Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Itty bitty break, and preview...

Ok..so I haven't been cooking/baking alot lately...but I think I have a really good reason. :) My little man was born on the 16th, and yes, I'm posing him with lemons b/c I have two yummy bags that I'm very excited to be cooking with! So I hope some readers are still with me and will excuse my lack of posting! I'll be back soon, I promise!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cupcake Hero:March Entry-Caramel

Look at those drips! FOOD PORN!!! I love it!
A shot of the inside, please forgive the finger prints out of the glaze..sticky little gems!
When CB announced what this month's ingredient was...I was excited! My head automatically went to these delicious red pears I had that I needed to use..caramel and pear...huh, huh?? Yeah...FAIL. Big, tasteless, miserable fail there...my dogs loved the treat though. So as the deadline approached I approached this month with a little distain..it happens after a fail. It's normal. I'm all about trying to use what I've got. I'm all about trying to keep things simple and uncomplicated b/c that's my favorite way to cook. Also...I bought a couple of cans of coconut milk at the store (on clearance-woot woot!) and I've been wanting to try out a recipe with them. So I was flipping through a new monthly mag and boom...there was a recipe for coconut cupcakes using coconut milk. Bingo. But caramel and coconut? Um...sounded weird to me. But I googled it and it seems to be a fairly popular combo. So..I'm just calling these Coconut Caramel Cupcakes....that's alot shorter than Coconut Cupcakes w/Caramel injection and a Butter cream cheese glaze. The longer one is really what it is....and really ups the appetizing factor.
Coconut Cupcakes (recipe from this month's Womansday magazine)
2 1/4 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) softened butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp coconut OR vanilla extract
3/4 cup light coconut milk (NOT cream of coconut)
Heat oven to 350-place liners in cuptin
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt-then mix in coconut
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time, then add extract.
Put mixer on low and alternate flour mix and coconut milk, starting and ending with the dry mix. Put about 1/4 cup of the batter into the liners and bake 20-23 or until toothpick tests clean.
Allow to cool!
Once cooled-take a jar of Caramel ice cream topping, take the lid off and pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds to get it nice and loose. Then take a syringe (I had one left over from last time my daughter was sick, I'm sure you could use some sort of piping mech for this too..but this worked for me) and inject the center of your cupcake with a full syringe. I'm guessing my full syringe to have been about a tablespoon of caramelly goodness.
Butter cream cheese glaze-
1/2 stick butter
2 oz cream cheese
approx 1-2 cups powdered sugar
Melt the buter and cream cheese in the microwave. Note...the butter/cheese will make horrible scary popping noises...but it needs to. Mix that together and add enough powdered sugar to get a good drizzle consistency. You want it more drippy-less spreadable..you aren't spreading..you are dunking. Once the cupcakes have fully cooled...and after you have injected them...dunk the tops in the 'glaze'
For the photo shoot I drizzled more caramel on top to accentuate "these have caramel"-but you taste the caramel in the caramel center more than the drizzle on top, so its up to you.
Thoughts on the cupcake?
I was nervous...after my first fail I wanted to bite into this one and be blown away. But I wasn't sure how I'd like the caramel injection. So tenatively I unwrapped a cup, closed my eyes and took a bite. It took me a second to open my eyes again b/c they were rolling around in the back of my head. Holy smokes...VERY good cupcake!
Husband...who doesn't think there should be ANY cupcake flavor other than chocolate...ate 3 of them and during bites kept saying how good they were.
To learn about what Cupcake Hero is about and what I'm gunning to win..go here! As soon as she gets all the entries in and opens voting, I'll post to let you know!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Chicken Cordon Blue/Bleu...sorta.

