Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Christmas Caramel Popcorn

I got TONS of M&M's for Christmas this year, and was looking for ways to use it up! I made this recipe, and sent it to New York with my family for my dad's mom to enjoy!

1 bag M&M's Brand Peanut Chocolate Candies for the Holidays
6 quarts popped popcorn
1 cup butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp vanilla
1. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Boil for five minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Stir in vanilla and baking soda. In a large roasting pan, combine popcorn, M&M's and sauce mixture. Toss until completely coated.
3. Place in a 200 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then stir gently.
4. Remove from oven and let cool completely on baking sheets.

Tender Honey Yeast Rolls

Yeast intimidates. It never rises right for me, so I'm never happy with my final product. Well, this time I was determined to get it right. So I used my candy thermometer to make sure the water was the perfect temperature for the yeast - after 2 tries, it was perfect. I got the yeasty smell and the foam! I was beyond excited.
These rolls are amazing, I'll be making them again soon!

Thanks to A Cookie a day for the recipe!

4 cups bread flour *I couldn't find bread flour in my grocery store, so I used all-purpose flour (Start with 3 if you are hand kneading)
1 cup warm water (105° to 115°F)
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 package dry yeast (1/4-ounce)
Vegetable cooking spray

Hand kneading instructions:
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the honey, egg and oil. Add roughly 3 cups of the flour and the salt until the dough comes together in a sticky mass. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, working in the remaining flour as necessary to keep the dough from being too sticky, until the dough is smooth and elastic, 8 minutes. Do not be tempted to add too much flour. The dough should stay soft and will become less sticky with kneading.

Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, about 2 hours.

Bread Machine Instructions:
Follow manufacturer’s instructions for placing first 7 ingredients into bread pan; select dough cycle, and start bread machine. Remove dough from machine (do not bake).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 30 seconds. Cover dough, and let rest 10 minutes.

Punch dough down, and divide into 12-18 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball, and place on baking sheets coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 20 minutes. Uncover and bake at 400° for 13 minutes or until browned. Remove rolls from pans, and serve warm or at room temperature.
(About 5 minutes into baking I topped my rolls with 1 tbsp melted butter and 1 tbsp honey to give it that golden brown shiny coat)

I keep Chick-fil-A in business

Seriously, I love Chick-fil-A. I eat there more times than I care to admit, and have always wanted to replicate their food. Well, I stumbled across a recipe, and dove in! I couldn't find several of the ingredients, so this is my interpretation.

Chick-fil-A Chicken Nuggets

From: Runs with Spatulas, Originally from Insider's Recipes Master Edition, 2002

2 cups Chicken Breast (boneless, skinless, cubed) *I used 2 breasts
1 cup flour
1 1/2 cups cracker meal *I used Chicken breader
1/4 tso paprika
2 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 1/4 tsps McComick Season-all *I used Penzey's seasoned salt

Place cool water in bowl, add 1/4 teaspoon season−all and dissolve bouillon cubes in mixture. Place cubed chicken in water, mix, cover and place in refrigerator for 12 hours or next day. When ready to cook nuggets, mix flour, cracker meal, 2 teaspoons season−all and paprika in bowl. Heat oil for deep frying. Drain chicken. Coat nuggets in flour, cracker mixture and fry until golden. Chicken will be flavorful and juicy.

I let my chicken marinate for about 8-10 hours, and it was perfect. These are AWESOME!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chocolate Mint Candies Cookies

This year, I also wanted to try a new cookie recipe for the holidays. When I stumbled across a cookie recipe involving chocolate and Andes Candies, I knew this was it! These cookies are awesome... almost a brownie like cookie, with a hint of mint at the top!

Chocolate Mint Candies Cookies
Recipe from: All Recipes


3/4 cup butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 (4.5 ounce) packages chocolate covered thin mints

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the sugar, butter and water, stirring occasionally until melted. Remove from heat, stir in the chocolate chips until melted and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Pour the chocolate mixture into a large bowl, and beat in the eggs, one at a time. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt, stir into the chocolate mixture. Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. Roll cookie dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, be careful not to overbake. When cookies come out of the oven, Press one mint wafer into the top of each cookie and let sit for 1 minute. When the mint is softened, swirl with the back of a spoon or toothpick to make a pattern with the green filling of the mint wafer. For smaller cookies, break mints in half.

Peanut Butter Blossoms

Another Christmas classic at my house is the Peanut Butter Blossom. This are my all-time favorite cookie, hands down. The recipe is simple, and comes together quickly.

Peanut Butter Blossoms
Recipe from: Hershey


48 HERSHEY'S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup REESE'S Creamy Peanut Butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Granulated sugar


1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.
2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

About 4 dozen cookies. (We love these so much, we double the recipe!!)

Christmas Cutout Cookies

A regular cookie I have to have every year at the holidays, is the classic cutout cookie. But, I couldn't find the regular recipe my mother used. So I decided to use a new recipe, from my new Williams-Sonoma Cookie cookbook. Overall, I wasn't impressed with these cookies... but, my hubby gobbled them ALL down in 2 days, so they can't be too bad!!

Sugar Cookies

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 tsps vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, crem the butter until fluffy and pale. Add the granulate sugar in 3 additions, beating on low speed for 2 minutes after each addition. Beat the egg yolk and vanilla into the butter mixture until well blended.

Sift the flour and salt together onto a sheet of waxed paper. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until blended.

Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 4 equal portions. Shape into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or for up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment (baking) paper.

Remove the dough disks from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out between 2 sheets of waxed paper to a thickness of 1/8-1/4 inch. Using cookie cutters, cut into curcles or other shapes. Repeat with the reamining dough portins, then gather up the scraps and reroll them. If the scraps of dough have become sticky, refrigerate them for 10 minutes before rerolling. For best results, do not roll the same dough more than twice.

Using an offest spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared pans. Sprinkle with sugar. If using an intricately shaped cuter, refrigerate the cutout cookies for 15-30 minutes before baking.

Bake the cookies until they are lightly golden on the bottom, 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool briefly on the pans on wire racks before transferring them to the racks to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I hope I win!!

Check out this awesome giveaway over on Baking Delights! She is giving away awesome gift baskets full of Hershey products!

I've entered - so cross your finger I win!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Muffins

When I saw a recipe for a healthier version of pumpkin & chocolate chip muffins in my google reader, I knew I'd have to make it. And I am so glad I did! These muffins from Loves to Eat are awesome...full of my favorite fall flavors!

Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups granulated sugar
1 can (15 oz.)
LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.)
NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels (I used 1/2 bitter sweet and 1/2 semi sweet... next time I'll cut down on the altogether - they were very chocolately!)

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease thirty-six 2 1/2-inch muffin cups or line with paper bake cups. (I got 24 muffins and 1 mini loaf)
COMBINE all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Combine eggs and sugar in large bowl. Add pumpkin and oil; mix well. Stir in flour mixture until moistened. Stir in morsels. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
BAKE for 20 to 25 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes; remove from pans.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Crock Pot Fajitas

This is another recipe I got from Apples of Gold. I think this is my favorite yet - it's soo good.

Crock Pot Fajitas

2 lb beef flank steak (or chicken, I used chicken)
1 onion sliced
1 green & red pepper cut into strips
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1 8oz Can mexican style tomatoes drained (I used a small can of tomato sauce)
1 jalapeno pepper (optional)

12 8inch tortillas

Toppings: sour cream, guacamole, cheddar cheese, salsa

Cut steak or chicken into 6-8 portions. In crock pot combine all ingredients.

Cook on low 8-10 hours, medium 6-7 hours, or high 4-5 hours.

Remove meat and shred. Return to pot and stir.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tuesday's with Dorie: REWIND!

I should really start calling this WEDNESDAY'S with Dorie, as I can't seem to get them in on time! Ugh. Anyway, this weeks recipe comes from Mari with Mevrouw Cupcake. She chose Creme Brulee. At first, I was super excited (so was Mike!)... but them reality hit. I don't have a torch, and I have no idea how to use a broiler (or much less what one is!). I still have so much to learn! Anyway, head over to Mari's page to check out the recipe.

I was beyond excited when I found out we could do a recipe rewind, instead of the Creme Brulee. I decided to go over the recipes I had not made yet and Michael chose my recipe for the week! It's Perfectection Pound Cake. The recipe can be found on pages 222 & 223 in Baking: From My Home to Yours.

Mine turned out wonderful. Dense, yet fluffy. Sweet, yet not too sweet. Really it is just right. I'm usually not 100% happy with my TWD recipes - but this one is an exception - I love it, and so does Michael! I hope you enjoy it too!

Mac & Cheese

Those of you who know me well, know I really don't like cheese. I don't like cheese in my sandwiches, I don't like cheese on my pizza, and I don't like mac & cheese unless it's from a blue box. Well, my husband on the other hand, likes EXTRA cheese on EVERYTHING. So, when I came across this mac & cheese recipe from Fresh From Cate's Kitchen, I know I had to try it. Her pictures make it look creamy and delicious - which it is. It's like a home-made version of velveeta shells & cheese.

Easy Mac & Cheese
(adapted from Cooking Light, May 2007)

1 1/4 cups uncooked macaroni
1 cup 1% milk
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
a few grinds of a pepper mill

Cook pasta in a medium saucepan according to package directions.
Transfer to a colander.
In the same saucepan, combine the milk and flour over medium heat, stirring with a whisk.
Cook, stirring constantly until thickened (about 2 minutes).
Add cheese, salt, and pepper, and continue whisking until all the cheese is melted.
Turn off heat, stir in the pasta, and let sit for a few minutes before serving.

