Best Ever Waldorf Salad Recipe

Salads in summer is a classic combination, and one of the favorite salads in our home is the classic Waldorf Salad. Even though this salad has been around since the late 19th century it still ranks in the Top 10 of America’s favorite salads – and with good reason. The combination of flavors and textures is fabulous, it’s healthy without trying too hard, and it’s so easy to make! My HH likes this as a quick guilt-free snack and requested it the other day so I did a quick Pinterest search and found this Pin for the Best Ever Waldorf Salad Recipe by Daniela of My Gorgeous Recipes. I had to know the difference between my version and the “Best Ever” recipe so let’s get to the Pintesting.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad - ORIGINAL PIN

Some interesting history on the Waldorf Salad: It came from the famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in 1896 and was created by Oscar Tschirky who was not a chef but the dining room manager or “the maître d’hôtel.” It was a huge hit and has stayed on the menu ever since with a minor tweak. History can be delicious.

The Pintesting:

The ingredients include those of a traditional Waldorf Salad and added Greek yogurt to the dressing.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

The salad ingredients are apples, celery, grapes, and walnuts. I was so happy to find the walnut pieces which I think are easier to mix into a salad.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

Next add the dressing ingredients; lemon juice, mayo (I recommend using real mayonnaise instead of “salad dressing” for this), and Greek yogurt.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

The variation that I had been making just used vanilla Greek yogurt which made it a little sweeter. The mayo and lemon juice gave a nice tanginess.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

Now comes the hard part; toss everything together until it’s mixed well.

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

That’s it! You can chill it or serve it immediately (which is what we did).

Pintesting Best Ever Waldorf Salad

Normally Waldorf Salad is served on a bed of lettuce; this recipe uses spinach. However, we were going more for the snack version so we skipped this and just dug in. One of the things that I liked about this recipe is that it makes two very generous servings rather than a huge amount. You can easily be double or triple the recipe, but since it’s just the two of us we had four snack or side-salad servings.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy: Daniela’s recipe is the classic with a fresh update. The Greek Yogurt and lemon juice give a nice tang and lighten the heaviness of straight mayonnaise without compromising the original version. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: There is nothing hard about this recipe but it does require a bit of chopping. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: This recipe is very quick to put together. You can make it ahead of time but it’s not necessary to chill it to develop the flavor. That’s perfect for when you need something quick. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: Although its origins are from the Waldorf Astoria in New York City, a 5-star luxury historic hotel, this classic is inexpensive to make. The total cost was less than $2 for 4 snack/side-salad servings. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: Whether for a snack, side dish, or light meal, the Best Ever Waldorf Salad Recipe is perfect for any salad occasion. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Slow Cooker Balsamic Glazed Roast Beef

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

The other day I was looking at summer travel ideas and came across. . . crock pot cooking. What??? Apparently, it’s a thing for those who travel in RV’s and I think it’s quite brilliant. After a day of camping, sightseeing or generally vacationing, you come back to your home-away-from-home and dinner is ready and waiting for you.  See – BRILLIANT! Slow cookers are also perfect for home cooking all summer because they don’t heat up the house like your oven does. It’s already in the 90’s every day here so let’s test the last crock pot recipe that I saw on Pinterest; Slow Cooker Balsamic Glazed Roast Beef by Kevin of Closet Cooking.

Since it had only been a few months since my first roast (remember the Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon post?) and we were so happy with the end result, I wanted to stay with similar flavors so Kevin’s recipe sounded like just the thing.

 

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

The Pintesting:

The main ingredients are pretty similar to those in the Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon recipe with a few exceptions.Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

First, sear the roast. . .

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

. . .on both sides.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

Remove the roast (I put it right in the slow cooker), then saute the onions and garlic.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

Add the onions, sauce ingredients, and beef broth to the crock pot.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

Then add the potatoes and carrots. Cook for 8 hours on low.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

On the Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon, I added the peas as a side dish. Even though they were not in the recipe, this time I added the peas to cook with the rest during the last 1/2 hour of cooking time.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

Remove the meat and veggies then make the gravy.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

Strain the liquid into a pot and bring it to a simmer. Make a slurry with cornstarch and water (I used some of the beef broth) and add it to the simmering liquid.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

Voilà, dinner is done!

