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Friday, June 27, 2014

{Summer Quinoa Salad with Fresh Basil and Lemon Honey Dressing}

Bird seed  (how my dad refers to quinoa) might be one of my favorite grains.  Quick cooking, simple to prepare and a great addition to any meal.  I love a huge spoonful of quinoa plopped on top of a veggie packed salad, I love quinoa stirred into soups for a little extra texture, heck I will even top quinoa with fresh fruit for breakfast!  However, I have to say my all time favorite way to enjoy quinoa is as a base for a veggie packed grain salad!  Seriously, one of my favorite things to do Sunday night is to whip up a delicious veggie packed quinoa salad that I can enjoy all week long!  Quinoa  is pretty much a blank slate, all you need are your favorite veggies, a little protein, light dressing and a few fresh herbs for flavor, and voila you have a great salad!  

For this simple grain salad I used a tri Colored quinoa as the base and tossed the cooked quinoa with fresh pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers and onion.  Fresh basil and adds a great flavor kick, and the grilled chicken provides good for you protein.  The entire salad is then drizzled with a lemon honey dressing!  Yum!  Easy, fresh, and clean!

Summer Quinoa Salad with Fresh Basil and Lemon Honey Dressing
Brunch N'Cupcakes 
Serves 4-6 


1 1/2 Tablspoon Honey 
Zest From one Lemon 
4 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice 
1 1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil 
1 Minced Garlic Clove 

1 Handful Fresh Basil Roughly Chopped 
1 Cup Chopped Grape Tomatoes 
1/2 Medium Cucumber Chopped 
1/2 Red Pepper Chopped
1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Onion  
2 Chicken Breast 
2 Cups Cooked Quinoa 
Salt, Pepper, Garlic

1- Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper and garlic (both sides) heat grill and grill chicken until cooked through (I used a George Forman). 
2- While chicken cools, combine quinoa, veggies and basil.  Toss until well combined. 
3- Cut chicken into chunks and toss into salad. 
4- In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients.  Drizzle over salad and toss until well combined. Add salt and pepper to salad to taste.  Best if let salad sit in the fridge for hour before serving! 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

{Chipotle Turkey Meatballs}

What was one of your favorite childhood dishes?  Can you remember? I was always partial to my moms lasagna, my grandmothers meatballs, and my dads chocolate chip pancakes (does that count?). Have you ever taken one of those favorite childhood dish and tweaked it just a little bit?  Kinda like a makeover for food... adding in new ingredients until you have come up with an entirely new dish? 

Well, I know I have done that, and I am hear to tell you that tweaking a family recipe with new ingredients and flavors can be just the ticket to a delicious meal!  That was the case with these tangy turkey meatballs!  I took my favorite family meatball recipe and put a mexican spin on the dish!  The end result, a zippy turkey meatball full of spice!  Easy enough to make on a weeknight for dinner, and the leftovers make a great lunch!  

Chipotle Turkey Meatballs
Brunch N'Cupcakes 
Makes 18 Meatballs 

1 Lb Ground Turkey

3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
1/2 Cup Milk

1/2 Red Pepper Chopped 
1/2 White Onion Chopped 
1 extra large handful fresh cilantro chopped 
2 Tablespoons Favorite Chipotle Style Taco Seasoning (I used one with no MSG's) 
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper 
1 Cup Favorite Salsa + More for Serving 
Avocado Slices, Guacamole, and Sour Cream (for serving if desired)

1- Combined ground turkey, bread crumbs, cilantro, taco seasoning, pepper and milk in a large bowl.  Mix until ingredients are well incorporated, set aside. 
2- In a medium skillet coated with cooking spray sautee peppers and onions until tender.  Add peppers to turkey mixture and mix well so peppers and onions are evenly distributed.  
3- Pour your cup of salsa into the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking pan and evenly distribute salsa along the bottom. 
4- Roll turkey mixture into meatballs and place evenly in 9x13 pan.  Bake meatballs in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes or until meatballs are lightly browned and cooked through.  Test doneness by cutting into a meatball with a fork.  

