Friday, December 30, 2011

Kissy Cookies

In my family these gems are known as Kissy Cookies, but to many people these are also known as Peanut Blossoms. No Christmas cookie platter is to be without these classics. I made these twice during the week of Christmas and New Year's because they are so delicious and always a crowd pleaser!

Kissy Cookies
Adapted from Hershey's
Makes 2 dozen

4 Tbsp shortening
6 Tbsp peanut butter (Jif is my baking PB of choice)
2 Tbsp granulated white sugar (plus some for rolling)
3 Tbsp light brown sugar
1 egg white
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
24 Hershey's Kisses (unwrapped)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare two baking sheets.
  2. Beat together the shortening and peanut butter in a stand mixer until combined.
  3. Add in the sugars and beat until fluffy.
  4. Add in the egg, honey, milk, and vanilla until well incorporated.
  5. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Slowly add the flour mixture and combine.
  7. Form the dough into 1-inch balls and roll them around in granulated sugar before placing on the baking sheets.
  8. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.
  9. Immediately press one unwrapped Hershey's Kiss into eat cookie and allow to cool for a minute or two on the baking sheet before moving to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Monday, December 19, 2011

5 Generations of Pumpkin Pie

This is an epic blog post people. EPIC. Are you ready????

Who doesn't need a killer Pumpkin Pie recipe in their back pocket? Well, I just happened to be sent the recipe for my Great Great Grandmother's Pumpkin Pie by my mother just before Thanksgiving this year. I knew I had to try it...when I emailed my Aunt to double-check a few things (always a good idea when receiving a recipe that's been passed around...and one that does not involve certain crucial measurements, like you know, how much pumpkin to use...Love you Mom!) I got back so much more than I was expecting (although I should have known since my aunt is the keeper of all the family heritage items, that I would get more than I asked for -- in a good way!)

Check it out!

This is a picture of my Great Great Grandparents, Anna (Nettie) and Edward and the second is a group shot of four generations of my maternal grandmother's side (coincidentally the very same grandmother that taught me to bake a pie in the first place! My first pie was a cherry pie that I baked for my parent's anniversary...I cut out hearts in the crust because I'm forever a romantic. Yup. That happened.)

How cool to have all this to go along with the recipe!

I've only made slight adaptations to the recipe that has been in my family for generations (five for me which is six generations for my daughter someday if she ever decides to bake this pie!) and tested it out on two of the three best pumpkin pie critics I know (Subject Three will someday taste the deliciousness I'm sure!)

My Test Testers!!

My Great Great Grandma Nettie's Pumpkin Pie
Makes 1 pie

15 oz canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 eggs, separated
1 pie crust
  1. Prepare a pie pan with a crust (prepared, home-made, whatever you prefer, but I suggest using a deep dish pie pan, not one of those little short ones, got nothing against shorties (obviously, look at me...) but trust me on this one!)
  2. Mix together the first eight ingredients (pumpkin through nutmeg) plus the egg yolks.
  3. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and using a whisk, gently combine into the pumpkin mixture (I threw mine in my KitchenAid and let do the work for me while I pulled together the other ingredients).
  4. Poor into prepared pie shell (it'll look pretty fluffy!)
  5. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes then lower the temperature to 350 and bake for another 40-50-60 minutes (yes I realize this is a wide-range, but after mid-bake phone calls I learned that pumpkin pie done-ness is more of an art than a science, so you'll have to just watch it and learn your pie pan and your oven!)
Merry Christmas!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Baby Shower Punch

This has become my go-to punch and since it's been used for two baby showers so far I shall call it Baby Shower Punch.

Baby Shower Punch

2-2 liter bottles ginger ale
46 oz can pineapple juice
64 oz white grape juice
Strawberries (fresh and/or fresh)

Mix together the three liquids then garnish with strawberry slices and/or floating frozen strawberries. Easy and delicious!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Balsamic Chicken and Tomatoes

I saw this recipe on a friend's Pinterest account and knew I needed to try it from the picture alone. I used my "shrink the crock pot" trick and made the recipe more accessible for my small family (and because I initially read the amount of chicken wrong) and it was a winner. I need to work on the noodle situation as it was sort of weird logistically and we're nerds and like our food to be easy to consume =P

Balsamic Chicken and Tomatoes
Adapted from Skinny Crock Pot
Serves 4

1.5 lbs chicken breast (I used tenders)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In a large crock pot, set inside a smaller casserole dish (one that has a lid!) and drizzle the bottom of the dish with EVOO.
  2. Put the chicken in a single layer in the dish and sprinkle with garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper.
  3. Cover with sliced onions and tomatoes then pour the vinegar on top.
  4. Cover the casserole dish and then put the regular crock pot lid on the crock pot.
  5. Cook on high for 3-4 hours. (I stirred once towards the end when things were getting a bit too time I may cook low and slow.)
  6. Serve over your choice of pasta.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

This past weekend my friend, E (of The TV Chick TVD Recap fame) and I hosted a baby shower for our friend Katie. A good time was had by all and I finally got to try out a new sweet dip I'd had my eye on. It was amazing.

And yes, there was a pink chocolate fountain. You can be jealous of your lack of attendance at this event for so many reasons...

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 stick of butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
8oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
Chocolate animal crackers, for dipping
Graham crackers, for dipping
  1. In a small sauce pan melt butter and whisk in brown sugar until dissolved and just bubbling. Add vanilla and set aside to cool.
  2. In stand mixer bowl using the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and powdered sugar.
  3. With the mixer on low, add in the butter/sugar mixing until combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Serve with chocolate animal crackers and/or graham crackers...or spoons (depending on your crowd!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Broccoli Cheese Soup

As soon as I saw this post go up on The Pioneer Woman's cooking blog I knew I had to try it. I immediately thought of one of my friends who always gets this soup at Panera where we frequently go (or used to go back when I was a workin' gal) for lunch dates. I made a few changes, but overall the soup was quite tasty! I think next time I might play with the cheese combinations a bit, but this was definitely a great first attempt (as there was no meat this didn't get a high rating from The Husband as you can imagine, but I gave it a solid 4 on my side!)

