Saturday, February 28, 2009

Rice Krispie Treats with Chocolate Peanut Butter Topping

I’m going back to basics a bit people. Be prepared to experience plain and simple, dare I say old-fashioned favorites, cause you know what I have discovered? Some of the people who are part of the “younger generation” don’t have a freakin’ clue how to cook even the simplest things? It’s true! I fear the fast food nation we live in has depleted our youth of the inspiration to cook anything. Why make it when you can buy it in a sack?

So I thought I’d start off with an easy, nutritious and healthy snack for those beginners out there who just don’t know where to start. Ok I was kidding on the nutritious and healthy part but the easy part was true and these actually are a far better snack then some things you can shove in your pie hole. A version of this recipe is even on the Weight Watchers menu, but I’m sure it doesn’t include a stick of butter. Silly nillies at Weight Watchers. I also added a chocolate peanut butter topping cause we all know chocolate makes everything better.

Rice Krispie Treats with Chocolate Peanut Butter Topping
Printable recipe
1 stick unsalted butter
1 (16oz) bag mini marshmallows
7 cups rice krispies
9x13 inch pan, buttered very well

1 1/2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips

Melt the butter in a very large saucepan. You want room to stir. Once the butter is melted add the marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Add cereal and mix well. I used a large spatula sprayed with cooking spray. It’s gonna be messy, just deal with it. That’s why we have soap and water.

Immediately press into pan. I wet my fingers to really pat it down into the pans.

Place the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring each time. As soon as most of the chips are melted, give it another good stir. The chips should be smooth at this point. Pour over the rice krispies and smooth over with an off set spatula, covering the entire top of the pan.

Let pan cool completey. Cut into squares, or diamonds, or circles, you can let your krispie creative side flow here.

Call in the kids and watch the smiles on their faces.

Sometimes the best foods are the simplest.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

One of my Internet friends Lee, who knows what a cupcake nut I am, sent this recipe my way and I immediately went online and bought some vanilla beans so I could make it.

A few days later there were 20 gorgeous Tahitian vanilla beans in my mailbox. Can I just tell you that there are very few thing that makes my nostrils happier than smelling fresh, plump, fragrant vanilla beans. Heaven. I could have walked around all day with my face in that bag of beans. I walked around the house making everyone smell them. The beans and I had a moment.

This recipe is from a really great source for recipes. It was paired with Salted Caramel Frosting, that I was really looking forward to topping these with, then I started reading the reviews and many of them said the caramel frosting was too buttery and that it would be better suited to a chocolate cake or cupcakes. So I stored the frosting recipe away for another time and topped these with my ole stand by...Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.

Can I just say it was a perfect pairing.

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Printable recipe
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped, seeds reserved (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line 2 (12-well) muffin pans with paper liners. Alternatively, coat the wells with butter; set aside.

Place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until very light in color, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla seeds (if you’re using vanilla extract instead, you’ll add it later), and continue beating until mixture is airy, about 3 minutes.

Add milk (and vanilla extract, if you’re using it in place of seeds), and mix until combined (the mixture will look curdled, but it’s not). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, and mix until just combined, about 15 seconds.

Fill the muffin wells about halfway, and bake cupcakes until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Set the pans on a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from the pans and let cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Printable recipe
1 stick butter - room temp
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk (plus a few dashes to adjust consistency)
1 teaspoon vanilla.

Beat butter & cocoa until smooth, then add sugar one cup at a time, beating with each addition. Add milk & vanilla and beat about 3 minutes

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sausage Bites with Apricot Mustard Dipping Sauce

Well my computer guru at work fixed me all up. What the cable guy couldn't figure out, Steve did in about 2 minutes. So my precious photos are saved and all my files are back and I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. Thanks Steve!

Are you ready for a quick and easy appetizer? I mean really easy? These come together in a flash.

John, Mitch and I sat around Sunday and I cooked up a batch of these bad boys and I’m not ashamed to say that the three of us polished off every last one, and quickly too. What am I talking about?? You read the post title didn’t ya? Sausage bites! Little morsels of sausage nestled into a flaky puff pastry then plunged into a delectable dipping sauce. While the sausage cooks all that yummy sausage juice drips down into the puff pastry and gives it such a fantastic flavor. These taste great just as they are, but then you get to dip them into a tangy apricot mustard dip and it’s pure nirvana in your mouth.

