Friday, April 11, 2014

Pina Colada Cookies

I’m getting spring fever.

Although I love winter and the snow I’m ready for a change of season and that comes late for Rhode Island. We’ve had a few nice days but for the most part it’s been chilly out. I’m waiting for a nice warm day so we can clean up the yard, and start prepping the garden for this year. I’ve got a few design changes for the yard this year too. We moved a big raised bed which contained my garlic and basil. I planted the garlic last fall so that’s all set but we have to make another raised bed for the basil. I plant a lot of basil.

I’m also re-designing an area in the front of the house. I have the plans all drawn up in my head and they include a picket fence. My only worry is that I think I have to move my Japanese maple and I’m a bit worried about that.

So my head is full of spring plans and more cooking on the grill and the garden and getting out in the fresh air! Oh, longer days also mean that I can actually take photos after I come home from work, so that means more recipes for the blog.

With all this talk of spring and Easter right around the corner, I thought I’d bring you a springy type cookie.

I adapted this recipe a bit from the original that I found on Eat at Home Cooks. I added in some toasted coconut to the mix. I think it was a good decision.

These cookies are so moist and so light. They are almost cake-like melt-in-your-mouth. How's that for a description?

Pina Colada Cookies
Yields 30 cookies
adapted from a recipe at Eat at Home Cooks
Printable recipe
1 stick butter, softened
2 eggs
1 box white cake mix
2 tablespoons flour
8 oz crushed pineapple, drained well and reserve the juice
¾ cup coconut (toasted)

For the glaze
1 1/2 - 2 cups powdered sugar
Reserved pineapple juice
1/2 tsp. coconut extract

Heat the oven to 350.

In a large bowl cream together the butter and the eggs. Add in the cake mix and drained, crushed pineapple. Mix until just combined. Stir the coconut in by hand. Chill batter for a half hour, then drop by rounded tablespoon on a parchment lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. I returned the batter to the fridge in between each batch. Bake for 11 – 13 minutes of just until the tops turn slightly golden. Let cookies sit for 3 minutes on the baking sheet, remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

For the glaze:
Place the powdered sugar in a bowl. Add just enough of the reserved pineapple to get it to a dunkable consistency. Dunk the tops of each cookie into the glaze and place on cookie rack until glaze sets.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Cadbury Easter Egg Bark

The absolute hardest part of staying away from sugar for me has been these:

I knew they were coming. I saw them in the market around mid February. Then March rolled around and they were everywhere. I mean everywhere.

They are my most favorite candy on the plant. I just love them so much. I bought 2 bags of them. One to make this recipe and one for John and the boys to much on. I successfully managed to not eat a single one until March 15th. I knew I was going to allow myself to cheat a bit that day. Our wonderful friends Ken and Eva threw me 50th birthday party at their home. All my family and friends were there. I always bring something to a party, and it's usually a dessert, so that night I brought this bark.  It was such a great evening and since I was allowing myself to cheat, I got to eat a piece of it. It was so good. I'm kinda glad I held out and waited cause I think that made it taste even better.

The hardest part of making this recipe was chopping the mini eggs. I tried the mini food processor, it chopped them up too much, tried putting them in a bag and whacking them with a rolling pin, same result. I ended up very carefully putting them on a cutting board and cutting them in two with a  big knife, then cutting each half in pieces. If any of you figure out a better way, please let me know!

Just make sure to have your chopped mini eggs ready before you start melting the chocolate.

Cadbury Easter Egg Bark
Printable recipe
adapted from a recipe at Tutti Dolci
1- 8oz bag Cadbury Mini Eggs, chopped
1- 16oz package of vanilla Candi-Quick (or 1 pound white chocolate, chopped)
1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate, chopped

Before you begin melting the chocolate, chop the mini eggs up! You need to have this ready when your chocolate is ready.

Line an 11 x 17-inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Melt the Candi-Quick in the microwave according to the manufacturers directions. Pour melted chocolate into prepared pan and spread with an offset spatula into an even layer. Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 20 minutes. Remove pan from refrigerator and leave at room temperature while melting remaining chocolate.

