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I enjoy cooking,eating food, being creative with food, and like to try new things. I try to avoid pre-packaged foods as much as I can.

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Oct 27, 2013

Double Trouble Fudge

Alright... I fail at blogging. To sum things up... the months went by way too fast!

August: We went to Florida to visit some relatives and that went well. We returned and well, it was busy. My sister packed for college and completed her summer assignment. We all chipped in to help her pack and prep for this new chapter of her life. It is strange and I felt really old sifting through my college bins that have sat in the basement for 2 years. It made me walk down memory lane, and really reminded me of how much I miss college...

September: I interviewed for two job positions and applied for a few more. I have been very lucky and I was hired at one of the places I interviewed. Yay for a job!

October: I have been working my butt off. People can be so frustrating sometimes. Retail makes you see plenty of the bad side of humanity. Honestly. Working retail makes you go on a rollercoaster of emotions throughout the day. As an introvert, this job seems to require all of my energy. By the end of the day I am totally exhausted. Gotta work to earn money for grad school though! Now if only I would stop shopping the clearance and finding way too many clothes...

Anyway, the recipe for today reminds me of a reese peanut butter cup. It has the saltiness from the peanut butter mixed with the sweet chocolate and sweet and salty combinations just work so well (and they taste so good!). This would be a great treat for Christmas or even a Halloween party! I hope you try this treat!


Double Trouble Fudge (from Feathers in Our Nest)

Ingredients:
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1 cup peanut butter chips (find them in the baking aisle)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk, divided (see recipe for more details)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract, divided (1/2 tsp. for each layer)
  • 1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips 
Instructions:
  1. Line a square pan* (8x8 or so) with foil/parchment paper/nonstick spray/butter. If you do not use something heavy duty then it will be difficult to get the fudge out later. Trust me. 
  2. In a microwaveable bowl, combine the cup of peanut butter chips and 2/3 cup of the sweetened condensed milk. 
  3. Microwave for 1 minute and then stir the mixture. Microwave in 15 second increments after the initial minute until the mixture is smooth. Make sure you stir after each time in the microwave so the mixture doesn't burn!
  4. Stir in 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract and then pour the first layer into the pan.
  5. Place your pan of fudge mixture into the fridge for 10 minutes.
  6. After you have refrigerated the fudge for 10 minutes, start making the second layer.
  7. In a different microwaveable bowl, combine the semisweet chocolate chips and the rest of the sweetened condensed milk. 
  8. Repeat step 3 as described above.
  9. Stir in 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract and then pour the chocolate layer over the semi-solid peanut butter layer.
  10. Refrigerate your fudge for 1 hour to let it firm up. 
  11. Remove the fudge from the pan and cut it into small squares.
  12. Store in the fridge until serving.
  13. Enjoy! 
*You could also use a square candy mold or use a mold with a removable bottom. 

I hope you test this fudge out and find out how delicious and easy it is! 

Have you made homemade fudge before? What did you think? Let me know with a comment below! 


Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Comment and let me know what sort of recipes you want to see next!

As always...

Bon appétit!



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Aug 2, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken and Mushroom Pasta

This recipe is a tweaked version of another recipe. I didn't have the correct Progresso recipe starter on hand, so I improvised. The picture doesn't truly show off its' deliciousness. Looking back, I probably should have added some color to the pasta. Oh well, it was super delicious and I just wanted to eat it. I hope you feel the same when you try this out.



Crock Pot Chicken and Mushroom Pasta (adapted from Pillsbury)

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 TBSP butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 can Progresso Recipe Starters Creamy Portabella Mushroom cooking sauce
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, cut into cubes
  • 1 lb. pasta of your choice
  • 16 oz. of mushrooms, sliced (use more mushrooms if you want!)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil (to saute the mushrooms in)
  • Chopped parsley, for garnish
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping
Instructions:
  1. (Optional step) Spray your 5-6 qt. slow cooker/crock pot with cooking spray. (I skipped this)
  2. Place chicken in the crock pot/slow cooker and then top with the butter. Sprinkle on ground black pepper, to taste. 
  3. Pour the cooking sauce over the top of the chicken and butter. You can add the mushrooms now, or sautee them later. It's your choice. 
  4. Cover and cook on Low for 4-6 hours (High 2-3 hours) or until the chicken is tender.
  5. (Optional) Sautee your mushrooms in 1 tsp. of olive oil. They will shrink some and be fragrant. 
  6. Shred the chicken in the crock pot/slow cooker. I recommend using two forks. If you chose to sautee your mushrooms, add them to the crock pot.
  7. Add the cream cheese to the crock pot. Cook for 30 minutes on Low or until the cream cheese melts and blends into the sauce.
  8. Cook your pasta according to the box directions while the cream cheese melts. 
  9. Stir the crock pot mixture well and then serve over the pasta. 
  10. Garnish the pasta with parsley and sprinkle on Parmesan, if desired. Enjoy! 
I couldn't find any reassurance that the cooking sauce was gluten free. If someone else finds out that it is indeed gluten free, please comment below and tell me. I hope you try this delicious recipe! 

