 min
Total Time
1 hr 20 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  2. 4 cloves garlic, minced
  3. 1 can artichoke hearts (15-ounce), drained and finely chopped
  4. 1 bag fresh baby spinach, chopped (10-ounce)
  5. 12 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 1/2, 8 ounce containers)
  6. 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese, shredded
  7. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  8. Salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and artichoke hearts and saute approximately 2 minutes.
  2. Add the spinach and salt and pepper. You don't need much salt because the Parmesan cheese will add salt as well. Saute until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to let cool.
  3. Cream the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth.
  4. Stir in the mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and spinach mixture until combined.
  5. Crisscross 2 pieces of plastic wrap on top of each other and place the cheese mixture in the middle.
  6. Using the plastic wrap, shape the cheese mixture into a ball (making sure to cover the cheese ball completely with the plastic wrap). Place the cheese ball in a small bowl to help hold its shape.
  7. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to one day to set.
  8. Serve with crackers or chips.
Notes
  1. Make sure to chop the spinach and artichoke hearts into fairly small pieces, since it will be easier to scoop up with a cracker or chip when there are smaller pieces.
  2. The longer you leave the cheese ball in the fridge, the more firm it will set. Without refrigeration the cheese ball is a bit loose.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Blueberry Oat Bars

Blueberry Oat BarsSummer is so close I can almost taste it. I say this as an occupational therapist in the schools where I think everyone can use a break, myself included (Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. But if you work with kids all day I’m sure you understand). I also say this as a food lover starting to notice a larger variety of fresh fruits and vegetables coming back into the stores. I just ate corn on the cob yesterday that was a burst of summer goodness in my mouth. I realize that corn really isn’t in season in Michigan right now and I have no idea where it came from (isn’t that horrible??) but it was still delicious. Ask me again in a few months and I’ll probably realize the corn we ate yesterday was not very good. It’s just been so long since my last fresh corn I’m pretty sure I forget these things.

Blueberry Oat BarsAs fruits and vegetables start to get into season, and get a lot cheaper because of that, I’ll be sure to be using lots of them in my cooking and baking. While it’s kind of still transitioning into that summer harvest season, this is a great recipe to try! It uses frozen blueberries, but still tastes oh so fresh. It’s like a blueberry crumble/bar/pie/amazing-thing-you-must-try. Don’t pass this one up.

Blueberry Oat BarsYou can eat these bars 2 ways. So versatile! You’re welcome. Option 1 would be to follow the instructions and let these bars cool (maybe even refrigerate) before serving. This makes it more like something that you can use your hands to pick up and eat. This would be a very civilized way to eat these blueberry oat bars.

Another way (option 2) to eat these is as follows:

  1. Wait impatiently by the oven while the bars cook, slowly realizing that the smell is becoming so wonderful it’s hard to stand.
  2. Once the timer finally goes off, briskly take them out to admire your creation.
  3. Wait about 1 minute, following the directions to let the bars cool completely.
  4. Decide that it’s ridiculous to even try waiting.
  5. Place an entire carton of ice cream or whipped cream on top, find your very best friends, and quickly eat the entire pan.
  6. Reflect about what just happened and decide that you did the right thing.

Option 2 is the more likely scenario once you smell the bars coming out of the oven and see how bubbly and golden brown and perfect they are. Maybe you’re a better person than me but I dare you not to at least think about option number 2. Just saying.Blueberry Oat Bars

Blueberry Oat Bars
Serves 8
Crumbly blueberry bar perfect for breakfast, brunch, or dessert!
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
55 min
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Crust/Crumble Ingredients
  1. 1/2 cup butter (one stick), melted
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour
  3. 3/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  4. 1/2 cup sugar
  5. 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  6. pinch of salt
Blueberry Filling Ingredients
  1. 10 ounces of frozen blueberries
  2. 1/3 cup sugar
  3. 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  4. 2 teaspoons cornstarch
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray an 8x8" pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment. I lined the bottom and up 2 sides of the pan so that I could use the parchment to pull the bars out of the pan. Spray the parchment with more cooking spray.
Crust/Crumble Directions
  1. Combine crust/crumble ingredients in a bowl until they form a crumble mixture.
  2. Set 1 cup of crumble aside for the topping.
  3. Press the remainder of the mixture into the bottom of the lined pan, making sure it is evenly pressed.
Blueberry Filling Directions
  1. Toss all blueberry filling ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. Evenly distribute over the uncooked crust.
  3. Sprinkle the reserved 1 cup of crumble mixture over the top of the blueberries.
  4. Bake 55 minutes, or until edges start to set and the crumble is starting to turn golden.
  5. Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. If you want the bars to set more, place in the refrigerator once cooled for an additional 30 minutes before slicing and serving.
  6. Store in the refrigerator or in an airtight container.
Adapted from Averie Cooks
Adapted from Averie Cooks
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/

Peanut Butter

Peanut ButterAny recipe with an ingredient list of 1 item seriously deserves a shot. Peanut butter is one of those recipes! What’s the 1 item? Peanuts, silly! This is so simple it’s barely a recipe. However, it’s so delicious it would be a crime for me not to share it.

Peanut ButterYou may ask, what’s so different about this peanut butter? Well, it’s hard for me to say exactly but the peanut butter just tastes fresh. It tastes more like peanuts than any other peanut butter I’ve had. That sounds ridiculous but if you try it you’ll know what I mean. Plus, it has a little texture to it. It’s not like crunchy peanut butter with larger chunks in it. It has a smooth and yet a tiny bit crunchy texture. Yeah…sorry if I lost you there. Just trust me that it’s good.

Peanut ButterYou can make this more of a crunchy peanut butter if you leave out a few peanuts and add them in last minute. Also, feel free to add in some honey or cinnamon or other flavorings as you wish. Just make sure to update me on any delicious combos so I can recreate it and eat all of it promptly. *Warning: Don’t actually eat all of this in one sitting. That would be bad.*

Peanut ButterThe other great thing about it (minus the fact it takes 5 minutes to make) is that you actually have a good idea of what’s in it. I’ve done a pretty good job of finding peanut butter with limited ingredients at the store. However, there’s something about actually making it yourself. At least for me it makes me feel like I have a part in what I’m putting in my body. 

Peanut Butter
Super simple peanut butter recipe
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups roasted peanuts
  2. salt, to taste (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place peanuts in a food processor and blend on high for 4-5 minutes, scraping down the sides every 1-2 minutes. Season with salt to taste and blend.
  2. Refrigerate for up to 2 months.
Notes
  1. The roasted peanuts I bought were already salted, so I didn't add any salt.
  2. The mixture will look chunky at first but keep blending and it will smooth out! If it's looking really dry, you can add a tablespoon of peanut oil.
Flavor From Scratch http://www.flavorfromscratch.com/