I don't have exact measurements for you for this recipe. I mean, alot of things just aren't 'exact' with me. I can tell you each component, and try my best to explain HOW I put it together though b/c it was delicious! List of stuff- *boneless skinless chicken breasts (amount will vary as to how many you want to make...I made 6, so I used 3 breasts and butterflied them) *puff pastry *6 slices of canadian bacon *6 wedges of original Laughing Cow cheese *chicken broth *spicy mustard *honey *half and half *butter *random seasonings-salt, pepper, granulated garlic, Tony's cajun *flour -What I did: Butter in a saute pan and seasoned up the butterflied chicken pieces with seasoning and cooked those up-set them aside Cut the slices of Canadian Bacon in half (little half moons) and browned those a little in the same pan. Let the proteins cool just a bit while I rolled out the puff pastry-then made my little 'packages'-chicken, then the Canadian Bacon, then I cut the LC cheese wedge in half and put that on top of the bacon, then wrapped it all up in the puff pastry. I tried to make it look pretty and didn't really succeed. (My Mom always told me, if you must suck, at least succeed-*eyeroll*) I put those 'packets' in the oven (on a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment) at whatever temp the puff pastry box told me..I think like 425 until the pastry was a pretty golden color. While those baked- My saute pan was a nummy little landmine of goodness...so I added some (I'm guessing here at maybe 1/2-3/4cup) of chicken broth to 'deglaze'-erm...scrape up the bits. But then it just tasted ok...so I added a splash (again, guessing maybe 1/8-1/4 cup) half and half to give it body (like I knew what I was doing). But it still didn't have much taste. That's when I went a little crazy and decided to try to make a Honey Mustard gravy. Which sounds terrible and sick. But I thought it sounded good with the quasi Chicken Cordon Blue/Bleu. Stick with me here...at least if you like honey mustard with chicken...if not...just thicken this as is and pour over your chicken packets and be done...if you DO like the idea...add (again..guessing 1/4 cup?) both spicy mustard and honey to the gravy and whisk. Mine didn't thicken up like I wanted it to..so I did a Beurre manie'. That's about the fanciest thing I did..and I think I learned it off the Food Network years ago (I think Giada?) and I prefer it to cornstarch. I topped my out of the oven chicken packages with this gravy. It was good. That's what I'm saying. And it wasn't just ME saying. My Mother-in-law basically had a food-gasm AT the table, and my Father-in-law was just as equally impressed. My Husband ate it, then said he didn't like it. As in he ate TWO of the packages, then 5 minutes later tells me..I didn't really like it. 1. If I depended on him for recipe creativity I'd never get anywhere. 2. 4 over 1 wins-I liked it, as did the 3 in-laws (my bro-in-law was there too) that were at dinner. So we win! I apologize for not having 'exacts' for you...but I can tell you it was exactly delicious! And...I'm thinking well..I did it semi-healthy too..go me! :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Granny's 4 layer dessert

I'm not really sure WHERE Granny (yes, Granny. Not Grandma, Grandmother, Gram, Gigi, Nana, etc..I have a Granny...) got this recipe. I'm sure it's funeral related. In fact..some of our favorite meals (esp casseroles) were found at funeral dinner tables. *shrugs* Either way...from the time I was 8 years old until the time I was 17 I spent my summers in Indiana with my Grandparents (Granny and Papaw). Not a big deal? Well..kinda...we lived (and currently live) in Missouri..and it is a 550 mile trip. I think the first 'stay' occured when I was 8 b/c we were in the middle of moving from North Carolina to Missouri and so they parked me there for a couple weeks, but then I really liked it...so I was always excited when summer vacation rolled around b/c I knew a couple days after school let out I'd head east for the summer. And I do mean "the summer". I'd usually leave a day or so after school let out, then I'd come back about a week before school started. I spent my summers being spoiled (within reason) and loved beyond measure by my awesome Granny and Papaw. Somewhere along the way Granny started making this dessert (again, I'm sure someone died or something)-and as a kid I didn't appreciate how 'good' this stuff really was. She'd make it and happily offer it to me and I'd wrinkle my nose and go back to watching Days of our Lives. My special Granny dessert is her Apple Stack Cake (which doesn't really have a recipe...and even WATCHING her, as in STANDING Over her while she makes it doesn't help b/c it's all in her head *sigh*). Anyway...geez I get even more rambly when I'm pregnant..um...4 layer dessert..ok. So the other day I wanted something sweet. But not over the top sweet. And I wanted something easy. As much as I love and adore cupcakes, pies, layer cakes, etc....none of those sounded good..I needed quick. I needed familiar....I needed 4 layer dessert...so I called Granny...and she relayed the recipe to me over the phone. Since it IS a 4 layer dessert I broke it into the ingredients for each layer and instructions for each layer. I'm sure alot of people have recipes VERY similar to this one..but this is the one our family uses. I used my food processor for the first three layers...so it was awesome that basically I just dirtied that ONE thing and not a ton of different bowls. Bottom layer-(1) 1 cup ap flour (yes flour, not graham cracker crumbs) 1 cup ground pecans (I was out, so I used walnuts) 1 stick butter -melt the butter and mix it into the flour and ground nut mix, pat into a 13x9 and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes-remove and cool COMPLETELY. Next layer-(2) 4 oz cream cheese (softened) 1/2 cup sugar 4 oz Cool Whip (half the tub) Cream the cream cheese and sugar, and mix in the Cool Whip. Spread on the COMPLETELY cooled crust. Are you getting sick of the cap on that? Sure..but it's really important..b/c if you don't let it cool when you add this layer it will kinda peel the crust and make it harder for you to put it on there. Next layer-(3) 2 small boxes (or one BIG box) instant pudding of your choice 1 cup milk Make the pudding as it says on the box and once it sets just a little-put it on top of the (2) layer. I had one BIG box of vanilla..so that is what I used. My Mom's favorite is lemon, and Granny's all time favorite is Butter Pecan. With all the different instant pudding varieties...this dessert has soooo many possibilities. Top layer-(4) Remaining Cool Whip Top gently with the remaining Cool Whip and put in the fridge for at least a couple hours. The layers need time to get cold and get to know one another. This is a good one to make in a morning and then have it for dinner. Also...as long as it's covered, it stays good. It's almost better 3-4 days later than it is the first day. Oh...the topping in the picture...I added crushed graham crackers just for visual appeal. Idea...for this winter...chocolate pudding, then crushed peppermints on top...yum! For the summer..key lime pudding and graham cracker crumbs..see...endless possibilities!!! Oh..also..this would be really easy to make with less calories...I'm sure the fat free or low fat cream cheese/no sugar instant pudding, etc would work just as well!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Buffalo chicken pasta