Pintesting Slow Cooker Balsamic Galzed Roast Beef

I think if you’re on vacation and eating like this the right term is “Glamping” not camping. Brilliant.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.4 Pins

Accuracy: This Slow Cooker Balsamic Glazed Roast Beef recipe delivered. The roast was flavorful and so tender it was falling apart. The veggies were perfect. The gravy was an extra step but a delicious bonus. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  There wasn’t anything hard about the recipe as far as cooking techniques, but since the juices were poured from the crock pot and strained into a sauce pan I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: The preparation time for this was fairly quick but there are 8 1/2 hours of cook time. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost: The roast was the most expensive ingredient at about $15. On the other hand, the potatoes were buy-one-get-one-free and the organic carrots were on sale. We had Sunday dinner and 2 meals of leftovers for a total of 6 servings. Since most of the ingredients were kitchen staples, the cost per serving was less than $5. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: Whether you’re camping or cooking at home, on vacation, busy weeknight, or for a weekend dinner, this recipe won’t disappoint. I’ll be making this again! 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

There have been a LOT of pins for one pan or sheet pan dinners on Pinterest lately and I absolutely get why they’re so popular. Life is busy (just in case you didn’t get that memo). After a day of work, family, and other activities I don’t always get excited about fussing over supper, nor do I plan well enough for slow cooker meals. I know that I’m not alone on this. That’s why these meals are awesome. One pan + one cutting board + 1 knife = supper done with minimal fuss and even fewer dishes. I knew I wanted to try this pin for Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner by Chrissie of The Busy Baker as soon as I saw it.

Pintesting Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

You might remember the Honey Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner post that I did not too long ago; this is very similar but with a different flavor profile.

The Pintesting:

One of the things that I thought was interesting about this recipe was that the veggies included beets. I’ve recently been using beets in my juicing and I’ve had pickled beets so I was excited to try them in a new way.

Pintesting Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Start by cutting your veggies and putting them on the sheet pan. Do you see that big one in the center with a bit of green? That’s one clove of elephant garlic. It was HUGE; almost the size of a potato! I threw him in just for fun.

Pintesting Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Season the veggies, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and toss them.

Pintesting Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Add chicken, season it, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and rub it in.

Pintesting Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Then put it in the oven to roast. In half an hour your house smells amazing and dinner is done!

Pintesting Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

The chicken was juicy and flavorful even when the leftovers were reheated for lunch. The combination of vegetables was delicious and so pretty. HH gave his 100% approval so this is definitely going to be put in the regular dinner rotation.

Pintesting Paprika Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.7 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy: This was an easy and delicious supper made on one sheet pan and it turned out exactly like the original post said it would. The smokey paprika gave warmth and lots of flavor without being too spicy and the roasted veggies were tender on the inside and just a bit crispy on the outside. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: There is a bit of prep work to getting all of the vegetables peeled and chopped, but that’s the hardest part. Due to the number of veggies that needed peeling prior to chopping (potatoes, carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes) I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: The prep work took about 10 minutes; twice as long as the 5 minutes that Chrissie had in her recipe. In all fairness, I could have chopped baby carrots and used the smaller potatoes and left the skins on to cut the time. The cook time was 30 minutes, so 35-40 minutes is not a long time to wait for supper. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples and all are easy to find at most grocers. The chicken thighs were the most expensive ingredients but at $4.85 for four that puts the total cost per serving at less than $5.00. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: These sheet pan recipes are so easy, quick, and delicious. And let me say again, 1 pan + one cutting board + 1 knife. Just three kitchen tools to wash! 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pecan Pie Muffins

Pintesting Pecan Pie MuffinsThe American Pie Council National Championships are about a month away and this year I get to be a judge! I can’t even tell you how excited I am for this honor. So I’m going to be doing some pie-related Pintestings this month leading up to the big event. My Pinterest page, Desserts – Pies/Tarts/Crostatas are all about pie related recipes. Go check it out for some inspiration. The first recipe I’m doing is this pin for Pecan Pie Muffins by Christy from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Even though the recipe has the word muffin, don’t be fooled. These are just like little pecan pies but a whole lot easier. Personally, I like that they don’t have the corn syrup that pecan pies traditionally have. And instead of thinking of them as muffins, you can think of them as self-crusting. Let’s get baking.

The Pintesting:

There are just 5 ingredients and most of them are kitchen staples.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

First mix the dry ingredients.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Toss them together until they’re evenly coated.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Next, mix the softened butter and the eggs.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

It won’t look pretty – mine looked kind of like curdled milk. Don’t worry, it’s supposed to look this way and will smooth out once everything is mixed together.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Now stir in the dry ingredients JUST until mixed. See the bits of butter in the mixture? It’s okay to leave it like that.

NOTE: For the most part, muffins turn out best when they’re not over mixed. It’s better to leave a few lumps in the batter and have a tender crumb than to over mix the batter and have your muffins turn out like bricks.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

According to Christy, you want to grease your muffin pan really well or your muffins will stick. I love to use the “Best Ever Pan Release” recipe by I Am Baker (you’ll find the recipe at the end of the recipe in the Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake post found here).

