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cheerwine ribs

Cheerwine Ribs

Friends, I’ve got to be honest. I’m really lacking in words today. We’re still coming down off of a great family beach week, and I’m missing the ocean something fierce. I guess reminiscing about these Cheerwine Ribs will have to get me through my withdrawal.

cheerwine ribs

It also doesn’t hurt reminiscing about the three cutest little helpers ever. You guys, Anna Ruth has woken up every morning this week asking for Jack and Abigail. These cousins love each other so much, and it makes my heart so happy when they’re together. I’m terrible at remembering to take pictures on the beach, but I did actually snap a few the night we made the Cheerwine Ribs for this post. (Also, side note, I have so many pictures of these three from the back because it is nearly impossible to get all of them to look and smile at the camera at the same time – insert crying laughing emoji.) I’ll try to post beach pics from my mom at some point because it would be cruel to deprive you of the cuteness that is three look-alike blonde babies playing on the beach.

cheerwine ribscheerwine ribscheerwine ribs

Back on topic. Y’all, we’re just three ingredients away from the juiciest, fall off the boniest, sauciest ribs ever. Count that – 1.2.3. Ribs. Cheerwine. Barbecue sauce.

cheerwine ribs

When my family goes to the beach we’re not out to eaters. We’re stay in and cookers. While we’re beaching it, the trend in our family is slow cooking and prepping as much as possible during naptime. Prepping/slow cooking during naptime = more outside playtime before dinner.

cheerwine ribs

I’m sure you’ve all heard of another type of ribs with a famous soda, but, y’all, we live in North Carolina aka Cheerwine country, so I thought that would be delicious. I was right (as usual).

Other than your three ingredients (plus s+p and water), you only need two things to make these Cheerwine Ribs: an oven and 1-2 grill masters. If you’ve read the About Me page of the blog, you may remember that I don’t grill. It’s just not my thing. However, Andy and my bil Tim do, and they generally don’t mind when we send them outside to show off their skills and enjoy a beer without three kids treating them like jungle gyms.

cheerwine ribs

These Cheerwine Ribs are so super simple. All you do is season, cover in liquid (Cheerwine + water), cook low and slow in the oven, and finish on the grill with the sauce. The sauce here is whatever you want it to be. Given that the cooking liquid is sweetened from the Cheerwine we went with a spicy barbecue sauce, which was perfect. We will occasionally make our own, but I find the store bought to be best for ribs because it’s so much thicker and really sticks to the meat.

Let’s talk about the grilling portion for just a minute. Tim is VERY specific about this. First, you grill the ribs on both sides without any sauce, then baste the bottom side, flip and baste the top, then remove from the grill. You don’t want to turn them several times with the sauce. Barbecue sauce is sugary. Sugar burns on the grill. Too much sugar burning = too much rib burning = not what you want. Here’s what you’re looking for…

  1. Top side up – no sauce
  2. Flip/top side down – baste the bottom
  3. Flip/top side up – baste the top

cheerwine ribscheerwine ribscheerwine ribs

Okay, I guess I had more wordsssss than I thought, so I’ll get on with it and leave you with the recipe. Please make these soon and let me know what you think!

cheerwine ribs

Ingredients:

2 racks pork ribs
20 oz cheerwine
Barbecue sauce (we like spicy)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Cut ribs in half so you have four sections, and place into baking pan large enough so they are not above the rim. (We use an aluminum baking pan that we just toss once we’re done.)
  3. Season both sides of the ribs with salt and pepper, then pour the Cheerwine over the ribs. Add enough water to totally cover the ribs.
  4. Cover tightly with foil and cook in oven for 3 hours.*
  5. Remove from the cooking liquid and heat your grill to medium.
  6. Place ribs bottom side down, flip after 5 minutes, baste the bottom side, flip after 5 more minutes, baste the top side and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and cut into desired portions (we do 2-3 ribs per person, and the guys generally get seconds).
  7. Enjoy!

*Put your baking dish/aluminum pan on a baking sheet that is slightly larger than the pan so that any liquid that may escape will fall onto that rather than the floor of your oven.

sausage lasagna roll-ups

Sausage Lasagna Roll-Ups

Sausage Lasagna Roll-Ups, guys. Sausage. Lasagna. Roll-Ups.

sausage lasagna roll-ups

Lasagna is the perfect homemade comfort food, but make it in a roll-up version and it’s just cute as a dang button.

sausage lasagna roll-ups

I know what you’re probably thinking….

Wait. Wait. Waaaait. I thought I was reading Miss Foodie Two Shoes. Where is my quick, summer-friendly, spend your evenings at the pool meal?

