Monday, April 30, 2012

Avocado-Banana Bread with Pecans


I had originally set out to make a loaf of Banana Nut Bread - it was way overdue and we were all craving a slice. However, I only had 1 banana and needed 2 - oh man. This bread was going to happen one way or the other, so I started thinking about substitutes and then I saw that ripe little avocado looking at me. It was saying, "Use me!" So I did. :)

The recipe also called for 2 eggs and I only had one - so I substituted a 1/4 cup of applesauce in it's place. I really need to start getting my ingredients ready before I start cooking, haha.

My main concern was how the avocado would stand through the baking, but it was fine and stayed in little chunks! Once the bread cooled I served it to guests we had over and the bread was gone within an hour - I just love it when food disappears, it's the biggest compliment I can receive as a cook. :)

Avocado-Banana Bread with Pecans
Ingredients
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon Baking powder
5 ½ tablespoons butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
½ cup bananas, mashed
½ cup avocado, roughly diced
½ cup pecans chopped

Directions
1. Heat oven to 350, grease 6-cup loaf pan
2. Mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder
3. Beat together butter and sugar until fully combined
4. Slowly add flour mixture
5. Add eggs and mix until combined
6. Fold in bananas, avocados and pecans
7. Pour into loaf pan
8. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean
9. Let cool and enjoy!

For printable recipe click here

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Champions for Kids #OdwallaCFK


Earlier this month I posted about Champions for Kids and Odwalla teaming up to promote a SIMPLE Service Project - a Game Day Challenge! The idea was to collect new and/or gently used sports equipment and then donate it all to an organization in our community that serves children. I can't believe I never thought about donating sports equipment before, it is such a great idea! Kids already love being outdoors, so some sports equipment would be great to encourage an active and healthy lifestyle. :) 


We didn't have any gently used sports equipment to donate, so we ended up buying several things from Walmart (I love their low prices!) instead. Walmart had a huge selection of toys and sports equipment to get the kiddos moving, it was so much fun picking stuff out! Check out our shopping trip here on Google+.

The organization we decided to donate to was the Children's Receiving Home of Sacramento, where they provide hope and healing for children and their families who suffer from the effects of abuse and neglect. They were founded in 1944 and have been at their current site since 1965. It has been great to see such a wonderful organization improve it's location over the years - it let's you know that others are helping as well. :) 

With the help of Bubba, we loaded up the car - not only with the sports equipment, but with bags of clothes. That's right - we were hitting two birds with one stone today! On the way to the Children's Receiving Home of Sacramento we drive right by a thrift store that donates proceeds to the Wind Youth Services of Sacramento - so we dropped off the bags of clothes and then continued on our way! 


It had been awhile since I made a donation to the Receiving Home, and let me tell you - the location looked GREAT!! There are kids that live on-site, so I couldn't take any pictures of the buildings - but if their entrance sign tells you anything, it is a safe and secure place. It made me smile that such great improvements have been made - we actually drove by it the first time because I didn't' recognize it. :) Recently, the Children’s Receiving Home underwent a major renovation and added cottages and a multipurpose building - all made possible through the generosity of donors in the area. Waste Connections Inc was one of the biggest contributers - thus their name being so big on the sign!


If you have read my posts about Champions for Kids before, then you already know I love them. However, if this is your first time - let me tell you... they make helping out in your community so easy and so fun! The Game Day Challenge was April's SIMPLE Service Project and wait until you find out what is planned for May!! If you want to check them out, here are the Champions for Kids links:


One last thing, I have a new love. Odwalla juices have stolen my heart. To be honest, I used to just balk at the price and keep walking - but learning what is in them has made me a believer. Plus, my kids and husband just LOVE them - so no convincing needed there. Check them out next time you see them, I am pretty sure they are the only juices that have Good Vibes as an ingredient. ;)


I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric

Monday, April 23, 2012

Cilantro Pesto


I believe at some point in my life I said the following: "How can anyone eat Cilantro?"

There must have been something dysfunctional with my taste-buds pre-pregnancy...

Now when I see Cilantro on sale, I can't grab it fast enough. I just snagged a bag of Cilantro for .99, and it was the equivalent of 2 bunches!


Just beautiful!


I am in LOVE with Pesto, so I decided to make it - but substitute cilantro for the basil.


After processing it all together, there was something missing. I threw in a couple of green onions and crossed my fingers...

It was heaven on my tastebuds!


What to do with Cilantro Pesto? Well, let me share what we did with it. :)

Bagel Pizzas with Cilantro Pesto, Mozzarella, Crumbled Blue Cheese, Chicken and Salsa. Scrumptious!