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Fill the cups 2/3 full. The mixture made more than the mini muffin tin could hold so I made 6 regular-sized muffins, too.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

Bake at 350 degrees until done; see the recipe for baking times.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

The muffins easily pop out of the pan and into my mouth.

Pintesting Pecan Pie Muffins

WARNING! These are incredibly addictive. If you’re not careful it’s easy to pop 4 or 6 of the mini bite-sized pecan pie muffins in your mouth before you realize it. (I have no idea if or how that happened.)

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.7 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy:  These muffins have the taste and texture of pecan pie. In fact, the next time I have the urge to make a pecan pie I’m going to make these instead.They turned out just like Christy said they would. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  These are very easy to make. Just five ingredients and, if you buy the pecans already chopped, the only prep work is to make sure your butter is softened.  You don’t even need to use a mixer. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  According to the recipe, this should make 8 large or 16 mini muffins. When filling my muffin cups 2/3 full, I ended up with 24 mini muffins and 6 regular muffins. Since there were different baking times, I baked the different sized pans one after the other; 12 minutes for the minis and 14 minutes for the regulars. I also let the regular sized muffins rest in the pan for an extra 5 minutes to set after running a knife around the edge; they seemed just a bit soft. Total time was just over half an hour so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples – all but the pecans. I don’t know if they’re not in season, but they seemed a bit pricey at more than $10.00. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  Not only are these an easier substitute for home-made pecan pie, but they’re quicker to make, too. They make a lot of the mini muffins, and the bite-sized treats are perfect for lunches or, don’t judge, dessert portion control. I’m guessing that they’ll freeze well, too (although I’ll have to confirm and let you know). 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cuban Guava Pastries – Pastelitos de Guayaba

Of the many reasons that I love living in Florida, the authentic quality and diversity of world cuisines is close to the top of my cultural list. You could eat food from every continent and most countries and only travel up to 20-30 minutes from home. Most places give a cultural feel with the music and décor as well. Some of my favorite places to go are Cuban restaurants. The music makes me want to dance, the people are so friendly, and the food is delicioso. A while back I brought in some assorted Cuban Guava Pastries – Pastelitos de Guayaba to share with my coworkers and I was the hero of the day. These are they pastries that I shared.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Pastelitos are puff pastries that are usually filled with guava or cheese or both. They flaky, lightly sweet, and perfect with a cup of good coffee in the morning or afternoon. When I saw this pin from My Big Fat Cuban Family, one of the blogs that I follow, I knew I had to try making these. Who doesn’t want to make something delicious and be the work hero twice?

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

The Pintesting:

There are only four ingredients. Some restaurants and pastelerias sprinkle course sugar after the egg wash or brush with a sweeter glaze, but I don’t like my pastries too sweet so this was perfect for me. The guava paste is found in most grocery stores in the ethnic aisle.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or a Silpat). Unfold one of the puff pastries onto the parchment.

Slice the guava paste thinly and put two for each pastry. One box of (2) puff pastries will make 9 pastelitos.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Spread some of the softened cream cheese on the guava paste. Some places sweeten the cream cheese with a little sugar before putting it in the pastry. I find the guava paste very sweet and the plain cream cheese balances the overall flavor.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

When all of the guava paste has cream cheese, unfold the other puff pastry and put it on top. Try to line it up with the bottom pastry.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Cut all the way through to make 9 little pastries, then make little cuts on each top pastry.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Egg wash the top of the pastries and then bake them until they’re golden brown and beautiful.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

While the pastelitos are baking, do yourself a favor and make some Cuban coffee or café Cubano which is a lot like sweetened espresso. I prefer my coffee with milk (like a café latte), so I get café con leche. (Look how much authentic culture I’m putting into this post.)

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

That’s it! You can serve these warm or at room temperature. I was pleasantly surprised at how 4 ingredients could make such a tasty treat. And yes, I was the work hero again for bringing these in. These are so easy to whip up that you can be a hero and bring delicious culture to your friends and family, too.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

 

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 5 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy: These not only turned out just like the recipe (and video tutorial) said they would, but they also tasted like the ones that I bought at the Cuban restaurant. Everyone at work raved over them. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: With only four ingredients and no mixing, chopping, or serious prep work, this recipe is very kid friendly with adult supervision. I just recommend that an adult does the cutting to separate the pastelitos. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: The preparation took about 7 minutes and my baking time was 25 minutes. The total time was about half an hour so I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: The puff pastry was about $3.00 and the guava paste was just over $1.00. The total cost for 9 pastries was less than three pastries from the restaurant. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is one of those recipes that you can keep the ingredients on hand and whip up at a moment’s notice. They’re quick, easy, and oh so delicious. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