These sausage lasagna roll-ups are actually two of those three things. Yes, you need a few minutes to put these roll-ups together, but 1) they can be made over the course of a day or two to split up the time, and 2) these are perfect for dinner on nights spent at the pool (though not necessarily for nights that you actually pack up and eat your dinner at the pool, if you know what I mean) because leftovers for days.

sausage lasagna roll-ups

If you’ve been reading for a while, you will know I have a few requirements that generally need to be met when I commit to making a dish that takes longer than 2 seconds:

  • Can I freeze it?
  • Does it make a lot?
  • Does it work well for leftovers?
  • Can I prep it ahead of time and cook later?
  • Is it easy to double?
  • Would it be good to feed a crowd (think potluck or casual night with friends over)?
  • Would it be good to take to friends with new babies?

I don’t necessarily require that alllll of these conditions be met, but the first three and sort-of the fourth are of utmost importance (working mom probs). Lucky for us this dish passes with flying colors.

sausage lasagna roll-ups

I have two friends with new babies (see last week’s post re: super mom that hosted Christmas in July with a three week old), and thought this would be perfect for them. A dish like this gives a new mom options. She can either cook it for dinner right away, or she can put it in the freezer and save for a few weeks down the road when the new baby meals have stopped coming.

sausage lasagna roll-ups

These sausage lasagna roll-ups are loaded with (duh) sausage, peppers, onions, ricotta and basil, and are so good that you’ll want to assemble and stock your freezer for the {eventual} fall and winter that will be here soon enough. Hey! Look at it as a mental break from the scorching heat dome that is our current situation. (And – happy side note – we’re probably less than two months away from the return of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, so just let that sink in for a minute.) Make it for your family, or make it for a friend. Either way you have a win/win situation on your hands. Enjoy!

sausage lasagna roll-ups

P.S. Next week is beach week for the Peascoe/Smoak/Avent family, so there’s a good chance I will be totally unplugged and will probably have no recipe ready for you. That’s not definite, but just a heads up in case you get through next Wednesday and are stalking my FB page to see if I’ve posted anything because I just might not. Our meals at the beach are always totally on point, tho, so I’m sure I’ll come back with plenty of yumminess to share!

Ingredients:

15 lasagna noodles (the kind you have to boil first)
1 lb Italian sausage (I use mild for this)
1 small yellow onion – diced
1 green bell pepper – diced
¼ tsp oregano
1 ¼ cups ricotta cheese
1 ½ cups shredded mozzarella (divided)
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 egg – beaten
10 basil leaves – chopped
2 cups marinara sauce

Directions:

  1. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water then lay flat on wax or parchment paper to keep from sticking together.
  2. Cook the sausage in a skillet over medium heat until done. Remove to a paper towel lined bowl and set aside. Drain all but one tablespoon of the sausage grease.
  3. To the same skillet add the onion, bell pepper and oregano and sauté until soft – about 5-7 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, combine ricotta, ½ cup mozzarella, ½ cup parmesan, the beaten egg and basil, and stir to combine.
  5. Assembly:
    1. Spray a 9×13 baking dish and add ½ cup marinara to the bottom. Spread so there is a thin layer of sauce covering the bottom.
    2. Spread 2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture onto each noodle, then top with one spoonful of sausage and one spoonful of the onion/pepper mixture.
    3. Gently roll the lasagna, making sure to hold in the ingredients as much as possible.
    4. Place each roll seam side down into the baking dish (you’ll have to kind of squish the last row in).
    5. Once all rolls are made, cover with the remaining 1 ½ cups marinara sauce and 1 cup mozzarella cheese.
  6. If baking immediately: heat oven to 350 degrees. Cover loosely with foil, and bake for 45 minutes, removing the foil for the last 10 minutes.
  7. If freezing: cover tightly with foil then wrap in plastic wrap and place into a plastic freezer bag large enough to fit your dish. When ready to cook, heat oven to 400 degrees, remove plastic wrap and place directly in the oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes, or until heated through. Remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cook time.

Note: you can cook the sausage and pepper/onion mixture the day before, then just make the ricotta mixture while the noodles cook and assemble once they’re done.

Note 2: if you don’t like peppers and/or onions you can leave them out! This would also be delicious with some chopped mushrooms thrown into the veggie mix IMO.

Note 3: Andy and I both agree that mild sausage is best here. As a general rule of thumb we prefer spicy to not, so for us to say that you might want to trust us 😉

chocolate chip peanut butter cups

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cups

Here we go again, guys. This self-proclaimed “non-baker” is coming to you with yet another sweets recipe. Guys – that’s TWO in less than a month. This whole bloger/blogee relationship is based on trust, and I admit I’m not bringing it lately when I say “trust me, I don’t bake.” However, if you have to lose trust in me then I guess this is a pretty good way to go because these two-ingredient sugar bombs from heaven are worth losing a little trust.

