Mediterranean Chicken & Rice

6 Aug
Here is some interesting information that I need your opinion on: I am thinking of switching URL’s to something easier to remember like “lauren’s lifestyle” or something along those lines. I’m just so indecisive that I can’t decide what to do or when to do it, so tell me what you think of the name, if you like or don’t like it better than golokitchen, etc. etc. It would really help! 
Also, don’t forget to see what I’m up to on twitter (@golokitchen) and make sure you check out the GoLoKitchen facebook fan page!
Now, onto this delicious chicken! I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while now, but I kept forgetting. It wasn’t until today that I found all these photos that I took a few weeks ago for this recipe. So, without further ado, I give you a delicious and healthy dinner that I call simply Mediterranean Chicken & Rice. 
I don’t remember this dish as vividly as other ones because it’s been a while, but my husband certainly does. He scarfed this one down and then took the leftovers to work the next day for lunch. Mediterranean cuisine is very different from our go-to day in and day out meals. We usually go for Southwest and Italian. I wanted a change from the ‘norm’ and this was the ticket! The kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes and lemon juice were just delicious together and made a great addition to the sauce. I like acidity, so I squirted in lots more lemon juice. The fresh parsley was a nice touch to round out the dish. All in all, a fabulous meal that came together in about 30 minutes. A great summer meal and a great way to switch things up! 
*I didn’t have any artichoke hearts on hand to toss in, but they would be a perfect addition. (I actually meant to pick some up from the store and completely overlooked it, even though it was on my list! How crazy am I?)
Mediterranean Chicken & Rice
yield: 4 servings
Ingredients:
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 large chicken breasts (sliced in half or pounded out and cut in two–you want 4 cutlets)
salt
pepper
1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil & herbs, chopped

1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon oregano
lemon juice, to taste
1/2 cup chicken stock or white wine
splash of cream (1/4-1/2 cup)
fresh parsley
more salt and pepper to taste
cooked white rice

Directions:
In large skillet, preheat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Stir salt and pepper into flour. Coat chicken in flour and cook in hot oil until browned but not necessarily cooked. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Pour in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in same pan and reduce heat to medium. Saute onions, garlic, green pepper and sun dried tomatoes until onions have softened, 5 minutes. Stir in olives, bay leaf, oregano, lemon juice and white wine or stock. Place chicken breasts back in to pan. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes. Reduce heat and stir in cream, parsley and more salt and pepper. Serve over warm rice with lemon slices.

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Cream of Cauliflower Soup & Buttermilk Biscuits

4 Aug
Guess what everyone! I finally figured out how to link the GoLoKitchen Facebook fan page to my site! I’m really not all that technically savvy. Can you tell? It is located right under my wonderful followers (thanks, guys! 🙂 ) Anyways, check it out and do me a favor: press that pretty little ‘like’ button. It would do my heart good. Thank you.
This soup is a classic recipe-one I remember my Mom making on cold rainy days. Growing up, I always walked to school, so when it was bad weather, I most likely braved the storm and froze all the way home. But, on those awful days, when I walked in the door, I always smelled onions and butter cooking or onions and olive oil cooking. It is one of those memories that I will always remember, one I automatically link to home. I love my Canadian home and all the people that live there. I also love it here too. So, either way I look at it, I can’t win. However, I can do what I can to get the best of both worlds. And if that means making a bunch of my Mom’s recipes, then so be it. 
To be quite honest with you, there is no recipe for this soup–at least one I’ve never seen. And to be frank, I don’t remember everything my Mom put into this. So, I was flying by the seat of my pants come dinner time. Lucky for me that’s when good things and good ideas pop into my head. Now, this didn’t quite taste like the original, but it was still delightful. The flavor was creamy and mild and didn’t really taste a whole lot like cauliflower. My daughter ate it up and so did my husband (a man who is very hesitant around cauliflower). So, for all you cauliflower haters out there, give this soup a chance. And, for you other folk, make this and be excited for October when I share my Grandma’s cauliflower recipe (it’s very simple and involved a lot of cheese). Seriously, you should be excited because cauliflower really can be that good. Just in time for the holidays, you lucky people!
Now, the biscuits were just something I whipped up to have on the side of the soup. Because it’s been a hot summer I hadn’t made biscuits in a very long time, (meaning I was too hot in my un-air-conditioned apartment to even think of turning on the oven) so when I sunk my teeth into a fresh one, it was almost like a reunion of sorts. “WowI have missed you old friend.” 
Note to self: make more biscuits. 

