Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gingerbread Waffles

A few years ago Mica found a gingerbread waffle mix at Williams-Sonoma. We made them all together as a family and they were about the most delicious things I've ever eaten. And eat we did. Probably about 10 waffles each. It was out of control, but in a good way. I never bought them myself because I couldn't handle the price tag of $10 a box, but this year I convinced myself I would buy some since they were so good and I was craving them. So we went to Williams-Sonoma only to find out that they didn't make them this year! A tragedy! So I did what I always do when confronted with such a dilemma: google it and try to find my own recipe. I found a recipe on the food network website and modified it. They are delicious, easy and cheap, 3 of my very favorite things!

Gingerbread Waffles
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
3/4 cup milk
3 Tb. molasses
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
Bananas, whipped cream, caramel topping and/or maple syrup for topping

1. Preheat waffle iron. In large bowl beat eggs and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Add pumpkin, milk, molasses, butter, and vanilla.
3. Stir in dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Do not over mix.
4. Spray waffle iron with cooking spray. Pour batter onto waffle iron and cook until done (2 - 5 minute depending on the waffle iron). Top with syrup or caramel, sliced bananas and whipped cream.

Serves 4 - 6.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know. Chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn't have a recipe for chocolate chip cookies? Plus, they're so boring and un-original. Sorry if that's how you feel, but I have to say that these are definitely blog worthy. They are soft and chewy and always turn out perfectly. I've tried plenty of chocolate chip cookie recipes and these are the best. Plus, who doesn't like chocolate chip cookies? They're the perfect all occasion treat!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Betty Crocker

1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 1/3 cups flour (for high altitude, if you are not at a high altitude use 3 cups)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 pkg. (12 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips and/or butterscotch chips
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Cream butter and sugars on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and cream until fluffy and light yellow, 2 - 3 minutes. Add dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Drop by rounded tablespoons (I use a small cookie scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 9 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes, then remove to cooling racks.

Make about 6 dozen cookies.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Poppy Seed Cake

Merry Christmas! I hope that you all had a great time with friends, family, and lots of good food. I made this for Christmas breakfast. It's been adapted to make it a little healthier, but it's still not too great for you...but don't let that stop you from eating a little bit, it is absolutely delicious! In fact, Corey informed me that this cake is his favorite thing that I make. And that's saying a lot. Don't skimp on the glaze, that is what puts this cake over the top.

Poppy Seed Cake

3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup Splenda
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup + 2 Tb. oil
1 1/2 Tb. poppy seeds
3 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract

1 cup + 2 Tb. powdered sugar
3 Tb. butter, melted
3/4 tsp. vanilla
3/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup + 2 Tb orange juice concentrate, thawed

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 6 small (2" x 5") loaf pans.
2. Mix sugar, Splenda, oil, and applesauce. Add eggs, vanilla, milk, and almond extract. Add dry ingredients. Divide evenly among pans.
3. Bake for 40 - 50 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately remove to cooling racks. Meanwhile prepare glaze ingredients. Pour glaze over tops and sides of cakes.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pumpkin Cake Roll

It's not Christmas without a pumpkin cake roll. There's something amazing about the creamy cheesecake filling and the spicy pumpkin cake that just sends me through the roof. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do! Unfortunately I didn't get a good picture of it...I guess I'll just have to make it again to get a better picture.
Pumpkin Cake Roll
Adapted from Kraft Foods

1 cup powdered sugar, divided
3/4 cup flour
1-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 - 1 cup chopped walnuts
6 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 1/4 cups whipped topping

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease jelly-roll pan (15x10x1). Line with wax paper or parchment. Grease wax or parchment paper.
2. Beat eggs, sugar, and Splenda in large bowl with electric mixer on high speed for 3 minutes. Add pumpkin and mix well. Add flour, spice, baking powder, and salt. Beat until just blended. Spread evenly into greased pan and sprinkle with walnuts.
3. Bake 15 minutes or until cake springs back when touched. Immediately invert cake onto kitchen towel sprinkled with 1/4 cup powdered sugar. Carefully peel off wax or parchment paper. Roll up cake and towel (starting with one of the short ends). Move to wire rack and cool completely.
4. Beat cream cheese and 3/4 cup powdered sugar with electric mixer until well blended. Add whipped topping and mix well. Carefully unroll cake and remove towel. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake and reroll. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

This is perfect for a cold, cold winter night like we've been having plenty of. Corey likes the soup extra creamy, so I make this for him. Sometimes I just like regular chicken noodle soup, so I leave the cream of chicken soup and sour cream out. Either way, it's divine!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

2 quarts water
8 chicken bouillon cubes
6 cups uncooked wide egg noodles
1 - 2 cups carrots, sliced
1 - 2 cups celery, sliced
3 cups chicken, cooked and cubed
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream

1. Bring water and bouillon to boil in large pot. Add noodles, carrots, and celery. Cook until tender (about 10 minutes). Do not drain. Add chicken. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
2. If you want creamy chicken noodle soup, add cream of chicken soup and mix well. Remove from heat and add sour cream.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sugar Cookies

I don't remember a single Christmas without eating sugar cookies. We always make my Aunt Hattie's sugar cookies, but this year I decided to branch out a little bit and try another recipe. It's almost the exact same as Aunt Hattie's recipe, but it has sour cream instead of sour milk, butter instead of shortening, and one extra egg. These additions made the cookies much softer, and I love them! I'm not a crunchy sugar cookie person, and these were the perfect softness. I scaled these down so they don't make quite so many cookies (I still got about 4 dozen small to medium cookies out of the batch). I hope you enjoy them (and family, please don't throw things at me! I know it's not the same recipe, but it's really close. And you love me, remember?)