You heard me: two. ingredients.

chocolate chip peanut butter cups

Let me regain your trust here. While you can make your own chocolate chip cookie dough (and BTW you would be my hero and I would expect an invite to your house to eat chocolate chip peanut butter cups with ->homemade<- chocolate chip cookie dough), I just use the blue brand log from the store. So while – yes – I’m baking, I’m not reaaaaally getting into the nitty-gritty measuring that generally comes with baking.

Okay, can we resume our trust fall now? K, thanks.

chocolate chip peanut butter cups

If we were friends in college, there’s a pretty good chance you had these, and are now reminiscing about the good ol’ days in Chapel Hill, and maybe even swaying to the tune of “Carolina in My Mind” playing in your head…ehhh, just me?

While I used to make these all the time in college, I now generally just make them around Christmastime. (Forewarning, I will do a post in the November/December timeframe with my “always ready for drop-in company” Christmas treats display.)

chocolate chip peanut butter cups

Well, this past weekend we had a little Christmas in July party with friends, so of course I had to make my chocolate chip peanut butter cups. Y’all, my friend Sarah has an 18-month-old and a THREE WEEK OLD, and she was still able to host Christmas in July. And if you’re wondering – yes – there was a tree and gifts for the littles. #momgoals It was basically just sweets, homemade popcorn and Christmas movies, but we had a blast hanging out and celebrating Jesus’ half birthday. I would have taken more pictures than just the dessert table, but there were more important things to do. Like drink that glass of wine and watch Anna Ruth see Christmas Eve on Sesame Street for the first time.

chocolate chip peanut butter cups

Now, back to the chocolate chip peanut butter cups. I feel a little phony sharing these because they’re so easy. My mom even said “doesn’t everyone already know how to make them?” Thanks, mom. Maybe, but I’ve never known anyone other than my sister and me to make them, so…

There is one must-have kitchen item for these – a mini muffin pan. I used to have two pans of 24, but then I found this one at BB&B, and I had to have it.

  1. It’s so big it’s hysterical.
  2. You have the opportunity to make up to 48 chocolate chip peanut butter cups at once.

chocolate chip peanut butter cups

The cookie dough log I use generally yields about 20, so this pan is perfect if you want to double the recipe. It’s fine not to fill the whole pan, but just add about 1-2 tbsp of water to any empty compartments before baking.

Try to roll the cookie dough balls as evenly as you can for uniformity, and have the peanut butter cups ready to go when the cookies come out of the oven. These are incredibly good while still hot, but are equally enjoyable once they’ve cooled completely. Enjoy!

chocolate chip peanut butter cups

Ingredients:

Chocolate chip cookie dough (store bought or homemade)
Peanut butter cups (enough to have one per cookie)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven according to your cookie dough directions (mine is for 350 degrees).
  2. Roll the cookie dough into one-inch balls and place into the individual mini muffin tin compartments. Bake according to package directions, but start checking about a minute before the lowest cooking time (mine are generally ready around the 10.5 minute mark). Remove from the oven once golden, but not too brown as they will continue cooking slightly once out of the oven.
  3. Immediately place one peanut butter cup into the middle of each cookie and press down so the top is even with the top of the cookie.
  4. Remove from the pan and enjoy!
chicken pita avocado tzatziki

Chicken Pita with Avocado Tzatziki

Warning: this post is picture heavy with yummy chicken pita and family time – I just couldn’t help myself! You can scroll through for the recipe, but then you’ll miss all of the mouthwatering goodness.

Happy hump day, friends! Did you miss me? I’m back after a week off because #vacation. I know I only took one week off from posting, but man it feels like it’s been ages. Last week my little family went with Andy’s parents, aunt, uncle and cousin and took a trip far into the NC mountains where we kayaked, tubed, rode a train and just generally relaxed for several days, and it was incredible. Since starting MFTS it was the first time I let myself go completely offline and not worry about anything blog related. I wish I had tons of pics to share with you, but they’re basically all of AR playing in the creek behind our house. Okay okay, here’s some of that, and our family train ride on the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad (sorry it’s blurry – thanks a lot, train).

chicken pita avocado tzatzikichicken pita avocado tzatzikichicken pita avocado tzatzikichicken pita avocado tzatzikichicken pita avocado tzatzikichicken pita avocado tzatzikichicken pita avocado tzatziki

After a few days, though, it was back to reality. And back to our current obsession, which made up our 4 meals pre-mountain trip and now 4 meals post-mountain trip. Ask me if I’m mad about it and the answer is a resounding as if, you guys. As. If. I present to you Chicken Pita with Avocado Tzatziki.

chicken pita avocado tzatziki

*Let me first state that I make no claims to this being an authentic tzatziki recipe. I’ve tried making traditional tzatziki and haven’t gotten it quite right yet, but this is my blog and I get to call it what I want amiright? Call it magic sauce for all I care. That may actually be a better name for it given how easy, healthy and absolutely delicious it is. Srsly, you’ll want it on errrythang once you’ve made it.