This is so super easy, and really good. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Double Quick Pumpkin Bars

This is another recipe I got from my church meeting called Apples of Gold. When I had this dessert, I immediately fell in love. It was amazing. They are the perfect way to begin autumn! I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I do!
Double Quick Pumpkin Bars
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsps baking powder
2 tsps cinnamon
2 cups flour
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
6 tbsps margarine, softened
1 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups confectioner's sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, cream oil, eggs and sugar. Add remaining cookie ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into an ungreased 15x10 ince jelly roll pan. (I don't have this size pan, so I used a 13x9x2 cake pan - which is why mine are more cake like)
Bake at 350F for 20 to 25 minutes. (Mine took the whole 25 minutes, if not 1 or 2 more minutes). Cool completely and frost with cream cheese frosting.
To make frosting, cream together all frosting ingredients. Spread on colled, uncut cookies. After frosting has set, cut into equal size bars. Store any leftover bars, covered, in the refrigerator.
Variation: Add 1/2 cup choppd walnuts or raisins to the recipe.
Yield: 36 bars (Since mine was baked in a different pan, I had 24 pieces)

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

Life was hectic this week, so I wasn't able to make the recipe of the week for Tuesdays with Dorie. But head over to the blog so you can check out how everyones recipes turned out!

Thanks to Michelle of Bak-en for choosing this weeks recipe! Check out Michelle's blog for the recipe!

Spicy Garlic Herbed Pasta

I found this recipe from Katie at Good Things Catered. Katie has one of my favorite blogs, so I knew when I saw this recipe it would be amazing. And it really was - soo good. I served this dish with Lemon Velvet Chicken and topped it with a little of the leftover sauce from the chicken. It was amazing.

Spicy Garlic Herbed Pasta

1 lb pasta of choice (I used egg noodles)
2 tsp olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed (I used a large spoon full of the already chopped stuff, I'm a cheater!)
1/2 tsp dried hot red-pepper flakes
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, minced
1/8 c. fresh thyme, minced
juice 1/2 lemon

-Bring a 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil.
-Cook pasta in boiling water until just tender, according to package instructions.
-Reserve 1 c. pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander.
-Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.
-Add garlic to skillet and cook until beginning to brown, about 1 minute.
-Add red pepper flakes, wine, salt, and pepper and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, 1 minute.
-Add butter to skillet, stirring until melted, and stir in herbs and lemon juice.
-Remove skillet from heat.
-Toss pasta well in large bowl, adding some of reserved cooking water if necessary to keep moist. (mine did not need this)


Lemon Velvet Chicken

When I saw this recipe pop up on my google reader, I knew I had to try it. Mike and I love alfredo and chicken, and this looked amazing. I found the recipe from Jewels in the Kitchen.

Lemon Velvet Chicken

1 Tbsp. flour (I used about 1.5 tbsp)
1 t. seasoned salt
2 or 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used 2 large breasts)
2 Tbsp. butter
1 jar Alfredo sauce (I used reduced fat)
juice of 1 lemon

Mix flour and salt. Cover chicken with the mixture. Melt butter in hot pan, add chicken and cook for 5-10 minutes. Squeeze lemon over, add sauce, put on low and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

We served this alongside Spicy Garlic Herbed Pasta - yumm!

Peat & Walnut Salad

I got this recipe from an Apples of Gold class I am taking through my church. This salad is so simple and so refreshing I had to share!

Pear & Walnut Salad

1 head of lettuce (or a bagged lettuce)
2 pears
1/4 cup walnuts
2 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp honey

Slice or chop lettuce, pears and walnuts and mix together in a large salad bowl. Drizzle with lemon juice and honey.

This is a delicious meal - I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

TWD... on Wednesday!

I'm a day late! I'm sorry! I was out of town traveling for work, so I wasn't able to get my post up yesterday. Anyway... this week's choice for TWD was Chocolate Chunkers chosen by Claudia of Fool for Food. (Please go to her page for the recipe!)

I was excited for this recipe, because how can a cookie with 4 different chocolates not be amazing? Well, this wasn't amazing. My husband thought they were too chocolatey, I don't agree. Nothing is ever too chocolatey for me! I thought they were too salty. I think they would have been better with no salted peanuts, fewer chocolate chips and more dough. I may have to make them again this way, and see if they are better for me.

Head over to Tuesdays with Dorie to see how the other 250+ TWDers felt about these!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops

I have to admit, I was very skeptical of this weeks recipe. Rachel from Confessions from a Tangerine Tart chose Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops. I immediately thought "well crap, I hate whoppers!" When I was telling my husband about this recipe, he got super excited - turns out he LOVES whoppers. So, for the sake of TWD and my husband, I bought the whoppers and got cracking on the recipe.


ME- I thought they were just okay. I would have preferred them without the whopper pieces, because they kind of caramalized in the cookie. The cookie was nice and cake-like and had great chocolate flavor, I just wasn't in love with the whopper chunks.

HUSBAND- He loved them. Really, really loved them!