Broccoli Cheese Soup
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 6

1 small onion, diced
4 Tbsp butter
1/4 lb carrots, diced
3/4 lb broccoli florets
2 1/2 Tbsp flour
2 cups skim milk
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp seasoned salt
Pinch of nutmeg
6 oz grated cheese (I used 3 oz pepper jack and 3 oz sharp cheddar)
2 oz Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Melt butter in dutch oven over medium heat and saute onions and carrots until soft.
  2. Sprinkle flour on top and allow to cook out a few minutes before whisking in the milk.
  3. Add nutmeg, seasoned salt, salt (just a little, it's best to adjust later based on your cheese selections and the salt tolerance level of your home), pepper, and broccoli.
  4. Cover and reduce heat allowing the contents to simmer for 30 minutes or until broccoli is tender.
  5. *Using a slotted spoon remove the broccoli and carrot bites and give them a whirl in a food processor (or blender, but my blender long-since burned itself up and died).
  6. Transfer the broccoli (thick) puree back to the pot, add in the cheeses, and allow to melt (you may need to thin out the soup using chicken stock to get your desired consistency).
  7. Adjust the seasoning to your liking and serve in a bread bowl if you're feeling fancy!
*You don't have to do this step or you can do a variation of this step (using a potato masher, immersion blender, etc.) I used my food processor because it was already out and dirty from shredding the cheeses so I figured, why not? I do think the broccoli needs broken up though as the broccoli to "broth" ratio is sort of skewed and in my head it is weird to just eat a running creamed broccoli instead of a legit soup. To each their own!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars

I've been in a pumpkin baking mood of late (okay, ever since those Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes happened about a month ago). I've saved several things to try and this was the first of those new recipes, it's sort of delicious.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bars
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes one 13x9 inch pan

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
8.5 oz pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
10-12oz Semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used 5 oz chunks and 6 oz mini chips)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a 13x9 inch pan.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar in a stand mixer.
  3. Add in egg , vanilla, and pumpkin then beat til combined.
  4. Add the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes and allow to cool before cutting.
These make a delicious breakfast treat with a cup of know, if you're into that type of thing ;-)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Apple Muffins (or Apple Breakfast Cake)

So, I have become mildly obsessed with Pinterest. I had previously signed up and cancelled the account (at least twice) because I couldn't figure out how to make the website work for me. Then one afternoon it hit me, or more accurately the random piles of magazine clippings got to be a little insane in my "Mama Bag" (do you have one of these? A bag filled with Mama's Stuff... magazines, iPod, books, Bible, journal, Sudoku puzzles....okay, maybe just me...) I'm not really one to troll the Internet in search of ideas. I have GoogleReader that I use to save blog posts I want to keep around, I use my email drafts to keep track of recipes I wanted to try...then it dawned on me, "I could use Pinterest as a replacement for my magazine clippings!" One thing has led to another and I'm a Pinterest sell-out. I'm still not huge on trolling the incestual pool (there's a chance I made that word up...Megan will tell me if that is so I'm sure) of Pinterest pins, but I have loved having a place to store ideas from all over the place virtual and otherwise.

Anyway, back to my point...Apple Muffins. I searched for apple muffins recently and a picture on Pinterest (yes, during the trolling I just said that I don't really do...) caught my eye. These muffins had to be made, NOW! The recipe ended up being perfect for 12 muffins and one 8 1/2" loaf pan...and the results were delicious.

(And this is my photo which is not near as good as the one that sparked my interest =P)

Apple Muffins (or Apple Breakfast Cake)
Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything -->Consequently could also be my name =P
Makes 12 muffins and one loaf-pan

3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 cups peeled, diced apples
Light brown sugar, for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare muffin and loaf pans (I used parchment paper on the long sides of the loaf pan so I could remove the baked cake easily).
  2. Cream together sugars, eggs, applesauce, and vanilla.
  3. Add in the dry ingredients slowly until combined.
  4. Gently fold in the apples.
  5. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 full and pour the remaining batter into the loaf pan (I have come to do this with muffins, or make mini-muffins as well, since I only have one muffin pan and I'm impatient so I like to have everything in the oven as soon as possible...probably also comes from the fact that baking while the toddler is napping is baking on borrowed time =P)
  6. Sprinkle the tops of both the muffins and the loaf with brown sugar (don't be stingy!)
  7. Bake the muffins for 20-24 minutes and the loaf pan for 45-50 minutes.
I'd imagine these would be good with a caramel drizzle...but I haven't tried it...yet ;-) The bread was a hit at my women's Bible study this morning and Hubby took the muffins into work so I'd say we had a good success on our hands!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

African Peanut Soup

Peanut butter in soup broth?!

Yes, please!!

This is one of mine and Megan's fall (or anytime really) favorites =)

African Chicken-Peanut Soup
Adapted from Cooking Light
Serves about a zillion (I have no idea, it's a lot though!)

3 cups cubed peeled sweet potato
1 cup chopped onion
1 large red bell pepper, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
4 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
16 oz jar of salsa
1 tsp ground cumin
3 boxes chicken broth
2 cups brown rice, cooked
2 15 oz cans black beans, drained
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  1. In a larger soup pot or dutch oven cook the sweet potato, onion, peppers, and garlic in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the chicken, salsa, cumin, broth, rice, and beans and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the peanut butter and cook for a few more minutes and it's ready!
This soup is super easy and will keep nicely on the stove, as with most soups, it just gets better! It also freezes well which is good since this recipe makes a ton of soup. Find a friend and share, that's my best advice!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Ghetto Shepherd's Pie

I am a weirdo. I sort of love bland comfort foods. In an effort to please The Hubby however, I make attempts (sometimes successful, sometimes not so much) to jazz up some of my favorite comfort foods and make them more interesting. I made this on Thursday and it may still be a bit of a work in progress, but it's most definitely worth writing down before I forget that I got fairly close to a dish Hubby will actually enjoy =)

Ghetto Shepherd's Pie
Serves 6

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
16 oz frozen veggies (choose your favorites)
4 potatoes
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Mexican blend, etc.)
Garlic salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare a 2.5 quart baking dish.
  2. Peel and halve potatoes and boil in a large pot.
  3. In a large skillet brown the ground beef and onion together.
  4. Add half the can of soup, the Worcestershire, and the marinade (my two secret weapons of choice these days!) to the beef.
  5. Once combined, stir in the veggies and pour mixture into the baking dish.
  6. Drain potatoes and return to the hot pot.
  7. Mash potatoes together with the remaining half of the soup, cheese, salt, and pepper (use milk to thin out if necessary).
  8. Spread potatoes on top of the beef mixture in the baking dish.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
The beef mixture was tasty, but the potatoes needed a bit of work according to Hubby. I'll definitely be using this as a jumping off point though in the future!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Welcome fall =)

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
Adapted from Annie's Eats
Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/3 cups flour
1 1/2 Tbsp instant espresso
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cloves
7 1/2 oz pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated/white sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
2 eggs
1/4 cup (strong) coffee
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl mix together the flour, instant espresso, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.
  3. In a stand mixer, combine the pumpkin puree, sugars and oil.
  4. Add the eggs in one at a time and beat well.
  5. On low speed add in the dry ingredients until just combined.
  6. Fill the cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cupcakes for about 10 minutes and then brush with the 1/4 cup of coffee. Go over them twice letting the coffee soak in pretty good between each time.
  8. Cool completely and then ice the cupcakes with whipped cream frosting (I used store-bought because I am terrible at homemade icing at this time...perhaps at a later date I will master this...)
  9. When serving, dust with cinnamon and drizzle on some caramel sauce if you're looking for something extra tasty ;-)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Quick and Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

This summer has been one of business travel, the most since the summer of 2006 which we really don't speak of much because there was just that much travel and it's all sort of a blur. As an "I'm sorry I've left you alone so much this summer" present I received several pieces of Le Creuset cookware from Hubby.


I decided to test out the dutch (French) oven on a quick batch of soup and decided to combine a few of my favorite things from both my Taco Soup recipe and my Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe because, well it was a rainy Saturday night and the idea of soup and a grilled cheese sounded pretty perfect.

