Saturday, November 29, 2008

My first apple pie

My mom's birthday was on Thanksgiving, so I wanted to make her favorite as the dessert. So I ventured into my very first apple pie.

I found this recipe on Gillian's blog, and it was really great. I was a little bit nervous because it looked so ugly, but it came out great. It smelled so good as we drove to Grandma's house, I was very excited to eat it.

I used a premade crust, using the generic brand. It tasted fine, but it also played a role in the ugliness factor because there were lots of tears as I unrolled the crust.

Because we were traveling, I didn't get a chance to take a picture, so you'll just have to use your imagination, but it was a great and easy recipe!

Friday, November 28, 2008

For Messy Cooks (like me)

I have been on the lookout for a nice apron, because I am... well, a messy cook. My friend Kim *check her out here* posted about a contest to win a free apron. You can check out the contest, as well as the great aprons at Epicurean Style, and the contest is at (scroll down to Up For Grabs)! I love the Molly style!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Italian Confetti Pasta Salad

I found this on allrecipes... you can see the recipe here.

We were going over to friends' for dinner, and were told they would be grilling. Pasta salad seemed a fitting side dish, so we went with it.

This was SO good; everyone loved it! YUM; BAJ even raved that this is a keeper for sure.
I made a few simple modifications... first, I used olive oil mayonnaise, because that's what I had on hand and I figured it would go well. A great choice. I used green bell pepper, instead of yellow, because they were much cheaper. I'm glad I didn't get red, because this added another dimension of color. I also added some red onion into the mix, which added a GREAT tang to the salad. Finally, I didn't have any black olives, so I didn't use em.

This was great, and is a keeper in our house for sure!

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina

I saw this on Lauren's blog and made it. You can see the recipe here. I didn't read the recipe very carefully and mistook "Cubed chicken" for cooked chicken. So I used those Purdue short cuts thingies, and skipped the cooking it step. It worked pretty well, and surely cut down my prep time. I threw in some garlic for good measure.

This was pretty tasty, but a little bit on the bland side. The Boy ate the pasta and the tomatoes, but wouldn't touch the chicken...big surprise.

I don't know if I'll keep this one or not...

As a side, I had purchased some snow peas to throw into the salad I made. But I decided that wasn't a flavor I wanted in my salad, so I followed the recipe in the container to make basically a stir fry, which included red peppers, mushrooms, and snow peas. It was pretty good, although not a very good choice of side with an Italian pasta entree. Ha!

Turkey Roulade with Cider Apple Gravy.

I found this here. I figured this would be a great Sunday dinner, and in theory it was. It was easy, but very very time consuming. Way too much work, even for Sunday dinner. It was all good, but not so good to make the work levels worth it. The potatoes were very good, so that will be a keeper. BAJ didn't mind the cranberry relish, but I thought it was WAY too tangerine-y and couldn't taste the pear at all.

As you can see from the pics, the stuffing didn't hold together so well despite being tied up.

Chicken Tetrazinni

I got this from my Betty Crocker's Bridal Edition cookbook. I had leftover cooked chicken from the enchiladas, and was looking for a good way to use them. This was pretty tasty, and very easy to make. SCORE!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Free Amazon gift card

WOOO! Go check it out here!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Honey Lime Enchiladas with Tomato Chipotle Rice

I found these mentioned here on Good Eats n Sweet Treats. It looked so good that I had to try, and the combination with the rice sounded perfect. What a great choice! We both loved it, even though it was much too spicy, even with only one pepper. BAJ combined the rice with the enchilada and seemed to like it a lot that way.

I modified the recipe to make enough for two. I started with a store bought rotisserie chicken, and shredded one breast of it. I mixed in some of the marinade, but it started getting sort of gloppy--I kept adding more in the hopes of having leftover marinade as the recipe suggests. This made enough for three full sized tortilla shells, which was the perfect amount for both of us. I couldn't find green enchilada sauce, so used regular. The can was 10 oz, and when I added cream it almost filled the can with what was left after coating the bottom with it... so probably about 1/2 a cup.

As far as the rice, I also made a smaller amount of that too. I used half a small onion, and made enough for 2 servings of brown rice. I just realized that I didn't modify the amount of tomatoes, but that was just fine.

I wasn't sure what to do with the chipotle pepper, so I cut it into smaller pieces in the pan. I did, however, make sure that we didn't get any on our plates, fearing it would be way too spicy for us.

This was fantastic, and I'm so glad I found it!

Pictures coming soon!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Slow Cooker Applesauce

From The Crock Pot Lady blog.

This makes enough for 4 people. If you would like to freeze or can, use more apples.

--4 large apples, skinned ,cored, and cut in quarters

--juice from 1 lemon

--1/2 tsp cinnamon

--1 tsp vanilla

--1 T brown sugar

--1/4 cup H20

The Directions.

I used a 4 quart crockpot for the applesauce.

Skin, core, and cut your apples into quarters.
Plop the pieces into your crockpot. Add the juice from the lemon, and the water. Pour in the vanilla, and add the cinnamon and brown sugar.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours. When the apples are super tender, mash with a potato masher or large fork. My apples were very tender after 6 hours, and I used a fork.

This was good. The problem, however, was that BAJ had made Baked Applesauce a few days earlier, and it was so good, he claimed that he had to hide his bowl, or he would have licked it clean. NICE.

Anyway, this just didn't quite measure up for us as a result. It was definitely EASIER than his, but easy isn't always best.

Apple Spice Cookie Bars

I saw this in my google reader and had to make it, especially after our recent trip to the apple orchard yielded 26 pounds of apples. For two people and one young toddler. Yikes.

OUT-FREAKING-STANDING is all I can say about this. It smelled fantastic while it baked, and was so easy to put together. The hubs liked it, as did his doesn't like a freaking thing I make father. I brought half into work, and they were gone by lunchtime. When I offered one to hubs the other night, he said no because he had had "three or four" for breakfast.


