Easy Mediterranean Chicken and Spinach Rice Bake

Easy family comfort food- chicken and rice bake with spinach.

Looking for weeknight supper ideas for the (can you believe it's that time of year again?) back-to-school frenzy? This super simple toss-together recipe is budget-friendly and versatile. If you don't have chicken on hand try using pieces of cooked turkey or your favorite sausage. Vegetarian? Use a can of white or black beans instead. The Mediterranean and Santa Fe- thanks to the fresh and unexpected spike from tomatillos- flavors in this fabulous recipe cozy up to a parade of proteins.

A family favorite from the archives, this is easy comfort food to bake and savor before the fall begins its alchemy, spinning green into gold.

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Flavor of the Month. . . .Move over Lemon Squares

....There's a New Bar in Town!

Flavor-of-the-Month: Lemon-Lime Edition

If you love lemon squares, you'll flip over these Key Lime Bars! Tangy and sweet with a coconut crust....I could honestly eat the entire 9 x 13" pan in just one sitting.

The recipe comes from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion.

Key Lime Bars
(tweaked from the King Arthur Cookie Companion)

2/3 c brown sugar
1 & 3/4 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 c sweetened coconut
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 c unsalted butter (1 stick)
cream cheese (8 ounces)
1 & 3/4 c sugar
pinch coarse salt
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1/2 c fresh squeezed key lime juice

Preheat oven to 300. Toast the coconut on a parchment lined baking sheet for 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

Raise oven temp to 350. Lightly grease a 9 x 13" pan.

Combine the brown sugar through unsalted butter. Mix until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside 1 cup of the mixture; press remaining crust into the prepared pan. Bake 16-18 minutes; until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

Beat the cream cheese until soft. Add the sugar and salt and mix until well blended. Stir in the flour and then beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, beating well after each addition. Stir in the lime juice (room temperature makes for easy squeezing) and a drop of green food coloring (optional); mix until smooth. Pour onto crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the 1 cup reserved crumbs. Bake 10 minutes more until set on the sides and still slightly wobbly in the center. Remove from oven and let cool 1 hour. Move to refrigerator and chill.

Cut using a handy-dandy bench scraper, pressing straight down to cut all the way through the crust.

Flavor of the Month theme for September
....a tribute to John Hughes. I was a teenager in the 80's. No one captured that era better that John Hughes. I think I watched 16 Candles at least 50 times during high school. Did you hear that John Hughes died in August? I think we need to honor his genius with a baking tribute.

Here are just some of the movies he wrote...
  • 16 Candles {oh, Jake Ryan!}
  • Pretty in Pink {James Spader, evil, but gorgeous!}
  • The Breakfast Club
  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off
  • Mr. Mom {LOVE Michael Keaton watching Young & the Restless}
  • Vacation
  • Weird Science
  • and more! Go here for more inspiration...
I'm thinking Pretty in Pink Cupcakes, or my sister's suggestion...a Breakfast Club Sandwich. :) If you haven't seen any of these movies, click on over to your Netflix and add them to your list!

Alright...I can't wait to see your lemon-lime creations! Link away! And thanks for participating! (Linky will close early on September 1st to avoid spammers.)

FoodBuzz 24, 24, 24: 45 Years, 45 Beers!

{FoodBuzz 24, 24,24 is a blogging event hosted by FoodBuzz. One night per month, 24 bloggers host 24 meals in the same 24 hours...I'm very excited to be a part of this month's event!}

My husband's birthday was yesterday...the big 4-5. We had a few friends over to celebrate what we called "45 Years, 45 Beers."

We had 45 different beers, to share of course, and snacks and sweets. This IS Bake at 350, so let's start with the desserts, shall we? :)

{Cake Truffles & Cookies}
These were the red velvet cake truffles...I'm not sure I can have a party without cake truffles now. Click here for instructions on making them.

Cookies...I made bite-size ones so they were a little more cocktail friendly. Scroll down for decorating how-to's.

Then, the cupcakes...I used Martha Stewart's Cupcakes. (I bought this book last week and am IN LOVE with it.) The yellow buttermilk cupcakes were frosted half with chocolate fudge and half with creamy vanilla frosting. {I'm going to do a whole cupcake post on these next week...YUM!}

How do you like those beer and gun toppers? Very manly, I thought! {From the cuteness that is the Layer Cake Shop!}

Alright...the snacks...