Have you tried the Progresso Recipe Starters? What did you think? Let me know with a comment below! 

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Comment and let me know what sort of recipes you want to see next!

As always...

Bon appétit!



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Jul 23, 2013

Italian Cream Cake

I decided to write this post while the thunderstorm dumps plenty of rain on the plants and lawn. When I was thinking about dinner (we're having chicken fried rice), I started to think about Thai Stick. Thai Stick is a lovely Thai restaurant in San Francisco that we accidentally discovered while attempting to locate a different Thai restaurant. The location we went to (on Post Street) has been there since 1988! Even though it wasn't our intended Thai restaurant, it was wonderful. The service wasn't as snappy as it might be in other restaurants, but the food was delightful. I had the pineapple fried rice. It was so delicious! I could have eaten that multiple nights in a row and still been content. I only have one warning about this restaurant... you get oodles of food. You could probably take 1/2 your meal home with you if you are able to. Otherwise, bring your hunger or split a meal with someone. So, if you are ever in or around San Francisco, I encourage you to stop at the restaurant Thai Stick (they have 4 locations). 

Now that I have that restaurant recommendation out of the way, let's talk about Italian Cream Cake. First of all, this cake isn't a cake made out of cream or a plain cake. Instead, it is a lovely combination of pecans and coconut in a white cake that is moist and oh so delicious. To top it off, it is frosted with a dreamy cream cheese frosting. Mmmm. You might think I am exaggerating, but it was just that good! 

I love coconut and pecans, so it was a perfect combination for the birthday cake that I wanted to make for my birthday but ran out of time and instead made Molten Mocha Cake. Just so you know, that was delicious too! I ended up having two types of cake that were both wonderful and were both for my birthday (even if this one was made a week or so after my birthday :P). No matter what the occasion is or isn't (you don't need a special occasion for this cake!), this cake is perfect for anyone who loves pecans, coconut, and cream cheese frosting.

I didn't change anything in this recipe, but I did have one layer of the cake that didn't want to leave the pan. I still made it look ok after frosting it. See the oopsie?:

oops


Italian Cream Cake (from BHG)


Cake Ingredients:
  • 5 eggs, separated into yolks and whites (learn how here
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups all purpose flour (plain flour)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 or 2 tsp. vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup flaked coconut (mine was sweetened and worked well, but unsweetened could work too)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (I didn't toast mine, but feel free to toast them if you want to.)
Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened 
  • 2 tsp. vanilla (vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste)
  • 5 and 1/2 - 4 cups of powdered sugar (also called confectioners' sugar or icing sugar)
Instructions:
  1. Allow the egg yolks, egg whites, and butter to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Grease and lightly flour two or three 8 X 1.5 inch or 9 x 1.5 inch cake pans. (We only own two, so I made mine a 2 layer cake instead of three.) As another option, you could also liberally spray the pans with cooking/baking spray. (I did this and had one disaster and one perfect layer, so do this at your own risk! See above photo!) Set the pans to the side and preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C).
  3. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda. 
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and shortening with an electric mixer on medium or high speed for 30 seconds. Add the sugar and mix until well combined. Next, add the egg yolks and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until well combined. 
  5. Alternate between adding the flour mix and buttermilk into the butter mix. Beat on low speed after each addition only till combined. 
  6. Fold the coconut and almonds into the mixture. I suggest folding these in with a spatula and not the mixer.
  7. Clean the beaters or get out a new set of beaters. 
  8. In a different bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. The egg tips will stand straight.
  9. Carefully fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter. Fold in the remaining beaten egg whites.
  10. Divide the batter evenly into all 3 pans. Spread the batter evenly in the pans.
  11. Bake approximately 25 minutes for 9 inch pans, 35 minutes for 8 inch pans, or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  12. Once the cakes are done, let them cool in the pans on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
  13. Remove the cake from the pans and let it cool completely;this should take approximately 2 hours.
  14. While the cake is cooling, prepare your frosting. In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar until it is well combined and a spreadable consistency.
  15. Once cooled, place one cake layer (bottom side up) on a serving plate. Spread with approximately 1/2 cup of the frosting and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of pecans. Top with the next layer (bottom side down) and spread with more frosting. If you have 3 layers, add the nuts on the second tier as well and then top with the last layer (bottom side up). 
  16. Spread frosting on the sides and top of the cake. If desired, press nuts on the sides and sprinkle coconut on the top or decorate in whatever way you want to. 
  17. After all of that mixing and baking, enjoy your cake! 
I know this seems intimidating, especially since it has 16 steps. The recipe basically comes down to a lot of measuring and mixing. Once you have those two parts finished, it is a piece of cake to make (haha, punny). Feel free to try this out. Let me know what you think! 

Have you ever eaten Italian Cream Cake before? What did you think? Let me know with a comment below! 

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Comment and let me know what sort of recipes you want to see next!

As always...

Bon appétit!



