Monday, December 31, 2007

Easy Rum Cake

Well, as 2007 comes to a close, what better way than to celebrate with a cake doused in alcohol?

Ok, well it's not literally doused in alcohol, but it's a main ingredient that you can definitely taste to say the least. I whipped this puppy up pretty quickly since cake mix was a base for it. A sweet little year-end treat for my husband and I!

Easy Rum Cake
(adapted from allrecipes.com)

Cake:
1 cup chopped pecans
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/2 cup dark rum
4 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix*

Glaze:
1/2 cup butter
1/8 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup rum
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts over the bottom of the pan.

Mix together the cake mix, 1/2 cup rum, eggs, 1/2 cup water, oil, and vanilla pudding mix. Pour batter over the nuts in the pan.

Bake for 1 hour. Cool, and invert cake on a serving plate. Prick the top of the cake.

Glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in 1/8 cup water and the 1/2 cup sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove glaze from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup rum, and powdered sugar. Drizzle and smooth evenly over the top and sides.

*I used cook-n-serve pudding mix by accident and it turned out fine*


And on that note, a Happy New Year to all!!! Best wishes to everyone for 2008!!!

Deviled Eggs

The other night my friend Sam & her main man Joe hosted a small get together at their home. After asking her about 100 times what I could bring and her responding "Just you and Greg" I made an executive decision to make some deviled eggs, since my girl Sam loves egg salad, and this was a comprable appetizer. So here's my take on them. You may want to add more or less mayonnaise to the recipe, it all depends on how "mushy" you like your filling I suppose!

I did steal a Paula Deen idea on this one - make one extra egg to mash up with the rest of the yolks so all of your eggs are nice and full. Doesn't Paula just rock???

Deviled Eggs

13 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayo
2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
2 1/2 tablespoons creamy italian dressing
Pinch of onion powder
Salt & Pepper to taste

Slice 12 eggs in half and remove yolks. Transfer yolks and 13th egg to mixing bowl. Mash egg and yolks well, being sure to disguise the egg white. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth. Fill each egg half.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

I really wanted to try to make something a little different for breakfast yesterday morning. So I started searching through some of my "recipe boxes" online to see if anything struck me when I stumbled upon a Rachael Ray recipe that I had saved eons ago for Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes.

I was reading the recipe and realized that she was starting from scratch (flour, baking powder, etc.) and I figured - why do that when I have a box of Bisquick in the cupboard???

So, I set out to "sorta" use her recipe as inspiration then make it my own and this is what happened:

Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes










2 cups Bisquick
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 heaping cup of oats (I used quick cooking)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 mashed ripe banana*

Combine all dry ingredients then whisk in wet ingredients until well blended.

Spray pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pour batter in pan in approximately 1/3 cup increments and cook at medium heat on each side for 2-4 minutes. Serve with maple syrup or honey.

*This is an RR tip - if you don't have a ripe banana, just place your not-so-ripe banana in the microwave for about 15 seconds (this should make it soft enough for mashing)*


I personally think this recipe would be great with some raisins in it, but my husband doesn't like raisins so I left them out (he's no fun like that sometimes). When I was about halfway through cooking the batch, I added some chocolate chips for something different. Either way, we really enjoyed them, and they are pretty darn oatmeal cookie-ish - at least as close as you'll get with a pancake!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Like eating cookie dough right from the bowl, w/o that pesky salmonella issue...

So, this weekend I was pretty busy prepping for Christmas Eve at our pad. I was whipping up the dough for Cookie Dough Truffles to serve as a dessert Monday night when I went to grab vanilla extract out of the cabinet. I don't always measure anything that is a teaspoon or under, and, in my haste, I just splashed some right into the batter and quickly realized my mistake.

It was Peppermint Extract. Big oops! The incident was definitely pretty high up there on the "Robin-Oops Scale" as my husband affectionatately called it once I shared the news with him. But the bottle is pretty much identical to a vanilla extract bottle! Either way it could not be salvaged and that batch promptly went in the trash! At least I hadn't thrown all of the ingredients in yet, so it wasn't a complete waste.

Luckily the next batch went off without a hitch, just without vanilla extract because apparently I'm out of the stuff (oops). It still came out quite tasty and they were a big hit Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day.

Cookie Dough Truffles
(from myrecipes.com)











Full on Truffle shot. Yummers! (p.s. you know you love my snowmen paper towels)












I had to taste test one obviously (only 1, not the whole pan as it appears like here), so here's what it looks like inside

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate morsels
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 1/2 tablespoons shortening

Beat butter at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating well. Add egg substitute and vanilla; beat well. Add flour to butter mixture; beat well. Stir in miniature chocolate morsels and chopped pecans. Cover and chill 30 minutes.

Shape mixture into 1 inch balls. Cover and freeze balls until very firm.

Place package morsels and shortening in a glass bowl. Using two forks, quickly dip frozen truffles into melted chocolate, coating completely. Place on wax paper to harden. Store truffles in refrigerator 2 to 3 days.

Crab, Carrots, Christmas...I guess I like the letter "C"

I mentioned in an earlier post how Christmas Eve isn't a huge food affair in my family. It's mostly centered around Meat Pie but I always serve at least one other food item on that night. Usually it's a "standalone" - in other words, it's not something that needs an additional side dish of any sort.


In my adventures for looking for something different to make for the "standalone" (in the past when my parents' hosted my mother would make meatballs or lasagna or something to that effect), I wanted something a little different and stumbled upon this Crab Quiche recipe. I asked some friends what they thought and they were so-so about the idea and, so was I. When I think quiche I tend to think breakfast so I pondered some other ideas that were given to me (thanks, Janine, you always have the best ideas). But I just couldn't get over this crab quiche obsession I had, so, I just sucked it up and made it and I was pretty happy with the result - this would obviously make probably an even better brunch menu item. I found the recipe on allrecipes.com but made a some moderations (which is how it appears below). If anything, it needed a tad more seasoning, but now I at least know for next time. Also, I think next time I will add another egg or two and just up the cook time for a bit. The pie plate seemed as though it could have been "fuller." (p.s. I have to laugh at the picture below, for some reason I cut 2 slices....one is like "baby slice" hahaha).


Crab Quiche
(from allrecipes.com)

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 6 oz can lump crab meat
1 cup shredded mozzarella
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon celery salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
Pinch of cinnamon
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, mayonnaise, flour, and milk until thoroughly blended. Stir in crab, cheese, and onion. Spread into pie shell.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.




So there's my "first C." My second C is my recipe for Catalina Carrots which is my own creation that I've made several times. I told my mother I'd make a side dish for Christmas day since she had made a 2nd meat pie for Christmas Eve so I volunteered to bring the carrots.


Catalina Carrots

2lbs baby carrots boiled to "al dente" state
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup Catalina salad dressing
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar

Saute minced garlic in olive oil on medium heat until slightly browned. Add carrots and toss thoroughly in olive oil.