Head over to Tuesdays with Dorie to check out all the entries for the week!

Sesame Beef

The husband and I are somewhat picky chinese food eaters. I only like 1 or 2 things, luckily, Mike only likes the same 1 or 2 things. We don't get chinese often because I hate that "heavy" feeling I always have afterwards. Anyway, when I saw this recipe on the Delish Food blog, I knew I wanted to try it. I'd love the opportunity to create a healthier chinese option!

Sesame Beef
Source: Delish
1/2-pound boneless sirloin steak, thinly sliced into 1-inch strips
2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp cornstarch
1 garlic clove, minced
4 scallion greens, cut diagonally into 1-inch slices (I omitted, and used broccoli instead)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

In a bowl whisk together soy sauce, 1 Tbsp oil, honey, and mustard. Add steak, tossing to coat, and let marinate, refrigerated, for 1-2 hours.
In a heavy skillet or wok, heat remaining tablespoon oil over moderately high heat until hot and sauté garlic. Add steak and cornstarch, stirring, until browned 2-3 minutes. Stir in scallions, sesame seeds, and salt and pepper to taste and heat until just heated through. Serve immediately.
For DH & I, I doubled this recipe, and we ate it all. Michael said it is one of his favorite dishes now! I served it on top of rice.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Whole Wheat pizza dough

My husband could eat pizza every day for every meal - seriously. So I'm always looking for ways to make it more homemade and more healthy. When I saw this recipe for whole wheat pizza dough over on A Year in the Kitchen, I knew I had to try it.

I made the dough the day before I needed it, but I think next time I should do it same day. When I made it, I wrapped it in Saran Wrap and stuck it in the refrigerator. Well, twice it grew and broke the saran wrap! So by the time I went to roll it and stretch it out - I could have made 2 pizzas! So I just made a nice, thick crust!

This is the pizza after it's been baked, before we added toppings.
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
1 c. warm water
1 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. all purpose flour
Add water, yeast and sugar to a mixing bowl. Let it sit for 10 minutes, yeast will bubble. Turn the dough hook on and add in the flours. If the dough is too sticky, add another 1/4 c. all purpose flour. Let it knead for 5 minutes. Cover with a damp towel and let it sit for 1-2 hours.
Roll out dough, and place on a pizza pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes. Add toppings (I used pizza sauce, pizza seasoning from Penzey's, shredded mozzerella and parmesan cheeses and turkey pepperoni) and put back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes.

Crockpot Bread

What? Crockpot bread? How the heck do you make bread in a crockpot? That was the first thing I thought when I saw this recipe over at Sweet Savory Southern. But heck, I'm always up for baking, and really - how hard can this be!?

Well, this bread didn't turn out to be my favorite. Part of the bottom got way too dark - if I make it again, I might not cook it on high at all, just low for 3 or so hours. I'm not sure. It was also very dense, I like a fluffier bread. Feel free to tweek as you'd like!

Classic White Bread

101 More Things To Do With A Slow cooker
Stephanie Ashcraft and Janet Eyring
10-15 servings.

1 envelope (.25 ounce) of active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup warm water
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 1/2 to 4 cups flour (I used 2 cups whole wheat flour & 1 3/4 or so cups AP flour)

In a bowl combine yeast, 1 tsp sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water. Allow yeast to foam, about 5 minutes. Add egg, oil, lukewarm water, salt, 1/4 cup sugar, and 2 cups of flour. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes on low. With a wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour. Place dough in greased 4-5 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on high heat for 2-3 hours. (Again, I think I'd cook it on low 3-4 hours since the bottom of mine got too dark) Remove stoneware from cooker and let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chipsters

For this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe pick, Stefany of Proceed with Caution chose Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chipsters. I was super excited to make this - how can you go wrong with peanut butter, oatmeal and chocolate chips?!

I made them to go to a dinner at my in-laws, they all loved them. So did my brother, I gave him all the leftovers! Since I'm watching my calories, I didn't eat any - not even any dough! But the smell and the reviews have me convinced that they are great!

Check out the recipe on Stefany's page! The only thing I did differently was I added mini baking reese cups!

Weight Watchers Snickers Pie

When I saw this recipe on My Sweet Life, I knew I wanted to try it! Besides, it's a low-fat dessert - my fav!

I made this (with the help of my sister-in-law) when we were at the beach. Everyone loved it - they said it tasted like a Snicker's slushie!


Weight Watchers Snickers Pie

1 pint of vanilla frozen yogurt (I use fat free or lowfat) (We used a large container of yogurt, not the frozen yogurt)
2 tbsp of chunky peanut butter (JIF Reduced Fat) (We used creamy)
1/2 package of instant chocolate pudding mix
1/2 container (6 oz) of cool whip (ff, lite or regular, whichever you prefer)

Let frozen yogurt soften or put in microwave for 30-45 seconds (we obviously skipped this step!). Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into an 8" pie pan. Freeze until set. Top with a dollop of cool whip, and a drizzle of chocolate and caramel (we used hot fudge and a chopped up snickers bar, which may or may not hurt WW points!) with a few peanuts.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Chicken Parmigiana Rolls

Michael & I are big chicken parmesan fans, it's a regular on our menu. But when I saw this recipe, I knew I wanted to try it. It's just a twist on the original chicken parm. I got this recipe from Joelen at Joelen's Culinary Adventures - thanks for the recipe!!

