I can’t believe I’m actually sharing this recipe.

I mean….I love you guys, but there are some recipes that should probably stay family secrets. You know – the recipes that are so good that you kind of don’t want to tell anyone how you made it. This is one of those.

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In fact, I love you all so much that I’ve made these biscuits multiple times, just so I could actually measure everything and post the recipe since I don’t usually measure the ingredients when I’m making biscuits.

Biscuits = flaky, buttery love = they need to be shared.

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Since I learned how to make biscuits from watching and practicing with Biscuit Bob, my father in law, I honestly never thought I would make a batch of biscuits that impressed him.

He’s the biscuit king. Every batch he makes is different than the last, and they’re all delicious. He adds all kinds of things – vanilla, cinnamon, jam, ground nuts. You name it, he’s probably baked it.

But when I made these the first time and they were visiting, they turned out so well that even I was shocked. Mostly because I had no butter in the house. So I had to improvise and see what I could use to make biscuits when there is no butter.

Lesson from the no-butter-in-the-house batch: cream biscuits are even better than regular biscuits made with butter. I can’t believe I’m actually saying that, but it’s true in our kitchen. We love buttermilk biscuits and scones and everything else in that flaky family, but these biscuits….they’re on a level of their own.

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Next time you want to make biscuits, do yourself a favor and leave the butter in the fridge. Just forget about it.

These are so easy to pull together – there’s no cutting the butter into the flour at all. It’s just mixing everything together, stamping them out, and waiting through 12 long minutes until you can pull the piping biscuits out of the oven and onto your plate.

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I don’t know about you, but short work weeks totally throw me off.

Every day this week, I’ve been convinced it was a day later. Tuesday, all day, I kept thinking it was our anniversary. Wednesday, I couldn’t figure out why I was in the office instead of being home for my telework day.

And today, the worst of all, I was completely sure that it was Saturday when my alarm went off the first time. Instead of hitting snooze, I turned it off thinking “It’s Saturday! We don’t need alarms today – I’m going back to sleep”.

And I did. And Nick did. And Maggie didn’t even wake up for the alarm.

So…we got up a little late today.

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A little extra sleep on a Friday isn’t the worst way to start the weekend, that’s for sure. After spending 2+ hours last night picking strawberries and doing garden stuff, eating dinner 9 pm, and crashing at 10, we both needed a little more rest than usual.

And who knew picking strawberries was such a work out? I have to climb into our raised beds to get to all the berries in the center and after doing this every day this week for at least 30 minutes-2 hours, the backs of my legs are crazy sore. Is that sad? That picking strawberries makes me feel like I ran 7 miles?

After all that work last night, I’m glad we had this chicken leftover from the night before.

We love grilling, but we tend to stick to the same spices or marinades once we find ones that we like. But this week, I tried something new. Tons of spice plus a little sweetness from Musselman’s Apple Butter - this has to be in the top 5 of bbq sauces we’ve ever mixed up at home.

If you’re grilling out this weekend, slather your chicken or ribs or pork chops with this sauce – and then come help me pick strawberries. I’ll owe you one.

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Bacon and Cheddar Yeast Crust Quiche

If Nick was in charge of dinner, we would more than likely be eating these 4 things on repeat:

Biscuits and gravy. Omelets. Quiche. Steaks.

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Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of all those things, but I’d like them a little more spread out instead of rotating those same things every 4 days.

There have been a lot of days already in the past year that, when asked, Nick requests quiche for dinner. After I finally got a good crust recipe, it was pretty easy to throw them together and it always left pieces for dinner the next day or lunches for us for work.

But when I saw this yeast crust quiche recipe on the Red Star Yeast site, I knew I had to throw my fall-back crust out of the rotation so I could try theirs.

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I would have never thought to make a quiche crust with yeast. It’s usually just a mix of butter or shortening, flour, a pinch of sugar, and some ice cold water. This crust is completely different than your typical quiche crust and it’s definitely worth making.

A little fluffier, a little less flaky, but tons of flavor make this a great base on this bacon and cheddar quiche.

And – even though it has yeast – there’s no actual rising time, so this crust takes less time to pull together than my normal one! No cutting the butter into the flour and making such a mess, either.

If you’re looking for a great weekend breakfast dish or something to make for Father’s Day, try this! It’s so easy, but seems so fancy. I think that’s the thing I love the most about quiches. They’re the little black dress for breakfast, brunch, or dinner. Easy, classic, but it looks like you spent a ton of time slaving over getting ready.

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Bacon and Cheddar Yeast Crust Quiche
Slightly adapted from Yeast Crust Quiche
Makes: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 and 1/4 tsp active dry Red Star yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp butter or shortening
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cups milk or cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, stir 1/2 cup of the flour with the yeast and salt; mix well.
  3. In a saucepan or microwave safe dish, heat water and butter/shortening to 120-130°F (shortening does not need to melt); add to flour mixture.
  4. Mix by hand until it’s somewhat smooth. Gradually stir in remaining flour to make a stiff dough. With lightly floured fingers, press the dough into a greased 9 or 10-inch pie pan. If desired, crimp edges.
  5. Fry bacon until crisp; crumble. Sprinkle the bacon pieces and cheese in the bottom of the crust.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs until foamy. Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Pour over bacon and cheese.
  7. Bake at 400°F for 30 to 35 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean and center is set. Serve warm.

This post sponsored by Red Star Yeast – all opinions are my own.

Salted Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

Today, Nick and I have been married for 9 years. Together for 10 and a half.

Exactly one-third of my life has been spent with him and to be honest, I don’t know how I got through the first 2/3 without him. It feels like he’s always been here, that we’ve known each other since the beginning, but I know that he tricked me into going out with him the first time…and that makes me love our story even more.

Have I told that story? I don’t think I have. Maybe I’ll save that for next year on our 10th anniversary.

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The best lessons I’ve learned in 9 years of marriage:

Don’t go to bed angry. You won’t sleep well and nothing gets solved.

Laugh, every day, at something, together. When you goof off and have fun together, every day turns out to be a good day.

Keep the little things exactly what they are – the little things. Pick your battles and let the rest go. It’s not worth it to fight about things that don’t really matter in the long run. (Side note: I’m a total peace-maker and hate confrontation, so this works well for me).

Go on dates as much as you can – to a movie, dinner out, a walk in the park, a concert, whatever. Find what makes you both happy and keep doing it.

Let him watch his shows, too. I’m not the biggest fan of Gold Rush or Yukon Men or watch-some-guy-work-on-a-truck, but I’m okay having those as background noise while I read or blog until something I want to watch is on. I watch Gold Rush on Fridays until Fashion Police comes on – it works well. And we only have one tv and no dvr, so it’s every man for himself in our house.

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Let your husband do what he’s good at and enjoys. If that means pulling an old jeep apart for fun…that’s great. If it means going hunting or kayaking or mountain biking, go for it. Those might not all be things I like, but that’s okay – if it’s not, it gives me time to do something I like….like shopping.

Making big breakfasts together on the weekends is one of the best things in life, I think. Hanging out with coffee or tea, good music, and biscuits/pancakes/omelets sets the tone for the weekend. Lazy mornings at home are my favorite.

If you like coffee, learn how to make good coffee. It makes a huge difference.

Cuddle.

Take naps together whenever possible. Sunday afternoons are the best, followed closely by rainy day naps. Extra points if it’s a rainy Sunday.

Don’t underestimate the power and love of a fresh batch of cookies.

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At only 9 years, I can’t say that we’re experts but we’ve made it through these past few years pretty much unscathed.

I think it’s an equal part incredible parents and families + a good sense of humor (for both of us) + lots of cookies for the bad times.

We’ve had great years and really, really tough ones. But I know he has my back and I have his. And as long as the cookies keep coming, we’ll be good, no matter what gets thrown at us.

For as much as I talk about cookies here, it’s only right that I have a cookie recipe to share today. When I first started cooking a few years ago, I didn’t think I’d be making cookies as often as I do, but it’s one of Nick’s favorite desserts – ever – and is super easy (thank goodness!).

I will almost always pick a classic chocolate chip cookie over any other kind, but Nick likes to have walnuts or pecans added in every now and then. And this batch turned out so good that I had to post. They’re not too different from your typical chocolate chip cookie recipe, but the coconut oil, extra chocolate, toasted pecans, and sea salt make them special.

It’s totally okay to have a cookie cake for an anniversary, right? I may need to make one.

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Salted Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies
Makes: 3-4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup Dixie Crystals brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Dixie Crystals sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Directions:

  1. Place a small skillet over medium heat and add the chopped pecans. Toast, stirring frequently, 5-10 minutes until you can smell the pecans and they are warmed through. Remove the pan from heat.
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, coconut oil, and sugars together (with a stand mixer or hand mixer) and mix for 3-5 minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time.
  4. Pour the whole wheat flour into the dough and blend. Then add the all purpose flour, baking soda, and salt until everything is mixed together.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and drop dough by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet 2 inches apart.
  7. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden around the edges.

I have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals. All recipes and opinions are my own, as always.

Yogurt has officially become the top snack option in my house.

I always go through phases with yogurt and smoothies with the seasons. When it’s dark and cold in the winter, I don’t want anything to do with either of them because they make me even more chilly. But as soon as there’s a hint of sunshine and warm breezes, I’m filling the fridge with way too many containers of yogurt and making smoothies for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.

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But when you have 10 (or more) containers of yogurt in your fridge, you have to come up with some fun things to do with it besides just spooning it into a bowl with some strawberries and granola.

So I had an idea last week.

Remember those no bake cookie dough bites I made last year? I decided to take that base, add a lot more yogurt, and see how it turned out as a cookie dough frozen yogurt instead of the little cookie bites.

And, after making it, I’ve decided that this could become a problem. This frozen yogurt took no time to mix together, and you don’t even need an ice cream maker!

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And this homemade magic shell is definitely something that needs to be on your to-make list.

My favorite thing in the world to get from Dairy Queen has always been a dipped cup – just their vanilla soft serve, smothered in the chocolate shell. I always ask for extra dip so it pools up around the edges of the ice cream and you get that ring of chocolate as the finale of the sundae.

After figuring out that I have some issues with ice cream, I don’t get sundaes very often anymore, but I can make this frozen yogurt + magic shell at home and it’s crazy easy.

So yogurt is a mainstay for me. Healthy, easy, and it can go from breakfast to dessert in no time. If you’re lactose intolerant or just have sensitivities (like me and tons of other people) The National Dairy Council has a great fact sheet, Fall in Love with Dairy, with lots of tips to help you enjoy dairy every day – without triggering a reaction. If you’re looking for more recipes and tips, make sure to check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and their website and on their blog.

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Cookie Dough Frozen Yogurt with Homemade Magic Shell
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Dixie Crystals brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dixie Crystals sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add  the vanilla and beat until combined.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, soda and salt. Add the chocolate chips or chunks and stir.
  3. Add the flour and chocolate mixture to butter and fold it in gently. Add the yogurt and stir again.
  4. Move the yogurt to a container and cover with lid. Freeze until set, preferably overnight.
  5. Makes a little under  2 cups.

Homemade Magic Shell
Makes: about 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup honey or agave

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, heat the coconut oil until it’s melted, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir the cocoa powder and honey into the melted coconut oil until all the cocoa is incorporated.
  3. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes until it has cooled down a little before spooning over your frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by NDC – all recipes and opinions are my own, as always. I also have an ongoing partnership with Dixie Crystals.

This isn’t your normal pasta salad.

You know the kind – the classic pasta salad I grew up with was either covered with black olives and Italian dressing or peppers and other veggies and coated with a mayo-based dressing.

But the best thing about pasta salad is that you can make it whatever you want. And last week, I wanted Middle Eastern.

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After spicing it up in Richmond with 16 flavors of hummus and a new spice kit of my own, I couldn’t help but throw some new-to-me flavors into this pasta salad.

One spice mix we tried was a Zatar seasoning. Most Zatar seasonings are a mix of thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt and sometimes sumac. If you haven’t tried it before, here’s the perfect excuse to go buy some! It may have taken me almost 30 years to try zatar, but you can bet I’ll be using it regularly from now on. And I have an almost unhealthy love for sumac now – have you tried it?! It’s so tart and tangy and salty. I want to put it on everything.

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With summer right around the corner, pasta salads are about to be popping up everywhere. They’re the expected dish of picnics and fellowships and potlucks. But you don’t have to bring the same recipe with you every time.

Switch it up. Add a new veggie. Try some new seasonings. Swap out your mayo dressing for hummus (I did – and it’s the best idea ever).

If you’re looking for some new pasta salad ideas and recipes, Dreamfields has you covered – this is their 3rd year of the Pastapalooza which is all about the ultimate side dish of summer: pasta salads. So try something new, throw out your usual recipe, and see what you can come up with this summer.

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Want to win a case of Dreamfields so you can make this pasta salad – or your own version – this summer? Dreamfields is giving one of you fantastic readers a case of their fabulous pasta! The giveaway will end Friday, June 14, 2013 at noon central. Good Luck!

to enter do one or all of the following (each comment acts as an entry):

  1. Visit the Dreamfields website, look around, find a pasta recipe you would like to make, and comeback here and leave a comment telling me which one you chose.
  2. Follow @HealthyPasta on Twitter
  3. Follow Dreamfields on Facebook
  4. Follow Dreamfields on Pinterest
  5. Follow BranAppetit on Facebook or Twitter

* For #2-5, you must leave a comment stating you followed for the entry to be valid.

Zatar Spiced Chicken and Pasta Salad
Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 3 Tbsp zatar spice mix, divided
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups Dreamfields Penne Pasta
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup hummus
  • 1/4 parsley, chopped

Directions:

  1. Place a large pot of water over high heat. Once the water has come to a rolling boil, add some salt and the pasta. Lower the heat to medium and let the pasta cook, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes until the pasta is cooked. Drain the pasta and pour it back into the pot; set the pasta aside until you’re ready to put everything together.
  2. Cut the chicken into 6 equal pieces, or as close as possible, so they cook in the same time. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the zatar spice mix, salt, and pepper and set the chicken aside.
  3. Place a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the chicken to the skillet (in batches, if you need to) and cook, 5-6 minutes on each side until the chicken is browned and cooked through.
  4. Once all your chicken is cooked, set it aside on a plate.
  5. Add the sliced zucchini to the skillet and cook 4-5 minutes until the zucchini is tender. Toss in the tomato and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  6. Pour the zucchini and tomato mixture into the cooked pasta. Add in the last tablespoon of zatar spice mix, chickpeas, sliced olives, hummus, and parsley and stir everything together.
  7. Serve the pasta salad topped with a piece of chicken.

This is a sponsored post, but all opinions and recipes are my own, as always.