Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Candy Corn Rice Krispies Treats

It is that time of year when you hit up the local pumpkin patch with your kids, bring home a bounty of pumpkins hand picked by each kid, and carve fun faces in each one. If you guys have the same system we did, Dad had to do all the hard work. Dad would cut the top off, we would scrape out all of the seeds and then we would use a sharpie marker to draw the face we wanted. Dad would get the task of cutting out the faces we had drawn so that we could stick a tea light in it and show it off to the neighborhood. All the grandparents would have to drive by and admire our work because we were SOO proud. With Halloween taking place tomorrow, I wanted to share a yummy Halloween inspired treat with you. The kids will love helping you create one of their favorite treats with a candy corn twist!

12 cups rice krispies cereal
12 cups mini marshmallows
1 cup margarine or butter
4 cups Candy Corn, rough chopped
extra butter for your hands

Prepare a baking sheet with a sil-pat mat or waxed paper. Melt butter in a medium or large pot. Add marshmallows and stir. When marshmallows are about 1/2 way melted, add in candy corn. The candy corn will start to melt a little which is perfect! Continue to stir until the marshmallows are completely melted. Add in the cereal and continue to stir until well combined. Immediately pour the mixture onto your lined baking sheet. Rub your (clean) hands with the extra margarine to prevent sticking and use your hands to press and spread the mixture around in the baking sheet until it is all level. Let cool and set up for 20 minutes. Cut into squares or use a candy corn cookie cutter to make the candy corn shape.

In the pan! Just stare at it in anticipation like a little judgement here.

You can try cutting them into Candy Corn shapes with a cookie cutter 

Or just cut them square

Enjoy! XOXO~

Monday, October 28, 2013

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

I first fell in love with tomatillo salsas at a local Mexican restaurant in my hometown of Norman, OK called Pepe Delgados. When I was in college it was my favorite on-campus lunch spot. Now that I am out of college, we still find ourselves driving across town to satisfy our cravings. Everything they make is so authentic and reminds me so much of the local fare that I grew up on in Cabo San Lucas, MX. It is hard to find fresh, authentic Mexican food that hasn't been adjusted to satisfy the American palette. Pepe's tomatillo salsa is sweet and tart (it's a sweet-tart of a salsa! bu-dum-chhhhh). I love it with tortilla chips, I love to use it as a dressing on my tacos, it truly is an all-purpose salsa. This is my version and I think it is a pretty good knock-off of Pepe's original, if I do say so myself! Once you make it, experiment and let me know what you end up loving it on.

1 lb tomatillos, husked
1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced
1/4 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large jalapeño or 2-3 small jalapeños
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup cilantro
1 1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cups water

Turn your ovens broiler to high. Remove the papery skin and stem from the tomatillos. Cut the stem off of the jalapeños. Place the tomatillos along with the jalapeños and sliced onion on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Broil until the tomatillos have turned an olive green color and the tops are browned. Put all the roasted ingredients (as well as any juices that may have cooked out) into your blender and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Add more salt to taste. Serve.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Skinny Ranch

This is really as simple as it gets. It is one of the easiest healthy swaps you can make. I have tested it on kids and grown men alike and it has garnered nothing but praise. Regular ranch dressing comes in at 140 calories and 14 grams of fat per 2 Tbsp serving. This version comes in at 34 calories and 0 grams of fat (that's right... ZERO FAT) per 2 Tbsp serving. You are saving over 100 calories every time you eat skinny ranch over it's original (fatter) alternative. Let me translate that into pounds off of your body for you. If you typically eat ranch dressing 4 times per week over the course of a year you are saving 22,048 calories and that equals over 6 lbs of body weight. So, make this switch and you will be 6 lbs lighter over the course of a year (And who doesn't want that?)

8 oz plain non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
1 Tbsp Hidden Valley Ranch dry seasoning mix 

Mix all ingredients well. Serve as a dip with carrots, celery, tomatoes, etc. or use as a salad dressing.

Per Serving (2 Tbsp): 34 cals / 0g fat / 4g carbs / 4g protein

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pike's Place Market - Seattle, WA

If you follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you saw that I got to visit Seattle for the first time last week on my radio tour. We got a little bit of time to take in the city and on the top of my list was to visit Pike's Place Market. It was everything I thought it would be and more! I wanted to share some of my favorite finds....

So on the way to the market, we stopped at a Starbucks - where I learned that Starbucks originated in Seattle (I'm always the last to know!) 

And then arrived here: (as the skies opened and the angels sang - aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!!)

The first thing I noticed were the rows and rows of incredible bouquets that were only $10!! I immediately felt duped by the $60 bouquets I'm always sending from florists.... This alone made me want to move to Seattle, just so I could have gorgeous fresh $10 flower bouquets all over my house.

Then my growling stomach pulled me into this gorgeous display of baked french pastries. And this is where I stood, drooling, until one of my travel companions pulled me away kicking and screaming. 

One of the coolest things about Pike's Place was the fresh fish. I wanted to buy a bunch and take it home but then was reminded that we still have 2 days left of car rides, hotels and plane travel. Apparently raw fish wasn't something that anyone I was traveling with thought was a good idea? Hmm.... 

This guy was a fish packin' fool 

Big ole fresh prawns. Yum...

Then came Mr. Eric Freeman. He was playing some good ole tunes and we decided to join him. I asked if he knew any Janis Joplin, he said no but he knew Jimmy Buffett. I asked about Son of a Preacher Man, he said no but he knows Little Richard. Then for giggles I asked if he knew any Toby Keith and I'll be damned if we didn't end up breaking into some "Ain't As Good As I Once Was" and yes...there's video.

These shrimp were as big as my hand. I didn't even know they made shrimp that big!

I was just being a poser the ORIGINAL Starbucks. We had already had our coffee allowance for the day at the non-original Starbucks that you saw us at earlier in this post.

Again with the food, and again I stood and drooled. I felt like I was in Paris where on every corner you walk by the most amazing looking bistro with a display full of breads, quiches and pastries that look too good to be real.

And then there was this...I couldn't figure out if it was a massage parlor or...well, I won't tell you what other thoughts went across my mind. It turned out to be a restaurant - my mind felt shameful and dirty for not assuming that in the first place.

Eww.... Apparently "Monkfish" is a thing...and that thing is ugly and gross.

The "Gum Wall" .... This was just gross. They literally had signage pointing you to it like a landmark. I almost threw up AGAIN just looking at the picture...not gonna say who in my party added to the collection (and it wasn't me)

And we closed 'em down. They packed up and hit the road, as did we. What an amazing experience. Love, Love, Love Seattle and I look forward to coming back many times over!

The End. XOXO~

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lima Bean and Sausage Soup

If you caught the brown beans and sausage recipe that I shared on GAC's "Krystal Keith in the Kitchen" blog series this past week then this recipe may look similar to you. It has all of the same elements, just a different bean (and a shorter cooking time!) Now that it's cold outside I can't think of eating anything but soup. For me, it is the ultimate comfort food. Don't tell me you don't like lima beans, these aren't the green lima beans that your mom forced you to eat when you were 5. These are large, mature, buttery white beans. They just happen to have "lima" as a first name and it's not nice to judge a book by its cover - or in this case a bean by its first name. I taste tested this for dinner last night, I'll have it for lunch today (and probably dinner again tonight) and then I also froze a few baggies to cure the cravings I'll have throughout this winter season. Feel free to double up the recipe to last you all winter in the freezer. 

1 lb large lima beans
1 pkg smoked sausage such as Eckrich, sliced into 3/4 inch pieces
1 small white onion, chopped
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 Tbsp pepper
Extra salt and pepper to taste

Note* If you want the sausage to go further you can cut each piece in 1/2 or 1/4 to ensure sausage in every bite. 

Cover the lima beans with water in a stock pot, cover with lid and let soak overnight. Strain water from beans and rinse the beans with fresh water. Return the soaked lima beans to the pot. Add the onion, sausage, salt and pepper. Stir. Bring the mixture to a boil then cover the pot and reduce it to simmer. Allow to simmer for 2 hours, stirring 2-3 times throughout. Remove lid, stir and allow to continue to simmer until the soup thickens to your desired consistency (I look for the consistency of potato soup). If the soup gets too thick you can add water back in to thin it out. The soup has a tendency to stick to the bottom if not stirred well on occasion so don't forget that part. You can serve this fresh off the stove, stick it in the refrigerator for later or portion it into quart-sized Ziploc-style freezer bags for lazy day dinners. Check out the additional step-by-step photos below. Fancy...I know!

Enjoy! XOXO~

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin

Check out GAC TV's blog series "Krystal Keith in the Kitchen" for this Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin recipe:

2 pork tenderloin
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup Blaze balsamic glaze
Olive oil, for drizzling
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup water

1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp A1 steak sauce
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all marinade ingredients in a 1-gallon Ziploc style baggie. Mix well. Tie the 2 pieces of tenderloin with twine to hold them together. Place the tenderloin in the Ziploc and shake bag to let marinade cover the tenderloin. Let marinate for 2 hours (or overnight). Reserve the marinade. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In an oven safe Dutch oven drizzle olive oil and add minced garlic, salt and pepper. Heat over high heat on the stove until the garlic starts to sizzle. Place the tenderloin in and do not touch for a minute and a half. Turn and continue doing this process to all four sides. Add 1 cup of water plus 1/2 cup of the marinade to the Dutch oven. Be sure to baste the tenderloin. Place the Dutch oven, covered, in your oven for 20 minutes. In the meantime heat the remaining marinade plus 1/4 cup Blaze balsamic glaze. Stir regularly until reduced by half, it will thicken to a thick BBQ sauce consistency. Remove the tenderloin from the oven and adjust the oven temperature to 400. Brush the tenderloin with the marinade reduction and place it back in the oven, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes. Make sure that the center of the tenderloin reaches 145 degrees on a meat thermometer. remove from the oven and place the tenderloin on your serving dish. Brush one last time with marinade reduction. Pour remaining reduction into a bowl to serve on the side. Serve and enjoy! 

Additional photos just for the heck of it:

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Pumpkin Bread Cupcakes

I know you saw these delicious cupcakes on GAC's blog last week.  Just wanted to add them to      
The Barnyard Bistro in case you missed them!

To me Fall is synonymous with pumpkins, pies, egg nog, boots and sweaters. I absolutely love the combination of perfectly warm days with the promise of crisp cool nights. I absolutely love it. With the arrival of Fall, I thought this would be the perfect recipe to share with y'all. This recipe is a combination of my great-grandmother, Nannie's, "Pumkin Bread" recipe and my own "Pumpkin Spice Icing" recipe. She used to make loaves of pumpkin bread for thanksgiving and christmas and they were definitely a highlight.

Pumpkin Bread:
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups pumpkin puree
3 1/2 cups flour
1/3 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup nuts

2 sticks butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp milk
3 Tbsp pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
1/4 tsp nutmeg, plus extra for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all the pumpkin bread ingredients in order from sugar to nuts using a stand or electric hand mixer. Make sure to incorporate each ingredient before the next one is added. You can either spray or line the wells of a muffin tin. Spoon 1/3 cup of mixture into each well. Place in the oven for 25 minutes. You can also use a mini-loaf pan (8 mini-loafs per pan) as long as you adjust your baking time to 35-40 minutes. While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the icing. Whip the butter, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Slowly begin to add in the powdered sugar with the mixer on the lowest level to avoid a powdered sugar bomb going off in your kitchen. Once all the sugar is incorporated well, add the milk and beat/whip for 2-3 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the oven and allow to completely cool. Once cool, use a metal blade spatula, rubber spatula or a butter knife to ice the cupcakes. for a decorative touch you can dust the finished product with some cinnamon and nutmeg. Makes 24-30 cupcakes. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Milk Chocolate Buttercream Icing

Who doesn't love a cupcake piled high with luscious icing? You could almost skip the cake part altogether and hand me a spoon with a bowl of icing and I'm in heaven (calm down! I said "almost"). What I am not, is a chocolate person (Sacrilegious, I know, I've been scolded many times). I do like some chocolate in moderation but could do without dark chocolate fudge and hershey's bars although I appreciate their appeal and the happiness they bring to those around me! For this recipe I chose to go the milk chocolate route. This buttercream is heaven, seriously. It has just the right amount of chocolate. I piped it high atop my chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes, which I will post at some point in the future, and that combo could knock your socks off. Enjoy!

1/2 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 Tbsp milk

Cream butter until fluffy. Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder together. Slowly incorporate the sifted sugar and cocoa mix into the butter half a cup at a time with your mixer on the lowest speed. Add in the salt, milk and extracts. Once all ingredients are incorporated well, beat on high for 2 minutes.  Adjust the consistency if needed using more milk to thin the icing out or powdered sugar to thicken it up a little. Use this buttercream to ice cakes, cookies, cupcakes, etc.

Enjoy! XOXO~

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fresh Green Beans

Those of you that follow my Facebook or Pinterest pages have seen this recipe before but it is officially making it's Barnyard Bistro debut today. This is by far one of my favorite ways to eat fresh green beans. And, incase you're wondering, "fresh" should be the only type of green bean in my opinion - but I'm just the grand-daughter of a farmer so what do I know!? (Okay, I'm partial) I think one of the reasons people shy away from fresh green beans is that they don't know how to make them tender. Fresh green beans tend to be crisp, crunchy and can have a strong "raw green" flavor, if that makes any sense, but if you blanch them and saute them for a bit they soften right up but keep a bit of texture (that you cannot get from canned beans) which is nice. Give these a try an let me know how you like them! Hope y'all enjoy!

1/2 lb fresh green beans
3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/2 small yellow onion, sliced thin
Kosher salt
Butchers black pepper (just a courser grain)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp pecan or olive oil

Boil the green beans in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Strain and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool (This is called blanching). Drain the water. In a skillet heat oil on medium, add almonds, onion, garlic and spices. Let saute for 2 minutes and add in green beans. Toss ingredients until mixed well. Continue to saute until the garlic and onion become tender and begin to caramelize and the almonds are toasted. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Enjoy! XOXO~

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Basil Tomato Grilled Cheese Panini

This is a recipe given to me by my Aunt Linda. She is a phenom with Italian food. She came to town over the summer and made her famous spaghetti and meatballs for the family and I was in heaven. I actually posted a pic on Twitter and Instagram of my plate (the first one needed to know about the second one, right?) Every year since as far back as I can remember, she would come in from Florida, where she and my Uncle Tracey live with their kids, and she would spend a whole day of her vacation constructing meatballs and simmering them in her marinara for all of us to enjoy (some vacation huh?) Yum, Yum, Yum....Okay I'm done reminiscing. When she sent me this recipe there was obviously no surprise that it was an Italian inspired dish. I am so excited to share it with you guys and I hope that when you take your first bite and close your eyes to take in all of the yummy (because I know you will) that you'll say a little thank you to my Aunt Linda for bringing it to all of us...I know I do.

8 slices Italian bread 3/4 inch thick (I used pre-sliced Tuscan bread from Target)
8 slices part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 large plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp minced fresh basil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

On four slices of bread, layer cheese and tomatoes; sprinkle with basil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Top with remaining bread. In a small bowl, combine the oil, Parmesan cheese and garlic powder; brush over the outside of each sandwich. On a panini press or griddle, cook sandwiches over medium heat until golden brown on both sides. 

The ingredients included fresh basil and tomatoes, both of which are from my own garden. 

How amazing do these tomatoes look?!

The sandwiches ready to hit the panini grill...

It's hard to simply watch it and not keep opening the grill!

And Viola! 

Look at that ooey gooey melty goodness!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Toasted Apple Pie Ravioli

I know I say this all the time but I am reeeeeeeeally excited about sharing this one. Apple Pie is my absolute favorite dessert and has been since I was a kid. My Aunt Hooey makes the most scrumptious apple pie I've ever had in my life. I look forward to it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. I may be able to sweet talk her into sharing it with you guys but don't get your hopes took me 27 years to get it! This idea came to me in the middle of the night when I have nothing to do but lay and create music and dishes in my head. I love toasted ravioli and when I had the thought of making that into a dessert, let alone my favorite dessert, it literally made me want to jump out of bed and get started. I thought it over for a day or two and decided to create it in simple form so that you can whip it together in a short amount of time with absolutely no stress. You can have this dish completed start to finish in 30-40 minutes (exciting right!?!) If you are an over-achiever you can absolutely make your own pie crust and apple filling rather than buying store-bought and you will even get 5 gold stars for your extra effort!! (does anyone know where you can spend gold stars? or where they come in handy? I have a few saved up myself...)

2 sheets of pie dough (in your grocers refrigerator or freezer section), thawed and at room temperature
1/2 -21 oz can apple pie filling (or you can make your own pie filling)
1 Tsp Apple Pie Spice
3 Tbsp butter, melted
have a cinnamon-sugar blend on hand.

For the icing: 
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp half and half
1/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place the pie filling in a bowl and use a knife to roughly cut the apple slices into small pieces. You want them cut to approximately 1/2 inch cubes. I did it in the bowl because doing this on a cutting board would just make a mess. If you are making your own pie filling just cut your apples small to begin with before you cook them. Add in the apple pie spice and mix well. Unroll 1 sheet of the pie dough. You can lightly draw a line with a pastry wheel in the pie dough in squares to guide your placement of the filling - DO NOT cut through yet. Place approx 1-2 tsp of filling for each square. Make sure there is enough room on the edges that the edge will seal. Brush all of the edges and in between each drop of filling lightly with the melted butter. Place the top sheet of pie dough. Starting at the center of the dough, begin to press down lightly working the large air pockets out. Press in between each drop filling and use light pressure to form the dough around the drop of filling while working the air out to the edges until you have worked around each drop. Use a fluted pastry wheel to cut the ravioli out. This is just a free-hand process, they do not all need to be uniform and the same. The pie dough is round so you will have a couple odd angles. Make sure to cut all edges of the dough with the fluted pastry wheel. Discard excess dough. Use your thumb and index-finger to pinch all the way around each ravioli (as shown in photos below). This will give the edge a pretty edge similar to that of a ravioli. Brush each ravioli with melted butter and lay them butter-side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Butter the side facing up and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar blend. Place in the oven for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly for 5-10 minutes. Mix the icing ingredients together and drizzle over the ravioli. Serve warm or room temperature (or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream).

Enjoy! XOXO~