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Jul 10, 2013

Tonga Toast: Rainforest Cafe

#####NOTE:  If you are/know someone who is in the military then please keep reading. You/the military person you know can get a FREE pass to all of the national parks. Go to: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/passes.htm for more details! #####

Well... we survived our 2 week road trip family vacation. No one lost a limb or fell off a cliff, which is always good. Mom did hurt her knee, but otherwise we had very minor "injuries" (bug bites, scrapes, etc.). Our two week road trip of crazy proportions included Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, San Francisco, Monterey Bay Aquarium, San Diego, Grand Canyon National Park, and the Petrified Forest National Park. We got to see a lot of nature, hike, eat fabulous food, and relax (well... at least a tiny bit). I have included a few pictures from our trip below.

Cistern Spring, Yellowstone
Yosemite Chapel
San Francisco Pier 39




Petrified Forest National Park


















Grand Canyon



















It was a trip of pictures and fun memories. I took 2,030 photos! Wow! It was also memorable for some not so fabulous reasons... We had plenty of moments where we honestly needed to be on a comedy show. Our soft top carrier ripped on day 3 of the trip and we replaced it with a hard top carrier. The reviews of the soft carrier included a guy saying "Day 1: Turned into a kiddie swimming pool. Day 2: Plastic started to flake off. Day 3: Seams ripping and pulling apart. Threw it away in the motel trash can and replaced it." He continued by saying that his other carrier was lasting much longer. Oops... we should have read the reviews before buying! We laughed about it  later when we weren't squished by duffle bags. It is one of those vacation stories that we will probably tell over and over.

Anyway... that is why I haven't posted in a little over two weeks. It also took me a day or so to adjust back from the 3 time zones that we crossed. Yikes. Luckily it wasn't as bad as the jet lag feeling that I felt after coming from Scotland.

I was perusing my un-blogged recipe food photos after vacation and this one caught my eye. I can honestly say that this is a huge hit in our house. I tried Tonga Toast at the Rainforest Cafe during a band trip and I never forgot it. I was so happy to find a recipe so I could try and recreate the dish at home. I don't think it is exactly the same, but it's definitely delicious! This is now my go to recipe for french toast. I hope you try it out!

Tonga Toast: Rainforest Cafe (Food.com)

Ingredients: 
  • 4 slices of white bread about 1 inch thick* (I used organic flax seed sandwich bread and it worked fine. I did use more than 4 slices though.)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup white milk** (any kind)
  • 1/2 tsp. or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • desired toppings (fruit, syrup, butter, nuts, honey, etc.)
Instructions:
  1. In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, and vanilla extract.
  2. Preheat your frying pan on medium heat. Add a little butter to help prevent the french toast sticking.
  3. Dunk a slice of bread into the mixture, making sure it is completely coated on both sides. 
  4. Place the dunked bread into the pan. 
  5. Cook until lightly browned on both sides. 
  6. Once cooked, remove from the pan and continue steps 3 - 6 until all slices of bread are used.
  7. Top with your desired toppings and enjoy! 
* You can use Gluten Free Bread to make this gluten free.
** You could also use almond, soy, or another dairy alternative.

I hope you try this recipe. It is delicious with bananas, berries, or peaches! It is a great addition to a breakfast spread, delicious by itself, and it freezes wonderfully. I take whatever leftover tonga toast we have, put it in a gallon size bag and put it in the freezer. We take out what we want for breakfast and it still tastes delicious. Nothing beats fresh out of the pan tonga toast
though! 


Have you ever eaten breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe? Let me know what you thought with a comment below!

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Comment and let me know what sort of recipes you want to see next!

As always...

Bon appétit!

Jun 23, 2013

Ooey Gooey Grilled Mozzarella Sandwich

I seem to have a love for mozzarella cheese. It can be a bit expensive to buy the fresh mozzarella that melts deliciously, but I think it is worth every penny. I could probably buy stock in mozzarella because I love it so much. It is just so delicious!

Today I have taken mozzarella to a place that not all people use mozzarella. Yes, mozzarella makes a great pizza topping, but it has many other uses. The great thing about using mozzarella in your grilled cheese is that it melts to make the stringy and cheesy sandwich that you normally only obtain with super thin slices of cheese or processed cheese slices. Nom nom. 


Hopefully by now I have convinced you of the deliciousness of mozzarella and that you want to try this recipe! This sandwich is just as easy as the normal grilled cheese.

Ooey Gooey Grilled Mozzarella Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients:
  • 2 slices of bread, a pita pocket, or gluten-free bread
  • Butter (to spread on the bread/pita pocket)
  • Fresh Mozzarella cheese
Instructions:
  1. Spread a thin layer of butter on 1 side of each slice of bread.
  2. Place one slice (butter side down) into the pan.
  3. Add your mozzarella on the bread and top with the other slice.
  4. Cook in your pan until the bread is somewhat browned and the cheese is melting. You will need to flip the sandwich once so that both sides are cooked. 
  5. Serve and enjoy!
I served my sandwich with a side of tomatoes. If you like tomatoes, this is a delicious combination! I hope you try this!

Have you ever made a grilled cheese sandwich with mozzarella?

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!

As always...

Bon appétit!

