Saturday, November 26, 2011

Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

This year, I started a cooking club at school for thirty-two 11-13 year olds. I absolutely love it! The kids have so much fun! We meet twice a month to create tasty treats. During the first half of the month, we create a sweet item. We've made cookies, apple pies, you know... things like that. During the second half of the month we make a meal to eat together. We made soups the first time and the second time we made a Thanksgiving dinner. After we make our meal, we all sit down together to enjoy it. If I could teach this class as a living, I think that I would have the best job in the world!

At any rate, last Friday we were making Thanksgiving dinner. I couldn't find just a plain boneless turkey breast that would defrost in time (and I'm finicky about where I purchase meat), so I bought us Amish chicken breast to roast instead. It's poultry right; plus the kids would get to make it this way and I would have had to make the turkey myself.

When I say this is so easy, a child could make it, it's true! I had three boys form an assembly line and they prepared their birds with skill and ease. :) We had it seasoned and cooked in under an hour. So here is how you make this chicken:

Herb Roasted Chicken Breast
Source: Me!

Ingredients:

* 1 whole, boneless chicken breast with the skin on
* 2 tbsp. butter, softened
* Your Favorite Herb Mix (We used Herbes de Provence)
* A drizzle of olive oil
* salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line a cookie sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil.
2. Place your chicken on a plate or cutting board.
3. Run a spoon between the meat and the skin to loosen the skin. 4. Rub on tbsp butter on each breast. Make sure to rub under the skin, on top of the skin and on the back side of the chicken.
5. Generously sprinkle the chicken with the herb mix of your choice. Rub so that the mix is evenly distributed.
6. Drizzle just a touch of olive oil on the top of the bird and season with salt and pepper.
7. Place the chicken on the pan (skin side up) and roast for about 40 minutes. The juices should run clear when finished.

** I like to make this with the Whole Foods brand cranberry stuffing mix. It is the best because it's not too salty! The frozen green beans from Trader Joe's are awesome as well when stir fried with some seasoned olive oil. **

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Hello Friends! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving leftovers are the best, and here is a recipe that you can make if you have a left-over can of pumpkin pie puree. It's really simple and it's really tasty. If you've ever had dump cake, it's very similar. So here is how you make this festive fall dessert:

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Source: The Picky Apple


Ingredients:

* 1 box yellow cake mix

* 1 can pumpkin puree (15 0z)

* 1 can crushed pineapple, drained

* 3 large eggs

* 1 1/2 cups sugar

* 1 tsp. cinnamon

* 1/2 tsp. salt

* 1 cup pecans, chopped

* 1 cup butter, melted


Directions:

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom of 9 x 13″ cake pan.

2. Mix pumpkin, pineapple, milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and salt.

3. Pour mixture into greased pan.

4. Sprinkle dry cake mix over pumpkin mixture and top with pecans.

5. Drizzle melted butter over pecans. Bake 50-55 minutes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Cake with Chai Buttercream

I'm sorry that I have been gone, but you will surely accept the peace treaty that I set before you today. Last night, we had a friend's Thanksgiving, and I made a pumpkin cake with chai icing. It was perfectly moist and the Italian butter cream (though it gave me mild fits) was supremely worth every last calorie.

Thanksgiving desserts (at least in my mind) usually revolve around pie. My grandmother would always make pumpkin pie for our meals, and it always seemed fitting. But I like cake. So I set about finding a festive fall cake that screams Thanksgiving. This cake was soooo easy to make. I made it at midnight, half asleep, and it turned out perfectly. It has a wonderful spiciness and a very mild pumpkin flavor, so if you don't like it, you won't really taste it. I think it basically just adds moistness to the cake.

The icing also has a nice spiciness, and as I was making it, my kitchen filled with the sent of a chai latte. It was heavenly. I will say though that this icing is a bit fussy. It requires that you boil the sugar - water combo and I don't really have a candy thermometer. The first time that I made it, I boiled it too long and it became like jolly ranchers before I realized what had happened. (Beware: it will look lovely and liquidy in the sauce pan, but it hardens quickly!!) So a little wiser to this icing's plot, I just eyed it instead of timing or using the thermometer.

Despite my icing antics, it was well worth it, and hopefully it will run smoother for you! I think you should give it a go as it was well worth it! If the icing does overwhelm you, I would just make a normal butter cream or cream cheese frosting (either would be great) and add the chai spices to that.
Click Here for Photo Source

Anyways, on with the show...

Pumpkin Cake with Chai-Spiced Italian Buttercream
Adapted from Cuisine at Home Magazine
Issue No. 84

Pumpkin Cake:
*2 1/2 cups cake flour
* 2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 tsp. baking soda
* 1/2 tsp. table salt
* 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 3/4 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil
* 1 tsp. vanilla extract
* 2 eggs (at room temp.)
* 1/2 cup hot water

Cake Directions:
(1 hour total)
(16 servings ... at least)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat insides of two 8x2 inch round cake pans with non-stick spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper; coat paper with non-stick spray.

2. Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside.

3. Beat together pumpkin, sugars, oil and vanilla in a bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until combined. Beat in one egg at a time until incorporated.

4. Alternately add flour mixture and hot water to the sugar mixture, beating after each addition.

5. Divide batter between cake pans; smooth top with a spatula. Bake until cakes come out clean, about 28-30 minutes (mine took 25). Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, then turn them out to cool completely.

Chai Spiced Italian Buttercream:
* 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
* 1 tsp. ground ginger
* 1/2 tsp. each: ground nutmeg, cardamom and cloves
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/4 cup water
* 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
* 5 egg whites at room temp.
* 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
* 4 sticks unsalted butter at room temp. (yep... you read that right.)

Directions:
(30 minutes total)

1. Stir together spices and set aside.

2. Boil sugar, water and and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring occasionally. (Now, here is where I had trouble... this is what the recipe says to do!) When syrup reaches 230 degrees, begin whipping egg whites in a bowl of a stand mixer on high speed with the whisk attachment until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat to stiff peaks. Meanwhile, continue cooking syrup until it reaches 245 degrees.
(What I did that worked: The 2nd time I started the egg whites at the same time as my sugar syrup. I mixed it on medium high and added the cream of tartar as called for. I then continued to watch the syrup and just eye balled when I thought it was done. If you pull out the spoon, you would see an ever so slight graininess of the sugar. It was mostly dissolved so that when I did add it to the egg whites, you didn't notice it.)

3. Immediately remove syrup from heat. Drizzle about 1 tbsp and all of the spice into the whipped egg whites; beat on high until thoroughly combined.

4. Continue drizzling syrup, beating until all is added and combined. Continue beating until sides are cooled to room temp. (About five minutes) (Note: as my syrup cooled, some hardened on the side of the bowl, but the icing itself was totally fine. I just avoided that as I went to frost my cake.)

5. Add butter 1 tbsp at a time, beating well after each addition. Buttercream may appear to curdle, but continue beating. It will all come together when all of the butter is added.

To Assemble:

Cut each cake in half. Apply frosting between each layer, on the top and on the sides! (You will have a nice, tall, four layer cake that is supremely moist and not overly sweet.
Link

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Honey-lime Chicken Enchiladas

Lately, I have been on a quest to find super easy, super quick, and (most importantly) super delicious meals. I found a recipe for chicken enchiladas on Pinterest and decided to make them for dinner. The ingredients were common enough, and when I saw pre-cooked chicken in the case at the grocery store, I was sold.

So yesterday, I made the honey-lime chicken enchiladas. They came together ridiculously quickly, and by buying the chicken already cooked, I only got two dishes dirty. This recipe contains a bit of honey, so they are sweet, but I added a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. This combination was a sweet, smokey, spice that just hit the spot. They tasted great as left-overs today, and my husband thoroughly enjoyed them last night. As I've mentioned before, he's a tough critic, but these receive his full seal of approval. Save these for a day when you don't feel like cooking, and you will be so happy you did.

Here's the recipe:



Honey-Lime Enchiladas
Adapted from Just Cook Already
Also photo source

1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 large limes)
2 teaspoons to 1 Tablespoon chili powder (I used cayenne)
2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced or 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 2 large br
easts), cooked and shredded
12 corn tortillas (I used flour)
2 cups of Mexican cheese blend, shredded (1 small bag usually is 2 cups)
1 14-oz can of green enchilada sauce (mild or medium, to your taste)
1/2 to 3/4 cup of heavy
cream
nonstick cooking spray
1 Tablespoon of chopped cilantro, to garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place the chicken in a medium sized bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl, place the honey, lime juice, chili powder and minced garlic or garlic powder. Whisk together thoroughly to combine. Pour this mixture over the chicken and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to marinate while you prepare the tortillas, 30 minutes or up to 1 hour, in the refrigerator.