Note - If you are noticing that the meatballs are getting to dry on top but not done in the middle, cover with foil and continue to bake until cooked through. 

**Serve with extra salsa, avocado slices, guacamole or sour cream!  A simple tomato and avocado salad would go great with this dish for a complete meal!  


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

{Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting}

It's not very often that I post two sweet treats back to back!  But, with my mom's birthday being this past Sunday (Happy Birthday, Mom) I decided Sunday evening that I needed to bake her an extra special birthday cake!  

My mom absolutely loves lemon poppy seed anything!  Which means this cake was the perfect birthday cake for her!  The idea for this cake was sparked by a cake my family and I recently had on Father's Day!  Yes, that very cake was so good that I  had to figure out how to recreate that Father's Day cake at home! I will tell you the thought of recreating a cake at home somewhat terrified me, but then I remembered this muffin recipe... and the task at hand seemed a little less intense.  

I was delighted with how this cake turned out, and am absolutely smitten with the intense lemony flavor  of the cake and creamy lemon cream cheese frosting!  This cake is dense like a pound cake and makes a perfect after dinner treat!   Make this cake today, and serve it at your next grill out!

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Brunch N'Cupcakes 
Serves 10-12


1 1/2 Cup Flour 
1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Sugar 
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder 
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
Zest from One Lemon 

1/4 Cup Butter Melted 
2 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt (I used 2%) 
1 Egg 
3/4 Cup Almond Milk or Milk of Choice (I used Unsweetened)
Juice from 1/2 Lemon 
2 Teaspoons Vanilla 

Cream Cheese Frosting: 
2 Tablespoons Milk 
1 Brick Cream Cheese 
2 Cups Powdered Sugar 
Juice from 1/2 a Lemon 
1/4 Cup Butter 
1 Teaspoon Vanilla 

1- In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients and set aside. 
2- Grab a smaller bowl and lightly beat your egg.  Add Melted butter, greek yogurt, milk, lemon juice and vanilla and whisk until combined. 
3- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated, don't over mix. 
4- Grease a  8 Inch cake pan and pour batter into cake pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean.
5- While cake is baking whip butter and cream cheese together until smooth.  Slowly add in powdered sugar.  Finally mix in lemon juice and vanilla.  Set aside until cake is done.
6- Allow cake to fully cool.  Once cake is cool, remove cake from cake pan and ice. Slice and enjoy!

Monday, June 23, 2014

{Peanut Butter, Chocolate Revel Bars}

These bars are hands down delicious and prefect for your next pot luck, family get together or just to make for a sweet little weekend treat!   They are fudgy, full of peanut butter goodness and basically hands down delicious! 

I made these bars as my contribution to a bake sale last week, and they got some pretty rave reviews!    These bars feature a few of my favorite things peanut butter, oatmeal and chocolate!  Think of a thick  delicious layer that taste like a peanut butter oatmeal cookie.  That cookie is then topped with a rich peanut butter chocolate filling, and finally topped off with the remaining peanut butter oatmeal cookie goodness!  If you are a peanut butter/chocolate lover these bars are for you!  

Peanut Butter, Chocolate Revel Bars

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookie Bottom: 
1/2 Cup Butter 
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter 
3 Cups Rolled Oats 
2 1/2 Cups Flour 
2 Cups Packed Brown Sugar 
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
2 Teaspoons Vanilla

Chocolate Peanut Butter Filling: 
1 1/2 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips 
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter 
2 Tablespoons Butter 
2 Teaspoons Vanilla
1- 14 Oz. Can Sweetened Condensed Milk 

1- In a large bowl combine peanut butter and butter, beat with an electric mixer until smooth.  Add in brown sugar and beat again until combined.  Now add egg and vanilla beat one last time.  Set mixture aside.  
2- In another large bowl combine oats, flour and baking soda. 
3- Slowly add the dry ingredients into your peanut butter mixture.  Mix until dry and wet ingredients are incorporated. 
4- In a medium saucepan combine buter, chocolate, sweeten condensed milk and peanut butter.  Cook on low heat until chocolate and peanut butter has melted, stir occasionally.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. 
5- Press two-thirds of the oat mixture onto the bottom of an ungreased 15x10x1 inch pan.  Spread chocolate peanut butter mixture over top of oat mixture.  Using your fingers crumble the remaining oatmeal mixture over top of the chocolate. 
6- Bake bars in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes.  Cool bars before cutting! 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

