Pinch of Yum http://pinchofyum.com A food blog with simple and tasty recipes. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:45:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake http://pinchofyum.com/garlic-parmesan-chicken-lasagna-bake http://pinchofyum.com/garlic-parmesan-chicken-lasagna-bake#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:28:59 +0000 http://pinchofyum.com/?p=17303 This. I’ve made it twice in the last two days, once for bringing life to the original recipe concept and taking some photos, and once for “recipe testing”. Aka licking the sauce. Again. More. Spoonfuls. In my mouth. Garlic Parmesan creaminess. I like this recipe a lot, you guys. The funny thing about this recipe […]

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Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake! Layers of lasagna noodles, chicken, peas, creamy garlic Parmesan sauce --> no cans, all real, totally yummy. 300 calories. | pinchofyum.com

This.

I’ve made it twice in the last two days, once for bringing life to the original recipe concept and taking some photos, and once for “recipe testing”. Aka licking the sauce. Again. More. Spoonfuls. In my mouth. Garlic Parmesan creaminess. I like this recipe a lot, you guys.

The funny thing about this recipe is that it’s called Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna BAKE, but it’s not called an official Lasagna for a reason. It has this sort of all-up-in-there casserole kind of a feel to it, with the small pieces of wavy lasagna noodles, chicken, peas, Parm, creamy butter garlic sauce, breadcrumbs, fresh thyme, etc etc etc yum yum yum.

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake - a quick layered casserole-style recipe with simple ingredients and YUMMY garlic parm flavor. 300 calories. | pinchofyum.com

When I made it the second time (the recipe testing aka licking of the sauce time) I used a normal 9×13 pan – not the mini round cuteness that you see above that is perfect for just Bjork and me – and I realized that with a big square pan, it really wouldn’t be that hard to layer the flat lasagna noodles with all the good stuff. Okay then, normal peeps, you go on right ahead and do that.

But alas, broken, saucy, messy, topped with browned and melted cheese and toasty breadcrumbs is just more aligned with my philosophical food style. Slicing a perfectly layered piece? Nope. We’re talking scoop that saucy goodness into a bowl and love it up.

PS. Peas? Why and how are they so good. Even the frozen ones. I mean, HONESTLY.

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake - a quick layered casserole-style recipe with simple ingredients and YUMMY garlic parm flavor. 300 calories. | pinchofyum.com

Speaking of peas, farmer’s market, anyone? I once got the most delicious bag of peas at the farmer’s market – these two little sisters had been sitting in the sun, shelling all the peas, and they sold me a huge plastic baggie of them for just a few dollars. They were sweet and fresh and delicious and I made a cheesy pasta with them. What else?

I’ve been thinking a lot about getting back to the farmer’s market now that temps have started to rise and life is starting to emerge from the Minnesota winter lockdown. But the bummer thing about Minnesota farmer’s markets is that even in April and May, they are not really offering lots of produce yet. Just a lot of rhubarb and stuff. Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to live in a normal place with normal, nice weather. What is that like, anyways?

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake - a quick layered casserole-style recipe with simple ingredients and YUMMY garlic parm flavor. 300 calories. | pinchofyum.com

My brother-in-law was asking us about CSA’s last night. Anyone who has done a CSA: what is your advice to a prospective CSA-er? Let me rephrase that: what is your advice to a prospective CSA-er who doesn’t have a huge appreciation for random vegetables? I am really excited about the idea, but equally clueless. I have this vision of myself getting boxes of random, unheard of produce all through the year and just trying to pawn it off on people out of new-vegetable laziness.

Help a girl out –> good idea or no?

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake - a quick layered casserole-style recipe with simple ingredients and YUMMY garlic parm flavor. 300 calories. | pinchofyum.com

When you make this, all you have to do is open your windows and let the garlic Parmesan smells drift and I will come to you. My nose can find these things. Okay? See you soon.

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Lasagna Bake
Author: 
Serves: 9-12
Ingredients
For the lasagna:
  • 10-15 no-boil lasagna noodles
  • 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (use rotisserie chicken for lots of yummy flavor)
  • 12 ounces frozen peas
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup Swiss cheese
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • fresh herbs for topping
For the sauce:
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1½ tablespoons minced garlic
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups milk
Instructions
  1. Make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant - stir continuously to avoid burning because burnt garlic will taste bitter. Add the flour, poultry seasoning, and salt. Whisk and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the milk, one cup at a time, whisking after each addition and allowing it to thicken slightly each time before adding the next cup. When the sauce is smooth and thick, remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Layer the lasagna: Grease a 9x13 pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cover the bottom of the pan with (about 5) broken lasagna noodles, half of the chicken, half of the peas, ¼ cup Parmesan, ⅓ cup water, and 1½ cups sauce. Repeat this layer once more. Top with a layer of broken noodles, ⅓ cup water, 1½ cups sauce, and ½ cup Swiss cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
  3. Making it pretty: Remove the foil, sprinkle evenly with breadcrumbs, and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh herbs like parsley and thyme. Let stand 10 minutes or more before cutting and serving.
Notes
Nutrition is for 12 servings using 1 lb. shredded chicken breasts. Rotisserie chicken is a great option because of the flavor, but if you wanted to avoid the extra fat I would just cook your own chicken and sprinkle it generously with some seasoning.

