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Thursday

Sri Lankan Avocado Shake



We recently dined at a Sri Lankan restaurant in Provo, UT called The Banana Leaf. Everything we tasted was delicious. The restaurant is well known for its Avocado Shake and I knew it could be easily replicated at home. With a few experimental runs I think I've well replicated their delicious shake. It is proof that avocado can certainly be enjoyed as a dessert. It is a positively delightful green dessert. You can enjoy it thick like a milkshake, or thin it out a bit for sipping. So go ahead and make this Banana Leaf Avocado Shake and let me know how you like it! 



Time to Make It: 5 minutes
Yield: 1-2 servings

Ingredients

1 avocado, pitted
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 - 1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ice cubes
Whipped cream and chocolate syrup for serving

Instructions

1. In a blender, combine avocado, cream, 1/4 cup milk, sugar, ground ginger, vanilla extract, and ice cubes. Blend until completely pureed.

2. Add additional 1/4 milk as necessary if the shake is too thick to blend for your blender.

3. Serve topped with whipped cream and a generous drizzle of chocolate syrup. 



Sri Lankan Avocado Shake

Tuesday

Lego Rice Krispie Treats




My son just had his first birthday where he was allowed to bring treats to school. We were excited to so we went all out and made these Lego Rice Krispie Treats for his class. I saw them on Pinterest, but they didn't have any instructions so after some trial and error I thought I'd share some instructions here with you. The key to making this recipe work is to use icing. Icing is not frosting! It starts out as a thick liquid and hardens when exposed to air. This works great for this particular application as the icing melts into the rough surface of the Rice Krispie treat and creates a smooth and shiny surface, much like an actual Lego. Bonus, because the icing hardens they can be easily packaged without smearing. 






Time to Make It: 30 minutes
Yield: 18

Ingredients

5 cups Rice Krispie cereal
1/4 cup butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
1 large bag M&M candies
multiple colors (red, blue, green, yellow) cookie decorator icing

Instructions

1. Pour Rice Krispie cereal into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

2. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Once butter is melted, pour in mini marshmallows and stir constantly until marshmallows are completely melted and smooth.

3. Pour marshmallows over Rice Krispies and stir together until completely mixed together.

4. Scoop Rice Krispies into a lightly grease 9x13 pan. Press down using a piece of wax or parchment paper until flattened. Let cool completely before proceeding. You can pop them in the fridge for 5 minutes to speed up the cooling.

5. While the Rice Krispies are cooling, separate out the M&Ms into colors that match the icing you are using. You will need 6 of the same color per Lego Krispie.

6. Cut Rice Krispies into 18 rectangles. Squeeze some of the icing into a bowl. Dip the top of the Rice Krispie treat into the icing and use a butter knife to smooth it out. Place M&Ms on top in parallel rows of 3 while icing is still wet. Repeat with remaining Rice Krispie treats in varying colors of icing.



Lego Rice Krispie Treats. Perfect for a Lego Party!

Monday

Ancho Chili Crispy Pork Belly Tacos

Ancho Chili Pork Belly Tacos

Can you imagine eating a bacon taco? How could that not be totally delicious? Pork belly tacos are just that, except a little bit more. Pork Belly is the part of the pig that bacon is made out of, but instead of being cured, you can cook it up raw, and let me tell you, it is a pretty great. The meat is so flavorful it really is the star of the taco. Keep the toppings nice and light to balance out and compliment the heavy flavors of the pork. 

Now, I can tell you right now these aren't your easy every day tacos. These tacos take some time. Not a lot of hands time, b but definitely some oven time. I promise you won't regret it though. Look for pork belly at high end grocery stores like Whole Foods and other local high end grocers. You can even occasionally spot it at Costco. 




Prep Time: 5 minutes 
Roast Time:  2 hours, 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

1 (2 lb) slab pork belly
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
12 oz. braising liquid*

12 crispy corn taco shells
2 avocados, diced
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
3 limes, quartered

Instructions

1. Lay the pork belly out on a cutting board fat side up. Score the fat by running a knife across the slab in parallel motions, about 1 inch apart. Do the same thing in the opposite direction, creating a diamond pattern over the meat.

2. In a small bowl, combine sugar, salt, ancho chili powder, and paprika. Rub the mixture over the fatty part of the pork belly, getting it in the score marks as well. 

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pork belly on the rack of a roasting pan. Roast in the center of the oven for 90 minutes.

4. Pour the braising liquid* in the bottom of the roasting pan. Continue roasting for another 60 minutes.

5. Increase the heat to 500 degrees and roast approximately 15 minutes until skin crisps up and browns. Watch it carefully as actual time may vary based on your oven.

6. Let rest at least 20 minutes before slicing or dicing to serve on tacos.

7. Serve meat in taco shells topped with avocado, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Squeeze a little lime juice over before serving. 

*Braising Liquid = I used rootbeer, but you could use beer or any other soda really.


Wednesday

The Best Baked Chicken Nuggets



One of our most frequent dinners is chicken nuggets. It is something I know my kids will eat with no complaint, and I make my chicken nuggets from scratch in a way that I know I will love them too. These chicken nuggets are simple, yet yield a flavorful, moist baked version of chicken nuggets that grown ups can love just as much as kids. I've been making these for years and have served them to numerous kids and adults, always with raving reviews. I know your family will love it too! 

TIP: You can even make these ahead of time and freeze them before baking for a quick meal. Just pop the baking tray into the freezer instead of the oven and then transfer them to a resealable plastic freezer bag once they are frozen. When you are ready to eat them, just pop them back onto a baking sheet. Add 10-15 minutes to your baking time. 