{Almond Poppy Seed Muffins}

Muffins can be a simple grab and go breakfast, or they can be a sweet little mid afternoon snack.  I am partial to having muffins as a sweet afternoon snack, with a cup of coffee and a fuzzy blanket (yes, even in summer).  I also love muffins as my after dinner treat, I think of them as a less sweet cupcake! Sometimes the muffin cures the cupcake craving, other times it doesn't!

Anyway, a friend of mine asked me if I had a recipe for a homemade Almond Poppy Seed Muffin, to which I responded "Nope, but I will get right on that!"  The recipe you are seeing today is the creation that was born from that very conversation, with my friend, at work!  The muffin is an adaptation of my lemon muffin with lemon glaze (you can also find another adaptation of my lemon muffin in my post on Strawberry Shortcake)!  I love the sweetness of the almond extract, and adore the simple glaze that tops these muffins!  You could even whip up a simple cream cheese frosting for, Almond Poppy Seed cupcakes!  Delicious, find recipe below!

Almond Poppy Seed Muffins
Brunch N'Cupcakes 
Makes 12 Muffins 


1 1/2 Cup Flour 
1/2 Cup Sugar 
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder 
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 1/2 Tablespoon Poppyseeds

1/4 Cup Butter Melted 
2 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt (I used 2%) 
1 Egg 
3/4 Cup Almond Milk or Milk of Choice (I used Unsweetened)
1 1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla 

Almond Glaze (Optional, See Note) 
2 Tablespoons Milk of Choice
2 1/2 Tablespoons Powder Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract

Cream Cheese Frosting - **Only if want to make muffins as cupcakes, (Optional, See Note)!
2 Cups Powder Sugar
1 Brick Cream Cheese
1/4 Cup Butter
1/2 Teaspoon Almond

1- In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients and set aside. 
2- Grab a smaller bowl and lightly beat your egg.  Add Melted butter, greek yogurt, milk, lemon juice and vanilla and whisk until combined. 
3- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated, don't over mix. 
4- Grease or line muffin tin and divide batter among 12 muffin cups.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. 

** While muffins bake whisk together milk, almond extract, and powder sugar, set aside.  If making cream cheese frosting beat ingredients together with a mixer and set in fridge till muffins are done.  Let muffins cool 5 minutes in pan and then lightly drizzle muffins with glaze.  Allow muffins to fully cool before removing from the pan!  If frosting muffings/cupcakes wait until completed cooled and then frost!

**Note - You do not need to make the glaze or the cream cheese frosting if you do not want to.  The muffins are excellent on their own!  Both are just options and up to you! 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

{Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Veggies}

My mom whipped up this delicious quinoa salad on Saturday to go along with our Grilled Salmon Tacos

Let me tell you, this quinoa salad was fresh, packed with good for you ingredients and down right tasty!  I have been eating the leftover quinoa salad topped with leftover citrus mango salsa, and avocado for lunch... Yum!!  What I think is great about this salad is there is no sugary dressing, the simple ingredients really do all the talking in this dish!  Sub in different veggies if you like and make this your own!  I hope you enjoy it as much as we all did, makes a great addition to taco night! 

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Veggies
Brunch N'Cupcakes - Momma's Recipe
Serves 4-6 

1 1/4 Cup Black Quinoa 
1 - 15 Oz Can Black Beans Rinsed and Drained 
1/2 Red Pepper Chopped 
1/2 Cup Finley Chopped Red Onion 
Salt, Garlic and Pepper to Taste 
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder 
1 Teaspoon Cumin 
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
1 Large Handful Fresh Cilantro Chopped 

Serve with Squirt of Fresh Lime Juice and Avocado - If desired

1- Cook quinoa according to package directions. 
2- Toss cooked quinoa with olive oil, spices and chopped veggies! 