The water gets added to help the no-boil noodles get cooked, so unless you're using a different kind of noodles, don't skip this. The noodles should soak up all that water during baking.

Nutrition Garlic Parmesan

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Thick and Fudgy Double Chocolate Cookies http://pinchofyum.com/thick-fudgy-double-chocolate-cookies http://pinchofyum.com/thick-fudgy-double-chocolate-cookies#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 12:00:44 +0000 http://pinchofyum.com/?p=17275 I mean, we’re talking, like, THICK. and FUDGY. A chocolate lover’s utopia. These cookies are my chocolate dreams coming true right in front of my face. They turned out completely different than what I thought they were going to be, which is just par for the course when you put, uhh, myself in the kitchen […]

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Thick and Fudgy Double Chocolate Cookies - so rich and decadent, like a brownie, chocolate cake, and a big soft cookie all in one. | pinchofyum.com

I mean, we’re talking, like, THICK. and FUDGY. A chocolate lover’s utopia.

These cookies are my chocolate dreams coming true right in front of my face. They turned out completely different than what I thought they were going to be, which is just par for the course when you put, uhh, myself in the kitchen with “creative license” to play with recipes. The good news –> even though they weren’t quite what I was expecting, they turned out even better than I was thinking they would. Thick, soft, like a brownie, chocolate cake, and a big soft cookie all in one.

Sometimes fails are just wins in disguise. Slash chocolate is not a fail, ever.

Thick and Fudgy Double Chocolate Cookies - so rich and decadent, like a brownie, chocolate cake, and a big soft cookie all in one. | pinchofyum.com

This weekend we spent some time with family and extended family out on a small Minnesota farm, celebrating Easter and doing things like the Grown-Up Kids’ Easter Egg Hunt. It was an Easter-rific blast. And the fun won’t stop – today marks one week until my birthday! So yay. That’s kinda fun.

And as you might have guessed from me just mentioning it, I might be one of those people who has a birthday week. Okay, fine: it’s a birthday month.

This year is extra special – it’s going to be my golden birthday. Sparkly shiny gold glittery birthday. What do adults do for their golden birthdays? Do their spouses secretly plan extended vacations involving sun, sand, and poolside nachos with extra guac? Or are they awoken by a baby pug on their birthday morning? Or are they surprised by a remodeled attic turned dreamy master suite? Bjork, I’m so excited to see what you’re cooking up. Wink wink hint hint mwah.

Thick and Fudgy Double Chocolate Cookies - so rich and decadent, like a brownie, chocolate cake, and a big soft cookie all in one. | pinchofyum.com

Remember love languages? Well, not like remember them like they’re gone, they’re definitely still around and people are still giving and receiving love in the way that best fits them. I know. But remember how there were all these different love languages, like quality time, physical touch, and acts of service? I am the person whose love language is gifts. No, like, PRESENTS. Might as well slap the Material Girl label right on my forehead because that’s kinda what it feels like to say that my love language is gifting.

But, just think about it. Trinkets. Jewelry. Music. Flowers. Books. Thick and Fudgy Double Chocolate Cookies. I feel the love big time when I get and give gifts and I want to take you to the dark side with me. All the pretty things. Sparkllllles.

Thick and Fudgy Double Chocolate Cookies - so rich and decadent, like a brownie, chocolate cake, and a big soft cookie all in one. | pinchofyum.com

Speaking of dark + gifts, I had to gift these Thick and Fudge Double Chocolate Cookies to our friends who are expecting a baby immediately after making them. The transfer from the cooling rack to the container was just a blur – I couldn’t even let myself think about it. Don’t think just do do do do. It you keep these around your house: Danger Zooone. Not if you’re pregnant (extra cals, doh), but if you’re a regular person trying to not go into Double Chocolate Cookie coma in 60 seconds flat, you might need to gift these. They are sneaky – you’ll turn around and five cookies will be missing. And you’ll be the only one standing in the kitchen. And, wait a second…

I wonder if I’ll ever find a dessert I love more than a big, soft, freshly baked, chocolate chip loaded cookie.

Doubtful.