Heat a large griddle till a drop of w ater skitters across (about 350 degrees F). Spray the surface with non-stick cooking spray or a oil it with a little bit of canola oil in between each round of tortillas. Heat tortillas about 20 seconds on each side till warm and flexible and some golden brown spots have appeared. Remove the tortillas from the griddle and keep them between a couple of paper towels until ready to use.

Spray the sides and bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish lightly with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl combine the enchilada sauce and the heavy cream. Spread about 1/2 cup of the mixture in the bottom of the oiled baking dish.

Add a large spoonful (about 2 tablespoons) of the chicken mixture to the center of each tortilla in a line. Cover the chicken with a big pinch of cheese, then roll the tortilla up from one side to make a rolled enchilada - it will be more of an over lap on the seam side that rolled tightly. Place the enchilada seam side down in the baking dish starting at one end with the long edge parallel to the longest side of the pan so that you end up with two columns of six enchiladas each.

Repeat with the remaining chicken, cheese and tortillas. You will use about 1 1/2 cups of the cheese for the filling and set the remainder aside for topping the enchiladas in the pan. Add the remaining marinade mixture to the enchilada sauce and cream mixture, if desired. Pour this mixture over the top of all the enchiladas. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake the enchiladas for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly and starting to brown on top.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cracker Barrel Memories

Today, I pay homage to my lovely former roommate. Every fall, we would tromp into our local Cracker Barrel, have the broccoli cheddar chicken with hash brown casserole and carrots (you know-- to make it a balanced meal.) (wink wink.) To make our evening complete, we would share a piece of the coca-cola cake with ice cream. This meal was the epitome of the perfect fall evening. We would also show up in our pajamas, but no one looked twice... it's how we rolled.

My friend and I are far apart now, but every time I make this cake, I think of her. It's a delicious cake though, and it may not have sentimental value to you, but you will make it again and again just because it is that good... and easy too. I've mentioned this cake before, but making it yesterday reminded me of it again. I thought you could use a refresher too.



Click here for the cake's directions.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Raspberry Truffle Cake

I've stated before that I am mildly Pinterest obsessed. I've had a picture saved to my desserts board, and I couldn't stand simply looking at it any more. The one thing about making a cake of three layers is that you really need an excuse to make it. It would be considered glutenous to make a cake for just two people, so I needed a large group; enter snack week.

Yesterday was my turn to bring snacks to my community group, and I decided to make a raspberry chocolate truffle cake. I saw this cake on Annie's Eats, but I tweaked it slightly. I have a chocolate cake recipe that I love and will never stray from. I used the raspberry filling and frosting recipe and the chocolate ganache recipe that hers called for. I decided not to add the chocolate glaze just because I thought it had enough chocolate and richness as it was. Below is my finished product. If you would like the original recipe, you can find it here.

Photo Compliments of my Lovely Husband :)
He does a much better job than me.

Ingredients:

Chocolate Cake:
Click Here

Raspberry filling:16 oz. frozen raspberries, thawed
1/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. lemon juice

Ganache filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

Raspberry frosting:
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
21 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup strained raspberry puree
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

To make the raspberry filling, drain the thawed berries, reserving the juice in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough water so that the total liquid equals 1¼ cups. Add the liquid to a medium saucepan with the sugar and cornstarch. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture begins to bubble and thicken. Continue whisking so no lumps form. Once thickened, remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice. Fold in the drained berries with a spatula. Cover and chill until ready to use. (The filling will continue to thicken as it chills.)

To make the ganache, place the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Immediately remove from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Let stand 1-2 minutes, then whisk together until a smooth, thick ganache is formed. Whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time until completely incorporated. Let the ganache sit to thicken a bit so that it is suitable for spreading and piping. (To speed thickening, place the bowl in the fridge or freezer and whisk every 10 minutes to ensure even cooling until the desired consistency is reached.) Transfer about ½ cup of the thickened ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a plain round tip about ½-inch in diameter. Reserve another ½ cup of ganache in a small bowl or container. (This can be used later for decorative detailing, if desired.)

To assemble the cake, place one of the cooled cake layers on a cake board or serving platter. Spread ½ cup of the ganache in an even layer over the cake. Using the reserved ganache in the pastry bag, pipe a border around the perimeter of the cake layer. This will act as a well to help hold in the raspberry filling. Spoon some of the raspberry filling inside the ganache border in an even layer. Top with another layer of cake and repeat this process, layering with another ½ cup of ganache and additional raspberry filling. Top with the remaining cake layer.