{Beaumont Dip and Herbed Goat Cheese Balls, Tortilla Roll-ups}

Tortilla Roll-ups: I don't think you can have a party in Texas without these. Cream cheese, jalapenos, salsa, lime juice....I love these. You can make them ahead and the recipe makes a lot.

Beaumont Dip: This is a recipe my parents picked up in Beaumont (duh!), Texas. Easy, easy...and "always a hit." (Meg...that's for you.) Serve with tortilla chips.

Last, but not least, Giada's Herbed Goat Cheese. Goat cheese rolled in herbs and lemon zest. I tried not to eat them all...good thing the cake truffles distracted me.

Blueberry Sangria...mmmmm. For the non-beer drinkers. :)

Want to see all of that beer?

Yes, I bought 45 different singles! It was really fun to see them all together.

We have some seven left over....come on by!

The recipes!

Tortilla Roll-Ups

3 (8 ounce) pkg cream cheese
1 pint sour cream
2 TBSP salsa
10 green onion tops, chopped
juice of 1 lime
4 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
large flour tortillas

Combine all except the tortillas until smooth. Spread on flour tortillas and roll. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate several hours or overnight. slice and serve with salsa.

Beaumont Dip

2 small cans diced black olives
2 small cans diced green chiles
4 green onions, chopped (white & green parts)
3 tomatoes, diced
3 TBSP red wine vinegar
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Combine all of the ingredients and refrigerate several hours. Serve with tortilla chips.

Blueberry Sangria, serves 15, easily halved
(adapted from 101 Sangrias & pitcher drinks)

2 c water
2 c sugar
3 c blueberries
2 bottles red wine (I used chianti)
2 c pomegranate cranberry juice
1/2 c brandy
1/2 c triple sec
2 oranges, halved and thinly sliced

Combine the water and sugar over low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved to make a simple syrup. Let cool.

Combine 1 & 1/2 c simple syrup and the blueberries over low heat. Sit constantly until the berries begin to change color and the syrup thickens. Combine remaining ingredients in a large container. Add the blueberry mixture and stir well. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve over ice.

For making the cookies:
  • Pipe the edge of a mini circle in brown royal icing using a #2 tip (AmeriColor Chocolate Brown).
  • Thin red and yellow icing with water until the consistency of a thick syrup. Cover with a damp towel and let sit several minutes (AmeriColor Super Red and Egg Yellow) .
  • Stir gently with a rubber spatula to pop any air bubbles that have formed on the top. Transfer to squeeze bottles.
  • Fill several cookies with red icing, using a toothpick to guide to edges.
  • Go back over the wet red icing and drop on the thinned yellow icing to make dots.
  • Let sit 1 hour.
  • Using the brown icing and #2 tip, pipe on the number.
  • Let dry overnight before packaging.
Thank you FoodBuzz....we had such a good time being a part of 24, 24, 24!!!

Next week...I'll show you more on the cupcakes and pre-party mishaps!

Gluten-Free Pasta Frittata Recipe with Goat Cheese

Gluten free brown rice pasta makes this pasta frittata amazingly light
Tasty gluten-free pasta frittata.

Have I got a simple and flavorful Mediterranean inspired gluten-free pasta frittata recipe for you. It is perfect for the upcoming weekend. Throw it together for a lazy brunch, or a languid late summer picnic. But first, a logistical update. We are back from LA, safe and as sound as two people can be jetting from the oxygen saturated beach of Santa Monica to the rarefied (read- bone dry nosebleed inducing) air of Northern New Mexico. My "of a certain age" skin is not decidedly not happy. My razor textured Floyd's cut now looks like a highlighted squirrel on a tequila fueled bender. And to add insult to follicle injury, there's a technical snafu that despite daily phone calls, shameless begging and patient (I assure you) correction of our physical street address (corrected three times by three different customer service representatives eager to assist you). That's right.

No Internet.

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Check These Out: Cookie Exchange!

Have you heard of Sunflower Baking? Laura does some of the most creative cookie work I've seen...AND she was nice enough to share some of her newest collections here!

{for the accountant...}

{...and the hairdresser...(she really is an artist!)}

{...and the new driver...love that keyless remote!}

Sunflower Baking has so many adorable cookies. Go check them out! I could steal her be inspired by her ideas all day! ;)

♥Thank you, Laura for being a part of cookie exchange!♥

For previous cookie exchange posts, click here!

And the Layer Cake giveaway winner is....

...Jenny from the Picky Palate.

Thanks so much to all of you for entering and thanks to the Layer Cake Shop for the giveaway!!!