Thick and Fudgy Double Chocolate Cookies - so rich and decadent, it's like a cross between brownies, chocolate cake, and a big soft cookie. | pinchofyum.com

Thick and Fudgy Double Chocolate Cookies
Author: 
Serves: 18-20 very big cookies
Ingredients
  • 1 cup salted butter (melted and cooled - directions in step one)
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons strong coffee
  • 2⅔ cup all purpose flour (more if it's too sticky)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Prepping the Butter: Melt ½ cup butter in the microwave for 30-45 seconds or until completely melted. Transfer to the refrigerator or freezer and cool until solid, about 30 minutes. Leave the other ½ cup butter out on the counter to bring it to room temperature. If the butter is rock solid (usually from the freezer) I stick it back in the microwave for 10 seconds to get it workable again. See notes for more info.
  2. Dough Part One: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With an electric mixer (I usually just use a hand-held one), cream the melted/solid butter, room temperature butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until just incorporated.
  3. Dough Part Two: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the creamy butter mixture and mix until incorporated, adding the coffee gradually as you go. The dough should be thick and sticky, but dry enough to touch with your hands without making a huge mess. If it's still too sticky, add more flour. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Baking: Roll the dough into even balls (I got about 20 out of the whole batch) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 8 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack right away. They will be underdone and super puffy, which makes them perfectly soft, thick, and fudgy when cooled.
Notes
The butter melting and cooling is something I always do for my cookies (see Tips for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies) and I would strongly recommend that you take the extra time to do that part, even though, I know, it's annoying, you just want the cookies right now. I get it. But if you don't melt and cool the butter as directed, I can't guarantee that the cookies will turn out correctly because it affects the amount of flour needed and ultimately the thickness and fudginess of the cookie.

 

 

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Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad http://pinchofyum.com/spicy-peanut-chicken-soba-noodle-salad http://pinchofyum.com/spicy-peanut-chicken-soba-noodle-salad#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 11:00:28 +0000 http://pinchofyum.com/?p=17248 Remember when I used to have a dishwasher? I don’t. Five months of washing dishes by hand means I’ve completely forgotten what life was like back when I had a appliance friend to help me out with my least favorite domestic chore of all the chores, ever. Although laundry is a close second on the […]

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Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad - colorful bell peppers, chewy soba noodles, shredded chicken, and a life changingly simple Spicy Peanut Sauce. Hot or cold, yum yum yum. 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com

Remember when I used to have a dishwasher?

I don’t. Five months of washing dishes by hand means I’ve completely forgotten what life was like back when I had a appliance friend to help me out with my least favorite domestic chore of all the chores, ever. Although laundry is a close second on the list. I think the last time I ironed something was when my mom first taught me how to use an iron. Just kidding Mom! I did iron, like, three times. In 2008. Maybe.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad - colorful bell peppers, chewy soba noodles, shredded chicken, and the best ever spicy peanut sauce. 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com

The dishwasher thing was totally on accident, because when we bought this house we were so in love with its charm that we sort of, um, forgot to check for a dishwasher.

And suddenly we found ourselves moving in and there I stood, looking around the little kitchen, imagining all the yums that would be created and how cute it would be after a little sprucing up to the cabinets, and suddenly calling in my Emergency Voice to Bjork in the other room if he knew all along there was no dishwasher here?!?! Oh, dear. Not our most responsible house-buying moment.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad - colorful bell peppers, chewy soba noodles, shredded chicken, and the best ever spicy peanut sauce. 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com

Lately my workflow has evolved to meet the demands of this no-dishwasher + limited-counter-space thing, so that means lots of pauses during my cooking, during which I’m always really patient and calm and never splashing water all over like a crazy person. Never. I stir, simmer, pause and do dishes. Whisk, chop, pause to put away dishes. Bake, chill, pause to eat the rest of the cookie dough in order to wash out the last lunch container in order to store the completed recipe. And then do the rest of the dishes.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad - colorful bell peppers with chewy soba noodles, shredded chicken, and a life changingly simple Spicy Peanut Sauce. Hot or cold, yumyumyum. 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com

We didn’t have a dishwasher in the Philippines and we had even less counter space, so I guess that was good training for this accidental dishwasher scenario.

Come to think of it, we didn’t have a microwave or a freezer or a consistently functioning fridge, none of which has anything to do with the Philippines and everything to do with our scrappy nature when it comes to setting up a living space for one year. I mean, simplicity is good, right? There has to be something good about that, in its own inconvenient way.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad - colorful bell peppers with chewy soba noodles, shredded chicken, and a life changingly simple Spicy Peanut Sauce. Hot or cold, yumyumyum. 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com

At least we are balancing the inconvenience of our dishwasherless lifestyle with the convenience of this Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad, since our fridge is stocked to the brim with grab-and-go soba noodle lunch containers for the rest of the year. HAPPY. There’s just a lot of good packed into this one zingy recipe. It’s called a salad, but look at it: no lettuce, no spinach, no greens of any kind. Add greens if you like greens. Or don’t, because it’s really really good with just the crunchy rainbow bell peppers, the shredded chicken, the chewy soba noodles, and the knock your socks off Spicy Peanut Sauce.

I don’t mean that it’s so spicy that it will knock your socks off – I just mean that it’s that life-changingly creamy, spicy, nutty darn good. In my perfect world, I would have a container of this in my fridge at all times. Sesame oil, garlic, peanut butter, honey, and jalapeño for bite. Goes with everything —> including this salad.

Hm? Oh, that. Just a little leftover sauce on my face.

I live for food like dis.

Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad - colorful bell peppers, chewy soba noodles, shredded chicken, and the best ever spicy peanut sauce. 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com

Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad
Author: 
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
For the Salad
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 each red, green, and yellow bell pepper
  • 8.8 (250 grams) soba noodles
  • fresh cilantro or basil to taste
For the Spicy Peanut Sauce
  • 5 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 5 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • half of a jalapeño pepper
  • ½ cup peanuts
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place the chicken in the water and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred with your hands or with two forks. Set aside. Meanwhile, cut the bell peppers into very thin strips - it makes the salad extra awesome if they are thin and easy to wrap your fork around, almost like a little noodle.
  2. Puree all the ingredients for the Spicy Peanut Sauce in a food processor, adding the peanuts last so you can control how smooth the sauce will be (I like to leave some pieces of crushed peanut in the sauce).
  3. Cook the soba noodles according to package directions. Drain and toss with the chicken, veggies, fresh cilantro, and Spicy Peanut Sauce. Serve hot or cold - but I recommend cold! Yummay.
Notes
Nutrition information is for 10 servings.

Nutrition Soba Salad

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30 Minute Healthy Broccoli Cheese Rice http://pinchofyum.com/30-minute-healthy-broccoli-cheese-rice http://pinchofyum.com/30-minute-healthy-broccoli-cheese-rice#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:00:01 +0000 http://pinchofyum.com/?p=17228   For my food self, this is a yummy yummy good good week. Mostly because I have a little collection of leftover containers holding what’s left of this delicious homemade Rice-A-Roni-esque meal. Two options right now: 1) judge the fact that I just likened this to Rice-A-Roni or 2) be a real person who likes […]

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30 Minute Healthy Broccoli Cheese Rice - broccoli, creamy cheddar, white beans, sauteed garlic, crushed almonds, and brown rice. Vegetarian awesomeness! 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com  For my food self, this is a yummy yummy good good week.

Mostly because I have a little collection of leftover containers holding what’s left of this delicious homemade Rice-A-Roni-esque meal. Two options right now: 1) judge the fact that I just likened this to Rice-A-Roni or 2) be a real person who likes good food made from scratch that just happens to taste like Rice-A-Roni. I already know what choice you’ll make, because you rock. Mwah.

I love when I get to the middle of a workday Monday and I remember that I have amazing lunch leftovers waiting for me. No more of this sad baggie of pretzels and small container of peanut butter thing I’ve been into lately. This week is going to be for realishly good.

30 Minute Healthy Broccoli Cheese Rice - broccoli, creamy cheddar, white beans, sauteed garlic, crushed almonds, and brown rice. Vegetarian awesomeness! 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com

Right now this 30 Minute Healthy Broccoli Cheese Rice is reminding me of an extra satisfying version of broccoli cheese soup, because sometimes broccoli cheese soup totally dominates in the flavor/comfort department but is a little bit lacking in the satisfying-my-imminent-hunger department. It’s just hard for me to consider liquid a real official meal sometimes. Amen? Everything about this – the incredible texture, the cheddar flavor, and the bright green of the broccoli – is giving me an instant food-mood boost.

30 Minute Healthy Broccoli Cheese Rice - just like broccoli cheese soup, but more filling and nutritious! 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com

Good thing my food self is having a great week because my regular life self is having a bleh moment.

Remember that studio that I fell in love with a few weeks ago? I don’t think I’ve shared much about it here, but I had shown a few pics of it on the social media thingys and had almost already taken to coming up with our own hashtag for it on Instagram. (Bjork wouldn’t let me. He’s always so rational like that.) It was a little studio in the arts district that we wanted to use as a blog photography and video studio kitchen for Pinch of Yum. So basically a food play room where adults pretend like they’re working but they’re actually just eating food and having fun. ❤

Studio

The bleh moment comes in when we took forever getting ready to commit and then when we finally did commit… we were too late. One day too late. And we didn’t get it.

Some supersneaky (read: organized and decisive and on the ball) person swooped in the day before our plumber was able to get there to confirm that the kitchen would function properly, and they nabbed that cozy little space like there was no tomorrow. And then there actually was no tomorrow for us to sign the lease. That was pretty much bleh.

It’s all well and good, it wasn’t meant to be, I know. I really do know that. But that doesn’t take away my depressed feelings about all the wasted time we spent driving there, looking at comparables, and deciding on which place we liked best. Plus, I’ve since scoured every corner of the internets and I cannot find a listing half as warm+cozy+creative. It was not the right place, but it was something special and now I’m a little mopey.

Right now our plans to continue the search are half-hearted. We’ve re-channeled our efforts —> these cookies and The Office and naps. Really healthy habits we have going on over here.