After sauteeing carrots for 5-10 minutes, add Italian seasoning and Catalina dressing. Turn heat to a medium-low setting and continue to saute carrots for about 5 minutes. Add brown sugar and saute for another 10 minutes or so until carrots soften up a bit. Serve hot.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A couple quick apps

Well our little get together went well last night. I can't believe Christmas is 2 days away! I got everything done ahead of time so it really helped keep my stress level low while we were getting ready for guests to arrive. Here are 2 other appetizers I served that actually have some sort of recipe, (besides the bacon appetizers I wrote about below). The first is a recipe my friend Cathy gave me awhile back and it's just so easy (and yummy). The second is a find from myrecipes.com. For the latter, I added brown sugar to the onions per the suggestions of those who tried it before me. It came out quite tasty. We served it with Pita Chips (thanks for bringing those, Amy!).


Quick Kielbasa Bites

1 Package(s) kielbasa
1/2 Cup(s) honey
1/2 Cup(s) brown sugar

Slice kielbasa into 1/2 inch thick slices. Toss slices with brown sugar to coat. Place onto cookie sheet lightly greased with cooking spray and drizzle with honey. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, broil 5 minutes or until you reach desired crispiness. Put a toothpick in each slice to serve.




Caramelized Onion Dip

Cooking spray
3 cups chopped onion (about 2 medium)
1 ½ tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons low-fat sour cream, divided
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) block-style 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (I actually added soy sauce since I had no W.S. in the house)
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add brown sugar; cover and cook 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; cool.

Combine 1 tablespoon sour cream and cream cheese, stirring well. Add remaining sour cream, mayonnaise, and remaining ingredients, and stir well to combine. Stir in onion. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve with pita chips.



Well, lots to do the next couple of days. We are hosting a small Christmas Eve celebration with family and in my family that means: Tourtiere, aka French Meat Pies. This year my mom is making one and I'm making one. It could end up being a Meat Pie show down! Don't expect to see the recipe here though. While I've written it down for friends who have inquired in the past, I don't know if what I've written down could ever truly do it justice. I never used a recipe myself. Everyone makes them their own way too. I learned by watching my mother, but I do some things differently from her. I think that is the great thing about it - everyone's is unique.

Anywho, I've rambled enough. Merry Christmas to all!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Thank you, Pioneer Woman!!!

So my husband and I are having a little Christmas get together on Saturday and I wanted to get a jump start on a couple of appetizers, since tomorrow itself is a loss for preparation time. I am celebrating Chrsitmas with my dad's side during the day, something I only found out about after I invited guests over for that same night, so I'm trying to get ready as much as I can ahead of time.

I love looking at other foodie blogs and one that I love is "The Pioneer Woman Cooks" (there's a link on this page to the right of this blog). Not only does she have great recipes, but she also has a great sense of humor. So, I was browsing through her blog a few days ago when I stumbled upon this gem of a recipe! I made them last night and they are well worth the wait. I am not the biggest bacon fan around and even I appreciated the one I taste tested. I'd post a picture of the final product but honestly her pictures are so much better and do this recipe so much more justice! I just wanted to share a great blog and a great recipe! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chewy Maple Cookies

I don't have much to say about these except for the fact that they were gooooooooooooooood!

Chewy Maple Cookies
(from allrecipes.com)

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup real maple syrup (I added a couple extra tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

In a mixing bowl, cream shortening and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg, syrup, and vanilla until well mixed.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture. Stir in coconut. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto greased baking sheets.

Bake at 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) for 10-12 minutes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Crockpot Sesame Chicken

I'd like to shout once again from the mountain tops...not that there are any in RI...but nevertheless, I want to shout from a large hill that I love my crockpot, and most of all, the wonderful things I can make in it!

But since this is not an ode to my crockpot, and rather me sharing a new recipe, here it goes:


Crockpot Sesame Chicken












About 3 large chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch chunks
Dash of pepper
1 cup honey
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/4 teaspoons minced garlic
Toasted sesame seeds

Combine all ingredients except for sesame seeds in 5 quart crockpot. Cover and cook on low 4-5 hours. Mix sesame seeds into crockpot just before serving. Serve over white rice.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Breakfast: The day's most important meal, especially if you have to shovel!!

Well, we here in New England are experiencing yet another icy blast. Thursday's snow storm left our state in total gridlock. It took me almost 2 hours to get home (and I work only 3 1/2 miles away!) and my poor husband had a 7 1/2 ride home for a 16 mile drive that typically takes no more than 30 minutes (and no, that's not a typo, it really took him 7 1/2 hours!). Luckily today's storm is happening on a weekend so we don't have to worry about commuting home, but it's still made for a mess since Mother Nature has been showing us all how she can present H20 to us in 3 different forms: snow, sleet, and rain. Yeah, she really isn't all about going easy on us the past few days!

To give my husband and I ample energy for the shoveling job we were going to be taking on this morning, I whipped up a batch of Apple Cinnamon Waffles. Everyone can tell me until they're blue in the face to eat my Wheaties, but I'm sorry, cereal just wasn't going to cut it today!

This recipe is from the "Simple and Delicious" magazine (with a couple of tweaks). The recipe says it makes 12 waffles, I was only able to make 8, but that may be because I have a Belgian Waffler maker that makes larger than your average waffles!

Apple Spice Waffles












2 cups biscuit/baking mix
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup chopped apple (I used Granny Smith)

In a large bowl, combine biscuit mix, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Combine eggs and milk; stir into dry ingredients until smooth. Stir in butter and apple.

Bake in preheated waffle iron according to manufacturer's directions until golden brown. Serve with maple syrup.

Secondly, in the spirit of revisiting some older recipes, I decided to whip up a batch of Chocolate Chip Surprise Muffins to pack for breakfast this coming week. It's a nice easy recipe with a little bit of a twist - a sweet cream cheese filling in the middle. If you want to eat these warm from the oven, I suggest letting these cool a bit before eating (that cream cheese gets SUPER hot), or just eat them at room temperature (they're still yummy).


Chocolate Chip Surprise Muffins











3 Ounces softened cream cheese
1 Tablespoon plus 1/2 cup, divided sugar
1 Tablespoons plus 1 cup, divided milk
1/3 Cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 Cups flour
2 Teaspoons baking powder
1/2 Teaspoons salt
1/2 Cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 400. Grease bottoms only of 12 regular size muffin cups with shortening or cooking spray or line with paper baking cups. In small bowl, mix cream cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 tablespoon milk until smooth, set aside.

In large bowl, beat remaining milk, oil, and egg with fork or wire whisk. Stir in remaining ingredients just until flour is moistened. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups while keeping some aside.

Place about 1 rounded teaspoon of filling on batter in muffin cups. Top with remaining batter that was previously set aside.

Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove to cooling rack. Cool 5 minutes. Serve warm or cool.