Smoked Pork Tacos with Tomatoes, Colby Jack and of course - Cilantro Pesto. These were ridiculously good. :)


And last but not least, Cilantro Pesto and Mozzarella Quesadillas. The perfect little snack!


Recipe for Cilantro Pesto
Enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cobb Tacos & Blue Cheese Week Linky Party


Shortly after I started eating Blue Cheese my hubby and I went out to lunch where I saw a Cobb Salad on the menu. Of course I wanted it - I was on a Blue Cheese kick at this point! Over the course of lunch, I asked my husband numerous times how I had not been eating Cobb Salads my entire life. He was probably wondering why I was talking so much if the salad was so good. haha 

I still love Cobb Salad, however, now that I have 2 kids I find it much easier to eat things that do not require utensils. These Cobb Tacos are perfect!

For the meat, I used Jennie-O Cracked Pepper Turkey Breast. It was so easy to cube and it tastes great!


I was planning on getting plain soft taco tortillas, but I saw these Mission Artisan Style Tortillas instead. I chose Ancient Grains, which is made with whole grain wheat, amaranth, millet, quinoa, sorghum and teff. These tortillas provide 33 grams of whole grains per serving—earning them the Whole Grains Council stamp of approval! Pretty awesome, not to mention they taste so GOOD. :)


These tacos are kept from being dry by adding a bit of Blue Cheese Dressing before adding any ingredients. It's like a party in your mouth when you take a bite!


Cobb Tacos
Makes 2 Tacos
Ingredients
2 soft taco tortillas
4 tablespoons blue cheese dressing
1 cup cooked turkey breast, cubed
4 tablespoons cooked bacon, diced
4 tablespoons avocado, cubed
4 tablespoons hard boiled egg, chopped
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
1/2 cup lettuce, shredded
4 tablespoons tomatoes, chopped
4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
Directions
1. Beginning with the tortillas, layer each ingredient in order listed - splitting the quantities between the 2 tacos.
2. Enjoy!


Ok, now the part I have been excited for ALL week, The Blue Cheese Week Linky Party!! I want to see the most delicious Blue Cheese recipes out there, so whether you made it yourself or found it online - link it up. :) I am going to keep this link open for a week and every recipe that gets posted will also be pinned on Hungry Harps - Blue Cheese Pinterest Board. I can't wait to see all the great recipes out there!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Black & Blue Crostini


Round #3 for Blue Cheese Week is coming a little later than initially expected. See, I am making these dishes the night before I post about them - and I had a little hang-up. The hang-up was BBQ Pork Sandwiches with Blue Cheese Coleslaw. Sounds great, I just need to perfect the recipe - because there was no way in H-E-double hockey stick I was going to share what I had with you. Yikes...

With all that said, I am really happy the sandwiches didn't turn out, because otherwise I may not have found these gems! These Black & Blue Crostinis are marinated deli roast beef placed on a crisp baguette, then topped with a Blue Cheese spread. Absolutely delicious!! If you take these to a party - they will be gone, no doubt in my mind.

Without further ado - let me share how to make these delicious wonders!

First I got the marinade ready - olive oil, garlic, fresh rosemary, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. I swear, some of the best recipes have the simplest ingredients.


The recipe calls for 1/2 pound of thinly sliced roast beef - I used deli-meat from my local grocers meat counter. I got the best quality they had because I am a meat snob...

meat!!

To marinate the meat I first made sure all the pieces of meat were separated and then I placed them in a freezer bag. After adding the marinade, I gently worked the bag of meat to make sure everything was getting the "Love of Marinade". Then I put the bag of marinating meat in the fridge and let the "love" do it's work.


Next up was the Blue Cheese Spread - again, completely simple ingredients. Cream cheese, crumbled blue cheese, blue cheese dressing and salt&pepper.

the only way the lighting could have gotten any worse for this picture is if the electricity went out...

Mr. Hungry Harp found Treasure Cave Crumbled Blue Cheese - with a Natural Smoke Flavor while at the grocery store. He called me and told me about it, I told him to get some - he told me it was already in his hand. I love that guy. ♥ 

The recipe calls for Blue Cheese dressing so I used our favorite one thus far - Litehouse Chunky Bleu Cheese. Delish! (I never use that word - but it totally fits here.)