I scrounged through all my cookie cutters for a 1 ¼ inch circle cutter, but I didn’t have one so I used a flower shaped cutter that I had and it worked out perfect. (They looked so cute!) If you don’t have a 1 ¼ inch cutter (besides professional pasty chefs who does?) just use anything you can get your hands on that is roughly an inch round or even a little bigger wouldn’t hurt.

I wish I had this recipe at Superbowl time. It would have been a huge hit.

Sausage Bites with Apricot Mustard Dipping Sauce
Printable recipe
1 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in the fridge
1 egg beaten

Preheat the oven to 400.

Cut the sausage into 36 half inch slices (I cut one link in half and then cut the halves into 3 pieces)

Brush 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry with the beaten egg and cut into 36 - 1 ¼ inch circles. Top each sausage round with a pastry circle.

Skewer each stack with a toothpick or small skewer and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 18 – 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown.

Apricot Mustard Dip
¼ cup apricot jam (no seeds)
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Mix together and start dippin’.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Maple Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Well the cable man was here today and guess what? He has no idea why we can't connect to the Internet?? The CABLE expert can't help me?? WTF?? So my photos are trapped in the old computer and I'm am starting to panic just a wee bit, but I have faith in my IT guru at work who is going to take everything off the old computer and get it on to the laptop. My files, my recipes, and most importantly my precious, precious images of my baby boys and family and friends. I think I'm hyperventilating a little, just a little.

It's gonna be ok. I'm just going to keep telling myself that and make it come true.

Ok enough with that drama. I had this post (with photos) all ready to go in blogger, so today you get Coffee Cake. I hope tomorrow I can access the rest of my photos. Cross your fingers for me.

I'm not really a coffee cake person. I know some people love it, but to me it's just eh. Since maple makes everything better in my book, I took this recipe from Yankee magazine and added in a few teaspoons of maple extract. It looked and smelled delicious, but I still couldn't bring myself to eat it. If I'm going to use up fat grams and calories it's going to be on something I really love.

John is a coffee cake person, so he had a big piece for breakfast and then another piece about a half hour later. He loved it. I took half of this cake to Tati's house. Her Mom is here from Slovenija until April and she loves coffee cake, so it will be gobbled up in no time.

Maple Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Printable recipe
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons maple extract (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 and grease a 6 cup tube pan (I used Bakers Joy). Mix walnuts, brown sugar and cinnamon to make the topping and set aside.

Sift the flour with the baking powder and soda and set aside. Cream together the butter ans sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Beat int he eggs and vanilla. Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with the sour cream. Beat well. Add maple extract if using.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and smooth it out with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with half of the topping. Add the remaining batter and carefully smooth it out. Add the rest of the topping.

Bake 40 minutes without opening the oven door, then test for doneness with a toothpick. If it doesn't come out clean bake another 5 to 10 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes then invert pan onto wire rack to cool completely.

Technical difficulties

It's a lazy, rainy Sunday. John, Mitch and I are in the kitchen listening to CD's and munching on a new recipe.....Sausage Bites with a Apricot Mustard dipping sauce. So good! The perfect munchie. Recipe coming soon. Just got a new laptop and now the old computer decided to act up so my photos are trapped until the cable man comes tomorrow. Trust me the sausage bites will be worth the wait.

Also coming up....Vanilla Bean Cupcakes (thanks Lee!), Baked Chicken Thighs with shallots and mushrooms and Maple Sour Cream Coffee Cake.

I also tortured my husband by watching Abba videos on YouTube. My favorite being Waterloo, which I sang karaoke style at a very loud volume cause I know how much he enjoys it, lol.

Here's the video so you can sing along and torture your significant other too. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A very fun day

Yesterday John and I took the day off to bring the kids to see the movie Coraline in 3D (which we loved! Go see it!) and to take the kids to one of our favorite restaurants in the city....Fire & Ice.

We were all cracking up over the HRG's (Horn Rimmed Glasses) glasses we had to wear and how nerdy we all looked in them. They kept putting them on and laughing at each other.

After Coraline we were off to the big city. They loved Fire & Ice. Here they are at the food bar picking out what they wanted to eat.

Then you bring it to the giant grill and the nice man cooks it all up for you, adds the yummy sauce you picked out and serves it back piping hot.

Sara ate with chopsticks....for a little while anyway....then she switched to a fork for faster consumption.

They all cleaned their plates.

We went home with very full, happy bellies.

