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Passion Tea with Fruit

It’s getting warm out, which means it’s time to brew some iced tea and drink it on the patio!  Tazo Passion Tea is so delicious, but why buy it at Starbucks when you can make your own at home?  I buy a box of Tazo Passion Tea and brew it cold.  This way, I can control the sweetness and add whatever I like!  This passion tea is tart, cool, and refreshing.

This recipe calls for regular Tazo Passion Tea bags.  They make an iced tea version, and the only difference is the size of the bag (and it’s more expensive.)

-3 Bags of Tazo Passion Tea
-1 Liter of Water
-Splash of Lemon Juice, fresh
-Simple syrup, to taste
-Fresh Strawberries, cut
-Fresh Blueberries
-Sprig of Mint

Tie the three tea bags together and drape over the side of the pitcher.  Pour cold water over top of them and let steep for 3-5 minutes.  Add a splash of fresh lemon juice and simple syrup.  I added about three Tablespoons of syrup, but I like it tart!  Mix in the fruit.  Pour over ice and garnish with a sprig of mint.



Black Bean Burgers

I’ve recently discovered black bean burgers at a local pub and have really enjoyed them.  They aren’t the pre-made ones from the freezer, but made fresh and hand made.  I’ve been inspired to make them at home (and avoid the pricey bar tab!)  I still love a good juicy burger, but these black bean burgers are so much healthier and packed full of flavor.  These are super filling too, I could hardly finish mine!

-2 Cans (14oz) Black Beans, no salt added, rinsed and drained
-1/2 Medium Yellow Onion, diced
-1 Red Pepper, diced
-2 Cloves Garlic, minced
-1 Egg
-1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
-3/4 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs
-1 teaspoon Cumin Powder
-Salt and Pepper, to taste

Add all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mash with a hand potato masher or your hands.  Form into four evenly sized patties.  Stick them in the fridge for about 20 minutes, which will help them hold together better.  Heat your grill to medium low heat.  When grill is heated, lightly brush olive oil on the grates.  Gently place the patties on the grill, cooking each side for about six minutes, or until heated through.  Top with cheese and serve on a toasted bun.



Oven Tacos

I’m a big fan of anything Southwestern, and these tacos may just be towards the top of my list.  Not only are they easy, but they’re different from the played-out beef tacos cooked on the stovetop and then assembled (and messy!)  The beef is still cooked in a pan, but other flavorful ingredients are added that take it to another level above the norm.  It’s nice having the tacos mostly assembled when they come hot out of the oven!



-1 Pound Ground Beef
-1 Small Onion, diced
-1 4 oz. Can Diced Green Chilies
-1 Tablespoon Taco Seasoning
-1 8 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
-1 16 oz. Can Refried Beans (Pinto)
-2 Cups Shredded Colby Jack Cheese or Mexican Blend Cheese
-12 Hard Taco Shells


-Lettuce, chopped
-Tomato, diced
-Olives, sliced
-Sour Cream


Preheat oven to 500F.  Heat a large skillet to medium.  Add ground beef and diced onion.  Cook until mostly done and drain off the fat.  Add taco seasoning, tomato sauce, green chilies, and refried beans.  Stir well and reduce heat to medium low.  Cook down for about five minutes.

Place the taco shells in a baking 9×13 baking dish.  Spoon the meat mixture into the shells, about 1/2 way full.  Sprinkle cheese over top.  Bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.

Sprinkle desired toppings on tacos and serve.  Enjoy!


Ultimate Steak Sandwiches

I made these sandwiches years ago, and had been craving them for awhile.  Darren was pretty excited to see these “man sandwiches” being pulled out of the oven, not to mention the delicious aroma of steak, peppers, onions, and buttered buns!

-4 Deli Rolls
-2-3 Tablespoons Butter
-1.5-2 Pounds Round Steak
-1 Large Onion, sliced and cut in half
-1 Green Pepper, sliced
-1/4 Cup Worcestershire Sauce
-1/2 Cup Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
-Salt and Pepper to Taste

Thinly slice the steak, salt and pepper it if desired.  Heat some butter in a pan on medium high heat.  Quickly cook the steak in batches, cooking it for a minute or two on each side, under medium rare or medium.  Set the steak aside.  Deglaze the pan with the Worcestershire sauce, scraping the browned bits off the bottom.  Now, add the sliced onion and peppers and cook until soft, 10-15 minutes.

Split the rolls and butter each side.  Place under the hot broiler for a few minutes, keeping an eye on them until browned.  (Or, you could simply toast and then butter them.)

Place the meat, onions, and green peppers on the rolls with tongs.  Cover in mozzarella cheese.  Cook under the hot broiler again for a few minutes, until cheese is melted.  Enjoy!


Spinach and Black Bean Enchiladas

These enchiladas have made the dinner rotation, which quite honestly doesn’t happen too often in a food blogger’s house!  (Usually, I never repeat a recipe!)

I really like the homemade enchilada sauce.  It was nice to not just get some sauce out of a can or packet!  This recipe is simple but requires a few extra steps with the sauce.  Don’t let that stop you from trying it!