Quick and Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup

1 lb chicken, cooked and shredded
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can diced green chilies, drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 package of Taco Seasoning
1 can condensed Tomato Soup
1 cup frozen corn
~3 cups water/chicken stock
  1. In a soup pot heat some oil and saute onion and garlic until translucent.
  2. Add in chicken and Taco Seasoning and stir until well combined.
  3. Add in the other ingredients (I just filled up my tomato soup can 4 times for the water at the end and that looked pretty good to me...we like a more chunky soup or stew-like consistency around here, but you can totally thin it out if you want).
  4. Heat for 15-20 minutes and serve (you can always leave it on the stove for only becomes more delicious!)
  5. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheese, and broken bits of tortilla chips on top.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Red, White and Blue Scones

I have been wanting to try a scone recipe and when I had some blueberries and strawberries that were not going to get eaten I thought I would test out one I found this summer from Two Peas & Their Pod. I made a few adaptations, and must say the results were delicious. I have officially decided that I need a pastry cutter as my hands get warm way too fast to be able to properly incorporate the butter (so I had to chill the dough for a little bit before rolling it out). Even so I think I will be coming back to this recipe in the future!

Red, White, and Blue Scones

2 cups flour
2 Tbsp light brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small chunks
1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
6 oz white chocolate chips or melting chocolate
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 and prepare a couple of baking sheets*.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
  3. Add the butter and using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, mix until crumbly.
  4. Stir in the berries.
  5. In a small bowl combine the wet ingredients, then add to the large bowl stirring gently until the dough comes together.
  6. Knead with your hands (you may need to put the dough into the fridge for a little bit if it is too sticky to work with at the time) until it is well combined and then turn out onto a floured surface.
  7. Roll out dough and cut into desired shape(s) then place on the baking sheets.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Cool completely then use melted white chocolate to create a drizzle on top.
*Sometimes this happens to my baking mats...this is not the proper way to prepare baking sheets for baking scones...just in case you weren't sure.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Beef Brisket

One of my items on my 30 by 30 To Do List was a beef brisket. We haven't been able to smoke brisket successfully (yet, we've only really tried once -- too dry) but it is something I love if done correctly (and served chopped rather than just sliced). I knew Hubby was having a rough series of meetings starting today so I decided it was as good of a day as any for my first oven brisket attempt.

The results were delicious and I'm not planning on doing anything differently next time this bad boy makes an appearance on the menu. Number 9 is off the list!

Beef Brisket
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 4

2.5 lb beef brisket
1 packet dried onion soup mix
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  1. Grease a casserole dish and trim fat off the of brisket.
  2. Dry rub the brisket using the seasoning and 1 Tbsp of brown sugar.
  3. In a small bowl combine the onion soup mix, ketchup, water, Worcestershire, and 1 Tbsp of brown sugar.
  4. Pour the sauce over the brisket and cover the casserole with foil. Refrigerate until you are ready to bake (2 hours to overnight...can't go wrong!)
  5. When you are ready, bake the covered dish at 275 (you can go ahead and throw it in while the oven is preheating, no big deal).
  6. Cook for about 3 hours then uncover and turn the meat over. Recover and bake for another 2-3 hours.
  7. The brisket should easily fall apart when done. Remove from the dish and slice, against the grain. Return to the pan with the sauce to serve.

Strawberry Mini Muffins

A girls weekend away requires mini muffins. No arguments about that from this peanut gallery. I believe these will do the trick ;-)

Happy Birthday Tessa =)

Strawberry Mini Muffins

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest and juice from one lemon
1 1/4 cup chopped strawberries

Crumb Topping
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons chilled butter, diced
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease muffin tin (or line with paper liners)
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. Using a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream together butter, cream cheese, and sugar.
  4. Add in milk, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and zest until combined.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture until combined, then fold in the strawberries.
  6. In a small food processor combine all the crumb topping ingredients and pulse until the mixture has a coarse crumb texture.
  7. Fill the muffin tins a little more than 1/2 full of batter then sprinkle on crumb topping (in total should not be more than 3/4 full) and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
These turned out a bit more moist than I had intended, and the "crumb" topping was more like a cobbler or crisp topping rather than super "crumbly"...there were no complaints from the girls though, so I'm going to say this was a win ;-)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Smokey Bacon and Broccoli Mac and Cheese

As a result of some poor planning on my part I had quite the assortment of leftover ingredients from recipes that never came to fruition. One thing led to another and Smokey Bacon and Broccoli Mac and Cheese was born.

Smokey Bacon and Broccoli Mac and Cheese

12 oz small pasta (mini penne was my choice)
3-4 oz. bacon, cooked and chopped
1 small box frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 c milk (I did a skim and whole combo)
4 oz Fontina cheese, grated
4 oz smoked Gouda cheese, grated
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Using a large pot, boil the noodles according to the package instructions for al dente. Strain and set a side reserving pot for later.
  3. In a large sauce pan, melt the butter on medium-high heat.
  4. Whisk in flour and garlic and cook until golden brown, stirring constantly. (A spatula works just fine as I still haven't replaced my silicone whisk so this is my bechamel go-to at the moment.)
  5. Add in milk and continue stirring over medium-high heat until the sauce thickens and bubbles begin to form.
  6. Remove from the heat and add in your spices, bacon, and cheeses stirring until melted.
  7. In the large pot, combine the noodles, broccoli, and cheese mixture then pour into a greased casserole dish (I used a 2 1/2 quart round dish).
  8. Sprinkle with extra grated cheese (optional) and bake for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bacon Breadstick Focaccia

So this weekend I co-hosted a baby shower where the menu followed a theme.


The menu was comprised of:

Bacon and Cheese Dip
Bacon Breadstick Focaccia
Spinach Salad with Crumbled Backon
Cauliflower Soup with Bacon Garnish
Maple Bacon Cupcakes

Does that not sound AMAZING?!

It was, just take my word for it.

Bacon Breadstick Focaccia
Adapted from
Makes 2 Small Focaccia*

1 can of refrigerated breadstick dough
2.1 oz package of precooked bacon slices
2 pieces of string cheese (4 if you want both focaccia to have cheese)
1 egg
Garlic Salt, to taste
Italian Seasoning, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare a baking sheet (your choice: parchment, baking mat, cooking spray, etc.)
  2. Slice the cheese into quarters long ways to make 8 longs strips.
  3. Unroll the breadsticks and layer each with a piece of cheese (for half of the breadsticks) and a piece of bacon.
  4. Roll the breadstick/bacon combo into two pinwheels, one with cheese and one without.
  5. Beat one egg and brush over the top of the bread.
  6. Dice the extra slices of bacon (if you haven't eaten them already) and sprinkle over the top along with the garlic salt and Italian seasoning.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

*I have done one big pinwheel and two small ones and the two small ones seems to turn out better.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sticky Toffee Pudding

While on business travel in England my husband has discovered an amazing dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding. Apparently he has ordered it all over the country for practically every meal. For his birthday last night I decided to see if I could figure out how to make Sticky Toffee Pudding here at home and the results were amazing. This dessert is no joke and I can see why he calls it "the best thing about England".

Sticky Toffee Pudding
Adapted from FoodNetwork
Serves 4-6

1 cup plus 1 Tbsp flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup pitted dates, finely chopped
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease a square baking dish.
  2. Place the chopped dates into a small bowl with the baking soda and then pour in the boiling water. Stir and set aside.
  3. Beat together butter and sugar with a stand mixer, then add in egg and vanilla.
  4. Slowly mix in flour, baking powder, and salt until combined.
  5. Fold in the date mixture into the batter until combined (it will be really wet/runny).
  6. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top of the pudding cake is set.
  7. Remove cake from oven while you make the sauce.
  8. In a small sauce pan combine the sugar, butter, and heavy cream.
  9. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
  10. Boil on medium low for 8-10 minutes (still stirring constantly) or until the sauce thickens.
  11. Take 2/3 cup of the sauce and pour directly onto the cake.
  12. Broil the cake until bubbly (1-2 minutes).
  13. Serve with vanilla ice cream and drizzle toffee sauce on top.
Do it, you won't regret a single moment.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

30 by 30

I decided to make a list of thirty things that I want to do by the time I'm thirty. As I most recently turned twenty-eight, I thought this was appropriate. This in an all encompassing list of items spanning various areas of life and should be pretty entertaining to complete. Since most are in fact food related I thought this was as good of a place to publish this list as any...and maybe, just maybe, by putting myself out there, I'll actually get through my list before I'm know...since it's already been several months with my list kept to myself and not a lot has gotten done...oops, my bad!

Without further adieu, in no particular order, here is my list:
  1. Bake a cheesecake in my spring-form pan, not from a box mix.
  2. Create a Beef Stew recipe that Hubby will eat.
  3. Scour the Internet for a Chicken with Black Bean Sauce recipe reminiscent of the dish at PF Changs. (Hubby's request)
  4. Perfect Snickerdoodles (since they have eluded me thus far!)
  5. Bake bread made with yeast.
  6. Attempt one Julia Child recipe.
  7. Bake a Martha Stewart cupcake successfully.
  8. Reorganize/redesign pantry storage situation (okay, so this will mostly be Hubby, but I can help!)
  9. Discover a delicious beef brisket recipe...smoker or no smoker I need to figure out how to get some tasty brisket into my belly!
  10. Get a decent understanding of the book of Revelation.
  11. Scripture Memory - complete at least one year of the Living Proof Ministries (Beth Moore's) Scripture Memory Challenge.
  12. See Beth Moore live, or attend another women's conference.
  13. Reacquaint ourselves with a young couples' ministry.
  14. Read through the Bible chronologically.
  15. Watch the Godfather Movies.
  16. Do one of the Oscar days at the movie theater where you watch all the best picture nominations in one day/weekend.
  17. Read more...a lot more. Granted this isn't measurable, so let's say (realistically) 15 books.
  18. Get a library card to assist in accomplishing #17.
  19. Be better about having Date Nights and actually taking advantage of babysitting offers.
  20. Become a KCBS Certified BBQ Judge, just like Hubby.
  21. Complete wedding scrapbook.
  22. Dine at one of the Top Chef contestants' restaurants...or more ;-)
  23. Attempt a Top Chef contestant recipe.
  24. Attain a reasonable/healthy weight and maintain so I can go through my closet and actually get rid of some clothes that are never going to happen again.
  25. Figure out a plan for the master bath (our master suite is structurally confusing and slowly we're working on it.)
  26. Take a vacation... preferably one that does not require me to cook or clean house although a rental situation requiring such things would be an acceptable second vacation ;-)
  27. WVU Girls Weekend =) Maybe two of them ;-) Or three 0=)
  28. Swimming lessons, namely for LJ, but it couldn't hurt me either to become more comfortable in the water.
  29. Go to the eye doctor, probably should happen since it's been since my 2002 Lasik surgery.
  30. Figure out what I want to be when I'm not a stay-at-home-mom anymore =P
I reserve the right to alter this list as I deem necessary...

I'll revisit the list and give updates periodically, I'm already impressed by how many things I'm actually working on without having looked at the list since February, ha! Stay tuned!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake

This is my current favorite strawberry shortcake recipe. It is far superior to my previous shortcake endeavors and will probably be sticking around for quite a while. I adapted it from a Martha Stewart recipe for Strawberry Cake (which is also delicious as is, but I like it in shortcake form a lot better!)

Strawberry Shortcake
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 6-8

6 Tbsp butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

2 lbs. strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 Tbsp sugar
Whipped Cream/Ice Cream

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a bowl toss the strawberries together with 2 Tbsp of sugar, cover, and place in the fridge.
  3. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl.
  4. Beat the butter and 1 cup of sugar together using a stand mixer.
  5. Add in the egg, milk, and vanilla beating until combined.
  6. Slowly add in the dry ingredients.
  7. Pour batter into a greased 9 inch glass pie pan. (Optional - Sprinkle with Sugar in the Raw or turbinado sugar if desired.)
  8. Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 45 minutes (you may have to cover the cake with foil to avoid the top getting too browned...I usually do this when there's 20 minutes left on my timer.)
  9. Once cooled, slice and top with strawberries, whipped cream, ice cream, etc. and enjoy!

Friday, May 27, 2011

This Friday over at Kelly's Korner the "Show Us Your LIFE" topic is Desserts!!

I decided that the Apple Cake recipe I made several times this winter was a winner so it's up on the blog (#215 Warm and Gooey Apple Cake --> that's me!)

...and now I sort of want some cake...which is pretty much a daily "want" in my life ;-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Baked Onion Rings

I ask you, who doesn't love onion rings?! When I saw this recipe pop up via a mom-blogger I follow on Twitter I knew I had to give it a try. Tonight's dinner was steaks on the grill a la Hubby and I figured what more perfect meal to test out these beauties! While you can't really pick these bad boys up, they most definitely hit the old onion rings spot for sure.

Baked Onion Rings
Adapted from
Serves 2

1 medium onion
2 cups skim milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil spray

  1. Mix 2 cups of milk with 2 Tbsp of lemon juice and set aside.
  2. Slice onion and separate into rings. Lay out in a shallow dish.
  3. Pour milk over the onions.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (I did mine for 3 hours).
  5. Preheat oven to 450.
  6. In another shallow dish, mix together the remaining dry ingredients.
  7. Using tongs, remove the onion rings from the milk and coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Place onto baking sheets lined with foil in a single layer.
  8. Spray the onion rings with olive oil spray and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

If there is one thing My People love it's a Jell-O salad...there is rarely a family gathering that does not involve some sort of Jell-O concoction and even the non-Jell-O lovers in the crowd seem to enjoy this particular recipe. Strawberry Pretzel Salad is a favorite of my husband and cousins for sure (they usually get their own pan)!