After mixing the ingredients for the Blue Cheese Spread, it got placed in the fridge - right next to the marinating roast beef. Little did they know that soon enough they would be coming together to create love for my mouth! *Nom, nom, nom! (I use that all the time, my kids think it's hilarious)


While the meat and the blue cheese spread were chillin' (literally and figuratively), I started preparing the crostini. It's easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, I swear. Heat oven to 350, slice some baguette bread, brush olive oil on both sides and add salt&pepper to taste.

Since the roast beef marinade has fresh rosemary in it I opted to use Rosemary Olive Oil on the crostini. It was perfect! I found these little gems at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco and I am in love with them. The company is Sciabica's and they have an awesome line of flavored olive oils - one of my favorites being Habanero. >:)


Bake the crostini for about 10-15 minutes or until they start to turn a golden-brown.


After the crostini cools down, pile-on add the marinated roast beef.


Add a dollop of blue cheese spread.


Using the back of a spoon, press each dollop of spread down just a little to create a small bowl. Stick some fresh sprigs of Rosemary into each dollop and serve. Your guests will be WOWED!!

so pretty!

Roast Beef Marinade
Ingredients
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Directions
1. Mix all ingredients together, add meat and marinate for minimum of one hour.

Blue Cheese Spread
Ingredients
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons blue cheese salad dressing
Salt&pepper to taste
Directions
1. Mix all ingredients together, let chill for minimum of half hour.

Recipe adapted from Beef and Blue Cheese Crostini by Crisco

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blue-Barbecue Pizza


Yesterday we kicked off Blue Cheese Week here on Hungry Harps with Blue Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms, today we are bringing the pizza! This was the first time we had tried Blue Cheese on pizza and it was awesome! But real quick, before we get to the pizza, I wanted to let all of you Blue Cheese lovers out there that I started up a Pinterest board just for Blue Cheese recipes. Check it out here: 
On Friday we will be having a Linky Party for everyone to share Blue Cheese recipes - I will be adding all of those recipes to the Pinterest Board as well. I hope you will join us! 

Ok, back to that pizza! I have yet to perfect a handmade pizza dough - so it was the store-bought kind this time...


I started with BBQ sauce, Jack Daniel's Original No. 7 Recipe Barbecue Sauce, to be exact. I wasn't shy with it - almost half a bottle. I am not a huge fan of crust, so I tend to put the ingredients to the edge of whatever pizza I am making.


Next was the shredded Mozzarella. If Mozzarella was going to be the only cheese on this pizza I would have added a lot more - I was being nice here and leaving some room for the upcoming Blue Cheese. :)


Then it was time to add the chicken - just chopped up cooked chicken. I used chicken breasts, chopped and sauteed in a bit of olive oil - adding salt and pepper towards the end of cooking time.


Time for the Blue Cheese!! Even the pooch wants some. :) If you like Blue Cheese a lot, don't be shy - it tastes wonderful on pizza!


Last but not least the red onions and parsley were added. Such a gorgeous pizza!


 It seems that all pre-made pizza crusts have different cooking times - so adjust accordingly. Mine said to pre-heat oven to 450, place pizza in oven, lower temperature to 425 and then cook for 10 minutes. It worked great, but it was the oddest directions I had ever seen on a store-bought pizza crust.


Ta-da!! The Blue-Barbecue Pizza. :)

We made two identical pizzas, one with steak and one with chicken, both being wonderful with Blue Cheese. The kids were not too fond of it - but I do think that Blue Cheese may take some getting used to, an acquired taste if you will.

I would love it if you come back tomorrow for another Blue Cheese recipe!!

#OdwallaCFK "Game Day Challenge"


When I first started participating in Champions for Kids SIMPLE Service Projects, it was very saddening to me. I would read the statistics of kids in my area who need help, and it brought tears to my eyes. It's completely heart-breaking that there are kids out there that don't have the most simple things in life - and it's through no fault of their own.

Since my first SIMPLE Service Project with Champions for Kids, my feelings have changed a little. I am still heart broken, without a doubt - but I am also happy to be helping out too. My sadness is what got me helping in the first place, but now my happiness is what keeps me going. Besides, it's hard to have fun when you are sad - and trust me, these SIMPLE Service Projects are a blast!

For this month's SIMPLE Service Project, Champions for Kids teamed up with Odwalla and came up with another great idea to help less fortunate children - a Game Day Challenge! The idea is to collect new and gently used sports equipment and donate them to an organization in your area that serves children. I am completely LOVING this idea!

And after reading a bit more about Odwalla - I am LOVING them too!!


Odwalla has been in business for 25 years and has lived by 3 key principles:

1. Make great juice.
2. Do good things for the community.
3. Build a business with heart. 

How can you not like that?