Tati and I went shopping at my favorite store later that night. Pretty perfect day!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Loaded Banana Bread

When I saw
The Hungry House Wife's recipe for her Banana Bread on Cathy's blog Noble Pig it only took me a minute to print that baby out, grab my mushy bananas and start baking. Plain ole banana bread is great on it's own, but add in blueberries, coconut and walnuts and you have super charged banana bread.

Moist and loaded with flavor, it's the perfect afternoon snack. Course that doesn't mean we didn't eat it for breakfast too.

Today we are off to see Coraline and then take the kids, +1 (we have Sara joining us today), to an a restaurant called Fire & Ice, they say they are an improvisational grill, whatever that means. It's one of my favorite places to eat. You choose all your food from a huge bar loaded with fresh noodles, meats, veggies and fish, then you pick a sauce and head over to a gigantic grill where some very entertaining young men cook your food for you. There's warm tortilla and rice waiting at the table too. I just love the place and since the kids have never been, we decided to make a day of it in the big city. Should be a fun day.

The Hungry Housewife's Banana Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe, nasty looking bananas, smooshed up real good
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen (thawed), plus a handful for sprinkling on top
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and table salt. Set aside.

Cream together butter and sugar until white and fluffy; about three minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixture alternating with buttermilk. Start and end with dry ingredients. Stir in mashed bananas, coconut, vanilla, 1 cup blueberries and walnuts.

Lightly grease or line with parchment two 8 x 4 loaf pans. Fill both pans with batter and throw a handful of blueberries on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out with only a slight amount of crumbs on it. Cool before slicing.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes with a Chocolate Glaze

I am that house in the neighborhood where all the kids go. I am the mom who has an extra person over for dinner at least twice a week. My house is where my son’s friends gather to do homework together. We are the family who hosts almost all the sleepovers, and can I tell you something…I like it that way. I like that my kids friends feel comfortable in my home, that they love the meals I feed them, and if they had to choose someplace to stay overnight, it’s at my house.

I love hearing uncontrollable giggling coming from their room and laughter that booms through the house; sometimes they bring themselves to tears with their laughter. What’s better than that?

I enjoy baking for the all the teens and pre-teens that wander through my doors. I love it when I get a “you rock Mrs. G” after they have filled their bellies with pancakes, muffins one of my “tester” casseroles for breakfast. Most of all I love that my boys feel at home. Home in the true sense of the word. That at their house, there is always someone home to greet them with a smiling face and make them feel welcome. They feel safe, secure, always have fun and I love that they want to share that feeling with their friends. When I was young and dreamed of having a family and I wanted it to be just like it is now.

Because of school vacation this week I knew I would probably have a house full at certain times and I didn’t want to disappoint any of my visitors so I whipped up a batch of cupcakes, even though we all know cupcakes don’t need no reason.

Just a plain ole rich chocolate cupcake with a chocolate glaze similar to that of one of those Hostess cupcakes, you know, the ones with the wiggly white line on them. I might even investigate a light creamy filling next time round. That would be perfect in these.

As you can see, I sprinkled these with tiny chocolate candies, and when I was photographing them, John remarked that they looked like mushrooms. You know he’s right, but if I called them chocolate mushrooms, I’d doubt I’d get the kids to eat them so quickly. Oh who they heck am I kiddin’…they’re growing boys….they’d eat them!

Rich Chocolate Cupcakes with a Chocolate Glaze
Printable recipe
2 cups sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup boiling water

Heat the oven to 350. Line about 30 muffin cups with paper or foil baking cups.

Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder & soda and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs, milk oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the boiling water (batter will be thin). Full cups 2/3 full with batter.

Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely on wire racks.

Glazefrom the blog Alpineberry

2 cups (6 ounces) semi or bittersweet chocolate,chopped
6 tbsp (3 ounces) unsalted butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small saucepan combine the first 3 ingredients together over low heat until melted. Stir in vanilla. Dip the tops of the cooled cupcakes into the glaze.

This glaze made more than enough to frost these cupcakes, so next time I will probably cut it in half. Just in case you’re curious, I did not eat the leftover glaze, even though I very much wanted to dunk my hand into the bowl and lick it off my fingers. See? I do have some will power after all.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chicken Noodle Casserole (a rotisserie chicken recipe!)