Place bittersweet and semisweet chocolate in the microwave and microwave on low power in 1 minute intervals and then 30 second intervals until melted. Let stand 5 mins. Pour melted chocolate over white chocolate layer; carefully spread with an offset spatula into an even layer. Sprinkle with chopped Cadbury eggs. Chill in the refrigerator until completely set, about 1 hour.

Carefully lift parchment paper and place bark on a cutting board; then use a sharp knife to cut the bark into pieces. Just chop away, no need to have look-alike pieces.  Pack in an airtight container with wax paper between layers; store at room temperature up to 1 week.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Veggie Fries - a Giveaway!

A lot of you know I’ve drastically cut sugar and carbs out of my life. *sniff*. It’s not been easy but I’ve been doing it since mid-January. By far, the hardest thing for me to give up is the carbs. So much more so than the sugar and that really surprised me cause I am a sugar fiend, but cutting out the sugar hasn’t been that bad. The homemade bread, the pasta, the potatoes….that has been hard.

I think I’ve had 10 French fries in the past 3 months. So sad. Then I get this email from a company that makes Veggie Fries. Healthier fries! Yippee! It was like they knew I needed these! Would I like to try them….you betcha.

I love them. The kids love them too and I can eat a whole cup full and still keep my carbs in check. They really are crunchy on the outside and fluffy and tender on the inside. So good and it let's me indulge in fries without feeling guilty! They are gluten free and non-GMO. That means so much to me. We really have enjoyed them and now I want you guys to enjoy them too. So the nice folks at Veggie Fries have given me some coupons to let you enjoy Veggie Fries for free!!

3 lucky winners will receive coupons to buy and choose the Veggie Fries they'd love to try!

If you don't have a blog, please leave me email address to contact you (no email and I'll move on to the next name).

There are three ways to enter: (1) leave a comment on the blog (2) If you haven't already, go “like” The Cutting Edge of Ordinary on Facebook or (3) Already a fan? Just leave a comment here or on Facebook to let me know! Facebook comments will count as entries.

Giveaway ends on midnight Wednesday, April 9th eastern standard time.

Just tell me what flavor of Veggie Fries you'd try first?

They come in four delicious flavors.....

Broccoli & Potatoes

Carrot & Potatoes

Chickpea, Red Peppers & Potatoes

and Tuscan Bean, Herbs & Potatoes

Veggie Fries are made from all natural USA grown potatoes, carefully selected real farm-grown vegetables, beans, spices and herbs to provide the most authentic and delicious flavors. Each batch follows a unique patent-pending process to give you the perfect fry texture – crispy on the outside, fluffy and tender on the inside. Each variety contains at least 25% of non-potato vegetables and beans for a substantial amount of extra vegetable nutrition in every delicious serving. Every ingredient is all natural, non-GMO and contains no gluten or wheat.

You can check out the nutritional information here.

The fingers you see in that top photo are of my youngest. He was grabbing at them when I was taking pics for this post so I decided to keep him in the pic. He really loves them too!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Strawberry Croissant Bake

I'm back to my breakfast "thing". I'm so into the breakfast bakes, especially ones that I can make the night before and just throw into the oven in the morning. I was assembling this at 9pm and it really only took about 10 minutes to throw together.

I had a hankering for strawberries. I bought some a few weeks ago and they were not so good. I saw a 2 pounder from Sam's Club last week and they smelled amazing, so I picked them up. Without opening them up and actually eating a strawberry (which I'm sure the store would frown upon), I usually go for the smell test. If they smell really sweet and strawberrish, then I'll buy them. I cannot wait for strawberry season here in Rhode Island.....that won't be until late June  (ugh).

This really isn't a pretty breakfast bake. The strawberry sauce isn't very photogenic, but that won't stop me from posting this because no matter what it looks like, the important thing is how it tastes, and this tastes fantastic!