Well, my hubby just had to go outside again to shovel the end of our driveway. The plows finally only just came by a half and hour ago and of course we got plowed in! Good thing I have a good dinner planned for us tonight which if it tastes as good as it smells right now, you will definitely get to read about it in the near future! Ta ta for now, kiddies!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Apple & Brown Sugar Corned Beef

This is a great crockpot recipe for corned beef from the "Fix It and Forget It" cookbook (I've edited it a bit). I've made it before and it's a nice contrast with the slightly sweet apple/brown sugar flavor and the saltiness of the corned beef. The leftovers make for great sandwiches the next day. Yum!


Apple & Brown Sugar Corned Beef

2 1/2 - 3lb corned beef brisket
3 medium potatoes, quartered
1/2 lb baby carrots
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
4 - 4 1/2 cups of apple juice (add enough to cover the corned beef if this isn't quite enough)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Place meat, potatoes, carrots, and onion in 6 quart slow cooker.

Combine next 5 ingredients and pour into slow cooker. Cover. Cook on high 6-6 1/2 hours or low 10-12 hours or until veggies and meat are tender. When serving, pour excess juice from the crockpot over the top of beef and vegetables.

Oatmeal Cream Pies

This afternoon we had a Yankee Swap exchange at work. We made it a "dessert social" so we were all asked to bring something. I marked down "cookies" on the list. Why I chose such a broad category and why I even chose cookies in the first place is a mystery to me. So, me being me, I decide I need to look for something fun.

I was browsing through some blogs I really enjoy, and I found a great recipe on "...and a Cookie for Dessert." for Oatmeal Cream Pies. After reading Brooke's entry I decided I'd definitely use the recipe. I was able to find a different filling recipe on allrecipes.com (in fact it was associated with a chocolate sandwich cookie recipe) but I did make some modifications to it (more Fluff!). Also, I left the raisins out since a) I didn't have any at home and b) my husband doesn't like raisins. All in all, I'm pretty happy with how these came out! Thanks, Brooke, for the inspiration.

Oatmeal Cream Pies












1/2pound (2 sticks) margarine or butter, softened
1cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
3 cups Quaker® Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)

Filling:
1/2 stick of butter
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
1 jar (7.5oz) of marshmallow Fluff
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, beat margarine and sugars until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Add oats and raisins; mix well.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheets; remove to wire rack. Cool completely.

While cookies are baking, beat filling ingredients on low with hand mixer until well combined. When cookies have cooled completely, generously spread filling on flat side of half of the cookies, then use the other half of the cookies to top them to make sandwiches (I made about 18 sandwiches with the amount of filling this recipe makes).

Store in "sandwiches" in refrigerator (this helps filling to "set" - as you'll see by the picture above, it's a little "oozy" at first). Take out of refrigerator about a half hour before serving to bring up to room temperature.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday night dinner

Last night we had my sister-in-law and her boyfriend over for dinner. For the main course - Penne with Pink Vodka sauce. Now I apologize for the picture upfront since it looked better on my camera screen - the sauce was a bit pinker in person. I got the recipe from allrecipes.com but I've moderated it to be a bit healthier (i.e. half and half instead of heavy cream), added some chicken, etc.

As a side I wanted to try making homemade biscuits (from myrecipes.com). They weren't bad....but I'll be honest that I totally prefer the Pilsbury doughboy's version. I'll probably make these again and in the meantime, before I do, hopefully I will find a way to up the taste factor a bit. On the bright side between the 4 of us we ate all 13 of them (the recipe is supposed to make 14) so I guess they weren't that bad! On a side note, I got to break out my bread basket with warming stone for the first time (just got it as a Secret Santa gift) because of these biscuits...woohoo!

Lastly was dessert (duh!) - chocolate molten cakes. After the 4 of us finished our dessert, my husband promptly inquired "Are there anymore?" Unfortunately the recipe only makes 4 Chocolate Molten cakes at a time so my answer was no! But this recipe is a definite keeper, I'll be making them again! I'm bummed I didn't think to take a picture of them opened up with the fudge-y middle oozing out (yum!) but we were so busy enjoying them it never crossed my mind.

Penne with Pink Vodka Sauce

1 (16 ounce) package dry penne pasta
3 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2/3 cup vodka
2 chicken breasts cooked and diced
1 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (I used no salt added)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 pint half and half

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

In a large skillet, saute garlic in the butter. Add vodka and salt. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour in tomatoes, chicken, and cheese; stir until cheese melts. Stir in half and half and heat thoroughly. Pour sauce over hot pasta and serve.

Homemade Biscuits

1/4 cup shortening
2 cups self-rising flour*
2/3 cup milk

Cut shortening into flour with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 3 or 4 times. Pat or roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness; cut with a 2-inch round cutter, and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake at 475° for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

*To make your own self-rising flour (as I had to do) for each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt*

Chocolate Molten Cakes



4 squares Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tbsp. flour
Thawed Whipped Topping

Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter four 3/4-cup custard cups or soufflé dishes. Place on baking sheet.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Blend in eggs and egg yolks with wire whisk. Stir in flour. Divide batter among prepared custard cups.

Bake 13 to 14 min. or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 min. Carefully run small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto dessert dishes. Serve immediately with whipped topping.

(Batter can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time – just cover each custard cup with plastic wrap before refrigerating and bring up to room temperature for 1 hour before baking. Or do what I did - prepare in the morning and use the leftover egg whites to make a small omelet for breakfast hahaha).

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Black Bottom Cupcakes

Tonight we are headed off to our friend Matt's apartment for a small holiday party he and his girlfriend Alexis are throwing and I asked what we could bring - he replied with "something sweet."

Seeing as though I am "cookie-d out" (for lack of a better term - if you are confused, see previous posts!), I went searching through some of my older recipes that I haven't made in awhile. I stumbled upon this recipe for Black Bottom Cupcakes which I haven't made in ages.

They are tasty, but I'm a little disappointed in how much they stuck to the paper muffin liner when I tried one. Also, I put just about the same amount of cream cheese filling on top of each cupcake but you wouldn't know that because the tops of them al look different. Oh well, they're still good and I'd still make them again! Sometimes it doesn't matter how they look as much as how they taste!

Black Bottom Cupcakes
(from allrecipes.com)
















1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/3 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line muffin tins with paper cups or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.


In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, egg, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt with a mixer on low until light and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate chips and set aside.


In a large bowl, mix together the flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Make a well in the center and add the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Stir together until well blended. Fill muffin tins 1/3 full with the batter and top with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. (Note: the original recipe calls for these to be baked 25-30 minutes, mine took only 20 so I reduced the cooking time)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cheesy Veggie Rice "Muffins"

The other night I wanted to make a side dish that was a little different from the ordinary. I had seen a recipe long ago for rice "muffins" cooked in a muffin tin and I thought that might be something fun. I kind of "winged it" and came out with this (but unfortunately I forgot to take a picture).