Jun 17, 2013

Hootenanny (Oven Pancake): Simple Breakfast

*** If you are reading this blog for the first time, then welcome! Please feel free to subscribe to the posts via email or on your blogger ID. I always welcome new readers! :) ***

We started volunteering at a local, mostly-no-kill shelter. Yesterday we had the chance to play with kitties and kittens after we cleaned up their kennels and rooms. It smelled at the start, but it could've been much worse. Since we can't have a cat at home, this is the next best thing. We did have one escapee who just wanted someone to hold her and snuggle. So cute! ^.^ We get trained how to work with the dogs today! It should be a fun experience. :)

I looked at how long it has been since I blogged and well, it seems about the usual sort of deal. Life gets in the way sometimes. I give a lot of kudos to people who blog every day. It can be almost like a job sometimes, because you really don't feel like writing some days. Maybe that is just my problem, but I hope others have experienced that as well. No matter how much I love food, I cannot always bring myself to type up a post and fix the photos. Maybe it is me being lazy, but perhaps it is one of those strange "Writer's Block" moments...

Anywho... I have noticed a trend in my last three posts... they all involve muffin tins! Don't believe me? Go ahead and look! I didn't really notice till I scrolled through and that similarity appeared. You will be happy to note that today's recipe doesn't involve a muffin tin. In case you thought you'd get ahead and prep your muffin tin, I am sorry, because you now need to put it away.


Today's recipe is best described as a mesh between a pancake and french toast. It is awesome with syrup, powdered sugar, or cinnamon on top of it. This recipe was a meh in our family, but I absolutely loved it. I didn't have to stand at a pan and flip a bunch of pancakes! Yea! Instead, I mixed the ingredients, dumped it in a pan, and baked it! My only complaint was that the amount of butter made this oven pancake a bit too greasy for me. I will try this again with half the butter and see what happens. I encourage you all to try it out and see if this simple recipe will pass the family taste test for you!


Hootenanny aka Oven Pancake (Food.com)

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup all purpose flour (plain flour)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup melted butter (I will cut this in half next time)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, optional
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla, optional



Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Place the 1/2 cup of butter into a 9 x 13 pan. Pop the pan into the heating-up oven. 
  3. Beat the eggs, milk, and salt together until frothy. 
  4. Add your flour to the egg/milk/salt mixture and beat until well mixed. 
  5. Take your pan out of the oven and pour the mix over the melted butter. 
  6. Put the pan back into the oven and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
  7. Serve with maple syrup, powdered sugar, berries, or any other topping of choice. Enjoy!


We served this with scrambled eggs, sausage links, and lots of oranges. We had mandarin oranges (from a can), fresh Ugli Fruit, and fresh Blood Oranges. It made a delicious breakfast! 


Have you heard of Hootenanny before? I sure hadn't! 

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!

As always...

Bon appétit!

May 30, 2013

An Easy Dinner: Pizza Balls

Life's been busy lately. Relay for Life went well and I am still waiting on the verdict of my volunteer program. I am still hoping and still have my fingers crossed for good news! We planned out the Memorial Day grilling feast and will attend a concert in the park later in the evening. It should be a good time. Otherwise just the same ol' same ol' around here!

The funny thing about this post is that it was delayed because of the pictures. Of all things, the pictures. Just let that sink in for a few moments. I didn't feel like adding the text into the photos so I put it off... and thus... a later post then I wanted. Oops. Hopefully the minor delay has you craving some delicious food!


 From the title of this post, you might be thinking "Pizza balls? What are those?" Well my friends, they are delicious pockets of pizza goodness. I have seen multiple versions of pizza balls floating around on Pinterest and I wanted to see what the hype was all about. Oddly enough, I tried the recipe that isn't pinned as often. *shrug* I really don't know why it isn't pinned more. This recipe is delicious and simple! I like to use this recipe when I am out of ideas or when I just don't feel like doing anything extravagant. I made one batch with cheese and another batch with cheese and sausage. I definitely liked the second batch better, but the cheesy ones oozed cheesy deliciousness!

The best part about these pizza balls? They are totally customizable! If you want pineapple, then add some! Ham? Throw that in too! Onions? Just use them! You get my point. If you don't want meat, then by all means feel free to exclude it. If you don't want to use meat, then definitely add other toppings of your choice to make these super delicious.

Pizza Balls (Pinterest)

Ingredients:
  • Canned biscuits
  • Garlic powder
  • Mozzarella or Italian blend shredded cheese
  • Other toppings (onions, pineapple, peppers, sausage crumbles, bacon, etc.) 
  • Marinara sauce (for dipping), optional
Instructions:




  1. Preheat your oven to the temperature stated on the biscuits.
  2. Put each topping into a bowl.
  3. Take out each biscuit and stretch it out some to make a thinner circle. 
  4. Take out one biscuit and sprinkle some garlic powder on it. Remember, you want enough to make it taste pizza-like, but you don't want it to explode with garlic powder either.
  5. Add your toppings and cheese into the middle of the biscuit and then seal the edges together. Roll it back into a ball shape if necessary.
  6. Roll the outside of your pizza balls in cheese or toppings, if desired. 
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are lightly browned. 
  8. Serve with marinara sauce, if desired, and enjoy! 
Have you ever made a recipe that you found on Pinterest? How did it go? Let me know with a comment below! 

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!

As always...

Bon appétit!

May 14, 2013

Stuffed Mushrooms: A delicious appetizer

Yikes! April just seemed to fly by! For Cinco de Mayo I made turkey tacos and chicken taquitos. It was delicious and a great mini-celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Really, any excuse to eat Mexican food is good in my book! Life's been about the same. I got taco seasoning for free the other day because of a coupon and a good sale. Woohoo!

We didn't do much for Mother's day, but we did get mom a card and a hammock. She was happy. We had homemade burgers, baked beans, pasta salad, veggies, and fruit for dinner. It was so yummy!

The recipe for today doesn't take as long as you might expect (especially after seeing how many steps this recipe includes). As usual, I tweaked the recipe a bit... mostly because I didn't have cayenne pepper the first time I made them. Mom actually preferred the tweaked recipe instead of the normal recipe. She decided that the cayenne pepper gave them a bit too much kick for her tastes. As usual, use what you believe you can handle and you can have the spicy level you want. :) The best part about Allrecipes is that you can tweak the recipe according to how much of one ingredient you have (example: It will tweak the recipe for you so you don't have to calculate how much of everything you will need for only 6 mushrooms).

Stuffed Mushrooms (recipe from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:
  • 12 whole, fresh mushrooms (I used white mushrooms and baby bella mushrooms) 
  • 1 TBSP vegetable oil or any neutral oil
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic (approximately 3 cloves of garlic)
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 TBSP bread crumbs, optional
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder (I used dried and chopped onion)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (I used red pepper flakes for a little less heat)
Instructions:
  1. Clean your mushrooms. Dampen a paper towel and wipe off any dirt. I don't suggest rinsing the mushrooms directly under the faucet because they are supposed to turn out less tender. 
  2. Carefully break off the stews of your mushrooms and put to the side. 
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or use some vegetable oil to oil the muffin cups.
  5. Place your mushroom caps into the muffin tin.
  6. Finely chop the mushrooms stems.
  7. Heat tablespoon of oil in a pan and then add the garlic and chopped mushrooms stems. Cook until garlic and mushrooms are fragrant and the mushrooms have shrunk some. Be careful not to brown the garlic! Set aside to cool.
  8. In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, Parmesan, pepper, onion powder, bread crumbs (if you are using them), and ground cayenne pepper. Add the garlic and mushroom stems once it has cooled. 
  9. Spoon a generous amount of filling into each mushroom cap.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes or until mushrooms are hot and liquid is forming under the caps.  
If you need to tweak this recipe, feel free to do so. I took the other recipe and tweaked it to make delicious mushrooms! 

Did you do anything special for Mother's day? Let me know with a comment below! 

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!

As always...

Bon appétit!



Apr 27, 2013

Earth Cupcakes for Earth Day

I saw the idea for these cute cupcakes on Pinterest, and I wanted to do something similar. Yes, I did make these on Earth Day. I wanted to do something special and cupcakes seemed special enough. I thought they looked cooler when they didn't have frosting, but you can't tell the family that cupcakes are done when they aren't frosted. It just isn't right. I took a pic before and after the frosting to show the difference. Sadly the cupcakes didn't look as cool when you bit into them. Oh well. Cupcakes are always awesome. I was amused by how cool the batter looked when I swirled the food coloring into it, so I took a picture of each for you. I noticed after the fact that the pictures look pretty cool with the food coloring and measuring cups in the background. Accidental picture awesomeness for the win!

I kind of cheated with these cupcakes because I didn't want to make my own vanilla cake. So, I pulled a Pintester moment and used a boxed cake mix. I learned an important lesson when I made these... you need about 1/3 of green and 2/3 of blue batter. I had too much green and a few of my earth cupcakes turned out like martian planets. I will keep that in mind the next time I make these and you might want to learn from my mistake. Another thing I did differently is that I didn't use a heart cookie cutter to take out a portion of the cupcake to fill in a heart of frosting. I attempted to frost a heart and failed, so they had white frosting and some were decorated with leftover gel decorating stuff and others just got some sprinkles slapped on them. I only managed to get 23 cupcakes out my boxed mix, but it is supposed to give you 24. I might have put too much batter in some, but they turned out just fine. I hope you get adventurous and try this!

Earth Cupcakes (inspired by a Pinterest photo)

Ingredients:
  • blue and green food coloring or coloring gel
  • vanilla cake mix (make your favorite kind from scratch or use a boxed mix)
  • frosting (canned, homemade, whatever)
  • decorations (sprinkles, fondant, different color frosting, gel decorators, etc.)
  • muffin paper cups/foil cups/ silicone
Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to the temperature specified for your cake recipe.
  2. Follow the recipe or instructions for your vanilla cake mix to make the batter.
  3. Dye 2/3 of your batter blue and 1/3 of your batter green.
  4. Line your muffin tin with muffin cups.
  5. Add a few teaspoons of blue batter to each muffin cup.
  6. Alternate spoonfuls of blue and green until the muffin cups are 1/2 - 2/3 full.
  7. Bake for the appropriate time. (My box mix took about 20 minutes or so)
  8. Let the cupcakes cool.
  9. Frost and decorate as you wish.
  10. Enjoy! 
I hope you try this recipe out. It was a fun recipe for Earth day and could also be used for other occassions (planet party, anyone?). The colors could be switched up as well leading to rainbow cupcakes, colors of an alma mater, flag colored cupcakes, etc. : )




Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!

