Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gingerbead Cookies

I wanted to share one more holiday treat before the new year. I had plans of sharing some more, but then I left my camera at a friend's house all week! These cookies were a last minute addition to my holiday gift tins. My father loves gingerbread cookies at Christmas, so I am trying to get him to expand his tastes from the slice and bake variety he buys each year. This is the first time I ever made gingerbread cookies, and believe it or not, it's also the first time I've used cookie cutters this decade! I had so much fun covering the counter in flour and dough and putting our rolling pin to good use. I loved the spice of these cookies, and I can see myself using this recipe for years to come. I found this recipe posted on Annie's Eats.

You will need:
*4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt

*1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. ground cloves

*2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
16 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature

*1 cup sugar
1 cup molasses

*1 large egg

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices to combine. Set aside.

2. In a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in the molasses and egg until combined. Add in the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Cover the bowl and chill the dough for at least one hour.

3. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.

4. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place the cookie shapes onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.

5. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Gingerbread Granola

Merry Christmas! (A few days late, I know) I hope you all enjoyed time with family and friends over the holiday weekend. We had a busy couple of days and are enjoying some downtime now that we're snowed in. I was completely spoiled this year with fabulous gifts. I'm most excited about my gift from Dave- a Nikon DSLR! I look forward to playing with it as I start cooking new recipes in the new year.

I made this granola to add to some of my cookie tins and trays this holiday season. I used some of the leftovers in my yogurt, and I think you could enjoy it at any time of year. If you like ginger, then you'll like this recipe. I found this linked through a Taste of Home email that I receive, and it is posted on a Disney Family website.

You will need:
*4 cups old-fashioned oats

*1 cup blanched, slivered almonds

*1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup molasses
1/3 cup oil

*pinch salt

*1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger (I used a bit less because I didn't have enough)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Mix oats, nuts, and dried fruit together in a large bowl; mix sugar, spices, salt and wet ingredients in another.

3. Pour sugar and oil mixture over the oats and stir well, making sure everything is evenly coated.Pour out onto greased, rimmed baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

4. Let cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Peppermint Truffles

How's your holiday baking going? I am really enjoying mine now that I get to spend the days in the kitchen. It is time, however, for me to focus on other things like wrapping and getting to the post office! This recipe is an easy variation on oreo truffles. It starts with one of my favorite signs of the holiday season:
These peppermint like oreos are great in brownies and as the 'oreo' in truffles. I used some red Wilton candy melts to do this batch, but I do not think I will use them again. The chocolate was harder to work with, and I prefer the Bakers bars taste and texture. I think I will use my leftover red wafers to drizzle over the next batch after they are dipped in chocolate.
You will need:
*8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
*1 16oz. box Candy Cone Joe-Joe's (or other mint chocolate cookie)
*chocolate to coat

1. Crush the cookies.
2. Beat cream cheese to smooth it out.
3. Combine half cookies with cream cheese. Mix until combined. Add remaining cookies.
4. Form mixture into balls and place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Freeze for at least 1 hour.
5. Dip into any melted chocolate you desire.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Red Velvet Cookies

I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen over this past week. I was (and still am) making treats for coworkers, neighbors, family, and friends. I have made a few batches of candy cane biscotti and gingerbread biscotti. The popular oreo truffles and pretzel treats have made a return, and I have experimented with new recipes too. These red velvet cookies are a simple recipe using boxed cake mix. During the busy holiday baking, I appreciate shortcuts with ready-to-go ingredients. The bright red colorf will add holiday cheer to any cookie tray or gift tin. I found this recipe on Homemade by Holman.

You will need:
*1 box red velvet cake mix
*1/2 cup vegetable oil (Used for 18 oz cake mix)
*2 eggs
*Cream cheese frosting (my recipe is below)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees; grease a cookie sheet lightly.

2. Combine cake mix, oil, and eggs together.

3. Roll cookies into balls and place on cookie sheets, flattening slightly. (A silicone lined cookie sheet will help prevent burning the bottoms)

4. Bake for about 8 minutes or until tops start to crack.

5. Cool on wire racks and frost when completely cool.

Cream cheese frosting
You will need:
*8oz. cream cheese, room temperature
*1/2 cup butter, temperature
*1 tsp vanilla
* about 2 cups powdered sugar

1. Cream together butter and cream cheese. Add vanilla.

2. Mix in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until you reach your desire consistency.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pork Chops with Cinnamon Apples

I'm behind on posting recipes. We enjoyed this dinner back in October after we went apple picking. I'm in the process of baking Christmas treats for coworkers before school vacation starts, so I will be sharing some seasonal treats soon. Although apple season has passed, this is another great quick dinner to prepare on a busy December evening. The recipe is from Cooking Light's October 2003 issue.

You will need:
*1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
*4 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
*1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
*Cooking spray
*1 teaspoon butter
*4 cups (1/2-inch) slices peeled Granny Smith apples (I used Cortland apples)
*1 tablespoon brown sugar
*1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (omitted)
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*Dash of salt

1. Combine first the sage, salt, and black pepper; sprinkle over the pork.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add pork; cook 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove the pork from pan. Cover and keep warm.

3. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add apples, brown sugar, lemon juice if using, ground cinnamon, and dash of salt. Cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Serve the apples over the pork.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pomegranate Beef

It's officially the holiday season. I love this time of year, but I always struggle to keep everything going while prepping for this holiday. Nights after work are full of shopping, decorating, baking, and wrapping; nevermind the usual working out, running errands, and cooking dinner. I am always searching for simple weeknight recipes that allow us to enjoy a home-cooked meal while enjoying the many extra holiday tasks. These beef tips provided just that. I am thinking of serving these the next time have family over for dinner. The wine reduction seems like it would take much more time than it does. The original Cooking Light recipe recommends serving these with potato wedges, but I thought they were perfect with a veggie like asparagus.

You will need:
*4 (4-ounce) beef tenderloin steaks, trimmed (I used large tips)
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
*1 tablespoon minced shallots
*1/3 cup red wine (I used malbec)
*1/3 cup pomegranate juice
*1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
*1 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
*pomegranate seeds, for serving if desired

1. Sprinkle steaks evenly with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

2. Heat large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steaks to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking. Remove steaks from pan; keep warm.

3. Add shallots to pan and saute 30 seconds. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, wine, juice, broth, and bring to a boil. Cook 7 minutes or until reduced to about 3 tablespoons.

4. Remove from heat. Add butter to sauce, stirring until butter melts. Serve sauce over steaks; top with pomegranate seeds.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Overnight French Toast

I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving and a long weekend off from work. We had a wonderful holiday with our families, and we were lucky enough to have good friends come and stay with us for the weekend. It was a fabulous way to kick off the holiday season! I made new recipes for the holiday, but I did not get photos of any of them. I plan on repeating an appetizer soon, so I will post that recipe once I have a picture.

After spending a lot of time prepping Thanksgiving dinner, I didn't want to miss time with our weekend visitors to be in the kitchen. I had bookmarked this recipe on She Cooks and Bakes a long time ago. It seemed like the perfect thing to make before bed, and then I'd only have to heat in the morning. This recipe did not disappoint. Both the adults and children enjoyed it. I sent Dave to pick up the bread and wasn't specific enough. If I was to make this recipe again, I would get bread that was a bit wider to make a larger serving. These smaller cuts, however, were perfect for our toddler friends.