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
Makes one 13 x 9 inch pan

2 cups crushed pretzels*
3/4 cup melted margarine
3 Tbsp sugar
6 oz box Strawberry Jell-O
20 oz frozen strawberries
2 cups water
8 oz cream cheese
4.5 oz Cool Whip
1 cup sugar

Pretzel Crust Layer
  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Mix together melted butter, pretzels, and 3 Tbsp of sugar and pour into 13 x 9 inch pan.
  • Bake for 8 minutes (be careful not to over-bake).
  • Allow to cool.
Strawberry Layer (Part 1)
  • While pretzels are cooling, bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan, then dissolve in the Jell-O.
  • Continue stirring and mix in frozen strawberries.
  • Set in the fridge while you prepare the cream cheese layer. (You don't want this to fully set-up, but you want it to not be a liquid when it goes on top of the cream cheese layer.)
Cream Cheese Layer
  • Using a stand or hand mixer, combine Cool Whip, cream cheese, and 1 cup of sugar.
  • Spread in an even layer over cooled pretzel crust.
  • Place in the fridge for a few minutes to cool.
Strawberry Layer (Part 2)
  • Stir the Jell-O and strawberry mixture and then spread on top of the cream cheese layer.
  • Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
This is best made the day before you want to serve.

* I use Synder's of Hanover Thins...anything but the small rods works well

Friday, May 20, 2011

Show Us Your LIFE - Main Dish Recipes

Today over at Kelly's Korner her Friday "Show Us Your LIFE" topic is Main Dish Recipes. I decided to throw my name into the ring and submitted my Shrimp Pasta with Old Bay recipe from a few weeks back into the mix thinking it might be something a little different.

A big ol' "Howdy" to anyone who has meandered over to the blog from Kelly's website!

PS - Stay tuned as this weekend I have BIG plans to test out a new baked onion ring recipe. I mean really, who doesn't need onion rings in their life ;-)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chicken and Green Bean Bundles

It's not very often my mother passes along recipes, but when she finds a good one that my dad even approves of it definitely gets passed along for me to try out. I'm not sure where the recipe came from originally, but it was "Chicken and Asparagus Bundles". I decided to give it a go to see if it would be a good dish to add to my recipes that have been deemed "worthy of company" since I've been meaning to add a few "nicer" dishes to my repertoire lately. This looked really cool and even semi-fancy. I decided to kick it up a notch by adding in some prosciutto and swapping out the asparagus for green beans and this is what I came up with:

Chicken and Green Bean Bundles
Serves 4

1 lb chicken breast cutlets or chicken breasts cut in half
4-6 slices prosciutto
30ish fresh green beans (trimmed, but kept long)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Juice and zest from 1 lemon
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp flour
1 c. chicken stock
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Lay out the chicken breasts on a plate (cut side up) and put one piece of prosciutto on top.
  3. Wrap each chicken breast around 6-8 green beans (prosciutto side towards the green beans) and secure with a toothpick. (Note: use plain wooden toothpicks...I made the mistake of using colored wooden toothpicks and this turned out weird as the color bled onto the chicken...ew.)
  4. Place chicken bundles in a greased 13x9 baking dish.
  5. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, herbs/spices together in a small bowl and then pour over the chicken bundles.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  7. Uncover and bake for 20-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  8. Once chicken is cooked, remove from baking dish and place on serving platter.
  9. In a small skillet, melt butter and cook flour out a bit to create a roux.
  10. Stir in the chicken stock and any drippings left from the baking dish.
  11. Bring sauce to a boil and cook for a few minutes until thickened.
  12. Remove toothpicks from the bundles and pour sauce over chicken bundles just before serving.
While this was quite tasty, I do not think the green beans were an appropriate substitute for asparagus. Asparagus is a no-no in this house (so says The Husband) so while this technique may not be used again (the effort to roll the bundles did not pay off -- granted I am a bit OCD and have lots of kitchen/cooking germ issues so it has to be quite the pay off for me to man-handle poultry as much was called for by this recipe), the flavor combination and the lemony sauce will DEFINITELY make a reappearance in some form once I figure out what exactly that is...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baked Spaghetti

I was first introduced to Baked Spaghetti my freshman year. I was in a group through my church that met off campus during the week and had dinner together prior to breaking into smaller groups for our weekly Bible studies. Leadership was responsible for the food and it was always exciting to have something from off campus (even though our on campus dining was insanely good and quite possibly the best college food in the country -- not just mean, it's been voted on before...) My favorite memory was that when one of the girls in particular was in charge you knew we were going to get Baked Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, and Home-made Banana Pudding. I have never attempted to recreate the amazingness, but tonight I decided to give it a go. I found a recipe via one of the blogs I follow and made a few alterations and have now added Baked Spaghetti to my recipe list.

Baked Spaghetti
Adapted from Heir to Blair
Serves 4 (hungry people)

8 oz spaghetti noodles
8 oz mozzarella cheese
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
12 oz jarred spaghetti sauce
Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Bring a pot of water up to a boil and cook the pasta just a minute or so less than the package instructions.
  3. Brown the beef and onion together in a large skillet.
  4. Add sauce to the skillet and season to taste.
  5. Once the noodles are drained return them to the pot and mix with 1/3 of the sauce so the noodles get coated just a little bit.
  6. Put 1/2 the noodles down in the baking dish and then another 1/3 of the sauce. Sprinkle with half the cheese.
  7. Repeat.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
This was a little light on the sauce for this household, but overall a good, quick, and easy dish. Sure it's pretty much spaghetti and baked ziti mashed up together, but I contend that is okay and they are totally different ;-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shrimp Pasta with Old Bay

We have been wanting to get ourselves a shrimp pasta, shrimp scampi, shrimp ____ go-to recipe in this house. I have also been craving some Old Bay of late. We are originally from Maryland and while neither of us grew up anywhere near the Bay, we're Old Bay fans for sure. My favorite part about attending football games at the University of Maryland? Fresh cut boardwalk fries with malt vinegar and Old Bay. Pardon me while I get lost in my food daydream...

I decided to check out several recipes and their comments to see what I could come up with, the two that were most inspirational were from Annie's Eats and The Pioneer Woman (especially her Shrimp Pasta in a Foil Package recipe!)

Shrimp Pasta with Old Bay
Serves 2

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, Minced
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp dry vermouth
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
Salt And pepper, to taste
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Fresh parsley, minced
4 oz linguine
  1. Bring water to a boil and preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Prepare a large package made from aluminum foil that will be able to hold your entire dish to go into the oven (make sure you have a cookie sheet underneath for easy transport to and from the oven.)
  3. In a large skillet, saute the garlic in olive oil and butter for a few minutes.
  4. Add in the diced tomatoes, vermouth, and Old Bay (don't forget to salt and pepper to taste.)
  5. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes (or half of the instructed time on the box) and then toss with the sauce and shrimp in the large skillet to coat.
  6. Pour the pasta, shrimp, and sauce into the foil top with some fresh parsley and wrap into a package.
  7. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (this is where the shrimp will cook through) and unwrap the package when you are ready to serve.
  8. Toss everything once last time to make sure the parsley gets evenly distributed and enjoy!
This was pretty amazing and a completely new flavor profile for us at home. I served with some crusty bread to help soak up the deliciousness. Next time I may try and make a bit of a roux before adding in all the sauce ingredients in Step 4, but not very thick at all since you do need some moisture to help the pasta continue to cook while the foil package is in the oven.