What we have here is the easiest, freshest, green on green on green meal you can have ready and on the table in less than 30 minutes. Let’s break down my chicken pita with avocado tzatziki…

chicken pita avocado tzatziki

First you have the pita. Flatbreads or pockets work, but we generally prefer the flatbread. Andy likes to spiff ‘em up a little by warming them in a pan with a teensy drizzle of olive oil and salt <– this step is 100% optional, but you should definitely warm your pita a little before loading it up!

chicken pita avocado tzatziki

Then you have the magic sauce avocado tzatziki. This sauce was the inspiration for the entire dish. See, every week we buy a bag of avocados from Costco. We share one for breakfast most mornings, but we generally still have 1-2 leftover later in the week. I thought it would be good to mix with Greek yogurt, and then I decided to see how it would be with some grated cucumber.

Y’all.

I can’t.

It was SO good I had to stop myself from eating it with a spoon. The key here is the grated cucumber. I use my microplane, but a box grater would work too – just make sure to grate it directly over the bowl. I’m showing you a picture of the before mix so you can see what you’re going for with the cucumber. You’ll think there’s a lot of juice, but you want it. Embrace the magic, green, glow-giving juice.

chicken pita avocado tzatzikichicken pita avocado tzatziki

Next you have the Greek chicken. Simply cube up chicken breast, season and cook in a skillet. Dunzo bunzo. If you have an awesome meat counter like I do then you can ask your meat guy if he’ll cube the chicken for you. I’ll have them do this if I’m at the store when it’s not really busy. If you do this you’ll save a good 5-10 minutes on the total prep time. I use this Greek seasoning that I bought at my local grocery store, but it’s also available on Amazon and (hey look!!) it’s Prime eligible. You can make your own mix, but if you’re busy like me then the seasoning mix is the way to go.

chicken pita avocado tzatziki

Finally, top it all off with a little extra diced cucumber and dill. Annnd we’re done! Dinner is on the table in less than 30 minutes.

chicken pita avocado tzatziki

I could end there, but it would be cruel of me to not talk about the leftover situation here. Of course, you can use the leftovers to make the same dish with pita included. Orrrrr, you can pack up the chicken, leftover sauce, veggies and lettuce and have a super delicious/healthy dinner at the pool/beach/park/dock/whatever. No greasy pool bar food for this family (though, we may have ordered cheese sticks, but whatevs).

chicken pita avocado tzatziki

One last close up of this little greeny to show off her good looks. Enjoy!

chicken pita avocado tzatziki

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
2 chicken breasts (about 1.5 lbs)
1 tbsp Greek seasoning
1 ripe avocado
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 English cucumber (1/3 for grating, then small dice as much as you want for topping)
Splash lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
6 pita (flatbread or pockets)
Optional: chopped dill

Directions:

  1. Dice the chicken breast, then stir in the Greek seasoning making sure all pieces are evenly coated.
  2. Let the chicken sit in the seasoning while you prepare the avocado tzatziki.
  3. Make the avocado tzatziki: mash the avocado in a bowl, and combine with the yogurt. Grate about 1/3 of the cucumber into the mixture, add lemon juice and salt and stir until well combined.
  4. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Season the chicken with the Greek seasoning and sauté until done.
  5. Assemble: smear the avocado tzatziki over the pita, top with chicken, extra cucumber and dill.
cobbler

Berry Cobbler + Papa’s 88th Birthday

This past weekend was a very special one for our family. Andy and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary (love you, bae) and my family came together to celebrate my grandfather’s 88th birthday. Papa: the man, the myth, the legend…

berry cobbler

I’m sure a lot of people feel this way, but my family really is the best (I mean that for all sides, but this particular party was with my dad’s side). We love getting together and we all genuinely enjoy each other. Here’s what a typical gathering may look like…