I omitted a few things from the recipe including added sugar, and it still came out really well. Here's how I made it.
You will need:
*1 loaf soft French bread (or any bread you desire)
*2 tbsp salted butter, softened
*6 eggs
*1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)
*1 tsp vanilla extract
*1 teaspoon cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

For serving:
*Maple syrup
*Powdered sugar

1. Prepare a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or lightly oil.

2. Cut 12 slices of bread about 1 inch think. Lightly butter one side of each piece of bread. Arrange bread buttered sides up in one layer in prepared dish.

3. In a bowl whisk together eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and salt until combined. Pour over bread and cover and refrigerate overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees

5. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the toast is cooked the way you like it. Serve with powdered sugar and maple syrup.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pasta with Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

This is a recipe that screams fall. We enjoyed it back on Halloween while we were waiting for trick-or-treaters. I have only ever used my pumpkin puree for baking, so I liked the opportunity to use it in a main dish. The sauce was a little bland for me. If I was to make it again, I think I would add some more spices to it. The need for salt is noted in the recipe below, and you must be generous to help balance the flavors. Therefore, this is not a low sodium friendly recipe. It is something easy to throw together, and I recommend it if you are in need of a break from prepping and turkey this week. This recipe comes from Martha Stewart. The only change I made was to use cider vinegar instead of white wine vinegar.

*12 ounces short pasta, (I used whole wheat penne)
*Kosher salt
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
*1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree
*1 garlic clove, minced
*1/2 cup half-and-half
*1/3 cup grated Parmesan
*1 tablespoon cider vinegar
*1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for garnish

1, Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Reserve 2 cups pasta water; drain pasta and set aside.

2. In pasta pot, heat oil over medium. Add rosemary and fry, stirring, until starting to brown. This should take1 to 2 minutes.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer rosemary to a paper towel, leaving oil in pot.
Carefully (to avoid oil splatter) add pumpkin puree, garlic, Parmesan, vinegar, red-pepper flakes, 1 cup reserved pasta water, and half-and-half to pot. Stir sauce until heated through-About 3 minutes.

4. Add pasta to sauce, and toss to coat. If sauce is too thick, add some reserved pasta water. Season generously with salt.

5. Serve pasta sprinkled with fried rosemary and, if desired, more red-pepper flakes.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Muffins-Easy and healthy

Tis the season to use up that canned pumpkin! Every year I stock up in ridiculous amounts once I spot Libby's pumpkin puree entering the supermarket. This is an old WW recipe that I make frequently. I've brought these to work, showers, and many other occasions. The recipe is simple, requires little ingredients, and these muffins are guilt free compared to high calorie alternatives. These can be made with a variety of mix-ins such as pecans, walnuts, chocolate chips, and so on. The possibilities are endless.

You will need:
*1 box of spice cake mix
*1 15oz. can pumpkin puree
*1 egg white
*splash of water

1. Preheat oven to temperature indicated on the spice cake directions. (Usually around 350)
2. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Beat on low until combined.
3. Line muffin pans. Pour batter into muffin cups until about 3/4 full.
*Note, I never do this neatly. If you want 'neat' tops to your muffin, make sure your batter is even on top before cooking.
4. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick entered in the center comes out clean.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Ginger Soy Turkey Burgers

Happy Friday!
These tasty burgers were cooked up on our indoor grill-the Cuisinart Griddler. This tool was what kept us happy in our apartment, but now that we have an outdoor Weber, it was neglected since the move. We are entering the season for this to function regularly in our kitchen again. These burgers were something we both enjoyed. I made a side of kale chips to go with them. I found this recipe on Homemade by Holman.

You will need:
*1 pound lean ground turkey (I used just over a pound-however it comes packaged)
*2 tablespoon sesame oil
*1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
*2 tablespoons soy sauce
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
*1/2 teaspoon black pepper
*1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
*4 hamburger buns
*Greens for a topping or side

1. Preheat grill on medium low heat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and soy sauce. Add garlic, ginger, and black pepper; stir to combine. Remove about 1/3 of the mixture and set aside.

3. Add ground turkey and bread crumbs to remaining 2/3 of the mixture. Lightly mix with your hands until incorporated (be careful not to over mix). Form into 4 patties.

4. Cook about 5-6 minutes a side, or until cooked through. Grill your buns in the last 2 minutes of cook time.

5. Serve each burger with a drizzle of the remaining sauce. Topp with any greens or cheese if desired. (Originally recipe calls for feta)


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pasta with Butternut Squash and Sage

Baby, it's cold outside! Pasta dishes are the ultimate warming comfort food for me. When you make them with multigrain pasta, these pasta dinners become more filling which results in eating a few less carbs. This recipe came together easily, and it was definitely full of fall flavors. The bacon gives this its great flavor. I found this recipe on Koko Cooks who adapted it from Cook's Illustrated.

You will need:
*3 slices of bacon, sliced thinly crosswise
*3 Tbs fresh sage, minced
*1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
*1 Tbs butter
*1 cup thinly sliced scallions, light green and green part only
*¼ tsp ground nutmeg
*2 cups low sodium chicken broth
*1 box of pasta (mine was just over 13oz, I wouldn't do more than a pound)
*2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
*4 tsp lemon juice

1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Add 2 Tbs of the sage, and cook for another minute. Remove bacon and sage to a plate, keeping as much of the bacon drippings in the pan as possible. Set aside bacon-sage mixture.

2. Turn heat to high. Add the squash in an even layer and cook until the squash begins to brown. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the squash is spotty brown on all sides. This should take from 10-15 minutes total.

3. Add butter and let it melt. Add ¾ of the scallions, nutmeg, and rest of the sage. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until scallions are softened, another minute or two. Add broth and bring to a simmer. Turn down heat to medium and cook until the squash is tender, another 3-4 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, cook pasta to al dente. Drain, reserving ¼ c of pasta water.

5. Return pasta to pot used to cook it. Add the squash mixture, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and bacon-sage mixture. Use pasta water to help the sauce adhere to the noodles if needed. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese if desired.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicken in Walnut Sauce

It's the dark time of year again. It is dark when I am heading to work and it is dark as I am leaving work. The morning is such a struggle. I am sure each day that my alarm must be wrong. This weekend we turn the clocks, and while I am sad to lose daylight earlier, I need to see some sun in the morning. One positive to these darker, cooler days is my desire to cook us a warm home-cooked meal each evening. Too bad my already struggling food photography turns even worse in the dark dinner hour.

This recipe was another success from Stephanie Cooks. It came together nicely, and we enjoyed this chicken with a side of green beans.

You will need:
*1 teaspoon olive oil
*2 boneless chicken breasts
*1/3 cup finely chopped onion
*1 garlic clove, minced
*1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
*2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
*1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
*1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
*1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
*1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (I forgot!)
*1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I used rice vinegar)
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add chicken; cook several minutes on each side until browned. (Timing will vary depending on thickness of chicken breast)

2. Remove chicken from pan and keep warm. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 2 minutes or until tender, stirring constantly. Add walnuts; cook 1 minute or until toasted and fragrant, stirring constantly.