Cheesy Veggie Rice "Muffins"


1 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/2 cups rice
1/2 cup mixed frozen veggies
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspooon salt
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/4 cups shredded cheese*


Cook rice in boiling water until done. Turn heat to medium-low and add the rest of the ingredients to the pot stirring constantly to ensure cheese and butter melt and are distributed evenly among the rice mixture.


Preheat oven to 350F. Generously spray 9 muffin cups with cooking spray. Place a generous amount of rice mixture into each cup and pack down with the back of a spoon. Lightly spray the top of each "mufin" with cooking spray. Cook in preheated oven for 15 minutes or so, or until rice "muffins" have a very light brown crust on top



*I used a combination of mozzarella and cheddar cheeses since that's what I had on hand in the refrigerator. I think any kind of cheese would do. Add more or less cheese depending on your own tastes*

Sunday, December 2, 2007

C is for Cookie....

Oh yes....now for the most important part of a Christmas cookie exchange: cookies.

This was my second year hosting an exchange. It's so much fun! I told the girls that "cookie" was a loose term, that it could be a dessert bar, or fudge, or anywhere else their imagination took them. Everyone emailed me their recipe(s) and I put them in a little packet for everyone to take home. There were some awesome recipes today!!!

Here were my creations! I made 3 different kinds, I thought as the hostess it wouldn't hurt to make some extra! I thought they all came out great (nothing like tooting my own horn, huh?). The Potato Chip Cookies was that one recipe with a huge question mark at the end of it because had no idea how good, or not good, they'd be. But I was intrigued, and, in the end, it was well worth the gamble. The Gingersnaps were labor intensive and the smell of straight molasses makes me sick, but the final product was worth the time and the nausea. I was happy with how the lemon bars tasted (and I'm not even a big lemon fan) but thought they were a little "too done" around the edges. Next time I think I'll shave a couple of minutes off of the bake time in the final step.

Ok, enough of my blabber....without further ado...here they are!

Luscious Lemon Bars (sorry for the shadowy picture)
(from myrecipes.om)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Powdered sugar

Combine 2 cups flour and 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly. Firmly press mixture into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan.

Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl; whisk in 2 cups sugar and lemon juice. Combine remaining 1/4 cup flour and baking powder; whisk into egg mixture. Pour batter over crust.

Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until set. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into bars, and sprinkle evenly with additional powdered sugar. Yields 2 1/2 dozen



Potato Chip Cookies
(from allrecipes.com)

1 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups crushed potato chips
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, white sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla.


Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually stir into the creamed mixture. Finally, fold in the potato chips and walnuts.


Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto an unprepared cookie sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.



Gingersnaps
(from allrecipes.com)

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup cinnamon sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Sift the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir the mixture to blend evenly, and sift a second time into another bowl.

Place the shortening into a mixing bowl and beat until creamy. Gradually beat in the white sugar. Beat in the egg, and dark molasses. Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the shortening mixture; stir to thoroughly blend. Sift in the remaining flour mixture, and mix together until a soft dough forms. Pinch off small amounts of dough and roll into 1 inch diameter balls between your hands. Roll each ball in cinnamon sugar, and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven until the tops are rounded and slightly cracked, about 10 minutes. Cool cookies on a wire rack. Store in an air tight container.

What cookie exchange doesn't need a touch of booze???

I got to use my punch bowl set for the first time today!! (And let me just add, it's so pretty! Thanks, Memere!)

Once again, another Cooking Light recipe here (December 2007). I figured I'd give it a whirl, but I did make some changes to this recipe, so that is how it is written below.

Sparkling Cranberry Tea Cocktails















4 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 family-sized tea bags
2 1/2 cups no-sugar-added cranberry juice
1 cup Madarin flavored vodka
4 1/2 cups ginger ale, chilled

Combine 4 cups water and sugar in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally. Pour over tea bags. Cover and let stand 5 minutes; discard tea bags. Cool. Stir in juice, and vodka. Chill.

Gently stir in ginger ale. Serve over ice; garnish with rind, if desired.

Cookie Exchange Luncheon

As I mentioned in a previous post, I held a cookie exchange with friends today. I'll post the cookie recipes next, first though, I figured I'd post some of the recipes from the lunch I made!!

First up, White Bean Hummus (no picture, sorry). I know a lot of people are not down with Hummus, but I am, so I made it anyway and served it with crackers. At least I thought it was good, and my friend Lisa did too :-)

White Bean Hummus
(from myrecipes.com)

1 can (15 oz.) small white beans, drained
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (shhhhh...I used dried thyme!)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh-ground pepper

In a food processor, combine beans, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, fresh thyme leaves, salt, and pepper. Whirl until smooth. Spoon into a bowl and set on a platter. Serve with crackers, pita chips, or fresh veggies :-)

Then I also made a lasagna. While I definitely just "wing it" when it comes to lasagna, I used homemade marinara in it. I got this out of my Cooking Light magazine a couple of months ago. It's great, healthy, and unthaws well from the freezer.

Basic Marinara

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onion (about 3 medium)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 6 cloves)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 (28-ounce) cans no-salt-added crushed tomatoes

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sugar and next 7 ingredients (through fennel seeds); cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in vinegar; cook 30 seconds. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat for 55 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally.

To store in the freezer: Ladle room-temperature or chilled sauce into plastic containers or zip-top plastic bags. Seal and freeze for up to four months. Consider freezing the sauce in one-cup increments (two servings' worth). That way, you can pull out exactly as much as you want for future meals.

To boost taste: Long stints in the freezer can dull the taste of tomatoes. To perk up thawed sauce, add one-half teaspoon finely grated lemon rind or one teaspoon balsamic vinegar while reheating.

Yield
About 12 cups (serving size: 1/2 cup)


Lastly, as far as "food" goes (recipe worthy ones - ham & cheese sandwiches don't exactly qualify), I made this Paula Deen creation (with a couple of tweaks on my part).

You have to love Paula Deen....in this world of "fat free" and uber healthiness, Paula still embraces that artery-clogging kind of cooking you know you all love deep down. This was a big hit, I'll definitely be making it again!! (p.s. I did not put the celery in this - as so many do not like it - and I left out the almonds....because I don't like them...haha!)

Hot Chicken Salad

2 cups cooked chicken breast meat, cubed
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated sharp Cheddar
2/3 cup crushed potato chips
1 teaspoon dried thyme (my addition)
1 teaspoon celery salt (my addition)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 13 by 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl combine the chicken, celery, almonds, salt, pepper, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and cheese. Place the mixture in the prepared baking dish. Spread the crushed potato chips on top.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes

Intention: Make a small shepherd's pie for dinner tonight for you and hubby.

Problem: You suddenly realize only have potatoes and the small amount of ground beef you cooked last night. You thought you had frozen veggies. But...you don't. You are now in your pajamas and so is your husband since you were both planning on having a quiet night in watching TV.