30 Minute Healthy Broccoli Cheese Rice - just like broccoli cheese soup, but more filling and nutritious! 320 calories. | pinchofyum.com

Okay, but on the other hand, this 30 Minute Healthy Broccoli Cheese Rice IS kind of healthy, and it will make you so glad that you didn’t pack yourself pretzels for lunch again. It’s meatless – weee! – and it’s full of good stuff like protein and fiber and vegetables and cheese, just like any good meatless dish should be. There is almond meal in the base of the sauce instead of flour. Seeerious. Be proud of me – I never do stuff like that. And then buckle up because there are crushed almonds on top to crunchify it all together. So good. Bjork loved it, I loved it, and the long-gone studio would have loved it in some other life. Le sigh.

Pass the ricey.

30 Minute Healthy Broccoli Cheese Rice
Author: 
Serves: 5-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice (I used a brown rice blend from Costco - love it)
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup broth as needed
  • 1 14-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • crushed almonds for topping
  • sliced green onions for topping
Instructions
  1. Cook the rice according to package directions. Bring a small pot of water to boil (enough to cover the broccoli). Add the broccoli, cook for 1 minute or until the broccoli turns bright green, and remove from heat immediately. Drain and transfer to a bowl of very cold water. This keeps the broccoli bright green and pretty.
  2. In a deep pot, melt the butter. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the almond meal and salt and cook for 2-3 minutes (it will be thick and clumpy). Add the milk a little bit at a time, whisking after each addition to smooth out the sauce and letting the mixture simmer until thickened slightly. Add half of the cheese and stir until melted.
  3. Chop the cooked broccoli into fine bits, leaving a few larger florets (just for a more interesting texture). Stir the broccoli, cooked rice, white beans, and any additional broth or milk as needed until the mixture is well combined. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and cover the pan until the cheese is melted. Top with almonds and green onions and season with more salt and pepper.

Nutrition Cheese Rice

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March Traffic and Income Report – $17,118.92 http://pinchofyum.com/march-traffic-income-report http://pinchofyum.com/march-traffic-income-report#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 07:45:56 +0000 http://pinchofyum.com/?p=17183 Greetings! Guess who. Yep! You’re right. It’s me Bjork. I’m the nerd in the virtual Pinch of Yum basement. I’m also Lindsay’s husband. I’m also the star of the video from this post that Lindsay recently shared. #hiddentalent I show up once a month to give an update on everything that’s happening behind the scenes […]

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Blog Income and Traffic Report - March | pinchofyum.com

Greetings! Guess who.

Yep! You’re right. It’s me Bjork. I’m the nerd in the virtual Pinch of Yum basement. I’m also Lindsay’s husband. I’m also the star of the video from this post that Lindsay recently shared. #hiddentalent

I show up once a month to give an update on everything that’s happening behind the scenes at Pinch of Yum. I share the blog’s income, expenses, and traffic stats. I usually wrap up the post by sharing some tips or takeaways that we’re learning as we grow the blog.

This month’s report is going to be a little bit different though. For the first time ever I won’t be sharing any tips.

You might be saying “What?!? No tips? But I love tips!”

To which I would reply with (adjusted emphasis and a slight pause): “…no tips, from me.”

Kiersten from Oh My Veggies is going to be sharing some tips that she learned as she grew her blog’s RPM from $1.55 to over $19 in less than two years! She recently wrote an eBook about it called How to Monetize Your Food Blog (FYI: the eBook links in this post are affiliate links).

I’d highly recommend the book. I read it. I loved it. I learned from it. I think it’s worth every single penny that you’ll pay for it.

More on that in a bit. First, the numbers…

Income

*We didn’t have the totals for Swoop at the time of publishing this post, so we took last month’s income and adjusted for traffic.

Total Income:: $24,428.53

Expenses

Total Expenses: $7,309.61

Net Profit: $17,118.92

Thoughts on Income

Display Advertisers

In January’s report I shared 10 important mindsets for bloggers. One of those mindsets was “1% ∞” (one percent infinity). The idea with this mindset is that you are forever trying to improve, even if it’s just a little bit. With blogging (or business or non-profit), you win by improving a little bit, day after day, forever.

Kiersten’s monetization eBook was a good reminder to me that we need to apply the concept of 1% ∞ to our display advertising on Pinch of Yum. Display advertising turned into “set it and forget” type income for us, as opposed to what it should be, which is something that we continually tweak, track, and adjusting. Applying 1% ∞ to display advertising will results in drastic improvements (over time). So, we’re starting the process of applying to other ad networks and we’re being diligent about tracking and following along with the performance of these networks.

RPM

RPM stands for page revenue per thousand impressions. Or, in other words, RPM shows you the average revenue you earn from every 1,000 page views on your blog.

March RPM for Pinch of Yum

If you want to learn more about RPM (and some other important advertising terms) then be sure to check out this post on Food Blogger Pro.

Traffic

Below are some screenshots from Google Analytics. You can click on these images to view a larger size.

Traffic Overview

Google Anatlyics - Traffic Overview

Top Ten Traffic Sources

Google Analytics - Top Ten Traffic Sources

Mobile vs. Desktop Traffic

Google Analytics - Mobile vs. Desktop

Thoughts on Traffic

Mobile For The Win!