I'm watching my carbs and sugars so I only had one serving (1 mini croissant) but I can tell you I would have had 2 or 3 if I weren't watching it. So good!

I used store bought mini croissants. You can use the larger size but I really liked the little ones.

Here's what it looks like after it comes out of the oven and some hungry hands dug into it. The croissants are all snuggled up together. Awww.

This is the perfect breakfast to bring to a sick friend, a brunch, or just for a lazy Sunday.

Strawberry Croissant Bake
Printable recipe
adapted from a recipe at Crumbs & Chaos
12 small butter croissants
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
Juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/4 cups powered sugar (divided)
1 1/2 cups milk
2 eggs

Strawberry Sauce:
2 cups of fresh strawberries, chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Slice croissants open. I didn't slice mine all the way through, I left them open like a clam shell (trying to give you a mental image, lol). Set aside.

Beat together cream cheese, lemon juice and 3/4 cup powdered sugar in a bowl. You want this to be light and fluffy (I used the whisk attachment for my mixer.)

Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bottom half of each croissant and close the top back down. Arrange the croissants so they all fit in the bottom of a lightly greased 9x13 pan. I placed them in there like a little puzzle.

Combine milk, eggs, lemon zest and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. Pour over croissants in pan and then cover the pan with foil and place in fridge for 8-10 hours.

In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place covered pan in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 20-30 minutes until set and golden. Let stand 5-10 minutes after removing from the oven. Serve with strawberry sauce and fresh sliced strawberries.

Strawberry Sauce:

Add strawberries and sugar to a large, heavy saucepan. Stirring often, bring to a boil over medium heat. Take off of the heat and add vanilla. Mash with a potato masher for a chunky sauce, blend with an immersion blender for a smooth sauce.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sugar Snap Peas & Chinese Sausage

I've been eating a lot of sugar snap peas lately. I kinda get going with something and get a bit obsessed with it. Right now it's sugar snap peas.

My local Sam's Club sells them in a 1 pound bag with no strings! Stringless. Oh glory. That is the one thing I hate about eating sugar snaps, you get that annoying pea string and it just ruins your whole pea eating experience. At least it does for me.

So I've been buying these for a month now and I usually just lightly steam them and add some soy and a little sesame oil and call it a done deal, but after a month of eating them that way I decided to try something a little different. I got my inspiration while I was cleaning out my freezer the other day and noticed a package of lap cheong, my beloved Chinese sausage. My local Asian market carries a few different kinds. I always buy the KamYenJam brand.

If you haven't had Chinese sausage I strongly urge you to try it.  It's dried smoked sausage and unlike some sausages, this must be cooked before you eat it. It's sweet, savory and salty all at the same time. Once you cook it, do not drain away the yummy juices that it renders. That's sauce for the snap peas!

Sugar Snap Peas with Chinese Sausage.
recipe from Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary
Printable recipe
4 links of Chinese sausage (you can freeze any unused sausage)
1 pound of sugar snap peas
2 -3 tablespoons of water
dash Sesame oil
sprinkling of seasame seeds (optional)

In a large heavy bottomed pan cook the Chinese sausage until it renders out some juice and the sausage begins to brown a bit. Remove from pan and set aside. Add the sugar snaps peas, a dash of sesame oil and 2 - 3 tablespoons of water (to help the peas stream) into the same pan.

Cover and steam for 2 - 3 minutes or until the peas are just tender (don't overcook!). Add the sausage back in, sprinkle with sesame seeds and eat immediately!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Shallots

Oh spring come on, I can almost feel you!

We had a couple of days here when the temps reached up into the mid 40's. It was heaven. Just to feel the sun on my face was a joy, but it was short lived. The cold temps crept back in and we had more snow last week, just flurries, but snow none the less. Oh well, that's living in New England.

I caught one heck of a head cold. I was sick for weeks. Before anyone preaches, yes I went to the doctors. I had a little incident a few weeks ago where I actually passed out in the shower. I had been sick all weekend so by Monday morning I had the perfect storm of symptoms that just did me in. My blood sugar was low, I'm sure my blood pressure was low, I wasn't eating right, I probably didn't drink enough either, and my head was completely congested. Combine all that with a steaming hot shower and bam, I was out. That was scary. I didn't get hurt, thankfully, but I did get a note from the doctor to stay home and rest. It was another 3 days on the couch for me. It's been 3 weeks and another trip back to the doctors and I'm just now starting to feel ok. This one threw me for a loop!

The men had quite a few "fend for yourself" suppers, and when I felt well enough to finally get myself back into the kitchen I didn't want to make anything too complicated. These Roasted Chicken Thighs were perfect.

Throw a bunch of ingredients together, let the thighs marinate in them for a few hours then toss them in the oven. How easy is that?

We love chicken thighs in our house. If you're not crazy about them, use whatever piece of chicken you like best.

I actually doubled the amounts from the original recipe and it was the perfect amount of marinade.

Roast Chicken Thighs with Caramelized Shallots
slightly adapted from a recipe at David
Printable recipe.
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 large shallots, peeled and minced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 chicken thighs, skin on.

Preheat the oven to 425ºF . In a large baking dish, one which will hold all the chicken pieces in a single layer, mix the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce, shallots, and some salt and pepper. I refrigerated these for a few hours before I put them in the oven.

Toss the chicken in the mixture, so they’re completely coated with the shallots. Turn the chicken pieces so they are all skin side up.

Roast the chicken for about twenty minutes, until it starts to brown on top. Turn the pieces of chicken over. Scrape any juices and shallots over the chicken that may be clinging to the pan, and bake for another twenty minutes, or until the pieces of chicken are cooked through and the shallots are well-caramelized.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Janet's Cheesy Baked Cauliflower

I just can't get enough cauliflower. I could eat it every single day.

I usually make my Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower or my Breaded Cauliflower but I'm always on the look out for a new cauliflower recipe and I found one through my friends Bob and Lisa Wisniewski. I was chatting with Lisa and she said that Bob was making a cheesy cauliflower recipe. I had a cheesy cauliflower recipe sitting on the kitchen table, ready to make but when Lisa told me about Bob's mother's recipe I scrapped that recipe for this one. I'm glad I did.

This was so delicious. You microwave the whole head before it goes in the oven so it cuts down the baking time significantly. You get this big head of cauliflower that you can cut into wedges to eat. It's just so good.

I might take a new spin on this the next time I make it and cut the head into florets, coat them with the mayo mixture, place them in a shallow baking sheet then cover with cheese and bake. Either way this recipe is scrumptious!

This is Bob's mother's recipe. Janet is no longer with us, but her recipe lives on. That's what I love about recipes and cooking, you can still make something that brings back memories of that person. So thank you Janet Wisniewski.

Janet's Cheesy Baked Cauliflower
Printable Recipe
1 large head of cauliflower
3/4 cup mayo
2 tsp finely chopped onions or shallots
1-2 tsp prepared mustard (I used brown mustard)
dash salt & pepper
1-2 tablespoons parsley
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup water to cook the cauliflower
paprkia for sprinkling

Rinse the head of cauliflower and remove the bottom leaves. Be sure to leave the core in tact so it won't fall apart.

Place the cauliflower and the water in a microwave save bowl. I covered mine with a piece of parchment paper and used an elastic to secure it around the bowl. You could use a piece of plastic wrap, but I'm always leery of microwaving plastic products. Microwave on high for 10 - 12 minutes. Times may vary depending on how powerful your microwave is. You can check for doness by sliding a sharp knife into the side of the cauliflower. If you can slide it in with little to no resistance, you're good. If not return to microwave and check it every few minutes.

Drain the water from the bowl and set it aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a bowl combine the mayo, onions, mustard and salt & pepper. Stir to combine and slather it all over the cauliflower head. Top with the cheddar cheese, sprinkle with paprika and place in a 350 oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Slice into wedges to eat.