Question: What do you do now? What can you do with what is in the house already?

Answer: Ground beef + taco seasoning + salsa + cheese + potatoes = Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes.

Yup, I made a bit oops tonight. Let's face it, what is shepherd's pie without veggies? So I was stuck looking for a Plan B. I was lucky enough to have an envelope of taco seasoning in the house and I put my thinking cap on and everything else just fell together - in a completely unintentional way of course!

Taco Stuffed Baked Potatoes














About 1/3 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon minced garlic
About a 1/4 packet of taco seasoning (feel free to add more if you really love taco seasoning!)
1-2 tablespoons salsa
2 Medium sized baking potatoes
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream (optional)

Place each potato in foil. Punch holes in foil with fork. Bake at 350F 35 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile, cook ground beef on stovetop on medium-high heat. Add minced garlic. When meat is fully cooked. Add taco seasoning and salsa. Stir to combine.

When potatoes are done, cool a bit and cut each in half lengthwise. Scoop out a small opening out of the center of each potato half. Place a heaping amount of taco seasoned meat on each potato half. Top each with a generous amount of shredded cheese.

Place in oven at 350F for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with sour cream.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

French Toast Yumminess...

About 2 weeks ago there was a book fair at work and while there, I bought "Top Secret Restaurant Recipes." I tried my first recipe out of it this weekend - a knockoff of Denny's "Fabulous French Toast."

I must say it was quite yummy and a lot better than the standard French Toast I make! My husband got a good chuckle when as he walked his cute little but downstairs (and might I add, that it is indeed VERY cute butt) to see me setting up the "photo op" for a plate of French Toast ha ha! Before he dug in he double checked to make sure that it was OK to "eat the artwork."


Men! Will they ever fully appreciate our neuroses?


Denny's Fabulous French Toast

4 eggs
2/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 slices of bread (thick bread preferably)
3 tablespoons butter
Powdered sugar

Whisk together eggs, milk, flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.

Heat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium/low heat. When pan is hot, add 1 tablespoon of butter. If butter smokes your pan is too hot, turn down the heat.

Drop each bread slice into the batter for about 30 seconds per side. Let some of the batter drip off then drop the bread into the buttered pan. Cook each battered bread slice for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Add more butter to the pan as needed to cook all the French Toast.

Serve 3 slices of French toast per plate. Dust each serving with a little powdered sugar and include some maple syrup on the side.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cookie Exchange!

Just a quick note that I am getting SUPER excited for my Christmas cookie exchange this weekend! YAY!!!! My husband and I put the tree up last night...I LOVE this time of year!


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day!

I'm sitting here writing this blog in the last few minutes of Thanksgiving 2007. Why am I up you ask? Well, I dozed off on the couch tonight and when my husband woke me up to go to bed I was wide awake. Rather than toss and turn and keep him up (he has to work tomorrow, I don't) I'm up, doing this.


Anywho, I made this to bring to my husband's grandparents' house for dessert today and it went over quite well! I once again have to thank my friend Janine for this recipe. I swear she has the most butt kickin' recipes of anyone I know!


I have about a half of batch of gingerbread leftover - I think my bowl wasn't quite big enough but that may also be a result of using two 8oz containers of Cool Whip instead of one 12oz container (confession: I am a Cool Whip freak. I can't even keep it in the house unless it's for a particular recipe because I'll eat it right out of the container, frozen too!!). I used sugar free vanilla pudding and cut the brown sugar to just a tablespoon since I was out of my Splenda brown sugar blend (and my husband's family has a few diabetics in it). I figured this was safe since I found a similar recipe online that didn't call for brown sugar at all.

Either way....thank you so much for the recipe, Janine! You ROCK! (but I'm sure you already knew that hehe).


Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

2 Packages 14 oz. each gingerbread mix
5 1/10 Ounce vanilla cook and serve pudding
30 Ounce can pumpkin pie mix
1/2 Cup brown sugar
1/3 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 Ounce container frozen cool whip

Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool.


Stir the pumpkin pie filling, brown sugar sugar, and cardamom into the pudding.


Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large trifle bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Refrigerate overnight.
And on that note:
Happy Thanksgiving to All!!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Great minds think alike....

So last Friday my BFF Michelle emailed me a recipe she intended to make for last Saturday night to bring to her future father-in-law's house. Her intention was to ask me if heavy cream was where she thought it would be in the supermarket. It took me about 1.2 seconds to realize that I too intended to make the same dessert for Saturday night to take to our friend Matt's apartment!! What are the chances of that? Well, I suppose considering we both get the free Kraft Foods magazine, a probably better chance than normal, but still! (hint: go to http://www.kraftfoods.com/ and you too can susbscribe to the free magazine they put out 4 times a year - thanks Kraft for great recipes!)

Either way, this recipe came out good but SUPER rich....you won't want to take too big of a piece of it! But it's a nice dessert to whip up on the double!

Chocolate Truffle Pie

1-1/4 pkg. (10 squares) Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 cup thawed Whipped Topping

Preheat oven to 325°F. Place chocolate in large microwaveable bowl. Add whipping cream. Microwave on HIGH 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended; cool slightly.

Add eggs, sugar and flour; beat with wire whisk until well blended. Pour into lightly greased 9-inch pie plate.

Bake 35 min. or until outer half of pie is puffed and center is slightly soft; cool. Serve topped with the whipped topping.

Monday, November 19, 2007

And just as a quick "p.s."

Red Sox Nation can sleep a little better tonight because....
He's coming baaaaaaaaaaccccccccckkkkkkkkk!




Glutton for punishment

So it's almost 10:45 on Monday night and I just finished wrapping up the last of the goodies I made for tomorrow's bake sale at work. It is for the Good Neighborhood Energy fund. The company does this fundraiser every year - and there are lots of good things besides baked goods - raffles, hot lunch, crafts, etc. Here's the website if you're interested in taking a look: http://www.rigoodneighbor.org/


Ok, mind you, I cheated on almost all of these....I used boxed mix. But when it comes to bake sales volume tends to speak louder than..............than..................what's the word I'm looking for? "Homemadedness." Let's face it, I can bake a lot more stuff if it comes from a box than if it's homemade which equals more money that can be raised.



Ok, I'm sure "homemadedness" is not a word in the Webster Dictionary but I'm tired so you have to give me a free pass. I should probably mention I did some of this baking last night, believe it or not, so I've been busy. Then of course I had to package and label them all - because that's just me. Even though this stuff isn't homemade I figured I would share some pictures anyway. For those interested in what I made - mini banana breads, mini cranberry breads, pumpkin muffins, cinnamon streusel muffins, chocolate peanut butter chip cookies (thank you Pilsbury Doughboy and Betty Crocker). I also made sugar cookies (non-prettily shaped ones) which were actually homemade (although I didn't take a picture before they got bagged and labeled so you'll have to live without that). I'll share the recipe later. I'm honestly too tired to see straight now. Nighty night, all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How I love my Crockpot, let me count the ways....

Who invented the Crockpot? Does anyone know? And if they do, how do I find this person and give them a hug? And I love the SmartPot! You can set it to turn off at a certain time - can it get much better?

Seriously, Crockpots are the best inventions around. Nothing is better than coming home from a long day and having your meal all done and ready to go. I love that I can smell what's been yummily cooking in my kitchen before I even get the door open when I arrive home. Yum! If you don't have one, I suggest you get one. And if you don't use yours, use it...because I said so :-P
So last night we had pork chops in the crockpot....different recipe from the one I last posted but once again from my trust "Fix It and Forget It Cookbook". I promise I do actually make a lot more in my crockpot than pork chops!

BBQ Crockpot Chops

4-6 Boneless pork chops
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon seasoned meat tenderizer
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water.

Place chops in crockpot. Mix remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over chops and cook on low for 6 hours.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Chewy Coconut Cookies

Just made these tonight so my husband has something good for dessert for his lunches this week. I snuck one to taste test it though....YUM!!

Chewy Coconut Cookies
(from allrecipes.com)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut


Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually blend in the flour mixture, then mix in the coconut.

Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I used my smallest cookie scoop).

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly toasted. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Buffalo chicken calzone...

So a few posts ago I shared a buffalo chicken dip recipe....

My creative side got the best of me this week when I thought to myself..."Self, how about you modify that dip and use it as a filling in a calzone and make it a full meal?"

Below is the result...warning: this made a GIANT calzone with lots of leftovers for my husband and I....but it came out quite tasty. Enjoy!


Buffalo Chicken Calzone

4 oz. of neufatchel cheese (aka 1/3 less fat cream cheese)

1/4 cup light bleu cheese dressing

1/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce

1/2 cup 2% milk shredded mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2lb bag refrigerated pizza dough

2 cooked bonless chicken breasts cut into chunks*

Heat oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese bowl. Microwave 1 minute to soften. Whisk in salad dressing, Buffalo Wing Sauce, minced garlic and cheese until smooth. Stir in chicken.

Take dough and roll out into oblong shape with rolling pin. Place chicken mixture on half of the dough leaving about 1/2 inch around the edges free of filling. Fold over dough and close edges with fork to seal.

Bake 30 minutes or until dough is cooked though.

*I seasoned the chicken breasts with a little bit of salt, pepper, and italian seasoning before cooking*

Friday, November 9, 2007

Yellow Split Pea Soup

Pea soup, yellow to be exact (any good girl of French Canadian descent will tell you yellow is the only way to go!). Not many people like it...well not a lot of people I know like it at least. But too bad! I do!

In my quest to keep eating healthy while keeping my taste buds amused, I was looking for a good, healthy soup recipe that I could take to work for lunch (since my husband will not join me in my love for pea soup) that will fill me up and keep me satisfied. When I ran across this recipe on BettyCrocker.com, it certainly did the trick!

I put this overnight in my crockpot for 10 hours and took it out in the morning. I skipped the celery (didn't have any in the house) and the blender step since once I stirred the soup around, it seemed to reach a desired consistency (and I figured why not save myself the trouble). I found it very thick when I reheated it though, but I added a little water before popping it in the microwave and that did the trick. If you like yellow pea soup but don't like the project of soaking your peas overnight, etc. this recipe is for you!

Crockpot Yellow Split Pea Soup







8 cups water
1 package (1 pound) dried yellow split peas, sorted and rinsed
3 medium carrots, diced (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 medium stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 cup diced Canadian-style bacon (5 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In 5 quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients.

Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours or until peas and vegetables are tender.

Place 2 cups of the soup in blender or food processor. Cover and blend on medium speed until smooth; pour into bowl. Repeat with 2 more cups soup. Stir all blended soup into soup in slow cooker.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Toffee Blondies

Blondies....they're brownies...but not chocolate. So I guess they really aren't brownies....but you catch my drift. Here's a recipe I used this weekend that I found on Deborah's Culinary Confections (she calls them "Hodgepodge Blondies") which is a GREAT blog by the way, check it out. I made them decidedly Toffee Blondie because my husband and I are big fans of toffee. That being said, I used a lot of toffee in this recipe, so feel free to cut it down if you so choose.

Toffee Blondies


1 stick of butter, melted

1 cup flour

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup toffee bits

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, combine butter, and brown sugar. Beat on low speed with mixer until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla extract on low speed with mixer.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt and beat in on low speed with mixer until well combined. Fold in toffee bits with spatula.

Bake 20-23 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool before cutting into squares.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Apple Pecan Cobbler (or Cobblah as we say here in RI)

Stop. Apple time.

Again....

I made this dessert on my husband's birthday a couple of weeks ago and we ate it for breakfast. Certainly not the breakfast of champions, but it was at least the breakfast of birthday celebrators... ;-)

I should note that the original recipe (found on allrecipes.com) called for standard granulated sugar, but since we were having my parents and in-laws over that night for dinner and my father-in-law is diabetic and cannot eat cake, I knew he'd be having a slice of this instead. I have to say it was still delish even with the Splenda. I always have Splenda - both the white sugar variety and the brown sugar blend in my cabinet because of him and you know what? Sometimes I even use it when I'm not making something for my father-in-law - it is a great way to save calories!! (Public service announcement over).

Apple Pecan Cobbler

4 cups thinly sliced apples
1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease a 2 quart baking dish.

Arrange apple slices in an even layer in the baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 cup Splenda, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup pecans. Sprinkle mixture over apples.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, 1 cup Splenda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl whisk together egg, evaporated milk, and melted butter. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture all at once, and stir until smooth. Pour mixture over apples, and sprinkle top with 1/4 cup pecans.

Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chocolate Chip Macaroons

Coconut and chocolate, a combination for the ages!!

This is one of my favorite standby reicpes - How can you go wrong with a recipe that only has 4 ingredients, is extremely easy to make, and is tasty?

Chocolate Chip Macaroons
(from Best Loved Cookies)

2 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
2/3 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Grease cookie sheets.

Combine coconut, chocolate chips, milk, and vanilla in medium bowl; mix until well blended.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto greased cookie sheets. Press dough with back of a spoon to flatten slightly.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cookies stand on cookie sheets 1 minute then remove to wire racks to cool completely. (Makes about 3 1/2 dozen)

Apple Banana Bread

Back to apples....you see, I'm not trying to bore anyone too much by overunning you with apple recipes...contrary to what I said in a previous post about posting them all at once. Sorry if I played with your emotions like that, can you ever forgive me?

Ok, back to the topic at hand. I made this great recipe from my friend Janine after we went apple picking a few weeks back. It was SO good. I'm sure it helped that I REALLY love banana bread and I love apples. In fact, bananas and apples are my favorite fruits. So for me it couldn't get much better (in my opinion at least!).

Apple Banana Bread

1/2 Cups butter flavor shortening
1/2 Cups brown sugar
1/2 Cups sugar
2 eggs
3 Tablespoons sour cream
2 mashed bananas
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Cups flour
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1 Teaspoon baking soda
1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cored & chopped apple

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening and sugars, and beat in eggs. Stir in sour cream, bananas and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon. Gradually add to shortening mixture. Gently stir in apples and nuts. Spoon into greased bread pan and bake for almost an hour, checking on it after 30-40 minutes or so. Continuing baking and using the poke test...bread will be done when toothpick comes out clean.



No picture again....sorry!

World Champs, Halloween, Dip recipe

Wow, what a weekend it was!! The RED SOX are WORLD CHAMPS and my boy, Mike Lowell, MVP!!

Let's take a second to admire him........................




Ok, who am I kidding? Admire him for just a second? I think not. I could admire him all day....I admired him all season. He's hot, a great ballplayer, and an even better guy...

Anywho, this blog is about cooking, not the adoration of Mike Lowell....(although that's not a bad idea!)

he night before the victory my husband and I hosted our 2nd annual Halloween party this past and it was a blast! My husband and I dressed as Batman & "Robin" - get it? Oh we are so clever! We also had one couple who came cross-dressed, "3 men-in-a-tub," and a disco guy among others. I think everyone outdid themselves from last year!

All this being said, the weekend could not have been any better. At our party I used a recipe my best friend Michelle had shared with me awhile back and made a few modifications to make it a bit healthier, since I've been on a diet for almost 2 months now (yup, I'm selfish, what can I say?)....and it was very popular with our crowd (and I doubt anyone figure out it was low fat). I will definitely be making it again!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

8 oz. pkg. neufatchel cheese (aka 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1/2 cup light bleu cheese dressing (I prefer Marie's brand personally - but that's just me!)
1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce (I like Ken's brand)
1/2 cup 2% milk shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups canned chicken, drained

Heat oven to 350°F. Place cream cheese into deep dish 9-inch pie plate. Microwave 1 minute to soften.

Whisk in salad dressing, Buffalo Wing Sauce and cheese until smooth. Stir in chicken (make sure it is broken up into smaller chunks).

Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through; stir. Serve with crackers (I used Reduced fat Triscuits, and wheat crackers)


And on that note....HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The Apple of my eye....

Apples....20.5 pounds of them....when you have that many you need to come up with a lot of uses for them.

This is just the first of a few recipes I'll be sharing that are apple related. I made THREE of these after we went apple picking - one stayed home, one went to work, one went to my husband's grandparents' house. And I have to say, it was really enjoyed by everyone. I even made it with Splenda in place of sugar 2 out of 3 of those times and it still tasted fab. So without further ado I give you.....


Apple Crumb Pie
(from allrecipes.com)











1 9 inch deep dish pie crust

5 Cup(s) thinly sliced, peeled, cored apples

1 Tablespoon(s) plus 1/2 cup, divided flour

1/2 Cup(s) plus 1/3 cup, divided sugar

3/4 Teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon

6 Tablespoon(s) butter

1/2 Teaspoon(s) nutmeg (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place apples in a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix well so apples are coated. Arrange apple slices in unbaked pie shell. Mix ½ cup sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over apples.

In another bowl, mix 1/3 cup sugar with remaining flour and nutmeg. Cut in butter until crumbly. Spoon mixture over apples.

Bake in preheated oven 35 to 40 minutes or until apples are soft and top is lightly browned.

Beer Can Chicken

It's a bird! It's a .....wait actually....it IS a bird....

It's a chicken! On a Beer Can! On our Grill!


So I was just kicking around on the computer and realized that had uploaded this picture a good 2 1/2 months ago - not long after I had started this blog - since I guess I was making some kind of attempt to take pictures of my creations. So there it is....Beer Can Chicken. Recipe below (the marinade is really my own concoction, but below I used Food Network's explanation on how to mount the chicken properly).

I have to say, this was extremely moist and I'll definitely do this again next summer. It's a great way to cook a whole chicken (which is usually pretty cheap) without heating up your whole house!


Beer Can Chicken

1 (4-pound) whole chicken
2 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
2 1/2 tablespoons Italian dressing
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon seasoned meat tenderizer
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning
1 can beer

Remove neck and giblets from chicken and discard. Rinse chicken inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine all ingreidents except chicken and beer. Rub chicken lightly inside and out with. Set aside.

Open beer can and either drink or discard half of the beer in the can. Place beer can on a solid surface.

Grabbing a chicken leg in each hand, place the bird cavity over the beer can. Transfer the bird-on-a-can to your grill and place in the center of the grate, balancing the bird on its 2 legs and the can.

Cook the chicken over medium-high, indirect heat (i.e. no coals or burners on directly under the bird), with the grill cover on, for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees F in the breast area and 180 degrees F in the thigh, or until the thigh juice runs clear when stabbed with a sharp knife.

Remove from grill and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.


Since I'm at it....this goes great with....(I'm glad I found this recipe on Kraft Foods since I made it a lot this past summer, my husband loves it!)

Grilled Potato Salad

2 lb. unpeeled small red potatoes, halved (about 6 cups)
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/4 cup Italian Dressing, divided
1/4 cup Mayonnaise
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Prehat grill to medium-high heat.

Place potatoes in 2-qt. microwaveable dish. Add water; cover with lid. Microwave on high for 8 minutes and drain. Add garlic and 2 tablespoons of the dressing, toss to coat.

Spray a large sheet of heavy-duty foil with cooking spray. Spoon potato mixture onto center of foil. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside.

Grill for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, turning packet over after 10 min. Mix mayonnaise and remaining 2 tablespoons of dressing in large bowl. Add potatoes and parmesan cheese and toss lightly. Serve warm (leftovers still taste great cold!)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Spiced Pork Chops

I got the following recipe from my buddy Pam from my local RI nest board. She has some of the best recipes! This one seems like it calls for a ton of ketchup, but trust me, it's all worth it in the end. These chops came out juicy and chock full of flavor! My husband and I both loved these. I'll definitely be making these again!


Spiced Pork Chops


1/2 cup flour
1/2 Teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 Teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 Teaspoon celery salt
1/2 Teaspoon paprika
1/4 Teaspoon ginger
1/8 Teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 pork chop
1 Cup(s) ketchup
1 Cup(s) water
1/4 Cup(s) brown sugar


Combine the first 7 ingredients. Dredge pork chops through. Brown in a skillet with just enough olive oil to coat the pan.


Transfer chops to casserole dish. Combine remaining ingredients, pour over chops. Bake uncovered at 350 1 hour.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Brownies!

Sometimes you just don't care if a recipe is a little bit of a cheat.....this one starts with a box mix but I loved the results, so why complain???

Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies
(from Bettycrocker.com)

1 package Betty Crocker® Original Supreme brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs or 3 eggs
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease (or use cooking spray) bottom of 13x9-inch rectangular pan.

Stir Brownie Mix, chocolate syrup, water, oil and 2 eggs for fudgelike brownies (or 3 eggs for cakelike brownies) in medium bowl, using spoon, until well blended. Spread in pan.

Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Gradually beat in sugar. Beat in vanilla and 1 egg just until blended.

Pour cream cheese mixture over brownie batter in pan; cut through mixture with knife several times for marbled design. Sprinkle with chocolate chips (I sprinkled with some white chocolate chips as well)

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until cream cheese mixture begins to brown and toothpick inserted in brownie 2 inches from side of pan comes out clean or almost clean. Cool completely. For 24 brownies, cut into 6 rows by 4 rows. Store tightly covered and, if desired, in refrigerator.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Don't turn into a pumpkin....

Yup, here's some more recipes I've tried lately. No pictures still....but I'll try to get better at that. When I post my apple recipes I'll have a few pictures to share....I'm waiting until I'm finished with my apples to post them all. Yes, I still have some....I am hoping to use the rest tonight though!

But onto another fall fruit - pumpkin. I'm not really a big fan of pumpkin, but I didn't mind either of these recipes. My husband brought the cookies in for the guys at work and they were devoured. I brought the cake in for my co-workers who promptly ate most of it (I had also brought in 2 apple recipes that day....I'll share them later, I'm all about surprise hahaha).

Pumpkin Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookies
(from: "The Cookie Bible")

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 can Libby's 100% pure pumpkin (15oz)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (12 oz pkg) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. Grease baking sheets.

Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter and granulated sugar in large mixing bowl until creamy. Beat in pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla extract. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until edges are slightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.


Chocolate Pumpkin Cake with Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
(from allrecipes.com)

1 pkg chocolate cake mix
1 15 oz can pumpkin
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9x13inch baking dish

In large bowl mix cake mix, pumpkin, eggs, and oil for 3 minutes using mixer on medium speed. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes in preheated oven, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool, then frost with cream cheese frosting.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
In small bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff peaks form; set aside.
In large bowl combine cream cheese, sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth, then fold in whipped cream.

Friday, October 12, 2007

It's Luau time....take 2....

So blogspot ate my post with luau recipes....ugh....well here they are. Went to a luau back in August at my friend Lindsay's house. So here are the two creations I brought:

Aloha Sweet Potatoes
(from cooks.com)

4 to 5 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Boil sweet potatoes in their jackets until tender. After cooked peel and cut into 1 1/2 inch thick slices.

In large skillet, melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and water and cook on medium heat about 5 minutes.

Reduce heat and add sweet potatoes to skillet. Toss lightly until sweet potatoes are glazed. Sprinkle with coconut before serving.


Coconut Crusted Chicken Fingers
(from allrecipes.com)

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch strips
1 lightly beaten egg
1/3 cup melted butter

Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl. Dip chicken strips in egg, then coat with coconut mixture. Place in shallow baking dish and drizzle with melted butter.

Bake at 400F for 30 minutes o until chicken is browned and cooked throuh, turning at least once during the cooking process.

Do you like my pickle?

I'll surely have a whole post about apples at some point....but I am going to aggregate all of those recipes into one post. Let's put it this way. My husband and I picked 20.5lbs of apples last weekend....I have been VERY busy using them up....so I've got a lot to share....but that's for another day.

In the meantime, here's another random recipe that has been missed the past 2 months that I haven't posted. It's for pickles. Yup! Pickles.

I made these recently and I packed a jar for us at home (which is almost finished) and my parents easily finished their jar in less than a week's time.

Sweet Freezer Pickles

2 pounds unpeeled, sliced cucumber
1/2 slided medium red onion
1 medium red bell pepepr
1 finely chopped stalk of celery
3 carrots, quartered lengthwise into 3 inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon of hot pepper flakes (optional)

Combine all ingrediuents in large bowl. Mix well. Place in 1 gallon resealable food storage bag. Seal tightly, releasing excess air. Freeze at least 24 hours.

Remove from freezer. Thaw and room temperature. Pour into large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (flavors improve if thawed then allowed to stand 2 days in refrigerator). May store up to 3 weeks in refrigerator or 1 year in freezer.

You can serve these just like any other bread and butter pickle, or chop before serving to make relish.

Darnit!

Seriously, blogspot just ate my last blog about luau food. I'm going to see if it magically appears....before I rewrite it....if not I guess I'll do it all over again :-/

In the meantime, here is a great idea for pork chops that I found in my "Fix It and Forget It" cookbook, and fitting for the season. My husband loved these and it couldn't get much easier.

Crockpot Autumn Porkchops

4-6 boneless pork chops
2 cups of apple juice (I used light apple juice so it would be less sugar)
1/4 cup of water
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Place pork chops in 5qt or 6qt crockpot. Combine apple juice, water, and cinnamon. Pour over chops. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4-5 hours.

Ok so....

Obviously I haven't been keeping this up at all. I think it's the whole intimidation of taking pictures of my creations.....and I just don't remember to. Then everything's been eaten and I've got nothing to share.

So here is my new philosophy - I'll take pictures when I remember and post the recipe and if I don't remember to take the pictures, hell I'm just going to post the recipe. Of course now I'm way behind because anyone that knows me knows I'm always trying out something new. So I'll be rapid firing out a bunch of recipes after I hit the "publish post" button on this one!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Sweet Lime & Soy Marinade

So I made this Sweet Lime & Soy Marinade last week....and then I forgot to post about it. I think I just need to get used to having this blog. I also intended on taking some kind of picture - either of the lovely bottle I put the marinade in or the pork I made using it, but I didn't so this is just a recipe...sorry, folks. I'll be better next time.

This was a very tasty marinade - I used it for pork chops that we grilled (gee, I wonder where I got the pork from??? hahaha). I marinated the chops for almost 24 hours. I also put a few tablespoons of it in a meatloaf I made this past weekend (along with other things) and it gave it a nice flavor.


Sweet Lime & Soy Marinade

1/4 cup soy sauce (I used light soy sauce)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon seasoned meat tenderizer
1/2 chopped small green onion

Monday, July 23, 2007

First post.....

So as you can see, I started this blog after seeing some really neat blogs out there about cooking and baking and, well, I really enjoy cooking and baking! I love making great meals for my husband and family. I love trying out new recipes whenever I can.....so these are my adventures. Hopefully I will post some good recipes up here.



To kick this off, here is your first look into my world. Frankly I think my husband was afraid of this thing when I brought it home.....it was such a good deal I couldn't pass it up. 8 2/3 pounds of pork goodness....(please excuse my "kick-around" clothes and "after-work hair" I'm rocking).