One feature I really like about Odwalla juice is the picture breakdown of what's inside the bottle. They even add some Good Vibes - how awesome! ;)


We headed to our local Walmart to start our collection of sports equipment and grab some Odwalla juice - to really get into the spirit of this SIMPLE Service Project! 

I also found a few tomato plants, a jalapeno plant and some other gardening goodies. One of our most favorite times is working in the backyard while the kids play. Their laughs sure make any work we are doing seem not so bad. :)


Here is what we found at Walmart to start our sports equipment collection! A little bit of everything, and hopefully something for everybody. A basketball, soccer ball, football, baseball & bat, a scoop & score, 2 jump ropes and 3 frisbees. 

Just looking at this picture makes me want to go outside and play!!

If you are in need of outdoor activities for the kiddos this spring and summer, Walmart has a HUGE selection. (Shameless advertising, but I LOVE Walmart) Not to mention the prices are AMAZING!! Check out what we found here on Google+.


We have decided to donate our collection of sports equipment to the Children's Receiving Home of Sacramento. They provide hope and healing for children and their families who suffer from the effects of abuse and neglect. Founded in 1944 and right up the street from where I grew up - this has been a place that my family and I have donated to on a several occasions. I am so excited to bring them the sports equipment we collect!

If you want to get involved, it is SO easy to help out.
Check out Champions for Kids on their:

website
twitter
facebook

I would love to hear if you get involved!
By the end of the month I will post an update on our donation, can't wait to share it with everyone. :)

I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blue Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms


I don't blame you if you don't like Blue Cheese - it used to repulse me. The smell made me gag and the thought of eating moldy cheese made my stomach turn. And then one day, when I was pregnant (darn cravings!), I decided to try some Blue Cheese on my steak - it had been placed under a broiler so the result was a wonderful crust. I was still a little hesitant... Verdict? I was very surprised to find out that it was SPECTACULAR!! Now I like Blue Cheese and there is no turning back.

I can also thank pregnancy for my changed feelings of mushrooms, they also repulsed me. This dish would have never been made by me 5 years ago. Never.
 
However, I am now celebrating Blue Cheese with a week's worth of recipes - and kicking it off with Blue Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms! I made this button and placed it on my blog for easy reference back to these recipes. I would love it if you joined along. On Friday I will be setting up a Linky Party for everyone to share their Blue Cheese recipes - so join in the fun!

Hungry Harps - Blue Cheese Week
<a href="http://www.hungryharps.com/search/label/Blue%20Cheese%20Week" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1227.photobucket.com/albums/ee437/hungryharps/BLUE-CHEESE-BUTTON.png" border="0" alt="Hungry Harps - Blue Cheese Week" /></a>

Blue Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
First, I mixed together cream cheese, diced bacon, chopped green onions, minced garlic and shredded parmesan cheese.


Next, went in the Blue Cheese, salt and white pepper. It was mixed thoroughly.


Then the mushrooms were cleaned and de-stemmed, placing them on a lightly greased baking sheet.


Each mushroom was filled with about 1/2 - 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture. I used a pastry bag, sans tip, to fill them and it worked marvelous!


Don't they look great?


But they were not done yet! I put them in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes - just until the tops were starting to turn golden brown.


While the Blue Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms were baking, my Dad was outside mastering the BBQ. He was so in the zone he didn't even know I snapped this picture!


Ding! When dinner was done we had an array of mouth-watering dishes. T-Bones, Filet Mignons, Shrimp & Pepper Skewers, Grilled Asparagus, Wild Rice, Baked Rolls and of course - Blue Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms! It was an Easter dinner like no other - not to mention the company wasn't half-bad... haha

Hope everyone had a good holiday this past weekend! See you tomorrow with another Blue Cheese recipe!


Blue Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
Ingredients
8 oz cream cheese, softened
5 slices of bacon, cooked and diced(I used thick cut – if not using thick-cut add an additional piece.)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2  tablespoon garlic, minced
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
20 mushrooms, washed and de-stemmed (I used regular ol’ mushrooms from the grocery store)
Directions
1. Heat oven to 375, lightly grease baking sheet.
2. Mix together cream cheese, diced bacon, chopped green onions, minced garlic and shredded parmesan cheese.
3. Add blue cheese, salt and ground white pepper – mix thoroughly.
4. Fill each mushroom with filling, using just enough to leave a rounded top.  (I used a pastry bag which made the job amazingly easy and clean.)
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tops start turning golden brown.
6. Let cool and serve while warm.