Sugar Cookies
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheet or line with parchment paper.
2. Combine sour cream, butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Chill dough in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
3. Roll out dough on well floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes. Place on cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 5 minutes and move to cooling racks to cool completely. Frost with your favorite icing and crushed candy canes, if desired. Store covered for up to 1 week. They stay really soft even after a couple days. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Rice Crispy Treats

So I know that everyone has a recipe for rice crispy treats, and it's always pretty simple: butter, marshmallows, rice crispies. But these are much, much better. I promise. They're originally supposed to be made with Special K cereal, but I always use rice crispies instead. Enjoy!

Rice Crispy Treats

2 Tb. corn syrup
1 cube butter
3/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
24 marshmallows
6 cups rice crispies
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

1. Combine corn syrup, butter, sugars, and vanilla in large saucepan. Cook until well blended. Add marshmallows and cook until melted.
2. Pour mixture over rice crispies and walnuts, if desired. Pour into buttered 9 x 13 pan and cool for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Rocky Road Fudge

This is a family recipe. I can't remember a single Christmas without eating this fudge. It is absolutely delicious. You don't have to add the nuts, but it definitely adds a lot of flavor and texture.

See's Fudge

1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cube butter
1 can ( 5 1/3 oz) evaporated milk
2 cups sugar
10 large marshmallows, cut in half
1 cup mini marshmallows (optional)

1. Into large bowl put walnuts, chocolate chips, vanilla, and butter.
2. In large saucepan combine evaporated milk, sugar, and marshmallows. Boil for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring constantly.
3. Pour over chocolate and nuts mixture. Stir until melted and well mixed. If making rocky road fudge, cool 5 - 10 minutes and stir in mini marshmallows.
4. Pour into 8 or 9 inch square pan, lined with foil and sprayed with butter flavored cooking spray. Chill at least 4 minutes or over night. Cut into small squares to serve.

Pumpkin Bars

Ok, friends. I've been holding out on you. I made these for my holiday party last weekend and they were my very favorite thing that I made. How favorite? Well...let's just say that I like them so much that I didn't put them all out...or send leftovers home. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do!

Praline-Pumpkin Dessert
(from Betty Crocker)

1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 pkg. yellow cake mix
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
3/4 cup butter, melted
fresh, sweetened whipped cream

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray bottom and sides of 9 x 13 pan.
2. Beat pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in medium bowl with shisk until smooth. Pour into pan.
3. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with pecans. Pour melted butter evenly over top of dessert.
4. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly. Cut into bars and serve warm with whipped cream. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Chocolate Scotcheroos

These are a classic in Corey's family, they always have them at Christmas time. I made them for our holiday party this year and they were a hit! Who wouldn't like peanut butter, butterscotch, and chocolate?

Chocolate Scotcheroos
1 c sugar
1 c light corn syrup
1 c peanut butter
6 c rice krispies
1 c chocolate chips
1 c butterscotch chips

1. Combine sugar and syrup in saucepan and cook to boiling.
2. Remove from heat. Add peanut butter and stir until well blended.
3. Add rice krispies. Spread in 9x13 pan. Melt both chips together in small saucepan over low heat. Spread over the top of rice krispy mixture and cool. Cut into small squares and serve.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thai Chicken Soup

I love Asian food, especially southeast Asian (things like Thai and Vietnamese). There just seems to be a near perfect balance of sweet, sour, spicy and savory in most of the dishes. All with a wide variety of flavors and textures. It's just amazing stuff. This recipe is one of my favorites, it's a coconut based Thai soup that I've adapted from an America's Test Kitchen recipe.

