Monday, March 31, 2008

Happy Opening Day

My husband's family are huge Yankee fans and love everything to do with the game. So each year since Jacob has been born I have taken a picture of him in some kind of Yankee gear. ..I send it out to the family saying Jacob is getting ready for opening day. I put all three pictures I have so far (opening day picture from 2006, 2007 and now 2008) together and it is amazing on how fast he is growing up...before I know it he is going to be going away to college!



Since we have our DVR I am taping it for Mike and we will watch the game together. I just have to figure out what I am going to make for dinner that isn't hot dogs and chips which is our standard baseball food.

March Recipe Summary

March recipe theme was to make something with peanuts.

Kath - Nutter Butter Frozen Peanut Butter Pie
Michelle (with the help of Heidi) - Nutter Butter Balls
Jenn - WW Veggies Stir-Fry with Peanuts

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pecan Pie Cupcakes

I was looking around some blogs and came a cross a recipe for Pecan Pie Cupcakes. The blog that reviewed it said they tasted just like a pecan pie. So I had to try them. Since Mike was working on our taxes and I was finished what I was doing. I decided to make him a special treat. He loves pecan pie, so it was a perfect time to try them.



Pecan Pie Cupcakes

1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease mini muffin pan.
Mix all ingredients together.
Fill muffin pan 3/4 full
Bake for 18 minutes


My Review: OH MY!! It does taste like pecan pie! It's fast and super easy to make. I am going to make this again. It makes 2 dozen mini muffins. Perfect for to serve at Thanksgiving or at a brunch. Mike said it needs some kind of frosting. So I gave him one with some caramel on top and he said that was really good. I'm sure you can make them regular size you'll just have to bake them longer....but you can than serve them with some vanilla ice cream...yummmm.




Party Perfect Cake - Daring Baker's March Challenge

I was glad to hear that this month's recipe challenge was going to be a layer cake from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Baking from My Home to Yours. I have been admiring a group of bakers on a blog called Tuesday with Dorie and wondered what all the fuss was about. Thankfully to Daring Baker Morven for this month's pick and for letting me find out what a wonderful recipe this was to make.

I always want to make layer cakes when I spot one in a cookbook but never really have a reason to actually do it. Also since layer cakes produce a lot of cake I never have enough people around to eat it all. With Easter being this month and we had some family visiting it was perfect timing.


PERFECT PARTY CAKE
Courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours (page 250).


For the Cake
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk (I prefer buttermilk with the lemon)
4 large egg whites
1 ½ cups sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon pure lemon extract


For the Buttercream
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Finishing
2/3 cup seedless raspberry preserves stirred vigorously or warmed gently until spreadable
About 1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut

Getting Ready
Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9 x 2 inch round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with a round of buttered parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To Make the Cake
Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Whisk together the milk and egg whites in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl or another large bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant.
Add the butter and working with the paddle or whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer, beat at medium speed for a full 3 minutes, until the butter and sugar are very light.
Beat in the extract, then add one third of the flour mixture, still beating on medium speed.
Beat in half of the milk-egg mixture, then beat in half of the remaining dry ingredients until incorporated. Add the rest of the milk and eggs beating until the batter is homogeneous, then add the last of the dry ingredients.
Finally, give the batter a good 2- minute beating to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed and well aerated.
Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the cakes are well risen and springy to the touch – a thin knife inserted into the centers should come out clean.
Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes, unfold them and peel off the paper liners.Invert and cool to room temperature, right side up (the cooled cake layers can be wrapped airtight and stored at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to two months).


To Make the Buttercream
Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream.
Remove the bowl from the heat.Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes.
Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in the lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.


To Assemble the Cake
Using a sharp serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, slice each layer horizontally in half. Put one layer cut side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper.
Spread it with one third of the preserves.
Cover the jam evenly with about one quarter of the buttercream.
Top with another layer, spread with preserves and buttercream and then do the same with a third layer (you’ll have used all the jam and have buttercream leftover).
Place the last layer cut side down on top of the cake and use the remaining buttercream to frost the sides and top. Press the coconut into the frosting, patting it gently all over the sides and top.


Serving
The cake is ready to serve as soon as it is assembled, but I think it’s best to let it sit and set for a couple of hours in a cool room – not the refrigerator. Whether you wait or slice and enjoy it immediately, the cake should be served at room temperature; it loses all its subtlety when it’s cold. Depending on your audience you can serve the cake with just about anything from milk to sweet or bubbly wine.


