Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mac and Cheese on another level

How about some savory among the sweet?

Trust me...if Husby worked from the corners and NOT from the center of the casserole, the photo would have been better. But he did add in the nummy green onions idea so I can't be THAT mean to him.

Sausage Casserole-

1lb sausage, crumbled and browned

1 can cream of mushroom

1 can cheddar cheese soup

1 can diced tomatoes w/green chilies (drained)

1 c shredded cheese (your choice really, I used colby jack)

approx 2 cups cooked macaroni noodles

chopped green onion (optional)

Preheat oven to 400. Cook the sausage (try to get it really really crumbled up). Boil your water and cook your macaroni, until just done (al dente). Once the sausage is browned (if it's really greasy drain it, I used Oldhahm's brand and it's got basically none) mix in the cream of mushroom, cheddar cheese soup, and diced tomatoes w/green chilies. Combine. Mix in about 1/2 of the shredded cheese. Pour into a big casserole pan and top with the rest of the cheese, and put in the oven for approx 10-15min. Basically it's all cooked and hot, you just want it to firm up a bit. Once out of the oven top with green onion, and let it cool about 10 so you don't scald your mouth.

The first time I actually had this delish concoction was actually at my Uncle Jimmy's funeral. So I guess that means its good for pitch in stuff. It doesn't take long to make, and it really is good. I will say...if you are using "hot" sausage (like labeled hot) I would omit the green chilies. We buy mild sausage and I wanted it just spicy enough and the tomatoes w/green chilies gave me that. My Mom used to make it using hot sausage and velveeta and it was really REALLY hot, and really really rich b/c of the cheese.

So the last with it, find what works for you.


Thanksgiving Throwback Cupcakes

I'll admit it was a lofty goal to think I could a) jump into a food blog, and b) jump into the Cupcake Hero challenge all in one fell swoop...but I'll give myself an A for effort at least.
The theme ingredient for the Hero challenge this month was I racked my little pea brain and one of the first things that came to mind when I thought marshmallows...was my Mom's Thanksgiving side dish of sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows...and I do love I decided THAT would be my angle for the challenge. My goal was for the cuppie to be reminicient of that side dish...therefore...Thanksgiving Throwback (since it's March..and not November). Also, I apologize for my lame attempt at staging a "cool" picture...the lighting in my kitchen pretty much sucks in the evening, and I put the cuppies on top of a faux pumpkin.
I wasn't really sure how it would work on a Sweet Potato cupcake, didn't have sweet potatoes, so I used SP's good friend Pumpkin.
Basically Thanksgiving Throwback ='s Pumpkin Cupcake w/Toasted Marshmallow Frosting
Pumpkin Cupcake (makes approx 24)
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 c flour
3/4 c sugar
2 tbls baking power
2 tbls ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 c milk (I used evaporated b/c Husby had polished off my gallon)
1/2 c oil
1 c pumpkin (I used canned)
3/4 c raisins
1 tbls vanilla
Preheat oven t0 350. In large bowl combine both flours, sugar, baking powder and spices. In medium bowl combine remaining ingredients. Add to the flour mixture, stir until just moistened. Place cupcake wrappers in tin, and fill 2/3's full. Bake 20 minutes, remove and cool on wire rack.
Marshmallow Frosting-
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 c white sugar
3/4 c white Karo syrup
1 1/4 tsp vanilla
Beat egg whites and salt with mixer until foamy. Gradually beat in sugar until glossy. Beat in Karo in bits at a time until frosting forms peaks. Fold in vanilla. (I actually added in powdered sugar as well b/c I couldn't get it to peak w/just the Karo).
Frost your cooled cups, then pop under a hot broiler until toasty.
Here is where my honesty checks in. These cuppies were just "ok" in my opinion. They didn't really remind me of the sidedish. The cupcake by itself was good, and the toasted marshmallow frosting was awesome when you peel it off. But did I really achieve my "bite into this and be reminded of this", no. But that's ok! I think that all the spices in the cupcake might have overwhelmed the actual "inspiration" play with it if you'd like, and let me know how yours turn out!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

And i don't even really LIKE berries...

A few months ago I was awoken from a sound sleep with a baking idea in my head. See...I've just recently become obsessed with cupcakes (courtesy of my pal Ms. Yummie've just started tinkering with recipes and playing with making cupcakes...but what I'm actually "good" at...or so I"ve been told...are pies. In fact when the idea was brought up on Pushing Daisies about "cup-pies" I felt ripped off, b/c I had been thinking of that for months before it was even mentioned on network tv!

But there I was suddenly jolted out of my sleep and in a pregnant stupor I stumbled into the kitchen and started in on my first batch of cup-pies.

Husby is all about throwing things away, so on the rare occassion that I DID make cupcakes and I'd keep the foils, he'd pout and say "why not throw them away?" my retort? I'll find SOMETHING to use them for. And cup-pies are just that.

So I broke out my trusty pink-plaid Betty Crocker and flipped to the much used recipe for pie crust (double pie crust). I always make a double batch b/c I can always find something to make a pie out of. I made up the crust, separated it into to balls and wrapped them in wax paper and put them in the fridge for a bit. I've found..and this might just be me...if I make the dough, and let it "set up" for about a 1/2 hour before messing with it, I get a better result. Also...when it comes to pie food processor is my best friend. I have a pastry cutter, but that is too labor intensive, when I know I can just put it all in the processor, and drop my water through the top and with a couple good turns it will whir itself into the pastry cutter needed (in fact I might sell it at the next garage sale).

Still half asleep, but with the dough balls made I started searching the fridge and freezer for WHAT to put in these most popular requests for pies are my Buttermilk and my Apple...but I had neither component. And there in the back of my freezer I saw something that had been there for awhile (at least a good 8mo since my last 'diet' attempt)-a bag of frozen berries...a tri-berry blend of raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry. Eureka! And then the idea of the Triple Lemon-berry cup-pie was born!

I put about a cup of the frozen jewels in the microwave and set them to thaw, and once mushable I transfered them (and their juice) into a sauce pan with a Lemon Zinger tea bag, about a teaspoon of cinnamon, and 3/4 c of brown sugar...and I let that bubble away til it got nice and sticky-ish. Then I let it cool. But I turned on my oven to 350.

Over on the table I rolled out some of my pie dough, and lined my cuptin with the foils..I had found a glass in the cupboard that I "thought" would I made bottoms and tops for the little pies and started assembly.

It's not exactly easy..the best way to do it is to kinda unfold your foil and press in your dough round, then put it in the cuptin to reform it and smooth out the creases.

I put enough of the filling to fill, but not enough that it would goop out when baking.

And I pre-slitted the tops, which I then attached to the already filled bottoms.

Here is a shot of them "pre" oven. Not all topped yet..but you get the idea.

Since this was my first attempt I wasn't too sure how long to let them go in the oven..I think I ended up with them in there for about 45 minutes. With me alot of my baking (and cooking in general) is less by the book and more by feel.

The end results...delish! And as the title of the post implies..I don't even like berries that well..I really don't. The seeds and such...but the combo of the three berries, the lemon tea flavor, and I guess the more subtle sweet of the brown sugar made for a wonderful combo! and in a flaky little pie crust. Num-num!

Husby, who isn't a berry fan either loves them. And his Mom after tasting them, paid me $4 to make her another 1/2 dozen. Sweet.

And plus...just HOW cute are they when you quarter them up??

Of course you don't HAVE to quarter them, b/c just like anything else cupsized, it's really easy to just jam the whole thing in your mouth!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

When 2 blogs just won't cut it...

At the prompting of my new blog pal "I Heart Cuppycakes", and to get rid of MORE of the stuff in my is a foodie blog!

So I have the daily b*tchy blog at a locked up xanga, and I have the baby blog...but for those of you who neither want to hear my daily complaints or hear about my baby is something to chew on. :)

FFFFOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDDD! That's right ya'll we all eat it, we all love it, so this site will be linked to all sorts of OTHER yummy sites, and will include some of MY yummies as well. So bon appetito' as Mario Battali would say!

So to get off on the right paw, er foot I have to share this picture, and recipe. AND I submitted this into Cuppycake's "Fierce cupcake competition" so if you want to go to her site and nudge her to help me win..feel free!

Let me introduce you to Trump, my husband's son. No really. The cat THINKS he is a person, he really does. He routinely sits at the kitchen table while my husby and I have dinner, and sits like a person..sorta...anyway..not the point of the post..back to the food. I'm 'whoa' pregnant right now, and since the kitchen table is lower and bigger than my counter I've been utilizing it alot for whatever it is I'm cooking. I'll usually mix and pour at the counter by the stove...but I'll ice and cup pie (those to come later..I know you are drooling already) on the table. Trump has been known to sneak bits of pie when I was icing my cupcakes and he was sitting there, ever so like a little gentleman, I couldn't help but want to try to snap a picture, and he was more than happy to oblige. *disclaimer* I did NOT let the cat eat the cupcake, I let him sneak a lick from just this one, then I gave it to husby to try out. He didn't mind the lick.

So enough about him...let's get to the good stuff...really.
Lemony Surprise Cupcakes! (taken and adapted from
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raspberry jam

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place 12 papers in cupcake tin and set aside. Stir together sugar, oil, eggs, milk and lemon extract. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt, and add to liquid mixture. Mix together briefly. Place large scoop (about 1/8 cup) of batter in bottom of each cup. Place one teaspoon of jam on top and follow with another scoop (about 1/8 cup) of batter, completely covering the jam. Bake for 20 minutes.

Just know this....Lemon Extract and Lemon Flavoring..although in similar bottles NOT THE SAME THING!! I used Lemon Flavoring..b/c that's what I had (um, that's what was on sale) and so the batch of cups I made where not lemony at all...sadly. B/c I do so love lemon.

I used a basic shortening icing recipe out of my Betty Crocker for the frosting...threw some lemon flavor in there as well to try to up the lemon factor. I liked the frosting (so did Trump)..and I think that with the flavors in the cupcake you really do need to stick to a "lighter" frosting..I think a buttercream would have been waaay to heavy.
Overall...they were "ok". Husby thought they were too "foo-foo" but then again he's more of a 'give me chocolate or give me death' kinda guy. The girls at the Goddess Gathering I took them too raved over them though. Granny's homemade raspberry jam is really what saved them from just being plain white cupcakes with just a mere hint of lemon.
I'll try the recipe again, and I'll let you know if it turns out better next time!