Tuesday, September 30, 2008

More veggies than I knew what to do with...

So you know my previous post where I said my friends were not able to come over for dinner?

Well the other result of that was a an overabundance of fresh veggies in my house. For the Asian themed dinner I'd planned I was going to make tempura vegetables. And well now I had a lot of veggies!

I thought that I really needed to make some all of those veggies before they went bad. It would take 2 of us alone too long to get through them. I blanched some of the veggies but for my zucchini I decided to try to make a Zucchini bread. I tried to make this recipe I found a little healthier since there was a lot of oil in the recipe (and no applesauce for me at home to sub with) so I used 1 cup of white sugar & 1 cup of splenda, then used 2 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour. I also added some nutmeg ane extra cinnamon for more flavor. I also added about an extra 1/4 cup of zucchini due to me getting a little grater happy, but I figured the extra moisture did not hurt.

I forgot something though - baking powder - and realized it too late in the game - OOPS! So these loaves ended up a little dense and flatter but still very much edible and tasty. I brought one loaf into work where it was quickly devoured by my co-workers.

Next time I would add some brown sugar maybe, or even more cinnamon. I still felt like it needed a little more oomph (however the wheat flour and splenda may have cut the oomph factor a tad so I will blame it on me and not the original recipe). Either way, still a keeper!

Zucchini Bread IV
(from AllRecipes.com)

3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar (I subbed and used 1 cup sugar, 1 cup splenda)
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used 2 cups AP flour, and 1 cup whole wheat flour)
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon (I added an additional 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Mix in oil and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, soda, baking powder, salt and nuts; stir into the egg mixture.

Divide batter into prepared pans. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until done. (I used 2, 9x5 inch loaf pans and only needed about 40 minutes of baking time)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Orange Beef

Sunday night we had plans to have my BFF and her husband over for dinner. I had an Asian themed dinner night planned. I should mention that the original date for this dinner was early last month, just under 2 weeks before their wedding. I basically un-invited them the day before because I was the proud new owner of a nasty summer cold and didn't want to get either sick right before their big day.

Yesterday was the make-up date, unfortunately it was their turn to have a snafu courtesy of the weekend long after effects of yet another Tropical Storm here in New England - i.e. they had some not so fun water in the basement.

Since I had already planned on my menu, I decided to make a scaled down version of what I had planned to serve for my husband and I. One of those things was Orange Beef - a recipe from my "Cooking with Mickey" cookbook that I picked up when we were in Disney World this past July, but hadn't made anything out of yet.

This was good, my husband loved it, but to me it wasn't out of this world. I'd make it again though, just not as flavorful as I had imagined it would be.

To cut down on costs, I actually bought some thicker cut shaved steak instead of using flank steak as the recipe calls for, which also cuts down on time since everything was pre-sliced. Anything that saves me time and money is a good thing.

I am not sure what I would do to change this recipe for the next time to give it a little more oomph though....probably adding the optional chili peppers would help. I guess we'll just see what happens when I try it again next!

Orange Beef
(from "Cooking with Mickey")

8 oz flank steak
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup oil
2 scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup water
2 chili peppers, dry (optional)

Slice flank steak into 1/2 inch strips. Combine cornstartch and flour. Dip steak first into cornstarch/flour mixture, then in beaten egg. Allow to stand for 5 minutes while oil heats in heavy skillet. Brown a few pieces of meat at a time unitl all meat has been cooked. Set aside and keep warm.

In another clean skillet or wok, saute scallions (and chili peppers if used) in a small amount of oil for about 2 minutes. Combine soy sauce, orange juice, sugar, and water and slowly pour into skillet. Cook 2 to 3 minute sor until mixture thickens. Pour over warm beef.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Caramel Apple Pie

Yup, it's that time of year again - fall - and what does that mean? You got it - apples GALORE! I have not yet made it to an orchard for apple picking but I bought some nice looking Granny smith and MacIntosh apples at the store today. I have to make at least one apple pie per season! And that particular apple pie recipe that I wanted to try out this year was something I had bookmarked about a month ago in anticipation for an occassion just like this. The recipe comes from myrecipes.com but is sponsored by Argo Cornstarch.

The result was fabulously delicious! Lucky for us I have plenty of apples to make a second one later in the week! The only change I made was not using pumpkin pie spice (I don't like pumpkin pie, and neither does my hubby so it's not something I would have on hand) and rather substituted a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger (noted below).

You know what else is great about this recipe? It calls for a prepared pie crust so I don't have to feel like a schmuck because I am too lazy to make my own from scratch...

Did I mention this was Deeeeeeelicious??

Caramel Apple Pie
(from myrecipes.com & Argo Cornstarch)

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Spice Islands® Pumpkin Pie Spice*
1 tablespoon Argo® Corn Starch
5 to 6 McIntosh or Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon rum or imitation rum flavoring
1 (9-inch) unbaked deep dish pie crust
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons prepared caramel sauce
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine

Mix sugar, pumpkin pie spice and corn starch in a large bowl. Cut apples into 1/4-inch thick slices and place in a separate bowl. Sprinkle apples with lemon juice and rum; add to dry ingredients. Stir to combine. Place in pie crust. Dot with 2 tablespoons of butter. Drizzle with caramel sauce.

