Cranberry Feta Pinwheels

Monday, December 30, 2013

Whew! Is anyone else still trying to recover from the whirlwind of last week? I know I am. T & I stayed super busy with Christmas celebrations, travel, and in T's case...a whole lotta call. All in all, we had a wonderful holiday celebrating with family and connecting with friends. For us, one of the most traditional ways of connecting around the holidays is gathering in the kitchen to enjoy a delicious sampling of courses ranging from appetizers to dessert.

This year, one of my contributions to our holiday gatherings were these delightfully yummy cranberry feta pinwheels. I just love how they incorporate the traditional holiday red and green. Not only do they look festive, they were a huge hit, and super simple to put together. 

On another note, if you are looking for a quick easy appetizer to take along to any upcoming New Year's Eve parties you may be attending, these pinwheels are just the thing, and the perfect finger food for snacking on.

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Mix together softened cream cheese, chopped green onion, feta cheese, and dried cranberries. If you prefer more cranberries/green onion/feta, now is your chance!

Step Three: Spread a layer of the cream cheese mixture evenly over the tortilla. Roll up, wrap in plastic and chill for 1 hour*. To serve, slice into approximately 12 1/2 inch thick slices.

Recipe adapted from

CRANBERRY FETA PINWHEELS | Yield: 4 tortillas (approx. 45 pinwheels) | Total Time: 20 min. + 1 hr. optional chill time


12 oz. (1.5 pkg) softened cream cheese
1 C crumbled feta cheese
1/3-1/2 C chopped green onion
1 pkg dried sweetened cranberries
4 spinach tortillas (I used Mission brand garden spinach & herb)


Combine all ingredients except tortillas. Mix well.

Divide and spread cream cheese mixture evenly between four spinach tortillas.

Roll tightly, wrap in clear plastic wrap, and refrigerate for one hour.* To serve, cut into approximately 12 slices.

*NOTE* If you don't have time to chill before slicing, never fear, these will be fine without the additional hour of chilling.

Christmas 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas ya filthy animals!

Happy Holidays! P.S. Don't you just love T's holiday sweater? He is so proud of it, and has been secretly wearing it randomly throughout December until he could officially bust it out for Christmas and really get into the spirit.

My family together at Christmas. 

Mom and Dad on Christmas.

T was pretty excited to receive some new golf gear for the holidays. Now we just need it to warm up outside so he can start working on his swing.

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas...anyone have any exciting plans for NYE?

A Very 'Pinteresting' Holiday Card Display

Monday, December 23, 2013

Quick! Name your number one DIY or craft inspiration website. Thinking...thinking...thinking... If you're anything like me, this is pretty much a no-brainer. PINTEREST! My latest crafting endeavor was more of a quick solution as to what to do with the pile of holiday cards that was starting to consume my countertop than anything else.

There's nothing I love more than receiving holiday cards in the mail (OK...maybe that's an exaggeration, but I do look forward to seeing what surprises come by way of snail mail around the holidays). I find the cards with newsletters to be especially fun as they keep me informed of friends and family from afar that I don't get to connect with on a regular basis. Yes - I do include a newsletter of sorts in my holiday cards. (In case you're wondering, I opted for 'holiday' rather than 'Christmas' cards this year. I'll be putting them in the mail Christmas Day, so look for them later this week).

This year, I decided I'd like to find a festive way to display these holiday greetings, and saw a great inspiration photo on Pinterest that I was able to copy in only about 2 minutes. All you'll need is ribbon, clothespins, and a cabinet door! If you have a slew of cards stacking up, this is an excellent last minute idea to put them on display before company arrives, and a fun conversation piece to show off all of those beautiful cards.

A look at our Christmas tree. The theme is travel, and all of the ornaments filling it are from destinations that we have visited or lived in. It is so much fun to think about all of the wonderful memories we've made over the years. This year's additions were: Boston, St. Kitts, St. Thomas, Dominica, St. Croix, and Grenada. Looking forward to adding a few more in the coming year!

Wishing you mailboxes full of snail mail this holiday season!

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Ohhhhhh cold weather. How you are not my favorite. While the temps this week have in fact warmed up significantly from the bitter negative temps of last week, my little corner of the world is still nowhere close to being a balmy locale. One thing I've learned to accept, is that when the weather turns cold, the heat in the kitchen must go up. Nothing is quicker, easier, or tastier than a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter's day.

Over the weekend, T & I snuck away for a quick last minute road trip to my hometown where we were able to enjoy, among other things, one of my mom's soup offerings...bean soup. Yum. Yum. Yum. T said he's never had it before, but after three big helpings, I think it's safe to say it was a hit! The scotcheroos & chocolate star cookies probably didn't hurt either... Hopefully sometime this winter I can snag a ham bone and make it in my own kitchen. Ham bones don't exactly load up in my freezer when T & I live in a household of just two people, and I'm not planning to ever eat ham for a week straight however much T might enjoy that...carnivore that he is...

This soup is inspired by one of the Olive Garden's main soup offerings. When I asked T if he though it sounded good Several times, I've tried to recreate or make a copycat version of a favorite restaurant recipe. Usually, whatever it is ends up pretty tasty, but this soup is almost spot on to the way the restaurant serves it up. Bonus!