Thai Chicken Soup:
serves 4

1 tsp. vegetable oil
3 stalks lemon grass, tough outer leaves removed, bottom 5 inches halved lengthwise and sliced thin crosswise (other than at the Asian market, the only places I've found fresh lemon grass around here is at the Sunflower Market and some Whole Foods stores)
3 large shallots, chopped
8 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
3 TB fish sauce (look in the Asian section of the supermarket)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 (14oz) cans coconut milk, well-shaken (you can substitute light coconut milk if you want it lower fat)
1 TB sugar
1/2 lb white mushrooms, cleaned, stems trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts , halved lengthwise and sliced on bias into 1/8-inch-thick pieces
3 TB fresh lime juice from 2 to 3 limes
2 tsp. red curry paste (Thai)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 serrano chiles, sliced thin
2 scallions , sliced thin
1 lime, cut into wedges
Thai basil (optional)

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat, adding lemon grass, shallots, cilantro, and 1 TB fish sauce when it's just starting to shimmer. Cook, stirring frequently until just barely softened (2 to 5 minutes). Don't let the vegetables brown!
2. Stir in chicken broth and 1 can coconut milk; bring to simmer over high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until flavors have blended (10 minutes).
3. Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer and discard solids in strainer. Rinse saucepan and return broth mixture to pan (I think this step is fairly optional, it will look prettier if you do it, but sometimes I don't)
4. Return pan to medium-high heat. Stir remaining can coconut milk and sugar into broth mixture and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium, add mushrooms, and cook until just tender (2 to 3 minutes).
5. Add chicken and cook, stirring constantly, until no longer pink (1 to 3 minutes). Remove soup from heat.
6. Combine lime juice, curry paste, and remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce in small bowl; stir into soup.
7. Ladle soup into bowls, serve with garnishes of cilantro, chiles, scallions, lime and Thai basil (I serve them on the side and let people garnish for themselves, it's easier, more fun and more authentic).

If you want it to be more substantial then serve it over cooked noodles (I just use Ramen without any flavouring) or jasmine rice (about 3 cups worth).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Molasses Cookies

This is a great holiday recipe. These are some of my father-in-law's famous cookies and we always love it when he makes them. They're pretty much homemade ginger snaps, only way, way better than anything you could buy at the store. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Molasses Cookies
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/4 cup butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1 tsp. ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. nutmeg (optional, I leave it out because I can't stand the taste, but if you like nutmeg feel free to add it)
additional granulated sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together shortening, butter, and sugar. Add molasses and egg. Slowly add dry ingredients.
3. Roll dough into small balls. Roll in sugar. Place on greased baking sheet 2 inches apart. Bake for 7 - 8 minutes. Cool 2 minutes and move to cooling racks. Serve warm with milk!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

These cupcakes are cute, delicious, and as easy as they get. I call them "I Heart My Husband Cupcakes" but you can call them anything you wish :) You can make this recipe however you wish, I prefer it with white cupcakes and strawberries mixed with the cream, but you could substitute chocolate cupcakes for the white or raspberries in place of the strawberries. Feel free to experiment!

Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes

1 package white cake mix and ingredients to prepare
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 cups strawberries, finely chopped
1/4 cup white (granulated) sugar

1. Prepare white cake mix according to package directions for cupcakes. Cool completely.
2. In large mixing bowl, whip cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Mix white sugar with strawberries, and gently fold strawberry mixture into cream. Frost cupcakes with strawberry-cream mixture. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 12 hours.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Creole Style Crockpot Jambalaya

I've been using the crockpot more and more for cooking at work. It lets me budget my time more effectively. I can prepare the meal the night before, when I usually have free time, instead of trying to rush to get it done in time. This realization has led to many the experimental meals, most of which have turned out fairly good. But this one has to be one of my favorites. It isn't exactly a traditional jambalaya (since the rice is cooked separate and added at the end), but is still very tasty.

Creole Style Crockpot Jambalaya
serves 8-10

1 lb sausage (I like to use Colosimo's brand chorizo, but andouille is more traditional)
2 lb chicken breasts or tenders, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 lb ham, cubed
2 TB butter
1/2 stalk celery, diced
3 or 4 large carrots, diced (or about 1/2 a bag of the baby carrots)
1 large onion, diced
2 large bell peppers, diced (I like to use one red and one green)
Cajun spice blend
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth or stock (stock is better, but take what you can get)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 lb small shrimp, tailed and shelled
4-6 cups cooked rice
Fresh parsley, minced
Salt and pepper

1- Brown sausages on medium heat in a large skillet. Do not cut them up or puncture the skin. You want to save the tasty interior juices for the rest of the jambalaya. Once browned, transfer to a very large crockpot and cut into bite sized pieces using kitchen shears.
2- Brown the chicken in the same skillet, if there isn't enough grease left from the sausages then use a little butter. You'll probably have to do this is batches so the pan doesn't get over crowded. Once browned, transfer to crockpot with the sausage.
3- Just quickly sear the ham in the same pan. Shouldn't take much time at all. Transfer it to the crock pot.
4- Sautee the vegetables(celery, carrots, onion, peppers) in the butter, using the same pan. Try to scrape up and incorporate anything the meats left behind in the pan. Once the veggies are starting to soften add in the Cajun spice. (If you want there to be any taste of it left after crockpot cooking you better add a ton. I put in 3-4 TB to make it about medium heat. It seems like a lot, but the crockpot blands everything out.) Coat the veggies in the spice. You're trying to bloom it in the butter and make it stick to the veggies.
5-When the veggies are covered in spice and fairly soft add in the stock and tomatoes. You want to de-glaze the pan and incorporate all the nice fond you've built up into your liquid. So really scrape the bottom of that pan (don't scratch it if it's non-stick though!). After a couple minutes on medium heat everything should be pretty well incorporated. Dump the veggie/liquid mix into the crockpot with the meat and stir it up to mix everything together.
6- At this point I would usually leave it in the fridge overnight, but you could start it right away. Set the crockpot on high heat for about 3 hours.
7- When the time is almost up you'll want to get your rice cooked. Make it with just a little bit less water than normal. If it's a little dry then it'll soak up the jambalaya liquid better.
8- Right before you're ready to serve the jambalaya, you'll want to sautee the shrimp in butter. Make sure to get them fully cooked. It should just take a couple minutes, depending on the size of shrimp. Add the cooked shrimp to the crockpot and mix to incorporate fully. Let stand for a couple minutes, and garnish with a little chopped parsley.
9- Serve over the cooked rice. I should be very tasty now.

This isn't exactly a health conscious, or vegetarian friendly recipe, but it is quite good. I think it's the perfect sort of meal for the cold winter, maybe even for a reading of The Cajun Night Before Christmas. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Egg Rolls

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup minced onion
1 egg, separated
2 T. soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
25 egg roll shells

1. Mix everything except egg white in large bowl. Spoon 1 1/2 - 2 Tb. filling down center of each egg roll shell. Fold up bottom of shell, then fold sides over and top down. Seal ends with egg white.
2. Deep fry at medium heat for 10 minutes or until golden brown OR spray pan and egg rolls with olive oil cooking spray and bake at 375 degrees for 10 - 15 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Serve with sweet and sour sauce.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Mini Pumpkin Turtle Cheesecakes

Stop whatever you're doing, print this recipe, and go make it. Seriously. I don't think I've ever tasted anything so amazing in my life. How good is it? Let's just say that I ate 3 of these for dinner...and then had to follow it up with some veggies so I could feel a little better about myself. I just couldn't stop, they are way too good. If you're never made cheesecake before, this is a great place to start. The mini cheesecakes are much more forgiving than the larger variety, take less time, and you can cover any cracks with the topping and it still looks perfect.

Mini Pumpkin Turtle Cheesecakes

13 ginger snaps
1/4 cup pecans
2 Tb. butter, melted

1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. (8 oz.) Neufchatel 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

18 pecan halves
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line 18 regular size muffin cups with papers (or, if using mini cheesecake pans, spray lightly with butter flavored cooking spray).
2. Put ginger snaps and pecans in food processor or small chopper. Process until fine crumbs, about 1 minute. Mix crumbs with melted butter and divide evenly among muffin cups. Press firmly with shot glass or fingers.
3. Bake crusts for 10 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 300°F.
4. Beat cream cheese, 3/8 cup of the sugar and the vanilla with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Reserve 3/4 cup of plain batter in small bowl. Stir remaining 1/8 cup sugar, the pumpkin and spices into remaining batter. Spoon half of the pumpkin batter evenly among muffin cups; top with spoonfuls of half of reserved plain batter. Top with remaining pumpkin batter. Cut through batter several times with knife to swirl.
5. Bake 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 30 minutes. Move to refrigerator and chill for at least 3 hours before serving. Just before serving top each mini cheesecake with one pecan half and drizzle with caramel topping.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ranch Cheeseball

I honestly have never understood why people buy cheeseball. It's cheap and easy to make, and if you make it at home you know exactly what is going in it so you don't have to worry about any weird preservatives or ingredients. This cheeseball is always a hit and can be made in less than 5 minutes, so it's great for last minute get togethers.

Ranch Cheeseball

2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 pkg. (1 oz) Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix (dry)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Combine cheeses, dressing mix, and green onions in medium bowl. Form into ball. Roll in chopped nuts (or parsley flakes if you don't like nuts). Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm. Serve with crackers (I prefer Ritz, honey-wheat Wheatables, and Triscuits). Enjoy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Apple Braid

This is a delicious bread recipe that doubles as breakfast or dessert. It's just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth but not so sweet that it is overpowering. Enjoy!

Apple Braid

2 1/2 cups bread flour
3/4 tsp. salt
2 Tb. sugar or honey
1 Tb. instant yeast (I recommend SAF brand)
1 - 1 1/4 cups very hot water
2 Tb. melted butter or margarine

2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
pinch cloves
2 Tb. flour
2 Tb. butter or margarine

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup softened butter or margarine
1 Tb. water
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Mix all dry ingredients for bread in large mixing bowl with bread hook. Mix until well blended. Add very hot water and melted butter. Mix for 1 minute, until well combined. Check consistency. You want it to be a stick dough, not a dry dough. Add water or flour to get to desired consistency and mix for 5 more minutes.
2. Spray jelly roll pan with cooking spray. Place dough in pan and roll out so it fills the edges of the pan. Cut 4" strips down each of the long sides of the pan, leaving the center uncut.
3. Prepare the filling by mixing all filling ingredients and microwaving in medium bowl for 2 minutes, or until apples are soft and filling is thick. Spoon down center of braid.
4. Starting from the top, fold one strip of bread over diagonally and press it so it touches the bottom of the strip on the other side. Pinch well so it stays in place. Repeat from the other side. Continue until all strips have been pinched onto the opposite side. Pinch together the bottom of the braid so it seals in the filling and fold end under the braid. Repeat with top of braid.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover braid with dishcloth and let raise 25 minutes. Remove dish cloth and bake for 20 minutes, or until bottom and top are lightly browned. Remove braid from baking sheet and place on cooling rack to cool (this prevents the bottom from getting soggy). Cool 5 minutes and top with glaze.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Honey Chipotle Black Beans

This is a recipe I've been fiddling around with for a while. I think I've pretty much got it down now.