One of the 'joys' (I use that word sarcastically...keep reading) of my being pregnant is the puff factor. In my first pregnancy my ring size went from 5 3/4s to 7. This time around I'm at about an 8 1/2. I can't wear my cute Mary Jane style shoes (Although I call them Alice shoes b/c they remind me of her shoes in the Disney movie) b/c my feet get puffy and I look like I'm wearing THICK socks, when in reality..it's my swollen feet. Have I put any of you off pregnancy yet? No? Well thank goodness it works for my 13 year old little friend who told me last night she already wants her tubes tied just from seeing me through two pregnancies...nice. Where was I going with this? Oh...puffy. So...I made the above pictured food for dinner the other night (and really should have photographed it on a WHITE plate, but I"d already dished it out and was starving, so you are lucky you GOT a picture)-anyway...this would make a NOT pregnant person swell too...so make it, b/c you'll love it. But maybe make it over the weekend so your coworkers won't think you might be pregnant (if you aren't) b/c you are puffy. But that's the beauty of buffalo. I love it so. I could eat it all day, I hope you know. Nice rhyming huh? Let's get to the recipe! 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts 1 cup buffalo sauce (purchased or prepare yourself-my recipe will be on here, super easy) 1 T granulated garlic 1 T ranch powder 2 cups whole wheat penne (or pasta of your choice) 1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese 2-3 T olive oil (notice there is NO added salt.....) Butterfly the chicken breasts and cut them into strips and season them with the garlic and ranch powder b/f you toss them in the pan with the olive oil to cook. Cook the chicken until it has a nice golden brown color to it. Then dump the buffalo sauce on it (you can use more than a cup if you like). Then toss it with the cooked pasta. Top with and gently stir in the bleu cheese. Inhale the aroma. Inhale the food. Swell accordingly. Buffalo sauce- 1 stick of butter 1 8oz jar of hot sauce (I think this last time I used Louisana Habenero?) 3 T honey cook in a sauce pan until it looks and tastes like you want it to. :) By the by...if you ARE pregnant and eat this you might (and I did) wake up looking like Jennifer Coolidge and your OB will ask you to come in and get your BP checked and then admonish you to go on an all water and fruits diet for the next few days. But...it's DANG tasty and I only looked like her for a couple hours..I WISH I could have kept the lips. Also..I'm deeming this a total GUY meal. If your guy likes buffalo wings...I'm not sure there is a way he WON"T like this. Shutting up now..gonna go drink some water. :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Jalepeno Cheddar Bread

I'm a blog stalker. I've admitted to that before. But I'll also admit that some of my most FAVORITE recipes (erm, steals) are from blogs I stalk regularly. And I don't just stalk, I try to comment too...sometimes....ok not all the time b/c sometimes I just quake in the brilliance of others and feel like I should just delete my entire food blog b/c it in NO way compares with others...but that's just me feeling inferior. Something that isn't inferior? This bread. Actually this blogger is just outstanding too...so go for the bread, stay for all the other wonderment she has! Jalepeno Cheddar Bread 2 cups AP Flour 2 tsp sugar 1 T baking powder 1 tsp black pepper (I just used plain ole powdered black pepper) 1 tsp salt 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used mexi blend) 1 cup milk 1/3 cup canola oil (I used vegetable) 1 large egg 3 jalepeno peppers, seeded and diced fine 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced (I omitted simply b/c I didn't have it, but I did have 1/2 a can of diced green chiles I threw in there) Oven at 375- grease your loaf pan. In one bowl, mix all your dry and your cheese In another bowl mix all your wet. Make a well in the center of your dry, and add the wet and stir... then toss in your peppers and combine....it's gonna be lumpy, but it's supposed to be! Bake about 45 minutes or until a nice golden brown color. My brain isn't working at the moment, but I "think" I served this with chili. I'm thinking though that we mostly just ate the warm bread with butter on it!