To make the raspberry frosting, combine the sugar and egg whites in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. (I used my mixer bowl here to dirty one less dish.) Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes. (The bowl should be cool to the touch.) Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated. If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (or longer – don’t worry, it will come together!) Blend in the raspberry puree and vanilla until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Frost the top and sides of the assembled cake with the raspberry buttercream, smoothing the surface as much as possible. Chill until ready to serve.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

White Chicken Lasagna

The other day, I stumbled upon a recipe for White Chicken Lasagna. You may have noticed in reading my blog that I have a love for all things cheese, so when I saw this recipe, my heart skipped a beat. It requires some of my favorite things, and so I deemed it perfect. I made it on Wednesday, and my husband and I have been eating it since. That says a lot because normally Scott gets sick of leftovers quick, but the two of us have nearly devoured the whole pan like a swarm of locusts.

I did make a few changes to the original recipe though. When I first saw the picture, I was drawn to it (for the cheese) and for what I thought was sweet potato. Upon further investigation, I found that it was butternut squash. Now I love butternut squash just as much as another, but my heart was set on sweet potato. So that's what I decided to add. You do what you'll like, but I will say the sweet potato was divine.

So on to the recipe...

White Chicken Lasagna
Adapted from One Ordinary Day

*Lasagna noodles (I used one box-get two to be safe though.)
* 1/2 c. butter
* 1 onion, minced
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 c. flour
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* ground black pepper, to taste
* 2 c. chicken broth
* 2 c. milk
*4 c. mozzarella cheese, divided (I didn’t actually measure out my cheeses…I stopped when I hit cheese capacity)
* 1 c. shredded or grated Parmesan cheese, divided
* Italian spices
* 1 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
* 2 c. cooked and shredded chicken
*1 small box frozen spinach, thawed and drained; liquid squeezed out (Buy a good brand. I bought Kroger's - and normally Kroger brand is awesome - but this time the spinach was all stemmy. Next time I will consider sauteing my own.)
2 medium sweet potatoes, boiled then whipped - butter or milk aren't necessary

(I used the sweet potatoes in place of 1 small box frozen butternut squash puree, thawed)

Directions:
Melt
butter in a large sauce pot. Add onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add flour, salt, and pepper. Cook flour mixture 1-2 minutes. Add chicken broth and milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 1 minute. Turn off heat and add 2 cups mozzarella cheese and 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese.

Lightly spray a 9×13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle some cheese sauce onto the bottom to thinly cover. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Add a layer of lasagna noodles. Layer with more cheese sauce, sprinkle with spice, & add the chicken and the ricotta cheese. Add another layer of pasta. Top with cheese sauce, spinach, and 1 c. mozzarella cheese. Give another sprinkle of spices. Add another layer of pasta. Top with cheese sauce. Using a spoon, spread the sweet potato puree over the cheese sauce. Top with remaining 1 c. mozzarella cheese and 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese. Add another sprinkle of spice. Add final layer of lasagna. Top with remaining cheese sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until bubbly. If cheese doesn’t brown on top, turn on the broiler for the last couple minutes. Allow lasagna to sit about 15 minutes before serving for easier slicing.

Photo from One Ordinary Day



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bean Soup & Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Bread

Tonight for dinner I made a very easy meal, and it was really delicious. I found a recipe for Tuscan Bean Soup on the Better Homes and Gardens website, and to accompany it, I made Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread from the Let's Dish blog. This was the perfect Sunday dinner because all that I had to do was chop up a few ingredients, and dinner was good to go. It was filling and my farmer's market spinach tasted so fresh on top of my hearty soup.

Here's how to make the soup:

Tuscan Bean Soup
adapted from BHG

*2 carrots, coarsely chopped
*1 small onion, chopped
*3 Tbsp. olive oil
*2 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
*1 32-oz. box reduced-sodium chicken broth
*2 t0 3 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
*1 5-oz. pkg. baby spinach
*Freshly cracked black pepper

Directions:
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a 4 quart pot. Add onions and carrots and cook until onions are translucent. Add beans, broth and seasoning. Simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil. Toss spinach until it is just wilted. Ladle the soup and top with the sauteed spinach.