Storing
The cake is best the day it is made, but you can refrigerate it, well covered, for up to two days. Bring it to room temperature before serving. If you want to freeze the cake, slide it into the freezer to set, then wrap it really well – it will keep for up to 2 months in the freezer; defrost it, still wrapped overnight in the refrigerator.

Review: Overall this cake was a delight to make and eat in every way. The only ingredient that I "replaced" was I used regular flour instead of cake flour...everything else I kept the same. I liked the idea of lemon and raspberry together and wanted to see how it all tasted.


Since I had a lot of cleaning/cooking to do for our guest I decided to make the cake part the night before I was going to serve the cake for dessert. I didn't have any problems with making the cake and thought that it was an easy cake to make. I was worried that I might have a problem with the cake not rising but I didn't so I was happy. I wrapped the cake in parchment paper and put it in a Ziploc bag until I was ready to put it all together. I was going to just wrap it in plastic wrap but it just looked to me like it would have gotten all stuck to the plastic and I just wanted to avoid that from happening.

I wasn't afraid of making the buttercream after making it for the December challenge. I think it knew I was ready for it and in turn didn't give me any of the trouble I had the first time with it.

I was excited to break out my cake and dome set that I got from my bridal shower (going on 7 years now) which I never used before. Everything was going according to plan when I hit a little bit of trouble with the spreading of the buttercream onto of the preserves. I don't know what it was but it started to pick up some of the preserves when I was spreading the buttercream and mixed together. No big deal just some of it was pink buttercream instead of the nice white color...it still tasted great!

All my guest were super impressed with everything about this cake...the decoration, the cake, the buttercream and the overall taste of it. I even got one comment that it reminded them of a wedding cake!

The only thing that I thought was weird was that the cake developed a darkness where the cake and preserves met. I think it might have been because I put it together in the morning and didn't serve it until much much later in the day...it said to keep it at room temperature so I didn't think that would have been a problem. I think the preserve must have just soaked into the cake a little bit. It still tasted great and even tasted great a few days later out of the frig!

All in all I would make it again and next time I might even experiment with the flavors...chocolate cake with Nutella instead of a preserve...just an idea. The only thing I wouldn't do again is put the coconut on the outside because I felt like it didn't really add anything to the cake.






Monday, March 24, 2008

Lent Recipe Links

I thought it would be nice to put all my Lent recipes in one spot:



I know it seems like I didn't make a lot but a couple of weeks I did make homemade pizza and then of course we went out for dinner as well. My favorite of all the recipes I tried was the Tortilla and black bean pie which I want to make again soon.

Last Lent Meal...Green Pea Soup with Cheddar Scallion Panini

In some ways I am really happy that Lent is over so I don't have to think about what I am going to make for dinner Friday nights. I don't mind cooking a non-meat dish once or more a week but it was hard to keep that meal until Friday.

I picked this recipe mainly because of the Scallion-Cheddar Panini...I had scallions left over from another recipe I made last week. I also thought that if the soup came out good then it was a super easy and fast soup to make.


Green-Pea Soup with Cheddar-Scallion Panini
Everyday Foods
Prep: 20 minutes Total: 20 minutes

Ingredients
3 tablespoons butter
4 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
3 boxes (10 ounces each) frozen peas
1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar (6 ounces)
8 slices rye sandwich bread
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium. Add scallion whites, and cook, stirring, until softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add peas, broth, and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until peas are tender, about 5 minutes; set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss cheddar with scallion greens. Make 4 sandwiches with cheddar mixture and bread.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium-low. Place sandwiches in skillet, and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side, adding remaining tablespoon butter to skillet to cook second side.

Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth (filling blender only halfway to prevent spattering). If necessary, adjust consistency with a little bit of water. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Slice each panini into four "fingers, and serve with soup.

Review: One thing this recipe has going for it is that it really doesn't have that many ingredients and it takes no time at all to make. I didn't really like the taste of the pea soup and felt like something was missing from it. It tasted too much like raw peas to me and I don't plan on making it again. The one funny thing that happened while making it was that I put to much soup in the blender and I ended up with some all over my shirt. It was a nice bright green color. What I do plan on making again from this recipe are the scallion and cheddar paninis which were fantastic! I really liked the onion and cheese taste that melted together. The bread was also a good flavor that complimented everything.