It’s official. For the first time ever Pinch of Yum has received more traffic from mobile phones than from desktop computers. Want to see an interesting stat? Check this out:

Percentage of Visitors (to Pinch of Yum) Using a Desktop Computer

  • 2011: 98.55%
  • 2012: 68.57%
  • 2013: 50.33%
  • 2014: 37.87%

See a trend?

Part of the reason for the drastic change in those numbers is due to the fact that a lot of our traffic comes from Pinterest, and a lot of Pinterest users are using the mobile version of the app. I’d be interested to here if other bloggers have similar mobile percentages. Have you seen a similar trend away from visitors using a desktop computer?

Meet Kiersten

Kiersten from Oh My VeggiesA little over a week ago I sat down at a coffee shop and read through Kiersten’s book, How to Monetize Your Food Blog. I found myself highlighting, taking notes, and thinking “this would be perfect for the people that read the Pinch of Yum income reports.”

I love how Kiersten is able to take the complicated concepts behind monetizing a blog and present it in an easy to read, value packed eBook. The best part? She has solid proof that shows how her income has increased as she applied the advice to her own blog. Be sure to check out the graph where she shares her blog’s page views and total ad revenue over time.

If you’re interested, you can purchase the book here or click on the image below.

How to Monetize a Food Blog

Without further ado, here’s Kiersten from Oh My Veggies. Take it away Kiersten!

 


 

Hi there! I’m so excited that Bjork and Lindsay asked me to stop in today to share my story of how I took Oh My Veggies from a hobby to a business. I’m a big fan of Pinch of Yum–both the food (hello, creamy cauliflower sauce!) and the tips about blogging and photography. While my blog is my full-time job now, it’s important to me that I monetize with integrity and in a way that’s not annoying or pushy, and I think Bjork and Lindsay are a great example of this kind of monetization.

When I started blogging, making money from it wasn’t on my radar at all. I hoped that I could get free samples of food in the mail (yeah, I admit it!), but that was about it. I didn’t even know you could make money from blogging and even once I did realize it, I never really thought that I would. (I tend to doubt myself like that.) When I finally set out to monetize almost a year into blogging, my only goal was to cover the cost of hosting–which was $4.95 at the time. Clearly I dream big, right? When my first check arrived, it was for about $50, and I was elated. Not only did I have this awesome hobby that I loved, but I was making money from it!

As my traffic grew, my income started to go up with it. Soon I was making a few hundred dollars a month from my hobby and it became a reliable source of part-time income. And then I got laid off from my job and panic set in. I knew it would take me a while to find a new job (I have a degree in Library & Information Studies–no one’s exactly knocking down my door to hire me!), so I decided to give full-time food blogging a try. I gave myself a 4 month deadline: if I wasn’t making a full-time living from food blogging by December, I would start looking for a job and go back to blogging as a hobby.

And then I hustled! A friend of mine told me that I should set up backfill for BlogHer, so I did that. I began to do a lot of experimentation with ad networks–trying new ones, figuring out the best order to put them in, finding the right number of ads to put on my blog. I started using affiliate programs and began signing up for blogger networks for sponsored post opportunities. I concentrated on my content and figuring out what my readers were looking for–I stopped posting what I wanted to post and started taking a more reader-centric approach to blogging. I had the eye of the tiger. By the 4th month of my full-time blogging experiment, I was making a full-time income between my ads, affiliate programs, and sponsored posts. Victory!

Now, not only am I making a living from my blog, but I’m making enough that I’ve been able to expand Oh My Veggies and add four contributors. I also have an assistant, photographers that I work with, a graphic designer on retainer, and a recipe tester. It never stops being completely surreal to me that the blog I started on a whim has turned into a legit business.

Five Tips for Blogging Full-Time

I really have about eleventy-billion tips for blogging full-time. I’m full of tips! And opinions! Like a piñata of knowledge. Okay, maybe not a piñata. That’s weird. But what I’m getting at is, I’ve learned a lot along the way. Here are five tips that have helped me the most.

1. Up Your Ad Game!

I feel so bummed whenever I hear a blogger say that they don’t understand ads, so they don’t bother optimizing them. Nooooo! Don’t say that! When you don’t optimize your ads, you are leaving money on the table, so it’s important to take the time to do it. I didn’t understand ads when I started either and you know what I did? I learned them. Having one ad network simply isn’t enough. Most ad networks don’t have ads 100% of the time and you need to have other networks lined up beneath your primary ad network so when that network doesn’t have ads to display, it will default to your secondary network. And if you have a few networks lined up, even better! Most ad spots on my blog run 3-4 different ad networks. You can see in this chart from my ebook how my RPM increased as I optimized my ads.

Oh My Veggies - RPM Growth

Lining up ad networks like this is often referred to as setting up a waterfall. I talk about it a lot in my ebook and it’s really the key to my blog’s success. While I make income from other areas too (it’s important to diversify!), ads are my bread-and-butter. And once you have your waterfall set up, it doesn’t end there. I make sure each network is performing as it should and if it’s not, I swap it out for another one. It might sound intimidating, but if I could teach myself to do it, there’s no reason why you can’t either. Don’t psych yourself out before you even start.