And here is the cornbread:


Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread
adapted from Let's Dish

*3 cups flour
*1 cup yellow cornmeal
*1/4 cup sugar
*2 tablespoons baking powder
*2 teaspoons salt
*2 cups milk
*3 eggs, lightly beaten
*1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
*2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
*1/2 cup sliced scallions, divided
*3 tablespoons fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

Directions:

Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until most of the lumps are dissolved. Do not over-mix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated cheddar cheese, about 1/3 cup scallions and the jalapenos. Allow the mixture to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.




Monday, August 15, 2011

Favorites

I have recently become obsessed with Pinterest. It has so many wonderful things on it, and it has the ability to consume so much of my time if I don't monitor myself. It's like a wonderful little rabbit hole that sucks me in deeper and deeper each day. I love blogs, and so I love to see what everyone is pinning from their favorites.

I see Pinterest as a delightful resource to help me find things, and today I was searching for dinner. I wanted to share some of my finds with you; try them and tell me if they are any good... I might be having them later this week.

Enjoy drooling with your eyes:

Hot Brown Tart
This chicken & broccoli dish is delish... I made it last week.
Chicken & Broccoli Casserole
Brisket & Brie Tacos
Oh so much cheese... yum.
Enchilada Lasagne

To view the recipes, click on the pictures.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Mulligatawny Chicken Pot Pie

(Sorry, the best lighting was outside!)

I have been meaning to post this recipe for a while now. A few weeks ago, I found this recipe for a Mulligatawny Chicken Pot Pie. I love Indian flavors, so this seemed like it would be right up my alley. This pot pie is absolutely perfect for a family of two because it makes wonderful leftovers. The pie had a nice, flaky crust, wonderful seasonings and a fresh twist that is not usually seen in a pot pie. It's a unique recipe, and I highly recommend it.

Mulligatawny Chicken Pot Pie
Cuisine At Home
Weeknight Menus

Ingredients:

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoon curry powder
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons butter

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups sweet potato, diced

1/2 cup coconut milk
4 teaspoons cornstarch

2 cups shredded chicken
1 cup frozen peas

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400. Saute in butter: onion, curry, garlic, ginger, jalapeno, pepper flakes in a large pot on medium heat for 3 minutes.
2. Stir in broth and sweet potatoes. Increase heat to med-high and simmer until sweet potato is tender. (about 6 minutes).
3. Whisk together coconut milk and cornstarch and add to pot. Bring to a boil and simmer to thicken.
4. Off heat, stir in chicken and peas. Spoon mixture into 4 ramekins. Roll out the puff pastry and cut to fit the dishes. Brush pastry with butter, place on lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 400F.


*Note that this can be spicy... I thought it was fine, but I may have a higher tolerance than you do. Just make sure you keep some water near by. :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Back to School...

Well friends, you can probably tell that I have been super busy this week. My posts have become fewer, but I plan to steadily continue. Tomorrow is the first day of school, and I am very excited. I have been thinking about and praying for the new little ones that will quickly become part of my everyday.

Here are some of my favorite school ideas that I will be testing out on them this year...

I love the idea of turning normal crates into lovely chairs... plus you can't beat the extra storage.
C.S. Lewis' quotes inspire me to think deeply about topics that I wouldn't always choose to consider on my own. Hopefully, he (and I) will do the same for my students.I've yet to meet a kid who doesn't like candy, so I'll take the help I can get to make them excited about reading.I love this idea too! What a fun way to remember birthdays!And of course I bake for them. They would simply love this. Last year I made my darlings maple bacon cupcakes, and I had them hooked. :)

So tomorrow, keep all the little children and their teachers in mind; it's going to be a long but exciting day.

For pictures click here.


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Special Chocolate Chip Cookies

The other day, a recipe on Pinterest caught my eye. I saw these amazing looking chocolate chip cookies.

Immediately my mouth started to water. I analyzed the picture; it looked tender and chewy. You can see lots of recently melted chocolate chips, and it was (most importantly) large. Now you know why it caught my attention.

So onwards I clicked and low and behold a surprise awaited me. I read through the ingredients to see why this one was unique. Flour (check), brown sugar (no white sugar... okay ... check), vanilla.... hmm. Something was missing, and it was the butter. These cookies were made with coconut oil! Who's ever heard of such a thing, I thought to myself. Butter = Cookies, but the picture did look amazing.