Are you a multi-store grocery shopper like me? Do you regularly have 2 or 3 different stores on your grocery list? I certainly do. My lunch hour is more like a shopping hour for me. Each week I scour the 3 grocery stores here and hit the sales during the week. I do lots of bulk shopping at Sam’s Club & BJ’s Wholesale, and I’m always on the look out for a bargain. In this economy, every little bit helps.

I often pick up a rotisserie chicken at Sam's Club. For $4.99 it's an economical meal for us and we usually have enough left over for chicken sandwiches the next day. Although we like eating the chicken "as is", I'm always on the lookout for new recipes that let me use a pre-cooked chickie. It just so happens if you buy one and pick all the chicken off the bones, you get 4 cups of chicken. Just what the following recipe calls for.

One of my favorite stores is a small chain here in New England called Dave’s Marketplace. It’s a bit more of an upscale store than my usual stops, but they have fantastic meats and a deli that boasts the most delicious prepared foods you have ever laid eyes on. My mother-in-law just raved about it when they were here visiting. Dave’s has a brick oven pizzeria and a sushi bar, with a sushi chef present for special requests! Oh how I love that! Sushi for lunch – yum! They also share some delicious recipes. This Chicken Noodle Casserole is one of them. I tweaked it a bit, as always, and it received rave reviews. Tati thought it tasted like an Alfredo sauce, John thought it tasted more stroganoffish. I thought it tasted delicious.

This recipe makes a lot. Enough that seven of us ate it last night and I still have leftovers in the fridge. Not much leftover though. This is definitely one I will make time and time again.

Chicken Noodle Casserole
Printable recipe
1 package of egg noodles (I used medium)
6 tablespoons butter
½ small onion, chopped
1-10 oz package of mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas)
¼ cup flour
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 - 16 ounce container of sour cream
4 cups chicken, cubed (1 rotisserie chicken, meat picked off the bone, shredded)
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup breadcrumbs (I used Panko)
½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley

Preheat the oven to 350. Bring water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add salt and cook noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside in colander.

Melt 2 tablespoons of better in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, ½ teaspoons salt and some pepper. Cook until most of the water has evaporated out of the mushrooms. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and let it melt. Add the flour and stir until it becomes lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds.

Gradually whisk in broth and sour cream. Let it cook 5 to 7 minutes, but don’t let it boil, you just want it to thicken. Stir in the chicken, noodles, parsley & thyme. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Transfer the filling into a greased 3-quart baking dish while you prepare the topping.

To make the topping:
Mix all the topping ingredients in a bowl and sprinkle on top of the casserole.

Bake until browned and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Rustic Apple Pan Tart with Maple Glaze


How many times do I say that? Ok, maybe I do say that a lot but this time I really mean it. Truly mean it. This recipe is easy, doesn’t have a long list of ingredients, and you can use a pre-made piecrust! How much easier can it get?? It is so mouthwateringly scrumptious that you will wonder why you ever bothered making traditional apple pie again. I mean it! It’s that freaking good! It does have one strange ingredient....corn flakes! Weird huh? But it so works.

Yes you can use 2 homemade crusts. Yes I know how to make homemade crusts. I actually make a kick ass piecrust, but when you want something fast, there is nothing easier then grabbing the red box with the fat boy on it. I give you permission not to feel bad about it. We all need shortcuts now and then. So use the little red box without feeling any guilt.

Where oh where did I find this delectable recipe?? Stuffed into one of my cookbook. It’s a Pillsbury recipe, hence the use of the crust in the red box. I found it back in the fall when I went searching for apple recipes. I anticipated making it sometime that autumn so I put it in my recipe basket, and there it sat until now. I’m so happy it creeped its way back up to the top of the pile for me to make.

I had no great expectations this recipe. I thought it would be mediocre at best. I’m so glad I was wrong. This actually may replace my famous apple pie (hush – it’s famous to all my family and friends). I just can’t stop gushing about it. I think it may have been the quirky addition of the corn flakes on the bottom. A slice of this deliciousness could stand up to the best slice of pie you have ever eaten. I’m serious. The maple glaze drizzled over the top is literally the icing on the cake, err well pie, wait, pan tart. Oh you know what I mean.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we don’t go all out on Valentines Day like some couples do. We exchange cards and a small gift and avoid the restaurant frenzy by making a nice romantic meal at home. Tonight we had grilled center cut pork chops with a balsamic glaze, mashed potatoes (John’s favorite) and fresh green beans. For dessert....a slice of this baby.....