2. If You Want Your Blog to Be a Business, Treat It Like One

Because you can’t have it both ways! One mistake that I often see bloggers make is that when they want to take their blog full-time, they still treat their blog like it’s a hobby.

When I was laid off, I set up an editorial calendar for myself and I have rarely strayed from it. I make it a point to respond to every question asked about a recipe and every reader email. I take the time to test all of my recipes a few times before posting them–even if something turns out perfect the first time. (Now that I have contributors writing for Oh My Veggies, my cousin helps with recipe testing too!) The fact that I make an income from my food blog doesn’t make me a professional blogger–it’s the fact that I put time into it and take a business-like approach to it that makes me a professional blogger.

I also invest a lot of my income back into Oh My Veggies. I used my first big check from BlogHer to pay for a professional blog design. The more money I make, the more I spend on my business–and it always pays off! Having a well-designed blog and good hosting will definitely help your blog’s traffic, but even small investments can have a big pay off. If you struggle with photography, invest in lessons! If you’re unfamiliar with basic HTML, go buy some books about it! Oh, and if you struggle with monetization? BUY MY BOOK! (That was totally shameless, huh?)

3. Don’t Quit Your Day Job (Yet)

Okay, maybe you can quit your day job, but I wouldn’t suggest doing that until you’re making at least some income from your blog. I was lucky in that the decision was made for me because I was laid off, but I was already making a part-time income from blogging at that point. But I think it’s a mistake to quit your job before you’re making money–not just because you might not be able to pay your rent, but because I believe when you’re under that kind of pressure to make things happen, it can lead you to make the wrong decisions for your blog since it forces you to think in the short-term, rather than the long-term. While you might make a lot of money doing 5 sponsored posts a week, it’s going to drive away readers, which will make it difficult for you to get to the next level.

If you can, cut your work hours or find a part-time job as your blog revenue grows–this gives you an intermediate step between working full-time and quitting your job to blog full-time and lets you have the time you need to grow your blog without all that added pressure.

4. Content First, Monetization Second

My focus with Oh My Veggies is never, “How can I make money?” Instead, it’s always, “How can I help my readers? What do they want to see?” Especially if you’re monetizing through ads, you need to focus on creating useful content that people want to read and, even more importantly, share. (My golden rule of blogging is “Never post anything that you wouldn’t read on someone else’s blog.”)

Part of this is coming up with a hook. There are a lot of blogs out there and you need to figure out what makes yours different. Why should people subscribe to your blog instead of someone else’s? What are you offering that no one else does? With Oh My Veggies, I realized that simply being a vegetarian food blog wasn’t enough, so I honed in on easy vegetarian meal ideas. While we still do the occasional dessert or snack, most of our posts are everyday dinner types of recipes. When people know what to expect from your blog, it will help you build a loyal readership.

5. Diversify, But Do It Your Way

Diversifying your income streams doesn’t mean you have to do everything. It’s probably best that you don’t! Find a few things that you’re good at and stick to doing those well. When I first started blogging full-time, other bloggers told me that it was impossible to be a professional blogger and not do sponsored posts (some people even equate professional blogging with doing marketing!), so I started doing them. And I didn’t enjoy it at all! They are just not for me, so a few months ago, I decided not to do them anymore. Don’t feel pressure to monetize in ways that aren’t right for your blog or your personality.

There are very few overnight successes in the blogging world. I can’t speak for anyone else, but Oh My Veggies has only been successful because I have put an obscene amount of time and effort into it, but I really, truly love what I do, so it’s worth it to me. Food blogging is not an effortless way to make money from home–anyone who tells you that is either lying or they’re not doing it right! But if you have a passion for it, know that you can make an income from your food blog. I am no different from any other food blogger, so if I was able to do it, you can too!

 


 

Bjork here again.

Can we all give a virtual round of applause for Kiersten? Solid, practical, and valuable advice. Good stuff!

Here’s that link one more time if you’d like to purchase her eBook: How to Monetize Your Food Blog.

Because of You

It’s really true. It’s because of you (yes, you!) that this thing we call Pinch of Yum can exist as it does today. Thanks so much for reading, tweeting, commenting or emailing. We love hearing from you!

We’re using a portion of this month’s income from Pinch of Yum to support a special project at the Children’s Shelter of Cebu, an orphanage where Lindsay and I lived and worked for a year. The special project we’re supporting this month is new carpet for the school.

New Carpet

The kids and staff at CSC take really good care of the buildings and grounds. That being said, the time has come to get new carpet in the school, so we’re excited to use some of the income from Pinch of Yum to chip in and help them get a little bit closer to their fundraising goal. Thanks for helping to make this possible!