Chicken Parmigiana Rolls (copied right from Joelen, with my changes in red)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied (I didn't butterfly mine, I just pounded them out)
1 cup pasta sauce
4 basil leaves (I used dried basil)
2 slices of mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup flour
1 egg, scrambled
2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon italian seasoning (I used italian seasoned bread crumbs instead)
salt & pepper to taste
Open up the butterflied chicken breasts and cut in 2 equal pieces. With a meat pallet, pound each piece of chicken flat to form a paillard. On each piece of chicken, spread a tablespoon of pasta sauce. Top sauce with a 1/2 slice of mozzarella cheese, sprinkle of parmesan cheese and 1 basil leaf. Carefully take one side of the chicken and begin rolling it into a chicken roll. Secure chicken roll with a toothpick to stay intact. Dredge chicken roll in flour. Dip chicken roll in the scrambled egg. Combine the italian season, salt, pepper and panko breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Coat the chicken roll with the seasoned breadcrumbs. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Place on a baking dish and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.You can choose to top the chicken rolls with sauce and cheese if you'd like.

TWD: Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

This week, Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity chose Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream. (Click on her page to see the recipe) I was soo excited because I have been wanting to make my own ice cream for a long time. I'm an ice cream fanatic... my nights just don't feel right if I don't end them with a scoop... *maybe that explains why I've packed on the pounds ;) * Anyway, I've had my mom's Kitchen Aid ice cream maker attachment sitting in my freezer cooling down for weeks - just waiting for the perfect opportunity to make ice cream. Well, this was it. And on a hot August day - who doesn't want blueberry ice cream?

Well, I'm sorry to say this, but I flat out hated this ice cream. My first attempt resulted in a blender catastophe - I had blueberry mess *all* over my counters. Then, once I finally got it whipped up a second time and tasted it - I thought it was awful. Honestly, all I could taste was the sour cream. I even added lots of extra sugar, and that didn't help. What a bummer. But be sure to head over to Tuesdays with Dorie to see how everyone else made out!
I'll be in the Outer Banks next week on vacation, but I'm still going to try to make the next recipe: Granola Grabbers.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Summer WC Gift Exchange

Imagine my excitement when I came home to a *huge* box with my name on it!! Inside the box, was the gift I received for this summers What's Cooking Gift Exchange! Thanks so much to PaulandShawna - she sent me an awesome package!

Inside the package was all sorts of cupcake decorating supplies! I got a cupcake pan with a lid, 2 cupcake liners, 2 different sprinkles and a 12-piece cupcake decorating set with decorating bags and tips. I was so excited, I went ahead and made vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting! I didn't take pics because they were just Betty Crocker box mix - but they looked awesome thanks to Shawna!

Thanks girl, I love it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Back in the TWD groove of things: Black & White Banana Cake

I've decided to rejoin the baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie. I hadn't done it in several months, but I'm back! This week, Ashlee from A Year in the Kitchen chose Black & White Banana Cake. Lots of the TWD bakers said it was runny, but mine looked great. I did omit the dark rum though, and instead of bittersweet chocolate, I used semi-sweet. I prefer the slighty sweeter taste. Overall, I enjoy this cake. It's great with a hot cup of tea! Head over to Ashlee's blog to check out the recipe!

Lettuce Wrap Chicken Satay

I've finally made the lettuce wrap chicken satay again. Enjoy the pic, and check out the recipe, here.

I'm also submitting this to Joelen's blogging event: Asian Appetizers. Thanks so much Joelen, for hosting all these amazing blogging events and allowing us so stretch our culinary imaginations!

August Tasty Tools: Whisk!

For the month of August, the Tasty Tools event (hosted by Joelen) is the WHISK. I use whisks *all* the time. In this instance, I was whisking flour, baking powder and salt, for a cake I'll be posting about in a bit.
Thanks for hosting, Joelen!

TCHO Chocolate Blondies

Here are the promised blondies that I made with the TCHO chocolates that I blogged about earlier. Well, I found the recipe at The Foodie Fashionista, and they look amazing! Well, I managed to mess up the recipe, but they still turned out really well.
Chocolate-chip Cookie Bars
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tbsp) butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder (whoops, I used 1/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp baking soda (whoops, I used 1/2 tsp)
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (this is where I used the chopped up TCHO chocolate)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 8x8 baking pan (I used 9x9) with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat brown sugar and butter over medium heat until butter melts and the mixture is smooth, stirring constantly. Cool slightly.
In a large bowl, beat the egg and vanilla. Slowly pour in the butter and sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Mix in flour, baking powder and baking soda. Spread batter in prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.
Yields 9 bars.

