Alley's Recipe Book
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Smores Cakes - total time 1 hour

Smores, a classic summer treat.  Sitting around a bonfire with your friends.  Whether you like your marshmallows just slightly toasted or on fire (or somewhere in between) everyone has fond memories of making smores during their childhood.  Make some Smores Cakes to commemorate those memories and make new ones while everyone asks for some more.  ;)

Weekly Menu

Happy Memorial Day!  A weekend full of cookouts with family and friends while remembering that the freedom we enjoy everyday is not free and we think about those who have served and are currently serving to protect our great country.

Unfortunately, I seem to have caught something.  I was sick last Memorial Day weekend as well.  Nothing like a little bug to ruin your three-day weekend.  So while I am bumming around the house eating leftovers from our cookout and downing orange juice and Fritos like crazy (the greasy Fritos make my throat feel better, don't ask) I hope everyone else is enjoying their weekend!

On to this week's menu plan...

stir fried bok choy and cashews over brown rice
fish and shrimp stew
sliders and crispy roast potatoes
enchiladas - husband is requesting sour cream enchiladas again
spinach feta pie adapted from this Green Kitchen Stories recipe

Springtime Pizza - total time 35 minutes

Our CSA deliveries started last week and I can't explain how exciting it is to get a cooler full of produce that was just in farm fields the day before.  The only thing more satisfying to eat is something you grew yourself.  Now that we have our CSA deliveries, Green BEAN deliveries, and a garden out back my trips to the grocery store are so quick and only require one bag!

Speaking of our garden... if anyone knows how to get rid of aphids... they seem to be taking over everything!  I have never noticed them on my plants outside before.  Now they have taken over some bushes and a few tomato plants.  Need to get them under control before they do any damage!

Alright, no more talking about bugs...  It is still Spring time even if it is starting to feel like Summer outside.  We got asparagus, spinach, and green onions in our CSA bin this week, so I made some springtime pizza!  Such a simple idea with fresh flavors.  It tasted great right out of the oven... and cold for breakfast this morning.  ;)

Waffle Sammies - total time 15 minutes

I love sandwiches.  And I am very particular about them.  Everything has to be stacked in a specific order.  No condiments because I hate soggy bread.  And everything has to be even... I don't want one bite of veggies, then one of cheese, then one of just bread... ick.  My husband makes fun of me for restacking my sandwiches at restaurants.  They just taste better that way!  I don't know if it is the order that it hits your tastebuds or the fact that the veggies need to be with other veggies.

Paninis are great too, kind of like grilled cheese sandwiches.  I have a panini pan that I have used in the past...  Even though it has a paddle to press the sandwich together, it is just not the same as a panini press.  I do have a waffle maker though.  If you can squish your sandwich enough to close it... waffle makers make cute panini presses!

Weekly Menu

Summer time is finally here!  Well, not officially.  But there have been multiple days around 80 degrees, so it better not get cold again.  The garden is planted... and as long as the bunnies and birds leave everything alone (and the deer and the bugs too)... we should be starting to harvest things in about a month (our spinach is already trying to bolt).

Our CSA starts this week and I am so excited!  Next week's menu will be planned around what comes in our CSA cooler on Friday.  This week is all about our bin delivery...

springtime pizza - shaved asparagus, spring onions, and prosciutto
broccolette alfredo
sliders and salad
tacos or lettuce wraps
Guinness pulled chicken

Asparagus Frittata - total time 30 minutes

When I found the local produce options on my Green Bean delivery account, the only thing available was asparagus... so of course I got some for my bin.  Something about Spring makes me want to cook asparagus all of the time!  There are other vegetables in season, but asparagus has such a short window that you want to savor the moment as often as possible before the tender stalks become tough and woody.

I was planning to make this frittata last week (since I had it on my menu plan)... but my husband vetoed it calling it 'egg pie'.  That's okay, more for me, because he really missed out on this one!  While a frittata is kind of like an omelet... maybe it is the roasted asparagus or the broiled finish, but it is so much better.

Weekly Menu

Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there!  Several of my friends and coworkers are celebrating their first Mother's Day today, how exciting!  :)

I spent several hours last night working on my mom's Mother's Day gift... a week of homemade meals that she just needs to pop in the oven before dinner, including some of her favorites, like lasagna and pulled chicken sandwiches, and a few she has never had before, like baked ravioli.  I hope she likes it!

Time for menu planning!  My husband is out of town for work part of this week, so I am making things that he doesn't like (but I do) while he is away... which means breakfast for dinner!  I tried getting the asparagus frittata on the menu last week and he vetoed it before I could actually make it.  Guess what's for dinner tonight while he is driving to DC?!  :)

breakfast cups
asparagus frittata
french toast or crepes of some sort
peanut butter soup
maple dijon chicken with baked avocados

Guinness Caramel Pretzel Cookies - total time 2 hours

Are you the kind of person that goes out of your way to try something new, something different?  It seems like that has been the trend for a lot of things, but especially beer.  Microbreweries popping up everywhere.  Growler stations, mix and match six packs, and bars with 50+ beers on tap making it hard to just go with a Bud Light.  Some of the concoctions seem a little crazy, like one of my husband's go to summer beers Hell or High Watermelon; a wheat beer fermented with watermelon.

Any way, one of my co-workers loves to try new beers (I mean, I do too... but not as much as he does) and his birthday was coming up... so I tried to think of something to bake that would incorporate this interest.  I figured beer and pretzels is a traditional bar combination.  And while we had some different beer in the fridge... none quite as flavorful as Guinness.  Add some chocolate and caramel and we really have cookie that everyone will love!

Warning: because the Guinness has to be reduced, this recipe takes a while!

2 cups Guinness
1.5 cups brown sugar, divided
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
2 eggs
.25 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp vanilla
2.5 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 cup caramel
1.5 cups pretzels, crushed

1.  In a double broil, add Guinness and half cup of brown sugar.  Allow Guinness to reduce to about .5 cup over low heat for about 30 minutes.  The Guinness won't really get syrupy like other reductions... so measurement is key.  Allow to cool in fridge for 15 minutes.
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whip butter in mixer, then add all remaining sugar and whip until well combined.  Add eggs and mix.
3.  Add vanilla, Guinness reduction, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, and baking powder and mix to combine.  Slowly add flour a half cup at a time incorporating into batter each time.
4.  Remove batter from mixer and stir in chocolate chips, half cup of caramel, and half cup or crushed pretzels.  Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes (or up to 24 hours).
5.  Roll 1 inch balls and place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  After cookies have cooled, drizzle caramel and sprinkle crushed pretzels on top.  

Guinness Pulled Chicken - total time 5 minutes prep & 4 hours cook

Pretty sure this could not get any easier!  I came home for lunch the other day and threw all these ingredients in my slow cooker in about two minutes... went back to work and then came home and dinner was ready to eat!  I may have to do this every time I come home for lunch.  The chicken is so tender.  I think the bed of onions might be the trick though.  Maybe having the chicken lifted away from the pot makes it taste better.  Or maybe the onions are caramelized on the bottom.  Or maybe it is the mix of ingredients for the sauce.  Whatever it is, it is the perfect mix...

Weekly Menu

Oops, I didn't get around to menu planning yesterday.  I ended up planting most of my vegetable garden and then we went to see Iron Man 3.  Hard to believe the small plants barely sticking out of the dirt will be five times as big and starting to fruit in a month.  Can't wait to be able to get produce from my backyard instead of the grocery store!

We got our second delivery from Green BEAN delivery on Friday.  This week's menu is partially centered around items we got in our bin last week; turkey fillets, asparagus, and eggs to name a few.  So here is this week's menu...

asparagus frittata
stuffed turkey fillet with mashed potatoes
italian chicken braid or bbq chicken braid
waffle sammies
stuffed shells

Fish Tacos - total time 20 minutes

Cinco de Mayo is only a few days away!  How do you plan on celebrating?  We love all things Mexican food in our house, we have tacos, quesadillas, and enchiladas on the regular.  So I can't believe it was only three years ago when I was introduced to the idea of fish tacos!  I was visiting my friend in Florida and the restaurant specialized in fish tacos... I was hesitant, but love to try new things especially while on vacation.  White flaky fish, crunchy cabbage, and the tang of lime wrapped up in a tortilla... yum!  So now they are in our rotation for Taco Tuesdays and other nights we feel like Mexican.


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