Stir flour and brown sugar together in small bowl. Cut in 1/4 cup butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle evenly over top of pie.

Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake an additional 40 to 50 minutes, until golden brown (I needed only another 35 minutes to obtain a golden brown color). Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings

*I substitued pumpkin pie spice with about 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, and a pinch of ground ginger

Operation Baking GALS

Operation Baking GALS began as one baker's request for help to send baked goods to her cousin in Iraq and the rest of his division and has grown into many, many bakers joining in on the cause and sending loads of baked goods to soldiers who are defending our freedom on a daily basis. The full story of its inception can be found here.

My friend Danielle of Make No Little Meals approached me and a few other mutual friends about participating in this worthy cause and we agreed of course! So this past week we, as members of Team Adrienne's House, Danielle, myself, and our friends Lindsay and Nikki got together at Nikki's house (due to her having the fabbest kitchen among the 4 of us! Thanks, Nik, for hosting!) to bake our little hearts out for Sgt Mark Martin of Chatswort, Georgia stationed at Camp Victory in Iraq and on his THIRD tour.

Yes, I said his third tour. Did I mention yet that he is a father of 3? If we can do nothing else to thank Sgt. Martin but to send him some baked goods, why wouldn't we? He obviously is making so many sacrifices for his country and this is one way we can show our appreciation.

So what did we make?

Danielle made chocolate rice crispy treats, and 2 kinds of biscotti, Nikki made banana walnut bread, Lindsay made oatmeal raisin & craisin cookies, and pumpkin chocolate chip clusters, and I made quick chocolate softies, and oatmeal brownie gems (well, Lindsay helped me a lot with these since she did some pre-baking - thank you, Linds!). My two recipes come out of my favorite cookie book "Best Loved Cookies" straight out of the "Almost Homemade" section. Since we were going to have a lot going in on the kitchen I wanted to try to have my recipes be as simple and speedy as possible.

My two recipes follow, along with some pictures of our adventures in the kitchen. We had a fun time together but the most important thing is that we got together for this really great cause. We hope Sgt. Martin and his guys enjoy what we made for them!

Here we are! Members of "Team Adrienne's House" - me, Lindsay, Nikki, & Dani - a big thanks to Dani for getting us all together to do this!

Quick Chocolate Softies
(from "Best Loved Cookies")

1 pkg devil's food cake mix
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I omitted)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Combine cake mix, water, butter, and egg in a large bowl. Beat with electric mixer at low speed until moistened. Increase speed to medium; beat 1 minute (dough will be thick). Stir in chips and nuts; mix until well blended.

Drop dough by heaping teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake 10 - 12 minutes or until set. Let cookies stand on cookie sheets 1 minute, remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Oatmeal Brownie Gems
(from “Best Loved Cookies”)

2 ¼ cups quick cooking oats, uncooked
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I omitted)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 ¾ cup M&M’s mini baking bits (I used regular M&Ms)
1 (19-21oz) pkg fudge brownie mix, prepared according to package directions for fudge-like brownies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In large bowl combine oats, flour, sugar, nuts, and baking soda; add butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Toss in M&M’s until evenly distributed. Reserve 3 cups mixture (we just eyed it and put about ½ of the mixture aside).

Pat remaining mixture onto the bottom of a 15x10x1 inch pan to form crust. Pour prepared brownie mix over crust, carefully spreading into thin layer. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over top of brownie batter; pat down lightly.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely; cut into bars.

Dani packing up
our goodies!
Looks at all that yumminess - ready to get boxed up
& sent to Sgt Martin!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thank you!

A great, big, ginormous thank you goes out to Diana of D.S. Brenna Photography who gave my blog a very flattering review on her own blog. Diana, you are far too kind and am honored you featured me on your blog.

For those of you who have not checked out Diana's incredible photography work, I highly suggest you click on her blog link above or check out her fabulous Etsy shop!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Good things come in small packages!

I recently bought 3 tubes of crescent roll dough, they were on sale and I had a coupon. Sometimes a good deal is hard for me to pass up! Pilsbury has unlimited ideas for the uses of a of their products so I decided to go look for some unique uses for their crescent roll dough and ran across this little gem - mini cinnamon crescents.

So easy, so good, and so adorably cute - these are going to become a regular at our house!

I made most of them sans raisins for my husband and unfortunately was not able to glaze these since I apparently am out of confectioner's sugar. Even sans the glaze, these were definitely a cute little breakfast treat!

Mini Cinnamon Crescents
(from Pilsbury.com)

1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury® Crescent Recipe Creations™ refrigerated flaky dough sheet
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon apple juice or milk

Heat oven to 375°F.