3. Combine flour, cinnamon, and red pepper, and sprinkle over walnuts, stirring to coat. Add the broth with a whisk. Return chicken to pan; cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until chicken is done and sauce is slightly thick.

4. Stir in parsley, vinegar, salt, and black pepper, bring to a boil and simmer for a few minutes. Serve immediately.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Candy Corn Cupcakes

Happy Halloween!
I made these bite-sized treats for a Halloween party we went to, and they were perfect for the toddlers and adults to enjoy. I saved this recipe that The Novice Chef posted last year. These are simple to make, but they look like a bit more effort was required. If you still have candy corn around then I recommend you use it to top these desserts. I forgot to take a picture of the inside, but the colors are layered like a candy corn-yellow bottom, orange cake top, and the white frosting tip.

You will need:

*1 box white cake mix

*Ingredients required on box to make cake mix (I needed vegetable oil, 3 egg whites, and water)

*Red and yellow food coloring
1 can white frosting
Candy corn for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line your mini cupcake pan with cupcake liners.
2. Prepare cake batter as directed on the box and separate batter into two different bowls. Add food coloring to each bowl of batter until you reach desired orange and yellow colors.
3. Pour yellow batter first into your mini cupcake liner. Slowly add orange batter on top.
4. Bake as directed on the cake mix box.
Once the mini cupcakes has cooled completely, add a swirl of white frosting and a cute little candy corn for decoration.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Apple BBQ Crockpot Chicken

We get together with friends to watch the Patriots Game almost every Sunday during football season. Last week's game start was at 4:00 which formed a plan to have dinner at halftime. I made this crockpot recipe and was not disappointed. This recipe was posted on What's On My Menu last fall. I think I slightly overcooked my chicken because it much more shredded than I expected. This is probably because I butterflied the chicken breasts. Next time, I will use thicker pieces of chicken or alter the cook time. I noted this below in suggesting a cook time of 6-8 hours.

You will need:
*1/2 cup barbecue sauce
*2 apples - peeled, cored and grated
*Juice of 1 lemon
*4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
*8 slices of bacon

1) Combine barbecue sauce, apple and lemon juice.

2) Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Wrap 2 pieces of bacon around each chicken breast and place in crock pot. Top with barbecue sauce mixture; cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes

Fall is fabulous. It is a time to indulge in all things pumpkin. The great pumpkin shortage of last year required me to stock up on pumpkin puree. No one, however, prepared me for this year's candy corn shortage around here! This weekend I will be hunting some down to try more delicious fall recipes.
I digress because pumpkin puree wasn't even needed for this particular recipe. Luckily, Shipyard Pumpkin Ale is easy to track down. These cupcakes were made for my friend's 30th birthday party, and I did not have any leftovers. The taste is more like a spice cake, and I really liked them paired with the cinnamon frosting. This recipe was posted on Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen last year.

For the cupcakes, you will need:
*2 1/2 cups flour
*1/4 cup cornstarch
*4 teaspoons baking powder
*2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
*1 teaspoon cinnamon
*1 cup pumpkin ale
*3 eggs
*2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
*2 sticks salted butter, softened (Add about 1/2 tsp salt if you use unsalted butter)
*2 cups light brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Set up cupcake pan with 24 liners.

2. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Set aside.

3. In another bowl, beat together butter and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla to butter/sugar mixture and beat until well incorporated. Alternately add flour, then beer to butter mixture, beating on low.

4. Pour batter into cupcake liners, about 2/3 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

For the cinnamon icing, you will need:
*1 stick salted butter, room temperature
*1/2 block (4 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature (I always use low-fat)
*1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
*1 teaspoon cinnamon
*3 cups powdered sugar

Please note: I always double icing recipes because I like to frost with the 1M Wilton star tip, and it always requires more frosting. The above ingredients are not doubled, but I recommend it if you are frosting with the 1M or a similar tip.

1. Cream together butter, cream cheese, and vanilla.
2. Add cinnamon then powdered sugar one cup at a time; beat well.
3. Top cupcakes with icing and a light dusting of cinnamon.
4. Store iced cupcakes in refrigerator. Allow them to come to room temperature for serving.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Simple Spicy Sausage Dip

I made this dip for a friends birthday party, and it was another successful recipe from Annie's Eats. Because I was making cupcakes (which will be posted soon), I decided to look for a simple appetizer. Of course I was running late. It always takes me way longer to ice cupcakes than I think it will! So Dave gets the credit for making this app from the recipe below. The dip was delicious with some corn chips. This will probably make another appearance at a football get-together soon.

You will need:
*1 pound of spicy/zesty ground sausage (or break up your own frozen)
*1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained
*2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese
*Hot sauce, to taste

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the crumbled sausage until browned. Drain off any excess fat.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomatoes, cream cheese, and hot sauce. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is warmed through and the ingredients are well blended.

3. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve warm.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saucy Pork Chops

It's official, fall is here! As the days start seeming shorter because darkness is creeping in earlier, I turn to quick to prepare dinners. This was perfect for a week night because it was easy to throw together. The cook time is lengthy, but that allowed me an opportunity to get some work done while dinner was cooking. These pork chops didn't dry out like many of my grilled attempts do. I recommend serving them over rice with a green veggie on the side. I discovered this recipe on Pineapple Grass who found it in the 5-Ingredients of Less cookbook.

You will need:
*1 can cream of chicken soup
*1/4 cup ketchup
*1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
*3-4 pork chops
*1-1/2 cups prepared rice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix soup, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce together. Set aside.

3. Arrange pork chops in an ungreased 8x8 pan. Pour soup mixture over the top of the chops. Cover with foil and bake for one hour.

4. Serve each pork chop on a serving of rice and top with remaining sauce.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cosmo Cupcakes

This recipe screamed bachelorette party to me when I spotted on Loves to Eat back in the spring. I saved this recipe for the perfect opportunity, and I recently made these treats for my friend Danielle's bachelorette party. I found cupcake wrappers matched our theme and her wedding colors perfectly. These cupcakes came out very sweet and definitely tasted similar to a Cosmo. I am not the biggest fan of pink, but I was really happy with the look of these. Give them a try for your next girl's event.

Recipe orginally from A Cup Full of Cake
For the cupcakes, you will need:
*1/2 cup butter room temp
*2 cups sugar
*2 eggs, room temp
*1/2 tsp salt
*2-1/2 tsp baking powder
*3 cups all-purpose flour
*1/4 cup buttermilk
*1 1/4 cup Cosmopolitan ( recipe below)
*zest of 1 lime
*Optional red paste or gel food coloring- if you would like a reddish tint to the cake (I used pink dye)

1. Allow all ingredients to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line muffin pans with cupcake papers.

2. With a mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time and beat until well combined. Add the lime zest and buttermilk.

3. Combine all dry ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside

4. Make the cosmopolitan (recipe below) and measure out 1 1⁄2 cups in a separate bowl.

5. Add in 1 cup each of the dry and wet mixtures alternately, beating on low until the whole mixture is well combined.

6. Fill cups with batter two-thirds full. Bake at 350 F for 18-22 minutes or until cupcakes spring back in the middle when touched lightly. Cool for 10 minutes in pan.

7. Next, make the glaze (I think I may skip this step next time)
Heat the 1 1/2 cup cosmopolitan over medium heat until thickened and slightly reduced. Poke cupcakes with a fork and brush with cranberry/vodka glaze when cupcakes are still slightly warm.

8. Allow cupcakes to cool completely. Frost with the frosting listed below.

Cosmopolitan Buttercream Recipe
For the frosting, you will need:
*3 sticks (1 1/2 cup) butter room temp
*4 cups confectioner’s sugar
*pinch salt
*1 tsp lime zest
*3-4 tbsp of the Cosmopolitan (or more until you reach desired consistency)
*coloring if desired- I used more pink dye

1. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

2. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time beating well with each addition. Add the salt and mix in the zest.

3. Add the Cosmopolitan one tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

Garnish with lime zest, lime wedges, sugar crystals, or anything else you'd like to use. Enjoy!

Cosmopolitan Cocktail Recipe
You will need:
*1 1/2 ouncesvodka (I used absolut cranberry)
*1/2 ounce triple sec
*1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
*1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
*1 twist lime and zest

1. Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with lots of ice.
2. Shake vigorously for several seconds and strain into a cocktail glass.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Turkey Taco Burgers with Guacamole

We enjoyed these burgers back in August, and I just realized I never shared them. These were delicious. In my book, almost anything topped in guacamole is a winner. We are hoping to pull out a few more grilling recipes before the cooler weather settles here. This week isn't looking good because everyday is showing rain! The other obstacle we now run into on a weeknight is how early it is getting dark. We will be making these burgers again soon, whether it is on the grill or indoors on our griddler.

These are a Rachael Ray recipe that I spotted on Adventures in Marriage.

For the burgers you need:
*1 pound ground turkey breast
*1 small red onion, 1/2 grated and 1/2 minced
*1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
*1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
*1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
*1/4 cup taco sauce
*Salt and pepper
*4 Kaiser rolls

For the guacamole you need:
*3 ripe avocados, flesh removed from skin, pit removed and discarded
*2 large cloves garlic, minced
*juice of 1 lime
*3 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
*1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1. Place the ground turkey in a mixing bowl. Add the grated red onion, shredded cheddar, ground cumin, ground coriander, chili powder, taco sauce, salt and some pepper. Mix to combine; divide into 4 patties.

2, Grill burgers on each side for 6-7 minutes, or until cooked through.

3. While the burgers are cooking, make the guacamole. Place the avocados in the bottom of a mixing bowl. Add the minced garlic, and the lime juice. Mash together, add more salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomatoes, remaining minced onion and cilantro.

4. Toast rolls if desired. Place the burgers on the bottom of the toasted rolls, then top with a spoonful of guacamole.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Black Bean and Corn Salad

I love fall, pumpkin, and apples. However, I am not ready to cook fall foods just yet. The weather is holding on here. And while I enjoy cooler temperatures in the classroom, the 60s are not enough to make me think fall in New England! Maybe I will have another view next week (or as soon as the grocery store is stocking Libby's pumpkin again).

I made this salad a few times this summer. It is a simple, fresh side to compliment any BBQ event. The recipe was shared with me by a friend who brought it to my house to make for a bridal shower. You can find a link to the All Recipes original here. With nice weather still kicking around, I highly recommend you give this a try before the fall season is in full swing.

You will need:
*1/3 cup fresh lime juice
*1/2 cup olive oil (I only used about a tablespoon)
*1 clove garlic, minced
*1 teaspoon salt
*1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
*2 cans black beans (each 15 oz), rinsed and drained
*1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
*1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
*1 red bell pepper, chopped (a variety of colored bell peppers looks nice too)
*2 tomatoes, chopped
*6 green onions, thinly sliced
*1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1) Combine lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Cover with lid, and shake until ingredients are well mixed, or whisk together rapidly.

In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro.

3) Mix the lime dressing, and pour it over the salad. Stir salad to mix. Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pickles are easy!

I love pickles. In fact, I lived through high school and college on a diet heavy in pickles. I ate them alone, on sandwiches, in salads, and paired with a classic saltine and peanut butter meal. Luckily, I eat much better these days, but I do still enjoy pickles on sandwiches, burgers, and as an occasional snack. This is the first time I made pickles. We had some pickling cucumbers from our CSA, so I was eager to try this recipe. I have already made these a few times and will continue to do so.

Dill Pickles from Annie's Eats

For the brine you will need:
*3 cups water
*6 tbsp. white vinegar
*3 tbsp. kosher salt

And you will also need:
*minced garlic
*fresh dill
*cucumbers, cut into spears, rings, sandwich slices, anything really!

1. Combine all brine ingredients in a pitcher and stir well until the salt is dissolved.

2. Put several sprigs of fresh dill in the bottom of a container (like a jar or tupperware like I did). Pack your container half full with cucumber pieces. Then add more sprigs of dill. Finish filling the jar with cucumbers. Sprinkle some minced garlic on top.

3. Pour brine into the jar until it is full and the liquid covers the pickles. Put the lid on and allow to refrigerate at least 2 days before eating.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Purple Cow Frozen Yogurt

Happy Birthday to me! I decided to share this delicious treat in celebration of my birthday. It is one of the best things I have made in my ice cream maker. My KA mixer ice cream attachment was a gift from mom for my birthday last year. It has certainly been used this year! The bowl just lives in our freezer, ready to make ice cream whenever we need it to. I love Greek yogurt, so it is no surprise that I enjoy it in this fro yo. There are many flavor combinations in my head that I can make with this frozen yogurt base, and I hope to do some experimenting soon. This recipe was taken from Cook Like A Champion.

You will need:
*3 cups 2% Greek yogurt (the nonfat kind will not work well, trust me!)
*1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*2/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon sugar
*2 cups blackberries
*semi sweet chocolate chips
*white chocolate chips

1. Combine yogurt, sugar and vanilla and stir until sugar is disolved. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

2. Wash and dry blackberries and puree in a food processor. Strain the blackberries to separate the liquid from the seeds. Then stir in one tablespoon of sugar. Cover and refrigerate one hour.

3. After at least an hour, add blackberry puree to yogurt mixture and stir until combined.

4. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. The yogurt will be a soft serve consistency. Place into an airtight container and mix in the chocolate chips. Keep in freezer until yogurt is completely frozen.
*I needed to let the yogurt sit out a bit before serving because it was too hard right from the freezer.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

RR's Pesto Chicken Grill Packets

It's the inevitable approaching end to August. The back to school excitement, anticipation, and stress is coming! I love the newness of a new class, new classroom setup, and unpacking all of the new supplies. I always say in January when people make resolutions that my new year officially starts in September just after labor day. At this point, the to-do list is ambitious, and I am trying to balance accomplishments for work with enjoying the last moments of a flexible schedule. I am using our grill as much as possible these next couple weeks. Before we know it, we will be getting home from work in the dark and craving fall foods. The first week of school is always so draining, and I think I will remake this simple Rachael Ray recipe one night. It is taken from the blog Everything Rachael Ray. If you like pesto, then I think you will like this recipe. I used full sized chicken breasts and increased the cooktime to 40 minutes. We enjoyed these with some grilled corn on the cob.

You will need:
*Olive oil
*4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)
*Salt and pepper
*1 cup pesto
*2 zucchini, thinly sliced
*3 plum tomatoes, chopped
*8 scallions, trimmed

1. Preheat a grill to medium.

2. Cut four sheets of heavy-duty foil, each about 1 foot long. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil into the center of each sheet.

3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Lay 1 piece of chicken in the center of each sheet and spread 1 tablespoon pesto on top.

4. Mound one-quarter of the zucchini, tomatoes and scallions over each chicken breast. Add 3 tablespoons pesto over each mound of veggies. Fold the foil over the chicken and vegetables pinching the edges to seal.

5. Cover and grill the packets over indirect heat for 25 minutes. Remove from the grill and open carefully. (I did closer to 40 because I didn't half the chicken breast, and I am terrified of undercooked chicken!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's been a year peach cobbler

Wow, I cannot believe I started this little blog one year ago. This past year has been the fastest one I have ever experienced in my life. I look forward to to continuing documenting our tried recipes and sharing them here. It is impressive how much less Dave and I eat out, and we rarely ever get takeout. Weekly menu planning is not even a chore anymore, but it has become something I truly enjoy. Dave has even began offering ideas for dinner to try. We started with the goal to try one new recipe a week, and we have expanded to cooking new foods in new ways quite frequently. I find many different recipes through cooking magazines, websites, and other blogs. My Google Reader is one of my favorite things to look through each day. This year we also signed up for a CSA share through a local farm. This has provided us fresh summer produce, and forced us to try some new things. Our share will continue into October, and I hope to feature more recipes made with our fresh produce.
In honor of my 1-year-blogiversary, here is a sweet summer peach cobbler. I made this using peaches we received in last week's CSA. I scaled down the butter and sugar in this recipe, and it was still nice and sweet. A very summery dessert.

Peach Cobbler
Adapted from My Recipes

You will need:
*5 tbsp unsalted butter
*1 cup all-purpose flour
*1 1/2 cups of sugar, divided
*1 tbsp baking powder
*Pinch of salt
*1 cup milk
*4 cups fresh peach slices
*1 lemon juiced
*Ground cinnamon or nutmeg (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Melt butter in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.

3. Combine flour, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt; add milk, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Pour batter over butter (do not stir).

4. Bring remaining 1 cup sugar, peach slices, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly; pour over batter (do not stir). Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.

5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve cobbler warm or cool. (We prefer warm)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Burger

We love most things buffalo, so it was no surprise we enjoyed these burgers. My goal this summer is using our grill as much as possible, and I think I am succeeding! I found this recipe on The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be a simple, tasty meal. This was great served with some bleu cheese dressing and raw vegetables on the side.

You will need:
*1 pound ground chicken
*2 - 4 oz. bleu cheese crumbles (I just topped the burgers and didn't measure)
*1 egg
*1/2 cup bread crumbs
*1/4 cup - 1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce (Frank's Red Hot is my favorite!)
*salt and pepper, to taste

1) Preheat the grill to medium-high.

2) Mix ground chicken, bread crumbs, egg, wing sauce, salt, and pepper in bowl until well mixed. Divide mixture into eight even patties.

3) Top four of the patties with the bleu cheese crumbles and top with another patty. Seal the sides.

4) Place burgers on on the grill over indirect heat. Cook them for about 8-12 minutes a side.

5) Serve on a bun with extra bleu cheese crumbles or dressing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Baked Tortellini

It has been a busy, stressful couple of weeks around here. This has been changing our meal times, and some nights we have not even had dinner. (Luckily, things are starting to look up!) I was craving comfort food big time last week. Comfort food to me=cheesy. I made this for lunch one day, and then Dave was able to enjoy it for dinner. It definitely hit the spot.

You will need:
*cheese tortellini-13 oz.
*tomato sauce-1 1/2 cups
*cream cheese-about 4 oz.
*garlic powder-1 tsp
*shredded mozzerella-1/2 cup
(you can use the amount you need. I made this in my 8x8 pyrex)

1) Preheat oven to 350.Cook tortellini according to package instructions. While tortellini is cooking, heat the tomato sauce and cream cheese in a small sauce pan stirring occasionally.

2) Once the cream cheese melts, add the garlic powder.

3) Pour cooked tortellini into a baking pan and cover in the sauce mixture. Top with shredded mozzerella.

4) Bake for about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Chicken Caprese Couscous

How is it August?! I just can't believe how fast this summer is going by.

I made this recipe for lunch last week. The tomato, basil, and mozzarella were all leftover after making caprese skewers for a friend's bridal shower. As always, I bought way more ingredients than I needed. When feeding a crowd, I always opt to have leftovers than to have too little.

You will need:
*cooked chicken cut into bite sized pieces (optional)
*couscous (I used one cup)
*grape tomatoes
*fresh mozzarella
*fresh basil
*balsamic vingear

1) Boil one cup of water; add salt and stir in couscous. Remove pan from the heat and keep covered for 5 minutes.

2) Fluff couscous with a fork. Mix in your desired amount of chicken, tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella. I enjoyed this with a dash of balsamic vinegar.

This makes a great summery side dish.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kielbasa Bites

We celebrated my Dad's June birthday at our new house. He loves kielbasa so I decided to try this easy appetizer. We found another winner! These require only two, maybe three, ingredients and cook for one hour. I found these on Lauren's Kitchen during football season, and I will surely make them for games this fall.

You will need:
* 1 package kielbasa (I used just over a pound)
*12oz ginger ale

1. Chop the kielbasa into slices about 1/2"-1" inch thick.

2. Place in a medium to large skillet and pour the ginger ale over the top.

3. Bring to a slow boil and then simmer, stirring occasionally, until brown and caramelized and all liquid is gone- about 45 minutes to an hour.

4. Serve with a mustard if you desire.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Basic Burgers

(The burger is photographed above with my favorite summer beverage-Sam Summer
and on my favorite new outdoor space-our deck)

I am posting this from my NEW laptop! I am so excited because everything is working smoothly again. I loved my old iBook that my parents gifted to me to start grad school. After 6 years, the machine still worked pretty well, but I filled the hard drive with pictures, music, and documents. I couldn't even upgrade my operating system for the past year. So overtime websites failed to load.

Also getting an update recently was my go-to burger recipe. I have been browsing the Home Goods store frequently now that I am a home owner, and on my last visit Everyday Food: Great Food Fast caught my eye. I love this cookbook! It is separated by seasons and each recipe has a wonderful picture. I just look cookbooks with pictures. The first recipe I made from this book was the "Best Beef Burgers." They are simple, cheap, and tasty. I grilled some onions to serve on ours, and I also topped them with pickles, cheese, and ketchup.

You will need:
*2 pounds ground chuck (I used 1.5 pounds of lean)
*1 tablespoon dijon mustard
*1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
*course salt and pepper

1) Heat grill to high.

2) In a medium bowl, use a fork to gently combine beef, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce; season with salt and pepper.

3) Gently form mixture into four 1-inch-thick patties. Place patties on hottest part of grill; sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Move patties to cooler part of grill; continue grilling until desired doneness, 4 to 8 minutes per side.
(This method never works for me! I tried it again without much success, and I hope you have better luck. I prefer to set the grill to medium-high and cook the burgers about 7-9 minutes a side)

4) Serve with any toppings you desire.

  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • Monday, July 12, 2010

    Basil Pork Chops with a side of Caesar Penne

    This dinner was taken directly from Katie's Cucina. The flavor combo sounded interesting to me so we gave it a try and it worked really well! A big bonus was how easy it was to prepare on a week night. I overcooked the pork chops on the grill so next time I will be a bit more cautious.

    You will need:
    * 4 boneless pork chops
    * 1/4 cup brown sugar
    * 2 tsp dried basil (divide use)
    * 1/2 tsp salt
    * 1/2 tsp mild chili powder
    * 1 tbsp canola oil
    * 1/2 cup Caesar dressing
    (I love Ken's Caesar Vinaigrette-it is lighter and I only used about 1/4 cup)
    * 1/4 cup sliced black olives, drained (I had to omit because Dave won't touch olives)
    * 1/4 cup onions, diced
    * 1/4 cup chicken broth
    * 2 tbsp green onions, diced
    * 1 tbsp minced garlic
    * 2 cups penne pasta

    1. Place pork chops in a zip lock bag and add brown sugar, 1-1/2 tsp dried basil, salt, chili powder, 1 tbsp canola oil. Seal bag and distribute ingredients evenly over pork chops.

    2. Boil water for pasta and salt well. Cook pasta as directed. Drain pasta and return the empty sauce pan to the stove.

    3. Add the diced onions, minced garlic, and chicken broth to the pasta pot for 2-3 minutes on medium-high heat. Add Caesar dressing, olives, and green onions. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the penne pasta back to the pot, mix well, and cook on low until pork chops are done.

    3. Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray and cook pork chops over medium heat 5-8 minutes on each side or until browned and internal temperature reads 160F.
    *I grilled mine which clearly didn't turn out so well. Next time, I will try a lower heat and longer cook time. In the summer, I try to grill anything I can!

    Serve chops with a side of the Caesar penne.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    Zucchini Turkey Burger

    I have never made a recipe from Gina's blog that I didn't like. I highly recommend checking all of her great ideas for lightened up recipes while still tasting delicious. These burgers were made on our Cuisinart Griddler, and I think next time I would try them on the grill. Turkey burgers are always a mess on the grill, but I don't usually mind because I love any excuse to use our new Webber! We enjoyed these with a side of kale chips.

    You will need:
    * 1.25 lbs lean ground turkey
    * 1 zucchini, grated
    * 1/4 cup seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
    * 1 clove garlic, grated
    * 1 tbsp red onion, grated
    * salt and fresh pepper
    *cheese, optional
    *garnish-tomato and red onion slices

    1) Combine ground turkey, zucchini, breadcrumbs, garlic, onion, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Make 4-6 equal-sized patties.

    2. Heat the grill to high. Add the burgers and reduce the heat. Cook one side until browned, then flip. You will need to flip a few times to prevent burning and to cook the burgers thoroughly. Add a cheese slice to each burger if desired.

    3. Serve on buns with tomato and red onion.

    Saturday, June 26, 2010

    Banana Cupcakes

    We are finally settling into our new home! I am truly hoping this means I can give this negelected blog a little more attention. With the wallpaper removal, painting, and packing, we have had a lot of dinners out, and I am eager to return to the kitchen. My broken foot is finally healing which should help with some extra standing at the end of the day. School is out too, so I should have no excuses!

    These cupcakes were made for my friend's son Will's first birthday party. He was having a Curious George monkey party, so I thought these were an appropriate selection. This recipe comes from Bakerella, and if you have not checked out her site, you need to. She makes everything look amazing.

    For the cupcakes, you will need:
    *1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
    *1 teaspoon baking powder
    *1/4 teaspoon salt
    *1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
    *3/4 cup sugar
    *2 eggs, room temperature
    *1 teaspoon vanilla
    *1 large ripe banana
    *1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tray with 12 baking cups.
    2. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl with a wire whisk.
    3. Cream butter and sugar in a mixer for about four minutes.
    4. Add banana and mix until combined. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Add half the flour in three additions alternating with milk in two additions. Scrape down the sides with each addition.
    5. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until done.
    6. Cool cupcakes completely before frosting.

    For the cream cheese frosting you will need:
    *1/2 cup butter, room temperature
    *8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
    *1 teaspoon vanilla
    *1 box (1lb) of confectioner's sugar
    *you could add an icing color if you'd like

    1. Cream butter and cream cheese in mixer until thoroughly combined
    2. Add vanilla. Then the sugar in small batches until combined and creamy.
    (If using color, add to the mixture and combine)

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Santa Fe Chicken

    This is another great recipe from Gina's WW blog. We made this a few weeks back, and now that we are in the craziness of moving, I am thinking we will be having it again soon. It was a simple recipe that can be ready when you get home from work. I served this over brown rice. I love using my crockpot when the warm weather hits. It does not heat the kitchen the way using an oven does.

    You will need:
    *1.5 lbs chicken breast (I put them in frozen)
    *14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
    *15 oz can black beans
    *8 oz frozen corn
    *1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    *14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
    *3 scallions, chopped
    *1 tsp garlic powder
    *1 tsp onion powder
    *1 tsp cumin
    *1 tsp cayenne pepper
    *salt to taste

    1) Combine chicken broth, drained black beans, frozen corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt in the crock pot.

    2) Season chicken breasts with salt and place in crockpot mixture. Cook on low for 10 hours, or on high for 6 hours.

    3) About a half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning as desired. Serve over rice.

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Oreo Cheesecake Cupcakes

    WOW. We never buy oreos because both Dave and I can't resist them. They are one of those things that I never crave, but if they are around then I must eat them. These treats served as a double batch. We used them to celebrate our friend Haven's and Seth's birthdays. I plan on making these again because they were simple and delicious. I just need to make sure I have somewhere to bring them.

    This recipe comes from Martha's Stewart Cupcakes, and if you don't own this book-you should. I think it is my favorite recipe collection so far.

    Cookies and Cream Cheesecake Cupcakes
    (Makes 30 cupcakes)
    *42 Oreos-30 whole and 12 coarsely chopped
    *2 pounds of cream cheese, room temperature
    *1 cup sugar
    *1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    *4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
    *1 cup sour cream
    *Pinch of salt

    1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.

    2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.

    3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.

    4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-filled cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate, in tins, at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.

    I made 24 regular size cupcakes and then some minis. Both came out great.

    Sunday, May 30, 2010

    Chickpea Turkey Burgers and Kale Chips

    These burgers were something different that we tried. They have a bit of a mushy texture to them, but we didn't really mind. I found the recipe on Oishii. The kale chips are my new obsession. They are seriously delicious and a great way to enjoy a leafy green with some crunch. I have seen recipes for these everywhere, and the one below is how I have had the most success.

    For the burgers, you will need:
    *1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    *3 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
    *1 clove garlic, chopped
    *1 tsp. ground cumin
    *1/4 tsp. chili powder
    *1/4 tsp. salt
    *1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
    *a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
    *2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    *3/4 lb. ground turkey
    *2 Tbsp olive oil
    *2 rolls
    *a large handful of baby spinach leaves, washed
    *1/2 a red onion, sliced
    *mayo & Dijon mustard

    1. In a food processor, combine the first 9 ingredients (through Worcestershire sauce).
    Pulse until smooth. Taste to check seasoning.

    2. Transfer chickpea mixture to a large bowl and add the ground turkey. Mix together until well combined, then form patties. (You can make mini patties, or 4 larger ones like we did)

    3. Add some olive oil to a frying pan and heat over medium high heat. When hot, fry the patties, about 4-6 minutes on each side depending on thickness of patties. You may have to cook them in 2 batches.

    4. Assemble burgers on rolls with the spinach leaves, red onion, mayo and/or mustard.

    For the Kale chips, you will need:
    *1/2 bunch of Kale (this is how much we have been using at a time)
    *1-2 tbsp of olive oil
    *sea salt

    1. Preheat oven to 350.
    2. Wash Kale and remove stems. Use hands of kitchen shears to pull leaves off the center ribs.
    3. Spread the Kale out into a single layer on a cookie sheet lined in parchment paper.
    4. Drizzle the olive oil over the Kale and then sprinkle sea salt.
    5. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are curling and lightly browned (not burnt)

    Sunday, May 23, 2010

    Bananas Foster Cupcakes

    I made these cupcakes for my friend Matty's birthday. I set out to follow Joelen's exact recipe, but I had trouble finding some ingredients and made a few of my own additions. Below is the recipe the way I made them. These came out tasty, and the birthday boy enjoyed them!

    You will need:
    *1 box butter cake mix
    *1 cup mashed ripe bananas (3 bananas)
    *3/4 cup buttermilk-in place of water the mix calls for
    *3 large eggs
    *1 ounce of rum

    1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

    2) Follow the box instructions, putting all the ingredients in a large bowl and using the buttermilk in place of the water. Beat until moistened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and beat until thick, 2 minutes longer.

    3) Fill each muffin cup two-thirds full. Bake in the preheated oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the cupcakes from the baking pans, place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. I frosted them with the recipe below.

    Joelen's Caramel Cream Cheese Frosting
    *1/4 cup unsalted butter
    *4 oz. cream cheese, softened
    *2-3 tablespoons caramel sauce
    *4-6 cups confectioners or powdered sugar (I only needed about 4)
    *1-2 tablespoons half & half

    1) In a large mixing bowl, beat the softened butter and cream cheese together until fluffy; add the caramel sauce and beat until fully incorporated.

    2) Slowly add confectioners or powdered sugar into the bowl 1/2 cup at a time, and beat after each addition. Continue adding the sugar until you have a thick frosting of your preferred consistency. Stir in the half and half until incorporated.

    3) If the frosting becomes too thick, add a tablespoon or more of half & half to thin out.

    To frost them, I dipped each cupcake into the mixture. I had a lot of frosting leftover, so if I was to make this again, I would probably half the frosting recipe. I froze some banana slices and used them to top the cupcakes. I also drizzled some additional caramel sauce over the frosting.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010

    Pita Chips

    This is a simple recipe that I make a lot. Whenever we buy pitas, we tend to only use a couple of them. Once they start to stale, I make these, and we continue to enjoy them. There are a number of ways to make these. We prefer sea salt and olive oil or parmesan and olive oil as toppings.

    You will need:
    *Pita bread of any size
    *Olive oil
    *Topping of your choice

    1) Preheat oven to 350.

    2) Using kitchen shears, cute the pita rounds into triangles. We prefer thinner chips, so I cute the pita triangles into two separate halves.

    3) Line a baking sheet with foil. Place pita chips onto foil lined baking sheet, and drizzle with olive oil. Top with parmesan, sea salt, or any spice you prefer.

    4) Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the pita chips are browning and the edges are curling.

    These are a great chip to pair with sandwiches, and they can also be used in a hummus or guacamole dip.

    Wednesday, May 12, 2010

    Salsa Verde Turkey Burger

    Wow, life has been busy. I have missed updating my food blog! We are in the process of buying a house, and we will be moving in the next couple of weeks. This, on top of the usual end of the school year craziness, is not leaving me with much free time. I am happy to say that we are still cooking at home quite regularly, and I am excited to be cooking in our new home in June! My parents already purchased our housewarming gift-a fabulous grill! I can't wait to try even more grilled recipes throughout the summer. These burgers were made on a busy weeknight, and we loved them! The recipe comes from Sing For Your Supper who altered it from Rachael Ray. I love trying a variety of turkey burgers, and these are now in our regular rotation.

    You will need:
    *1 avocado, halved and pitted
    *1/2 cup mayonnaise
    *1 clove garlic, minced
    *1 pound ground turkey thigh meat
    *1/2 cup salsa verde
    *4 slices pepper-jack cheese
    *4 rolls
    *1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
    *1 red tomato

    1) Scoop the avocado flesh into a small bowl. Add the mayonnaise and garlic and mash with a fork until well combined but chunky. Season with salt and set aside. ( I am not a fan of mayo. I did enjoy a little bit of this with my burger. I made a slightly smaller amount and opted to top the avocado on the burger)

    2) In a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey and salsa. Divide the mixture to form 4 patties.

    3) Grill the patties over medium-high heat for 4 minutes on one side. Flip and top each with a slice of cheese; cover and cook for about 4 minutes more. (I used my Cuisinart griddler, and I would also make these on the grill. I am not a fan of stove top burgers, but it is possible to do this step in a large skillet on the stovetop)

    4) Spread the avocado aioli on the split side of each roll bottom and cover with 1/4 cup cilantro. Top with a patty and 2 tomato slices.

    Sunday, May 2, 2010

    Cilantro Lime Potato Salad

    Cilantro and lime are two flavors that I love together. The combination tastes like summer, and it is a light way to flavor food. This original recipe from Beantown Baker called for lemon and cilantro. As soon as I saw it, I knew that I was going to make it with lime. I brought this to a cookout with friends and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Potato salad with mayonnaise is not really my thing, so I much prefer something like this!

    You will need:
    *2 lb Red Bliss potatoes, scrubbed
    *Kosher salt
    *1/2 cup olive oil
    *1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest
    *lime (I used juice from almost all of it)
    *freshly ground black pepper
    *1/2 cup lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro
    *2 scallions (white and green parts), thinly sliced, or 1 shallot, minced (omitted)

    1) Put the potatoes in a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil, and lower to a simmer. Cook, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork (about 25 minutes).

    2)Drain and let cool slightly. While the potatoes are still warm, slice them about 1/4 inch thick. You do not need to peel.

    3) Put half of the potatoes in a large serving bowl. In a small bowl, combine the oil, lime zest, and juice, 1 tsp kosher salt, and several grinds of pepper. Drizzle half of the dressing over the potatoes. Add the remaining potatoes to the bowl, drizzle on the rest of the dressing, and toss gently with a large spatula to combine well.

    4)Add the cilantro and scallions and toss gently again. Taste and add more salt as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Friday, April 23, 2010

    Green Tea Cupcakes

    I am on a new quest; I am going to attempt to make all of my close friends cupcakes for their birthdays so that I can practice baking. If I bake something and it sticks around here, we will pick on it for a week. The only problem with this plan is how many of my friends and family have March, April, or May birthdays! These cupcakes kicked off the trend back in March, and they were made for my friend Meghan. Meghan loves green tea, so I thought these would be perfect. This recipe is from Designs By Gollum, and I was linked to them via Foodgawker. Foodgawker is one of my favorite sites. I highly suggest that you check it out, but make sure you do not look at it when you are hungry! Anyway, I was bit disappointed with this recipe. They just didn't taste strong enough for me. If I was to make them again, I think I would add stronger tea to the mix. On a positive note, the great thing about this recipe was how simple it was.

    You will need:
    *1 box butter cake mix
    *2/3 cup green tea, cooled
    *3 eggs
    *1 stick unsalted butter, softened
    *1 cup chopped pecans
    and for the icing:
    *confectioners' sugar
    *green tea

    1)Preheat the oven; Mix batter according to the directions on the box, but substitute the tea for water. Fold in raisins and pecans.
    2) Line cupcake tin. Pour batter into cupcake liners, and bake 18-20 minutes.
    3) Allow the cupcakes to cool completely.
    4) For the icing, mix green tea with confectioners’ sugar. You may dunk the cupcakes or spoon the glaze over them to cover. (The original recipe recommends food coloring here. I skipped this step, but you could add that and more sugar to make a more noticeable icing.)

    Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Simple Lunch-Pesto Grilled Sandwiches

    We live near a local coffee shop that has delicious sandwiches. As tasty as their lunches are, they are usually overpriced. I love trying to create some of our favorite takeout selections at home. This allows us to save some money, and I am often able to make some recipes healthier by using less butter and oil. This is a simple sandwich that I almost didn't blog about. However, I have been eating it so much lately that I decided to share. I have made this on a variety of breads; my favorite breads for this are pumpernickel and any variety Arnold sandwich thin.

    You will need:
    -roasted red peppers or tomatoes
    -goat cheese (plain or with herbs)
    -bread of your choice

    1) Spread pesto on one slice of bread; spread goat cheese on the other.
    2) Top the cheese side with roasted red peppers or tomatoes.
    3)Toast/Grill together until bread is toasted to your liking, and the sandwich contents are hot.
    4) Enjoy!

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Panko Pork

    I love getting cooking magazines in the mail. This past Christmas I hit the jackpot and was gifted quite a few subscriptions. The Food Network magazine is one of my favorites, and when this recipe was in the latest issue, I knew we had to try it. Dave and I love going out for Japanese food and often order sake when we do. It was that rice wine ingredient, just a small amount of it, that made me realize this would be a recipe we'd enjoy. We also have bottles of sake on hand because many people have gifted it to us, yet we never drink it at home. Adding lean pork to our weekly menu also helps to break up the chicken rut that we sometimes fall into. I made a few minor changes from the original recipe and was happy with the way it turned out. (To view the original recipe, click the link above) We've been on a lucky streak with new dinners lately, and I have found another winner!

    You will need:
    *1 pound thin-cut boneless pork chops or cutlets, trimmed
    *Kosher salt
    *2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine, sake or sherry
    *1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
    *2 medium cucumbers
    *1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar
    *2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
    *2 large eggs
    *1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
    *3/4 cup cornstarch
    *Peanut oil for frying
    *1/4 cup tonkatsu sauce (You can make your own by mixing 2 tablespoons each ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and sugar with 1 tablespoon water)

    1) Season the pork with salt. Mix the rice wine and 1 teaspoon ginger and spread on the pork. Stack the pork chops and set aside.

    2) Peel, quarter and seed the cucumbers; cut into 4-inch spears. Toss with the sugar and vinegar. (For a time saver-by a seedless cucumber)

    3) Beat the eggs with 1/2 cup water in a shallow bowl or rimmed dish. Put the panko and cornstarch in 2 separate shallow bowls/dishes. Dredge each piece of pork in cornstarch, dip in egg, and then coat with the panko.

    4) Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over high heat. Fry the pork in batches until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.

    5) Mix the tonkatsu sauce and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon ginger in a bowl. Serve the pork with the cucumbers and sauce.

    Monday, April 5, 2010

    Turkey Lettuce Wraps

    We are enjoying some fabulous spring weather here! It is a great lift to flooded spirits after an incredibly rainy March. This warmer weather is changing up our menu quite a bit. One of my favorite light summer dinners is lettuce wraps. The proteins, sauces, and everything can be interchanged. There are so many different ways to make lettuce wraps, and I found this specific recipe on Gina's WW blog. I have been frustrated lately by the lack of good lettuce leaves at the grocery store! So for this recipe, I purchased the prepackaged bibb lettuce and it worked out. This is an extremely quick and easy weeknight dinner.

    You will need:
    * 1.3 lbs lean ground turkey
    * 1 tsp garlic powder
    * 1 tsp cumin
    * 1 tsp salt
    * 1 tsp chili powder
    * 1 tsp paprika
    * 1/2 tsp oregano
    * 1/2 small onion, minced
    * 2 tbsp bell pepper, minced
    * 3/4 cup water
    * 1/2 8 oz can tomato sauce
    * 8 large lettuce leaves

    1) Brown turkey in a large skillet until it is cooked thoroughly. (It will no longer be pink)

    2) Add the dry seasonings and mix well.

    3) Add onion, pepper, water and tomato sauce. Cover and simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

    4) Wash and dry the lettuce. Place the meat mixture into the lettuce leaves.

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    Breakfast Cups

    I am not a big breakfast person. In fact, I do not really like breakfast that is hot. Odd, I know. Dave loves weekend breakfast, and I am trying to find more recipes that I enjoy. I am slowly getting a craving for bacon or eggs every once in awhile, so I am not eating cereal or yogurt 365 days a year anymore. Baby steps, but it is working! These breakfast cups are another recipe from Annie's Eats. We enjoyed these on a sunny Saturday morning. I have had this recipe saved for a little while, and I didn't realize just how easy these are to make. If you have some extra time on a week day morning, (which I never do!) you could probably make these for breakfast.

    You can alter the recipe to make as many cups as you want. I made us 4, so the ingredients indicate what I used for that amount.

    You will need:
    *4 slices of bacon
    *4lices of bread
    *shredded cheese (I used cheddar)
    *4 eggs
    *salt and pepper
    *butter (for pan)

    1) Preheat the oven to 400° F.

    2) Grease 4 wells of a muffin pan with butter.

    3) In a frying pan, cook bacon until partially cooked but not completely crispy, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

    4) Cut out rounds of bread with a the top of a drinking glass. Press the bread rounds into the greased muffin wells.

    5) Curl a piece of bacon around each piece of bread, placing it between the bread and the muffin tin to help keep it in position. Sprinkle a small amount of shredded cheese in the center of each piece of bread.

    6) Crack an egg, remove about half of the white, and drop the remaining white and yolk over a piece of bread, being careful not to break the yolks. Repeat for all of your toast cups.

    7) Bake until eggs are cooked through to your liking and bacon is crispy. Timing should be about 6-10 minutes. *I overcooked mine a bit because Dave will not eat runny yolks.

    8) Run a knife around the edge of each muffin well and pop the egg cups out. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.