They are pretty little devils that are just delicious and full of carbs. My favorite. Add a little butter and I’m happy as a clam. 
Moral of the story: Soup = good. Biscuits = good. Soup + Biscuits = one happy full family! 
Enjoy!
Cream of Cauliflower Soup
yield: 4 entree portions
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1/4 cup all purpose flour
5 cups good quality chicken stock
1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 bay leaf
salt
pepper
1 cup cream or half & half
Directions:
In large pot, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over onions and stir to create a paste. Cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in chicken stock and increase heat to high. Soup should thicken slightly. Stir in cauliflower, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Simmer lightly with lid cracked for 30 minutes or until cauliflower is soft. Reduce heat to low, remove bay leaf, stir in cream and adjust seasonings to your taste. Top with parsley if desired. Serve with biscuits.
Recipe TIPS
-I’ve told you this many times before, but once you add in your cream or half & half, be sure not to boil the soup! Bad things will happen.
-I had to add in quite a bit of salt to my pot of soup to make it taste great, so don’t be afraid to sprinkle in more!
Buttermilk Biscuits
yield: 12 biscuits
*this is my cinnamon buttermilk biscuit recipe minus the cinnamon
Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup cold buttermilk or 3/4 cup whole milk

Directions:
Mix all dry ingredients together in large bowl. Cut in cold butter until its the size of small peas. Stir in buttermilk until batter is all moist. Cut into 12 biscuits or drop onto greased baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

My New Favorite Salad & Dressing

2 Aug

Hi, friends! Did you guys have a good weekend? I sure did! Complete with more celebrations and fattening food. Sunday was a little anniversary of sorts: August 1st is the day that my husband asked me to marry him! (So glad I said yes! He’s wonderful!) Anyways, we were eating pretty rotten stuff over the weekend so to lighten things up, I’ll be making this salad today and probably tomorrow! Last week, I ate this salad three times for lunch. It’s so easy and delicious.

Don’t let the apples fool you. Their sweet taste and crunchy texture are perfect with the rest of these ingredients. I used to be an apple in salad hater once upon a time, but I took a bold move a few weeks ago and tried it and ended up loving it! Also, this salad ends up being a great option for those hot muggy days and it’s very low in carbs so it’s good for your waist line.

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think! And, don’t forget to check out my updated links/pages above!

New Favorite Salad
yield: for 1 person

Ingredients:
for the salad-
2 cups lettuce or baby spinach
2 slices garlic & herb deli turkey
2 tablespoons toasted, chopped pecans
1/3 fuji apple, diced
1-2 tablespoons shaved parmesan cheese

for the dressing-
makes enough for large dinner salad
1 clove garlic, finely minced (if I was making this for my husband, I’d do half a clove–its garlicy stuff)
2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey or something sweet
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup light flavored olive oil or canola oil
salt
pepper

Directions:
Pour all ingredients for dressing into a leak proof container or into the bottom of a bowl. Shake or whisk until dressing has emulsified. Set aside.
Make salad by placing all ingredients into a bowl or onto a large plate. Top with desired amount of dressing.

Blueberries galore! Two for one!

30 Jul

First things first: I updated my pages with different photos and newer information and even added an extra one, so go check it out! Also, my formatting is all screwed up for this post and I don’t know how to fix it! Anyone know how to fix it?

A few days ago, my mother-in-law purchased a rather large pack of fresh blueberries and didn’t know what to do with them. She asked me if I’d like some and I happily took them off her hands! What did I make with them? Of course a bazillion batches of my favorite blueberry muffins and then two blueberry lemon streusel cakes. And I still have some blueberries left! Into the freezer for them.

The muffin recipe is adapted from Ina Garten’s Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins. When I first tried this recipe, I fell in love because never before have I tasted such delicate and moist muffins. Like, they were unbelievably moist and tender. Then after a while, I started adding in lemon zest and juice to the batter and then sprinkled on a sugary topping before baking. Lo and behold the delicious blueberry muffins got better. So, that’s how I make them now and they are a favorite at my house. As a matter of fact, the first batch I made for some of my nieces and nephews was gone within 24 hours. Thats over 24 muffins devoured by four kids and two adults. They have been converted and asked for the recipe.