I used my apple/peeler/corer/slicer to prepare the apples. If you don’t have one, and you make a good amount of recipes with apples, it’s a great tool to have. I did tweak this recipe a tiny bit from the original. Oh and the original called for maple-flavored syrup. If you have real maple syrup – use it! You won’t be sorry.

Rustic Apple Pan Tart with Maple Glaze
Printable recipe
1 double piecrust
1 teaspoon flour
1 egg white, beaten

1 ½ cups corn flakes (don’t crush them!)
6 cups thinly sliced apples, about 5 medium (I used Granny Smiths)

¾ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup

Heat the oven to 350. Place one piecrust on a work surface and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of flour. Now rub the flour all over to coat the crust. Place the crust flour side down on an ungreased cookie sheet lined with parchment.

Sprinkle the cereal over the crust to within ½ inch of the edge. Top with the apples. Combine the sugar & cinnamon in a bowl and then sprinkle over the apples. Brush the edge of the crust with the beaten egg white.

Now take the other half of the crust and just slightly push the edges with your fingers. You want it to be a little bit bigger than the bottom crust. Don’t go crazy and make it pizza pie size, just gently push it out maybe a half-inch bigger.

Place the piecrust over the top of the crust on the cookie sheet. Fold the edge of the bottom crust over the top crust, pinch the edge to seal and flute. Cut several slits in the top. Brush with remaining egg white. I sprinkled mine with demerara sugar just before I popped it into the oven.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender.

In a small bowl mix the glaze ingredients until smooth and drizzle over the warm tart. Serve warm or cold. If you topped it with some vanilla ice cream I wouldn’t squeal on ya either.

I'm tellin' ya one last time..... you have got to make this!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Red Velvet Truffles

Because I didn't get frustrated enough making the Oreo Truffles, I decided to torture myself once again and dip more balls into chocolate. This time I around I changed things up a bit. Gone was the chocolate bark, enter in semi-sweet chocolate and a bit of shortening. What a difference! Smooth and silky chocolate that didn't seize up on me.

Again, this is a
Bakerella recipe. If you haven't checked out her site, just stop right now and click on that link and go see her stuff and then come back here and look at my pathetic attempt to make my truffles look edible. She is amazing.

So I tweaked the recipe a bit and after I washed off my henna red hands, I had about 45 cake balls ready to go into the freezer. I topped mine with some toasted coconut, sugar crystals and left some plain chocolate. I didn't get nearly as frustrated as I did with the Oreo truffles, but I won't be signing up for chocolate dipping 101 anytime soon.

Red Velvet Cake Balls
1 box red velvet cake mix (plus ingredients to make the cake)
1 can cream cheese frosting
Semi-Sweet chocolate chips
vegetable shortening
wax paper

Bake the cake according to the package directions for a 9x13 cake. After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.

Mix thoroughly with 1 can cream cheese frosting. (It may be easier to use your fingers to mix together, but be warned it will get messy.)

Roll mixture into quarter size balls and lay them on cookie sheet. (Should make 45-50. You can get even more if you use a mini ice cream scooper, but I like to hand roll them.)

Chill for several hours. (You can speed this up by putting in the freezer.) I froze mine for 2 hours and worked in small batches, keeping them cold until just until they are ready to be dipped.

Melt chocolate chips (I used about a cup and a half for each batch) in the microwave with a good tablespoon of vegetable shortening. Roll the balls in chocolate and lay on wax paper until firm. (Use a spoon to dip and roll in chocolate and then tap off extra.)

John and I haven't had a weekend to ourselves in over 2 months now. How will we be spending Valentines Day this year? Re-arranging the garage! How romantic! We have an extra fridge that we want to keep out there for those times when my kitchen fridge overflowith. Besides, I'm lucky enough to be married to someone who shows me how much he loves me every single day of the year, so we don't need a special day to proclaim that. We'll have a nice dinner at home and then curl up on the couch and watch a silly movie. Hope all you lovebirds out there enjoy your day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oreo Truffles

I could never be a chocolatier. Oh my love for chocolate is legendary, I can tell you that. I love to eat it, but making an actual food items that has to be dipped in chocolate is not something I enjoy, so what did I plan to make this week??? Two recipes that will need to be dipped in chocolate. What is wrong with me?? Why do I put myself through his kind of torture??

I know blogdom will be inundated with Oreo Truffle posts this week. I've already seen a few. So I jumped right on that bandwagon and dived into melted chocolate hell.

This recipe comes from Bakerella, a woman who makes some of the most beautiful edible creations I have ever seen and obvisouly has much more patience than I ever will. Bless her chocolate dipping heart.

Oreo Truffles
1 package Oreo cookies (divided… use cookie including the cream center)
(I used the Peanut Butter Double Stuffed)
1- 8oz. package cream cheese (softened)
White or Chocolate bark

Finely crush 7 cookies in a food processor or place them in a ziploc bag and crush into a fine consistency. Reserve for later. 7 was way too many. I only used a 1/4 of the crushed cookies as a topping. I also recommend using a food processor if you have one, it made for a perfect consistency.

Crush remaining cookies and stir in softened cream cheese. Use the back of a large spoon to help mash the two together. Forget the spoon, just use your hands, it's much easier, messier, but easier.

Roll the mixture into 1" balls and place on wax paper covered cookie sheet.

On their way to the freezer.

Melt chocolate as directed on the package and then dip balls into chocolate, tap off extra and set aside on wax paper covered cookie sheet to dry. You can sprinkle the tops with the 7 crushed cookies for decoration.

I don't like using the "barks". I don't like the way they taste and I don't like how they melt. I had 2 batches seize up on me and two more that just didn't melt they way they should. If I ever make these again, I'm using semi-sweet chocolate chips (as you will see in my next Valentine recipe coming soon) I was frustrated and ready to just give up on the whole thing, but I trudged along.

Once dry, refrigerate and enjoy! Makes about 36 truffles (only 30 for me). It helps to freeze the uncoated balls for a few minutes to keep the mixture from starting to fall apart in the melted chocolate. If this becomes a problem, dip them in the chocolate, let dry and then dip again. A few minutes is not enough time for these to freeze properly. I left mine in for a half hour and they still started to fall apart on me. The best thing is to work in small batches, keeping them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.

Don't this this photo fool you. There was no love involved in the making of these truffles.

The end result? Everyone loved them. I didn't touch one single one. I think I was so sick of chocolate and dipping and melting and re-melting that I couldn't bear to eat one. I did invest in one tool that made my chocolate dipping just a teeny, tiny bit more bearable.....a set of dipping tools from Wilton. The one I used the most looked like a long spoon with a hole in the middle. Each time I dipped, I tapped this tool on the side of the bowl and the excess chocolate could fall away.

I made these Saturday afternoon and by Sunday afternoon there was not a one to be found. "You can make these again, I love them" Evan said. "Um ok" I said. I didn't have the heart to tell him not to hold his breath.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cinnamon Biscuit Rolls

I toyed with calling these Cinnamon Rolls then I thought about calling them Cinnamon Biscuits. In the end I decided on Cinnamon Biscuit Rolls to cover all my bases cause they really are like a cross between a true cinnamon roll and a flaky biscuit.

When I heard a A Southern Grace was having a cinnamon celebration I knew I had to make these. Like her, cinnamon is one of my favorite flavors, smells, tastes…you get the idea. Last night I broke out two of my oldest recipe collections to search for a recipe worthy of this contest. 25 years ago when I first started cooking I clipped and gathered recipes from all different sources. Most hand written by women I had worked with over the years. This one was simply titled “Great for Quick Breakfast!” I’m not sure just whose recipe this was because I don’t recognize the handwriting, but it sure has proven to be a good one over the years. Quick and easy make, and like the title originally proclaimed “Great!”

Cinnamon Biscuit Rolls
Printable recipe

2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, divided
¾ cup milk

For filling mix together:
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon butter, softened
5 to 6 teaspoons milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 450. In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and the salt. Cut in 4 tablespoons of cold butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the milk until just moistened. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently 8 to 10 times. Roll into an 11 x 8 inch rectangle about ½ inch thick. Melt the remaining butter and brush one tablespoon over the dough. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the butter. Roll it up jellyroll style starting with the long edge.

Cut into equal slices. I did this by first cutting it in half, then in half again, etc. I ended up with 11 piece cause the end piece was just to small. Place cut side down on a greased 8-inch square pan. Brush with remaining butter. Bake at 450 for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Combine glaze ingredients and spread over warm biscuits. Serve immediately.

You know what, I don’t even have to say serve immediately cause when you smell these babies coming out of the oven, it will be all you can do to stop your family members from knocking you down stampede fashion to get to these. They are that good.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What's cookin' on the stereo 2-4-09

I fell in love with this song the first time I heard it watching the movie Juno.
I dare you not to tap your toes to it. I triple dog dare ya.