As always...

Bon appétit!

P.S.  If you love it, or have made it, or have any suggestions then feel free to leave me a comment! I love hearing input from my readers and would LOVE to hear from YOU! :)

Apr 16, 2013

Chicken Kabobs


As I sit here writing this entry, the thunder is rumbling and I am seriously wishing I had a desk in my room. Oh well... something to think about whenever I move out. I really should be e-mailing a few people, but I am putting it off for just a bit... Don't worry, it will get done. Just, you know, in a bit... The sun was out for a while and it was completely gorgeous! I was hoping we could grill the steaks and marinated turkey breast for dinner tonight, but the rain ruined those plans. Guess it will be more leftovers. Woo. 

In other news, Earth Day is April 22nd! I found an adorable cupcake idea on Pinterest and it looks like this. I think I might try these out! They look easy enough. Now I just wonder if we have a heart cookie cutter or if I will have to improvise. Hmm. Any excuse to make cupcakes is a good one in my opinion. 

I also wanted to give a shout out to another fun blogger who has made me giggle numerous times recently: Pintester. I will warn that she can be a bit raunchy, but it is a great way to find out if something works or not. I have gone through my pinterest boards and deleted some of the items that she said were a fail. Others have probably been lost in the ocean wave of my numerous pins. Oops. Check out her blog and have a giggle or two!

The recipe for today is one that would have worked if the weather had cooperated. However, you could prepare this recipe inside on a griddle pan if you had to. This recipe is simple stuff, people. Simple simple simple. My mom gets to take the credit for this recipe because she sort of invented it. Maybe someone else thought of the idea first, but I didn't use a recipe, so mom gets the credit for this dish. 

Chicken Kabobs 

Equipment needed:
  • Skewers- They can be reusable ones, wooden ones, long ones, fat ones, skinny ones, or any skewers you have. The only requirement would be that they don't break in half when you put chicken and peppers on them.
  • A container with an air-tight secure lid that can be used for marinating the kabobs. You will be flipping this container over! 

Ingredients:
  • 2 - 4 lbs. of chicken (depends how many you are feeding and how many skewers you have), cut into chunks roughly the same size
  • 1 bottle of dressing per 2 lbs. of chicken (We used Italian dressing.) 
  • Colored bell peppers (orange, green, red, or yellow), cut into skewer-able chunks (We used one of each kind and used approximately 4 lbs. of chicken.)
  • Onions, cut into chunks (optional)
Instructions:
  1. This might sound strange... but if you are using skewers that can catch on fire (i.e. wood) then you need to soak them in some warm water for at least 20 minutes. This will prevent them from catching on fire and hopefully prevent your hands from having burnt skewer particles on them.
  2. Open your dressing and take the lid off of your container. Believe me, you will thank me later when you have chicken hands!
  3. Start your skewers. I varied mine with 1 piece chicken then one pepper piece and so on so forth. If you are including onions, you could have one chicken, one pepper, one onion, but you can be as creative or as crazy as you want with as many peppers and onions as you wish. 
  4. Plop the prepared skewer into your container.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until your chicken, skewers, peppers, and onions are used up.
  6. Wash your hands well. 
  7. Dump the bottle(s) of dressing over your kabobs.
  8. Place them in the fridge and let them marinate for at least 2 hours, flipping the container after one hour. These can marinate for longer, if you have the time.
  9. Fire up the grill!
  10. Grill the chicken until it is no longer pink on the inside. If you didn't cook them all the way through on the grill (Like I have done before), don't panic! You can pop them in the microwave for a few minutes to finish them off.
  11. Eat and enjoy!
Time: Prep- 30 minutes, Marinating- 2 hours or more, Cooking- 20 - 30 minutes (?)

The great thing about this recipe is the fact that you can vary it to work with the dressing flavor. For example: if you wanted to use an Asian dressing you could use pieces of carrot, onion, peppers, and other flavors that would blend well. You can use homemade dressing, completely ignore the chicken and make grilled veggie kabobs, or you could choose other vegetables that you would like to grill. The possibilities are almost endless!

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!
As always...

Bon appétit!

P.S.  If you love it, or have made it, or have any suggestions then feel free to leave me a comment! I love hearing input from my readers and would LOVE to hear from YOU! :)





Apr 8, 2013

Crescent-Wrapped Baked Brie

Life has been the usual ordeal: cleaning, Relay For Life stuff, Youtube being a pain, cooking, baking, etc. Nothing too out of the ordinary. I don't really understand why Youtube keeps starting and stopping, but I am dealing with it. Oh! I have refrained from adding text to my photos before because I thought it was pointless, but now that Pinterest is big, the link to something can easily be lost. Basically, I am adding my blog link to my photos and the name of the recipe to one photo out of the bunch. If it bothers you, I apologize in advance, but Pinterest made me do it. Not really... it's just a precaution for the people on Pinterest who wonder what something is when someone switched the links out for a spam site. Anyway...

Crescent-Wrapped Baked Brie. In one word: nom. A delicious crescent roll outside and the ooey gooey cheesy center, mmmm. This is what I call delicious. I had never ever tried brie before this recipe and I decided that it was worth a little bit of money to purchase it. I did not use the 8 oz round as suggested (because the 7 oz wedge was on sale!) and I still had great success. If you love melty cheese and delicious crescent rolls, then this one is for you!

Crescent-Wrapped Baked Brie (from Pillsbury.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 can (8 oz) of Pillsbury crescent dinner rolls OR 1 can (8 oz) of Pillsbury crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet (or any 8 oz tube/can/roll of crescent roll dough)
  • 8 oz. of Brie cheese (approximately), with the rind removed (rind is optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten
Instructions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
  2. Prep your cookie sheet with parchment paper, a Silpat mat, or use a nonstick cookie sheet.
  3. If not using the seamless crescent roll dough: unroll the dough, divide in half, and pinch the seams together with your fingers. You will have two squares of dough. If you use the seamless crescent roll dough: unroll the dough and then cut it in half to form two squares. 
  4. Place the Brie on top of and in the middle of one square and cover with the other dough square. Fold the bottom edges over the top edges. Trim extra dough if needed.
  5. Brush the dough with the beaten egg.
  6. Bake for 20 - 24 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Cool for 15 minutes.
  8. Serve warm and enjoy!
There are plenty of savory and sweet add ins that could be added to vary the flavor of this dish. I hope you like it! 

Enjoy!

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!
As always...

Bon appétit!

Mar 25, 2013

Lasagna, revisited

This week has involved plenty of planning. Planning kids activities for Relay and making lists of what is needed. Also planning who I need to e-mail and making a list of what I have left to do. I have also spent some time watching CSI Miami when the re-runs are on. I absolutely loved that they brought big agriculture into the picture in the episode "Bad Seed". I liked how they poked at the problem in the US without saying the company's name. I encourage everyone to watch that episode (or even the show!) to learn a bit more about how much control certain companies have.

After cooking so much this week, we have plenty of leftovers. It is always nice to have a break from cooking. This recipe is delicious!

So, a few days ago I wanted to make lasagna. I pulled out my handy recipe that I posted before: Veggie Lasagna and Lasagna. This time, I combined the two together and used two 9 x 13 pans for my doubled recipe of goodness. It had plenty of veggies and plenty of deliciousness! This recipe is a tweaked version of The Neely's Mama's Lasagna. If you wanted to, you could make their recipe as is (minus one of the salts, since they include 2 different types), but I enjoy my lasagna version. It's a great way to sneak vegetables into something that my brother will eat! It is cheesy, gooey, and oh sooooo delicious!

Full O' Veggies Lasagna

Ingredients:
  • 1 tsp. Olive oil, plus extra for the pan
  • 2 - 2.5  lbs of ground beef or turkey or mixed (depends how meaty you like it)
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 8 - 9 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans of stewed tomatoes, diced OR 2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 (8 oz.) cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 (6 oz) cans of tomato paste
  • 1 (8 oz) container of portabella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 celery heart, finely diced
  • 1 lb shredded carrots (you can put these in the food processor)
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 cups cottage cheese
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan (do NOT use the stuff from the green canister!), plus extra for on top
  • 6 tsp. freshly chopped parsley leaves OR 6 tsp. freeze dried parsley
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. pepper
  • 1 - 2 tsp. dried basil, optional
  • 1 & 1/2 cups of chopped spinach
  • 2 (8 oz) bags of shredded Mozzarella
  • 2 (8 oz) bags of shredded Cheddar
  • 2 (8 oz) boxes of no-boil lasagna noodles
Special Equipment:
  • 2 (9 x 13) baking dishes/pans
  • Pasta pot or other large pot
  • 1 large bowl
  • Whisk
  • Aluminum foil
It gets messy when you serve it.
Instructions:
  1. Prep all of your veggies. Dice them, shred them, and chop them according to the ingredients list. (I suggest prepping the veggies the night before.)
  2. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).
  3. Add the teaspoon of olive oil to a pot and then brown your meat. (This pot will have your sauce mixture in it. I used a pasta pot.) 
  4. Once the meat is cooked, drain the grease. 
  5. Add your shredded carrots and celery to the browned meat. Saute for 5 minutes.
  6. Add your mushrooms, garlic, and onion to the meat mixture. Saute for 3 minutes.
  7. Add in the cans of diced stewed tomatoes or diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. 
  8. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  9. In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs until the yolks are broken. Add in the cottage cheese, Parmesan, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and spinach. Mix until well incorporated.
  10. Lightly oil your pan with olive oil or use a little cooking spray. (I forgot this step and the lasagna didn't have too much trouble leaving the pan.)
  11. Spread a little of the meat sauce at the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish or pan. You need maybe one or two scoops. Place a layer of noodles over the sauce, making sure they overlap by 1/2 inch or so.
  12. Spread 1/4 of the cottage cheese mixture evenly over the noodles. Pour 1/2 an 8 oz bag of cheddar and 1/2 an 8 oz bag of mozzarella over that and spread out as even as possible.
  13. Put another layer of noodles on top of the cheese. Add another layer of sauce, then noodles, then cheese mixture with shredded cheese, and end with noodles and sauce.
  14. Sprinkle leftover cheese and Parmesan on top. 
  15. Cover the lasagna with aluminum foil and bake for 30 - 35 minutes in the center of the oven until the sauce is bubbling around the edges.
  16. Remove the aluminum foil and let cool for 10 minutes.
  17. Enjoy!
Makes: 2 (9x13) pans of lasagna

I know this dish seems crazy, but it is manageable. You could even have one person make the sauce and one make the cottage cheese mixture. This recipe doesn't take any more than an hour if you prep the veggies the day before. I absolutely LOVE this lasagna. It is my go-to lasagna recipe now and my mom even wants the recipe when I move out! This is a great dish for leftovers. You can even freeze the assembled (uncooked) lasagna until you want to make it.

We enjoyed this with garlic bread and a lovely salad. It was delicious dinner and a great reward for the time it took to cook and prep. 

Enjoy!

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!
As always...

Bon appétit!


Mar 11, 2013

Sugared Rice with Fruit and Nuts

Lately I've felt like I am living in limbo. The odd in-between stage. You still feel like you play a part, yet you don't completely fit in as well anymore. You know? It's a strange feeling...

The bonus of being in limbo is more time to test recipes and more time to bake and cook. I still find it fun to play with recipes and make them my own. Then again, any foodie would probably tell you that. I've recently finished reading an interesting book about the foods we eat, allergies, GMO's, and our food system. The book is called The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making us Sick and What we Can do About it by Robyn O'Brien with Rachel Kranz . I borrowed this book from the library and I'll be honest... I had to put the book down a few times. It was a good read, but it sure made me sad and unhappy and mad all at the same time! If you ever wondered about the US food system or about corporate control with food then you should start with this book. It is slightly out-dated now, but all of the research is excellent. There is a long list of cited sources! If you get a chance to read it, let me know what you think!

Alas, food. It is why I started this blog in the first place! =D

The recipe for today is one that I created. It stirred up memories of when my mom used to put a little bit of butter and sugar on my rice as a special treat. We had leftover brown rice and I kept thinking about how I could transform the rice into something delicious. Well my friends, this is a rice transformation if I do say so myself! I transformed a side dish into a yummy (and somewhat healthy) dessert. Enjoy!

Sugared Rice with Fruit and Nuts

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 TBSP of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of leftover cooked rice, more or less
  • 1-2 TBSP of brown sugar, or to taste
  • handful of cut up fruit (I used blueberries)
  • handful of chopped nuts (I used walnuts)
  • handful of dried fruit (I used raisins)
  • other toppings, optional
Instructions:

  1. Heat up your rice until it is warmed through.
  2. Add the butter, sugar, nuts, and fruit to the rice. If you have any other toppings, you should add them in this step as well.
  3. Mix well and then eat.
  4. Enjoy! 
This dish is easy, doesn't require many ingredients, and can be customized to your tastes. I hope you try it out! 

Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!
As always...

Bon appétit!





Feb 28, 2013

Cheesy Quinoa Bites

I am quite sad today because as of March 1st, Kroger isn't doubling coupons anymore. Boo! We will adjust and have to really consider if the deal is worth it without the double coupon savings. They say it is because they have lower prices and many speculate that it is also an attempt to shoo extreme couponers. I don't see all of the Kroger prices lowering... I never really thought that extreme couponers were really that popular, either. Hmm.

Recently I read this book called The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. It is about a class that one character teaches. It reminded me about passion and how food made with passion tends to taste better. It also reminded me how food can cause an emotional response and that playing with your food can be acceptable when you are testing a new recipe. Overall I enjoyed the book, even though I was confused by the dividing of the book at first. Once I realized which characters were who, it started to make sense. It's a wonderful book if you ever get a chance to read it. Our local library had it, so maybe yours will too!


A little while ago, I tried out this recipe for Cheesy Quinoa Bites and decided that I wasn't a fan of the texture and taste combination. I will say that dipping the bites into the honey mustard dipping sauce did improve the taste of the quinoa bites, but not enough for me to want to eat all 30 of them. I have linked the recipe below, in case you are interested and would like to try it out. I snapped a few photos of the quinoa bites and a photo of a funny looking tomato that I found at the farmer's market. It looks like it has a nose!

Cheesy Quinoa Bites Recipe

See the nose? 



















Love it? Hate it? Want to make it? Let me know what you think with a comment below!
As always...

Bon appétit!