Super Easy Honey Chipotle Black Beans:

3 cans black beans (yes, canned beans- this is where the easy part comes in)
1 TB vegetable oil
1 medium onion- diced
1 green pepper- diced
1/2 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce- peppers removed and minced
(this will make it about medium heat- adjust the amount to your desired heat)
2 cloves garlic- minced
1 lime- juiced
Cilantro- finely chopped

1- Open one can of black beans, dump into a bowl and mash them. You're trying to make a paste that thickens the beans. I usually just use the back of a large spoon to crush it. Once this can is mashed combine it with the other two cans.
2- On medium, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot (a 6 quart or so Dutch oven works great).
3- Add the onion, green pepper, chipotle peppers and garlic to the heated oil to make a sofrito. Sautee over medium heat until onions and peppers are soft and tender.
4- Add the beans and turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes or so. Just look to see when it gets to the thickness you want. The longer it cooks, the thicker it will get.
5- Add salt, pepper and cumin to taste (I like a lot of cumin). Add in the honey. (Really the amount depends on how sweet you like it. I would say I do around a tablespoon or so, which is fairly moderate sweetness.) Simmer for a few more minutes, stirring more frequently.
6- Take off the heat. Add the lime juice and cilantro, mixing them in with everything else. Let cool just a little before serving.

I think that you'll find that these are some very tasty beans. Much better than just opening a can. This is a vegetarian recipe, but if you wanted to add a little meat, bacon is mighty tasty in it. It's also possible to omit the chipotle peppers, making it much milder, but I'd recommend increasing the cumin and decreasing the honey then. Serve this with rice and your favorite Latin dish (be it Mexican, Cuban or what have you).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kitchen Mishaps

I know, I know. This is not a recipe, and I haven't posted one in over a week. I'll get on that ASAP. But first, I thought I would share a couple of funny kitchen mishaps. No matter how many times I've been in the kitchen and how many meals I've made I still seem to have too many kitchen mishaps. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • When we were first married, I was craving (and I do mean craving) brownies. Not just any brownies, Pillsbury chocolate chunk brownies. We drove to the store late that night and came home to make them. They're about as easy as cooking can get: just add water, oil, and eggs and bake. Fool proof, right? Wrong! I forgot the egg! Ever wanted to know what happens when you forget the egg? The brownies were boiling in the oven when I went to get them out. And after they cooled they were rock hard. Yet Corey still wanted to try them afterward, so he chiseled a piece off and ate it. Not surprisingly, he said it was pretty disgusting.
  • My freshman year in college I decided I would make a nice dinner for my roommates and some friends. I made egg rolls, chicken, rice, sweet & sour sauce, and stir fry. Everything was cooked and ready to go except the stir fry, which just would not cook! I had been cooking it for at least a half hour and it was finally starting to thaw a little bit, but that was it. Not getting hot at all. I put a baking pan over the top (I didn't have a lid big enough) to try and steam it a little bit, but still no luck. Finally I realized that I had turned on the wrong burner...once I turned on the right burner the stir fry cooked amazingly fast. Go figure.
  • Last night I made Danish bread twists to take to work. I finished making them and had just sliced them up and put them on a platter. I left a couple of pieces on the cutting board to save for Corey, then went to wash the cutting board...without remembering to take the bread twists off. Luckily I realized what I was doing before they were all soaking wet. I managed to only get one of them slightly damp...that's pretty good in my book.
  • And as an honorable mention, here is one from sophomore year in college Corey and I were making brownies to take to dinner at his brother and sister-in-law's place...only the second time I had ever met anyone in his family. Corey tried to open the brownie mix without scissors...and the mix promptly exploded over the entire kitchen. It was everywhere. We were finding brownie mix on everything for weeks.

Although these things are frustrating when they happen (especially since I'm OCD and want everything to be perfect when I'm cooking), they're a good reminder to me that it's ok when things go wrong. And, as an added bonus, they make for great stories afterward.

So what are some funny mishaps you've had in the kitchen? Go on. Spill. I know you've had them and I could certainly use a good laugh today!

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Favorite Wrap

I love anything that's like a sandwich. Wraps. Paninis. Hoagie sandwiches. Cracker sandwiches. Pitas. They're all great in my book. This is my all-time favorite wrap, a turkey cranberry wrap. Yum!

Turkey Cranberry Wrap

1 wrap (I used Sun-dried Tomato flavor) or whole wheat tortilla
1/8 lb. deli-sliced turkey
1 slice Havarti cheese (or substitute provolone, Swiss, or Muenster)
1 Tb. chive and onion cream cheese
3 - 4 Tb. jellied cranberry sauce
3/4 cup fresh spinach, washed and dried
tomato, thinly sliced (to taste)
red onion, thinly sliced (to taste)

Spread cream cheese in thin layer down center of wrap. Top with cranberry sauce. Layer with turkey, cheese, tomato, onion, and spinach. Wrap tightly, slice diagonally, and serve. I had mine with homemade sweet potato fries and strawberries to round out the meal.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

BBQ Chicken Pizza

There's just something so wonderful about BBQ chicken pizza that it makes me happy just thinking about it (then again, it is fast Sunday and I'm starving, so maybe that has something to do with it...). The combination of smoky BBQ sauce, chicken, cheese, and veggies is so delicious that I could eat it once a week for the rest of my life and be completely satisfied. The beauty of this pizza is that you can adjust it to what your family likes. Don't like mushrooms? Substitute olives or tomatoes. Don't like gouda? Leave it out and just use mozzarella. I make homemade pizza dough when I make it, and I usually roll the crust quite thick. However, you can use refrigerated pizza dough (a la Pillsbury), Rhodes roll dough, or even a Boboli crust if you want to. We also make it into individual pizzas on pitas and cook them in the toaster oven for a quick and tasty meal!

BBQ Chicken Pizza

Dough for one 14" pizza
3/4 - 1 cup Bull's Eye BBQ sauce, original or hickory smoke (Don't substitute another brand, it won't be nearly as good. Trust me)
3 cups cheese (I like to use mostly mozzarella with a little cheddar and a little smoked gouda)
1/2 lb. chicken, cooked and cubed
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
5 - 6 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 green onions, sliced (optional)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Spray pizza pan with pam and sprinkle with garlic salt. Roll pizza dough onto pan, making sure crust is even. Spread BBQ sauce evenly over crust. Top with chicken, bacon, mushrooms, and red onion. Sprinkle with cheese. Sprinkle with green onion and cilantro, if desired.
3. Bake about 20 minutes, or until cheese on top is slightly browned and crust is cooked through and brown on the bottom. Let stand 5 minutes and cut into slices.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Creamy Vegetable Penne with Chicken

As promised, here is a healthy recipe that I whipped up for dinner last night. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

1 8 oz. package penne
1/2 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce, or 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings plus 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (dried)
2 - 4 Tb. sun dried tomato Italian dressing (if you don't have this, you can substitute light zesty Italian dressing)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms
2 oz. cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat variety)
1 roma tomato, diced
1 lb. chicken, cooked and cubed
1/4 cup Parmesan or mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, heat Italian dressing in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, pepper, and onion. Saute 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook 3 more minutes. Add spaghetti sauce or tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Cook 5 minutes. Stir in cream cheese and cook until completely melted and blended.
3. Serve pasta covered with sauce. Sprinkle chicken, tomato, and Parmesan cheese over top. Serve with garlic bread and fresh asparagus.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Ok. Seriously. This has got to be the last baking post for the next little bit or I'll weigh exactly 8,932 pounds by the end of the month. The next post will be something healthy, I promise.

However, since we're on this post...these are delicious and quite easy to make. The hardest part is filling them. It's much easier to just cut the tops off and spoon the filling in, but they look prettier if you pipe them in with a cake decorator. The only problem with that is the filling is thick so it's hard to get it out of the tiny little tip. You can fill these with any flavor filling you want. Chocolate cheesecake is great, and I think fresh raspberries and whipped cream would be good too. This time I stuck with the classic vanilla filling.

Eclairs (makes 20 - 24 mini eclairs)

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
dash salt
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs

1 small package french vanilla instant pudding
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tb. powdered sugar

Chocolate Frosting
4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate (you can use milk chocolate if you want it sweeter)
2 Tb. whipping cream
2 Tb. powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In medium pot boil water, butter, and salt until mixture reaches a rolling boil. Add flour and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat.
3. Immediately add eggs and beat with electric mixer until mixture is well combined and smooth.
4. Spoon mixture into a quart size ziploc bag. Cut off one of the corners of the bag and squeeze dough into 2" long pieces on ungreased baking sheet, leaving 2" between each eclair.
5. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool 3 minutes, then remove to cooling rack and cool completely.
6. Meanwhile, prepare filling by mixing one cup whipping cream, vanilla, and 3 Tb. powdered sugar in large mixing bowl until stiff peaks form. In small bowl combine pudding and millk and mix until well blended and no longer lumpy. Fold into whipped cream.
7. Pipe or spoon filling into completely cooled eclairs, making sure to fill the eclairs completely (they should bulge just a little so you know they are full).
8. Heat chocolate and 2 Tb. whipping cream in microwave on high for 30 - 45 seconds or until cream boils. Stir until chocolate is melted (do not put back in the microwave as chocolate will burn). Add powdered sugar. If needed, add water until frosting reaches desired consistency. Put frosting into sandwich sized ziploc bag, cut off corner, and pipe over eclairs.
9. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 2 days.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pumpkin-Chocolate-Chip Cupcakes

These cupcakes are so moist and delicious, and they smell just like pumpkin pie when they are baking. Also, they make a great breakfast? How was I to resist?

Pumpkin-Chocolate-Chip Cupcakes
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
4 eggs
1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix (dry)
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ginger (depending on how spicy you like it. I used closer to 1/2 tsp.)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 - 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional, but I recommend them if you want an extra- special treat. The cupcakes are still great without them, but they're over-the-top wonderful with them. You could also use cinnamon chips, white chocolate chips, or caramel bites if you prefer).

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 - 30 muffin cups with papers or spray well with cooking spray.
2. Beat pumpkin, butter, sour cream, and sugars with electric mixer until well blended and creamy. Add eggs and mix well.
3. Add dry ingredients, except chocolate chips. Mix 2 minutes. Fold in chocolate chips (if desired).
4. Pour into prepared muffin cups (you should use 1/4 - 1/3 cup batter in each muffin cup), until muffin cups are 2/3 full. Make sure not to overfill or it will create a mess!
5. Bake 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
6. Cool completely and frost with your favorite frosting (I used cream cheese frosting and it was great) or drizzle with melted caramel.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rocky Road Cookies

I saw some delicious looking cookies on a new blog I found yesterday, Priscilla's Baking Adventures. They looked so beautiful and so tasty that I just had to come home and make them. The cookies are a simple cake mix cookie filled with orange frosting. I made some of those, but then decided to be creative and make some rocky road cookies, too...and those turned out amazing! They are very moist and super easy. For the original recipe, see Priscilla's post here

Rocky Road Cookies
1 box chocolate cake mix (I used devil's food)
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs

1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup slivered almonds
20 caramels, unwrapped (optional)
1/4 cup milk (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix oil and eggs. Stir in cake mix (mixture will be very thick).
3. Form dough into small balls (I used an ice cream scoop for this). Press 3 or 4 mini marshmallows into the center of each ball, making sure that marshmallows are completely enclosed in dough. Flatten slightly between hands. Sprinkle with almonds (or put almonds in a small bowl and press the top of the cookie into the almonds).
4. Bake for 8 minutes, cool for a 3 minutes on the pan, move to a cooling rack, and cool for 5 more minutes.
5. For caramel drizzle, if desired: Heat caramels and milk in a small saucepan until melted, stirring well so mixture does not burn. Cool 3 minutes and drizzle over cookies.

Make sure to check out Priscilla's blog! I'm so impressed with a sixteen year old girl that has her own food blog with such delicious looking food!

Here's a picture of the cookies filled with orange cream-cheese frosting like Priscilla made. Yum! Corey loved them!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mother's Meatloaf

This is my favorite comfort food. It makes me feel all safe and warm and cuddly. Read all about my feelings on the subject here.

Mother's Oatmeal Meatloaf:

1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
2/3 cup oats, uncooked
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1- Combine ingredients in a mixing bowl (I also like to add a little minced garlic) until evenly mixed.
2- In a loaf pan, form the mixture into a loaf shape. (optionally top with some more tomato sauce)
3- Put into a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
4- Take out, let stand for 5 minutes.

My personal preference is to top it with a combination of cocktail sauce and ketchup. But that's not for everyone.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Turtle Cheesecake Layer Cake

Not that I'm obsessed with cakes lately or anything...but here's another one! For my sister-in-law Rana's birthday I wanted to make a cake based on her favorite pie, Village Inn's Caramel Pecan Silk Supreme Pie. I came up with this: a moist chocolate cake (the same one I used for the four layer chocolate cake last week) with cheesecake filling topped with caramel and pecans. It's super rich, so a little piece goes a long way. It's great served with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

1 chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker chocolate fudge)
1/3 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pkg. (4 serving size) chocolate pudding

1 no-bake Jell-o cheesecake mix
3/4 cup regular milk
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups fresh, sweetened whipped cream or cool whip

30 caramels, unwrapped
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup pecan halves or pieces
Fresh whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9" round cake pans.
2. Mix all cake ingredients in large mixing bowl for 3 minutes. Divide into prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and cool completely. Cut each layer horizontally in half to make four cake layers.
3. Mix cheesecake filling mix, milk, and evaporated milk with electric mixer for 3 minutes (reserve graham cracker crust for another time). Fold in whipped cream.
4. Meanwhile, melt caramels and 1/2 cup evaporated milk in small saucepan.
5. Place one cake layer, bottom side down, on serving plate. Top with a third of the cheesecake filling. Repeat layers, ending with cake layer, top side up. Slowly pour most of the caramel topping onto the top of the cake, allowing caramel to drizzle down sides of cake. Sprinkle with pecans and drizzle caramel over top of nuts. Let sit until caramel is completely cooled, then sprinkle with chocolate shavings, if desired. Serve with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Kevin's Cake

In honor of Krista's Birthday, Kevin's Cake

1 cup sugar
2/3 cup veg. oil
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg (personally I don't like nutmeg)
1 tsp cinn.
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups applesauce
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 cup semi-sweet choc.chips

Mix sugar and oil. Add clocves, nutmeg, cinn. and salt. heat applesauce with baking soda in it. Add alternately with flour. Add chocolate chips. Bake in well greased and floured bunt pan.
350 degrees for 40 to 45 min.

Make a glaze with powdered sugar, milk butter and vanilla. Frost while cake is hot so that it melts.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Best Recipe

Aubrie wants more recipes from other people, than here she goes. This is one of my favorite snacks.

My best recipe:

Sharp cheddar cheese
Good dill pickles, or bread and butter pickles
Crackers (I prefer black pepper and olive oil triscuits)
Honey mustard

1- Stack one on top of the other, in this order- cracker, mustard, cheese, pepperoni, and pickle (if they're sliced, otherwise just eat them seperate).
2- Enjoy.

Now it's recipe form. That is all.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Chicken Enchilada Soup

This is one of my all-time favorite soups. I adapted it slightly from a recipe my sister-in-law Rana gave me. It makes a lot, so I'll warn you that you might want to half the recipe if you don't want to be eating it for the next two weeks.

Also...I notice that this blog is turning into the Aubrie for the rest of you out there, start posting your recipes!

Chicken Enchilada Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. chipotle chili powder
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
3 chicken boullion cubes
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 can corn (undrained)
1 28 oz. can green enchilada sauce (or 2 small cans)
4 cups water
3 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed

1. Saute onions in butter in an 8 quart pot. When onion is tender, add spices, boullion, and cilantro and mix well.
2. Add beans, tomatoes, corn, enchilada sauce, and water and heat to boiling.
3. Add chicken and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, avocado slices, and Fritos.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Four Layer Chocolate Cake


1 chocolate cake mix (I used Betty Crocker chocolate fudge)
1/3 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 cup water
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pkg. (4 serving size) chocolate pudding

Frosting (adapted slightly from Kraft Foods)

1 pkg. (4 serving size) pudding, flavor of your choice (I used chocolate)
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup regular milk
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups cool whip
chocolate shavings (for garnish)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9" round cake pans.
2. Mix all cake ingredients in large mixing bowl for 3 minutes. Divide into prepared cake pans. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Invert cakes onto cooling racks and cool completely. Cut each layer horizontally in half to make four cake layers.
3. Mix pudding mix, milk, and powdered sugar in medium mixing bowl for 2 minutes. Gently fold in cool whip.
4. Lay one cake layer on serving dish, bottom down. Frost with 1/4 of the frosting. Repeat layers and frost top of cake with remaining frosting. Garnish with chocolate shavings and whipped cream if desired.

Grilled Pineapple

If you have ever been to Tucanos or a similar Brazilian grill, you know how good their grilled pineapple is. That is my very favorite thing there, and I'm lucky if I can leave without having at least 4 pieces of pineapple. Since it is so delicious, we decided to try it at home...and it turns out nearly as good (not quite since we're not slow roasting it over an open flame for hours). We've been having this every couple of weeks lately and it's always a hit. Grilling the pineapple adds a lot of flavor and really intensifies the sweetness. You can serve it with any meat (teriyaki chicken is very good with it) or chop it up and use it on pizza or in salads. You could also drizzle with a little caramel and pecans and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Grilled Pineapple

1 fresh pineapple, outside and core removed, and cut into slices or spears
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 - 3 T. water
dash cinnamon

Combine brown sugar, water, and cinnamon. Brush over pineapple slices/spears. Grill on medium heat for 3 - 5 minutes on each side, turning once.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bite-size Brookies

For those of you that don't know what a brookie is, you're missing out. They are a layered dessert bar with brownie on the bottom and cookies on the top...and they are fantastic! This bite-size version is perfect for little kids or as munchies at a get together. The picture really doesn't do these brookies justice, but trust me, they are great!

Bite-size Brookies
Make 48 brookie bites

1 pkg. fudge brownie mix (for an 8" x 8" pan), prepared according to package directions.
1 pkg. refrigerated cookie dough (24 cookies), flavor of your choice
additions of your choice: peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, caramel pieces, candy bars (chopped), coconut, nuts, etc.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray two mini muffin pans (24 count each) with cooking spray. fill 1/2 way with brownie batter (a little under a tablespoon per muffin cup). Bake brownies for 10 minutes.
3. Place addition of your choice on top of each brownie.
4. Cut each piece of cookie dough in half (so you have 48 balls of cookie dough). Flatten cookie dough into small circles. Top each brownie with one piece of cookie dough.
5. Return to oven and bake for 10 more minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and remove from pan onto cooling rack to cool.

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