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Brown the hamburger. Then saute the veggies. Finally, add the remaining ingredients (minus the pasta), and give it a good stir. *NOTE* This soup would be equally delicious without the ground beef if you prefer a meatless version.

Step Three: Cover, and simmer for 45 min. At the end of 45 min., cook the pasta in a separate pot to al dente. Drain the pasta, stir it in with the soup, sprinkle with paremesan cheese, and waaaah laaaah! Bon Apetit!

Recipe adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

PASTA e FAGIOLI SOUP | Yield: 6-8 servings | Total Time: 1 hr 20 min


1 lb ground beef
1 T olive oil
1.5 C carrots, chopped
1.5 C celery, chopped
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
28oz can diced tomatoes
15oz can tomato sauce
15oz can crushed tomatoes
2 15oz cans beef broth
15oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15oz can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp pepper
kosher salt to taste
8oz dry ditalini pasta
parmesan cheese, optional


Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Break the ground beef into pieces, and brown for about 8-10 min., or until no longer pink. Drain the excess fat from the pot, and bring back to medium-high heat.

*NOTE* See note below on slow cooker options.

Add the chopped carrots, celery, onion, and minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and stir to combine. Cook for another 8-10 min., or until the vegetables begin to soften, and the onions start to turn translucent. Don't forget to give it a good stir for even cooking.

Add the remaining ingredients - except pasta. Stir to combine, then bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer 45 min. to 1 hr. stirring occasionally.

When your timer says 45 min., bring a small pot of water to a boil, and cook the ditalini pasta to al dente. Drain the pasta, and add to the soup. Now is also a good time to pop those breadsticks or rolls into the oven if you are planning to serve them as a side.

Serve topped with parmesan cheese and a side of crusty bread or breadsticks.

*SLOW COOKER NOTE* While I made this soup in a little over an hour via stovetop, you could also make this in a slow cooker. First, brown the beef in a skillet. Drain fat, and add to slow cooker with all ingredients except pasta. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high 4-5 hours. During the last 30 min on high, or 1 hour on low, add the pasta.

Do you have a favorite copycat recipe?

Butternut Squash, Spinach and Bacon Quiche

Friday, December 6, 2013

Can you believe it's already the end of the week?! It seems like just yesterday we were surrounded by friends and family celebrating Thanksgiving. After the whirlwind of holiday gatherings, T & I went to work finding a Christmas tree (or two!) and getting our house all decorated for the holidays. As the temps have continued to's currently a whole -5 degrees outside right now in our neck of the woods...I decided that warm, cozy, comfort food was just what we need to help ward off the chill. Enter today's recipe: Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Bacon Quiche.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I rarely pass up the opportunity to get breakfast. I love nothing more than exploring all the little mom and pop breakfast restaurants scattered around whatever town we happen to find ourselves in. Most of the places have similar menus, but some definitely stand above the rest with their unique takes on breakfast menu items - I'm looking at you Bluebird Diner in Iowa City/North Liberty! Now that I think of it, it sounds like an excellent idea for T & I to go brunching this weekend and really get into the spirit. If you have any must-try breakfast favorites, by all means, let me know when and where!

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Melt a Tbsp of butter over medium-high heat in a large pan. Saute the butternut squash and onion until onions become translucent (about 8-10 min). Add the garlic and cook an additional minute before removing from heat.

Step Three: In a separate large bowl, mix together the spinach, eggs, milk, flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, feta, and bacon. Add in the butternut squash, onion, and garlic stirring well to combine.

Step Four: Pour the egg mixture into a prepared pie crust.

Step Five: Bake at 350 degrees for 45min-1hr. Check to see that a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven

BUTTERNUT SQUASH, SPINACH AND BACON QUICHE | Yield: 1 quiche | Total Time: 1 hr 20 min.

1 pie crust, homemade or storebought
4 Tbsp bacon crumbles
1 Tbsp butter
2 C chopped butternut squash
1 small white onion
6-8 eggs, whisked*
3/4 C milk
3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
3 handfuls fresh spinach, whole or roughly chopped
4 oz crumbled feta cheese (1 small tub)

*NOTE* I have a deep dish pie plate I was using, so I added a couple extra eggs. If you have a standard quiche or pie dish, start with 6 eggs and adjust from there.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out a prepared pie crust into your baking dish of choice (I used a pie dish, but you could use a quiche dish as well). Bake for 5 minutes, then set aside.

Melt butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add butternut squash and onion. Saute for 8-10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent, and the butternut squash is tender. Add garlic and cook an additional minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, baking powder, milk, salt, and black pepper. Stir in the sauteed vegetables, spinach, cheese, and bacon crumbles.

Transfer the quiche filling to the crust, and use a spoon to smooth the surface. You'll want to pat down any spinach that is trying to escape the egg mixture, or it will get too crispy as the quiche cooks. Bake for 45 min-1hr, or until a toothpick comes out clean. The quiche will rise while baking, and will settle down once removed from the oven. After removing quiche from the oven, allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve warm with your favorite fruit, some crispy hashbrowns, and a cup of jo!

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