These bars are really good! I highly recommend them. I'll probably try them again, using the correct amounts of baking powder and soda. oops!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Best Cake Ever

A few weekends ago, Mike decided he wanted a few buddies over for some hamburgers & hotdogs. We also found out at the last minute that it was his good friend Justin's birthday. I didn't have time to make a cake, but I knew right where to buy one.

In Central VA we have a grocery store called Ukrops. Their bakery is simply amazing - but the best part is definitely the cakes. This cake is whipped icing atop a white cake. And just because Justin (birthday boy) is a goof-ball, we got him a cake with pink flowers!

Here is Justin, showing off his cake. Happy 22nd birthday!

Restaurant Review: Capital Ale House

I've decided to start blogging about the places we go to eat, along with the food I make at home. The first restaurant I'll review is the Capital Ale House. This restaurant's claim to fame is its extensive beer list - the beer menu looks like a magazine. I bet there are thousands of beers to pick from (I'm talking 80 just on tap at the location we went to). Well, I don't drink - but I was all over their amazing food. This was Mike & I's first trip - we went with my parents.


This is the best homemade pretzel ever - it was obviously a LOT larger than this, but we all dug in so fast I almost forgot to snag a picture! The dip in the blue dish is a wonderful homemade mustard dip. It's grainy, flavorful and amazing.


My meal came with a salad, and I chose the caesar. I'm generally very picky with my caesar dressings - to me they are usually too overpowering. This one was not that at all. It was light and delicious. I'd definitly get this again.

Main Course

This is one of the best pasta dishes I have ever gotten. This is how the menu describes it "Tender chicken breast meat pan seared, finished in a creamy pesto sauce and served over Linguini pasta."

Really, that doesn't do it justice. It's so flavorful and light - not overwhelming at all. And the chicken was so moist and delicious. I highly recommend this dish.


I didn't get a picture of dessert because well, I ate it too fast. It was great. It is called the Brownie Rockslide. The bottom is a moist and delicious brownie, topped with vanilla bean ice cream and drizzled with white chocolate ganache and caramel. *wow* yumm!

And my lovely parents... doesn't it look like they had a good time??


Atmosphere: A: we sat outside and it was lovely!
Staff/Service: B: It took a while for our waitress to even acknowledge us, but once she did the service got much better
Food: A+: Really, just awesome food - come hungry!

Capital Ale House
Midlothian Village, just east of 288

TCHO Chocolates

Well, being a food blogger sure has it's perks! I came home from a business trip to a package! I love getting packages - but this package was better than most. It contained chocolate. As you may remember, I got some TCHO chocolates in the mail a few months ago because I frequent the Blake Makes website (where he does regular give-aways). Since I got that first package, TCHO has put out a new chocolate - fruity. I immediately had to try the fruity, and compare it to the "chocolate" one that also came in the package. The fruity is very very rich, almost too rich for me. But I adored the subtle undertones of berry in the background. It was surprising in a piece of chocolate, but most welcome. After trying "fruity" we tried "chocolate" - this is my favorite. It's such a smooth, refined, intense chocolate flavor. One square does the trick for my chocolate craving.

Overall, I *love* TCHO chocolate. My father-in-law is currently tiling my florida room, so as a thank you - I'll be making chocolate chip blondies tonight with this chocolate. I'll post later about how it turns out!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pepperoni & Cheese Stuffed Chicken

When I saw this recipe on the Delicious Meliscious blog, I knew I had to make it. This recipe combines my husband and I's favorite foods: chicken, cheese and pepperoni. How good does that sound?? We give this recipe a HUGE THUMBS UP!

Plus, this is my 50th post! YAY! Time to celebrate :)

Pepperoni & Cheese Stuffed Chicken
Source: Delicious Meliscious

Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
Sliced Pepperoni
Cheese (I used mozz)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Italian Seasoning
Salt & Pepper

-Between wax paper pound out the chicken breasts until thin
-Layer the sliced pepperoni- however much you would like
-Layer the cheese, however much you would like
-Roll the chicken up and secure it with toothpicks, seam-side down
-Place in oven safe dish- drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with S&P and Italian Season to your liking
-Bake on 325 for about 30 minutes or until done

We served this with spaghetti and sauce, it was awesome! Enjoy - this is so yummy :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blackberry Buckle

I went with my parents to the Farmer's Market this weekend, and on the way there we saw a place to pick-your-own blackberries! Between the 3 of us, we ended up with about 1.5 gallons of berries! Yumm! But I had to figure out something to make with it! After searching for recipes online, I came across this one - and it sounded perfect. Here is the recipe, straight from All Recipes!