The Blueberry Lemon Streusel Cakes is another adaption, this time from the Pioneer Woman. Just a few days ago she posted a recipe for Blueberry Crumb Cake and I thought “It’s a sign! Something else to make to get rid of all these blueberries!” This recipe is delicious just on it’s own, but I just had to make a few changes and add in the lemon. I don’t know why I have this uncontrollable urge to add lemon into blueberry recipes I just do! It’s really a match made in heaven, lemon and blueberries. Similar to peas and carrots. Or rice and beans. Or Lauren and Gordon! (Haha! Precious.)

Anyways, I added in the lemon as well as made a streusel topping instead of just a ‘crumb’ topping. AND, just to be fancy, I topped the cake with the blueberries instead of mixing them into the batter and then baked them in two round cake pans. Well, one cake pan and one pie plate to be exact. But, they turned out beautifully and most importantly delicious.
So, if you happen to run into some blueberries, snatch them up and make some of these yummy treats! They are sure to please!

Blueberry Lemon Coffee Cake Muffins

adapted slightly from Ina Garten’s Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffinsyield: 18 muffins (I got about 24)
Ingredients:
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems
for the topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 lemon, zested

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper liners in muffin pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. Stir in lemon zest and lemon juice. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.
Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup 3/4 way full. Sprinkle the topping over the batter and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Blueberry Lemon Streusel Cake
adapted from Ree Drummond’s Blueberry Crumb Cake
yield: 1-9×13 cake or 2-9 inch round cakes

Ingredients:
5 tablespoons butter
¾ cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoons cinnamon
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2-¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons salt
¾ cups whole milk
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 cups fresh blueberries

for the topping:
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup oats
zest of 1/2 lemon
dash cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (I used 325 because the original recipe didn’t have a temperature listed until recently. Both will work!) Combine flour, baking powder, and a salt. Stir and set aside.

Cream butter with cinnamon and sugar. Add egg and mix until combined. Add vanilla and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately until totally incorporated. Do not overbeat.

Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. (I used 2-9 inch rounds) Pour in batter and smooth the top. Sprinkle fresh blueberries over the top of the cake.

In a separate bowl, combine topping ingredients. Sprinkle over the top of the cake.

Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown. (Mine was done after 45 at 325 degrees in my oven). Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top, if desired. Cut into slices and serve.

Shortcut Pierogies

28 Jul
Have you ever had a pierogi before? My Mom would rarely buy them and make them, but when she did–boy oh boy were we in for a treat! Now, I’m not Polish or Ukrainian so I don’t know how to make these correctly. So I purposely made them incorrectly! That’s right! You heard me. This is the untraditional pierogi recipe that takes half the time to make (or less!) than regular traditional ones. This is my kind of cooking. If you are a hardcore Polish or Ukrainian traditionalist, then you may want to avert your eyes and not read any further. 
Now, pierogies are like little dumplings or pillows that are filled with mashed potato, cheese and onion that you boil in water and then fry in bacon grease and onion. At least, thats how my Mom did it. So, that’s how I do it too and these are to die for! Of course it’s a little labor intensive but I took a shortcut by using store bought wonton wrappers. A wonderful time saver! 
If you have an hour or so, then you can whip out a bunch of these! Once you fill the wonton skins, you can freeze them on a baking sheet and then transfer them to some freezer bags and portion them out accordingly. I got a lot of pierogies made during my daughter’s nap one day! And, they make for a quick dinner when you’re in a pinch. Once you start boiling the pierogies, they only take about 3 minutes to cook and then its a matter of browning them up in a frying pan with some bacon and onions. I like mine with lots of cold sour cream and a side salad. I had dinner done within 20 minutes! And, we all loved them! Gordon has never tried or had even heard of a pierogi before, but after we finished dinner, he cooked up some more for a second helping! Love at first bite! 
So if you are like Gordon and have never heard of these little devils before or you have any want to try to make your own untraditional kind, then give these ones a whirl! The flavors are out of this world!
Shortcut Pierogies
yield: about 36
Ingredients:
1-12 oz. package round wonton skins (you won’t use the whole thing unless you’re feeling ambitious)
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
2 large Idaho potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
a few splashes whole milk
salt
pepper
——————–
for frying about 12 pierogies, I would use
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 small onion, diced
for garnish:
cheddar cheese
green onions
sour cream
Directions:
Scrub potatoes clean under cold water and prick deeply with a fork or knife. Microwave potatoes until completely soft (about 9 minutes for me). You could also bake them in your oven or use some left over baked potatoes. 

Cut cooked potatoes in half and scoop out the insides into a large bowl. Mash potato with butter, sour cream, salt and pepper. Stir in milk to get a smooth consistency. Stir in cheese. Set aside. **You could also use left over mashed potatoes! Just be sure to stir in the cheese and more milk or cream to get a smooth consistency**
In small bowl, whisk egg with water. To assemble pierogies, take one wonton wrapper and brush the edges with the egg. Place 2-3 teaspoons worth of potato filling into the center. Fold wrapper in half to create a half moon shape and press edges together keeping the potato filling inside and removing any excess air. Repeat this process until no more filling remains. Depending on how much or little you fill your pierogies, you could end up with more or less than my 36 I got. 
Place pierogies on baking sheet in a single layer. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Transfer to freezer bags until ready to cook.
To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, start rendering the chopped bacon. After about 3 minutes of cooking the bacon, add in chopped onion. Once water has come to boil, drop in pierogies and stir. After 2-3 minutes, pierogies should be finished cooking and should float to the top. Using a slotted spoon, drain pierogies and drop into skillet with bacon and onions. Fry pierogies until golden brown on either side or until cooked to your liking. Bacon and onions should be completely finished cooking by this point. Serve warm with sour cream, more cheddar cheese and/or chopped green onions.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake

26 Jul
Hello Friends! We’ve had a busy last few days because lots of family were in town AND we were celebrating Gordon’s birthday! So, of course I had to make him a cake! After hounding him for a week trying to figure out what to make him, I just gave him options and this is what he chose, except with very specific specifications. He loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups but not frozen! How do you make an ice cream cake without freezing it? That made it a little challenging, but we came to a compromise and here’s what we got: no Reese’s in the actual cake, just on the cake as decoration. So, that’s that! And believe it or not this ice cream cake actually tasted just like a huge frozen Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup without having any of the candy on the inside! 

It was so delicious and got rave reviews from every single person who had a piece. That’s almost 20 people! You will want to have a party and share this cake because it is so huge and decadent. It looks impressive and everyone will think you bought it from a store! A few of my nieces actually asked me what store I got it from! When I told them I made it from scratch, they just responded with a “WHOA!” (Haha!)
And, even though this cake takes a while to make, all the steps are very simple and I use a lot of short cuts, like using a store bought brownie mix. Ice cream cake shouldn’t be the least bit intimidating to you to make and you can customize the ice cream flavors to your liking. Super simple dessert that everyone will love! Its a win win situation! So, if you have a birthday coming up or even another kind of celebration, give this ice cream cake a whirl! You’ll be glad you did!
Reese’s Peanut Butter Brownie Ice Cream Cake
yield: 16 slices, at least!
Ingredients:
1 family sized box brownie mix (18.3 oz.)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
————————————-

2 – 1.5 quarts vanilla ice cream
1 1/4 cups smooth peanut butter
————————————-
1 12 oz. package mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, wrappings removed
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
cocoa for garnish

Directions:
Part I- Make brownie batter according to packaged directions. Pour into greased 10 inch spring form pan. Melt peanut butter in microwave for 30 seconds or so. Drop by the spoonful onto brownie batter. Using a butter knife, swirl peanut butter into brownie batter. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-55 minutes. Let cool completely.

Part II- Scoop vanilla ice cream into large bowl and break apart as best as possible. Microwave ice cream for 30 second intervals, stirring until ice cream is easier to stir and is smooth. Microwave peanut butter for 30 seconds to melt slightly. Stir peanut butter into ice cream until incorporated. Pour over top  of cooled brownie and smooth the top. It should be filled completely to the top of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.

Part III- Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until firm peaks form. Chop up mini Reese’s peanut butter cups into smaller pieces being sure to reserve 5 whole peanut butter cups for the top. Remove ice cream cake from freezer. Run a long skinny knife along edges of cake to loosen and then unlatch and remove sides of springform pan. Frost cake with whipped cream, reserving 1/2 cup. Press chopped Reese’s into the sides of the cake. Pipe 5 rosettes onto top of cake with reserved whipped cream. Sprinkle cocoa over top the entire cake. Place 5 whole mini Reese’s into rosettes. Store in freezer until ready to serve.

To serve, remove cake from freezer 5-10 minutes before serving. Dip your large knife into a cup of very hot water to help cut through the cake easier. The first piece will be tough to remove, but after that, it should get much easier.

Turkey Meatball & Mozzarella Sandwiches

21 Jul
 
Do I have a great dinner for your families tonight! This is a quick and easy meal that could probably be on your table under 30 minutes! (It was for me a few nights ago.) It was kind of a default dinner because I was missing a few ingredients for what I had originally scheduled….oops! It happens to the best of us. Anyways, I got creative and picked a few things from my garden. Then I defrosted the ground turkey I had, mixed in a few things and that was it! Even though it stresses me out to realize I’m missing an ingredient or two 30 minutes before Gordon gets home from work, it’s at these times that I create some of the tastiest meals! 
**Side note: Let me just take a minute to say that I LOVE my garden–especially the herbs! It is SO much cheaper than buying them from the store. When I originally was purchasing my plants, all the organic ones ended up being cheaper than the non-organic ones! Bonus! Plus, because it’s a garden the herbs keep rejuvenating themselves! Duh! Of course they keep growing! Come fall, I’ll be moving them inside so I can have fresh herbs through winter too. So, moral of the story: growing your own herb garden will save you money and will make all your food taste fresher and therefore more delicious! I am a garden advocate. Ok. The end.**
For this recipe I used fresh basil and parsley as well as a few green onions straight from my garden. Just rinse and chop! Regular yellow or white onions and dried herbs would be fine as well, just don’t use as much! They should be just as moist and delicious. I also baked up some frozen dinner rolls and jazzed them up with some melted butter and garlic salt. Fresh garlic rolls out of the oven is heaven! Plus it makes your house smell great! Those frozen dinner rolls are a life saver sometimes! 
Anyways, these Italian sandwiches are delicious and we all cleaned our plates! It is a meal that will please your entire family and should keep you happy because you’ll only have to spend about 15 minutes at your stove. Also, don’t feel you need to be limited to these sandwiches. Heat up some marinara and have spaghetti & turkey meatballs! They would be delicious as an appetizer too, but I would limit the cheese because things tend to get stringy once the mozzarella is melted. So, enjoy this healthy and fast dinner! Your kids are sure to love it!

Turkey Meatball & Mozzarella Sandwiches
yield: 15-20 meatballs, enough to feed 4
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons milk
1 slice bread
1/2 lb. ground turkey
1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced
2 green onions, chopped (use all the white and most of the green part)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
2 cups prepared good quality marinara
8-10 frozen dinner rolls, defrosted
1 tablespoon melted butter
garlic salt
Directions:
Break apart slice of bread into small pieces into a large bowl. Pour milk over bread and let soak 1-2 minutes. Stir to break bread apart more. Stir in turkey, basil, parsley, onion, salt, pepper and garlic until well combined. Form mixture into 15-20 small meatballs (I use a cookie scoop). Preheat large skillet to medium-medium high heat. Pour in olive oil. Fry meatballs 3-4 minutes per side until deep brown. Reduce heat and pour marinara over meatballs. Stir to coat. At this point, the meatballs probably are not cooked thoroughly. So, be sure to simmer covered at least 10 minutes before serving to ensure doneness. (You can simmer this longer until you are ready to serve–just be sure to add splashes of water here and there to keep the sauce at a consistency you like) Two minutes before serving, top meatballs with grated cheese and cover to melt. 
For the rolls, before baking, brush with melted butter and sprinkle garlic salt over the tops. Bake according to packaged directions. Brush hot rolls with any remaining butter.
To serve, cut rolls in half and fill with 2-3 mozzarella covered meatballs.