I even thought I had goofed, adding 1/8t of the ground cloves, but it wasn't at all bad.

Thanks to Kayla for posting about this, as well as to Good Things Catered's Katie for providing the original recipe!

Apple Spice Cookie Bars

2 c. plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
small pinch ground cloves
1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
2 apples, cored and diced (a little less than 2 c.)
cinnamon sugar for sprinkling Omitted


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 9x13 pan with foil and baking spray.

In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Whisk to combine well and set aside.-In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugars and butter and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine.

Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.

Turn mixer on slow and fold in flour mixture a little at a time until just combined.

Fold in apples.-Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle top generously with cinnamon sugar.

Place in oven and bake until cooked through, when top slightly bounces back to the touch, about 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan, cutting and serving. (bars will be very soft)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sweet "Citrus" Chicken

I was going blindly through my google reader looking for something to put on this week's menu. This looked really good, and then I discovered it was from the blog of my buddy Lauren. Goodness, do we have the same tastes or what?

Anyway, here's what she had to say about this one.

I made this exactly as written, except that I used two chicken breasts. It, obviously, had a LOT of Stove Top leftover. In the future, I think I'll put it all in individual containers and freeze them for future dinners... we really liked this one! It was so easy, and it was very very tasty too.

Thanks, Lauren!!

Pictures Coming soon!

  • 1-2/3 cups hot water
  • 1 pkg. (6 oz.) STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
  • 6 small boneless skinless chicken breast halves (1-1/2 lb.), pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted

PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Add hot water to stuffing mix; stir just until moistened. Set aside.

PLACE chicken in 13x9-inch baking dish. Mix juice, sugar and butter until well blended; pour over chicken. Top with prepared stuffing.

BAKE 30 min. or until chicken is cooked through (170ºF).

Grown Up Mac and Cheese

I saw that the Barefoot Bloggers made what most of them considered a great mac and cheese dinner. You can find it on the food tv site, or by clicking here.

This was pretty easy to put together, although it does have a lot of steps.

We didn't, however, like this so much. I thought it was "ok," but BAJ had one bite and gave up. When he saw the blue cheese, he grimaced... but actually he said he didn't taste it at all, and neither did I. The problem was the Gruyere, which was just overwhelming a flavor in this. I also really wish I had scrimped a little and gone with regular old Swiss cheese, which surely would have been much cheaper.

I did like that this didn't have hard pieces, as is so common with baked mac and cheese. I did encounter one or two hard pieces, but mostly they were perfectly done.

Ah well--my first Ina recipe is a bust.

Pictures coming soon--it sure was a pretty thing!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sauteed Cajun Shrimp

This came up in my google reader from the fabulous Dinner Tonight blog.

Here's the original recipe.

This was really easy and very good. It was my first time eating or using andouille sausage, but BAJ requested I use the kielbasa next time. I misunderstood the directions a little, and didn't precook the sausage, which made for some tough slicing. It looked kinda like sausage clumps, but the flavor was still there. Woops.

I used Uncle Ben's brown rice, which worked really well.

In all, this recipe cost us about $10... SCORE! The shrimp was on sale, and the only other ingredient I had to buy was the sausage. Everything else was in the pantry, so it cost a little more than $10. Unless you're supposed to factor in the cost of the pantry stuff? How the heck do ya do that?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stuffed Pizza Pie

I saw this on Lauren's blog the other day, and as I was browsing for something to make for dinner today, this is what struck my fancy.

I went to the store and looked at the pizza dough, but it looked icky. Making the dough in the bread machine is so EASY, it was worth having dinner a little on the late side.

I used one bag of spinach, but it seemed like a LOT, so I didn't end up using it all. Next time, I'll save it and make spinach and strawberry salad as a side. I did toss some garlic in with them as I sauteed 'em.

Also, I forgot about the tomatoes, which are probably very necessary. I think I would have liked this a LOT more with them in there. It was a little confusing because the recipe didn't mention them but DID mention roasted red peppers. Luckily, though, I didn't start chopping them so they didn't just go to waste.

And, like Lauren's son, mine went nuts for this. Since we ate so late, we chose to eat *gasp, shock, Bad Mommy Role Model Alert* on the couch in front of the tv and The Boy. Which makes for easy begging for The Boy. I couldn't believe that he ate up the broccoli and the spinach, but he seemed to love it, as well as the dough. KEEPER!!

Pictures coming soon.

  • 16 oz whole wheat or white pizza dough
  • 1 Cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ Cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cups fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic (dried or fresh)
  • 2 Cups fresh broccoli florets, steamed until fork tender, about 3 minutes in boiling water
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ Cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 ½ Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian Seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Spread and press one piece of dough into the bottom and sides of a 9-9 ½ inch round baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta and parmesan cheese until well combined. Spread into pressed pizza dough.

2. Place olive oil into a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute spinach until wilted down, about 3 minutes. Place evenly over ricotta cheese layer, and sprinkle garlic on top. Place steamed broccoli florets over spinach and season with a pinch or two of kosher salt. Layer roasted red peppers, then mozzarella cheese over top. Press out remaining piece of dough and place over filling, tucking edges inside of pan. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with Italian Seasoning. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and cooked through.

3. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan or cutting into wedges.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chicken Milano

Another from allrecipes. See it here.

This is DAMN good. And easy too. I've made this before, and decided to go through some of the old recipes again. I used the jarred sun dried tomatoes, in oil, despite the author of the recipe's suggestion not too. Woops.

I also used whole wheat linguine. It was great here. It was the Stop and Shop kind with the greenish logo.

This is a keeper!!!

Strawberry Spinach Salad

I got this from allrecipes. Well, sorta. Find the original here.

I used a bottle of poppyseed dressing. I'm lazy, and it HAD to be cheaper than buying all those individual ingredients...right?