There are some things that I’ve never or have almost never cooked; one of them is a roast. I know, it’s shocking! I’ve made soufflés, Beef Wellington, risottos, and many other dishes that are supposed to be complicated or “expert level” long before I made my first roast. Why? Because all my life my mother, the in-laws, or my HH have made it. Recently the grocery store had chuck roasts on sale, and I decided it was finally time to make my first roast. A search of my Pinterest pins for roasts brought up lots of recipes, but most of them were slow cooker recipes and I wanted a traditional oven-roasted version. Thankfully I had pinned this pin for Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon by Kristy of The Wicked Noodle. It was just what I was looking for; oven-roasted with carrots, potatoes, and a self-made gravy.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

The Pintesting:

I don’t know why, but I thought that roasts required magical ingredients to make them turn out delicious. I was so wrong. These basic ingredients are all that’s needed. The peas are my own addition, but I’ll get to that later.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

First season the roast with salt and pepper.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Next, heat the pan and oil to sear the roast on one side.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Then sear the other side.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Remove the roast and add onions.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Cook the onions until they are soft.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Next, add the balsamic vinegar and cook until it’s reduced and syrupy, then add the Dijon mustard.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Put the meat back in, add the broth and thyme, then roast in the oven.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

The meat should be tender and fall apart.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Add the potatoes and carrots and cook longer.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

When the potatoes are thoroughly cooked, you’re all done.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Plate your dinner and show off your masterpiece.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Now for the peas. This is one thing that my HH prefers to NOT be cooked with the roast. I’ve always liked them with the roasted veggies. Since one of the keys to a great marriage is knowing when and how to compromise, I cooked the peas separately and served them smothered in the gravy. We both agreed that this was a delicious recipe and as the resident roast maker, he declared my first roast a complete success. High praise, indeed.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.4 Pins

Pintesting Seal 4 Pins

Accuracy:  This recipe turned out exactly like Kristy’s pictures. The roast was very tender and juicy. The balsamic and dijon gave a nice twist to the traditional chuck roast. The potatoes and carrots were perfectly tender without being mushy. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  There are no difficult techniques to this dish. However, I am giving this 4 Pins because you transfer a hot dutch oven from the stovetop to the oven.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  Preparing the roast took very little time; about 15 minutes. Since this takes several hours to cook, however, I’m giving this 3 Pins.

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  I happened to get my chuck roast on sale, but even so it was more than $16 just for the meat. The dish made 6 servings and the total cost was about $25 which is $4 per serving. That’s not bad for a full dinner. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: This is a great dinner and worth the time it takes to make. The next time I try this I’ll make it in the slow cooker since they cook themselves all day on low. The flavor and texture were perfect – just like Sunday Supper. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Baked Ratatouille

I have a confession to make – I love Disney movies. I remember going to the Disney summer film festivals each summer as a child. Every week there was a couple of shorts and then a feature-length movie. It was one of my favorite summer memories.My kids loved Disney when they were old enough to watch their first movie, Beauty and the Beast. It’s our all-time favorite, but there have been others that are near the top of the list; like Ratatouille. I think I fell in love with this one because of my love of cooking and my dream to visit France. So when I saw this pin for the BuzzFeed Goodful recipe of Baked Ratatouille, inspired by Marie at Feeling Foodish, it made me think of the way that the rat-chef, Remy, took the traditional vegetable stew and transformed it into haute cuisine.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this little clip will let you see the dish that I’m referring to – and go watch the movie!

So in an attempt to recreate the dish that piqued my curiosity since it became a movie icon, here is the Pintesting of Baked Ratatouille.

The Pintesting:

There are three main steps to making this dish; the sauce, the veggies, and the herb seasoning.

1. The Sauce:

The sauce starts with fresh aromatics. I found it cheaper to get a potted basil plant at the grocery store than to buy a small packet of basil leaves in the herb section. Not only does the basil stay fresh longer, but it lasts longer and looks so pretty on my kitchen counter.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Sautee the onions and peppers in extra virgin olive oil.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

When they start to soften add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Minced garlic burns rather quickly, so I wait a bit before adding it.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Add the crushed tomatoes. By the way, this would be great over pasta.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Add the basil and take it off the heat.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

2. The Vegetables:

Now for the veggies. Try to find similarly sized vegetables. This is one of the first times I’ve ever cooked eggplant, and I should have chosen more wisely. You’ll find out why in a moment.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Slice the vegetables thinly. I used a mandoline (seen above) for the yellow squash and zucchini, but the eggplant was too wide and the tomatoes didn’t slice well so I used a knife on them.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille - Veggies

As you can see, the eggplant was MUCH larger than the rest of the veggies. Not one to give up, I knew there had to be a way to make this work.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

I used double everything other than the eggplant, and it seemed to fit well. Voilà!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Layer the veggies in a pattern.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Continue this all the way around the pan making concentric rings. I ended up cutting the eggplant in order to make it fit in the center ring.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

3. The Herb Seasoning:

This calls for fresh herbs; thyme, basil, and parsley. The store didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried.

NOTE:  When substituting dried herbs for fresh, remember that they are more potent when they’re dried. You usually need about 3 times the amount of fresh herbs as you would dried herbs. In this case, 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley would be about 2 teaspoons of dried parsley.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Mix the herb seasoning. It smells incredible!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Brush it on the arranged vegetables.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

See how pretty that looks!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Bake it covered for 40 minutes in a 375-degree pre-heated oven. Remove the cover and bake another 20 minutes.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Give it just a minute to cool and then dig in. We had eaten lunch not too long beforehand, so this was a separate vegetable course. It smelled and tasted so good that I had two small “just-to-taste” servings while my HH had three.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

We ate the leftovers the next day with some oven-baked fish – so delicious! The flavors have longer to get to know each other and play more nicely together; similarly to how lasagna or chili tastes better the next day.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Fin (The End):

The number of vegetables called for in the recipe was nearly double of what would fit into the pan. We didn’t complain since most of the prep work was done and I just made another batch. If eating veggies the same way too many days in a row sounds boring, I found some ways to do a ratatouille makeover. Check here and here for inspiration.

A French foodie friend told me that the ratatouille on the movie is not really ratatouille, which is a simple vegetable stew. So I searched for the Ratatouille version of ratatouille and found that it’s actually called Confit Byaldi. In the image below, the Disney Pixar version of the dish is shown at the top with a real version shown beneath (one being mine).

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

I want to leave you with some inspiration; a quote from the illustrious Chef Gusteau, “Anyone can cook but only the fearless can be great.” Be fearless. Be Great. Try this recipe.

Anyone Can Cook

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.0 Pins

Pintesting Seal 4 Pins

Accuracy:  The dish turned out looking like the recipe picture and tasted delicious, but the number of vegetables was nearly double of what the pan could hold and that’s a lot of extra veggies. Also, the recipe didn’t specify the kind of eggplant to use in order to get similar-sized slices for uniformity. For these reasons, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe requires a lot of prep work for all three parts. If you don’t have a mandoline and need to slice all of the vegetables with a knife, it will take a bit of time, too. You will use the chop, slice, and chiffonade knife techniques; not hard, but not easy enough for kids. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  There are about 15 minutes of prep work to get all the veggies done, plus about 15 minutes to cook the sauce and an hour of baking time. That’s an hour and a half. Don’t get me wrong – it’s absolutely worth the time and you can make extra to freeze or you can get it layered early in the day and cook it for supper, but it’s not going to be a 30-minute meal.  3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  If you have a garden and need to use up a bumper crop of vegetables, then this is a cheap dish to make. However, if you need to hit the grocery store for everything it could get costly depending on what’s in season and on sale. Since produce prices fluctuate substantially by regions and seasons, I’m not going to give a specific price, but I will give this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  If you have or know kids (little or big ones) who don’t care for vegetables, this might be one way to get them to eat them. First, it’s delicious. Second, it’s from a movie. Let the Disney magic work in your favor here. That the flavor is even better if you have leftovers is a big plus. I also love that leftovers can be transformed into everything from quiche, omelets, sauces, quesadillas, soups, and so much more. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Honey Balsamic Chicken

It’s the new year and I have resolved to eat healthy – again – for about the 100th year in a row. Anyone else with me on this? Granted, I don’t eat terribly but I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be. But some meals make eating a healthy diet much easier. For example, I saw a video for Honey Balsamic Chicken on Facebook and a couple of days later this pin for the recipe by TipHero (inspired by Chungah of Damn Delicious) popped up on my Pinterest feed, too. They do seem to copy her recipes quite a bit, so if you’re not following Damn Delicious yet you just might want to.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

I really like the idea of a whole meal made on one sheet pan in the oven. (Hooray for fewer dishes!) I also like that the recipes used a variety of vegetables.

It’s worth noting that there were a few slight differences in the two recipes.