Monday, June 16, 2014

{Grilled Salmon Tacos with Citrus Mango Salsa and Slaw}

Ah, Monday... we meet again!   I have to say that I was a bit sad to see this weekend come to a close!   The weekend seemed short for some odd reason.  But I have to say I throughly enjoyed every minute of it.  The weekend was relaxing and spent at home with family and one of my oldest and dearest childhood friends, Katie!  The weekend was filled with good food, catching up and belly aching laughter!  There is nothing I love more then a good laugh with people I love, the laughs that leave you gasping for breath and tears in your eyes!  Those are simply the best moments!  

And, when I am surrounded by the people closest to me,  I cook, because nothing goes better with friends and family then a good home cooked meal!  Ultimately this is a dinner we will enjoy while doubling over in our chairs because we are laughing so hard! Anyways, lets transition into talking about these mouth watering fish tacos, and talking about the fact that summer has to be one of my favorite seasons for cooking here in Minnesota!  Simply because in Summer you can grill anything and everything, and you can create some pretty awesome and fresh meals!  I love the bold pops of color that come with summer meals, as well as the bold and exciting flavors!  These Grilled Salmon Tacos scream summer to me!   The tacos get  pun h of summer from the Citrus Mango Salsa (also blogged about here) and the slaw adds great crunch!  Make these for your next get together!  Enjoy with friends and family, laugh, enjoy summer and make memories! 

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Citrus Mango Salsa and Slaw
Brunch N'Cupcakes 
Serves 4-6 

1 Pound Fresh Salmon - Skin still on 
Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder 
Olive Oil 

Mango Salsa Ingredients: 
1 Mango Chopped 
1/4 Cup Onion Finley Chopped 
1/2 Cup Red Pepper Chopped 
1 Large Handful Cilantro Chopped 
Juice from One Orange 
Juice from 1/2 Lime 
Salt, Pepper and Garlic to Taste

Slaw Ingredients:
1 Package Broccoli Slaw 
1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil 
1 Giant Handful Fresh Cilantro Chopped 
1/4 Cup Chopped Onion 
1/2 Cup Chopped Red Pepper 
Juice from 1/2 Lime 
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder 
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin 
Salt, Pepper and Garlic to Taste 

For Serving: 
4-6 Whole Wheat Tortillas 
Quinoa or Brown Rice (If you don't want to use tortillas) 
Sour Cream/Greek Yogurt - If you Like 
Avocado Diced 

1- Combine mango, cilantro, onion, and pepper in a small bowl.  Toss to combine.  Stir in olive oil, orange juice, lime juice and spices, mix and set aside. 
2- In another smaller bowl, combine broccoli slaw, onion, red pepper and cilantro.  Toss to combine.  Stir in Olive oil, lime juice, and spices, mix and set aside.  
3- Heat grill to 350 degrees.  Coat salmon (both sides, flesh and skin) with olive oil.  Sprinkle salmon with salt, pepper and garlic.  Place salmon, skin side down on grill.  Cook 10 minutes on grill or until desired degree of doneness has been met. 
4- To Serve divide slaw among 4-6 whole wheat tortillas, top with salmon and mango salsa.  If not using tortillas top quinoa or brown rice with salmon, slaw and mango salsa.  Or eat taco salad style with salmon and mango salsa on top of slaw with chips!  Top with additional toppings like sour cream/greek yogurt and avocado if you desire! 

Friday, June 13, 2014

{Greek Frozen Yogurt with Berries and Honey}

Frozen yogurt is hands down one of my all time favorite Summer indulgences!  Oh, who am I kidding, I indulge in frozen yogurt year round!  Yes, even during the Winter months in Minnesota when we are experiencing weather that is a million degrees below 0! 

I love all the little self-serve frozen yogurt shops that are popping up all around Minneapolis, it virtually seems like frozen yogurt is everywhere!  I am obsessed with the crazy out there frozen yogurt flavors, still addicted to the classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla and go crazy about the endless array of toppings!  Have I got you craving frozen yogurt now?  Good!  Because I have a super easy, and healthy frozen yogurt recipe to share with you today!  This frozen yogurt requires no crazy ice cream maker, just a few simple ingredients (and they are healthy) and just a little bit of prep time!  Trust me, this frozen yogurt is delicious, and seriously becoming a staple after dinner treat!  And did I mention it is healthy? 

Single Serve Greek Frozen Yogurt with Berries and Honey 
Brunch N'Cupcakes
Serves 1 

1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt (I used Fage 0% or 2%) 
1 Tablespoon Milk of Choice 
1/3 Cup Berries - (I used blueberries and strawberries, raspberries are delicious too!) 
1 Tablespoon Honey + More for Drizzling 
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract 

1- Combine all ingredients into a sealable container, mix until well combined. 
2- Cover yogurt mixture and place in freezer for 45min to an hour, depending on how frozen you want your yogurt!  I froze mine for about 50 minutes. 
3- Remove yogurt from freezer, lightly stir and scoop into a bowl, drizzle with additional honey (if desired) and enjoy! 

Happy Friday! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

{Marinaded 3 Bean Salad}

These two photos of this salad just make me happy!  Not only because of the bright cheery colors coming from the salad, but because I actually got some decent photos!  You see, I had to work really hard to get these 2 images!  Why you ask?  Well, because half way through taking pictures of  this delicious salad, for this very blog post,  my camera lens decided to start acting funky!  My lens was having trouble focusing, and then finally gave out all together! I had no idea what to do, and no idea if the lens would be reparable!  Long story short, I have a no camera lens now that works perfect!  Yay for that!   

Now lets start talking about this eye-catching salad!  The inspiration for this salad came to me at work after trying a 3-bean salad that was featured in our cafe at work!  I know I have talked on and on about how we have the most amazing salad bar at work, and no I am not exaggerating, it truly is amazing!  Anyway, as soon as I tried the salad I instantly knew I needed to try and recreate something similar at home!  So right there, over my lunch break I quickly wrote down any and every ingredient I could taste or seen in the salad!  So did I nail the recreate of the delicious 3-bean salad at work?  I think so, and I think you are going to love it!  This salad has just enough tang from the dressing to give subtle flavor to the simple yet delicious ingredients present in this salad!  I added a chopped avocado for some added healthy fat, feel free to omit if you like!  

Marinaded 3 Bean Salad
Brunch N'Cupcakes 

1- 15 Oz Can Black Beans - Drained 
1- 15 Oz Can Garbanzo Beans - Drained 
1- 15 Oz Can Kidney Beans - Drained 
1- 12 Oz  Can Corn (No Salt Added) - Drained 
3/4 Cup Cherry Tomatoes Halved 
1 Large Handful Fresh Cilantro - Chopped 
1/4 Cup Finley Chopped Red Onion
Salt and Pepper to Taste 
1 Avocado - Diced 

Dressing - 
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 
1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar 
1/2 Tablespoon Honey 
1 Tablespoon Course Ground Mustard 
1- In a large bowl combine corn, beans and tomato.  Lightly toss to combine, set aside. 
2- In a small bowl whisk together dressing ingredients.  Pour over bean mixture and lightly toss again to combine. 
3- Add salt and pepper to taste.  If serving immediately, toss cilantro and avocado into salad, toss to combine and serve immediately.  If not serving till later wait to add cilantro and avocado

**Note - If making to take for lunch add in cilantro and avocado the day of for freshness purposes.  

Check out these other delicious Bean Salad recipes from around the web! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

{Undone Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes}

Strawberries, one of my all time favorite berries!  I could probably eat an entire pound of fresh strawberries in one sitting!  And, one of my all time favorite summertime desserts has to be Strawberry Shortcake! I loved (and still do love) topping sweet spongy cake with mounds of sweet strawberries and piles of cloud like whipped cream!  Simple, yet oh so delicious!

So, imagine how thrilled I was when I found out that Driscolls Berries and The Daily Meal had set up a Strawberry Shortcake competition!  I eagerly jumped at the chance to create my very own version of a beloved childhood dessert!  I knew I wanted to keep my recipe simple but wanted to add a few of my own twists!

I remembered as a little kid loving the little store bought individual round shortcakes, that slightly influenced my decision to bake my shortcake in the form of cupcakes!  The shortcake features a hint of cinnamon and just the right amount of sweetness.  I then took those lovely fresh baked cupcakes and cut them in half and piled them high with fresh whipped cream and strawberries, the best!  This is why I call them an "undone" cupcake!  Finally I finish off the entire dessert with a light drizzle of honey for a little added sweetness.  I had my entire entourage of taste testers try these out this past weekend and gave my shortcake a thumbs up!  I hope you enjoy these little beauties as much as we all did!  Thanks again Driscoll Berries and The Daily Meal for this opportunity!

Undone Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes 
Brunch N'Cupcakes
Makes 12


1 1/2 Cup Flour 
3/4 Cup Sugar 
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder 
3/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda 
1 1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon 

1/4 Cup Butter Melted 
2 Tablespoons Greek Yogurt (I used 2%) 
1 Egg 
3/4 Cup Almond Milk or Milk of Choice (I used Unsweetened)
2 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla 

Whipped Cream:
1 Pint Heavy Whipping Cream

1 Lb Strawberries - Quartered 
Honey about 1/4 cup for drizzling

1- In a large bowl whisk together all dry ingredients and set aside. 
2- Grab a smaller bowl and lightly beat your egg.  Add Melted butter, greek yogurt, milk, and vanilla and whisk until combined. 
3- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated, don't over mix. 
4- Grease a muffing tin and divide batter among 12 muffin cups.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until tooth pick inserted comes out clean. 
5-While muffins bake whip up your whipped cream.  Combine heavy whipping cream, powder sugar and vanilla.  Beat with a standing mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Place in fridge until cupcakes are baked.    Combine quartered strawberries with 1 tablespoon honey and set aside.

To assemble -
1- Allow cupcakes to cook and remove from muffin tin.
2- Slice cupcakes in half so you have a top and a bottom.
3- Place strawberries on cupcake bottom and top with a generous amount of strawberries and whipped cream.  Place top of cupcake on top (or on the side) and drizzle with honey.  Continue assembling the rest of the "cupcakes" making only as many as you need to serve!  Serve immediately!

Note - You do not want the cupcakes to get soggy, so it is better to keep the shortcakes unassembled until serving.  You can keep the cupcakes for up to a week and the whip cream will last a few days in the fridge.  Just assemble as needed!


Friday, June 6, 2014

{Brown Rice Salad with Arugula, Tomatoes, Feta and Avocado}

Sometimes the simpler the meal the better.  Especially a meal that is packed with tons of fresh ingredients where the flavors all play off each other.  This simple, yet satisfying and delicious “salad” has been my go to lunch for the past few days.  

This salad is so easy to prepare, and I generally have all the ingredients in my fridge or pantry.   Plus if you cook up a big batch of brown rice early in the week, say Sunday or a Monday, you can cut down on the "cook" time and make salad prep even easier!  How great is that?  

The best part about this salad, in my opinion is the fact that you virtually need no dressing!  The peppery arugula adds great flavor, and you get a flavor punch from the tangy feta.  I love buying a block of feta (Trader Joe’s is my favorite) and cutting it into thick chunks, delicious!  Top the salad off with a little fresh ground lemon pepper (I buy mine at Trader Joe’s) and a squirt of fresh lemon juice and you are all set!   This salad really couldn't be easier!  Plus I think all the colors together look pretty, make this your new go to brown bag lunch! 

Brown Rice Salad with Arugula, Tomatoes, Feta and Avocado
Brunch N’Cupcakes
Serves 4

1 Cup Dry Brown Rice (Cooked according to package directions and cooled)
2 Cups Baby Arugula, Washed and Dried
1 Avocado – Sliced
1 ½ Cups Grape Tomatoes Halved
2/3 Cup Good Quality Feta (I like Trader Joes)
Lemon Pepper for Serving
1 Lemon Cut into Wedges for Serving

1- Divide rice among four plates (or divide among 4 different sealable containers if taking for lunch). 
2- Top each plate of rice (or sealable container) with equal parts of arugula, tomatoes, feta and avocado.  Sprinkle with fresh ground lemon pepper and a squirt of lemon!  

**Note - Don't squirt salad with lemon if packing and taking for lunch, you don't want the arugula to get wilty.  Instead pack lemons separately!   

Enjoy and Happy Friday! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

{Summer Pasta Salad with Chicken, Veggies and Feta}

There are just some foods that scream summer.  Watermelon, Strawberry Shortcake (recipe coming soon), turkey burgers on the grill and my favorite, pasta salad!  I find that even though I love a good pasta salad, it is one of those dishes that I rarely make!  

In fact I generally only make pasta salad when I need a delicious dish to pass at a pot luck or family get together!  Crazy right, considering its one of my favorite summer foods!  Anyways, I have found that pasta salad not only makes a delicious week night meal (and its super easy and quick), it makes a great easy and portable lunch!  I have mentioned before that I am a brown bag lunch person, so I am always looking for new and exciting ways to jazz up my lunch box!  Whip up a big batch of this delicious pasta salad for dinner Monday night and eat the leftovers the rest of the week for lunch!  Hello easy, hello healthy and hello convenient!! 

I love this pasta salad because it features fresh veggies, whole wheat pasta and a delicious tangy dressing!  I also love the big hunks of feta cheese scattered throughout!  This pasta salad makes a great light main meal with the grilled chicken, feel free to leave out to make this pasta salad vegetarian friendly!  

Summer Pasta Salad with Chicken, Veggies and Feta
Brunch N'Cupcakes 
Serves 4-6 

12 oz Whole Wheat Penne Pasta (cooked according to package directions) 
2 Chicken Breasts
1 Cup Grape Tomatoes Chopped 
3/4 Cup Cucumber Chopped 
1/2 Green Pepper Chopped 
1/4 Cup Fresh Dill Chopped
1/3 Cup Feta Cheese

3 Garlic Cloves Minced
2 Teaspoons Course Black Pepper 
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
1 1/2 Tablespoon Course Mustard 
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar 
1/2 Tablespoon Honey 

1- Lightly salt and pepper chicken breast.  Heat grill (I used a George Forman) and grill chicken until cooked through.  Cut chicken into 1 inch chunks and set aside. 
2- In a large bowl combine chopped veggies, dill, chicken and noodles.  Toss lightly to combine, set aside. 
3- In a smaller bowl whisk together dressing ingredients.  Pour dressing over salad and toss lightly until dressing is evenly distributed.  Top pasta salad with feta and serve immediately. 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Some times you just need a good...


I whipped up these little gems last night, I decided to bake on a whim!  The recipe is still in the works, but I think they are going to be delicious!  In the mean time check out these other delicious cookie recipes featured on the blog!

Monday, June 2, 2014

{Stir Fried BBQ Chicken}

Warm weather and sunshine are seriously two of the best things.  And since the Minnesota weather has been getting nicer and nicer (yes, even the rain is a welcome change to all the snow we were still getting in March/April)  I cannot help but be in an insanely good mood!  In the Summer months I fid myself craving anything that is grilled, or contains BBQ sauce, and I can never get enough fresh fruit! 

So what does all this talk about BBQ and grilling have to do with today's recipe?  A whole lot, because I put on a new twist on stir fry!  I gave this chicken stir fry a Summer kick by subbing in a tangy homemade  BBQ sauce in place of the traditional stir fry sauce!  The outcome?  Down right delicious, I am surprised that there were even leftovers after this meal!  The homemade BBQ sauce is tangy and sweet with just the right amount of heat, and is super easy to whip up!   The stir fry comes together in a snap, and is delicious served along side steamed veggies, or a simple green salad!  Serve on a whole wheat bun for a healthy take on a traditional sloppy joe, or with corn bread muffins to soak up the extra BBQ sauce (don't want to let the sauce go to waste)!