So in the end, I guess this isn't really a recipe. But I'm dumb, so I needed one. It was really good, though!

Picture coming soon.

"If yours tasted like this, I might eat it!"

OUCH. Yep, that's what I heard today. My mom gave us a pan of baked ziti. This is the same baked ziti she showed me to make, but yet mine doesn't taste nearly as good, God knows why. But for BAJ to say it? OUCH.

Monday, October 13, 2008

DON'T Check out this contest!

I want to win it A LOT because not only am I in need of an apron (I'm such a messy cook), but also because it is too durn cute.

So DO NOT go here to enter the contest!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Chicken Parmesan Heroes

Another from Quick from Scratch One-Dish Meals by Food & Wine Magazine; it can also be found here.

This was pretty tasty, and very easy to make. It isn't really that impressive of a recipe, since it's no different than any other skillet chicken recipe (egg, dredge, breadcrumbs, fry), but I guess I've never made a chicken parm sub before.

I probably should have done this the pizza shop way, and served spaghetti on the side to use up some of the leftover sauce (the recipe is for four, and there's only two of us), but my chosen sides were good anyway!

Apple Galette with Cider Drizzle

I got this from Everyday with Rachael Ray, but it can also be found here. I made this to take to a friend's house, and completely left the cider drizzle at home. Ugh. Anyway, this was really good. I took the suggestion to serve it with vanilla ice cream, which was a perfect touch. Our friends raved about how good it looked and smelled and tasted.

I was reading the directions rather than looking at the picture, and didn't really load the thing up with apples. I'll definitely do that next time, if only so I don't have so much waste!

BAJ wasn't thrilled with this, but I told him I'll make it again--I have to use up the second puff pastry AND we have to try it with the drizzle. Plus, we're planning to go apple picking soon, so I'll need some ways to use them up.

I had this the next day for breakfast, too, and it was very good then too!

Autumn Spice Ham Steak

This is one of the things I love about fall... this recipe has become a favorite in our house, but its flavors just aren't right for spring and summer. I found it on allrecipes, and we just love it. It's not especially GOOD for us, but it's a once in awhile kind of meal. I made a sweet potato for me, and the pasta side is some side dish from a box.

This is a very easy meal, which always wins high marks in my book. I've made it with a large ham steak (like Cook's,) but also have used the smaller ones I find in the store if they're on sale.

Summer Pizza

This is from Food and Wine Magazine's One Dish cookbook, but can also be found here.

This was really good. We tried a whole wheat Boboli for the first time, and it was nice. The flavors of the pizza are really delicious and as the title implies, a great one for summer time. I will probably make this on my homemade pizza dough next time to cut costs, but will definitely make this again!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mac and Cheese

I forgot to take pictures. Woops.

Since BAJ isn't a huge fan of macaroni and cheese, I decided to try using a taco blend of monterey jack, cheddar, and taco seasonings in my attempt. I used ATK's recipe for stovetop mac and cheese as a start.
My mom always used to serve stewed tomatoes with her mac and cheese. Having a large amount of them in the basement, I decided to go for it.

It was nice, overall, but not fantastic. I ate it, and BAJ ate it, and The Boy ate it too, so it must have been good enough!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Not (exactly) cooking related

I am reading Julie and Julia by Julie Powell. I love her idea of cooking her way through a whole (exceptionally influential) cookbook over the course of a year. Unfortunately, it just isn't possible in this house. I'd hit a road block as soon as I got to a recipe involving beans or beef, or any number of things my husband doesn't like to eat. **sigh**

It's a fun idea, though.

Anyway, I'm really enjoying the book so encourage you to pick it up too. It's fun, it's about food, and it's GOOD!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Keepin it Real--Chicken and Rice Casserole

Uncle Ben's original long grain rice
4-6 deboned, skinned chicken breasts
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
Chicken broth
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Prepare the rice according to the directions on the box, with one slight change: I substitute 1 cup of chicken broth for the cup of water. Don't cook it as long as the box suggests since you are also going to cook it in the oven. Salt and pepper the chicken and saute in olive oil. Cut into bite size pieces. Mix the two soups with two cans of water (if condensed). In a casserole dish layer the rice, chicken, soup mixture. Repeat.. Cook at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes.

This is a great recipe to make the night before and pop in the oven when you get home.

I signed up for a recipe exchange on the nest because I wanted to get some more inspiration for dinner meals around here. BAJ actually made this one, since I was out running errands before dinner. Since I wrote out the instructions for my own brain and he was the one to make it, perhaps it didn't turn out as it should.

It was very good, and full of flavor. We used 2 chicken breasts as opposed to the called for four breasts, and felt that there was way too much sauce. Despite using half of what was made, it was still a very soupy mixture.

I really like this one, and it was so darn easy. Once we figure out which measurements to use for just the two of us, this will definitely become a staple.

Thanks, Lauren, for hosting this exchange!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Not So Sloppy Joes

This is from Real Simple's Website.

I'm not sure if I've ever made it with beef, but I know that I typically make it with ground turkey or ground chicken, and it's always good that way.

This time around, I saved half the meat and used it for tacos the next night. I liked it a lot, but BAJ said he likes the meat as sloppy joes better--not that he doesn't like it as tacos, though. I suspect it's because the meat doesn't taste like typical mix taco meat.

Simple, good, and makes multiple meals? Works for me!

Lemon Roast Chicken

This is becoming a standby in our house for the weekend. It's an ATK recipe, and due to the recent controversy with them and blogs, I'm not going to share the recipe. But it's really good, and we turn our (many) leftovers into chicken salad. This time around, I also took my first journey into homemade chicken soup!!

Anyway, if you can, try this out. You can easily get the recipe from an ATK recipe at your local library. SOO GOOD!!!

Ps--every time I've made chicken in the ATK way, the little popper hasn't popped. I just use my meat thermometer.

No recollection whatsoever

I have no idea what kind of chicken this was. It looks like it was pretty good though!