Time to Make It: 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 6

Ingredients

3 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cubed
1 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

2. In a small mixing bowl or dredging pan combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, and salt.

3. Working one at a time, or in small batches, dip chicken pieces in butter to coat, then transfer to bread crumb mixture to coat. Place on a large baking sheet, with spaces between nuggets for even cooking. You will probably need 2 baking sheets for this much chicken.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes until cooked through. You can always test one of the largest nuggets by cutting it in half to make sure it isn't pink.

***Note: you can substitute buttermilk for the melted butter. 


Monday

Easy Thai Beef Salad



One of my favorite things to order at Thai restaurants is the Thai Beef Salad. There's something about the crisp vegetables mixed with the marinated beef and that delicious zippy dressing it is bathed in. Since I'm all about making restaurant quality meals at home, I would be a total jerkface if I didn't share this recipe with you. It is super easy to make and you can find all the ingredients in your regular grocery store. The only "scary" ingredient in here is the fish sauce. I would never eat fish sauce plain, but when mixed with the right ingredients, it creates a beautiful flavor that is far from "fishy." If you've ever eaten Southeast Asian food like Thai or Vietnamese (think Pho) then you've definitely eaten fish sauce. It gives it that distinct Southeast Asian taste and feel that you can't quite put your finger on. Trust me on this one. You can find it in the Asian section of your grocery store. It should be near the soy sauce. It's one of my favorite salads ever. I've even made a video with this one to show you just how easy it is. 

 


Tips: You can add more crushed red pepper flakes to this recipe to make it more spicy, or add in a finely diced jalapeno or thai red chile (if you can find one). Another option is to marinate the flank steak whole and cook it whole before slicing if you are looking for medium-rare beef. Other tips: be generous with the cilantro and think of it as more of a salad component rather than a garnish, as well as be generous with the dressing. It packs a flavorful punch!





Marinade Time: 1 to 4 hours
Time to Make It: 15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients

Marinade:
1 lb beef flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain
3 limes, juiced
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Dressing:
4 limes, juiced (about 1/3 cup)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salad:
2 tomatoes, halved and sliced
1 cucumber, halved and sliced
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1 head romaine lettuce, sliced


Instructions

1. In a small mixing bowl, use your hands to toss together flank steak, lime juice, fish sauce, crushed garlic, and crushed red pepper. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 to 4 hours.

2. Make the dressing in a small mixing bowl by whisking together lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

3. Once the beef has marinated, heat a heavy skillet or grill pan over high heat. Cook the beef, 1 to 2 minutes per side and then transfer to a bowl. Working in batches may make this easier and it cooks so quickly it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to cook a whole pound of beef.

4. Compile the salad on a bed of romaine lettuce topped with tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh cilantro, red onion, and the beef. I like to make mine in layers so that the toppings are dispersed throughout the salad. Pour the dressing generously over the salad before serving. 



Easy Thai Beef Salad from The Stay At Home Chef

Wednesday

Garden Fresh Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Brown Butter Pasta


This post is sponsored by Plugra Butter.



I'm all about summer tomatoes. We moved into a new house the first weekend of June. Knowing we were late in the season we moved in on a Saturday and planted a garden on Sunday. The garden is mostly tomatoes. Nothing beats a garden tomato. This is one of my favorite ways to serve up those beautiful garden cherry tomatoes that actually make it inside instead of being eaten directly off the plant. 




This recipe uses rich Plugra butter. Since butter is the main sauce of the dish it goes a long way to use an extra nice butter like Plugra. Trust me on that one. Crushed garlic is steeped in the butter as it browns for a nutty, garlicky butter sauce. The best part of this meal besides the flavor? It takes less than 15 minutes to make it!




Time to Make It: <15 minutes
Yield: Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 pound spaghetti noodles
1/2 cup unsalted Plugra butter
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 handful fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

1. Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat. Add in crushed garlic and continue cooking until butter begins to foam. Watch closely until butter reaches a golden brown. Remove from heat immediately to avoid burning.

3. In a large bowl, pour garlic browned butter over cooked pasta. Toss together with tomatoes and basil. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese. 



Garden Fresh Tomato, Basil, and Garlic Brown Butter Pasta


Monday

Best Homemade Sloppy Joes




Sloppy Joes can be amazing, didn't you know? It doesn't have to be a quick, thrown together meal from a can that kids can tolerate. It can be flavorful and packed full of delicious vegetables. It can have texture! 

I was in charge of a meal for a family reunion this summer. When I told my mom I wanted to make sloppy joes she seemed a bit surprised by my casual meal choice, before she realized I'd be making MY sloppy joes. I've made these many times, including several large events. They are always a hit. People who thought they didn't like sloppy joes suddenly scarf down two or three sandwiches. I'm not even joking. I have an old lady friend in her late 80s (I have lots of old friends) who told me she would only be able to eat half of a sandwich. After she'd eaten two whole sandwiches she told me she had never had a better sloppy joe in her life. So basically you know this is for reals now. This is the sloppy joe that can actually impress people. The vegetables are cooked to a crisp-tender yielding a sloppy joe with actual texture. If you want a little less crispness to the veggies you can always simmer it an extra 15 minutes, but I'm telling you, the crispness is pure awesome. 





Time to Make It: 30 to 45 minutes
Yield: Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 hamburger buns

Instructions

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef and yellow onion together, stirring occasionally, until beef is browned and cooked through.

2. Drain any excess fat from the skillet and return skillet to heat.

3. Add in bell pepper, celery, carrots, tomato sauce, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, brown sugar, salt, ground mustard, and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine.

4. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 15 to 30 minutes. Simmering time depends on how crisp you want the vegetables. 

5. Serve meat hot on buns.




The Best Homemade Sloppy Joes Ever

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