The next day, I stood in the baking aisle staring at the coconut oil. It was close to $6 (I hesitated), but I reasoned that it was an investment and I should move forward. I'm so glad I did. I made the cookies, took them to my community group last night, and we devoured them. This is by far the best chocolate chip cookie recipe I've made. It takes me a really long time to find a favorite, but this is certainly it. Go grab some coconut oil, and let me make a believer out of you!

Here's how you make them:

Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut oil - mine was melted... I'm not sure if it was supposed to be solid, but it's been so stinkin' hot here, I don't know if solidity would be possible. If yours melts like mine, don't worry.
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 3/4 cup flour
1 bag chocolate chunks (or whatever your chip preference is)

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix the first 3 ingredients together until well blended.
3. Add everything else, and mix until incorporated.
4. Scoop huge scoop (2 1/2 - 3 tablespoons) of dough onto the cookie sheet. You should be able to fit 6 per average sized sheet.
5. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until edges are beginning to turn a golden brown. Try to wait for them to cool, but if you were like me and can't be warned: you will burn your mouth because you will inhale them.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Cherry Limeade Cupcakes

Game night means dessert, and I wanted to find something that was incredibly festive to make. I was looking over at Annie's Eats, and I found a recipe for Cherry Limeade Cupcakes. These looked perfect so I decided to make them. Here's my finished product:

And I packed them up so they were ready to go!
They were super tasty, but they were super sweet. I think if I make them again that I will make them mini. If you like sweet, you will love these, but if that's not your thing, you may want to opt for something else.

For the recipe, click here.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Make-over and Re-Purpose

For a while now, I've wanted to refinish this yellow lamp that I have had since I was itty-bitty. I think it was actually my mom's. It was in my room, and as a mere child I took the creative liberty to draw all over it with a pen and to adorn it with stickers. While I was able to remove the stickers, the pen marks were unfortunately stuck on... sad really because it was a cool color. At any rate, I liked the shape, so I decided to spray paint it. I used the Champagne color from Rustoleum.

Fabric from JoAnn's

It turn out lovely; however, I couldn't find a shade suitable to match it. (Everything in our bedroom has a golden hue, and many shades have this too. They were all just blending into the wall.) Granted I only went to Target, but I was refuse to pay much for a lamp shade. After looking on Pinterest (*obsession*), I found a tutorial on how to make a cover for your lamp shade. All you do is spray it with glue and smooth down the fabric. It was so incredibly easy, and it turned out amazing! *Warning - Do NOT iron it; it will start to melt the shade... needless to say that side is facing the wall.* So far, I was two for two (minus the melt-age.)

This is my lovely Lucy girl investigating the new fixture.

Finally, some of our dear friends recently moved away. I offered to take some of their unneeded items up to Goodwill, and I found a lovely candlestick that they couldn't use any longer. I just planned on keeping it on hand just in case, but then, creativity struck! I decided to use it as a bracelet holder; the top part where the candle goes serves as a home for my rings. *If you want it back Jess, I'll reluctantly send it to you. :)* So I moved my lamp in too, and made a home for my lovely necklace that my mom bought me for my 25th birthday, and voila! What was meant to be a simple lamp fix turned into a full blown jewelry display, and I love it. I hated hiding my fun costume jewelry away in drawers, and now I can see it even when I'm not wearing it.

I added a mirror that I got from Target on clearance... I think it is supposed to be a place "mat." Here's to cheap fixes and re-using items. Until tomorrow...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Louisville Love: The Comfy Cow

Hello Friends! I wanted to start a new portion of my blog where I can talk about unique Louisville stops that I love, and that I hope you try. I think I've talked about today's location before, but oh well! Today, I want share with you the goodness that is The Comfy Cow.


The Comfy Cow is located in Westport Village off of Westport Road, and soon other locations will be opening on Frankfort Avenue and near U of L's campus. What makes Comfy Cow unique are its amazing flavor combination. Each week they feature a foodie flavor of the week (lavender and honey, gin and juice, orange fennel), and it is guaranteed to be something that you won't find in any other Louisville locale. Beyond the outrageous flavors, they have normal flavors too, but they doctor them in such a way that no other ice cream parlor can come close to matching. They just put love and creativity into each batch.


Here are some examples of the flavors they have rotating now: Freshly Roasted Coffee, Cookie Monster Dough, Strawberry Fields Forever, Dulche de Leche de Salte, Gin and Juice, Bourbon Ball, Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Icing, German Chocolate Cake, and the list goes on and on. I guarantee you will be able to find something to strike your fancy.