Fettucine with Riccota, Tomatoes, and Basil

1-9oz pkg refrigerated fettuccine I used boxed, half regular, half spinach
3T butter or margarine, melted
3/4c ricotta cheese
1/4c grated Parmesan
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
2T coarsely chopped fresh basil (FRESH is important here!)

1. Cook and drain fettuccine as directed on package. Return to saucepan.
2. Stir together butter, ricotta, and 1/3c Parmesan. Toss with hot pasta.
3. Top pasta with tomato and remaining Parmesan.
4. Serve

I found this recipe when I first moved on my own, probably from the Betty Crocker website. The first time I planned to make it, I was washing up some dishes (no dishwasher) waiting for BAJ to come home from fencing practice. A glass broke, with my hand in it, and I had to go to the hospital. Luckily, he came not too long later. I still have a big scar on my hand as a result--it was a really traumatic experience, because it was soon after the first of the year and the ER was packed... I waited to be seen by a doctor for at least FIVE hours. A simple gash on my hand led to my going into shock from loss of blood.

A pretty gory story, but it's what I think of every time I make this dish.

I LOVE to make this. It's got the best of summer, and I've made it a lot this year because I've been growing my own basil. When you use the refrigerated pasta, it's ready in 10 minutes. Can't beat it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I HAVE been cooking, I just haven't been so much on the blogging part. I actually did a surprising amount of cooking last night, making chicken noodle soup and beef stew (crock pot). The last few nights of dinners have been ho hum standbys--tried before recipes. I took some pictures, but haven't gotten around to uploading them.

Maybe someday.... We have a wedding in Connecticut this weekend, so hanging out on the computer probably isn't going to happen.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Convection is HARD

I'm struggling to adjust to the convection setting on our new oven. It's one reason we spent a little more on this model, though, so I'm really trying to make the adjustment.

Alas, my Key Lime Cheesecake for tomorrow came out kinda blackish on top instead of the delightful browning I typically get. It otherwise looks nearly perfect and smells delicious.


Newlyweds is giving away a $25 CVS gift card. Go check it out at

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Chicken Marsala

From ATK.

I've made this before, and it was really good. This time, however, I clearly used too much tomato paste, leading to the ugly color and the very ketchupy flavor. ICK.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Ham Steak with Fruit Salsa

Tonight was filled with cooking disasters. I planned and started to make Chicken Marsala for dinner. I went into the basement to get some of my supplies, and came through the pantry to get some flour. For some reason, we keep this STAPLE of cooking on a very high shelf far away from my little self on a step. You can imagine what happened next.

You got it; a container of flour, on the floor. So, chicken marsala was clearly out.

I had everything for this meal, so decided to make it. However, my ham steaks were the mini presliced ones. I turned the broiler on high (because recipes just say to preheat broiler, never indicating if it's supposed to be lo or hi), and moved the rack up as indicated. Fearing the worst, I dropped the time a little. Not thinking, I moved the rack with the cookie sheet of ham steaks on it, lost my grip, and lost a ham steak to the linoleum monster.

First, my little ham steaks...shriveled. Then, it set off the smoke detector, which someone (who shall remain nameless) decided would best go IN the kitchen, setting off that oh so pleasant melody. As I was taking them out of the oven, the boiling water of my potatoes (which I had started before the flour incident), splashed me.

So, we're up to a no go chicken marsala, shriveled and crunchy ham steaks, a screeching smoke detector, and a lost ham steak. It was almost funny, things were so bad.

Usually, though, this is a delicious meal. It's a standby in our house, especially at this time of year when peaches/nectarines and plums are so delicious and cheap! I love that this is a recipe that is meant for NO MEASURING. I eyeball if I have enough plums to peaches... cut up the amount of red onion I'm feeling on that particular night, etc. The cookbook authors suggest that this is a versatile recipe and that lemon juice can be substituted for the lime, mint for the cilantro, and any seasonal fruit for the peaches and plums. These ingredients are the only ones I've tried, however.

This recipe is a Weight Watchers one too, with 4 points per serving. It's from their Make it in Minutes cookbook.

2 peaches, diced I used one, today
6 plums, diced Today I used two
1/4c finely chopped red onion
1/2 jalepeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped I just keep a jar of sliced ones in my fridge and use as many slices as I see fit--today, only one slice
2T fresh lime juice
2T chopped cilantro
1T Dijon mustard We were out; I used spicy brown, which is definitely not as good.
1T packed dark brown sugar
1-1lb ham steak

1. Preheat the broiler
2. Combine the peaches, plums, onion, jalepeno pepper, lime juice, and cilantro in a bowl.
3. Combine the mustard and sugar in a small bowl. Place the ham steak on the rack of a broiler pan and broil, 4 inches from the heat, 4 minutes. Turn the ham over and brush with the mustard mixture; broil 4 minutes longer. Cut the steak into 4 portions and top each with 1 cup of the fruit salsa.

Cheesecake Pops

When I saw this recipe on my google reader (after Daring Bakers had made it,) I knew I would one day make them. Chocolate covered cheesecake? On a STICK?? SWEET.

I made them for some friends last night. They were very pleased upon seeing them--words like "creative," and "brilliant" were used.

Since I didn't have 5 things of cream cheese, I halved the recipe. It worked out pretty well. I used a 1" cookie scoop to get the cheesecake out of the pan, and then rolled them in my hands (they kinda looked funny if I didn't). I ended up with almost 30 pops, despite halving the recipe. Our friends commented that they could never imagine the pops being double the size--they would've been HUGE!

I struggled with the chocolate covering and the sprinkles, though. I felt that they just weren't pretty after the chocolate coating on some occasions, and I couldn't figure out an efficient way to put the sprinkles on. I tried just sprinkling them on, I tried putting the sprinkles in a cupcake cup... neither really worked and both wasted sprinkles and made a big mess.