Blackberry Buckle

1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar, divided
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter

In a large mixing bowl, cream the shortening and 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix well. Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk, beating well after each addition.
Spread into a greased 9-in. square baking dish. Toss the blackberries with lemon juice; sprinkle over batter. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and remaining sugar and flour; cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over berries.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Refrigerate leftovers.

School Bus Cake

A few years ago, I took cake decorating classes. Then I took them again with my husband shortly before we got married. So, everytime someone needs a cake made, they come to me! This cake is my most recent. My mom has an inside joke with her department at work about a bus - so she asked me to make a cake for a dinner get-together they were having. One of the ladies she works with, found this cake, and asked me to replicate it.

We pretty much replicated the cake exactly, except I decorated in stars instead of plain icing. But the structure is made from 2 pound cakes, then we iced and decarated. The lights are Hershey's kissables, the wheels are chocolate iced donuts with white chocolate chip headlights. The stop sign is a piece of licorice. But you can follow the directions found in the link above, or be creative with it!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


This is how I create my mastepieces! I began "collecting" things for my future home when I was about 15. I bought dishes, silverware, mixing bowls - everything. I was so ready to be on my own! Well, my awesome parents gave me their spare Henckel knives (is that how it's spelled?). Anyway, they've been great.
But - it's time to upgrade. These knives get dull very easy (hmm, maybe I should try sharpening them!) and the tips bend really easy - actually, one of my knives has a permanent bend on the tip. I hope to get an awesome set, I just don't know what I want yet. Any ideas?
**This post is being submitted to Joelen's Knives Set Blog Event. Joelen is one of the most helpful and sweet girls on the WC board. She is truly an inspiration in the kitchen and is going to be an awesome Food Network Star someday! I just know it! Thanks for hosting so many great events, Joelen!

Lean Mean Ketchup

As a Sooperhero on Blake Makes, I get to participate in several "contests" to win different food products. You may recall I won some Amano chocolates a few months back. The latest win, is Lean Mean Ketchup, from Chef Bradley.

Chef Bradley is a firm believer that sauces and condiments can be healthy as well as nutritious - so he created his own sauces, check them out here. I won my favorite condiment - ketchup. I can't wait to adorn my favorite meal (chicken nuggets and french fries - how klassy!) with the new and improved ketchup.

Thanks Chef Bradley and Blake Makes - this is an awesome gift!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I was in the mood for something quick, easy and different - as always, the girls on What's Cooking pulled through for me. This recipe for pulled pork sandwiches could not be easier, or tastier. In fact, I walked my husband through how to make it - and he did it all on his own! (Trust me, that's a huge accomplishment!)

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

your favorite cut of pork (shoulder, butt, whatever you like)

8-12 ounces of root beer (some girls use Coke)

spices (I used Emeril's essence)

your favorite BBQ sauce (I used Dinosaur)

Put pork, root beer and seasonings in the crock pot and cook on low for 7 hours. Drain the crockpot, and add the BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 30 more minutes. Remove from the crock pot and shred, adding more BBQ sauce if you like. Serve on sandwiches!

Yumm - sorry my picture is terrible, it was taken on my husbands Blackberry because my Dad wouldn't let me borrow one of his camera's - what a snot ;) !!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Home-made Bread

I've been wanting to try my hand at making my own bread for a while now. But really, it's got to be hard to make your own bread, right? Well, I needed some "me" time yesterday, so I took a 1/2 day at work, and came home to relax. But - I got bored. So I decided it was the perfect time to try my hand at homemade bread. I found a recipe for Classic White Bread from Chelley, over at Sugar & Spice. I thought this would be the perfect base to my bread. In the end, I'm not terribly happy with my bread. It didn't rise correctly - but, I'm going to try again this weekend with warmer ingredients.

I am copying the recipe from Chelley, with the changes I made in red.

Classic White Bread

(Source: Peter Reinhart The Bread Baker’s Apprentice pages 265-269)
Makes two 1-pound loaves, 18 dinner rolls, or 12 burger or hot dog buns

4¼ cups (19 ounces) unbleached bread flour (I used 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 white flour)
1½ teaspoons (.38 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces) sugar
2 teaspoons (.22 ounce) instant yeast
1 large (1.65 ounces) egg, slightly beaten, at room temperature
¼ cup (2 ounces) butter, margarine, or shortening, at room temperature, or vegetable oil
1½ cups (12 ounces) buttermilk or whole milk, at room temperature
1 egg, whisked with 1 teaspoon water until frothy, for egg wash (optional)
sesame or poppy seeds for garnish (optional)

1. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a 4-quart bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Pour in the egg, butter, and milk and mix with a large metal spoon (or on low speed of the electric mixer with the paddle attachment) until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If the dough seems very stiff and dry, trickle in more milk until the dough is soft and supple.

2. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mix on medium speed with the dough hook), adding more flour, if necessary, to create a dough that is soft, supple, and tacky but not sticky. Continue kneading (or mixing) for 6 to 8 minutes. (In the electric mixer, the dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick ever to slightly to the bottom.) The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 80° F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (the length of time will depend on the room temperature).