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Ham and Sausage Hash Brown Egg Bake http://pinchofyum.com/ham-sausage-hash-brown-egg-bake http://pinchofyum.com/ham-sausage-hash-brown-egg-bake#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 12:06:11 +0000 http://pinchofyum.com/?p=17161 This post is sponsored by Smithfield Ham: provider of deliciously sweet glazed hams for all your springy Easter ham needs. Oh, yes. More on that in just a minute.Follow my blog with Bloglovin Raise your hand if you love egg bakes! Wait, though, are egg bakes still a thing? Were they ever a thing? To […]

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Ham and Sausage Hashbrown Egg Bake - perfect for entertaining with your leftover Easter ham! 330 calories. | pinchofyum.com

This post is sponsored by Smithfield Ham: provider of deliciously sweet glazed hams for all your springy Easter ham needs. Oh, yes. More on that in just a minute.Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Raise your hand if you love egg bakes!

Wait, though, are egg bakes still a thing? Were they ever a thing? To me, they are the epitome of spring brunches, bridal and baby showers, and special occasion or holiday family meals taking place anytime before 1pm, but is that just a Minnesota thing? Sometimes I need help understanding myself.

I loooove a good egg bake and I’m only about a 3 out of 10 in terms of liking eggs in general. There is just so much to love about egg bakes that goes way beyond ze eggs. I mean, think about it: you whisk those eggys right up with milk and seasoning – you pour those eggys right over some delicious things like bread, vegetables, potatoes, meat, and cheese – you bake it to firm, flavorful, breakfasty perfection – and then you eat those eggys right up with everything else good and wonderful in there. It makes for a quick one-dish brunch and some awesome leftovers for breakfast on the go. Hot, cold, doesn’t even matter. This is gon’be good.

Ham and Sausage Hashbrown Egg Bake - perfect for entertaining with your leftover Easter ham! 330 calories. | pinchofyum.com

When I think of Easter food (because I think Easter is, like, THIS MONTH?!), I have this memory of my mom making a special drive to “the cities” around Easter time to pick up her favorite ham. It was our very own real-life version of Christmas with the Kranks and the hickory honey ham – we had this one type of ham that we would always get and it was just so so so good. It had a sweet glaze and it was addicting. Yes, I mean that. Ham –> addictive.

Even if you never thought in a million years that ham would be one of your most favoritist foods, you’d try this sweet once-a-year Easter ham and you’d change your mind. Plus, paired with the massive pan of cornflake-topped cheesy potatoes? Good luck saying no to that, friends. Goooood luck.

Ham and Sausage Hashbrown Egg Bake - perfect for entertaining with your leftover Easter ham! 330 calories. | pinchofyum.com

This year I am trying a new brand of ham. It’s called Smithfield, and the good news all around is that it is possibly even better than the ham I remember eating as a kid sitting at the Easter table. It has that same sweet glaze, and it was so easy to make. I mean, it’s already cooked and spiral cut, so you put it in a big roasting pan, let it get all juicy and delicious in the oven for a while, and then top it with some sweet glaze when it’s hot and yummy. OK YES. I was nibbling on little ham bits all morning like a ham-loving weirdo.

The ham I made was huge, so with just the two of us and no real Easter celebration yet, we had like 80 pounds left over. So first, I brought some leftovers to my friend’s family. Her husband said: best ham he’s ever had. And then I took the rest of my best-ever ham leftovers and made a good ol’ Minnesota style egg bake, because what else?

Well, actually, there are lots of ideas (roasted veggie and ham soup? pasta with cream sauce and peas? cheesy ham panini?)  but this was the one that I just couldn’t let out of my mind.

Ham and Sausage Hashbrown Egg Bake - perfect for entertaining with your leftover Easter ham! 330 calories. | pinchofyum.com

And in a nice little twist of fate, it’s still early in the A-M as I’m writing this, and I am envisioning two small containers of leftover ham and sausage hashbrown egg bake in the fridge, second shelf, front and center.

Hey guys? I think I need to get going now.

Ham and Sausage Hashbrown Egg Bake - perfect for entertaining with your leftover Easter ham! 330 calories. | pinchofyum.com

Ham and Sausage Hashbrown Egg Bake
Author: 
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 ounces ground spicy Italian sausage
  • 2 cups chopped Smithfield ham
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon seasoning of your choice - I used Emeril's Original Essence
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lb. shredded potatoes (I used a package of refrigerated hashbrowns)
  • ½ cup shredded cheese
  • green onions for topping
Instructions
  1. Brown the sausage in a small skillet until no longer pink. Add the ham and saute together until warm. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs, milk, seasoning, and garlic powder together.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small greased baking dish (mine was about 8 inches long by 4 inches wide), arrange the hashbrowns in a layer in the bottom of the pan. Pour ⅔ of the egg mixture over the hashbrowns. Cover with ¼ cup shredded cheese, the meat mixture, and then the remaining egg mixture. Top with the last ¼ cup shredded cheese and cover loosely with greased foil.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes or until the egg mixture is firm and the cheese is melted. You can remove the foil for the last few minutes of baking to get your cheese extra browned and bubbly. Let stand for 5-10 minutes, sprinkle with green onions, and cut or scoop to serve.

Nutrition SmithfieldTracking Pixel

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