Cream Puffs




Happy Easter everyone!!! I hope everyone had a nice day yesterday and a good weekend. Mine was very nice, kind of busy, but nice none the less. Saturday night I got to go out and celebrate Kevins birthday with him and a few of his good friends. We went to a local tavern and Kevin enjoyed some drinks bought by his friends. Anyway...Sunday I told my family I was going to attempt to make a dessert my Mom was famous for. Cream Puffs. I was very nervous making them, I didnt want to mess up something everyone loved that my Mom was so good at making. I always remember my Mom saying there was a trick to not having the 'puff's' turn out heavy. So, as Kevin was napping on my couch I started making the dough for the cream puffs. I was pleasently suprise at how easy they were to prepare. This is what I did:

Ingredients

1 cup boiling water
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs


Melt the stick of butter in the water as it starts to boil. While the water is starting to boil, in a med size bowl mix together the flour and salt. Once the water is boiling, stir in the flour mixture until well blended and forms a dough ball. Remove from heat for 5 mins to cool off slightly, then add 1 egg at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next egg. After all 4 eggs are mixed together, drop tsp size balls of the dough on a ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 30-35 mins ( check after 30 to make sure there not burning ). Turn off oven, then cut a line in each puff to let the insides dry a bit, keep the puffs in the warm oven for another 20 mins with the oven off. Remove from oven, cut off the top of each puff and let cool completely. Fill each with chocolate pudding and cool whip. Sprinkle with powder sugar to finish off.

I was so excited that these cream puffs came out just like my Moms. Everyone loved them. I would definally make them again. They werent as tricky as I first thought they were going to be.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish Soda Bread






















HAPPY ST. PATRICKS DAY!!!

I thought I would try to make some Irish soda bread to bring to my Dads since he was making us Cornbeef and Cabbage last night for dinner. I'd never made bread before so I had no idea how it was going to come out. I was so pleasently suprised as to how easy it was to prepare. I chose to make mine without raisons and OMG..it came out delicious!!! I loved it. Here is the recipe I used:



Prep Time:15 min
Total Time:1 hr 15 min
Makes:16 servings, 1 wedge each

3-1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. sugar, divided
1 tsp. CALUMET Baking Powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
1-1/3 cups buttermilk
1/2 cup currants or raisins

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Mix flour, 1/3 cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk and currants; mix just until moistened.

PLACE dough on floured surface; knead 10 times. Shape into round loaf, 2-1/2 inches thick. Place on greased baking sheet. Cut deep 1/2-inch "X" in top of dough. Sprinkle with remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar.

BAKE 1 hour or until golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack. Cut into 16 wedges to serve.

Sunday Breakfast...with a twist.

My husband's family has a traditional breakfast that they have every Sunday. I am not sure exactly when it started but it has been passed down to us...or I should say we are making it our own tradition as well. The traditional breakfast consist of eggs, fried ham, rolls and usually a little something sweet at the end.

In one of my many searches on the Internet/blog world for new recipes I came across one that really caught my eye. The recipe took almost every part of our meal and combined it into one. What a nice way to put a twist on our traditional meal. I found it on a blog called Everybody Likes Sandwiches.

4 whole wheat buns
unsalted butter
4 large free run eggs
4 slices of deli ham, diced
2 green onions, diced
1/4 c smoked gouda, grated
1 t sweet paprika
salt & pepper

1. Cut into the bottom of the buns, removing most of the insides...but keeping the outsides sturdy. You don't want to remove all of the insides but it should still be able to hold an egg and other good things. Dispose of those innards you just removed (or better yet, save them for breadcrumbs). Butter the inside shell of the bun and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 10 minutes or until butter melts and the bun is warmed through and just a bit toasted.

2. Place half of the ham and onions in the bottom of each bun, crack an egg into the hole and top with the remaining ham and onions. Sprinkle with cheese and paprika and salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 10 - 15 minutes. Remove foil and place on upper oven rack and broil for a few minutes until cheese gets golden.

Review: I really liked this twist on our classic breakfast and I can't wait to make it again. I used bacon instead of the ham because the night before I made a soup that called for bacon. So I just cooked up a little extra and saved it for breakfast. I also couldn't find whole wheat rolls so I just used kaiser rolls I found at the market. The rolls were good but a little too big or just cut the hole a little smaller then I did. I think the bacon, green onions and smoked Gouda gave it a really nice flavor.