If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate dough into 4 rectangles. Firmly press perforations to seal. If using dough sheet: Unroll dough; cut into 4 rectangles.

Spread 1 tablespoon butter evenly over each dough rectangle. In small bowl, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over rectangles. Sprinkle each with raisins. Starting with short side of each rectangle, roll up; pinch edges to seal. With serrated knife, cut each roll into 5 slices. Place slices, cut side down, in ungreased 8- or 9-inch square pan.

Bake 17 to 23 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix powdered sugar and apple juice until smooth. Drizzle over rolls. Serve warm.

Southwestern Lime Chicken

Every week I peruse my grocery store ads for the best deals but rarely look at much else. What do I mean?

Well, for instance, Stop & Shop has a weekly recipe in their advertisement, which I rarely pay attention to but for some reason last week, I did, and voila - we got a meal, and I got a new blog entry!

This recipe for Southwestern Lime Chicken was pretty tasty and a great twist on the typical grilled chicken. The flavors of the lime, cumin, and chili powder really melded together well and marinating the chicken breasts in yogurt really made them moist. Best part of it is this recipe is pretty darn healthy as well!

The only change I made to this recipe was marinating the chicken longer - about 40 minutes - instead of the suggested 10. 10 minutes just didn't seem like long enough. Either way I would not hesitate to make this again!

Southwestern Lime Chicken

1 medium lime
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
½ tsp dried oregano leaves
½ cup nonfat plain yogurt, liquid drained
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of fat and cut into 4oz pieces

Zest or grate lime and measure ½ teaspoon of lime zest. Squeeze lime and measure 2 tablespoons of lime juice.

In a shallow pie plate, mix lime peel and juice with garlic, cumin, pepper flakes, oregano, yogurt, and a ¼ teaspoon salt and black pepper. Mix well.

Flatten chicken breasts to an even thickness and pat dry with clean paper towels. With a large fork, poke each breast 4 to 5 times. Add chicken to yogurt and coat all surfaces with yogurt mixture. Marinate 10 minute (I marinated about 40 minutes).

Preheat grill or broiler. Place chicken on oiled rack and grill or broil 5 inches from heat for 4-5 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Jalapeno Cornbread

I just picked some more jalapenos from my garden, but just a few. I think my garden is nearly done for the year. Either way I wasn't sure what to do with them when I remember I've seen a number of jalapeno cornbread recipes floating around. The little lightbulb in my head told me that was a perfect idea since I was going to make a Southwestern Lime Chicken on the grill this week (I will post that recipe next).

This came out great - spicy, but not too spicy. I did not have buttermilk in the house but improvised using some advice from the Land O'Lakes Substitution List - definitely a site to bookmark, I've referred to it several times. Using their suggesting of 1/2 a cup of milk, and a 1/2 a cup of plain yogurt to equal one cup of buttermilk did the trick - and probably made it healthier since I used nonfat yogurt! I also used cooking spray in place of butter for greasing the pan. (p.s. Sorry for the crappy picture!)

Jalapeno Cornbread
(from MarthaStewart.com)

Makes 1 eight-inch square

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk
2 medium jalapenos, diced, with seeds
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup sugar

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly butter an 8-inch square pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, jalapenos, egg, sugar, and 2 tablespoons melted butter. Add to dry ingredients, and stir until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool for 10 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Egg Muffins

Nope, not from McDonald's...Egg. Muffins.

I found this gem on Kalyn's Kitchen. These Egg Muffins are a fun idea, and leave you with a lot of possibilities for what to put in them. For my versions I chopped some cooked bacon and added some shredded cheese to the mix. My other version involved diced roasted red peppers, onions, and shredded cheese. There are also instructions for freezing these which is always good to know, I'm one of those people that can't stand if food goes to waste and also appreciate the convenience of being able to take something out of the freezer in a pinch for time.

I won't post the recipe and let Kalyn's step by step instructions (which are great by the way) do the talking. This will be yet another breakfast staple in our house for sure!

In search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie...

Chocolate chip cookies. They are, pretty much, the holy grail of recipes. Who doesn't love a chocolate chip cookie? And how many versions of them are there out there?

There is, of course, always the classic Nestle Toll House recipe - one can never really go wrong with it. But there are hundreds more recipes to be had. I'm willing to try some of those out. This is not the first I've posted on this blog and it probably won't be the last!

The most recent recipe I tried was for Ghiradelli Chocolate Chip cookies. It was, of course, from the back of the Ghiradelli Chocolate chip bag. This recipe is definitely a keeper. The cookies come out a little crispier than chewy but are still divine and on my list of recipes to keep around!

Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cup(s) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1 cup(s) butter or margarine, at room temperature
3/4 cup(s) sugar
3/4 cup(s) brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon(s) vanilla
2 1/4 cup(s) unsifted flour
1 teaspoon(s) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1 cup(s) walnuts, or pecans, chopped

Heat oven to 375ºF. Stir flour with baking soda and salt; set aside. In large mixer bowl, cream butter with sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.

Drop by tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375ºF for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown