Friday, October 12, 2012

German Chocolate Baklava


Here is the thing about Baklava. I was terrified of it. I'd heard horror stories of just 'how hard' and 'so many steps'. But then I ended up with some Phyllo dough and I wanted to take on the dragon...and I did.

Oh, I did big time.

The batch you see pictured? Yeah, it's the second batch. The revamp. The studly younger son of Big Daddy Baklava.
It's Keifer to Donald, Scott to James, Alexander to Stellan...you get what I'm saying? I mean if there were ANY way to improve upon the original. You get me?

See I made a tray of regular..and it was gone...as in...I cut it and it was out the door. But I had left over syrup and some more phyllo..so what was a girl to do? Well, I had a little on some ice cream. And I had a little in my coffee..don't judge. And then I knew I just had to make more.

Now I will tell you, there are a few steps.
There is some wait time.
But you will be rewarded.
We're going to pretend with the recipe that I did a whole batch of it GC style, k? Just because I used my leftovers doesn't mean I know exactly how much syrup I had leftover.
And I really recommend going to the Ree's site as well because she has step by step pictures, and well, she rocks. The link is right below!

German Chocolate Baklava (adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

1 package Phyllo dough
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans-toasted
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut-toasted
1-1 1/2 stick butter-melted
2 cups Honey
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 teaspoons vanilla extract

Oven at 350
Liberally butter a 13x9 baking pan..I mean it, don't be shy.

The phyllo and the filling-
you really do need a pastry brush and melt a stick of butter in a bowl.
your phyllo stays in the freezer until the night before, then it goes to the fridge, then about an hour before you are gonna use it take it out and let it come to room temp. My phyllo came in ONE box, but TWO packages, I only used one package.

I worked with all of mine in one pile and buttered them by two.
Brush on butter, two sheets into the pan
repeat-
so you've got 4 sheets of phyllo down in the pan-
sprinkle with the pecans and coconut
top with two buttered sheets
sprinkle
and you go like this until you run out of stuff. If you happen to have 3-4 sheets of phyllo on top, no biggie. Make sure to give the very top layer a nice kiss of butter. I poured my leftover butter OVER the entire thing..just for good measure.
Cut it in the pretty diagonals, open the oven, say a prayer, and let it go for about 45 minutes or until it's golden.

The syrup-
Put your honey, water, sugar, cocoa powder, and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce to low.

Once you pull the baklava out of the oven, give it a healthy dose of the syrup. Then go check your email or something. Then give it another good drink of syrup. Now forget about it for awhile. Or at least try to. Give all those crunchy layers and sticky sweet syrup time to really get to know one another.

But who am I to tell you how to handle this relationship...notice there are missing pieces from my batch above and it was not cooled. I can't say that if any of the listed studly sons showed up I'd take my time with them either. *winks*

Quinoa Turkey Alfredo Bake



I like quinoa, don't get me wrong, but alot of times I don't exactly know WHAT to do with it. We aren't really a side dish family, so I try to incorporate it when I can. And this dinner was very tasty, and in true Suzy fashion utilized things I happened to have on hand. I'd like to call it healthy since it's got both quinoa AND broccoli in it, but the alfredo sauce and cream cheese might beg to differ, either way...the kids were impressed and ate like little pigs. Neither commenting on the healthy stuff they were eating, just going to town on the cheesy goodness.

1 cup of quinoa-cooked..I'm guessing it turned out to be about 2 cups cooked.
1 lb of ground turkey, browned
1/2 an onion, chopped
1 bunch of broccoli, blanched
1 jar of alfredo sauce
1 block of cream cheese
mozzerella cheese to top, however much you want
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook your quinoa and put it aside. I cooked mine in a microwave rice cooker. It's the same ratio as rice 2 cup water to 1 cup grain-it took my microwave about 10 minutes. Which to me, beats standing over it on the stove.
2. Ground turkey and onion into a pan, crumble and cook until the turkey is nice and browned.
3. Broccoli. I boiled some salty water and put it in there until it was brighter green, pulled it out and put it into my food processor to chop it into teeny pieces that would kinda mimic the quinoa.
4. Melt your cream cheese into your alfredo sauce, I added some pepper at this point b/c that is how I like my white sauce.
5. Assemble! Mix it all together,then top with shredded mozz, and bake at 350 until the edges get a little brown and the top is nice and melty.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

10 Day You Challenge-10 secrets.

BlogLoveTherapy

I saw this, and thought..."why not?" Part of my 30s Resolution is to get back out there, and how else would I if I don't share a bit?
I'll start today, although I think others started a few days ago-
So, 10 secrets...hrmm....

1. I have an allergy to alcohol. It's both a good and a bad thing. It's a good thing b/c it keeps me from drinking (and there are days I could seriously become an alcoholic). But it's an annoying thing because in some social situations I feel like I'm just boring.

2. I have a terrible, emotional connection to stuffed animals. I blame it on watching The Velveteen Rabbit too much when I was little. Even now, I know that I have an old stuffed horse in a trash can down stairs, and I'm tempted to go get him out, sew him up, and toss him in the wash, because I can't bear to think of him being tossed away into the trash...not given another chance. Ugh.

3. I suck at dieting. Ok, you might have figured that out if you've been reading my blog long enough. But really...I think that doing Zumba twice a week should equal at least a 5lb loss (after each workout) and that not eating carbs for 3 days straight should mean I've lost at least another 20.

4. I love goats. I mean I don't LOVE goats. But I do think they are great, and so much better than sheep. They have personality, and they are great for milking. Growing up we had dairy goats, and now that we're starting our own little farm, I'm excited to get some again.

5. I could eat Kraft Mac and Cheese daily and not get sick of it.

6. Ramen noodles-I don't eat them conventionally...I boil the noodles in water, drain them dry, then add the powder, then add a little bit of shredded cheese. Heaven.

7. I'm an adult and worried about nutrition, but sometimes NOTHING tastes better to me than a bowl of Ramen noodles...or two, when I'm really stressed.

8. We have 5 dogs. I don't exercise the same rule as I do with my children of "you love them both the same", because I love Leroy (our Blue-Tick Coonhound) the most. Even though we've had Tucker and Bertha longer (our Setters), even though Cotton is mine (our Lab), and well..I simply detest Lucy so she's not even in the list..I love Leroy the best.

9. I've been writing a book for about the past 4 years. One of these days I really hope to finish it, get it published, and have someone turn it into a movie.

10. I can't stand foods with bones in it...gags me out. For this reason we're mostly a boneless, skinless, chicken breast and ground meat family. I don't eat fried chicken or buffalo wings unless it's in the form of chicken strips/boneless.

So there you go! I'll try to make it back for the number 9 tomorrow!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Turning 30 happens


It is a number that I'm claiming as a New Year's Resolution. It's a new 'year' of life for me after all.
And I did spend so much of 29 anxious, sad, and just not 'ok'. It's not that 29 was a BAD year, it just wasn't great for me. 
I still struggle daily with not having a 'leave the house and go to work-job' and yet feel as though I am failing miserably at times at my job of being a Stay at Home Mom. The laundry, the dishes, the daily up keep of daily life, fell by the wayside while I would just sit and do nothing.
The other job of property manager takes it's daily toll as tenants continually lie to me, screw me out of money, and mess up my properties...it grates on my already frazzled nerves.
I spent a good amount agonizing more and more over how I was so miserable with my body and my looks, and yet I did nothing about it. One thing I did try to do was not complain so loudly about it, as to not damage my own little girl with the hurtful things I think about myself.
I came to the heartwrenching realization that I don't have 'babies' anymore. I have kids. I have two wonderful, beautiful, hilarious kids. But no more babies...and it hurts. It hurts in a way that, just...just sucks I guess. There is no way to really put it into words.
I went through the 7 year itch, where I was discontented and curious and questioned everything about my married life and decisions...and hit a place where I was having that Reba song "Is there Life out there?" run through my brain on repeat.
And with all of those things going on in my head, it was not a great place to be. That was 29.

I don't want to be that way for 30.
I want to be happy. I want to be healthy (physically AND mentally). I want to strong and determined.
I'd like to like me again, because it's been a long time since I have.
I want to sing more-out loud, maybe while I'm cooking, because it's fun.
I want to turn the tv off and listen to the radio more.
I want to disconnect from electronics and turn to books more.
I want to follow through on plans for actual physical visits with people.
I'll say it again, I'd like to like me again. I spend so much time and energy into being Mom, Mrs., Donna Reed, and Landlord that I've gotten lost somewhere in the shuffle. And I miss me.

So here is to hoping I can stick with my New Year's Resolution, maybe I'll start a new trend that THIS is when I make them, instead of January.

Banana Bread Crepe Cake

 It was my birthday, so I made myself a cake...my 4 year old Little Miss put on the candles. I picked an intentionally 'difficult' (at least in my mind) cake..to say Goodbye to what I thought was a difficult year. Oh, and I looked online, and a bakery that sells a cake similar charges like $75 plus shipping, so I decided to go easy on the Husband and just make it myself.
 I usually stand by the "things taste better when someone else cooks them" phrase. But not in this case. In this case, no one could have done my cake better. Call it boasting, call it pride, heck, you might make the cake yourself and not even like it. But it was exactly what I needed. It was a stress relief and an act of Love for one person....me. A completely selfish endeavor for my birthday and I deserved it....and I enjoyed every caramel dripping, sweet bite of it!
The crepe part:
Banana crepes (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

4 Tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 cup whole milk
1-1 1/2 banana*
3/4 cup ap flour
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
pinch nutmeg
pinch cloves

The filling:
Banana Cheesecake filling w/walnuts
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 banana*
1 jar Cheesecake in a jar**
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

The sauce:
Caramel sauce (adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe)
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
pinch of salt

The crepe part (cooking)-
I suggest putting all the crepe ingredients into a blender and just letting that do the work for you? I've got a small single serve blender (for smoothies and such) and I did up two different blends (eggs, milk, flour, spices/eggs, butter), then just put them in a bowl together and whisked it up.
I used more butter to rub over my medium heated non stick pan (I didn't have to, I wanted to)-I tried to use a 1/4 cup measure for this, but I didn't feel like it was really enough...that and it took me a few times to get the pour and swirl down, but my experience taught me that crepes are suprisingly forgiving. The first side takes about two minutes, the flip side only takes about 30 seconds, but you are going to spend a good 20-30 total cooking them all up. As you take them out of the pan, just lay them out on some wax paper to cool. I stacked mine a bit too, they didn't stick to one another.

The filling (prep)-
I used my KA w/ the whisk attachment to whip my heavy whipping cream, until it got pretty thick. While that was whipping away, I microwaved my frozen banana to 1)thaw it and 2)warm it so it would warm the Cheesecake. I'll address both my * and ** now. I generally keep peeled frozen bananas in the freezer, so I used those instead of fresh, they tend to be sweeter and it's what I had on hand-but they have to be thawed, so either sit them out for a few hours, or pop them in the microwave. I had some of the Cheesecake in a jar spread. I would think you could easily sub a block of cream cheese w/some karo and cinnamon mixed in and be fine OR they sell 'cheesecake filling' in the dairy case too. So I had my warm-micro'd banana and the Cheesecake spread and I put that in my little blender, whizzed it up, then folded it into the whipped cream.
Toast the walnuts in a pan on the stove and STAY with them...a burnt nut ruins things so easily. DON'T mix your walnuts into the cream...

Putting it together (did you think I forgot the caramel sauce? I didn't..it's a topper, you can make it while the cake hangs out in the fridge)-

I layered a plate with plastic wrap, just for easier clean up-
One crepe down on the plate, topped with about 1/4 cup of the cream filling, and a sprinkle of the walnuts-
repeat,repeat, repeat, until you are out of crepes. Don't top the last crepe with the cream. Just let it hang out and be the lid.
I used the hangover plastic wrap to pull up on the sides, just to tighten it up a bit, and popped it into the fridge for a few hours.

The caramel sauce-
I HIGHLY suggest you click the link and follow her tutorial! I had the recipe in my head and gave the ipad back to the kids and really should have read it a couple more times..I was happy with how my sauce came out, but next time I'll let my sugar go longer to get a deeper caramel flavor.

On medium heat in a saucepan add the sugar and water. Let the sugar totally dissolve, then pop the heat up a little to a boil and cover for about 2-3 minutes until you start to get a golden color. Add the butter (1 stick chopped up) and stir to combine and let that go another 2-3 minutes. Add the cream and stir until combined. At this point it's pretty much done, you can let it cook until it reaches the consistency you want...but keep it mind it will get thicker as it cools as well. I put mine in a Mason jar and let it hang out on the counter until the cake was ready.

This was around 10-11ish that I made the cake, and we pulled it out for the candles and song around 5. It needs a good few hours to get settled, maybe even overnight if you can bear it.

The cream filling didn't set up as perfectly as I had hoped it would, I think that the moisture from the bananas (thawed freezer bananas tend to be pretty wet) threw it off.

But overall....awesome cake. The banana flavor was prominent, but not overpowering. The crunch of the walnut was essential. And the delicate chew of the crepe made it all perfect.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pretzel Bottomed Oatmeal Scotchie Bars


Here's the thing about cookies. When someone asks me "what's your favorite kind of cookie?" I'm always torn between my two lovers. There's my locally manufactured Mennonite Chocolate Crinkle Cookie that I buy because I can't duplicate (I've tried, trust me). But right there next to it, vying for (and sometimes taking) top spot, is the Oatmeal Scotchie. It's an Oatmeal cookie, with Butterscotch chips. And for someone that isn't a big Butterscotch fan (the disks? *gags*), it's a suprise that I'm so in love with that cookie. In fact my Dad's "you just had a baby, let's feed you" present to me in the hospital when I had my kids (both times) was a big container of fresh Oatmeal Scotchies.
So the other day I'm trolling around on Pinterest and come across a recipe that would not be denied.
It's way easier than the actual cookie recipe, no pesky creaming of butters and sugars, because you throw these bad boys together with a cake mix. And the results? The pretzel gives you a nice little crunch (like the outer edge of a cookie) and a little bit of salt, where the top part is riddled with butterscotch chips and chewy oats. Glorious!

Pretzel Bottomed Oatmeal Scotchie Bars

1 box yellow cake mix
2 eggs
2/3 cup oil
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Pretzel twists

1. Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 13x9 pan. Lay pretzel twists out in a single layer across the bottom.

2. In a large bowl combine cake mix, eggs, cinnamon, and oil. Then add butterscotch chips and oats.

3. Top pretzels evenly with the batter. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden and the center is set. Remove and let cool completly.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cook at Home


I don't have a fancy recipe for this. It's a steak and some shrimp.
It wasn't anything complicated.
It hit the spot for a good steak meal.
What I want to share with you is budget related.
You know it's cheaper to cook at home. I don't think that is news to you.
I let the steak hang out in the seasoning for about a half hour, I thawed the shrimp and even though they were precooked I put them on the grill after I took off the steaks to let them rest, then I tossed them in some butter.

Let me break down last nights dinner for you-
Beef tenderloin (there were actually two of those steaks/4 filets) $26
Packet of steak seasoning (Black Peppercorn)- 86 cents
Bag of precooked shrimp that I only used about a 1/4 of-9 $8.99 for the WHOLE bag
1/4 stick of butter out of a lb package that I snagged at 1.99 (about 12 cents worth of butter)
Oh, and not pictured the GIGANTIC twice baked stuffed potatoes that my husband bought, EACH one was 12oz. 1.99 each, let's say we used a whole one although we literally only used about 3/4s of a whole one.

I have leftovers (of the steak and potatoes) out the wazzoo. Plenty for leftovers tomorrow night.

So what is that, I'm not the best at math, but I'll try-
$26+.86+2.24+.12+1.99=$31.21
for all 4 of us. Granted Little Miss and Little Man didn't each as much as we did..oh wait! We still have a steak leftover! Make that $18.21!

Now..I know how much I love food. And I know that really, food tastes better when someone else makes it. BUT when it comes to saving a buck..make it at home. You are going to spend more than just the cost of a steak. You've got gas to get there. You've got tip afterwards. You've got drinks and appetizers that sing a siren's song to your heart. I know it all tastes good and you need the experience now and then...but it can be done at home too. It can be EASILY done and frugal.

And when you pass out into your food coma afterwards, you can be on your own couch or in your own bed, instead of driving home!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Country Pot Pie and a Giveaway!

 
I can't resist a good giveaway and couldn't resist actually making something new for a change..we've discussed my rut lately... and the New Progresso Recipe Starters...great thing to get me back into the kitchen and get cooking again!
I know I've said it before over a dry piece of chicken or a bland roast..I wish I had some sort of sauce to go with it, to make this better..but sauces can be a hassle. These sauces are anything but! Super quick and super tasty!
 
Check out this Pot Pie? Ok..so technically it isn't in pie shape, nor did I use pie crust..but for all intents and purposes..it's pot pie! Also, I'm kind of a pot pie snob...I grew up having to eat the freezer section ones and I get kind of sad when I hear about people who still eat them by choice. But then again, I still eat ramen noodles...moving on to the recipe!


Nice and creamy (thanks to the Recipe Starters Creamy Roasted Garlic)..it was a really, really good dinner! It tastes basically just like you remember chicken pot pie. Nice chunks of chicken, tender sweet veggies, and a great creamy sauce. With my addition of salty, sweet, ham, a cresent roll crust, and about 30 minutes from stove to table..it might be a recipe you repeat often!

Country Pot Pie (adapted from the pot pie recipe on the label from Progresso!)

1 roll of cresent rolls
1 cup rotisserie chicken, chopped
10 thin slices of honey ham, finely chopped
1 16oz bag of country style vegetables (corn, carrots, and green beans)
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 can of Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Garlic
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt

Oven on 375
9x13 pan ready to baking

In a medium saucepan combine the contents of the Progresso can and 1/4 cup flour, salt, and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil and add the bag of vegetables, chopped onion, chicken, and ham. Mix.
Pour the mixture into your baking dish.
Open your can of cresent rolls (recover from partial heart attack when it pops open and scares you)-don't separate the rolls, I was lucky and mine stayed in a nice rectangle-
Top the chicken mixture with the cresent roll dough
Bake approximately 20 minutes or until your cresent roll top is nice and golden brown.
Remove and let cool for a few minutes before you dig in!

Don't be sad if you haven't seen Progresso Recipe Starters in your grocery yet, because right now..I'm going to give you a chance to win a prize pack!

You'll get everything in the above picture! Two cans of the new product, some new measuring cups, a can scraper/spatula, a small baking dish, a little recipe booklet, and a $10 gift card to purchase whatever other groceries you might need for your new recipe!

I mentioned that I used the Creamy Garlic sauce in my Pot Pie, I also received the Creamy Basil Parmesan..it will make it's debut in some stuffed italian shells tomorrow night! There also have 3 other flavors of Recipe Starters-Fire Roasted Tomato, Creamy Portabello Mushroom, and Creamy Three Cheese. All of them sound great to me!

Here are a few ways to enter-
*Leave me a blog comment with your feeling on pot pie...does homemade have your heart or are you frozen in the freezer section?
*Like Suzy's Cup-Tin Creations on Facebook
*Comment on the Facebook post as to which flavor you are most interested in trying

The giveaway will go until Saturday the 15th at 12 noon! Also you can go HERE to download and print a coupon for $ .65 off 1 can of Progresso Recipe Starters!

Disclosure: The information, products and Progresso™ Recipe Starters™ gift packs were provided by Progresso through MyBlogSpark.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Turkey, kale, and beans


So I've mentioned we're in a bit of a routine with dinner...ground turkey and beans, repeat, repeat. But I ended up with some kale in the fridge, and decided to make that addition as well. Game changer. This was an awesome bowl of food!


Turkey, kale, and beans
 (adapted roughly from a sparkpeople recipe)
1 package ground turkey (I think the kind we buy has a little over a lb in it)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cups chicken stock
1 package onion soup mix
1/2 stick of butter
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 bunch of kale, stems removed and then cut into bite sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste

I cooked this all up in one pot...my big stock pot..less mess!
Brown turkey over medium high heat
Add chopped peppers/onions
Add broth, butter,  and onion soup mix
Add beans and kale
Let heat through/simmer 10 minutes or so.

Um..that's it...no really. You can eat it now. All in all, kinda healthy. You can opt not to put the butter in it, I did b/c I like that rich flavor. And if you don't want it as soupy, don't add all the chicken broth...I wanted enough for the kale to soften a little though.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Blueberry Scones



Blueberry Scones (adapted from Annie's Eats)

1 frozen stick of unsalted butter-grated on a box grater
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
2 cups AP flour (plus more for rolling)
1/2 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling)
2 teaspoons baking power
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp lemon zest

3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice

Oven at 425

Combine dry ingredients (including zest)
Whisk together sour cream and heavy whipping cream-set aside
Toss dry w/grated butter just until the butter is coated (you don't need to cut it in since the butter is already all grated)
Add milk/sour cream mix. Combine.
At this point you are going to have a sticky 'biscuity' looking dough.
Add the frozen blueberries, and enough flour to make it less sticky.
Your hands will get dirty, but knead it a bit, just to incorporate the blueberries into the dough, add bits of more flour if you have to.
Once you've gotten the dough to hold into a decent lump/ball, turn it out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and press it into a 12x8 (or so) triangle.
I cut mine into triangles, but didn't separate, and sprinkled with sugar.
Into the oven for 10 minutes, then rotate and let it go another 13 minutes.
Remove and let cool for a few while you make the icing..

In a bowl add lemon juice to powdered sugar and mix with a fork until you get a good drizzle consistency (which shouldn't be as loose as water, but should come off the fork easily).

Remove scones to cooling rack (over another piece of parchment, b/c you are about to drizzle). Drizzle with icing and let cool.

As tempting as these babies are, they are MUCH better room temp after about an hour than they are right out of the oven. Trust me.

Despite the fact we are trying to watch our diets around here, I watched myself inhale two of these with my morning coffee! Yum!

If avocado is wrong..

I don't want to be right.

Do we see a trend here folks? That's 3 avocado recipes in a row. I wish I could tell you that while I am not blogging I'm coming up with all sorts of new and delicious foods. Well, I am..sort of. I'm not posting alot because we're watching what we're eating and most of our meals consist of ground turkey and beans. Husband is hooked on it. And that's all it is really..ground turkey, browned, then add a can of rinsed black beans. Sometimes I'll put taco seasoning in it, sometimes ranch powder, but that's about it.
The other night when I made it, I used taco seasoning...then made up a rough salsa (onion, tomato, red peppers, and avocado) then ate it on TOP of a whole avocado..salted liberally. And it was all sorts of amazing and delicious.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Southwest Quinoa and Avocado salad


It happens this way alot...I have what I think is an original great idea and I look it up on pinterest to make sure it is MY idea and 20 other (thousand) people have done it. *sigh*
At least with a recipe you have a degree of your 'own' about it. So enters MY version of an avocado quinoa salad!

Southwest Quinoa and Avocado salad

Into a big bowl-
1 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1 chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 chopped avocado
1 can garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 large white onion, diced

Into another bowl
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 1/2 T honey
1/2 T cumin
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T Roasted Red Bell Pepper and Chipotle Spread
salt and pepper

Combine and eat! Very tasty!! :)

Apology to Avocado...

Dear Avocado,

I'm sorry.
I'm sorry that for years I blamed the fact that I had a bird (a sun conure) living with me that you could potentially kill on my aversion to you. If we are being honest with one another, it was your ugly exterior and your terribly green interior that put me off. I just didn't understand.
Well the bird has gone (he's not dead, just relocated b/c he hates my children) and I had no excuse. So I took the easy way into you...guacamole. And Holy Moly..it changed me. And now...now I can't get enough.
I find any and every excuse to incorporate you into my meals.
And you make my world a better place.

All my Love,
Suzy

This morning...my breakfast was simple and one of the best ones I've had in a long time.
Toast two pieces of bread then lightly butter (b/c you can't have toast w/out butter, it's a rule)
Top w/1/2 of an avocado mashed together with 1/4 of a chopped onion and some salt
Top that with an egg (2 pieces of toast, 2 eggs...)...I fried one hard and the other softer...go softer...something happens with that creamy avocado meets with the runny yolk..something amazing!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Turtle Cheesecake on a Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust

So I take a hiatus and come back to a totally different blogger layout...
sorry for the absence...I blame children, their birthdays, a husband and his birthday, my Dad and my in-laws and THEIR birthdays, and buying and rehabing not one, but TWO new rental properties. It's been a busy spring, I'm hoping it will be a more calm summer...although it's already too hot in my opinion...
I've still been cooking and baking (when the occassion calls for it)-I've just been sorely remiss in not documenting!
Have an apology cheesecake! Actually this cheesecake is a birthday gift for my best buddy Heather. She's the one that can perfectly pick out a present for someone (I think she should do it professionally)-I suck at picking presents, but I can pack lots of thought and love into a baked good. So it tends to be my present of choice!

I'll admit to cheating a bit on this to make it 'busy mom' friendly...the cookie crust is not from scratch, neither is the caramel, but I did toast my own pecans..thank you very much.

Turtle Cheesecake on a Chocolate Chip Cookie Crust (adapted from allrecipes.com)

Crust-
1 package chocolate chip cookie mix-prepared (I used Ghiardelli's, but I'm sure any brand would do)
--I followed the instructions for the cookies, mine called for the packet of mix, plus 1 egg, plus 1 stick of butter. I melted the butter so I'd have a more spreadable dough and put that into a greased and lined springform pan and baked it at 375 for 10 minutes. It will NOT be done..you don't want it to be.
Reduce oven to 350

Cheesecake-
2 (8oz) packs of cream cheese (I used Neufatchel, less fat...*coughs* not that it really matters)
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl beat cream cheese until creamy. Add sugar, sour cream, eggs, and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Pour over par-baked cookie crust and bake at 350 45-50 minutes )or until it doesn't jiggle when you try to make it do so)
Remove and let cool. Once it's cooled to room temp, cover with saran wrap and put in the fridge for an hour. I took the ring off the spring form and put it in the fridge w/the aluminum liner and base of the spring form and the saran wrap.

Topping-
Approx 3/4 of a bag of caramels-unwrapped
2 tablespoons of water
Approx 1/2 cup toasted pecans
Approx 12 cup mini chocolate chips

I toasted my pecans while my cheesecake baked. Easy, but don't leave it...nuts can burn QUICKLY and cause you all sorts of heartache. So..dry pan, add the nuts, and over medium heat about 10-15. Again..do not walk away b/c you need to scoot them around a bit. Not to sound too much like Rachael Ray, but listen to your nose, b/c you'll smell them when they are done. DON'T burn them, or if you do, start over again. The taste and texture of the toasted pecans is kinda crucial here.
Take the unwrapped caramels and water and add to small saucepan and put it on medium low and let it go. See how the toppings are more arduous than the actual cheesecake here? The water will start to look milky as the caramels melt, then as they melt some more start stirring and it will get all nice and gooey and pourable.

Remove your cheesecake from the fridge and take off the wrap and the liner and remove the base of the springform. At this point you'll want to put it on some sort of plate or something to hold it while you top it.

Liberally drizzle the caramel over, then quickly (before the caramel sets) add some pecans and mini chocolate chips.
Repeat until all the caramel is gone. It's ok if you have pecans left b/c they are nice to snack on later.

Return to the fridge...or if you are eating it yourself...dig in!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Potato Pesto Pizza..with a sucky picture..

My sincere apologies for the level of suck on this picture, but it was literally "take a picture before you inhale this"...and boy oh boy did I go to town on this pie!
If you are a pizza purist (red sauce, meat) you might want to skip on over this, or call your local delivery joint because this is not a traditional pizza...but it was an amazing pizza!


Potato Pesto Pizza

1/2 stick butter-softened
2 T granulated garlic
1/2 cup prepared pesto
1 large potato-baked and sliced into 1/4 inch slices
1 medium onion-thinly sliced
1 bag pizza blend cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 batch of pizza dough

Oven at 450.
Roll out your pizza dough-
combine butter and garlic into a paste and slather it onto the rolled out dough
then top with half of the pesto
add sliced potatoes
add sliced onions
top with cheeses
dot w/remaining pesto

Bake approx 20-25 or until crust is golden and cheese is bubbly.

Bulogi Korean Beef-take out/fake out at home!


Korean Beef (adapted from lizzy writes)

1/2 lb left over rump roast-cooked
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 cloves garlic-chopped
1 t chopped ginger

Heat oil in large saucepan, add leftover roast and heat through, add brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger and cook approx 5 minutes. It gets gloriously thick and sticky b/c of the brown sugar. Serve over rice!
I sauteed up some mushrooms and onions in a separate pan and we had those with it as well.
I had planned on doing this with ground beef (and I intend on keeping it on our rotating menu)-but since I had the leftover roast, I didn't want to waste it...we were SO pleased with this dish! It was sweet, salty, and delicious!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Seventh Generation giveaway

I've always been a huge fan of animated movies, and now that I'm a Mom, well...I kinda like them even more. I like seeing how the kids react to the movies, and I am in total awe of the advancement in animation...seriously. When Little Miss was little-er, she was obsessed with Horton Hears a Who...so when I heard that Universal Studios was coming out with The Lorax, I got pumped! Along with being another Dr. Seuss wonderful rhyming tale, it puts great environmental 'save the tree' thoughts in my little ones heads. Saving the environment is a hard topic to talk about with kids!

You know what doesn't pump me though? Diapers...changing them, buying them, over and over again...what does kinda get me excited? These new Free and Clear ones from Seventh Generation....
NEW Overnight Diapers are absorbent enough to keep your baby and bedding dry through the night or during prolonged travel


Free & Clear diapers have improved more flexible tabs that provide even better fit

Free & Clear training pants have an absorbent core made with more renewable, plant-based materials. They also feature stretchy, tear away side panels for a better fit and added convenience, as well as inner leak barriers for superior leakage protection

Seventh Generation Free & Clear baby care products do not contain chlorine, fragrance, petroleum-based lotions or latex, and all Free & Clear products are also hypo-allergenic.

On trying to potty train an almost 2 year old boy, with skin sensitivity issues down there...these are great for us!!

 
You wanna try them out? Well here is your chance! One lucky reader will win a package of Seventh Generation Free and Clear diapers/training pants AND a copy of the book The Lorax. We've been reading it nightly to get ready for the movie!

To Enter-
Leave a comment telling me either your favorite tree, or your favorite Seuss story!

Contest will close Friday night at 10pm cst

“Disclosure:  The Seventh Generation Diapers prize pack, product and information have been provided by Seventh Generation through MyBlogSpark.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Won Ton Tacos

Here's the thing. I'm different. Had you not figured that out by now? This whole 'trying to lose weight' thing ( for what, two years now eh?) gets the better of me and I fight with it constantly. But I found a recent comparison, that I'd like to share with you...and I promise it ties back into the weight loss thing. I've been wanting to try Zumba, so Husband finally gave in and got me a DVD (just one mind you, not the entire set *eye roll*) and I tried it, and I love it...but...not being of latin decent..my hips don't 'do' that. So I have to just do the best I can. These won ton tacos, kinda like me doing Zumba....they are trying to me mexican/latin (food), but they have to do it their own way. And just wait until you try them, you'll see that their way, it's ok. In fact, it's pretty awesome!

And it's easy b/c basically I'm just giving you a hint on how to make a different taco, I saw it somewhere/sometime and I'm finally getting around to it, so I unfortunately I can't link it back to the originator...but let me tell you one MORE thing before I get to the 'recipe'....won ton wrappers, seriously AMAZING all the things you can do with them.

So...turn your oven on 350 and get out your cupcake pan, muffin tin, or cup-tin (as I call it, hence my blog title in case you were ever wondering...there I am again doing things my own way)-and take the won ton wrappers and you're gonna take one and push it into the cup of the pan-(you can spray the pan with nonstick spray, but I didn't and they were fine)-now pop those little babies into the oven. But keep an eye on them, I'm gonna guess about 15 minutes or so,but you want them brown all over...not burnt brown, just brown...the point is for the whole little cup to be crispy.
See, easy. From here you can make your tacos however you want to! I've found the way we like our taco meat is 1lb of ground beef to 2 packets (Yes, two) of taco seasoning (one regular/low sodium, one cheesy taco-in the seasoning aisle at the market) you generally add some milk and water to the seasonings/meat and let it perk for awhile, then it's awesome.
Ours? Meat, lettuce, onions, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and black olives-for Husband and the kids...none for me thanks.

The crunch on these is amazing, and it's just a different way to do things. Very easily an appetizer for an upcoming SuperBowl party, or just a week night dinner.

Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Ba-na-nas...

Everyone needs a go-to.
And this my Friends, is officially my go-to banana bread. Moist, dense, full of banana flavor, and a bit of a crunchy topping, yes...a resounding yes.
I've had/made my fair share of banana breads. Some just taste like spiced bread. Some are too crumbly. Some are too dry. This one though...it's my new favorite. And it makes two loaves...good for sharing. Or good for binging if you are really depressed.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread (adapted from bakeorbreak.com)

2 cups AP flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup salted butter-softened
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese-softened
2 cups sugar (we keep organic cane sugar so that's what I used)
2 eggs
2 cups over-ripe bananas  (I had a bag of frozen bananas in the freezer, I left it out to thaw and that's what I used)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Topping-
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ap flour
1/2 tablespoon white wheat flour
2  tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Oven at 350
TWO loaf pans-greased and ready-

Into the mixing bowl goes the butter and cream cheese-beat until creamy
add sugar-mix until light and fluffy
Add eggs, one at a time, mix until incorporated
Add flours, b-soda, and b-powder  (you can put those in a bowl before hand, but it just uses another bowl, so I usually skip that step)
Mix until combined
Add bananas-I left mine fairly chunky
Add vanilla-
Mix-
Divide batter evenly b/t the prepared  loaf pans

For the topping-combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, then top the two batter pans best you can-I found that mine was kinda clumpy, so I left it that way, and it works, I kinda swirled it a little, but again...it works.

Bake for approx 1 hour, or until a knife tests clean.
Remove from oven and cool-it's January, so I covered mine up and put them out on the deck..it's 20 degrees...it worked. :)

I think that the creaming method here and the addition of the cream cheese are the kickers. It gives the bread such a good texture! And w/just the addition of a tiny bit of cinnamon in the topping, it's not over-spiced and just lets the banana shine!

Ps....you are welcome for the Gwen Stefani earworm from the blog title.

Happy Friday the 13th! I won't be leaving my house today! :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chicken with Amogio (Spedini-ish)

Picture it, Sicily, 1924...
ok..not really..it's more like Kansas City, 2000...not quite as impressive..but wait...
so I'm out to dinner pre Prom and we go to this majorly italian restaurant.."what's good?" and I'm asking everyone-by dinner companions, the waiter, the table next to us. The most 'italian' I'd been was Olive Garden. Other than that it was the occassional lasagna or spaghetti at home and school. But this was the real deal. This was Cascone's.
I ended up getting the Chicken Spedini, and that's where the love affair began. Crispy breaded chicken, doused in this lemony, garlicky, sauce. Amazing.
When reps would ask what to cater to the Dr's office (a few years later) I'd answer with a sound "Get the Spedini from Cascone's". Sometimes they would bend to my will. And when they did it was a happy happy day.
I recently had the great pleasure of becoming friends with a bona fide Cascone, she's absolutely delightful, but totally zip-lipped about family recipes. So I had to come up with it on my own.
I was pretty intimidated by the rolling the chicken thing, so instead I did a milanese prep on it..but it's the sauce that makes it...try it for yourself!

The Chicken-the new edition of Martha Stewart magazine has a milanese article that is no-fail....so I went off of that. I butterflied two chicken breasts, and lightly pounded them out. Then dipped them in 2 eggs that were beaten, dreadged them in plain ol flour, coated them in italian bread crumbs (mine were homemade that I had in the freezer), then fried the chicken in about a 1/2 inch of vegetable oil (I would have used extra virgin olive, but I used it for the Amogio..you'll see) until golden brown. When I took them out I put them on a towel lined sheet (to soak out the excess oil) lightly salted them, and grated some fresh parm/reg over top-then put them on a baking sheet and into the oven at 200. This is more for warm keeping, not extra cooking.

Amogio (adapted from foodnetwork.uk)
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup veg oil
1/2 cup butter-melted
1/2 cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1 T italian seasoning
1 T dried parsley
dash of red pepper
1 heaping T minced garlic

add to a sauce pan, and bring to boil, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

I served ours over some Lemon Pepper pasta. I put a couple spoonfuls of the amogio over the pasta, then the chicken, then some amogio on the chicken. This is a very flavorful sauce, so you only need about 2-3 Tablespoons full, versus the 1/4-1/2 cup (or more) of spaghetti sauce you might use. Don't make it swim, just splash it a little.

Totally amazing, and tastes so much like an actual pedigreed Italian person made it! :) We LOVED it! I hope you do too!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Chicken Chilaquiles...sorta..

Chilaquiles- "chilla, keyless". I guess my brain translates anything quasi mexican in nature with crunchy chips mixed in. Works, right?
Easy, and easy to throw together!

Chicken Chilaquiles-
oven at 350, 8x8 baking pan greased (you don't want your chips and cheese sticking)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts-cut/diced
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
1T oil
1 container Philly cream Southwest sauce stuff (it's by the cream cheese at the grocery, I think it comes in about 5 different flavors)
shredded monterey jack cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese
tortilla chips

In a pan heat the oil then add the onions, cook until softened.
Add the chicken, cook, but don't brown-
add the can of tomatoes-with the juice. Let all that hang out for about 15 minutes on simmer. That will finish getting those onions all soft and cook the chicken through.
Then add the container of the Southwest Philly stuff...mix together.
Now in your 8x8 pan put down some of the chicken mix, top with 1-2 tablespoons of  both shredded cheeses. Now take a handful of tortilla chips and crush them over top.
Repeat layer.
I got 3 layers.
Into the oven for 20 minutes. It's all cooked, it just needs to get to know one another.

We really liked this! It was an afternoon meal that I threw together in no time and it was really tasty!