The filling is a delicious mixture of spinach, black beans, corn, and more.  Meat is typically a part of our dinners, but we didn’t even miss it because these enchiladas were so fantastic!

Adapted from Martha Stewart.


For the sauce:
-2 Cups Vegetable Broth, low sodium
-1/4 Cup Tomato Paste
-1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
-2 teaspoons Cumin
-1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder
-1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder
-1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder
-Pepper to taste

For the enchiladas:
-15 oz. Can Black Beans, rinsed and drained
-15 oz. Can Corn, drained
-6 oz. Fresh Baby Spinach
-6 Green Onions, thinly sliced
-1/3 Cup Cilantro, chopped
-2 teaspoons Cumin
-3 Cups Shredded 3 Cheese Blend (or pepper jack, etc.)
-8 Whole Wheat Tortillas

First, make the sauce.  Heat a medium saucepan on medium heat.  Add tomato paste, flour, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, and chili powder.  Whisk together and let cook for a minute.  Add broth, whisk together some more.  Bring to boil, reduce heat, and whisk occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.


To make the filling, heat a skillet on medium heat with some olive oil.  Cook spinach for 1-2 minutes, until wilted.


Add spinach, beans, corn, 2 Cups of cheese, cilantro, green onions, and cumin powder to a large bowl.  Mix until combined.


To assemble, pour some of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.  This will prevent sticking.  I also heat my tortillas up in the microwave for about 10 seconds so they do not crack when folding.

Scoop a generous amount of the filling into the tortilla shell.  Roll together and place seam-down in the baking dish.


Pour the remaining sauce on top of the enchiladas.


Sprinkle 1 Cup of cheese on top.

Bake at 375F for 20 minutes, until cheese is melted and golden.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.  Enjoy!

Cinnamon Rolls

I’ve been craving cinnamon rolls for a couple of months now, but haven’t really had a full weekend at home to make them until recently.  These take up a good portion of a day with the rise time, but can be made the night before if you plan on eating them for breakfast.  I made these for Darren to take into work and share with his coworkers.  I made plenty so we could enjoy them ourselves, too!  The original recipe makes a dozen, but it doubles well if you’re in a sharing mood!  Otherwise, we scarfed down a good 6-8 of them in a couple of days, and I bet you would, too!



For the Dough:
-1 Cup Milk
-1 Egg
-1/4 Cup Butter
-1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
-1/2 Cup Sugar
-1/2 teaspoon Salt
-3 1/2 Cups Flour, plus more
-2 1/4 teaspoons Instant Dry Yeast

For the Filling:
-1/3 Cup Butter, melted
-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
-3 Tablespoons Cinnamon

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
-1/2 Cup Butter, softened
-1/4 Cup Cream Cheese, softened
-1 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar

Heat milk and butter, until butter is melted.  Check to make sure temperature is no more than 110F (should be lukewarm to the touch.)  Pour into the stand mixer bowl, and add yeast and let sit for 5-10 minutes, until frothy and yeast is activated.  Next, add egg, oil, sugar, and salt.  Add flour on top and mix at slow-medium speed with a dough hook, until dough is smooth and elastic.  If dough is sticky, add a little additional flour at a time until no longer sticky.  Allow to knead for 5-7 minutes.  Remove dough, lightly oil a bowl, and let dough rise, covered, for about an hour.  After an hour, the dough will double in size.

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Melt the 1/3 Cup butter for the filling.  Set aside.

Punch the dough down and fold the edges in.  Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll the dough out with a rolling pin, about 9×13.  Spread the dough evenly with melted butter.  Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture on top and spread out evenly with the back of a spoon or your hands.  Next, roll the dough tightly, and when finished, pinch the edges and seams together.  *Be sure to do this neatly and tightly if you want good-looking cinnamon rolls!  Take your time.

Next, cut the dough into 12 equal slices.  I use unflavored dental floss to gently slice through.  Once into the roll pieces, set into lightly greased pans and let rise again, about 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Bake cinnamon rolls for 20 minutes.  Allow to cool.

For the frosting, beat the butter, cream cheese, and sugar until light and fluffy.  Gently frost the cinnamon rolls with the back of a spoon.

These are best the same day, or next day.  Will stay nice for about three days, if stored in a sealed container.  Refrigerate unused frosting until it’s time to eat them.



Beer Bread

I’ve been making beer bread for years and I’m surprised I haven’t shared it on my blog yet!  It is the simplest bread to make and almost impossible to mess up.  The beer provides the yeast, so you don’t even have to worry about killing the yeast!  This bread has a beautiful and crunchy golden top which makes it our favorite.  Serve it up with a soup or a chili to dip it into!


There are tons of variations of beer bread out there.  I’ve tried many- with cheese, herbs, with wheat flour and oats…but I can tell you that for once, the original is our favorite.


-3 Cups All-Purpose Flour (sifted)*
-3 teaspoons Baking Powder
-1 teaspoon Salt
-1/4 Cup Sugar
-1/4 Cup Melted Butter
-1 Can or Bottle of Beer (12 ounces)

*Please be sure to measure your flour by scooping it into the measuring cup and leveling off.  Otherwise, if you pack the flour in my scooping it up with the measuring cup, you will end up with some pretty dry bread.

Preheat oven to 375F.  Place flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl.  Mix together.

IMG_2602Open and pour beer into the flour mixture.

Mix together, but do not over mix.  Mix until just incorporated.  Lumps are ok!


Spoon into a greased bread pan.  Melt butter and pour on top.
Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Allow to cool for five minutes before taking out of pan and slicing.


Shepherd’s Pie

Sunday is St. Patrick’s day, which means many will be eating some traditional dishes.  Corned beef is a popular dish, but I find that most either love it or hate it.  I haven’t found a person who disliked Shepherd’s Pie, so I figured it would be a good recipe to share.

I made mine with ground lamb, but if you prefer ground beef, you can use that instead.  Since shepherds raise sheep, not cows, it’s called Cottage Pie instead!  (Although I’m not sure why, since I have no idea what cottages have to do with cows, anyways.)

I’m not Irish in any way, so I can’t be claiming this is an authentic recipe.  But it has lamb and potatoes, so it must be safe say that it’s close!

-1 1/2 lbs. Ground Lamb
-1 Onion, chopped
-1 Cup Carrots, peeled and sliced
-1/2 Cup Frozen Peas
-1/2 Cup Beef Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
-3 Large Potatoes
-1 Stick Butter
-1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
-Salt and Pepper

Boil a large pot of water, salted.  Peel and cut potatoes into small pieces and cook until tender, 15-20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter in a pan on medium heat.  Add chopped onions and carrots and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.


Add the ground lamb and break up with the spatula.

IMG_9302Add Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, and cook until no longer pink.  Add the beef broth and reduce heat to low.  Cook for about ten minutes on low heat and add any additional broth to keep it moist.

IMG_9310Add peas and cook for a minute or two, until no longer frozen.

Pour into an 8×8 casserole dish.

IMG_9328Now, make your mashed potatoes.  Mash them in a large bowl with remaining butter (4 Tablespoons) and salt and pepper.  Preheat oven to 400F.

Scoop on top of the lamb mixture and use a fork to fluff it up.



I like potatoes.  A lot.

Cook in your oven, preheated at 400F, until potatoes are starting to brown.

Serve hot out of the oven.  Scoop onto plates with a large serving spoon and enjoy!





Pumpkin Cranberry Dog Treats

Pumpkin is good for dogs and helps soothe upset tummies.  They also love the natural sweetness and will gobble it up in no time.  These are so easy to make, with everything in my pantry!  Give these a try for your special pup.


I’ve been looking for good dog treats to have published in a dog treat cookbook (by Working Dobermans of Kentucky.)  I’m not a fan of so many recipes out there because they have things in them that dogs shouldn’t eat, like sugar or flour.  Wheat flour is a better alternative, but like anything that is a treat- it should be used for that purpose, as a special treat!  Most dog foods do have grains in them, so don’t let that make you nervous.  But for those on a no-wheat or grain-free diet, you should check out my Sweet Potato Chews for Dogs recipe as a great alternative.  (It is the most popular recipe on my site!)

Makes about 2 dozen treats (will vary based on shapes.)


-1/2 Cup Canned Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling!)
-2 Eggs
-2 1/2 Cups Wheat Flour
-1-4 Tablespoons Water
-Dried Cranberries, for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350F.  Mix canned pumpkin, eggs, and wheat flour together in a large bowl.  The dough will be slightly dry, so add a small amount of water until it is easy to form (but not sticky.)  Sprinkle a generous amount of wheat flour onto your work surface so dough doesn’t stick.  Roll out into about 1/2 inch thickness and use cookie cutters to cut into shapes.  (If you don’t have any cookie cutters you could use a glass for round treats.)  Bake  for 10 minutes.  Remove pan and carefully flip over each treat.  Bake for another 10 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack.  Store in a sealed container for up to a week.


Brooklyn approves!

Cranberry White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

In the winter, I crave a hearty, filling cookie.  This doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious though!  These cookies are packed with oats, cranberries, and white chocolate.  They are soft and fluffy for an oatmeal cookie, and stay that way for a few days!


Give these cookies a try.  You can always change up what you put in them:  chocolate, raisins, dried cherries, walnuts, toasted pecans, etc.

-1 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
-1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
-1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
-1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
-1/2 Cup Sugar
-1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter, softened
-1 Large Egg
-1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
-1 1/4 Cup Old Fashioned Oats
-3/4 Cup Dried Cranberries
-3/4 Cup White Chocolate Chips

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  In a separate large bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla, mix more.  Slowly add the dry ingredients while mixing.  Mix until it is all just incorporated.  By hand, stir in oats, cranberries, and white chocolate.

Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 375F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll cookies into balls with about a Tablespoon worth of dough.  Place on the cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.  Do not over bake  or they’ll get dry, so keep a close eye on them!  Let cookies cool on the pan for 2 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool further.