This is definitely going on the rotation and may someday even be in the elite group of recipes deemed "fit to serve company" by Hubby.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mom's Vegetable Beef Soup

I was in the mood for soup today and found out after I had already gotten excited about soup for dinner that I was missing a few ingredients for the Taco Soup I had my heart set on. I did however have the ingredients to throw together a batch of my mom's vegetable soup. This was a staple recipe in my house growing up as we are big soup fans and huge fans of the slow cooker. It was even a hit with the hubby when my mom made it for us while staying and helping out after the birth of our daughter last year. This recipe can be made stove-top or in the slow cooker and is super versatile in that you can add or delete pretty much any ingredients that you chose and even make it meat-free if you wish. The key to this soup is definitely the combination of the V8 and the sugar (when I say "to taste" here I fully plan on using almost a tablespoon of messing around here! My mom used to use a sugar substitute, probably Sweet N Low since that was still cool back in the 80s...I go for the real stuff.)

Mom's Vegetable Beef Soup
Serves 6-8

1/2 lb. ground beef*
2 c diced potatoes
64 oz V8 (I use Original, Low Sodium)
16 oz frozen veggies
Salt, pepper, and sugar to taste

  1. Brown ground beef in soup pot, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients (add veggies you like, cabbage is a good addition to this soup if you're into cabbage in your soup) and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer and serve when you're ready (and potatoes are done, obviously.)
Seriously, it's that easy.

*I am not a huge fan of meat in soups (yeah, I know that's weird coming from me who loves meat) and have been known to fully enjoy a bowl of chicken noodle soup while leaving a bowl full of chicken bits when the meal is over. I don't use much meat in this soup, but like the way just a little bit flavors the mom would probably make this with at least a pound of ground beef and you can totally do that without doing anything strange to the balance of the soup as I have written it out above.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

I had clipped this recipe out of a Martha Stewart magazine a few years ago and had always wanted to try it. It's made it's way around the blogs, so I had lots of comments to check out to make sure I didn't make any glaring mistakes. In the end these turned out amazingly well (even Hubby agreed and he was quite skeptical when I first mentioned the recipe) and it will definitely be a keeper (especially since it worked out to only be 2 WeightWatchers points per cookie with my adapted recipe!)

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 2 dozen

12 oz strawberries hulled and chopped (weight after prep)
Zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
9 Tbsp sugar (1/2 c + 1 Tbsp)
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp cold butter cut into small cubes
2/3 c whole milk
Sugar in the Raw (or other turbinado sugar), optional, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place the prepped strawberries in a small bowl and gently toss with the lemon zest and juice and 2 Tbsp of sugar.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the remaining 7 Tbsp of sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, or if you're like me and don't have one of those, just work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until the whole thing is crumbly.
  5. Once the butter is incorporated, pour in the milk and stir until just mixed before adding in the strawberries.
  6. On parchment paper-lined cookie sheets drop the dough (which will be very similar to a biscuit dough rather than a cookie dough) in rounded tablespoons.*
  7. Optional - Sprinkle with Sugar in the Raw or turbinado sugar if desired.
  8. Bake at 375 for 20-24 minutes and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
I can only image these would be delicious with some strawberry ice cream, you know, if you're into that kind of thing. These are best served the day of baking, but are still delicious two days later as I can attest since I just ate one =)

Happy Spring!!

*The original recipe, and all the others I found online, claim this recipe makes three dozen cookies. Now I'm fully aware that we like large cookies in this house, but I do not think I made them even above average sized and I only got two dozen.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Scalloped Bacon and Eggs

Every once in a while Hubby gets to reminiscing about meals he had growing up. After trying to rack his brain for a while on this particular brunch/breakfast-for-dinner item I went straight to the source, my mother-in-law, for the actual recipe. This was a great weeknight meal since the eggs and bacon could be prepped ahead of time. First time out of the gate I didn't make any real changes to the recipe trying to make it as close to his childhood memory as possible. It seems like we had ourselves a fine recreation on our hands when all was said and done! This would be an excellent brunch item with some fruit and muffins...or we had ours for dinner with fruit and roasted broccoli (the veggie of choice in our home). Delicious!

Scalloped Bacon and Eggs
Serves 4-6

1 small onion, chopped
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 c milk
5 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
6 hard cooked eggs, sliced
4 oz potato chips, crushed
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Sauté onion in butter until softened.
  3. Add the flour to the mixture and cook out a bit then add milk, stirring constantly to make sure your bechamel sauce doesn't have any big lumps.
  4. Add cheese and stir over low heat until melted.
  5. In a greased casserole dish layer eggs, sauce, potato chips and bacon.
  6. Bake 15-20 min at 350.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mini Sweet Potato Muffins

Homemade baby food is something I've dabbled in, but find it quite tricky as of late. When it was a matter of pureed fruits and veggies, no problem, but now we have an almost 13 month old, she really needs to be eating more "normal" food. My husband and I eat dinner after our daughter has gone to bed and dinner is usually not even started by the time she eats her dinner. So far even serving her leftovers from the night before has been a major fail as she generally hates everything I've attempted to serve her, so I've been heavily relying on pre-packaged organic baby foods and finger foods which she loves. A friend turned me onto a new baby food recipe website: and I decided to take one of their recipes for a test run given the fact that I thought it sounded pretty tasty myself, just in case my kiddo decided to resist.

Mini Sweet Potato Muffins
Adapted from Weelicious
Makes 30 mini-muffins

1 large sweet potato (yielding about 1 cup of puree)
1 c. flour
1 c. oats
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 c. whole milk
1/4 c. oil
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Rinse off sweet potato then wrap in foil and place on a foil lined pan (I've had several sweet potato mishaps so the pan may be overkill for some of you...but I've had to clean up one too many sweet potato disasters in my day!)
  3. Poke several holes in the potato and bake for about one hour or until tender. (I'd go ahead and let the oven cool down in case you don't get around to the actual muffins for a little while...)
  4. Allow the potato to cool and then puree either with a food processor or with a fork and your amazing arm muscles.
  5. When you're ready to make the muffins, preheat the oven to 350.
  6. In a small bowl combine the dry ingredients and set aside.
  7. In a large bowl (or stand mixer) mix together the wet ingredients, including 1 cup of the sweet potato puree.
  8. Add in the wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  9. Pour batter into greased mini-muffin tins and bake for about 15 minutes.
These actually turned out pretty tasty in my opinion and not too sweet. My daughter liked crumbling them up and throwing them on the floor more than eating them though.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sour Cream Noodle Bake

The Pioneer Woman posted a recipe for Sour Cream Noodle Bake last week that I thought I would like to try out. After thinking about it a while and getting some feedback from my friend over at Hooked to Books who attempted the recipe the day it was posted, I decided to try and mash-up that recipe with one I had tried a few months ago for Crock Pot Pizza which made a ton of food, but the leftovers ended up being more of a casserole than a layered dish...which for me really just meant that the pepperoni got unevenly distributed and that was sad not to have pepperoni in every bite 0=)

Also, this recipe makes me want a shallow baking dish that is not a pan pie...but I used my deep dish pie pan as a decent substitute since I'm sort of in love with it.

Sour Cream Noodle Bake
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
Serves 6

1 lb. ground beef
15 oz can tomato sauce
6 oz egg noodles
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. cottage cheese
1/4 c. green onion, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 oz pepperoni
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Brown the beef in a large skillet with some Italian Seasoning and then add in the tomato sauce.
  2. Cook egg noodles according to the package instructions, drain.
  3. In a large bowl combine the noodles, sour cream, cottage cheese, parsley, and green onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. In a lightly greased baking dish layer:
    - 1/2 of the noodle mixture
    - pepperoni (I only made a single layer over the noodles, you could add more if you liked)
    -1/2 of the sauce
    -1/2 of the cheese
    -1/2 noodles
    -1/2 sauce
    -1/2 cheese
  5. Bake for 20 minutes at 350.
The pie pan turned out to be a great idea although the whole dish got a little runny which would probably be remedied if the tomato sauce had been allowed to reduce a bit. All in all this turned out great and even Hubby liked it and he's been pretty down on casserole-type dishes of late. Granted the Snickerdoodle Blondies I had waiting for him when he came home from a long day of work (during which he forgot to eat lunch) probably helped ;-)

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Since my quest for the perfect Snickerdoodle has been put on the back burner (hehe) I thought this might satisfy the Snickerdoodle craving that is frequently in my house.

Confession: I'm terrible at baking bar cookies. They are always weird when all is said and done, but I have been wanting to try Snickerdoodle Blondies for a few weeks now and today seemed about a good of a day as any!

I've seen this recipe on several different websites and every couple of months it seems to get a re-boot. The one I used came from Baked Perfection back in June 2010 since I trust Risa with all things baking-related!

Snickerdoodle Blondies
Recipe from Baked Perfection
Makes 20-24 bars

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon grated or ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
a pinch nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease and/or line a 9×13 inch pan. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and set aside.
  2. In large bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar for 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and beat until smooth.
  3. Stir in the flour mixture until well blended. Spread evenly in prepared pan (mixture will be somewhat cookiebatter-ish, so it’s best to spread it out with a greased spatula or your hands). Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a little bowl. Evenly sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture over the top of the batter.
  4. Bake 25-30 minutes or until surface springs back when gently pressed. Cool before cutting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pulled Chicken BBQ

So, I haven't written much about this particular aspect of our kitchen adventures, but this family LOVES barbeque/BBQ/barbecue/Bar-B-Que! My husband is a certified Kansas City Barbeque Society judge and we have our own (tiny) smoker. We've gone on what we like to call "BBQ Tours" in Texas, Tennessee, and North Carolina (our Tennessee tour is well documented with it's own blog because we are super nerds). Smoked meats of multiple varieties are our thing and we will literally travel anywhere for a taste. In the winter months we don't get much 'que, even home-made because if there is one thing Hubby hates more than anything (even Florida State) it's the cold.

This year I decided to test out a crock-pot pulled chicken recipe using our our dry rub as the flavor base. While this won't have the smokey flavor we love, it may just hold us over as we eagerly anticipate springtime!

Crock-Pot Pulled Chicken BBQ
Serves 6-8

3 lbs chicken breasts
3 Tbsp BBQ dry rub/BBQ Seasoning Blend
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp ground mustard
A few dashes of Liquid Smoke
  1. Put the chicken in the bottom of the crock-pot.
  2. In a small bowl mix together the remaining ingredients and then pour over the chicken.
  3. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours.
  4. Resist the urge to remove the lid.
  5. Remove the chicken from the crock-pot and use forks to shred the chicken and put it back into the crock-pot and mix with the sauce.
  6. You can let it cook in the sauce for a little longer if you like, or serve after mixing.
Hubby and I differed on our love for this recipe. I liked flavor a lot and will probably keep experimenting with the sauce. It's definitely a "sandwich" BBQ...would be mighty tasty with a good slaw and pickle if you're into that kind of thing ;-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Coconut Chicken Tenders

This recipe has been in my drafts for over a month. I had originally seen it on Rachael Ray and thought it reminded me very much of the Coconut Shrimp appetizer at Outback. Even though I'm generally not a coconut fan, we both love that appetizer so I thought it was worth a try. The saga that was obtaining unsweetened flaked coconut was a borderline deal-breaker (probably could have cracked and shredded my own coconut...for serious people!) and Hubby's work schedule of late has been a bit wonky so I punted on the original version of the recipe. I have come up with something that I think does the original justice while being a little easier to fit into our weird dining habits.

Coconut Chicken Tenders with Pineapple Drizzle
Adapted from Rachael Ray
Serves 3

1 lb package of chicken tenders
1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup pineapple preserves
1/2 jalapeño, finely chopped
2 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp chicken stock
1 Tbsp dried chopped onion
Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a cookie sheet with a cooling rank inside - spray with cooking spray.
  2. Season the chicken tenders with salt and pepper.
  3. Set up 3 shallow bowls for breading the chicken:
    1 - flour
    2 - egg, lightly beaten with a splash of water
    3 - mixture of panko and coconut

  4. Dredge chicken in flour, coat with egg, and even coat with breadcrumb mixture and place on prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  6. While chicken is cooking, in a small skillet heat the preserves, jalapeño, soy sauce, stock, and dried onion together until the sauce comes together and is heated through. This can be drizzled over the chicken tenders or used as a dipping sauce, whatever strikes your fancy =)
I ended up liking this a lot more than Hubby which was strange. It's on his "I'd never request it, but I'd eat it list" (a 3) while I thought it was perfect and wanted to serve it to all my sad.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pasta Carbonara

Pasta Carbonara is Hubby's favorite pasta dish and was on the menu for Valentine's Day this year (granted it actually happened Tuesday night, but whatever last minute decisions to grill steaks to take advantage of unseasonably warm weather are definitely acceptable!) Given that this was something I'd shied away from for a while I went straight to the experts at Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen for help and background reading materials.

After much reading I realized that the technique behind this dish was just as important as the ingredients. I tried out their suggestions, but there were a few hint I picked up along the way so am going to incorporate them into the instructions for next time. All in all, very delicious.

Pasta Carbonara

8 oz pasta
4 oz bacon, sliced into small pieces/ribbons
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth (or dry white wine)
1 1/4 oz shredded cheese*
2 large eggs
2 small cloves of garlic, finely minced/pressed
Table Salt

Optional Step - Preheat oven to 200 and warm the serving dish you will use to mix and serve this dish. I went ahead and did this step, but if you were baking bread or something that would probably make the dish too hot, but you might be able to microwave it?

  1. In a skillet, cook the bacon pieces in the olive oil until they reach your desired "doneness" (since we all know bacon is an ongoing battle between the crispy and the floppy factions).
  2. Add chicken stock/wine and reduce a bit then set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs together and mix with the cheese(s) and garlic.
  4. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions (I used a spaghetti) with 2 tsp of salt in the pasta water. Reserve some of the cooking water before draining the pasta just in case you need to add it to your sauce to help coat the noodles.
  5. Take the drained pasta (still slightly wet) and pour into the dish you are going to serve out of (potentially the one that has been warming in the oven) and immediately toss with the egg/cheese mixture. Use a little of the reserved liquid if necessary. -->The "immediately" is key here otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs from them sitting on top of the hot noodles for too long before the tossing begins.
  6. Once the noodles are coated, toss in the bacon mixture and season with salt and pepper to taste and serve right away. --> Some people toss the bacon at the same time as the eggs, but from what I read this can get clumpy so I wasn't going to take any chances of the bacon not being as evenly distributed as possible ;-)
Deliciousness personified I tell you, deliciousness.

*I used 1/2 oz of a Parmesan and Pecorino Romano cheese blend and then an additional 3/4 oz of Parmeasan.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

This is what I did this afternoon during naptime...

I was going to make straight up banana bread, but my favorite recipe calls for plain yogurt which I did not have laying around since I really only buy it for baking since I think it tastes like nothing. I remembered that a friend of mine that runs the baking site Baked Perfection (go visit, she's awesome!) had a few banana muffin recipes that I had been wanting to try. I decided to try out the Banana Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Muffins since I'll eat anything with peanut butter and since I failed to observe National Peanut Butter Day back on January 24th it was meant to be ;-)

I made a few alterations, namely baking mini-muffins instead of regular sized which cut the baking time to 8-10 minutes. I also added about a tablespoon of honey into the batter since my peanut butter cookie recipe uses honey as it's not so secret secret ingredient.

Delicious and just in time for my naptime cup of coffee!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Chicken Divan

I had no idea this recipe had a legit name, but the more I looked up recipes for Chicken Divan the more I realized this was pretty much what my mother called Broccoli-Chicken Casserole growing up. I decided I would go ahead and give the old stand-by a try with a few tweaks.

Chicken Divan
Serves 4

2 chicken breasts, cooked, shredded
16 oz package of frozen chopped broccoli
1 can Cream of ______ Soup (you can use chicken, mushroom, etc.)
1/3 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Worcestershire
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese
12 Ritz crackers, crumbled
1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a casserole dish (I used my 2.5 quart dish) put the broccoli on the bottom layer, then your cheese, then the shredded chicken.
  3. In a bowl mix together canned soup, milk, lemon juice, curry powder, garlic powder, Worcestershire, salt and pepper. Adjust seasonings to your liking and pour over the top of the casserole.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle crumbled crackers and breadcrumbs over the top of the casserole and return to the oven.
  6. Bake, uncovered, for an additional 20 minutes.
Next time I will play with the seasonings a bit more. The curry powder really made this interesting, but I think it could have used a bit more. It was definitely a good start to a future pantry staple.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Unsweetened Coconut

I am having a terrible time finding unsweetened coconut at my average supermarket. Whole Foods makes me feel inferior, but it may my next stop if I ever want to attempt making this:

...funny thing is, I don't even really like coconut, but in my head this would be delicious like the Coconut Shrimp at Outback.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Baked Shells Casserole

I decided to give one of Rachael Ray's Top 10 Recipes of the Year from 2010 a try this week. I love me some stuffed shells and had hoped this would be a quicker, easier way to get the same flavors. I made some adjustments, but in the end, I had the same amount of dirty dishes as if I had actually stuffed shells. Since I have a pretty rockin' stuffed shells recipe, I'm not sure this one will happen again (especially since while I enjoyed it and rated it a 4, Hubby on the other hand barely finished his portion and whined about my forcing him to each spinach as he wandered to the fridge to get some ice cream.) It's meat-free and has a little kick which I thought was pretty tasty.

Baked Shells Casserole
Adapted from Rachael Ray
Serves 4-6

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided
1 onion, finely chopped, divided
Salt and pepper
3/4 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp parsley
10 oz chicken stock
28 oz can Italian crushed tomatoes
7 oz medium shell pasta
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
Nutmeg, to taste
1 cup cottage cheese*
4 oz Shredded Italian Cheese Blend
1 egg yolk
  1. In a large pan, saute most of the onion and 2 cloves of garlic in some olive oil.
  2. Add in oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme, and parsley.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and allow to reduce a bit before adding in the crushed tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Let this simmer while you cook the pasta, undercooking it by a minute or so (according to package instructions). Be sure to reserve some of the cooking liquid before draining your pasta.
  5. In a smaller skillet, saute another clove of garlic and the rest of the onion in some olive oil.
  6. Add in the spinach to heat through, season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  7. Once pasta is done, put it back in the hot pot, pour in the spinach mixture and add in cottage cheese and 2 oz of shredded cheese. Season with salt and pepper if needed then add in the egg yolk and combine.
  8. Put a layer of sauce down in a casserole dish then pour pasta mixture into the dish. Sprinkle with the other 2 oz of shredded cheese and cover with some more sauce (there will be extra sauce you can use when you serve the finished pasta.)
  9. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 and then serve with the extra sauce and more cheese, of course!

*You may remember that I generally hate ricotta cheese...cottage cheese is my go-to substitute and I've found it works out just fine in most recipes calling for ricotta. By all means use ricotta if you so desire (that was what the original recipe called for anyway.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Top Chef: Restaurant Wars

This is one of my favorite episodes each season and I was highly anticipating the All Stars rocking this one.


My Top Ten Top Chef Moments of the Week

10. Marcel getting chosen as one team captain, realizing that if his team loses, he'll be going home (it was time for this to happen, for sure...regardless of how much I dislike Dale...)

9. Blais telling his McDonald's story. I would have loved to have seen that one live!

8. Fabio smacktalk during confessionals. I like it when he gets giddy.

7. This episode made me like Angelo...a lot...even though he lost. He plays this game well. Sure he got slammed for not stepping in, but that wasn't going to get him sent home.

6. Hearing Padma say "Marcel, please pack your knives and go" for the first time ever.

5. The sad faces from Bodega's team members that turned to faces of relief. Poor Blais looked like he had been run over by a truck and then he went on to be the winner.

4. The shot of Richard chowing down on some ribs behind Marcel's scared/anxious face.

3. Fabio in the front of the house is fun. I want to eat at one of his restaurants someday. If he and Blais went in together on a restaurant, I'd so be there in a heartbeat.

2. I wanted to eat everything on Bodega's menu.

1. "If your redneck cousin won the lottery, what would he do with his caviar? He'd dip it in Ranch Dressing."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tropical Chicken with Poppyseeds

This was supposed to be dinner on Monday, but after having a rough day at work I decided not to put Hubby through a new recipe, but instead made him something tried and true. Tuesday there was no turning back. I have no idea what this should be called, but Hubby vetoed "Fruity Chicken"...I had been collecting ideas for this recipe for a while and this is what I came up with:

Tropical Chicken with Poppyseeds

4 chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp dried, chopped onions
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup finely diced pineapple
3 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp poppyseeds
1 Tbsp butter
2 tsp corn starch (dissolved in a few tablespoons of water)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Ground ginger, to taste
  1. Brown chicken in a large skillet with some olive oil.
  2. Add in vinegar, onions and garlic, cook about one minute so the vinegar can reduce a bit.
  3. Add in chicken stock, apricot preserves, pineapple, honey, soy sauce, and poppyseeds.
  4. Once simmering, add in butter and season with ginger, salt and pepper.
  5. Reduce for a few minutes and then stir in the dissolved corn starch to help thicken up the sauce to your desired consistency.
I served this with quinoa that I cooked up in chicken stock with some onions, frozen peas, and cranberries. This is a new adventure into the world of the super grain for us...hoping for some tastiness in the future.