The only thing I found weird in this recipe is the cooking time because I baked it in the oven with the egg in it for 15 minutes and it still didn't seem totally cooked. I let it cook under the broiler a little longer then stated in the recipe until I thought it was cooked. I am going to do some "research" online and see if I can come up with a better oven temp or cooking time. I would defiantly make this recipe again and it is even perfect for a nice brunch.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Farm Fresh Cheese

I have a confession to make...I am a big reality TV show watcher. I really never thought I would be but I can't get enough of them. I would list all the show I like to watch but then I would just embarrass myself. One of the reality shows that is at the top of my list is Top Chef.

One day I did a search on lead judge of Top Chef...Tom Colicchio to see all about his restaurants. I was curious to see what type/style of food he serves and to get a gauge of his taste. What really caught my eye was that one of his NY restaurants had a cheese menu. On that menu had a cheese that was very close to home...I literally mean close to home.

I have been waiting for the weather to get warmer so I can visit Sprout Creek Farm in Poughkeepsie, NY with Jacob. I thought it would be fun for the both of us...I get to try some different types of cheese and he gets to see all the animals. I also thought now was a perfect time because every time we are in the car and I drive past an open field...Jacob starts to MOOoooo...I am not joking every time.

The pictures above are of the Creamery/Market place, the goats, our new friend #30, and of the cows on the hill.

I tried a bunch of cheeses they had there which were all very good and it was hard to decide on just one cheese. I bought some Toussaint cheese (A Robustly flavored cheese with a distinctive Alpine flavor. Toussaint becomes more complex and peppery with age, and rounds out with a smooth, tight texture. Natural edible rind.) which reminded me of another cheese we once bought at another cheese place in Cambridge.

I plan on going back there to purchase more cheese in the future. One thing that caught my eye was a few picnic benches in the front of the market...my idea is to bring some friends, a bottle of wine, a picnic lunch and buy some farm fresh cheese. Another idea is to buy one type of each cheese they offer...cow, sheep or goat and have a wine & cheese tasting party. Both sound like a really great day to me!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sister Fun Day with Tea & Baking

Heidi called me up last week to ask me what I was doing on Sunday...I thought a second and knew that I wasn't doing anything. I was excited to hang out with Heidi because even though we live closer these days it is still hard to get together.

When I lived in Cambridge there was a nice tea store where Mike and I (pre-Jacob) would go and get a cup of tea. It was also very close to where I worked and I used to stop in on hot days and get a nice fresh brewed ice tea in whatever flavor was brewed that day. We have actually bought a few tins of the many types of loose tea they sell. So I have been searching for a replacement tea shop. Which is hard to find in the area I live in now...oh how I sometimes miss living in the city.

In my search I have come across a website called TeaMap. You can search for a tea room near you by either your zip code or by selecting a city from a drop down list. I searched with my zip code and came across a few that I thought was close to my house. I found one that was 15 minutes away and that was going to be my first place to visit.


I asked Heidi if she would be interested in joining me for tea time at Cups and Saucer Tea Room...and of course she was. It was a really cute place and just the right place to try out the tea time experience. We ended up not ordering the tea time menu but from their brunch menu because we were hungrier then we thought we would be. I ordered a pot of Darjeeling tea, a potato and corn cheddar soup, asparagus and ham quiche (served with a green salad) and a Lemon Blueberry scone for dessert. Heidi ordered a pot of English Breakfast Tea, a cup of chicken and pearl soup, the asparagus and ham quiche and a Lemon Blueberry scone. All was very good and Heidi even cleared her plate!

After our tea time we came back to my house to do a little "baking" and talking. Since this month's theme is peanuts I have had my eye a recipe I found on the blog from Bakerella called Nutter Butter Balls. If you visit the link to her blog you will see all the very nice pictures of the process. I was doing the same thing when Heidi pointed it out to me...so instead of seeing my bad photos just visit her blog to see awesome photos. Here is her recipe below:

Nutter Butter Balls

1 pkg. Nutter Butter cookies (broken… use cookie with the cream center)
1 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
chocolate bark

1. Finely crush all but 5 cookies in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and crush into a fine consistency.

2. Combine with cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together.

3. Roll the mixture into 1" balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.

4. Melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry.

5. Once dry, refrigerate and enjoy!
Makes about 30 balls.


Review: The nutter butter balls are super easy to make and I can't wait to try them with the Oreo cookies next. She also has a post using red Velvet cake which I also want to try out. I tried one but when I was totally full from tea time and not really enjoying it too much. I am going to have to try one first thing in the morning when I am super hungry to see what I think about it.

Friday, March 7, 2008

French Lentil Soup

Last night I didn't really now what to make for dinner because I thought I would have some Paul Dean leftovers for dinner. So to my sort of surprise Mike must have really liked the Paul Dean Goulash thing (I still need a good name for it because it isn't really goulash...maybe Slop or Mess or just Paul Dean but since it doesn't contain butter I don't think I could call it that) and took it to work 2 days in a row for lunch.

I decided to make lentil soup from scratch because I haven't done that in a while and I thought I would make that into a meal. I searched for a recipe just to get the correct amount of ingredients together. I came across this recipe which I thought was interesting and different from any type I made before.




French Lentil Soup
Bon Appétit December 2006
Makes 6 servings.


3 tablespoons extra–virgin olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery stalks plus chopped celery leaves for garnish
1 cup chopped carrots
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1 1/4 cups lentils, rinsed, drained
1 14 1/2–ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium–high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Add 4 cups broth, lentils, and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes.

Transfer 2 cups soup (mostly solids) to blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to soup in pan; thin soup with more broth by 1/4 cupfuls, if too thick. Season with salt, pepper, and a splash of vinegar, if desired. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with celery leaves.

Review: I don't know how I feel about the taste of this dish yet because I didn't really eat it hot but what I did eat I thought was good. I made about 1 1/2 times the recipe because I wanted to use the full bag of lentils and not have a partial bag leftover. In terms of difficulty this recipe is very simple to make and not really time consuming...I would say about an hour from start to finish and half that time is waiting for the lentils to be done cooking. I would make it again and maybe next time add some sausage/hot dog to it. I would also love to make french bread to go with this recipe...lol.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Paula Dean Recipe - Bobby's Goulash

I have my standard channels on the TV that I always checkout before I settle in on the show I want to watch. It really is only a couple of them...The Food Network (standard and HD) and Bravo. One time I turned on the Food Network and Paul Dean's Party was on. She totally cracks me up with her bubbly personality. The recipe below is one of her son Bobby's favorite that she used to make for dinner before all their success. I sort of want to change the name of the recipe because I don't think it is a Goulash. Or I should say it isn't the type of goulash that I drew up eating. I will probably have to make a couple more times before I can decide on a name.

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 pound ground turkey
2 large onions, chopped
3 cups water
1 (29-ounce) can tomato sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon House Seasoning, recipe follows
1 tablespoon seasoned salt
2 cups dried elbow macaroni

In a Dutch oven, saute the ground beef and ground turkey over medium-high heat, until no pink remains. Break up meat while sauteing; spoon off any grease. Add the onions to the pot and saute until they are tender about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups water, along with the tomato sauce, tomatoes, garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, soy sauce, House Seasoning, and seasoned salt. Stir well. Place a lid on the pot and allow this to cook for 20 to 25 minutes.

Add the elbow macaroni, stir well, return the lid to the pot, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the bay leaves and allow the mixture to sit about 30 minutes more before serving.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Review: This is an easy recipe to make because after you brown the meat...you just throw in all the rest of the ingredients in the pot and let it cook....then add the pasta and let it cook again. It also makes A LOT which is just the type of recipe I was looking for. We ate a bunch last night...there is enough for another meal and I froze a little bit of it for another day. It is perfect because I never know when my husband gets home from work and this is the type of dinner I can make ahead of time and it is easy for him to warm up when he gets home. Jacob liked it as well...he asked for more which he actually said before I asked him.

The other reason I liked this recipe is that if you don't want to make the huge amount it makes you can easily cut the recipe in half. I also cut down the amount of house seasoning I made because I don't need a cup and half of it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Chicken Cordon Bleu



This is my moms Chicken Cordon bleu recipe. Its so easy and great to make for company. Its a recipe you can prepare in advance. This picture isnt one I took, my chicken was more then half eaten when I realized I forgot to take a picture of it..lol. Anyway...heres the recipe for my moms Chicken Cordon Bleu:

Boneless chicken breast ( I just lay it in the dish your baking to see how much will fill it- depending on how many your cooking for )
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can/cup of milk ( just fill the soup can with milk ) ( or you can use white wine, or cream of mushroom soup )
1/4 pound of ham
1/4 pound of swiss cheese
( only need a few slices of ham and swiss, just to cover the chicken )
bread crumbs
2-3 tbsp melted butter

Line your baking dish with defrosted chicken breast. Cover with a slice of ham over each piece, then with the swiss cheese.

Mix in a bowl the cream of chicken soup, milk (cr of muchroom, or white wine ) and pour over chicken.

Melt the butter and mix that with the bread crumbs. Sprinkle all over the chicken dish.

( if your preparing this in advance, wait until your ready to bake before putting the bread crumb topping on ).

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins or until chicken is cooked.


This recipe is great with some rice cooked with some chicken flavoring. If your not a rice fan like my boyfriend, you can cook some fetticchini alfredo instead.

This is very simple and the chicken is so moist and flavorful when its done.

Nutter Butter Frozen Peanut Butter Pie


This was the dessert I made last Saturday night. I needed to think of something non-chocolate since I gave up Chocolate for lent. This was very good but extremely rich. Everyone tried some, but most people couldnt finish their piece. The crust was awesome!!! I think everyone kept eating the crust and leaving the filling. You have to really like peanut butter too, sine that mostly what this was made of. For all you peanut butter fans...heres the recipe for this:

Prep Time:15 min
Total Time:4 hr 45 min

Makes:12 servings

24 NUTTER BUTTER Peanut Butter Sandwich Cookies
5 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 pkg. (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided

CRUSH cookies in resealable plastic bag with rolling pin or in food processor. Mix cookie crumbs and butter. Press onto bottom and up side of 9-inch pie plate.

MIX cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer on medium speed until well blended. Gently stir in 1-1/2 cups of the whipped topping. Spoon into crust.

FREEZE 4 hours or overnight until firm. Let stand 30 minutes or until pie can be cut easily. Garnish with remaining whipped topping.

Chicken Pockets (aka Chicken Baseballs)

Thanks to Michelle for passing along this recipe!! I went home last night and looked in the fridge and was so happy to see that I had all of the ingredients! Until I pulled out the already sliced mushrooms and realized they had seen better days! 8 oz. of mushrooms went straight into the garbage. My fridge is pretty darn good at extending the life out of my food - previous owners must have set it on REALLY cold, but it's great, I get an extra week of life out of my veggies (which means these mushrooms are at least 2 or 3 weeks old! haha).

I made a few tweaks and therefore have amended the name to Chicken Taschen or Chicken Pockets and posted my version of the recipe below, as well as my review. (Note: Taschen is German for pockets and they remind me of these delicious cheese filled "Topfentaschen" or pot pockets - aka danishes - that I had while in Europe - YUM!!)

I also have recently started the Weight Watchers diet, so was able to amend things slightly to fit within the plan and will be adding the Flex Points at each WW entree that I put out there. I'm on week 4 and have lost 12 pounds to date!

Chicken Pockets

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:
1 tube reduced fat Pillsbury crescent dough
1 lb. fresh spinach or 1 package frozen spinach
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
2 Tbsp skim milk
1½ tsp garlic powder
1 tsp parsley flakes
½ tsp paprika
1 Tbsp melted butter
4 – 4 oz. chicken breasts
Italian seasoned bread crumbs

Directions:
- In a skillet sprayed with cooking spray, sauté chicken seasoned with seasoned salt until done. Remove chicken and let cool. Dice chicken and set aside.
- In same skillet, add fresh spinach and cook until wilted (a splash of chicken broth or water should be used so spinach does not burn in pan) or put frozen spinach in a pot with small amount of water (as recommended) – drain all water once heated. Add to chicken.
- In mixing bowl, mix cream cheese, milk, spices, and melted butter until well blended (will be a creamy consistency). Add chicken and spinach to cream cheese mixture.
- Open can of crescent dough. There are 8 triangles and 2 triangles make a rectangle. With pastry roller or fingers, take two triangles and roll out/press into a rectangle.
- Place ¼ of chicken mix in center of pastry and fold up dough to completely coat filling.
- Sprinkle Italian seasoned bread crumbs on top of the baseball.
- Bake your Chicken Pocket in a 350 over for 20-25 minutes, or until it is golden brown...like this:

Voilà!

WW Flex Points: 10

Review: These are out of the world delicious!!! I am so excited, because we're having them again tonight! I had to change the name, because mine didn't end up looking like baseballs - haha! I can't say enough about them. I was full enough with just this, but you could also add a salad on the side.

Red Velvet Cake

February Recipe: Red or Chocolate

So, I said, why not Red AND Chocolate?! Two birds with one stone, right?! My cousin, Biz, had told me about this Red Velvet Cake that her mom makes that is to die for. So, I emailed Aunt Jo and asked if I could have the recipe. She found it on the NY Times website and wanted to know when she was going to be invited over for it! (Note: Picture on left was found online.)

Here is the recipe:

Red Velvet Cake

Published: February 14, 2007
Adapted from "The Confetti Cakes Cookbook" by Elisa Strauss (Little, Brown, to be published in May).

Time: 90 minutes, plus cooling
Yield: 3 cake layers.

INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3½ cups cake flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa (not Dutch process)
1½ teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2¼ cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1¼ cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons baking soda
2½ teaspoons white vinegar

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place teaspoon of butter in each of 3 round 9-inch layer cake pans and place pans in oven for a few minutes until butter melts. Remove pans from oven, brush interior bottom and sides of each with butter and line bottoms with parchment.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Divide batter among pans, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pans 20 minutes. Then remove from pans, flip layers over and peel off parchment. Cool completely before frosting.


Red Velvet Cake Icing


Published: February 14, 2007
Adapted from “The Waldorf-Astoria Cookbook,” by John Doherty with John Harrisson (Bulfinch, 2006)

Time: 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS:
2 cups heavy cream, cold
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
12 ounces mascarpone
½ teaspoon vanilla
1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

DIRECTIONS:
1. Softly whip cream by hand, in electric mixer or in food processor. Cover in bowl and refrigerate.

2. Blend cream cheese and mascarpone in food processor or electric mixer until smooth. Add vanilla, pulse briefly, and add confectioners’ sugar. Blend well.

3. Transfer cream cheese mixture to bowl; fold in whipped cream. Refrigerate until needed.

Yield: Icing for top and sides of 3-layer cake.

Review: So, I only had two cake pans available and made only two layers. The cake was so tall with two layers, I can only imagine the height with 3 layers! Because I made two layers, the cakes needed longer to bake (about 55-60 minutes). The cake itself was good (not my fav), but the icing was delicious! Wow! If it weren't for the calories (I can only imagine with the heavy cream, mascarpone, AND cream cheese!), I would use it for some other kind of cake. It tastes the best when first made. I refridgerated the cake due to the icing, but would suggest taking it out at least an hour before you are going to serve it - tastes better at room temperature.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Rice Krispie Treats - test 1

If you look at my post about my Disney vacation, you'll see the Mickey head Rice Krispie Treats. I was looking through my pantry for something and I noticed I had all the ingredients for rice krispie treats. It was a sign from the sugar fairies or something, to make them, so I did. I was trying to think when was the last time I made this classic treat and I couldn't. But when it came time to spread the mixture into the pan it all came back to me on how I always forget to spray the wax paper. Yup it got stuck to the paper. But next time I'll remember.


They were easy to make, the only problem I came across was I didn't spread the treats thin enough so when it came time to "cut" out the treats it was a little difficult to get the cookie cutter all they was through. I ended up using a knife to cut them out the rest of the way. Mike and I were talking about how I made them and we can't image Disney would make a batch and then cut them out, because there is a decent amount of "waste". We're thinking they some how stuff the cookie cutters with the mixture, but that doesn't make sense either. I think further research will have to be done. Next time I think I'll use the Mickey Head egg/pancake rings that I bought.

Cheese ball




This was the other appetizers I made for Saturday. More people snacked on this then the pepporoni cups. One of the girls I work with at the salon makes this all the time and its always a hit. She calls it a cheese ball. Again, this was very easy to make and you can prepare it in advance. It calls for:

1 pkg cream cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
chopped onions
2 tsp chopped pimentos
2 tsp worshester sauce (sp)
chopped walnuts

You basically just mix all the above together with your hands ( exept the walnuts ). Roll into a ball, then roll that in the chopped walnuts just to coat the outside. Serve with chips, pretzels or anything else you enjoy.

Pepporoni Cheese Cups




My cousin Michelle recommended me making these for my guests Saturday night. She told me how much everyone loves them when she makes them. I thought I'd give it a try. She calls them Pepporoni Cheese Cups. They were pretty simple to prepare and only take a few mins to cook. Here is the recipe:

2 cups (8oz) shredded cheddar cheese
2 pks (2 1/2oz) sliced up pepporoni
3/4 cup mayo
1/3 cup bacon bits
2-3 tsp mustard
1 tube large flaky biscuits (grands)

1. In a large bowl, combine the cheese, mayo, bacon and mustard. I divided up the cheese, mayo and bacon and mustard into 2 bowls, then put ham in one and pepp. in other)

2. Split the biscuits into thirds. press each 1/3 into the bottom oand up the sids of aungreased miniature muffin cups. Fill each with about 1 tablespoon of cheese mixture.

3. Bake at 450 degrees for 9-11 minutes onr until golden brown and the cheese is melted. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing from the pans. Serve warm. Makes about 2-2/12 dozen. Enjoy!

You can make this appetizer using ham as well as pepporoni. Michelle recommended pepporoni, she said the ham wasnt as big of a hit. I think if I had more then just 4 people over, these would have all been eaten. This was only one of the appetizers I made for Saturday night and theres only so much you can eat before dinner..LOL.

Kevins weekly dinner - Taco Bake


Hi all, I've said before I was going to try and think of different dishes to make Kevin for those nights he works late so he has something quick to eat for dinner when he gets home. This past week I tried this taco bake. It was so easy to prepare. I think the total time was about 15 mins. He must have like it, I made it for him last friday and by last night, it was all gone =). I have to start timing the meals better so he's got them during the week. The whole point is for him to have dinners all ready for him when he gets home from work. Anyway...here is my taco bake:



Prep Time:15 min
Total Time:35 min


Makes:6 servings, 1 cup each.

1 pkg. (14 oz.) KRAFT Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese Dinner
1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. (1-1/4 oz.) TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Taco Seasoning Mix
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup BREAKSTONE'S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1-1/2 cups KRAFT Shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
1 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa



PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Prepare Dinner as directed on package. While Macaroni is cooking, brown meat; drain. Add taco seasoning mix and water to meat; simmer 5 min.


STIR sour cream into prepared Dinner. Spoon half of the Dinner mixture into 8-inch square or 9-inch round baking dish; top with layers of the meat mixture, 1 cup of the cheese and remaining Dinner mixture. Cover.


BAKE 15 min. Top with salsa and remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake, uncovered, an additional 5 min. or until cheese is melted.

I have to say, this smelled soooooo good when it came out of the oven. I was good and didnt cut into it. You could smell the salsa right away.

Mock-Lasanga

I just realized I totally forgot to post about Friday's meat free Lent meal. I didn't really make a new recipe just more experimented with an old one. My mom once told me she saw a cooking show where the host used raviolis to make a "lasagna" instead of the traditional way.

I bought last week at the supermarket spinach and cheese raviolis to make for dinner on Friday. I didn't feel like having just the raviolis and figured I would try to make it into a Mock Lasagna.

Here is the "recipe" I used:

Ingredients
1 (25 ounce)package frozen cheese ravioli
1 (26 1/2 ounce)bottle spaghetti sauce
2 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese , shredded

Directions
1) In 9x13-inch dish spread a little bit of sauce at bottom (to prevent sticking).

2) Put on ravioli, as many as will fit without being"tight".

3) Put on more sauce and then cheese.

4) Repeat until all ravioli is gone.

5) Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes.

Review: I would make this again just because it was super easy to put together and it was just like eating plain ravioli. What I might do is if I make it during a non Lent day I would buy half meat ravioli and half cheese...or all cheese and use a meat sauce instead of just a plain sauce. Mike like it a lot but then again he loves pasta and loves when it is covered in sauce. I ended up using an 8x8 pan to cook it in because I made the mistake of buying the mini raviolis instead of the standard size...it came out just as nice.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Irish Soda Scones

Today is March 1st and I started thinking about what recipe I wanted to try next, but than I remembered St. Patrick's Day is coming up soon. So that means Irish Soda Bread. Instead of making the traditional loaf, I found a recipe on the Joy of Baking website for Irish Soda Scones. My mom use to get something similar from the supermarket by her house, so I was excited to try this recipe.


Irish Soda Scones

3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add most of the buttermilk. Using one hand, or a wooden spoon, mix (adding more buttermilk if necessary) until you have a soft, moist dough.


Transfer to a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough into a 7-8 inch round that is about 1 inch thick. Cut this circle into 6 triangular sections. Place the scones on your prepared baking sheet and brush the tops with a little extra buttermilk and then dust with a little flour. This gives the baked scones a wonderful brown crust.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Test by tapping the bottom of a scone - it should sound hallow. Remove from oven. Best if served warm.



My Review: This recipe is quick to make. I like raisins in my soda bread so I added probably about a half a cup to the dough before shaping it. The only problem I had was that the dough got a little sticky to work with after I turned it on to the floured surface. Next time I'll have to make sure I put a enough flour down so the dough won't stick to it. Other than that it was easy. I think we'll have them tomorrow morning for breakfast. They will go great with a cup of coffee or tea. Enjoy!


Jacob & Mason Jumping on the Bed!!

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