If I was a flower growing wild and free

All I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee.

And if I was a tree growing tall and greeen

All I'd want is you to shade me and be my leaves

If I was a flower growing wild and free

All I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee.

And if I was a tree growing tall and greeen

All I'd want is you to shade me and be my leaves

All I want is you, will you be my bride

Take me by the hand and stand by my side

All I want is you, will you stay with me?

Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

If you were a river in the mountains tall,

The rumble of your water would be my call.

If you were the winter, I know I'd be the snow

Just as long as you were with me when the cold winds blow

All I want is you, will you be my bride

Take me by the hand and stand by my side

All I want is you, will you stay with me?

Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

If you were a wink, I'd be a nod

If you were a seed, well I'd be a pod.

If you were the floor, I'd wanna be the rug

And if you were a kiss, I know I'd be a hug

All I want is you, will you be my bride

Take me by the hand and stand by my side

All I want is you, will you stay with me?

Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

If you were the wood, I'd be the fire.

If you were the love, I'd be the desire.

If you were a castle, I'd be your moat,

And if you were an ocean, I'd learn to float.

All I want is you, will you be my bride

Take me by the hand and stand by my side

All I want is you, will you stay with me?

Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Portable Chocolate Snack Cake

I pack my boys lunches almost every night. They occasionally buy hot lunch at school, but for the most part they bring their lunch, and they actually like taking them. They don't have to wait in long lines and then try to gobble their lunch down in 5 minutes so they won't be late for their next class. I also like the fact that I know what they are eating. School has some very good healthy choices and some not so healthy choices. Give a 12 & 13 year old a choice and what do you think they will pick most of the time....a nice salad with some fruit or a taco or chicken patty??? I think you know the answer to that question. So we pack our lunches just about every night.

Evan still carries a lunchbox. One of his three L. L. Bean insulated lunchboxes that he has had since the 1st grade (one is a hand-me-down from Jesse). Jesse wouldn't be caught dead with a lunchbox....."so totally un-cool Mom" he uses a bag. Evan often takes a thermos filled with soup, mac & cheese or some leftovers. Jesse, carry a thermos??? "Are you insane Mom?". So no hot lunches for him.

I pack my kids a balanced and healthy lunch. I sometimes pack extra of something cause I know they like to share with their friends. Some of Jesse friends have even commented to me about it. "Jesse always has an awesome lunch" and "He always has the best snacks" are comments his friends have actually made to me. Oh yes I kid you not. I am the super lunch packer.

They don't always get a chocolaty treat but once in a while I will bake something that is portable and packs well in a lunch box (or bag). This cake is just that kind of treat, doesn't have a long list of ingredients and can be made in under 15 minutes (minus bake time). How easy is that? It travels well, and won't fall apart into crumbs before the lunch bell rings. It would be great on picnic or long car trip and the best tastes incredible. Deep, rich chocolate in a moist cake topped with chocolate chips, who wouldn't want that in their lunchbox??

Portable Chocolate Snack Cake
Printable recipe
2 squares (1 ounce each) unsweetened chocolate
1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup cold water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips

In the microwave melt the unsweetened chocolate, let cool for 10 minutes. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, whisk together, set aside. In a mixing bowl beat the egg and sugar. Beat in the water and oil. Stir in the melted chocolate and gradually add in the dry ingredients. Mix until blended.

Pour into greased 8 inch square baking pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 35 - 38 minutes on until center comes out clean with a toothpick. Cool on wire rack.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What's cookin' on the stereo

I'm uncool.

It is a fact.

I have never played with the Wii, or any of the other many gaming systems my boys own. I don't own an iPod or MP3 player. I have a pay-as-you-go cell phone and the only ones who calls me on it are my mom or husband. I could never program the VCR, or any other electronic device. I still listen to CD's on that archaic contraption that sits in my living room called the stereo.

Totally uncool.

There are usually tunes on when I'm cooking so I thought from time to time I'd post what I'm listening to when I'm in the kitchen baking up something fantastic.

Today I'm in the kitchen cooking up some football food and I have on Jason Mraz's CD We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things. I love this CD.

Enjoy your Sunday, eat good stuff and oh yeah, one last thing.....GO STEELERS! (please or my husband will be so miserable).

Here's one of the tunes on my stereo today......Lucky featuring Colbie Caillat.