  1. The TipHero recipe uses green beans while the Damn Delicious recipe uses asparagus. We love asparagus in our home, so that’s what we went with.
  2. The honey balsamic marinade recipes had a few differences. TipHero’s used thyme, rosemary, and chili flakes while the Damn Delicious recipe used Dijon mustard, oregano, and basil.
  3. Chungah’s recipe also took less time to make – a big plus in my book.
  4. The TipHero recipe pours the marinade over the chicken and veggies prior to roasting; Damn Delicious didn’t. I went with TipHero on this step. More flavor is more better. (I beg forgiveness from the grammar police for that.)

The Pintesting:

I didn’t get a photo of all of the ingredients this time. What can I say? I was hungry. Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of ingredients.

The first thing that I did was to make the marinade. I used a short-cut here and just dumped all of the marinade ingredients into the bag that the chicken came in and squished it until it was mixed, tossing the chicken in the marinade at the same time. Since my chicken breasts were still somewhat frozen I thought I’d let it defrost and soak up the flavor all at once. Also, since it’s just my HH and me I only used one whole chicken breast (two halves). This worked for us since the chicken breasts are very large and we like lots of veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

While the chicken defrosted, I lined the pan with parchment and prepped the vegetables.

Quarter the potatoes then add the tomatoes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and season with salt and pepper.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Put the chicken on the pan and drizzle the remaining marinade on the veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Roast for about 20 minutes then add the asparagus (I drizzled the asparagus with a little more extra virgin olive oil), then roast it for another 10 minutes. This was my timing compromise between the two recipes.

You don’t want to eat undercooked chicken! When in doubt check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. For chicken, this should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Done! Your dinner is done and the only dirty dishes are one pan, one cutting board, and one knife. Join me in the happy dance?

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

The chicken was juicy and flavorful. The tangy-sweet acidity of the tomatoes, starchy creaminess of the potatoes, and the bright crispy asparagus complimented each other, and the marinade brought it all home. YUM!

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

And now I have to say this. WINNER! WINNER! CHICKEN DINNER!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe was as simple as the TipHero video showed it to be even though I followed Chungah’s recipe. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe was very simple – perfect for novice cooks. The prep work was minimal and the marinade made everything taste wonderful. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The active time to prep and cook the recipe was 40 minutes. The chicken requires time to marinade (30 minutes to overnight). I did this ahead of time and let it marinade all afternoon. While it isn’t active cooking time, it’s still necessary to make the recipe turn out so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  The cute little potatoes and grape tomatoes were both buy-one-get-one-free at the store when I got them. (I love shopping sales!) The total cost of all the main ingredients (not deducting for the sales) was $12.00. Even though we used only 2 chicken breast halves, we had 4 meals making this $3.00/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is the kind of home cooking I could eat every week. It was simple, delicious, and planning ahead with the marinade made quick work of the cooking. Perfect for busy weeknights! You could experiment with using different kinds of vegetables such as green beans, carrots, Brussels sprouts, or whatever your family likes. You can also switch up the marinades – try the TipHero version for a more traditional herbed chicken flavor. This will be a regular in our menu rotation. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

I’ve always felt like those who have birthdays at the end of December get gypped because they’re overshadowed by some of the biggest holidays of the year. A work friend, for example, had a December 27th birthday. I wanted to make a treat to bring in that looked celebratory yet un-holiday-ish. So when I saw this pin for Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes by Michelle of Mangia Michelle, I knew this was exactly the kind of birthday treat that I was looking for.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Pintesting:

Michelle gave a recipe for her cupcakes and also gave the option of using a cake mix. I went with her recipe to give a truer Pintesting. Since this recipe has several components I’ll break them out. This recipe is one that I had to plan for since I don’t keep Ricotta and Mascarpone in my kitchen as staple ingredients. Missing from the ingredients photo is milk.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s extremely important to read a recipe thoroughly before starting – not just the ingredients list. I might have noticed that the ricotta needed to be drained prior to making the cannoli filling. Unfortunately, Michelle didn’t give any details on how to do this. A quick Google gave both the normal (read long) and quick instructions for draining ricotta. That’s why you see the ricotta in a strainer over a bowl.

How to Drain Ricotta Cheese
Lesson learned – READ the recipe first.

The Cupcakes:

Start by creaming the butter and sugar.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the vanilla to the milk.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add the dry and wet ingredients alternating until the batter is smooth and perfect.

Fill the cupcake liners and bake them, then let them cool.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Cannoli Filling/Topping:

The cannoli cream was simple; mix together the cheeses, vanilla, and powdered sugar then stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Once combined, place in a piping bag or freezer storage bag with a large tip. This tip must be LARGE enough for the mini chips to pass through. I have some very large piping tips but none of them worked. I ended up just using the coupler and calling it good.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Insert the tip (or coupler) into each cupcake and fill with the cannoli filling, then top the cupcakes with the remaining cannoli cream.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Freeze the cupcakes for the next step. Michelle gives photos of the mess that happens if you ignore her and don’t freeze. Just do it.

The Chocolate Shell:

This is the one place where I deviated from Michelle’s recipe. She said to use chocolate melts, but I saw a recipe for 2-ingredient Homemade Magic Shell on Pinterest by Ali of Gimme Some Oven and thought this would be a perfect chance to sneak in a bonus Pintesting.

Pintesting Homemade Magic Shell

It seemed like a good idea but it didn’t quite go according to plan.  Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in the microwave. Easy, right?  No.

I put Organic coconut oil and chocolate in a nonreactive ceramic bowl that I’ve used in the microwave countless times. Almost immediately the microwave was sparking and crackling! What was happening? I checked several sites and found that this is not uncommon. According to Living Strong, coconut oil has trace amounts of iron. Apparently, my organic coconut oil had enough to cause sparking in the microwave.  Who knew a yummy dessert would bring about a science lesson?

Obviously microwaving would not be the way to go so I put the bowl over a pot of simmering water and melted them using a double boiler method. It only took a few minutes and minimal stirring to melt the coconut oil and chocolate. Set it aside to cool to room temperature.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

When the chocolate is room temperature and the cupcakes are frozen, dip each cupcake into the chocolate shell sauce to coat the cannoli cream.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Hold the cupcake over the bowl to allow any excess chocolate to drip off.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The chocolate shell will harden fairly quickly. Continue dipping until all of the cupcakes are coated.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

I had a bit of sauce left over and am saving it for ice cream.Note: keep this in the cupboard at room temperature. If you refrigerate it will get cold and hard.

Pintesting Homemade Magic Shell

The Birthday Girl LOVED them!

We had a lot of treats coming through our office from the end of November through the end of the year, but none like these.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

She did note, and I agree, that by using the chocolate shell recipe they had a slight yet discernible coconut flavor – almost like an Almond Joy candy bar. Since she likes coconut this wasn’t a problem. However, the next time I make these I’ll use the chocolate candy melts.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Pintesting Results:

Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Overall Results:  4.25 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  The Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes turned out exactly as Michelle’s blog said they would. The cupcake itself was delicious with a soft light crumb. The cannoli cream filling/topping reminded me of the cannoli I used to get when I was a kid in New York. And even though I deviated from the recipe, the chocolate coating was as pretty as in Michelle’s pictures. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe is not truly difficult; Michelle’s recipe is well written and notes anything to be aware of (such as freezing the filled cupcakes), but it does have a lot of components going on which requires a lot of steps. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  If you need to whip up a quick dessert, this might not be a good first choice. Using the quick method to drain the ricotta took 10 minutes to get it as dry as possible. (The long method takes overnight.) The cupcakes don’t take long to make and bake, but they do need to be completely cooled before filling them with the cannoli cream. Then there’s the freezing time (which I did overnight and then completed the cupcakes in the morning), and once the chocolate is melted it also needs to cool to room temperature. Even compensating for the overnight freezing, plan on 1 1/2 – 2 hours for these. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are staples in my kitchen; with the exception of the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses. These cost me about $8.00. Add the rest of the ingredients and these run about $0.50/cupcake for 2 dozen. That’s not bad for some fancy cupcakes that would cost you $3.00 each at a bakery. 4 PinsPintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: These are not your everyday cupcakes, they’re a wonderful special occasion dessert treat! I will be happy to make them again when the appropriate occasion arises. They are absolutely worth the effort, but since it does take extra effort, I’m giving these 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Bonus Pintesting Results:

2-Ingredient Magic Shell

Overall Results: 4.6 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  The two ingredients did make a chocolate sauce that hardened on contact with cold similarly to Magic Shell. But because my microwave nearly blew up (or at least acted like it was going to), and I had to go with an alternate melting method, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  This was very simple; melt 2 ingredients together and stir. Whether you microwave (at your own risk) or use a double boiler, it’s easy either way. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The total time was about 5 minutes – including switching gears, getting a pot of water, and melting the ingredients. There is the cooling time to be considered and you can’t rush it with a cold water bath, but stirring frequently helped to bring the temperature down in short order It was a lot faster than if I had to run to the store. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  I keep coconut oil, both conventional and organic, in my pantry right next to the extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil (what’s a canola?), and the rest of my oils and vinegars. So this was only a few cents more than the cost of the bag of chocolate chips. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is great over ice cream, but obviously works well for topping cupcakes and other treats. I would recommend using conventional coconut oil since it has a milder flavor. The best part is that you can use this with any kind of baking chip to switch up the flavors. I’m thinking white chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, or even chocolate mint chips would be great. You can even try stirring in sprinkles, toffee chips, crushed nuts, or coconut flakes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Lion House Rolls

I’m a bread girl. Since I was little I would fill up my plate with all kinds of bread and rolls when I was at a buffet. From an early age, I learned to love the flavors and textures of dark pumpernickel, rich brioche, rustic baguettes, airy ciabatta, sweet pan dulce, or any kind of bread. This Thanksgiving I went out on a limb and made most of our meal from Pinterest recipes (see the Sweet Potato Casserole post). I saw this pin for Lion House Rolls by Christy of The Girl Who Ate Everything. They looked over the top – which is exactly what I wanted.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

If you’re a carbivore like me (I think that should be a real thing), that picture will have you drooling. After reviewing the recipe a few times I was pretty sure I could handle it. Time to get to the Pintesting.

The Pintesting:

The first step is to bloom the yeast, which is basically a test to wake up and activate the live yeast which will cause the bread to rise. It will also let you know if your yeast is old and needs replacing. Simply stir the yeast into warm milk or water mixed with dry powdered milk and watch for it to bubble or bloom.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

After a few minutes, you’ll see the bubbles if the yeast is good; then add the rest of the starter ingredients.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Mix the starter…

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

and add more flour…

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

until it turns into a dough.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

The recipe says to oil the bread to prevent crusting, cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled. How do you know if it’s doubled?

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

I use this simple but brilliant trick that I learned from King Arthur Flour. Put the oiled dough in an oiled pitcher with measurement lines on it. See? Simple but brilliant!

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

I KNOW this is doubled. Great trick!

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Now dump the dough on a floured surface. I flipped it a couple of times to lightly flour it.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Spread it with butter and cut into individual rolls. (The original recipe links to a video on the best way to do this and the next step.)

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Then roll (or flip and spin) into the shape and place on a baking sheet. I lined mine with parchment and really recommend it here. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise again until doubled in size.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Once doubled again, bake the rolls until they’re perfectly browned and smell like a bit of heaven.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Brush them with melted butter and try to not eat them all.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

YUM! These are the best dinner rolls that I’ve ever made had. It was all I could do to not just fill up on these while getting the rest of Thanksgiving dinner ready. HH agreed that this recipe is a keeper. Their texture is both rich and light, and the baked in butter means you don’t have to add more – but we did.

Variation:

I love to experiment with recipes and the first thing that came to mind on these (due to the way their rolled up) is cinnamon rolls. But after tasting the roll itself I was thinking raisin bread. So I combined the ideas and made the recipe again adding 1/3 cup of raisins to the dough and sprinkling cinnamon sugar onto the buttered dough before rolling the rolls. The next time I make these I’ll increase the raisins to at least 1/2 to 2/3 cup. I might even use mini loaf pans to make little raisin bread loaves as well as rolls.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

My rolls weren’t cut as evenly as the first batch, but nobody cared when eating them. I brought them to a Christmas party and they were a huge hit. No icing required.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.55 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  Christy said these rolls are legendary and she’s absolutely right. They turned out exactly as the recipe said they would every step of the way. The dough was soft and not sticky; very easy to work with. Between the intoxicating yeasty smell, the buttery richness, and how pretty they turned out, I enthusiastically give this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: I’m not an experienced from-scratch bread baker (other than using the bread machine) and had some trepidation on this whole process, but I was pleasantly surprised at how simple this was. There are a few steps and waiting times in between for rising, but none of the steps were difficult. Christy’s instructions and the video that she links to were very thorough making the hardest part being patient during each rise. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: The time spent actually mixing and working the dough and baking was not very long at all – roughly 40 minutes. Waiting for the dough to rise twice is what makes bread baking take so long. This times out well if you’re making Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s not something you can whip up quickly.  3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost: Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples: milk, sugar, flour, egg, and butter. You can make the recipe with all-purpose or bread flour, which also helps keep costs down if you don’t have bread flour on hand. The yeast was about $1.40 for a 3-envelope pack and I only needed 2 envelopes. The total cost was minimal for 2 – 2 1/2 dozen rolls that freeze well, so I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: These are some of if not the best rolls I’ve ever had. Period! I love that the recipe gives freezing instructions so that you can make one batch and enjoy them for weeks (if they last that long). I also love their versatility. I’ve made the raisin bread cinnamon rolls and am looking forward to making a savory or garlicky version in the near future. You can make them smaller sized rolls – perfect for little ones. I’m also going to play around with making loaves of bread with this dough. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins