Friday, February 26, 2010

Valentine's Day Dinner

Sorry for posting my Valentine's Day dinner so late. Mike doesn't really believe in V-day, but I always like to make it special. So I decided to make a few recipes I've been saving for a special occasion. The first one was Baked Shrimp Scampi. I found the recipe in Barefoot Contessa's cookbook Back to Basics, but it can also be found on the Food Network's website as well.

The second and third recipe came from the cook book Mike got me for Christmas. It's a cook book that has over 2,000 authentic Italian recipes. There are a lot of yummy sounding recipes, but I choice the two following recipes to try: One was for Stuffed Mussels

and the second was Lobster with Linguine.

And a special dinner is not complete unless there is dessert. I had made some brownies to bring to work and had some left over. So I decided to make brownie sundaes. SO GOOD!! Just heat up the brownie in the microwave and your favorite scoop of ice cream and top it off with your favorite ice cream topping.

My Choice - Edy's Thin Mint ice cream with chocolate syrup

Mike's Choice - Edy's Samoas ice cream with caramel syrup

Everything came out great. The problem I had was in the recipe for the stuffed mussels it seemed a little incomplete. It had you make a tomato sauce but didn't tell you what to do with it. I think i was suppose to add it to the stuffing, but it still tasted good. Not sure if I would make it again. But I would definitely make the scampi again, even I forgot an ingredient, it still came out really good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snow Day...What to Make?

It wasn't a total surprise that we are sort of snowed in today. We knew something was coming but did not expect this much snow. Plus what is makes matters worse is that it is very heavy and very wet yuck! Thank goodness for a neighbor down the street with a snow blower to do the stuff the plow likes to drop off at the top of our driveway. Which by this time is so dense and heavy that I would just call it a day and not go any where for a few days.

We lost a tree branch in our backyard and I am sure we are not the only ones. We even lost power last night for a little bit.

I am thinking of making something today since it is a snow day and it gives me something to do. Not sure yet what it is going to be but some yeast is probably going to be involved...check back tomorrow or in a couple of days to see if I was able to make it off the couch.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pumpkin Cookies

Yesterday we had a blizzard warning type snow storm. So I decided to make sure I had supplies in the house to be able to bake something...that is of course after I made sure I had the regular supplies in the house.

A friend of mine gave me this recipe last week and I thought it was the perfect one to make. One it only has 6 ingredients and two it seemed to be a non time consuming one as well.

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

1 (14-oz.) pkg. Pillsbury® Pumpkin Quick Bread Muffin Mix
1/2 cup dried Cranberries or cinnamon covered raisins
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon


1.Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, combine quick bread mix, raisins and ginger; mix well. Add butter and egg; stir until dry particles are moistened. (Mixture may be crumbly.)

2.In small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon; mix well. Shape dough into 1 1/2-inch balls; roll in sugar-cinnamon mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

3.Bake at 350°F. for 12 to 15 minutes or until cookies are set. Remove from cookie sheets.

Review: I can't stop eating these cookies...they are so addicting. Super easy to make since most of the work is just opening a package and adding the rest of the ingredients. A perfect fall flavor cookie and something I would make for Thanksgiving in a heart beat. I wonder if you could make other cookies like this one with a different mix. Definitely a keeper!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Beautiful Burger Buns...Say That Three Times Fast!

Since I knew we weren't going any where for the Superbowl I took the opportunity to make some kind of bread. When else am I going to get a guaranteed not getting off the couch day from Mike. So of course I went to my favorite bread cookbook for this task.

What could I make to go with cold cuts and something that I did not need an overnight starter for...that actually narrows it down a lot. Then I found the perfect thing to try out and if they were good this would be something I could make in the future.

Beautiful Burger Buns

3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons butter
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast

1) Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—to make a soft, smooth dough.

2) Cover the dough, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it's doubled in bulk.

3) Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round 1" thick (more or less); flatten to about 3" across. Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until very puffy.

4) If desired, brush buns with melted butter. Or brush lightly with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water), and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

5) Bake the buns in a preheated 375°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, till golden. Cool on a rack.

My favorite crumb shot...
Review: If I can help it I will try to make these every time we have burgers or cold cuts in the future. They were so easy to make and the end result is just fantastic. They have the right taste and the right texture for burger or a sandwich. I tried to keep track of the time when I started (about 8:30ish am) and the time I finished (just before Noon) to see how long they really take me to make. This way I know if I can squeeze in making them before our next bbq. Check out the link above to the recipe because on that page they give you some tips on making these. Also they give you a great way of how to shape them which I am going to try next time to see if I can get them to be more even in shape. This one is a keeper for sure!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cupcakes from Scratch...

Last week for the birthday boy I made cupcakes from scratch to bring in for his class. I was actually going to make the cake from a box mix and the frosting from scratch. With preparing for the family party I just wanted it make it easier on myself. Well the baking gods had another plan because I did not have enough oil to make the box mix so I had to make it from scratch.

So I used my well tested and trusted KAF Devil's Food Cake recipe which came out I think the best I have ever made it. It is the same one I used for Jacob's birthday cake last year which I now wish I did this year. This time I topped the cupcakes with KAF Easy Vanilla Frosting recipe which I have never made before.

Easy Vanilla Frosting

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/3 cup milk or cream

1) In a large bowl, beat together the butter, shortening, and salt till fluffy.
2) Add about half the confectioners' sugar, and beat slowly until well blended.
3) Add the vanilla and half the milk or cream, and beat until fluffy.
4) Continue mixing in sugar and milk alternately until they've been completely incorporated.
5) Beat until the frosting is light and fluffy.

Note: If you want some frosting left over to use in decorating, increase the ingredient amounts to: 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, approximately 6 cups confectioners' sugar, and up to 1/2 cup milk or cream.

All done and ready to be taken to school...

Review: I am going to review the frosting since this isn't the first time I have made this very yummy cake. I was a little worried about making my own frosting because I haven't really found one that I like very much. All other buttercreams that I have made came out tasting well like butter. This one does not have that taste at all and goes perfectly with the chocolate cake. I made the larger amount because I wanted to do some fancy decorating but time and cranky kids got in the way of those plans. So I did the next best thing put a bunch of sprinkles on them...Jacob LOVES sprinkles so he was happy with it. He is my child after all...loves sprinkles, loves frosting and LOVES chocolate cake! I would definitely make this frosting again and I want to try the chocolate version next time maybe.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Birthday Cake & Shrimp Fajitas

Saturday we had Jacob's birthday party with the family which was a lot of fun. I decided to make him one of those checker board cakes this year. I actually bought it last year but didn't make it. To be honest I don't think I am going to make it again. I used the recipe on the box which was ok (a box mix would have been better) but my checkerboard did not come out right. The best part of the cake was the sprinkles that Jacob put on the cake himself.

The one thing that was a success and will be added to my list of thing to make is the shrimp recipe I used. I wanted to provide a few option for everyone so I made chicken, taco meat and shrimp for my fajita bar. I left half the shrimp plain (just salt and pepper) and marinated the other half. I did not know how the marinade would taste since I never made it before that night and was worried about having something inedible on my hands. I thought most people would like it but I was worried it might not be what I thought it would be. Well the that was the first thing to go was a success.

Marinated Shrimp

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled
1 cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves minced garlic
1/3 cup lime juice

1. Stir together shrimp, cilantro, garlic, and lime juice. Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.

2.Add shrimp mixture to pan, increase heat to high, and cook, stirring often, until shrimp are opaque in center; cut to test (about 3 minutes).

Review: Who does not love a recipe that is only 3-4 ingredients and ingredients I had on hand anyway because it was all the stuff I was using for fajitas to begin with. The shrimp had a really great refreshing taste to it and was perfect for the fajitas. This would make a great summer recipe and probably good on any type of fish. It is a keeper!


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