The Comfy Cow was also recently featured on Travel Channel's Man vs. Food Nation. Wednesday, the Comfy Cow had a viewing party to reveal if the challenger could complete the Comfy Cow challenge. Unfortunately, he did not succeed, but the evening was great fun.


Check out the Comfy Cow.... I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Images from here, here and here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

As I have mentioned before, every Tuesday we get together with some friends from church. Yesterday, we had a fiesta. I wanted to bring dessert, so I decided that whatever I decided to make, it must be fiesta themed. I searched high and low, and I found a recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes, and they were to die for.

The cupcakes themselves had a kind of "brownieness" to them; they were chewy but not at all stale or dense in texture. I took an apple corer, and hollowed out the middle. I filled them with caramel and topped them with a cayenne pepper-whipped cream-brown sugar frosting. The frosting is what made them. It was not overly sweet which made them dangerous to have around. I kept eating the whipped cream by the spoonful, and the slight spiciness gave it an addictive quality. I'm glad there's one left that I can eat today.


Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
From Cheeky Kitchen

Cupcakes:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil (I used vegetable)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Caramel Sauce:
See this recipe, or purchase some from your local grocer. I highly discourage the latter.

Cayenne Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Garnish:
Shaved chocolate and red pepper flakes (mmmm....)

Directions:

Cupcakes:
1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan with 22 liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine sugars, eggs, milk and oil.
3. Continue to add everything except the flour and cocoa. Stir until incorporated.
4. Slowly stir in the cocoa and flour, but only until just mixed in.
5. Spoon your batter into the cupcake liners, a little over half full. Bake for 17-19 minutes. Mine took 19.
6. Allow to cool completely.
7. Take an apple corer and hollow the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a spoonful of caramel.

Frosting:
1. Whip the cream so that soft peaks form. Slowly add the brown sugar and cayenne. You must use really fresh brown sugar or the frosting will be grainy. (Side note: It will be grainy for a few minutes though because the sugar needs to dissolve. It should lose that texture after 5 minutes.)
2. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.
3. Top with grated chocolate and a tiny bit of red pepper flakes.
4. Take them somewhere to share them so you don't eat the whole batch.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Caramel Sauce

Oh what to say, what to say? Homemade caramel is absolutely the best, and I will never buy the store brands again. Last night, I made caramel for some cupcakes that I am making (I'll post those tomorrow), and it is absolutely the easiest and most fulfilling of recipes for the amount of time and effort it takes.

For the longest time, I was scared of caramel. I don't know why, but I always pictured it bubbling up (which it did) and ending in a burnt, sticky mess (it did not.) Actually, the end result was a thick, smooth topping that trumps any brand out there. Plus it only has 4 ingredients and one is water. My version is healthier (ha) and I know exactly what's in it. It would also make a lovely gift.Sass+Frass

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
1. Place the sugar in the center of a sauce pan, and add the water. DO NOT STIR. Why you ask? Sugar crystals will form up the side, and they don't dissolve easily once they harden. No stirring, no crystals in caramel.
2. Let the mixture boil; still do not stir, but keep a very close eye.
3. Wait until the mixture becomes a dark golden amber color (350 degrees on candy thermometer). Begin to slowly add your cream, but now you need to stir like crazy! The whole thing will bubble up and hiss, but fear not, it will calm down; just keep stirring and adding more cream.
4. Remove your caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla. (A salted caramel alternative could be to add a dash of Himalayan sea salt... delish.)
5. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, jar it, and use when ready. It will continue to thicken as it cools, especially in the fridge.

Use as a topper on ice cream, cakes, toast (just kidding about the toast... or am I?)

Enjoy!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Blackberry Crisp Ice Cream

I love ice creams that have something extra to them. This ice cream was perfect for me! For my birthday, my husband bought me an ice cream maker, and he has greatly benefited from this purchase. I made this blackberry crisp ice cream from a combination of sources, and it turned out nicely. It also made the perfect amount for two people. (one quart) Take advantage while blackberries are in season!

Picture Source

Step One: Make the Crisp

Crisp Streusel
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2 cubes, chilled
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Put all the ingredients except oats in a bowl. Blend quickly so that the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add the oats; mix well. (Try not to melt the butter.)
3. Spread onto an ungreased baking sheet, and break up any large clumps.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toasted and brown. Stir frequently, especially the corners. Let it cool completely, then freeze until ready to use. Can be frozen for one month.