Pssst...here's another great giveaway going on right now. Jen at the Beantown Baker is sponsoring a cupcake giveaway on her blog. I'm hoping I win, but I thought I'd give you all a shot, too. ;)

Piping bag holder. . .Works For Me Wednesday

Just take a look at this neat little piping bag holder I picked up at Hobby Lobby last week! It's so great and now I don't have to use every glass in the house to stand up my piping bags! And, it was only $9.99...plus I used my 40% coupon and so was a real bargain. Clearly, I couldn't NOT buy it! :)

{I couldn't resist spending the extra $5.99 for the little plastic tips to keep them from drying out, either.}

This definitely works for me! We Are THAT Family is the place to see all of the WFMW ideas. For my archive of WFMW posts, please click here.

For BEEing sweet. . .

This summer we adopted two kittens from the animal shelter. Want to see them?

{That's Spike on the left and Bluebell on the right. This is the day after we adopted them.}

Yes, they are adorable, but they also came home from the shelter quite sick. (They looked fine to us.) Let's just say, we've gotten to know our vet quite well over the last two months. I won't go into all of the gory details...and they are fine now...but I will tell you, one almost died and the other developed a nasty eye infection and had to have an eye removed. (OK...I went into the gory details.)

So, you can see why we've come to love our vet and the staff at the clinic. They've taken such good care of our little ones and I wanted to make them some cookies.

But, what to make for a vet's office? Do they really want to EAT a cat or dog cookie? It seems wrong. Hearts, too personal. Paw prints, not special enough.

Here's what we came up with...bees!

{The inspiration for these comes from an old Martha Stewart Kids magazine....best magazine there ever was!}

Yes, I enclosed a goofy note saying, "Thank you for BEEing sweet to Spike & Bluebell." :)

Cuteness Overload! Layer Cake Shop GIVEAWAY!!!

Oh joy!!! Have you seen this adorable baking supply website called Layer Cake Shop?

Well, guess what? Layer Cake Shop is offering their very first giveaway right here at Bake at 350!!! {I'm so honored!} One lucky Bake at 350 reader will receive a $20 Layer Cake Shop gift certificate!

How do you enter? Go check out the site and leave a comment telling me what you might purchase with that gift certificate.

Here are a few of my favorites...

...The Happy Homemaker Cupcake Kit {must have this!!!}...

...Red Dot Bakery Bags...

...any {and all!} of these adorable Baking Cups!

Good luck! A winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, August 25th, 8pm central time.

Thank you, Layer Cake Shop!!!

Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Icing

Lovely and classic gluten-free carrot cake 
with coconut, iced with lemon cream cheese frosting.

Here is one of my most popular gluten-free cake recipes. Something sweet and satisfying to keep your taste buds happy until I return. We're leaving Santa Monica early Thursday morning, you see, driving back to northern New Mexico with an iPod playlist heavy with Neil Finn, Warren Zevon, Fiona Apple, Tom Waits, Suzanne Vega, Crowded House, The Devlins, Jarvis Cocker, Pulp and a liberal sprinkling of Eighties hits. Not to mention a bag of fresh baked Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies for fortification. See you soon!

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AmeriColor Gourmet Writers. . .Works For Me Wednesday

americolor writers
Royal icing is not your only option for decorating cookies. Have you tried food coloring pens?

There are several brands available, but this:
AmeriColor Gourmet Food Writer Set is my favorite! Why? Because they come in great colors and the tips are finer and easier for small decorating.

A few examples of where I've used Gourmet Writers:
frogs 40 close
{for eyelashes on frogs...}

2 peas in a pod 1
{eyes and ♥-shaped lips on sweet peas...}

jack's teacher cookies
{cookie decorating with the kiddo...}

teddy bears

eggs names karen

My tips...
  • if using on royal icing, let the icing dry overnight before using the markers. The royal icing might look dry in a few hours, but it's not...trust me. :)
  • use a light hand with the markers, or you can poke a hole right through the icing (those are the cookies you get to eat!)
  • store the pens in the refrigerator
  • have a paper towel nearby to blot the pen tips during use. Once you've decorated several cookies, the food coloring starts flowing a little more.
  • BLACK...you'll need the black pen the most. After that, I probably use pink and red most often. I still like to have all of the colors, just in case I need them.
AmeriColor Gourmet Food Writers work for me! Be sure to check out all of the other Works For Me Wednesday tips at We Are THAT Family!

Want more on "the details" of cookie decorating? Click here.