It looks like hot dogs and hamburgers and brats and fixins and loaded potato salad.
It looks like cake and pie and cobbler and Yum Yum Ice Cream.
It looks like Cheerwine and Coca-Cola in glass bottles.
It looks like croquet and corn hole and bubbles in the backyard.
It looks like great grandbabies eating ice out of the drink tub while taking a break from chasing each other around the yard.
It looks like my favorite four-year-old helping make berry cobbler.
It looks like Anna Ruth eating all of the leftover blueberries.
It looks like Jack’s shirt coming off because he cannot eat a popsicle without juice going everywhere.
It looks like laughter and fun.

cobblercobblerberry cobbler

It looks like my grandfather seeing his four kids and spouses, and his eight grandkids and three spouses (and two boyfriends that I’m preeeeetty sure are here for the long haul), and his three great grandkids – and hopefully feeling immense joy for the life he and my grandmother created.

cobblercobbler

We’re all getting busier, but whenever we get together it’s as if no time has passed. We play, pray, eat and laugh, and it’s really the best.

berry cobblercobbler

My contribution to this particular shindig was the berry cobbler. The base of my recipe is from an old episode of the Pioneer Woman, but instead of using blackberries I use raspberries and blueberries. This cobbler is so easy I literally memorized the recipe while watching the show. I just remember her saying “a cup of, a cup of, a cup of,” and that was it. Once you have the base down, you can sub any other berries or even peaches. Since we’re so close to July 4th, I decided to be patriotic and go for the red, white and blue look, so rasp/blue berry cobbler it is!

cobbler

Cobbler is such a perfect summer dessert, and the red, white and blue makes for a fun 4th treat! This particular cobbler is especially great if you have a little chef that likes to help in the kitchen. Abigail helped mix the batter and added the berries – she was so proud of herself. If you’ve been following for a while, you may remember how I don’t bake very often. It’s because baking is so…precise. This does require measuring, but everything is a cup, so we won’t be dirtying every measuring spoon in the house. Enjoy!

cobbler

Ingredients:

1 stick butter
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1-2 cups berries (I use a 5 oz container of raspberries and 3/4-1 cup blueberries – just eyeball it)
¼ cup sugar (for topping)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a cast iron skillet (or 9×13 pan) with cooking spray.
  2. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl.
  3. Combine the flour and sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the milk and then the butter.
  4. Pour the mixture into the cast iron skillet (or baking dish), then add the berries.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of sugar over the top, then bake for an hour until the top is golden and bubbly.
roasted garlic hummus

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Happy third day of Summmmmer, y’all!! Today I’m taking you to the core of our summer eating habits that get us through 2/3 of our meals: fresh, simple, no cook, ready to throw on a plate and call it lunch/dinner.

No – we don’t eat roasted garlic hummus per-se for 2/3 of our meals in the summer, but you get the gist of what I’m saying, right? This is just an example of how a summer meal might go.

  1. Grill chicken breasts while playing in the back yard.
  2. Buy and chop the entire produce section.
  3. Put grilled chicken on plates with fresh hummus and crudité (crudité is fancy for chopped veggies <–someone please tell me you get that reference).
  4. Done.

roasted garlic hummus

Let’s get a few things out of the way…

This recipe is adapted from a recipe given to me by one of Andy’s great uncles (hiiii, Jack!). His late wife was Syrian, and the base recipe was from her, so I feel pretty good about this being truly authentic. I just tweaked it by roasting the garlic, rather than using raw.

roasted garlic hummus

I know I said “no cook.” That’s mostly true, but – yes – to make this you do have to roast garlic first. If you’re feeling particularly lazy you can just substitute with 3-4 cloves of raw garlic. The flavor won’t be as sweet and caramelized-y as with roasted, but it is also very delicious.

roasted garlic hummus

Yes, you can buy a popular brand of hummus with roasted garlic, but then you’re not getting it evenly distributed like you are here, and this recipe makes about double what you would buy at the store (for about a third of what you would spend buying two tubs). Also, this fresh, homemade version skips all of the added toxic chemicals in store-bought roasted garlic hummus (<– J/K – I am SOOOOO not that mom – I am NOT seriously saying the added ingredients are toxic). We aren’t above store-bought hummus, but I generally have all of the ingredients on hand to make my own, and you know I love any excuse to use my food processor. 😉

roasted garlic hummus

As mentioned, we’re roasting our own garlic here. Don’t be afraid – it’s really easy! Cut the top off, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, roast in oven. Easy peasy! A whole head of garlic sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t that pungent once it’s roasted and soft and golden. We love roasted garlic so much that I don’t think I would mind even doubling the amount in the recipe.

roasted garlic hummus

I generally keep things easy and just serve the hummus with pita wedges and crudité, but it’s also great on a Greek salad, or as a sandwich spread. Let me know other ways you enjoy using hummus!