*This makes a ton!*

Step Two: Make the Blackberry Sauce

Blackberry Sauce
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Makes 1 1/4 cup

2 cups blackberries (or any berry)
1 cup sugar

1. Combine berries and sugar in a small sauce pan; bring to a boil. Continue stirring 5-8 minutes.
2. Let it cool slightly, then force the sauce through a sieve to remove the seeds. (I left some in to show it's legit.) Refrigerate until cold and ready to use.

Step 3: Make the Ice Cream

Sweet Cream Ice Cream
Cuisine at Home
Issue No. 75

3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream

1. Whisk together egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.
2. Heat milk, heavy cream and sugar in a sauce pan until steam rises. Gradually add half of the hot mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Add yolk mixture to remaining hot milk. Reduce heat to medium-low for 5-8 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Strain ice cream base into a bowl and cool in an ice bath. Cover bowl; chill 4-12 hours. Churn according to machine directions.

Step Four: Mix it all together!

1. Add a layer of ice cream into your freezer safe tupperware dish.
2. Add a layer of your crisp.
3. Drizzle the blackberry sauce.
4. Repeat - think lasagna.

Let it set for a few hours and voila - ice cream that anyone would be lucky to have. Perfect for the hot summer days we've been having.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

One Percent

This is totally me... every time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bacon and Sweet Corn Pasta

On Tuesdays, we meet with our community group, so I am always looking for something quick to make on these hectic nights. This dish was absolutely perfect taking only 25 minutes to make and even less time to eat... it was delicious! If you like the sweet and salty combination, this is your dish. The saltiness of the bacon and the crisp sweetness of the corn was a great match. The sauce wasn't heavy, but it stabilized all of the flavors nicely. Here's what you do:

Imagine me with bacon... :)

Bacon and Sweet Corn Pasta
Cuisine at Home
Issue No. 88

8 oz. dry campanelle or farfalle pasta
4 strips thick sliced bacon
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
2 ears worth of fresh corn kernels (1 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the pasta according to package directions, then drain; reserve 1 cup pasta water.
2. Cook bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper-towel lined plate and reserve 1 tablespoon drippings.
3. Saute zucchini and corn in drippings until tender, 5-6 minutes. Add pasta to skillet.
4. Stir in bacon, cream, basil and pine nuts. Add reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

*This could easily become a vegetarian meal by omitting the bacon.*

Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Potato-Stuffed Poblanos

Saturday, my husband downed a huge milk shake, a plate of fries, a huge piece of pizza, a cannoli and multiple other delicious things that are not the most health friendly; so Sunday, he declared that we not eat meat. Wanting to oblige, I found this delicious recipe for stuffed poblano chiles with a black bean saute. They were so stinkin' good! I love the poblanos that are deep fried and stuffed with cheese, and I like to think that these are a slightly more healthy variation. The filling (potatoes, cheese, jalapenos... need I say more?) is what makes these taste *amazing*, and the smokiness of the poblano isn't too shabby itself. Fine Cooking 's Chicken & Rice Version

Potato-Stuffed Poblanos
Cuisine at Home
Issue No. 85

2 large poblano chiles
Filling:
2 cups cubed red potatoes (skins on)
1/2 cup sliced yellow onion
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped scallions
3 Tbsp. cream cheese
3 Tbsp. canned diced green chiles
1 Tbsp. sour cream
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
2. Roast poblanos over a gas burner or under a broiler until skin blackens. Transfer to a bowl and steam for 10 minutes. (Cover with plastic wrap.) Peel off skin.
3. Cut a slit down one side of pepper. Discard seeds.

4. For filling, bowl potatoes and onions together until potatoes are cooked through. Make sure moisture is evaporated.
5. Mash potatoes with all of the filling ingredients.
6. Divide filling between poblanos and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
7. Bake until cheese is golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Black Bean Saute

Soften 1/2 cup onion in oil with 1/2 tsp. cumin and 1 bay leaf. (5 minutes) Stir in one can black beans (rinsed), 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 1/4 cup scallions, 1 tsp. minced garlic; heat through. Stir in 2 tsp. lime juice, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Scott nor I could finish ours, so you may be able to save some for the next day too...

Enjoy this hearty vegetarian meal that no one will complain about! Until next time...