But I will DEFINITELY be making these treats again!! Pictures coming soon!

Cheesecake Pops
from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor

Makes 30 – 40 Pops

5 8-oz. packages cream cheese at room temperature
2 cups sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
Boiling water as needed
Thirty to forty 8-inch lollipop sticks
1 pound chocolate, finely chopped – you can use all one kind or half and half of dark, milk, or white (Alternately, you can use 1 pound of flavored coatings, also known as summer coating, confectionery coating or wafer chocolate – candy supply stores carry colors, as well as the three kinds of chocolate. White chocolate is harder to use this way, but not impossible)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
Assorted decorations such as chopped nuts, colored jimmies, crushed peppermints, mini chocolate chips, sanding sugars, dragees) - Optional

Position oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Set some water to boil.
In a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, flour, and salt until smooth. If using a mixer, mix on low speed. Add the whole eggs and the egg yolks, one at a time, beating well (but still at low speed) after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and cream.

Grease a 10-inch cake pan (not a springform pan), and pour the batter into the cake pan. Place the pan in a larger roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake until the cheesecake is firm and slightly golden on top, 35 to 45 minutes.

Remove the cheesecake from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate until very cold, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

When the cheesecake is cold and very firm, scoop the cheesecake into 2-ounce balls and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Carefully insert a lollipop stick into each cheesecake ball. Freeze the cheesecake pops, uncovered, until very hard, at least 1 – 2 hours.
When the cheesecake pops are frozen and ready for dipping, prepare the chocolate. In the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water, or in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, heat half the chocolate and half the shortening, stirring often, until chocolate is melted and chocolate and shortening are combined. Stir until completely smooth. Do not heat the chocolate too much or your chocolate will lose it’s shine after it has dried. Save the rest of the chocolate and shortening for later dipping, or use another type of chocolate for variety.

Alternately, you can microwave the same amount of chocolate coating pieces on high at 30 second intervals, stirring until smooth.

Quickly dip a frozen cheesecake pop in the melted chocolate, swirling quickly to coat it completely. Shake off any excess into the melted chocolate. If you like, you can now roll the pops quickly in optional decorations. You can also drizzle them with a contrasting color of melted chocolate (dark chocolate drizzled over milk chocolate or white chocolate over dark chocolate, etc.) Place the pop on a clean parchment paper-lined baking sheet to set. Repeat with remaining pops, melting more chocolate and shortening (or confectionery chocolate pieces) as needed.

Refrigerate the pops for up to 24 hours, until ready to serve.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tomato Basil Quiche

Some friends came over for lunch yesterday, so I figured I would make a quiche. I've never done one before, and it was a great one to start off with. Tomato/basil/mozzarella are probably my favorite things together,so this seemed logical.

Anyway, I found this recipe here. It was a big big hit, and it was even decent microwaved as leftovers. It was so easy to make; the worst part was shredding the cheese and chopping the onions and tomatoes.

No pictures because I didn't want my guests wondering why the heck I was taking pictures of the food! LOL

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Total preparation time: 70 minutes
10 servings

* 1 unbaked pastry shell
* 1 cup chopped onion
* 2 garlic cloves, chopped
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded
* 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
* 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
* 1 cup evaporated skim milk
* 1-1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
* 1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
* 3 eggs

Place pastry in 10-inch deep-dish pie pan. Softly sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until golden. Spread onions and then cheese over pastry. Arrange tomatoes decoratively in a single layer over cheese. Arrange chopped basil atop tomatoes. (You can prepare ahead this far, making later preparations extra quick.)

In a blender, combine remaining ingredients and blend well. Carefully pour into pie shell without disturbing tomatoes. Bake 45 minutes at 350F or until knife inserted in middle can be removed clean. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Serving: 214Cal (46% Fat); 8g Protein; 11g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 21g Carb; 2g Fiber; 301mg Sodium; 75mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 5 points

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Making the rounds

Yet another poll type thing is making the internet rounds...

Bumblebutton posted about playing this little omnivore game, as thought up by Andrew at Very Good Taste. I thought it would be fun to play along—maybe you would like to do it too!

Andrew's post--Here's a chance for a little interactivity for all the bloggers out there. Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don't worry if you haven't, mind you; neither have I, though I'll be sure to work on it. Don't worry if you don't recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.

Here's what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.

2) Bold all the items you've eaten—

3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.

4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The Omnivore's Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl (um... I've had it, just never in a bread bowl... does that count for something?)
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Chicken Enchiladas

I got this from allrecipes
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pint sour cream
  • 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 (10 inch) flour tortillas
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar taco sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium, non-stick skillet over medium heat, cook chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear. Drain excess fat. Cube the chicken and return it to the skillet. Add the onion, sour cream, Cheddar cheese, parsley, oregano and ground black pepper. Heat until cheese melts. Stir in salt, tomato sauce, water, chili powder, green pepper and garlic.
  3. Roll even amounts of the mixture in the tortillas. Arrange in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover with taco sauce and 3/4 cup Cheddar cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven 20 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

I made a few changes... I used an 8oz can of tomato paste instead of the tomato sauce (I halved everything) and filled the can with water. I used a yellow bell pepper because that's what I had, and enchilada sauce instead of taco sauce (what is taco sauce anyway?). I used whole wheat tortillas, and cut the chicken before cooking. I omitted any extra salt. Finally, I baked for 19 minutes in my convection oven.

This was not bad, but I have to admit I was really disappointed. I guess I was expecting something more like what I would get at a Mexican restaurant--even one of the Mexican chains, and this just wasn't even close.

It wasn't BAD per se, it just wasn't what I was expecting. I'm going to keep looking for a chicken enchilada recipe, I guess.

If I were making this again, I would probably cut the chicken into strips for easier rolling of the tortilla.

Penne with Vodka and Chicken

Last night, I planned to make chicken enchiladas. Then I realized that the recipe would take an hour and a half, and I needed to have started it a long time ago. So I bumped up the penne with vodka sauce I planned to make on Friday and moved it to Tuesday. But I also had some cubed chicken from when I made The Boy chicken nuggets and decided to look for a recipe that added chicken into penne with vodka sauce.

I found this here.

Overall it was pretty good. I can't quite give it a very good because I made a user error--I didn't think there was enough tomato in the pan, so added another tablespoon of tomato paste. That caused the meal to come out orangey and not creamy enough.

User error and all, though, this was pretty good and SO MUCH EASIER than my typical penne with vodka recipe. I'll definitely be making this one again (correctly) on a workday!

Penne with Chicken and Vodka Sauce
serves 2
derived from The Silver Spoon

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into bite sized chunks
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 box of penne, cooked al dente
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves minced garlic
red pepper flakes to taste
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vodka
5 tablespoons heavy cream

1. Melt butter in pan and brown chicken over medium heat. Add tomato paste, garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper and cook for about 3 minutes. Add vodka and heavy cream and cook until you can no longer smell the vodka.

2. Taste to adjust seasoning. Add cooked pasta and allow the dish to heat through.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Whole wheat pizza, AGAIN.

I made my recipe for whole wheat pizza last night. We ended up not having it then, so I Saran Wrapped and then left it in the fridge over night.

I usually only use half the dough, but this time I figured I'd use the whole thing because it usually tears on me.

SUCH A GOOD DECISION. It was the perfect size to fill my pan and the crust was just perfect. It looked and tasted like a DiGiornio... certainly not as good as a takeout, but cheaper than a frozen.

I just raided my fridge for some veggies and toppings and used yellow peppers, canned mushrooms, and a tomato. YUM!!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bruschetta Chicken

This is yet another stolen from Lauren's blog. See the original recipe here.

Pictures coming soon.

I ended up using the yellow tomatoes I had leftover, so this looked kinda strange. But it tasted super good! All my favorite things combine into "Caprese Salad," so I knew this would be a big hit. I used to make Rachael Ray's Chicken Caprese Salad (I thought for SURE I could find this on the internet, but it's not popping up), but this is much better.

I pan fried my breasts (heheh) in olive oil, after pounding them a little thinner.

Next time, I would probably not mix the olive oil with the balsamic for brushing, especially since I already had olive oil in the pan.

Definitely a keeper in this house!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Spicy Pasta with Shrimp,Tomatoes, and Basil

Original recipe from Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings

The idea of this meal sounded perfect. Pasta? Check. Tomatoes? Check. Basil? Check. BAJ's request for shrimp one night? Check.

And the meal itself was...fine. I felt like there was a lot too much sauce for the half pound of fettucine I used, which is unusual, but I just wasn't bowled over in love with this one.

I did like that this recipe was EEEEASY.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Eggplant Parm



  • 3 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 6 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
  • 1 (16 ounce) package mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in bread crumbs. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes on each side.
  3. In a 9x13 inch baking dish spread spaghetti sauce to cover the bottom. Place a layer of eggplant slices in the sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients, ending with the cheeses. Sprinkle basil on top.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.
I followed the instructions of some of the reviewers for this recipe. First, I salted these and let them sit in a colander for 20 minutes. I then rinsed them and patted dry. I baked them for 7 minutes on each side at 450. I also used one large eggplant.

Somewhere along the way, I turned the temp of the oven down to 350, but I'm not sure when. I just kept an eye on it until the cheese on top was melty and the sauce was bubbling.

This was definitely the best I've made this dish. The eggplant came out nice and soft and it was even good as leftovers (of which I am not a fan). I ended up using an entire jar of spaghetti sauce because I wanted to make sure everything was covered and got nice and soft.

This went really well with some Texas Toast!

Chicken Nuggets


  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Cut chicken breasts into 1 1/2 inch size pieces. In a medium bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, cheese, salt, thyme and basil. Mix well. Put melted butter/margarine in a bowl or dish for dipping.
  3. Dip chicken pieces into the melted butter/margarine first, then coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Place well coated chicken pieces on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a single layer, and bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.
I made this for the boy, whose father has been giving him Perdue Popcorn Chicken. I figured, I was battering stuff for Eggplant Parm, so I'd try to make him some chicken nuggets too. Instead of using melted butter, I used an egg, which I scrambled lightly. I didn't measure too much, and I think I used garlic powder and Italian seasoning only.

I think my oven was set at 450 for another thing I was making, so I only baked for 10-15 minutes.

These were really good! Both BAJ and I tried one and they were tasty... maybe I'll make these for all of us on night. Oh, and The Boy liked them too!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

French Onion Risotto

I got this from Lauren's blog as well.

I have to admit that I didn't love it. I liked it, but just can't go on raving about it. BAJ agreed, thinking that either I don't know how to properly make it (certainly a possibility), risotto just isn't his thing, or the risottos I've made just haven't been his thing. I don't know what it is, either, but any of those are real possibilities. I don't think I've ever had risotto made by someone else, so can't be sure if I like risotto or not.

I digress...

Perhaps the problem is the addition of white wine instead of sherry.

This certainly SMELLED good as it cooked, and it was surprisingly easy to make (one hears such horrors about making risotto, but it really wasn't bad at all). But I have to admit to being disappointed (especially since Lauren loves hers so much!)


  • 3 cups of any combo of beef broth and water (I used a can of broth (1-3/4c and the rest water)
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Half of a large onion, thinly sliced
  • Fresh thyme I used dried
  • 2 tablespoons sherry, to taste I used white wine because I needed to use it up or throw it out...
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
  • Provolone or cheese of your choice, optional

In a medium saucepan, bring broth and water to a boil. Simmer on a low-medium heat.

Heat butter and olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes until tender.

Add rice, stir, and cook 1-2 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup broth mixture. Cook on a low-medium heat. When almost all the liquid is absorbed, add the next 1/2 cup. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup at a time.Before adding the last 1/2 cup broth, stir in thyme and sherry. Cook with remaining broth until rice is done. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir in cheese, if using.Makes about 4 small portions.

French Onion Chicken Casserole

I got this one from Lauren's blog.
I also got the side dish from her (French Onion Risotto).

This was super duper easy to make... I used regular soup mix... I figured that I had it and wouldn't go buying specific French onion mix--gotta be the same, right?

I only used 2 breasts so I only used 1/2 an onion and ended up baking for about 20 minutes or so. The chicken came out so moist and tender... YUM! I just wasn't super excited about the sauce. It was good, but in small doses for me. I thought it was way too salty, and I don't love me some salt. BAJ, on the other hand, really enjoyed it.

  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 2 Tbs plain flour
  • Packet of french onion soup
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 Cup water
  • 2 Tbs sour cream or plain low-fat yoghurt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (180 degrees C)

2. Put the soup mix and flour into a ziplock bag, add the chicken breasts and shake it to coat them. Save the excess flour mix.

3. Heat some oil in a pan, or spray it with non stick cooking spray - and add the chicken and cook until browned all over. Turn them often, but carefully cause it will take off the coating if you aren't!

4. Take the chicken out, and put it in a casserole dish.

5. Add onions to the pan. Stir constantly over heat until onions ar soft.

6. Blend the saved flour mixture into a cup of water, and add it, to the pan with the onions and bacon. Cook for a couple of minutes, then pour over the chicken in the casserole dish.

7. Cover, then cook for about 35 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken, and stir in sour cream/yoghurt, then replace chicken in the gravy. Serve!!

"Fried" Tomatoes

Fried tomatoes is one of my go to summer meals. I love it, and I love to eat it outdoors. My mom makes it with some kind of white sauce, which I have not been able to a. find online, b. replicate, or c. get the recipe from her.

So I found a recipe on allrecipes, which I can't seem to locate there now. So I'll have to type it out here at some point, just not right now.

I found yellow tomatoes at the farmer's market and couldn't resist them, so I used one yellow and one red for this. It turned out pretty good for both kinds!

I served it with Parmesan pasta of one kind or another by Rice a Roni or the like, since I had no potatoes for the traditional mashed potatoes side dish. It turned out to have the perfect creaminess to accompany the tomatoes.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hoisin Glazed Chicken Breasts

From Cooking Light, originally here


1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
3/4 teaspoon bottled minced fresh ginger
Cooking spray
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
4 lime wedges


Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients. Remove 2 tablespoons of hoisin mixture, and reserve to brush on cooked chicken. Line a shallow roasting pan with foil; coat foil with cooking spray. Place the chicken on prepared pan. Brush 2 tablespoons of hoisin mixture evenly over chicken; broil 5 minutes. Turn chicken over; brush with 2 tablespoons of hoisin mixture. Broil 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Spoon reserved 2 tablespoons of hoisin mixture over cooked chicken. Serve with lime wedges.

This was a pretty standard Cooking Light recipe, I'm finding. They really love using garlic, ginger, and hoisin sauce, but it works so I'll keep doing it. This was really easy to put together, especially since the sauce really lends itself to not measuring.

I served it with brown rice. I wanted to serve it with broccoli on the side, but discovered all I had in the freezer was broccoli stir fry, which was pretty good too. (It just now occurred to me that I have fresh broccoli in the fridge. WOOPS!)

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Originally found here.

I've never made pulled pork before, but was looking for something that wouldn't require much of my time the day before the party. I decided on this, and we were very happy with the results.

I used a small cut of pork butt. It was three pieces, which the butcher at Shop Rite suggested when I told him I wanted to make pulled pork (when he showed me the pork butt I should use, I balked and said, "Um, there's only two of us.")

I also used a can of root beer (Shop Rite brand!) and store bought creole seasoning (because I had it).

This is definitely a keeper in our house. In fact, I will probably be making it the next time we have a big party, we liked it that much!

your favorite cut of pork (shoulder, butt, whatever you like)

8-12 ounces of root beer (some girls use Coke)

spices (I used Emeril's essence)

your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Dinosaur)

Put pork, root beer and seasonings in the crock pot and cook on low for 7 hours. Drain the crockpot, and add the BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 30 more minutes. Remove from the crock pot and shred, adding more BBQ sauce if you like. Serve on sandwiches!

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes, Part 2

I frosted them with store bought icing, and they were outstanding. The cake was divine, and since it was so darn easy, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to use a box mix.

The cake with store bought icing was clearly good enough for Baby SBF's first taste of cake:

Cat in the Hat Cake

I am by no means an artist. In grade school, I drew an Easter bunny that came out looking like a camel.

When we started to plan The Boy's first birthday party with a Dr. Seuss theme, I found this on the internet and though, "Hey, she said it was easy. That's what I'll do." But then time got in the way, and that plan went out the window.

We then decided we would cut a cake in the shape of The Cat in the Hat's hat. In the middle of the night before the party, I decided it would be way too much and way too easy to screw up, so decided instead to frost the cake white and draw on the hat.

Somehow, my little plan worked, and here's what came out:

Monday, July 28, 2008

Who wants a $50 gift card???

I found a contest!! WOOHOO.
It's for a $50 Target gift card.

Check it out here
and please say that Christina from sent ya!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Spaghetti Sauce

Things happened last night, and dinner didn't get started until 6:30. So I went looking for something fast... I found ravioli in the freezer, so that was dinner.

I did, however, have the cooking urge, so I sought out a pasta recipe for the stovetop. I found one, but actually made some of my own modifications!! I CAN do it!!!

Original recipe found here

1 med. onion
1 carrot
1 stalk of celery
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes & puree I used crushed tomatoes
1 c. water
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. basil
1 bay leaf
Chop finely in blender: onion, carrot and celery. Chop garlic the same, but separately. Saute onion in oil until tender. Add garlic, carrot and celery and cook until tender. Add tomatoes, water, salt, pepper, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Pour through a food mill (optional). Discard solids. Simmer 15 minutes. Will thicken if chilled overnight.

I added in a frozen cube of red wine, a can of tomato paste, and some oregano in during the tomatoes step. I didn't measure at all. I found it to be a bit too salty, but BAJ thought it was fine. I did, however, add way too much water. I didn't food mill it, but I do wish I had chopped my carrot thinner. In short, the flavor was decent, but I probably should have added more tomato paste to thicken it up after adding too much water.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Magnolia Bakery's Vanilla Birthday Cake and Frosting

Recipe originally found here

The cake was very very good, and I will for sure make it again. The frosting, through no fault of the recipe, didn't turn out so great. I think the problem was that I substituted for powdered sugar (from here). The frosting turned out grainy and just plain yuck. I also added 2t of raspberry extract, just to try it out. I definitely got some of that flavor, but BAJ said the frosting was flavorless.

Picture of my poor sad wimpy frosted cuppie coming soon.

Monday, July 14, 2008

No cooking in these parts

We are without stove/oven for awhile. It conked out in the middle of making dinner for my parents on Thursday. It seems the computer went haywire, and will cost $150 to replace. It also might not fix the problem, so it looks like a new one is in the works.

We went to a few stores and finally decided on a range at Sears. For some really really stupid reason, the warehouse that ships to our town is out of stock. If we lived one town over, we could get it. How stupid???

So now we either have to wait until this warehouse has them again (luckily, they are holding the sale price for us), decide on another range, or go to a different store.

It can never be easy, right?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

One Pot Thai

This came from my new cookbook from Food and Wine Magazine, One Dish Meals.

I liked that it was so veggie filled. I'm not a huge fan of radishes, but they worked in this dish. It's a recipe that calls for ground pork, but ground turkey was on sale, and that's what I used. It was pretty good and I'll probably make it again, but we're not RAVING about it.

Cleanup was nice, though, since it technically only used a skillet and a cutting board (although I didn't use a large enough skillet at first!)

Fried Tilapia

This was a recipe for Fried Catfish from ATK. I wasn't sure if I would like catfish, and tilapia was on sale, so away we went.

It was pretty good, although not delicious. It was a little bit too much of the SAME for me to eat a whole filet. I served with corn on the cob and McCain's steak fries.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Catch up

Wow, it's been a while.

First, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY! My little boy is only 26 days away from being one. Absolutely unreal.

I went away for awhile to Colorado for some work type stuff. It was an awesome trip, but after being cooked for, cleaned up after, and not having to do any domestic stuff for a week, I had a hard time adjusting and we went out to eat a bit more than normal.

I HAVE been cooking, but haven't yet uploaded any pictures, so those are coming soon.

I've decided to take a hiatus from TWD. Money is tight right now and I just don't have the energy for baking at this time. We'll see if I can manage it again in the fall... hopefully I can because I really enjoyed being part of the group.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Skillet Shrimp and Sausage

Everyday with Rachael Ray Magazine, June/July 2008
Also can be found here

The only change I made was to use brown rice instead of white.

This was pretty good, but I did run into some problems. Perhaps because the rice was toasted first, perhaps I just didn't cook it enough, but it was very very hard. Disgustingly so. We really liked the flavor of the sausage (our first go with apple chicken sausage..yum!) and the dish overall was good. I look forward to trying it again as a freezer meal, but will cook the rice for a lot longer than the recipe suggests.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

TWD: French Chocolate Brownies

First, please let me apologize for my EXTREME tardiness here. I kept starting to make them after our son was in bed, but by the time I would have started and finished, we never could have enjoyed them. Better late than never, I suppose!

This week's Tuesday was hosted by Di of Di’s Kitchen Notebook.

Anyway, as I was making these, BAJ said, "Who puts RAISINS in brownies? You're such a weirdo." He did appreciate that I was flambeeing, although the flame was rather teensy.

When I added the raisins to the brownies, it smelled just like Raisinettes... my favorite!!

So I'm very excited for these to come out of the oven... 32 more minutes until sweet chocolatey, raisiny, gooeyness!

The center didn't quite... bake. It was runny and gooey alright, but not done. I gave it more time, for probably 75 minutes total time, and we decided to eat them. Despite the center being on the underdone side, these were REALLY good. The raisins were a delightful touch--nice and squishy. The flavor was really good too. They weren't as difficult to make as some of the other Dorie creations I've made either. I'll probably make these again!!

Here's the recipe

French Chocolate Brownies

- makes 16 brownies -
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional) I used it
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum I used Puerto Rican Gold rum
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Chili Mac Salad

From June/July 2008 Everyday with Rachael Ray

Can also be found here

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

4 ears corn

2 cups elbow pasta

1 red onion, half finely chopped, half thinly sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 pound lean ground beef

One 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed

2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. In a medium bowl, combine the lime juice and cilantro; whisk in 6 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn until just tender, about 3 minutes; transfer to a cutting board. Return the water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente; drain and transfer to a large bowl. Cut the corn kernels from the cob and add to the pasta.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and chili powder and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a colander and drain well.
4. Add the beef mixture to the pasta; season with salt and pepper. Add the kidney beans, tomatoes, sliced onion and vinaigrette and toss to dress. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the cheese.

I used a pound of ground turkey and only half a red onion. I also served the kidney beans on the side and used dried cilantro. I used bowtie pasta. Finally, I only bought three ears of corn at the store, so that's what I used.

Overall, this was a pretty good recipe, but not for a dinner. A lunch? Maybe? A side dish for a BBQ? Absolutely. But it just wasn't RIGHT for a dinner meal for some reason. It was good, it was easy, but it just seemed to be missing something.

Baby SBF liked his meat and pasta mixture!
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