Ingredients:

1 head garlic
1/2 tsp olive oil
2 (15.5 oz) cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
4 tbsp tahini
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the top off of the garlic and drizzle with the olive oil. Wrap in foil and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until soft and golden. (Start checking around 40 minutes. The longer you roast the deeper golden it will become.)
  2. Once the garlic cools, remove the cloves from the skin.
  3. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend for one minute, then scrape down the sides of the food processor to ensure all ingredients are well mixed. Run the food processor for another five minutes until very smooth and well blended.
  4. Enjoy with crudité and pita wedges!

Notes: as written this hummus is thick. You can thin out to a looser consistency by adding 1-2 tbsp of water at a time until desired consistency is reached.

fiesta summer salad

Fiesta Summer Salad

Fiesta Summer Salad: AKA tomato, black bean, corn, onion, cilantro, avocado, lime salad. Whew. That mouthful in itself is enough for me to give this an obnoxious name like Fiesta Summer Salad. We’re going there, guys, hand in hand.

The truth is, you guys, I really don’t know what this is exactly. It’s a side “salad,” a dip, a topper of anything Mexican-inspired – tacos, nachos, burritos, etc. The one thing I am 100% certain of, though, is that this is the freshest salad/dip/topper ev-er.

fiesta summer salad

Remember those fish tacos from a couple of weeks ago? This is what we make with those. It doesn’t stop there, though. This fiesta summer salad is the perfect side for anytime you grill meat and other veggies because 1) it’s a side and 2) it can also be a salsa-like topping for the meat.

fiesta summer salad

It’s best to make everything minus the avocado ahead of time to let all of the flavors get cozy, then just dice up the avocado just before you’re ready to serve. Easy peasy!

My favorite part about this fiesta summer salad is that, while it’s not only vegan, it has no oil or salt. You heard me. No oil or salt. We’re working with all plant-based ingredients today. While you can salt this just before eating, I honestly don’t think it needs it…neither does Andy, who notoriously likes to salt his food. If you’re going to do it, though, just wait until you’re ready to serve – otherwise the salt will bring out the juices and make this much runnier than it should be.

fiesta summer salad

Ingredients:

1 (15 oz) can black beans – drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can yellow corn – drained and rinsed
4-5 vine ripe tomatoes
1 red onion
1 large handful cilantro
2 tbsp lime juice
1 avocado

Directions:

  1. Dice the tomatoes and onion, and mince the cilantro.
  2. Combine beans, corn, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and lime juice in a bowl. Cover and store in the fridge for at least an hour, if not longer.
  3. When ready to serve, peel and dice the avocado then stir into the salad.
  4. Enjoy!
homemade stromboli

Basic Stromboli

We’re going in a new direction on the blog today. A cheesy, meaty, saucy, doughy direction, and I’m loving it.

homemade stromboli

I’m calling this “basic” stromboli for several reasons:

  1. It’s the standard ham, pepperoni and mozzarella combo you’d order at a pizza place
  2. It’s the jumping off point for dozens of other strombolis made with whatever toppings you like
  3. It is so BASIC and easy that I almost feel silly sharing it and calling myself a food blogger
  4. It is so BASIC and easy that it is my duty as a food blogger to share it with you
  5. Points 3 & 4 –> glimpse of how my mind works

homemade stromboli

Guys, this stromboli is probably the easiest weeknight meal we’ve ever had, and that includes take-out. You only need five minutes of prep – count that 1.2.3.4.5 – and then you have a delicious dinner in the oven, ready in 15-20 minutes. It’s kind of like pizza, but in a form that is way more fun to eat (i.e., it’s dunkable). If nothing else the Peascoes are sauce lovers. Marinara, ranch, red pepper sauce. You name it and we’ll probably want to try it. Stromboli is the perfect vessel for all of your dunking needs.

stromboli

In addition to being a great weeknight meal, this is also a great picky eater kid friendly meal. Remember my favorite little 4-year-old, Abigail? Girlfriend doesn’t like much, but of this stromboli she said, “this is the best thing I’ve ever had.” BOOM. Abigail approved, so just trust that means it literally is one of the best things you’ll ever have.

homemade strombolihomemade strombolihomemade stromboli

Let’s look at the cast of characters: pizza dough, pizza sauce, deli ham, pepperoni and mozzarella. I recently found this brand of pizza dough at Harris Teeter, and I can’t go back to the more well-known, blue tube brand (find it in the same refrigerator as the tubes of biscuits and other dough). Any rectangular dough will work, but if you have access to it, I highly recommend. It’s the perfect rectangle, and it even comes with its own parchment paper, so literally no clean-up afterwards. The sauce can be whatever brand you like, as well as the mozzarella. For the ham, I just use a cheap-o brand from the grocery store. Feel free to get it from the deli, but I’ve found that it really doesn’t make a difference. Then there’s the pepperoni. You can absolutely use regular pepperoni, but these minis are just so darn cute.

strombolistromboli

There you have it. My most basic of the basics stromboli. We’ve also made these with sausage and mushrooms, and that was equally delicious. These are so fun and easy, you can make any combination you want and it will be delicious. Let me know what other combinations you come up with!

stromboli

Ingredients:

1 roll rectangular pizza dough
¼ cup pizza sauce
6-8 slices thin sliced black forest ham
½ cup mini pepperonis
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ tbsp butter – melted (optional)
Garlic powder (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven according to your pizza dough instructions. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (unless using dough that comes with parchment). Roll out dough.
  2. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, leaving about 1-2 inches along the top length.
  3. Cover the sauce with a single layer of ham, followed by the mini pepperoni and shredded mozzarella.
  4. Fold up the bottom third of the dough over the middle. Bring the top half down and seal it together. Seal the ends so the sauce and cheese doesn’t ooze out while cooking.
  5. Cut 3-4 slits in the top to let the air escape while cooking.
  6. Optional: if you’re feeling fan-say, melt a half tablespoon of butter and brush over the top. Follow that with a light sprinkle of garlic powder and salt.
  7. Bake according to your pizza dough instructions. The top should be golden brown and juices bubbling out of the slits.
  8. Cut into eight pieces and enjoy!

Notes: we like to dip ours in marinara sauce or ranch – YUM!

fish tacos

The Best Fish Tacos

See what I just did there? I just told you this is a recipe for The Best Fish Tacos. I don’t take that statement lightly. Let me be super clear: THESE ARE THE BEST FISH TACOS. You will want to eat them 24/7/365, and when you’re not eating them 24/7/365 you’ll be dreaming about and counting down the minutes until you can have them again.

fish tacos

These fish tacos are made up of three crucial parts: well-seasoned fish, a spicy mayo and a citrusy slaw. It’s these three parts combined that make these the best fish tacos you’ll want every day for the rest of your life. If all three parts are not adequately represented (while still good) it just doesn’t make as much sense. You’ve got spice from the fish and the chipotle mayo, but then – oh hayyyyy!! – here comes the zippy cilantro lime slaw to cool your mouth down and give a little crunch. You guys, just trust me on this – these tacos are made up of a perfect trifecta. Do not leave one out.

fish tacosfish tacosfish tacos

I don’t know how Andy and I came to making our fish tacos this way, but we’ve been doing them for probably eight years now, and we just can’t get enough. We’ve made them for so many people over the years, and a lot of those people have made this their go-to fish taco recipe because it is just that good and it is just that easy.

fish tacos

We had these this past Memorial Day weekend while we were at the beach with friends, and I’m 99% sure everyone loved them. As written the recipe feeds eight adults, leaving just a little slaw leftover. (Don’t worry, you can easily half this.) Three pounds of fish sounds like a lot, and I honestly thought there would be leftovers, but I guess the fact that there weren’t just speaks to how delicious they are. Speaking of the beach – check out these three cuties that had a blast spending the long weekend in the sun and sand…so, so much sand. Fish tacos and beach babies. Does it get any better?

beach babies

We served the tacos with a fresh veggie salad/side/dip thing (recipe coming soon), and it was the perfect beach slash way to start the summer meal.

fish tacos

You’ll get the best results if you make the slaw and mayo a couple hours ahead of time, so the flavors really have time to meld together. If you don’t have a mini food processor, no worries, just chop the chilis in adobo and cilantro really finely. If you don’t have one, though, I would really consider getting one. I make so many sauces so quickly (especially in the summertime) that it is totally worth the $35 spent. If you’re wondering – yes, I did bring it to the beach with us because I have become that obnoxious sauce person that can’t even go for one weekend without using my mini.

fish tacos

Serves 8

Ingredients:

3 lbs white fish (we generally use mahi mahi, but grouper is also good)
1 tbsp olive oil
Corn or flour tortillas
Seasoning mix:

  • 1 tbsp EACH cumin and chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp EACH paprika and salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne (optional)

Cilantro lime slaw:

  • 2 (10 oz) bags shredded cabbage
  • Large handful cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Chipotle mayo:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 chipotle peppers in adobo (plus about a tbsp of the adobo sauce)
  • Small handful cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 2 tbsp lime juice

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the seasonings in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the slaw: chop the cilantro, then combine with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve (this does best when made a couple of hours in advance).
  3. Prepare the chipotle mayo: place all ingredients in a mini food processor and pulse until well combined. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve (also does best when made ahead).
  4. Rub the olive oil onto the fish then season liberally with the spice mixture. (If you are making this for fewer people, just use part and save the remaining mixture for next time.)
  5. *Heat your grill to medium. Starting with skin side up, cook the fish over direct heat for 5 minutes, then flip and continue cooking another 5-10 minutes until done. The fish is done when you can flake it easily with a fork. Once done, slice into strips for serving.
  6. Layer each tortilla with some fish, slaw and chipotle mayo.
  7. Enjoy!

Notes: this is the amount we used to feed 8 adults. The slaw can keep for an additional day or two, and the chipotle mayo for up to a week, but we ate all but a small bit of slaw. If making this for a smaller group, just cut in half.

*You can bake the fish in the oven, as well. Just google how to bake the particular fish you’re using. For mahi mahi it’s 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

ranch kale chips

Ranch Kale Chips

Today, friends, I’m showing you my crunchy side: my name is Laura and I love granola and kale chips.

baked ranch kale chips

I had a friend ask last week if I had any ideas for kale chip seasonings other than the standard salt/pepper combo <– can I just say it is so flattering when people ask me if I have a recipe for something? It really gives me a boost and makes me feel like maybe I really do have a place in this big, food blogging world. I’d never made kale chips before, so of course this request turned me into the “I have to make kale chips immediately because OH MY GOSH I CANNOT BELIEVE I’VE NEVER MADE KALE CHIPS, LIKE REALLY WHY HAVE I NEVER MADE MY OWN KALE CHIPS, HOW CAN I EVEN CALL MYSELF A FOOOOOOOD BLOGGER???” freak that Andy loves so much.

kale chips

I don’t even know why I’ve gone this long without making my own. I guess maybe it just seemed daunting, or like something that seems like a good idea but in reality just comes out meh? But, you guys, I was entirely wrong. Kale chips are super duper easy and really delicious made right in your very own home. And the possibilities are endless. I have so many more flavor combos in mind that I can’t wait to try. I’m not sure why my mind initially went to ranch seasoning, but it did and I’m so glad because that tang on that crunch is everything.

baked kale chips

I know some of you may be skeptical of this kale chip trend going on, but you know two people that aren’t skeptical at all? Anna Ruth and her cousin twin Jack. These kids literally ate an entire pan just between the two of them and wanted more. Anything that can get my picky vegetable eater to eat straight up greens is a winner for me. I see a lot of kale chips in our future. I couldn’t get to my camera fast enough to get a picture of them devouring the chips, but here’s a feel good picture from just a few hours prior that I just wanted to share because it’s so cute…strolling through the farmer’s market hand in hand.

cousin twins

As with anytime I make something completely new to me I did some research and did several test rounds. Here are the basics I found for flawless kale chips regardless of the seasonings used:

  1. Low heat works best. Most recipes I saw had the kale cooking at 300, but I actually found that 275 was best to get the ultimate crunch without any browning. Crunch = good. Brown = bad.
  2. Make sure the kale is as dry as possible before cooking so that it doesn’t steam.
  3. The bigger the torn pieces, the better. Kale really realllllly shrinks up in the oven, so start with pieces that you think are too large.
  4. Don’t overdo the oil. I only use 1.5 teaspoons for about four loosely packed cups of kale (one baking sheet worth). Drizzle it over the fresh kale, then massage it into every piece one by one to make sure every piece is covered.
  5. There really is no need to flip the kale half way through. I rotate the pan half way through just because I want to, but that really might not even be necessary.
  6. For ranch seasoning specifically, I prefer to sprinkle it on once the chips are out of the oven. I can’t really describe it, but something funky happened when it cooked for 20 minutes, but that could also be partly the dairy powder in the mix. I’ve since found a vegan ranch mix that I am going to try in the coming weeks when I have more time. For now, though, the standard mix that you find in the dressing aisle of the grocery store works fine.

ranch kale chips

I’m a big fan of the ranch seasoning, but I would love to hear other combos you either have used or think might be good!

Ingredients:

4 cups kale leaves – stems removed and torn into large pieces
1.5 tsp olive oil
½ tsp ranch seasoning

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
  2. Prepare the kale by washing, removing the stems and tearing into large pieces. Dry as thoroughly as possible.
  3. Arrange kale on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with the olive oil and massage into each piece so that all of the kale is evenly coated.
  4. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, rotating the pan half way through the cooking time.
  5. Once out of the oven, sprinkle with the ranch seasoning and enjoy!
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