4. Remove the fermented dough from the bowl and divide it in half for sandwich loaves, into eighteen 2-ounce pieces for dinner rolls, or twelve 3-ounce pieces for burger or hot dog buns. Shape the pieces into boules for loaves or tight rounds for dinner rolls or buns. Mist the dough lightly with spray oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.

5. For loaves, shape as shown on page 81. Lightly oil two 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pans and place the loaves in the pans. For rolls and buns, line 2 sheet pans with baking parchment. Rolls require no further shaping. For hamburger buns, gently press down on the rolls to form the desired shape. For hot dog buns, shape as shown on page 80, although without tapering the ends. Transfer the rolls or buns to the sheet pans.

6. Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Proof the dough at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until it nearly doubles in size.

7. Preheat the oven to 350° F for loaves or 400° F for roll and buns. Brush the rolls or buns with the egg wash and garnish with poppy or sesame seeds. Sandwich loaves also may be washed and garnished, or score them down the center and rub a little vegetable oil in the slit.

8. Bake the rolls or buns for approximately 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown and register just above 180° F in the center. Bake loaves for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating 180 degrees halfway through for even baking, if needed. The tops should be golden brown and the sides, when removed from the pan, should also be golden. The internal temperature of the loaves should be close to 190° F, and the loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

9. When the loaves have finished baking, remove them immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving. Rolls should cool for at least 15 minutes on a rack before serving.

Enjoy! Once I make it again, if I'm happier with the results I'll post new pictures!

Mexican Pizza

My mother-in-law loves a pizza from Cici's that is their mexican pizza. I have no idea what it has on it, because quite frankly I think it looks funny - so I'm not touching it. Anyway, I wanted something mexican for dinner the other night, but didn't want the usual. So as I was menu planning, I decided to make a mexican pizza, my way.

Mexican Pizza

1 pillsbury pizza dough (cook before assembly of pizza)
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese (or mexican mix cheese)
lean ground beef

To assemble:

Prepare pizza dough. In a small bowl, mix equal parts sour cream and salsa (use as much or as little as you like, depending on how saucy you like your pizza). Once combined, spread evenly over pizza. Sprinkle ground beef over sauce, then cheese, then lettuce. Cut into triangles like a pizza and serve!

This is so yummy - I can't wait to make this again!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Lettuce Wrap Chicken Satay

I haven't been blogging much - we've been making "regulars" and trying to watch our waist lines. I've started South Beach Diet, so my recipes (should) be pretty low carb from here on out. This recipe I found at allrecipes.com. The directions call for putting this chicken on skewers and serving that way, we decided to but into chunks and turn it into a lettuce wrap. Also, in order to serve my husband and I dinner, plus me for lunch the next day - I tripled the recipe. Here is the original recipe.

Chicken Satay
Source: All Recipes

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 TBSP light soy sauce
salt & pepper

Peanut Sauce:
1 1/2 TBSP trans-fat free peanut butter
1/4 TSP garlic powder
1/2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
1/4 packet sugar substitute
1 1/2 TBSP water
sprinkle of cayenne pepper to taste


1. To make peanut sauce: Place the ingrendents in a bowl and stir well. Microwave for 30 seconds.
2. Pound chicken breasts between pieces of plastic wrap to a uniform thickness. Rub each breast with about 1 TBSP of light soy sauce. Then season both sides of each breast with a couple pinches of salt and pepper. Place in a skillet and grill a couple minutes per side. Remove and cut into strips or cubes and thread onto skewers. Dip into peanut sauce and enjoy.

This was very different for my husband and I, but we both enjoyed it very much. I hope you do too!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

TWD: French Chocolate Brownies

I looove brownies. So, thanks to Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook for choosing this weeks recipe: French Chocolate Brownies.

Now, I have yet to come across a brownie that I enjoy more than the "box kind" brownie mix. This was a strange recipe for me - I had really high hopes for it. But I was disappointed. I thought it was dry and dense. It just didn't work for me. But others *raved* about it, I guess it's just personal preference.

So, head over to Tuesday's With Dorie to check out everyones work this week!

French Chocolate Brownies
- makes 16 brownies

-Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours.

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/3 cup raisins, dark or golden (I omitted)
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons dark rum (I omitted)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the raisins in a small saucepan with the water, bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until the water almost evaporates. Add the rum, let it warm for about 30 seconds, turn off the heat, stand back and ignite the rum. Allow the flames to die down, and set the raisins aside until needed.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, stirring so that it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the raisins along with any liquid remaining in the pan.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil.

Serving: The brownies are good just warm or at room temperature; they're even fine cold. I like these with a little something on top or alongside—good go-alongs are whipped crème fraiche or whipped cream, ice cream or chocolate sauce or even all three!

Storing: Wrapped well, these can be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.